Archive for January, 2020

The Heart of the Matter

January 25, 2020

King David is known to be a man after God’s own heart.  This does not mean that David was perfect.  Far from it.  He made several very large mistakes in his life.  So, what does it take to be a man after God’s own heart?

I.  A Tender Heart:  I Samuel 24:1-7

Now it happened, when Saul had returned from following the Philistines, that it was told him, saying, “Take note! David is in the Wilderness of En Gedi.” Then Saul took three thousand chosen men from all Israel, and went to seek David and his men on the Rocks of the Wild Goats. So he came to the sheepfolds by the road, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to attend to his needs. (David and his men were staying in the recesses of the cave.) Then the men of David said to him, “This is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, that you may do to him as it seems good to you.’ ” And David arose and secretly cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. Now it happened afterward that David’s heart troubled him because he had cut Saul’s robe. And he said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord.” So David restrained his servants with these words, and did not allow them to rise against Saul. And Saul got up from the cave and went on his way.

King Saul was looking for David to kill him.  David had an opportunity to kill King Saul.  Instead, he simply cut off a piece of his robe.  It would be evident that he had the opportunity to kill him, but had spared his life.  It was a good strategy.

David actually felt bad about cutting the edge of Saul’s robe.  He had a tender heart.  He knew that he was not to ‘lift his hand against the Lord’s anointed.’  In his eyes, even cutting Saul’s robe was wrong.

If only our hearts were that tender!  I am concerned that many of us have given in to sin so often that we are not even troubled by brazen acts of sin, much less, simply coming close.

II.  A Hardened Heart:  I Timothy 4:1-3

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

In order to depart from the faith, one must first have been a part of it.  I am concerned about how many of God’s people have fallen prey to deception.  Of course, if we are deceived, we do not know it.  I do believe that God will lead the heart that seeks Him to find Him.  How many though are lead astray by the desires of their own hearts?  How many refuse to listen to the ‘still, small voice’ of the Spirit that seeks to guide us into truth?  How many have their conscience seared, or hardened and are not even aware of the danger they are in?

May God be able to speak to our hearts, may we respond to His Spirit.  May our hearts be open to all that He has for us.

III.  A Condemned Heart:

Some have a different problem.  Even though they have asked God for forgiveness for their sins, they feel condemned in their heart.  They cannot seem to accept the forgiveness that God has for them.  Some people continue to feel guilty even though they have been forgiven.

Romans 8:1-2

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

Some say that religion brings a sense of guilt.  That is not what it is meant to do.  We are told that if we confess our sins, God will forgive our sins.  (1 John 1:9)  We are set free.  Thank you Jesus!

IV.  A Clean Heart

David, after committing adultery and murder wrote a beautiful Psalm.  Psalms 51:10-13

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners shall be converted to You

David repented of his sin.  God forgave him and restored him.

God will forgive and restore us as well.  His joy can be present in our lives once again.

We can share that hope with others.

These are the sermon notes from 1/19/20.  All scriptures are from the New King James version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

 

Into the Future

January 14, 2020

As we are still in the early days of 2020, I think about what lies ahead.

I.  Trust God:  Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

We can trust God.  As we look to the future, we do not know what will happen.  God does.  He is not surprised by the the twists and turns that life takes.  He knows all things that are going to happen.  He is our shepherd. (Psalms 23) He will take care of us.

We do not have to understand everything.  We do not have to know everything.  We can trust God.

In every area of our life, we should acknowledge Him.  We should ask for guidance.  We should ask for strength.  We should ask for help.  We should give God thanks and glory.

God will direct our lives, if we ask Him to do so.  The question is, will we follow His directions?

II.  Directed by God:  Psalms 37:23

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord,
And He delights in his way.

First of all, the Bible might say man, but in this context, women are included.  Perhaps you are concerned that you are not good.  If you have Christ in your heart, then you are indeed a good person, because of Christ who is in you.

Again,  I look back over my life between the ages of 18 and 30.  There were quite a few twists and turns.  I believe that even though it might appear erratic, that God was guiding me.  All of those experiences, together with everything else since then, have combined to make me the person that I am today.  It may seem odd, but God knows what He is doing.  If we have given our lives to Him, He will help us navigate the path of life.

III.  We are the Clay:  Isaiah 64:8

But now, O Lord,
You are our Father;
We are the clay, and You our potter;
And all we are the work of Your hand.

The people that we become, the success that we achieve,  it is ultimately not up to us.  God molds us into the people that we were meant to be.  We do cooperate with God.  We listen for His voice.  We act in obedience to Him.  Paul put it this way.  “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.”  (I Corinthians 3:8)  I do sometimes wonder why God withholds the increase, but I trust Him to do His part.  I seek to do my part as a faithful servant.

IV.  God’s Grace:  II Corinthians 12:9-10

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I cannot promise that all of our dreams will come true.  I cannot promise that we will become healthy, wealthy and wise.  I can promise that God’s grace is sufficient for whatever trials we might face.  I can promise that one day, in heaven, there will be no more sickness, nor sadness.  I can promise that God will be with us through the journey of this life.

Whatever that journey might be.

 

These are the sermon notes from 1/12/20.  All scripture quotes are from the New King James version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.   

A Role of Suffering

January 11, 2020

I have been teaching for over twenty years now.  I am pleasantly surprised when students bring up things that are new to my way of thinking.  A recent example was a student who was writing about various religions views of suicide.  I have always approached the Christian perspective from the view of the sacredness of human life, that we are made in the image of God, that life is a gift and we should not waste it.  This young student in her report spoke about how a person who commits suicide is not appreciating the role of suffering in the life of a Christian.

The student became the teacher.

I should have know that.  I should have seen that.  I have dealt with the question of suffering, but never for some reason as a response to thoughts of suicide.

It got me thinking again about the role of suffering in the life of a Christian.

II Corinthians 1:3-7

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.

I.  We Suffer

Suffering comes in various forms.   The first that most people think of is probably physical suffering.  I have recently undergone hip replacement surgery.  My hip was severely degraded.  The person doing my initial screening for the surgeon, was surprised that I was still walking.  I had been dealing with various degrees of pain in my hip for about five years.  There are many people who suffer physically in a wide variety of ways.  How we respond to that physical pain can be a testimony to those around us.

Physical suffering is one thing.  Pain of the heart is something else.  There are many forms of disappointment, sorrow, stress and other experiences that may affect our hearts and minds.  Again, what we do with those feelings is important.

II.  We Are Comforted

A.  Suffering Will End:  God is able to bring healing.  God is able to bring comfort and peace.  We can bring our concerns to God and know that He is able to bring resolution.  The issues may, or may not be resolved in this life, but we can know that His grace is sufficient for us.  (II Corinthians 12:9) God has promised to be with us, to never leave us.  We are told that we can ‘do all things through him who strengthens us’  (Philippians 4:13) We do not face our suffering alone.

We also have the ability to look ahead.  We know there will be no suffering in heaven.  We may need to be patient.

B.  We are Comforted:

1.  By God:  The most important comfort that we receive is the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  God is able to lift us above whatever suffering we may face.  In His presence we find great joy and peace.  This joy and peace is not dependent upon external circumstances, but rather is dependent on the relationship that we have with God.

2.  By Others:  We are not meant to face the trials of this life alone.  Not only is God with us, but we are meant to have a relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ which is meant to be supportive.  We should have friends in the Lord with whom we may share our burdens.  We should be able to talk with each other, pray with each other and help to comfort one another with the comfort of Christ.

III.  We Comfort Others

As we have successfully dealt with suffering in our own lives, as we have received the comfort and consolation of Christ, so we can offer that comfort and consolation to others.  This is especially true when people are going through an experience that is similar to what we ourselves have gone through.  Certainly, each of us do not have to experience all forms of suffering, but there is something about the person who can truly relate with us because of similar experiences.  So, perhaps God allows us to suffer, so that we can truly relate to others who suffer.  We can offer hope, even as we have received hope.

Offering comfort and hope to those who suffer is truly a wonderful thing.

 

These are the sermon notes from 1/5/20.  All scripture quotes are from the New King James version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.