Posts Tagged ‘faith’

Joy Comes

May 21, 2020

Right now as this pandemic drags on for months, people are growing weary.  Many are struggling with depression.

There is hope.

I.  Laughing Will Come:  Job 8:21

He will yet fill your mouth with laughing,
And your lips with rejoicing.

Job had experienced tremendous loss and suffering.  His friends did not offer much comfort, but this line really stood out to me.  I believe it to be true.  Our days of difficulty will come to an end some day.  There will again be a time of laughter and rejoicing.

We do not need to minimize the pain of the moment.  Right now, many are suffering, but there is hope for tomorrow.

II.  Joy Comes:  Psalms 30:5*

For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for life;
Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.

Right now, things are still difficult for many people.  Things will get better.  We do not have to think of this as a single night, but rather as a period of time.

It is also not necessary to think of this as an act of God’s anger or judgment.  It could be judgment against sin, but it could also simply be a test.  What will we do during difficult days?  Will we give up?  Or will we trust God and wait for the morning to come

III.  Rejoice in the Lord  Philippians 4:4-8

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

These verses provide direction for how a believer should deal with difficult times.

First, we rejoice in the Lord.  God loves us and allows us the privilege of having fellowship with Him.  Nothing in this world compares to what it is like to spend time in the presence of God.  The more that we are able to be aware of His presence with us the less the troubles of this world will bother us.

Secondly, anything that does concern us, we can bring to God in prayer.  We know that He hears us and is able to help us.  We can trust Him.  God can give us the wisdom to know what we should do and the strength to do it.  He will also intervene on our behalf according to His will.  We should pray until the peace of God comes to our hearts.  It will come.

Third, look around you.  There is always something good to see.  This is not the same as closing our eyes to evil.  We pray about what is bad.  We take appropriate action to correct wrongs.  When that work is done, or when we simply need a break, we should look at the good.  Even in the midst of despair, there is beauty to be seen.

IV.  The Path of Life Psalms 16:11

You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

If we follow God, it is a really good thing.  He will direct us through the difficulties of this life.

Life with God is a good thing.

Even in the days of darkness.

 

*This is the recommended memory verse for this week.  All scriptures quoted are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any advertisments that may appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

These are the sermon notes from the message I preached on 5/17/20.  If you want to view that message as it was preached, you can view it at:

 

Rest & Reconciliation

April 25, 2020

Many of the religions of the world are based in the actions that we take to find God.  In Christianity it is God who reaches out to us.  It is God who has fulfilled the requirements for reconciliation.  It is God who seeks to draw us into a relationship with Him.

I.  Rest:  Matthew 11:28-30

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

For some religions the quest to obtain our final goal is so difficult that it is believed to take many lives to obtain the goal.  In contrast, Jesus tells us that ‘His yoke is easy and His burden is light.’

For Christians salvation is freely offered to all who would believe in Jesus as the Christ who died for the sins of the world.  Many people are familiar with John 3:16  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Salvation is the gift of God to us.  We simply need to believe.  It doesn’t get any easier than that.

II.  Reconciliation:  II Corinthians 5:18-21

Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

We were separated from God by our sin, but God sent His Son Jesus to pay the price for our sins.  Because Christ has paid our debt, we can be reconciled with God.  This is a truly wonderful thing.  We have the ability to spend our lives in the presence of God.  We can walk with God throughout this life and into the next.

In addition, we have been give the privilege of representing God to the people of the world.  We are supposed to share the message of God’s love.  It is The Good News!  We do not have to be pastors or theologians.  We all can share the simple message of the love of God that He showed to the world through Jesus Christ.

III.  Relationship:  Revelations 3:20

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

This is one of my favorite verses.  ( I have many favorites!)  The door that Jesus is knocking on is the door of our heart.  This is not our physical heart but our inner self.  When we respond to Christ with faith He will enter our hearts by His Spirit.  This allows us to be in a wonderful relationship with God Himself.  His Spirit dwells in our hearts and we can develop that relationship over time.  There is truly nothing like it in this world!!

God loves you.

You do not need to be alone.

 

If you would like to view this message as it was preached it can be viewed at: https://www.facebook.com/116005455113481/videos/571920860102011/

 

These are the sermon notes from 4/19/20.  All scripture quotes are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any ads that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.   

The Good Will Come

March 28, 2020

This is a new thing.  When I originally preached this message,  the only person in the room with me was my wife.  Our church is not allowed to meet due to the Covid 19 virus and so we went out on Facebook Live.  For my readers, you will have the opportunity for the first time to hear the original message and actually see the person who has been writing these posts.  I will include the link at the end of these notes. 

Our country is facing a difficult challenge.  The corona virus has made significant inroads into our country.  We are no longer able to hold our normal church meetings so we are coming to you from our living room on Facebook Live.

I.  God is Good:  I Peter 2:1-3

Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

A.  God is Good:  Years ago I preached a message that would be very appropriate today.  The three main points were 1. God is Good 2.  Life Can Be Hard  3.  God is Still Good

I want to remind all of you, that God is still good!  Many of us have experienced that goodness time and time again.  In these challenging days, God is still good.  It is more important than ever that we turn our eyes upon Jesus, that we look to God for wisdom and strength.

B.  The Milk of the Word:  As we spend more time in our own homes than we have in a long time, use that time productively.  I encourage you to spend time in the Word of God.  God works in us by His Word and by His Spirit to transform us from what we were, to what we are meant to be.  It is an ongoing, life-long process.

This would be a good time to start memorizing scripture, if that is not already a part of your spiritual disciplines.  This week the memory verse is I Peter 2:2.  (listed above)  This practice can be very beneficial in reducing stress and worry, both of which are increased during difficult times such as we currently face.

C.  Changed by God:  We are called to lay aside malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and evil speaking.  When we encounter God through faith in Jesus Christ we are changed.  His Spirit does a miraculous work in us.  We do, however, need to cooperate with the process.  The old nature does not die easily and we must continue to guard against a resurrection of our old nature.

II.  You Be Good:  I Peter 2:13-17

Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, 14 or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men— 16 as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. 17 Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the kin

As Americans, we treasure our freedom.  As Christians we are free in Christ.  However, we should use that freedom to serve others.

Right now, across our country we are practicing various responses depending on our area.  Shelter in place, self-quarantine, social distancing, staying home if sick, washing our hands, and wiping down services has become the norm.

Follow the directions of the governmental leaders.  This is not the time nor the event at which to rebel.  We need to work together.  We need to each do our part.  God will help us.  I am reminded of Proverbs 21:31 “The horse is prepared for the day of battle, But deliverance is of the Lord.”  We should each do our part and we should pray for God to bless our efforts.

III.  Good Days Will Come:  I Peter 3:8-12

Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, becourteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For

“He who would love life
And see good days,
Let him refrain his tongue from evil,
And his lips from speaking deceit.
11 Let him turn away from evil and do good;
Let him seek peace and pursue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
And His ears are open to their prayers;
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

As God’s people we can have confidence that we will again see good days.  We should maintain a good attitude throughout this event.  I am reminded of Proverbs 21:31 ” The horse is prepared for the day of battle, But deliverance is of the Lord.”  We should do what we can and pray for God’s help. 

In addition to the hope we have for tomorrow,  we can see the good in today.  Be thankful for what you have received.  I am reminded of the old song, “Count your many blessings, name them one by one and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”

Most of all we can be thankful for God’s presence in our lives.  God is with us today.  One day we will go to be with Him.

God is good.  Life can be hard.  God is still good.

 

These are the sermon notes from 3/22/20.  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.   

If you want to view the original message it can be viewed at the following link.


 

Out of the Darkness

March 4, 2020

Life is better with God.  I am firmly convinced that having God in our lives makes everything better.

I.  Change:  Titus 2:11-3:2

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

15 Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.

Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.

Grace:  We need to remember that we would still be lost if not for the grace of God.  God has reached out to us by His Spirit because of His love for us.

Change:  Once we respond to the grace of God we are changed.  This is both immediate and ongoing.  We are instantly changed into a new creation when the Spirit of God enters our heart through our faith in Jesus.  At that time our outward behavior will also begin to change.  God will work in us to change from what we were, to what we are meant to be.

Hope:  One day Jesus will return for His people.  It is our hope that we will be with Him forever.  Either He will come for us, or we will go to Him.  Hope for a better tomorrow is a precious gift that God has given us and that we should share with those who may be hopeless.

Redemption:  We could not save ourselves.  We could not meet God’s standard.  We need forgiveness.  We need a savior.  We need Jesus.  Jesus Christ has redeemed us by His death on the cross.  We remember this every time that we celebrate communion.

Obedience:  As God’s people we are to be obedient to God.  We are also to obey local authorities.  Christians should be good students, good employees and good citizens.

Good Works:  Christians should live lives that bring God glory, not shame.  We should continually be growing in our ability to live as God would desire us to live.

II.  Out of Darkness:  Titus 3:3-8

For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.

We Were:  We were in darkness.  We lived lives that were filled with sin and wrongdoing.  If we are honest, we will acknowledge that we still struggle to be the people that we are meant to be.  The old nature occasionally reappears.  We are not yet perfect, but we are being perfected.

God’s Grace:  God did not save us because we were good.  He saves us because He loves us in spite of our sins.

Others:  There are still people who are unsaved.  They are still in darkness.  God loves them.  God wants to reach them through us.  We should love them with God’s love.  We should reach out to them as God reached out to us.  ”

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

Share:  Let us share the message of grace, hope, love and salvation to all.

 

These are the sermon notes from 3/1/20.  All scripture quotes are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any ads that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

 

 

A Joyful Life

February 15, 2020

I generally don’t think of the scriptures in terms of favorites.  It is, after all, all God’s Word.  However, Philippians chapter four would be right up there towards the top if I did keep track of these things.

I.  Rejoice in the Lord:  Philippians 4:4

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

I believe that the Christian life can be marked by joy.  It is, after all, one of the fruits of the Spirit.  (Galatians 5:22-23)  Here in Philippians we are told to rejoice in the Lord.  This is good advice.  We may not be able to always rejoice in our circumstances because life can be difficult, but we can always rejoice in the Lord.  His love for us is overwhelming and steadfast.  He is the rock of our salvation.

II.  Be Content:  Philippians 4:10-13

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to ]be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Many people like to quote verse thirteen.  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  It is a wonderful verse, but we should recognize the context in which it is written.  Paul is speaking about being able to be content in any circumstance.  A key to finding joy in the Lord is being able to be content, even if our circumstances are not ideal.  God will take care of us.  We can trust Him.  We need to remember to view our lives from an eternal perspective.  Difficulties may last for a while, but God’s love is eternal.  The day will come when there will be no more tests or trials.  In the mean time we can be content in our circumstances.

There is a difference between contentment and complacency.  We can be content with where we are even as we work towards what we are meant to be.  Complacency lulls us into a lethargic state where we are ‘good enough’ where we are, even if it is not what we are meant to be.

III.  Giving:  Philippians 4:15-17

Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. 16 For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.

If people are experiencing financial issues I ask them three questions:  Do you tithe?  Do you have a budget?  Do you understand the difference between ‘need’ and ‘want’?  Malachi 3:10-11 talks of the blessings that God gives and the devourer that is turned away when we honor God with our tithes and offerings.

Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.

11 “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes,
So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground,
Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,”
Says the Lord of hosts;

I have practiced tithing since I was sixteen.  God has always taken care of my family and I.  We have a budget that we follow that includes tithes and offerings.  If there are lean months, we reduce our spending in other areas, not in our tithes and offerings.  We also have a clear understanding of the difference between need and want.  God has always provided for our needs and many of our wants.

IV.  Provision:  Philippians 4:19

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

This is this weeks memory verse.  Many people like to quote it.  It is important to recognize that it talks about our needs, not our wants.  It is also important to recognize that it follows talking about giving.  Some people think that they cannot afford to give anything.  Others recognize that they cannot afford not to give.  It is important that we be good stewards of what God gives to us.  That includes our finances.

People want to have joy in their lives.  I believe that there is a connection between joy, contentment and a life of giving.

 

These are the sermon notes from 2/9/20.  All scriptures are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any adds that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

 

Stand Fast

February 8, 2020

We have been serving this church now for almost 29 years.  A lot has happened during those almost three decades.  A lot of good, and some things, not so good.  We are still here.  We are still standing.

Philippians 4:1

Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.

I read this verse in my devotions recently.  It made me think of people whom I have known over the years.  Some have remained faithful to both God and this church.  Some have left the church, but remained faithful to God.  Some have left both the church and God.

I was then reminded of Galatians 6:10-20

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— 19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

I am so grateful that our strength comes from God.  We do not have to fight this battle in our own strength.  We were never meant to do that.  God is our source of strength.  It becomes ever more evident as the years go by that God is the source of our strength to do His work.

People are not the enemy.  Actually, the battle is for the souls of people.  We must always keep in mind that no person who is still breathing is beyond the ability of God to touch their heart.  We are not fighting them.  We are fighting for them.

It is a spiritual battle.  I know some people who make it a regular part of their prayer time to spiritually put on the armor of God.  I do not have a problem with that practice.  If you have found it to be beneficial for you, by all means, continue the practice.  However, even though our battle is fought in the spiritual realm.  We live in the earthly realm.

In order to gird our waists with truth, we need to be people of truth.  This means that we need to learn what is the truth.  We need to speak the truth.  We need to live in the truth.  By the way, that applies to your income tax!  No cheating!!  Render to Caesar that which is Caesar’s.

To put on the breastplate of righteousness, we need to live righteous lives.  God will help us to learn what is right and to do what is right.  We will not be perfect, but we should be growing in righteousness.

We should be people of peace.  First, at peace with ourselves.  Then at peace with our families.  Then at peace with our neighbors, or co-workers and even with people of the opposing political party!  This can be challenging at times.  As much as you can, live at peace with all people.

The shield of faith is able to protect us against the attacks of the enemy.  We must be able to hold fast to the belief that God is able to deliver us.  That in the end we will win.  That God is able to make all things work out for good for those who believe in Him.

For quite a while a wondered about the helmet of salvation.  Then I remembered that at the core of our salvation is our relationship with God.  We have the Spirit of Christ within us.  We live in a relationship with God almighty.  Maintain that relationship through the standard Christian devotions of prayer, scripture and worship.

The sword is used both for defense and for offense.  I hope that you are regularly reading the Bible, studying  it, committing it to memory, and meditating on it.  It is ‘living and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword.”  (Hebrews 4:12)  We should watch for opportunities to share its truth with both believers and non-believers.  We can plant the seed of the word in our conversations.  God can then confirm that word by His spirit.

Finally, pray!  Pray about anything and everything!!  Prayer can accomplish more than we realize.  It is not our prayers, but the God who hears our prayers that makes the difference.  Yet God has directed us to do our part.  We are to pray, often, fervently, in faith believing that God is able to do even more than we ask or even think.

By the way, pray for me.  If you want to hear better messages in the future, pray harder!

 

These are the sermon notes from 2/2/20.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.  All scripture quotes are from the New King James Version of the Bible. 

Growing Up

February 1, 2020

Act your age!  I know that I heard that a few times growing up.  At the time it was quite effective.  I did not want to be perceived as acting childishly.  I wanted to be all grown up.  It is a sad thing when grown adults act as misbehaving children.

Ephesians 4:11-16

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

I.  Equipping the Saints

Some people thing that the work of ministry is to be done by the professional clergy.  That is not what the scripture says.  The primary focus of clergy, sometimes called the five-fold ministry, the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, is to equip the saints so that they can do the work of the ministry.   We all have a part to play in God’s kingdom.  No one is supposed to sit on the bench.  We all get to play, to make a contribution, to do our share of the work of the ministry, to edify, or strengthen the body of Christ.

II.  Goals

One goal that we are working towards is that of unity.  We have a long way to go.  The various churches, the various denominations are not meant to be working in competition with each other but rather in cooperation with each other.  There is only one Lord, one savior, one Jesus.

We should be growing in our knowledge of Jesus Christ.  I have been saved for a long time and a minister for over thirty years and I recognize that I am only beginning to know Jesus.

It is not just to know Jesus, we are meant to become like Him.  Again, if we are honest, we know that we have a long way to go.  Perfection is not obtainable in this life, but we should be growing in Christ, becoming more like Him, being perfected in Christ.

III.  Growing Up

Years ago, Amy Grant sang a song Fat Baby.  Some people found it offensive.  The truth often is.  We begin our faith as children, but we are to grow up in the faith, not to remain babes in Christ.

Sometimes this will involve ‘speaking the truth in love’.  This is a good thing.  It is also a challenging thing.  Sometimes we have truth.  Sometimes we have love.  Having both truth and love come out of our mouths is a wonderful thing.

Ephesians 4:29 says ”  Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

May our words be words of truth, spoken in love, imparting grace.

IV.  Growing Out

When every part is doing it’s share, the body grows.  The growth of the body is both growing in maturity and growing in numbers.  A healthy church will have people in many different stages of development, from seekers and new Christians to those who are mature in Christ.

Are you doing your part?

 

These are the sermon notes from 1/26/20.  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. 

 

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.   

 

For The New Year

December 31, 2019

I don’t make New Years resolutions.  I do typically start a diet after the holidays, but it is not a resolution, it is an effort to remain in my clothes.  I don’t want to spend the money for larger sizes.

However, this year I believe that I have come up with three resolutions that I can truly get behind and try to implement in my own life.  I would even recommend them to you as well. They occurred to me after reading I Corinthians 9:24-27.

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prizeis temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

The word that stands out to me here is discipline.  Now, I was a sergeant in the Marine Corps.  I have been an athlete all of my life.  I understand and like discipline and I believe that most of us can use a little more of it in our lives.  Especially if it is used for a good purpose.  I believe that the following three purposes are worth pursuing.

I.  Know God Better

Wherever you are in your relationship with God.  I know that it is possible to know God better than you do now.  The means by which we may know God better are simple and well known, but they are worth stating.

A.  The Bible:  We should be reading, studying, memorizing and meditating on the Word of God.  God has revealed himself to us in the scriptures.

B.  Prayer:  We should be spending time in prayer.  Prayer is an opportunity for us to speak to God and for God to speak to us.

C.  Praise:  When we worship God we blur the lines between heaven and earth.  We may have an encounter with the Spirit of God that is truly transformational.

These three practices are common, but they also hold the opportunity for exceptional growth in our knowledge of God.  We can resolve to know God better than we do now.

II.  Walk With God Better:  Ephesians 5:8-11

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.

When I say walk with God better, I mean that we walk as children of light.  By that I mean that we find out what is acceptable to God and choose to do what is right.  This involves three steps.

A.  Learn:  We learn what is right and acceptable by the Word of God and the Spirit of God.  As we know God better, we will also understand more what God wants of us as His people.

B.   Choose:  Just because we know what is right doesn’t mean that we will do it.  I know how to lose weight.  I may, or may not choose to do those things that I need to do.  Once we know what is right we must still choose to do what is right.

C.  Do:  Of course, this closely follows choosing.  Thankfully, God will help us.  It is also great to know that our salvation is not dependent upon our doing everything right.  By grace we have been saved, through faith, for works.  (Ephesians 2:8-10)

I would suggest that for the new year, we may not walk with God perfectly, but we can resolve to walk with God better than we do now.

III.  Serve God Better:  Matthew 9:37-38

Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.

A.  Pray:  We can all pray.  We all should pray.  Prayer is powerful because God is powerful.

B.  Share:  We should all be willing to share the good news of what God has done for us.  You do not have to be a pastor, missionary or evangelist.  If you know John 3:16 you know enough.  (More is better of course, but we are without excuse.)

C.  Our lives:  Colossians 3:23

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,

God can use us in all kinds of different ways and places.  We are called to be salt and light in the world.  Let the light of Christ shine through you wherever you may go.  Let God use you.

Resolve to serve God better in your life than you do now.

I believe that these are three resolutions I can support!

 

These are the sermon notes from 12/29/19.  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.