Posts Tagged ‘faithfulness’

Joyful Giving

January 6, 2015

Deciding what to give your friends and family for Christmas can be a difficult decision.  Knowing that the greatest Christmas gift is the one that God gave us in Christ is relatively simple.  Recognizing that we should give something back to God should be natural, just like we exchange gifts on earth with our friends and family.  God gives to us.  We give back to God.  Of course, we cannot literally give to God, but we are able to give to God by giving to the local church, missionaries, and various humanitarian organizations.

I.  Sow Bountifully:  II Corinthians 9:6-7

 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.

A.  Be generous.  This does not mean that we give the rent money to the church, but we should establish our budgets in such a way that we are living well within our means so that we are able to give, and we should give generously.

B.  II Corinthians 8:12-13

 For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.

13 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened;

I believe that Christians should tithe on their income to their local church.  A tithe is ten percent.  I believe that when we are faithful to give God the tithe, He will enable us to live on the rest.  What we give beyond the tithe is our offerings.  Our offerings are given according to our ability.

C.  We should pray about what we give in offerings.  God will direct us if we have an open mind and heart.

D.  Be happy that you are able to give.  Do not worry if the amount is small.  If each person does what they are able to do the need will be met.  If we give only a small amount, we are still participating in the effort.  We should do what we can, not what we cannot.

II.  God is Able to Supply:  II Corinthians 9:8-9

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written:

“He has dispersed abroad,
He has given to the poor;
His righteousness endures forever.”

The grace of God abounds towards us.  My wife and I plan our offerings into our budget.  We have a set amount of money that we set aside each month so that we have money available to give in both tithes and offerings.  We give the full tithe each month and the offerings we give as the Lord leads.  When Gloria left her secular job we did not reduce the amount we give as offerings and God has enabled us to continue to live within our budget.

III.  The Greatest Gift:  II Corinthians 9:10-15

Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, 11 while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God. 12 For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, 13 while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, 14 and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you. 15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

    A.  God supplies in ways that we do not always understand.

    B.  There is much giving of thanks.  Both those who give and those who receive, give thanks to God.

    C.  To God be the glory!

    D.  It is natural to give God both thanks and praise.  It is also natural to offer prayers for the people who have generously met the need.  Prayers are powerful and we should never underestimate their value.

    E.  All of this talk of giving reminds us of the greatest gift which is, of course, the salvation offered to us through Jesus Christ.

Even as God has given to us so richly and generously, in so many ways, so we should look for ways to generously and joyfully. give back to God.

These are the sermon notes from 12/7/14.  Any advertisements that may appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

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A Message of Sorrow

January 17, 2013

Here are the sermon notes from 1/13/13.

Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet.  He spent a lifetime proclaiming an unfavorable message to an unwilling audience.  He experienced a great deal of hardship, and very little reward on this earth for his labor.

I.  Sometimes it’s Bad:  Jeremiah 37:11-16

And it happened, when the army of the Chaldeans left the siege of Jerusalem for fear of Pharaoh’s army, 12 that Jeremiah went out of Jerusalem to go into the land of Benjamin to claim his property there among the people. 13 And when he was in the Gate of Benjamin, a captain of the guard was there whose name was Irijah the son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah; and he seized Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “You are defecting to the Chaldeans!”

14 Then Jeremiah said, “False! I am not defecting to the Chaldeans.” But he did not listen to him.

So Irijah seized Jeremiah and brought him to the princes. 15 Therefore the princes were angry with Jeremiah, and they struck him and put him in prison in the house of Jonathan the scribe. For they had made that the prison.

16 When Jeremiah entered the dungeon and the cells, and Jeremiah had remained there many days,

Jeremiah had proclaimed a message of the coming judgement of God for years.  Now that judgement was at the door and Jeremiah had been given a message of hope.  The hope was that the exile would not be permanent, that the children of Israel would return in seventy years.  As a symbol of the restoration, Jeremiah was directed to buy a field.  He was going out to look at that field when he was arrested as a defector.

He had been faithful to God and his situation deteriorated.

Sometimes when we are serving God, things can get bad.

II.  Sometimes it Gets Worse  Jeremiah 38:2-6

 “Thus says the Lord: ‘He who remains in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence; but he who goes over to the Chaldeans shall live; his life shall be as a prize to him, and he shall live.’ Thus says the Lord: ‘This city shall surely be given into the hand of the king of Babylon’s army, which shall take it.’”

Therefore the princes said to the king, “Please, let this man be put to death, for thus he weakens the hands of the men of war who remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, by speaking such words to them. For this man does not seek the welfare of this people, but their harm.”

Then Zedekiah the king said, “Look, he is in your hand. For the king can do nothing against you.” So they took Jeremiah and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah the king’sson, which was in the court of the prison, and they let Jeremiah down with ropes. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire. So Jeremiah sank in the mire.

I suppose that the rulers had a point in that the message Jeremiah was proclaiming would indeed encourage people to give themselves up rather than fight.  That was the message that Jeremiah had been given by God to give to the people.  His reward for his faithfulness was to be tossed into a pit.

Sometimes when we are serving God it goes from bad to worse.

III.  Deliverance Will Come  Jeremiah 39:11-14

Now Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon gave charge concerning Jeremiah to Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, saying, 12 “Take him and look after him, and do him no harm; but do to him just as he says to you.” 13 So Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard sent Nebushasban, Rabsaris, Nergal-Sharezer, Rabmag, and all the king of Babylon’s chief officers; 14 then they sent someone to take Jeremiah from the court of the prison, and committed him to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, that he should take him home. So he dwelt among the people.

God does not forget His servants.  Deliverance will come.  We just don’t know when.  It may not even come in this lifetime.  We need to remember that God looks at things from an eternal perspective.  The sacrifices that we make in this life for the kingdom of God will be remembered and rewarded, if not in this life, then in the life to come.

Conclusion:  Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet for good reason.  He proclaimed a message of destruction to a people who rejected that message.  When destruction came, he did not celebrate the fulfillment of the prophesy, but rather wept over the destruction of Jerusalem.  He remained in the city after its destruction until he was forcibly dragged off to Egypt by the remaining Jews who fled to Egypt.    His life had very few happy moments of celebration.

I have no doubt that he has received his reward in heaven.  We should all learn a lesson from his faithfulness.  He did not think of his own comfort or gain, he simply proclaimed the message that God had given him to proclaim.

Likewise, may we be faithful to do what God calls us to do.

A Faithful Life of Service

July 10, 2012

Here are the sermon notes from July 8th,21012.

Introduction:  I have been reading recently in II Kings.  The story of King Josiah stands out to me.  He was the last godly king of Judah prior to its’ conquest by Babylon.  He became king when he was only eight years old.  When he was twenty-six he oversaw the cleansing, and restoration of the temple.  During the process, a copy of the book of the law was found.  Evidently, the children of Israel had strayed so far from the Lord that the revealed word had been set aside, and literally forgotten.  When King Josiah heard the words of the law, he tore his clothes in humble repentance.  He recognized how far Israel had fallen away from their service to God and he set about to make things right.

I.  A Time of Restoration

II Kings 23  Now the king sent them to gather all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem to him. The king went up to the house of the Lord with all the men of Judah, and with him all the inhabitants of Jerusalem—the priests and the prophets and all the people, both small and great. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant which had been found in the house of the Lord.

Then the king stood by a pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to follow the Lord and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people took a stand for the covenant.

First, I am impressed that the people listened to all the words of the Book of the Covenant.  This book may have been Leviticus, or possibly even the entire Pentateuch.  Today’s congregation may lose interest if a scripture readings goes for more the ten verses.

Second, this was no idle reading or commitment.  The king set about a methodical cleansing of the land of all foreign gods, altars and temples.  He was serious about his desire to restore true worship and the process continued throughout his life.

II.  King Josiah Lived a Life of Faithful Service.

II Kings 23  24 Moreover Josiah put away those who consulted mediums and spiritists, the household gods and idols, all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the Lord. 25 Now before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses; nor after him did any arise like him.

Notice that it is said that no king was like him..ever.  Not even King David, who is normally considered the greatest king.  We all know that King David had his  faults.  Apparently King Josiah was completely committed to serving God, faithful throughout his life.

III.  The Unexpected, Tragic End

II Kings 23 28 Now the rest of the acts of Josiah, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? 29 In his days Pharaoh Necho king of Egypt went to the aid of the king of Assyria, to the River Euphrates; and King Josiah went against him. And Pharaoh Necho killed him at Megiddo when he confronted him. 30 Then his servants moved his body in a chariot from Megiddo, brought him to Jerusalem, and buried him in his own tomb. And the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, anointed him, and made him king in his father’s place.

Why did God not protect King Josiah in battle?  God had delivered his people many times in previous years, why was this occasion different?

God has a plan.  He knows how the events of this world are going to unfold.  King Josiah served a very important role in restoring worship to the Jewish people.  Prior to his reign the focus was clearly on the temple, and on sacrifice.  After his reign there was a renewed emphasis on the study of the Word of God.  When the children of Israel were exiled to Babylon, they gathered together to study the word, for worship and for prayer.   It was a necessary change in focus for the years that were to come.

King Josiah reigned for thirty-one years.  He died at thirty-nine.  You might consider this an untimely death, or you could think of it as an early retirement.  Remember that for the people of God, our true reward is not in the things of this life, but in the life to come.

Conclusion:  We all have a part that we play in the plan of God.  We are called to faithfully serve, and we can trust that God knows what He is doing.  God does know what he is doing. we simply need to be faithful in our service to Him.  Our reward may come in various things of this life, but even more important is when we stand before the Lord to hear the words “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  Clearly, the best is yet to come.