Posts Tagged ‘happiness’

Live By Faith

January 18, 2017

If we are willing to let God guide our lives, the results will be pretty amazing.

I.  What Will He Say?  Habakkuk 2:1

I will stand my watch
And set myself on the rampart,
And watch to see what He will say to me,
And what I will answer when I am corrected.

Sometimes we need to stop moving.  I don’t know about you, but I tend to be very busy.  I always have stuff that should be done.  I have a list.  It’s long.  One of the most important things on that list is to pray.  In prayer, we are not to just bring a list of requests before God, we should take time to be still in His presence.  I remember, long ago, I was a tanker in the Marine Corps serving in Beirut.  I had guard duty every other day, six hours on, six hours off, two shifts, so twelve hours of guard duty every other day.  We were not located in an area with traffic and the threat level at the time was minimal, so there was lots of time to stand, pray and listen.  Sometimes I miss having those large chunks of time for prayer.

It is good to take time to “see what He will say to me”.  God may speak to us if we take the time to listen.  Are we giving him time?  Or in our times of prayer are we the only ones speaking?

If God corrects us, how will we respond?  Will we make excuses?  Will we blame someone else?  Or will we take responsibility for our past mistakes and put forth our best effort to do better?

If God gives us direction, will we follow?  Or do we think that we know what is best?

II.  Live By Faith:  Habakkuk 2:4

Behold the proud,
His soul is not upright in him;
But the just shall live by his faith.

The proud will not accept correction or direction .  They do not think that they should listen to God because they believe that they know what they are doing and are already good enough.

The just do not place their confidence in their own abilities but in the mercy and grace of God.  “The just shall live by his faith.” inspired Paul and later Martin Luther to recognize that our relationship with God is indeed based on faith, not our good works.

Our faith in God will incline us to listen to God and to accept both His correction and direction.  If we are willing to accept the correction of God,  to follow the direction of God and to live the lives that He has for us, we will be amazed at the results.

 

III.  God is the Source:  Habakkuk 3:17-19

Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—
18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.

19 The Lord God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills.

To the Chief Musician. With my stringed instruments.

Here in America today, there are some who face hunger, but actually starvation is pretty rare.  In Habakkuk’s day, the possibility of starvation was very real.  If you have a pile of gold, but there is nothing to eat, the gold will not sustain you.

Even if it all goes badly, I will rejoice in the Lord.   I love this thought.  Our joy is not based on the things of this world but rather in our relationship with the God of our salvation.

God also is our source of strength.  He will enable us to do what we have to do.  We do not operate in our own strength, but in the strength that God gives to us.

Listen to God

Walk in faith.

Let God be your source of joy and strength.

God has an amazing life for you!

These are the sermon notes from 1/15/17.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

 

The Power of Praise

August 22, 2016

I think that I have always enjoyed singing.  Then, shortly after graduation, I was asked to play percussion on the worship team at church.

I was hooked.

I love to worship using my instruments.   (drums and percussion)  Then a few years back I tried singing while playing.

I love it.  It is also very biblical.

I.  Sing

Psalms 95:1-3

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord!
Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving;
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
For the Lord is the great God,
And the great King above all gods.

Life is not a musical, but our lives should have more music.  Singing lifts the spirits.  I have seen a little boy who, when he is happy, goes around singing made up songs.  He is happy and he expresses that happiness through song.  Maybe as adults we have become too self conscious, maybe life should be a musical.

Psalms 96:1-4

Oh, sing to the Lord a new song!
Sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, bless His name;
Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day.
Declare His glory among the nations,
His wonders among all peoples.

For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised;
He is to be feared above all gods.

We may sing when we are happy, but singing to the Lord is not about us.  The Lord is great and greatly to be praised.  He deserves our worship.  It is about Him, not us.

Psalms 98:1-6

Oh, sing to the Lord a new song!
For He has done marvelous things;
His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory.
The Lord has made known His salvation;
His righteousness He has revealed in the sight of the nations.
He has remembered His mercy and His faithfulness to the house of Israel;
All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth;
Break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises.
Sing to the Lord with the harp,
With the harp and the sound of a psalm,
With trumpets and the sound of a horn;
Shout joyfully before the Lord, the King.

We can sing in church.  We can sing in the car.  We can sing at home.  I would encourage you to incorporate more singing into your life.  Play the radio on Christian stations, buy Christian CDs.  God deserves our worship.

There is a secondary effect.  It does lift our spirits.  After the first service this morning, a lady mentioned to me that it actually seems to detox our spirits.  I liked that and told her that I was going to include it in the second service.  Sometimes our spirits need a cleansing detox.  Spend time in worship and praise.  God deserves it, and it will help us as well.

II.  Give Thanks

Psalms 100:1-4

Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
Know that the Lord, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.

God not only deserves our praise, He deserves our thanks.  When we are feeling good and things are going well it is easy to give God thanks and praise.

Psalms 107:21-22

Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
22 Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving,
And declare His works with rejoicing.

Some days it is not so easy.  Sometimes we may feel as if our problems are too great to give God thanks.  On those days we should still offer a sacrifice of praise.  Plus, if we would shift our focus just a little, we would see that even on the worst of days, God has blessed us in many ways.  Remember the old song and “Count Your Blessings”.

Psalms 107:31-32

Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
32 Let them exalt Him also in the assembly of the people,
And praise Him in the company of the elders.

As we are told in I Thessalonians 5:18, we should give thanks in everything.  After all, we are told in Romans 8:28 that “all things work together for good…”

It is always right and fitting that we give God both praise and thanks.

III.  Pray

Psalms 109:1-4

Do not keep silent,
O God of my praise!
For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful
Have opened against me;
They have spoken against me with a lying tongue.
They have also surrounded me with words of hatred,
And fought against me without a cause.
In return for my love they are my accusers,
But I give myself to prayer.

This is a dramatic shift from the first two points of this message.

Sometimes people are cruel.  They lie, they hurt us in a whole variety of ways.

Our response should be to pray to the God whom we praise.  He is our deliverer.

Matthew 6:43-45

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

It is human nature to hurt those that have hurt us, to reply in kind, with interest.

God has called us to be different.

We are able to be different because of God.  As we spend time in His presence in praise and thanksgiving, we are changed.  We are able to forgive and even to love our enemies, not because it comes naturally, but because we have been changed by the time we have spent in worship of the God who loves us all.

These are the sermon notes from 8/21/16,  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

Love and Peace

March 24, 2016

I am greatly disturbed when I hear people talk about God hating people, or Christians who spew hateful things.  The Christian message is not based on hatred and fear, but on love and peace.

I.  The Goodness of God:  Romans 2:1-4

Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

A.  Sin is sin.  All sin is wrong.  It is wrong for us to judge the sin of others, while ignoring the sin in our own life.

B.  God is good to us.  He is patient with us.  The work of sanctification is an ongoing process in our lives.  The longer we walk with God, the closer we grow to God, the more sin-free our lives will be.

C.  It is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance.  We are drawn to God because of his goodness.  We desire to be more like Him, so we turn away from our sin and seek to imitate the goodness of God.

II.  Justified By Faith:  Romans 1-5

 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

A.  We have peace with God through our faith in Jesus Christ.  We still seek to be good, because we want to please God, but we are forgiven, so the pressure is off.  We are not perfect, we are forgiven.  We are not worried.  We are at peace.

B.  Now that we are at peace within ourselves, we can face trouble in a different way.  We recognize that problems are opportunities for personal growth.  We place our trust in God, and draw close to Him in time of trouble.

C.  It is the love of God which truly changes us.  God loves us with a love that is beyond human comprehension.  The Holy Spirit assures us of that love as we grow in our relationship with God.

God loves us.  He has reached out to us through Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit confirms that truth to our hearts.  We respond to God’s love by drawing closer to Him.  As we draw closer to Him we turn away from sin and become more like Him.  We are not perfect, but we are perfectly loved and so we are at peace.

The Secret to Happiness

August 3, 2015

There are a lot of self-help books on the market.  People are not happy with who they are and they want to change.  They think that their lives would be better if they found the secret to happiness.

I.  The Lord Teaches Us:  Isaiah 48:17-18

Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,
The Holy One of Israel:
“I am the Lord your God,
Who teaches you to profit,
Who leads you by the way you should go.
18 Oh, that you had heeded My commandments!
Then your peace would have been like a river,
And your righteousness like the waves of the sea.

God will teach us how we should live.  God works in our lives by His Word and His Spirit to shape us into the people that we are meant to be.  It is a lifelong process, not a weekend seminar.

This process requires our participation and cooperation.  We need to be reading the Bible.  We need to exercise our will and follow the direction that God gives to us.  If we follow the directions that God gives to us, then we will prosper.

II.  The Lord is the Potter:  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.

God is at work in our lives.  He has a plan and a purpose for us.  He has given to us certain skills that we are to develop and opportunities that we should seize.

Sometimes we are unhappy with our lives.  We can make changes, as God leads, but sometimes we must accept who we are created to be.  We need wisdom from God to know what we are to do.

III.  That Your Joy May Be Full:  I John 1:4-7

And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.

This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

Joy is meant to be a regular part of our Christian experience.  The joy that God gives to us is not dependent on external circumstances, but on our internal relationship with Christ.  Our joy should be full.

If we are being led by the Spirit of God, we will be walking in the light.  That means that we will be doing what is right in the sight of God.  This too, is a process.  God cleanses us from sin.  We learn more and more what it means to be the children of God. We learn how we are to live, and God enables us to change.

IV.  Greater is He Who is in You:  I John 4:4

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

Sometimes people will say that they cannot help themselves, that they are only human, that they cannot change.

That is not correct.

We are of God and have the Spirit of God within us.  We cannot change on our own, but by the power of the Spirit of God we can do whatever God calls us to do.

The secret to happiness is to cooperate with God as He forms us into the people that we are meant to be.

These are the sermon notes from 7/19/15.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

Words For Life

June 8, 2015

The book of Proverbs is filled with short sayings filled with wisdom for godly living.  In today’s message I have selected seven to share with you.

I.  On Alcohol:  Proverbs 20:1

Wine is a mocker,
Strong drink is a brawler,
And whoever is led astray by it is not wise.

We all can think of examples where lives have been destroyed by alcohol: the drunk driver who kills someone, the alcoholic that loses everything important to them,  An individual who makes a mistake while under the influence that has lifelong consequences. No one drinks intending to make life destroying actions.   The best way to avoid these types of problems is to abstain from alcohol.  Perhaps you will have no problem with alcohol, but what about others who seek to follow your example, but who fail to walk the line of moderation?  We are not to set a stumbling block in the path of others.  If we practice abstinence, no one following our example will be led astray by alcohol.

Drinking alcohol is like playing with fire.  Abstinence is the better choice.

II.  Pleasure:  Proverbs 21:17

He who loves pleasure will be a poor man;
He who loves wine and oil will not be rich.

This verse reminds me of the warning in II Timothy 3:4 that talks about people who are “lovers of pleasure, rather than lovers of God”.  God has given us many wonderful gifts, but we need to be careful not to let the gifts take the place of the giver.  God is to be more important to us than material things.  If the things of this world take the place of God in our life, then even if we are rich, we are truly poor.

III.  Overwork:  Proverbs 23:4

Do not overwork to be rich;
Because of your own understanding, cease!

The Bible talks about the importance of hard work.  Here we are warned against overwork.  Some of us have a tendency to be lazy.  Some of us are inclined to overwork.  We should seek to find a healthy balance.  Without the blessing of God, long hours will be in vain.  With the blessing of God, our efforts can bear fruit.  We should be faithful servants, but we do not have to work ourselves to death.

IV.  Repeating Mistakes:  Proverbs 26:11

As a dog returns to his own vomit,
So a fool repeats his folly.

We should learn from our mistakes, not repeat them.  Sadly, I know people who repeat the same mistake over and over again.  I guess that makes them fools.  I don’t like to use such terms for people, but that is what the Bible calls people who repeat their folly.  Let us not be fools.  Let us learn from our mistakes.

V.  The Wounds of a Friend:  Proverbs 27:6

Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

Our friends may tell us when we have messed up.  We should receive correction humbly, recognizing that they speak out of love for us, not out of hatred.  It may sting for the moment, but we are made better by godly correction.

VI.  Sudden Destruction:  Proverbs 29:1

He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck,
Will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.

A person will only tolerate so much.  If we are in a relationship with someone and they continue in wrong behavior, there may come a time when we cut them out of our lives.  We see this in human relationships.  Is it true with God?  Is it possible that God will cut us off if we consistently refuse correction?  I certainly would not want to take that chance.  One of the scariest things that I have heard people say is “I know it is wrong, but God will forgive me”.  Premeditated sin, counting on God’s forgiveness, is a very dangerous road to travel.

VII.  Build a Life:  Proverbs 24:3-4

Through wisdom a house is built,
And by understanding it is established;
By knowledge the rooms are filled
With all precious and pleasant riches.

If we would live our lives according to God’s wisdom, it would be good.  Our lives here on earth can be filled with the riches that God has for us.  Those riches may look different from person to person, but for the faithful servant of God, life can be good, and the best is yet to come.

These are the sermon notes from 6/7/15.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

 

 

Great Peace

May 28, 2015

One of our greatest assets as Christians is the peace of God that brings us through the turmoil of life.

I.  Psalms 119:165

Great peace have those who love Your law,
And nothing causes them to stumble.

The peace that God has for His people is something that this world cannot given, nor understand, nor take away.  It is not an absence of external turmoil or conflict.  It is an inner peace that allows us to face the storms of life unruffled.

This peace comes from time spent in the Word of God.  The Word of God, together with the Spirit of God, transform the people of God.  We should read it, study it, memorize it, meditate upon it, and above all, be obedient to it.

To stumble is to trip up, to almost fall.  People who are grounded in the Word will live stable Christian lives.

The King James version of the Bible says “And nothing will offend them.” for the second portion of verse 165.  Christians who are solidly grounded in the Word will not be offended by the actions of others.  We will have compassion on them, even when they are doing offensive things.

II.  John 16:33

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

This verse has been one of my favorites since my teenage years.  It has given me a peace within that comes from a confidence in what God can do in our lives.

We will have tribulation.  We will have problems, tests, and trials.  We can be confident that God will see us through those problems.  We can trust that God will give us the wisdom to know what to do, and the strength to do it.  We are not alone.  God is with us.  It may be that we must look at our situations from an eternal perspective, because sometimes things don’t work out for us in this life.  That doesn’t meant that we are defeated.

We have the Spirit of Christ as our source of strength.  Jesus overcame the world.  Now, we too, are more than conquerors.

III.  II Timothy 3:1-5

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

Whenever I read this portion of scripture I am amazed at how many of these traits are in evidence in the world today.  I believe that perilous times have come and we should guard our hearts against the corruption that is in the world.

In all of this, we may be at peace.  As our world descends into chaos, we can know that God is still on the throne.  We should continue to seek to do what is right in the eyes of God.  We should work to solve problems and to make the world in which we now live a better place, but we must realize that our true home is not in this world.

IV.  Philippians 4:6-7

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.

We cannot be at peace and be worried at the same time.  We should not worry.  Anything that we are anxious about we can bring to God and leave in His hands.  He loves us, hears us, and is able to help us.

We can be at peace in Him.

These are the sermon notes from 5/24/15.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any payment from them. 

The Acceptable, the Good and the Perfect

May 7, 2015

I am a percussionist.  I have played percussion instruments in performance groups and in worship teams for over thirty-five years.   As a percussionist, I have a fairly large collection of instruments.  I have a vibraphone, marimba, orchestra bells, timpani, congas, bongos, tempo blocks, cowbells, tambourines, a guiro, afuche, claves, various types of shakers, and more.

I played drums and percussion in school.  There was music.  I played what was written.  When I was first asked to play in church, I asked if there was music.  The director laughed, told me no, and that he would teach me to improvise.

Now I hardly ever use written music.

One of the challenges that  a percussionist faces is determining what instrument is going to be the best choice for a particular song, or part of a song.  Personally, I pray that I will be inspired by God’s Spirit to best be in tune with the worship that is taking place.  Paul speaks of singing in the Spirit, my goal is to play in the Spirit.

Last night during the worship service, as I was selecting which instrument to play, it occurred to me that it was a good illustration of our life choices.  In the same way that I have many instruments from which I can choose to play, I also have many ways in which I can spend my time.  In fact, I have far more things that I could do, than I could possibly have time or energy to do.

I could play many instruments and sound decent, but there is only one instrument that would be best.  It is the same in life, the challenge is to select the best thing to do with our time at any given moment.

I am still working on that.

Romans 12: 1-2

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

In playing my instruments, I want to be the best that I can be.  In life, my desire is to be in the perfect will of God, not just the good, or the merely acceptable, but the perfect.  I am glad that God accepts me in my imperfection, but I want to be the best that I can be in my service to God, not just as a musician, but in all areas of my life.

I hope that is true for you as well.

Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress. I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

Rejoice Always

February 23, 2015

I Thessalonians 5:16 says “Rejoice always!”  There are times in life when this is  easy and times when it is not.

I.  Rejoice in Blessings:  I Chronicles 19:16

 “O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have prepared to build You a house for Your holy name is from Your hand, and is all Your own.”

Everything that we have has come from God.  We may think that our own abilities and hard work have earned us the material things that we possess, but who gave us the abilities?  Who gave us the opportunities?  Who helped the results of our efforts to be favorable?  It is appropriate to rejoice in the blessings that God has given to us.  When things are going well it is easy to rejoice.

II.  Rejoice in Trials:  II Thessalonians 1:4-7

 so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels,

God is with us even in our times of trial.  We are not alone.  God will give us wisdom and strength to endure the times of trials.  We can rejoice that we do not face our trials alone.  God will give us the wisdom to know what to do, and the strength to do it.

We can rest assured that the wicked will be punished.  We do not rejoice in their destruction.  We pray for them to repent, but there is a sense of justice in knowing that the wicked who have not repented, will be punished.

The faithful will be rewarded.  If not in this life, then in the next.

III.  Rejoice in Death:

Luke 10: 20: 

Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”

Revelation 20:11-15:

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

As Christians we can rejoice that our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  Our lives on this earth may be difficult at times but we have a hope that goes beyond this world.  Our true reward is in the life to come.

We do not rejoice in the destruction of the wicked.  Rather we warn them of the judgement to come upon those who do not repent and call upon the name of the Lord Jesus.  We rejoice along with the angels in heaven whenever a person turns from their sins and finds salvation in Jesus Christ.

To rejoice always seems like a difficult challenge, but when we think about it we realize that in times of blessing, in times of trial and even in death, we have reason to rejoice.  For in life, and in death, God is with us.

These are the sermon notes from 2/15/15.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

Created for a Purpose

December 29, 2014

Gideon was one of the judges of Israel.  He had seventy sons by his wives, and one son, named Abimelech, by his concubine.  After the death of Gideon, Abimelech killed all of his brothers except one, named Jotham, who got away.  Jotham later confronted Abimelech with words recorded in the book of Judges.

I.  Our Common Purpose:  Judges 9:8-15

“The trees once went forth to anoint a king over them.
And they said to the olive tree,
‘Reign over us!’
But the olive tree said to them,
‘Should I cease giving my oil,
With which they honor God and men,
And go to sway over trees?’

10 “Then the trees said to the fig tree,
‘You come and reign over us!’
11 But the fig tree said to them,
‘Should I cease my sweetness and my good fruit,
And go to sway over trees?’

12 “Then the trees said to the vine,
‘You come and reign over us!’
13 But the vine said to them,
‘Should I cease my new wine,
Which cheers both God and men,
And go to sway over trees?’

14 “Then all the trees said to the bramble,
‘You come and reign over us!’
15 And the bramble said to the trees,
‘If in truth you anoint me as king over you,
Then come and take shelter in my shade;
But if not, let fire come out of the bramble
And devour the cedars of Lebanon!’

Now, I know that this is a prophetic word against Abimelech.  As such, it has a specific purpose for which it was written.  Today, however, I want to focus on something other than the treachery of Abimelech.  I want to talk about the symbolism of trees.

All living trees have some things in common.  They have roots, trunks, branches and leaves.  In the word given to Abimelech, the trees were symbolic of people.  I want to talk about people.  All people are created by God with some common purposes.

1.  We are to love God and people.  Matthew 22:36-40

 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

2.  We are to give thanks to God.  I Thessalonians 5:18

 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

3.  We are to do good works.  Matthew 5:16

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

4.  We are to tell others about Jesus.  I Peter 3:15

 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;

5.  We are to pray.  I Thessalonians 5:17

pray without ceasing,

These actions are common to all Christians.  We do not have to ask ourselves if we should do these things.  We should be doing them.

II.  Our Different Gifts:  Romans 12:6-8

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

There are different types of trees that fulfill different purposes.  There are also different types of people to fulfill different purposes in the kingdom of God. There are many ways that God can use us.  We do not need to try to be something that God has not called and gifted us to be.  We should seek to identify our gifts and use them for the glory of God.

These are the sermon notes from 11/30/14.  Any advertisements that might accompany this post are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

The Ten Commandments

October 30, 2014

The Ten Commandments were given to the children of Israel at Mt. Sinai.  To this day they provide, not just a code of conduct for a religious group, but a foundation for ethical behavior that has stood for thousands of years.  Today, however, it is being removed not just from our public buildings but from many of our lives.  Today I hope to reinforce the foundation of our code of conduct, The Ten Commandments.

I.  Our Relationship to God:  Deuteronomy 5:6-15

‘I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

‘You shall have no other gods before Me.

‘You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 10 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

11 ‘You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.

12 ‘Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. 15 And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.

The first commandment seems simple enough.  Today, at least in western culture, the God of Abraham is clearly the primary deity that is addressed.  There is more to it however.  Is God our top priority, or is He merely a part of our lives, and a small part at that?  God is meant to be the most important part of our lives.  If anything else is more important to us, then we have set that thing up as a god in our lives.

God is not something of this world.  There can be no image of God because God is a Spirit, not a thing.  Making an image of God would change our idea of the nature of God.  God is eternal.  Material things all have a beginning.  God is an eternal Spirit, not some material, created thing.

Profanity used to be reserved for men in certain trades.  Today profanity is used by men, women and children in all walks of life.  The name of Jesus Christ is used as an exclamation of anger, not just as an expression of praise.  People curse all sorts of things using the name of God.  Even the common expression of surprise or dismay may be represented by the acronym OMG!  Clearly our society has not taken the third commandment very seriously.

We can add a second dimension to this commandment today.  As Christians we have taken upon ourselves the name of Christ.  Are we making a mockery of that holy name by our unholy lives?

The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.  We are so busy today.  Many have discarded the practice of a day of rest.  It was meant to be a blessing to us, not a burden, and yet many have rejected that gift.  Our lives are diminished by not observing a day devoted to rest and worship.

II.  Our Relationship to Parents:  Deuteronomy 5:16

 ‘Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.

Our attitude towards authority begins at home.  If we learn to respect and obey our parents it will impact the rest of our lives.  We will respect and obey our teachers.  We will respect and obey our employers.  We will respect and obey the legal authorities.  We will respect and obey God.   We first learn at home that obeying the rules brings reward, being disobedient results in punishment.  That is a lesson that is good all life long.

Parents take care of their children when they are young.  When the parents become old, the children take care of them.  The church and the government only have to help those who do not have family.  This was a basic rule of society for generations.

III.  Our Relationship Towards Others:  Deuteronomy 5:17-21

 ‘You shall not murder.

18 ‘You shall not commit adultery.

19 ‘You shall not steal.

20 ‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

21 ‘You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife; and you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field, his male servant, his female servant, his ox, his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.’

Our society has distorted the sixth commandment.  They seem to think that to murder and to kill are synonymous.  Killing a human being in self defense, or combat, or executing a criminal are not covered by this commandment.  Of course, Jesus expanded this commandment and told us that we were not to hate our neighbor.  We are to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Sexual sin is rampant in our society.  God created us as sexual beings, but the only appropriate place for sex is within the bonds of marriage.  The only form of biblical marriage is a man and a woman.

Do not steal is not supposed to cover only things over a certain value.  Taking small items that do not belong to us is still stealing.  Taking things from work is stealing.  Even cheating on our tax returns is stealing.  Not fulfilling a contract is stealing.  Not giving an honest days work for an honest days pay is stealing.

Do not lie.  I once told my class at the college that I do not lie and they laughed at me.  They assumed that statement itself was a lie.  Lying has become a rampant disease in our society to the point that you really don’t know who you can trust to speak the truth.  That is a sad commentary on the state of our country.  How much better would our world be if we could trust people to simply speak the truth?

Do not be jealous of your neighbor, or envious of the things that they have in their life.  Learn to be happy with what you have in your own life.  Covetousness makes us believe that we need some thing to be happy.  All we truly  need to be happy is to be in a right relationship with God.

Deuteronomy 5:29

Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!

These are the sermon notes from 10/19/14.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any  money from them.