Posts Tagged ‘Life’

You Decide

December 3, 2019

I very much appreciate that God has given us the ability to make our own decisions.  When my children were young (And still today!) I would pray that God would help them, and I, to make good decisions.

Deuteronomy 11:26-28

“Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you today; 28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known.

I.  A Clear Division

I appreciate the clear division.  You can choose a blessing or a curse.  Of course, who would intentionally choose a curse?  Only someone who does not believe.

A.  Psalms 14:1

The fool has said in his heart,
There is no God.”
They are corrupt,
They have done abominable works,
There is none who does good.

B.  Proverbs 9:10

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

C.  Luke 11:23

He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters.

From these verses we see a continuation of a clear-cut choice.  We can go with God, or without God.  We are either with Jesus, or against  Jesus.  There is no middle ground.  There is no neutral territory.  We must decide which side we are on.

II.  You Choose:  Joshua 24:14-15

“Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! 15 And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Joshua reminded the Children of Israel that they had a choice.  They could serve the Lord, or they could serve other gods, or no gods.

We also have a choice.  We can serve God, or follow some other path, but there will be consequences for our choice.  It is important that we make the right one.

III.  Believe:  Hebrews 11:6

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

We can read the words that tell us about Jesus and God but unless we mix that knowledge with faith, our knowledge will be useless.  We must believe that the words are true. We must have faith in God.  This faith comes about when the Spirit of God speaks to our hearts about the Word of God and we have the opportunity, by the grace of God, to choose to believe.  When we respond in faith to the message of Jesus the Spirit of God comes into our hearts and we become a new creation.

IV.  Act:  Matthew 7:21-27

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

We do not change our lives to be saved, but if we are saved, our lives will change.  If the Spirit of God dwells inside of us, then we will not be the same.

We must daily decide to follow Jesus.  There will always be the temptation to follow old patterns, to do our own thing, but it is far better to follow Jesus, not just in what we say, but also in what we do.

Jesus has offered to us an abundant life.  It is up to us to choose whether or not we will receive it.

 

These are the sermon notes from 11/30/19.  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. 

 

Walk in the Truth

June 15, 2019

The Christian life begins with a moment in which we respond to the Word and the Spirit of God in repentance and faith.  That new birth is only the beginning of our Christian life.

I.  Walk in Truth:  III John 2-4

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.

A.  Prayer, not Proclamation:  There was a time when I heard people use verse two to support the idea that all Christians should prosper and be in good health.  Now, it is true that often God will bless his people both financially and with good health, but it is not a guarantee.  This verse is a prayer for them to prosper and be in good health, not a proclamation that they will be.  There is a difference.  If anything, the existence of the prayer indicates that it is not a given.

B.  Rejoice:  I have been in ministry now for many years at the same church.  I have literally watched people grow from childhood to adulthood.  I can agree with John that it brings me great joy to know that my ‘children’ are walking in the truth.  For me, I would substitute my ‘people’ so that it can refer to the young, the old, and everyone in between.  The truth is that I have known some that have left the faith.  Those people sadden me.  The ones who are faithfully serving God do indeed bring joy.

C.  Walk in Truth:  There are multiple components to walking in truth.  First there is the understanding that Jesus himself is truth.  (See John 14:6) Therefore to walk in truth is simply to walk with Jesus.  Think ‘Just a Closer Walk With Thee”.  That would be a great start.  Another component of truth is having a knowledge of the truth.  That would be having an accurate understanding of the Bible and its’ teachings.  Thankfully, we do not have to have everything right.  It is not a test that we must score a certain percent on to go to heaven, but we should grow in our knowledge of truth.  The final component that I will mention today is to live our lives according to the commandments of God.  Again, it is important to know that we are not trying to earn our salvation, but rather to live out our salvation.  Christ makes a difference in our lives.

II.  Imitate:  III John 11

Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God.

It is important to understand that we should not imitate the world’s understanding of good.  God has revealed what is good in His sight in the Bible.  The Bible should provide our standard of good.  Therefore, people who are living their lives according to God’s Word are the ones that we should be imitating.

III.  The Lord is Good:  Lamentations 3:22-25

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!”

25 The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him.

    A.  Not Consumed:  God is merciful.  Those who turn to Him in repentance are forgiven through Jesus Christ.  Thank you God!

B.  New Every Morning:  Our relationship with God is not something that we have to simply remember.  God is willing to reveal Himself to us daily.  We do not have to live only with a memory of what God did some time in the past.  He desires to be a part of our life today.

C. The Lord is Good:  If we seek God, we will find Him.  He is good to His people.  We should seek His presence regularly and diligently.

These are the sermon notes from 6/9/19.  All Bible quotes are from the New King James Version.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

 

 

Walk Worthy

November 15, 2018

As I was preparing this message, I initially thought that perhaps it was a series of messages. However, then I realized that it really was just one message.  The message begins with Ephesians 4:1-6.

I.  Walk Worthy

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

A.  Walk Worthy

We are challenged to “walk worthy of the calling with which you were called”.  We are called to be Christians.  That means that we represent Christ.  We are called the children of God.  That means that we represent God.  It is hard to imagine how we can truly walk worthy of that calling.  We cannot be as good as Christ.  We certainly aren’t God.  Yet we should strive to be the very best representatives of Christ and God that we can possibly be in this life.  It is a challenge that we should accept and strive to fulfill.  Not because we need to earn our salvation, but because we want to please the God who saved us by His love.

B.  United in Christ

Unity is not conformity.  Even in this church we do not always agree on everything.  That is OK.  We are able to recognize that we have a core belief that unites us in Jesus Christ.  This is true not only for this church, but ultimately for all believers in Jesus Christ.  There is only one Holy Spirit.  There is only one God.  Our understanding of how we serve God may vary, but we are united by our faith in Jesus, our love for God and our love for all people.

II.  Walk in Love:  Ephesians 5:1-8  (Verse 8 is the memory verse for this week.)

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For [a]this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light

A.  Walk in Love

All that we do should be motivated by our love for God and our love for people.  As we mature in Christ we will learn more and more what it means to walk in love.

B.  Walk in the Light

I really appreciate how Isaiah puts it “Cease to do evil, learn to do good.”  Of course the first key is to be able to identify what is evil and what is good.  The Bible is the place where we should look for those definitions.  We should not look to the world.  It is pretty messed up.  We should look to God who is supremely good.  The Bible and the Holy Spirit will help the people of God to know how they should act.  Of course knowing is only the beginning then we must choose to act in accordance with our knowledge.  God will give us both wisdom and strength to know what to do.

C.  Imitate God

I have met some people who seem to think they are God, but that is not what this means.  Years ago there was a popular slogan, WWJD, What Would Jesus Do?  This actually is a very good question to ask ourselves.  Would we be ashamed of our activity is Jesus knew what we were doing?  Would we do it if he was physically present with us?  This is where we need to remember the promise in Matthew 28 “I am with you always..”.  We should try to live as Jesus would live.

III.  Stand:  Ephesians 6:10-18

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—

A.  Be Strong

To live as God wants us to live we need the strength that comes from God.  We cannot do it in our own strength.  God is our source of strength.

B.  The Wiles of the Devil

Satan desires to steal, kill and destroy.  (John 10:10)  He will use all kinds of tricks to bring us down, to end our walk with God or to severely hinder it.  Ask God to open your eyes to his tricks and to stand firm and fight the good fight.

C.  The Armor of God

Some people like to put on the armor of God in a spiritual sense in prayer.  I do not wish to speak against that practice, but it will not do you any good to put on spiritual armor if you are not living in the armor.  By that I mean we should be people of truth, righteousness, peace and faith.  We should be saved by our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for our sins, rose again from the grave, ascended into heaven and promised to return.  We should be reading the Word of God, studying the Word of God, memorizing the Word of God and meditating on the Word of God.

D.  Prayer

Never underestimate the power of prayer.  Pray for things in your own life, your family, your friends, your church, your pastor, missionaries, our government, other world issues and so on and on.  There is really no limit to the amount of things you could pray about.

Prayer should not just be a time of bringing our concerns before God.  We should bring ourselves before God.  We should simply spend time in His presence, seeking His Face.  Worshiping Him, thanking Him, listening to Him.

Can we walk worthy of God’s love.  No, not really, but we can seek to walk in love, to be imitators of God and to rely on His strength to do His will in our lives.

 

These are the sermon notes from 11/11/18.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

Advice for the New Year

January 3, 2018

2017 is over.  It is a new year.  A new opportunity to do things the right way.  Of course, as Christians, we believe that God forgives the past, gives us wisdom and strength for today, and hope for tomorrow.  We do not need a new year.  Each day is a new day.  Each moment is a fresh start.  Let us learn to do things right.

I.  Live for God:  I Peter 4:1-2

Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

As we start the new year I want to encourage you to seek to do the will of God in your lives.  This is easy to say, not always so easy to do.  First, we have to know what the will of God is for us.  We can start with the Bible.  We are to learn to apply it to our lives.  Biblical study is a life long pursuit.  We should be growing in our understanding of the scriptures and our ability to apply biblical teaching to our lives.  Of course, knowing what is right is one thing.  Actually doing what is right is an entirely different thing.  God can and will help us in both areas.

There are also many issues in life for which the Bible does not give us direct guidance.  We need to learn to be sensitive to the voice of the Spirit.  If we ask God to guide us, especially in the important decisions of our lives.  He will.   We need to be able to say, and mean, not my will, but thine be done.

II.  Established  5:6-11

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

A.  Humble Yourselves:  First, we need to recognize that we need God’s help.  We cannot be the people that He wants us to be on our own strength.  We are completely dependent on Him.

B.  Cast Your Cares:  It is a wonderful thing to be able to bring our cares and concerns to the God of the universe.  He hears us.  He loves us.  He is able to help us.  If our situation is bad and gets worse, we know that we do not face it on our own, but God is with us.  He will give us the wisdom to know what to do, the strength to do what we should, and the grace to deal with whatever happens.  We can trust Him completely.

C.  Be Vigilant:  Satan would like to destroy us, or at least make us ineffective.  We need to watch our for his traps and snares.  He would like to trip us up and drag us down.  Be careful!  Do not think of yourselves  as beyond temptation.  History has shown us that even great leaders can fall.  God will help us, but we must constantly be on our guard against the various attacks of the enemy.

D.  Be Established:  As we continue our walk with God we can know that we are building on a firm foundation.  Jesus Christ is the Cornerstone of our lives.  We can have a life that is solid and secure as we trust in the rock of our salvation.  The storms of life will not tear us down because our God is able to hold us up.

As we enter the new year let us seek to live for God with all of our heart and all of our strength.  That is the best resolution to make for this year and every year.

 

These are the sermon notes from 12/30/17.  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. 

Life and Death

December 13, 2017

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”  This saying was commonly accepted as true when I was a child.  Sadly, it wasn’t true then, and it isn’t true now.  Sticks and stones may leave physical hurts that last for days but words can damage a person for an entire lifetime.

I.  Life and Death:  Proverbs 18:21

Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.

A.  Words of Death

Our words may bring death in a variety of ways.  Lying is widely practiced today.  The thought that a ‘little white lie doesn’t  harm anyone’ is common.  Many others will lie to protect themselves from harm or to gain some form of advantage.  Sadly, we cannot simply take people that we do not know at their word.  In fact, there are people whom we do know that we cannot trust to tell the truth.  The world would be a different place if more people spoke the truth in love.

Gossip about other people is another common problem.  Years ago, I struggled with what it meant to gossip.  Can we not share any news about other people?  Then it came to me that we can share good news.  Nobody seems to mind looking good.  If what we are going to share makes a person look bad, then we do not need to say it.

Swearing also has increased in popularity today.  As Christians we should be different from the world around us.  “Do not take the name of the Lord in vain.” is in the top ten. (commandments)  We should be careful to use the name of God in prayer, praise and the proclamation of truth, not in simply venting anger or frustration.

We can also use our words to create strife and discord.  We can stir up all kinds of trouble by provoking discord by our words.  This is not good.  Not in our families, not in our places of work, and certainly not in our churches.  In addition, in our current political climate, we as Christians should recognize that there  are good Christian people in both major political parties.  We believers should demonstrate by our actions how one should conduct themselves in public discourse with people with whom we disagree.

Today bullying is getting a lot more attention, and rightly so.  Again, Christians should be leading the way in how to speak both in public and in private.

B.  Words of Life

Christians should be people who are known to speak the truth.  That does not mean that we have to share every thought that goes through our minds.  We should learn to speak the truth in love.  The right words at the right time in the right manner.  It takes a lifetime of practice.

We should share good news.  We should give words of encouragement and hope.

We should only use the name of God in the right manner.

We should be peacemakers, not causers of strife.  We should seek to bring people together for the common good, not drive people apart.

We should encourage and build up people.

We should speak words of life.

II.  Guard Your Tongue:  Proverbs 21:23

Whoever guards his mouth and tongue
Keeps his soul from troubles.

It is to our benefit to be careful of what we say.  We can get ourselves and others into all kinds of trouble with our mouths.  We should think carefully before we speak.  Actually, we should pray that God will lead us by His Spirit rather than simply speaking from our own hearts.  Of course, if we focus on being filled with, and directed by, the Spirit of God, then our flesh will not get us in as much trouble.

III.  A Beautiful Thing:  Proverbs 25:11

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold
In settings of silver.

Don’t get hung up on the imagery of mixing gold and silver.  Don’t worry about whether you like apples or not.  The point is that the right words at the right time are a thing of beauty.  We should seek to add to the beauty of the world around us by the words that we share with others.  This does not have to be complex forms of poetry, sometimes very simple words or phrases can be very powerful.  May our words be a power for good.

IV.  Pleasant Words:  Proverbs 16:24

Pleasant words are like a honeycomb,
Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.

Our words can bring life to those around us.  Our words can have a favorable impact.  Our words can be a beautiful thing.

May God help us to speak in a way that is pleasing to Him and helpful to those around us.

 

These are the sermon notes from 12/10/17.  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. 

One Thing

November 1, 2017

Our head is in the clouds, but our feet are firmly planted on earth.

I.  My Strength:  Psalms 27:1

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life;
Of whom shall I be afraid?

God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all.  He is pure goodness, there is no evil in Him.  He is our source of salvation, there is no other way.  He is our source of strength.  We can do whatever it is that He wants us to do because He will give us the wisdom and strength that we need.

II.  One Thing:  Psalms 27:4

One thing I have desired of the Lord,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord,
And to inquire in His temple.

I have been a Christian all my life.  I remember being picked up from the nursery at church.  I remember when falling asleep in the pew was a good thing because it meant you were quiet.  I remember asking Jesus into my heart at about age seven.  I remember powerful times of worship and prayer during my tweens and teens.  I remember the sense of God calling me into the ministry in my twenties and I remember the years of ministry in the local church.

Through all of it the true desire of my heart is, and has been, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to dwell in His house forever.

III.  Seek:  Psalms 27:8

When You said, “Seek My face,”
My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.”

Although I have spent a lifetime serving God and recognize that I have only begun to know Him.  I desire to seek His face, but the cares and concerns of the world demand attention.  Still, I try to open my eyes to His presence.  Since God is everywhere, I should be able to see Him anywhere.

Lord, open my eyes that I may see you.

IV.  Teach:  Psalms 27:11

Teach me Your way, O Lord,
And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies.

We may be able to be in the presence of God, but we live here on earth.  We need God to guide our steps, to teach us how to live as His children, to be His people.  God’s ways are not our ways.  May God help us to hear His voice and to be obedient to His Word and His Spirit.

V.  Hope:  Psalms 27:13

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living

Christians should always have hope.  God will help us.  Maybe not in the way that we desire of expect, but God will give us the wisdom to know what to do and the strength to do it.  God will do what needs to be done that we cannot do.

We can trust Him.

VI.  Wait:  Psalms 27:14

Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

Just as God’s ways are not our ways.  God’s timing is not our timing.  Be patient.  Wait on the Lord.  Things will work out in His way and in His time.

Throughout the journey of this life, may our eyes be open to the beauty of the Lord.  May we live our lives according to His plan for us.  May His will be done in our lives, and to God alone be the glory!

 

These are the sermon notes from 10/29/17.  All 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. 

This Into That

October 25, 2017

When I first began this message it seemed to focus on joy and gladness which seemed an odd message to accompany a presentation about rescuing girls from sex trafficking.  Then I realized that it was about the transformation that takes place when a person comes out of the darkness and into the light.

I.  Weeping into Joy:  Psalms 30:5b

Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.

As believers in Christ we are not promised a life without sorrow.  There will be times when weeping is appropriate.  The good news for us is that those times will come to an end.  Some nights are long.  I cannot imagine what these girls have endured.  What I do know is that God has something better for them.  I do not know what your sorrows have been.  I do know that God can bring comfort, peace and joy.

II.  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.

When these girls are rescued from the brothels they need to be taught a new way of life.  For many of us, when we have left our old lives behind, we need to learn how to live as the children of God.

It is a new life.

The greatest joy that we can experience is the joy of being in the presence of God.  The things of this earth may fade, but the joy that comes from the presence of the Lord never loses it’s luster.

III.  Peace:  Psalms 4:6-8

There are many who say,
“Who will show us any good?”
Lord, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us.
You have put gladness in my heart,
More than in the season that their grain and wine increased.
I will both lie down in peace, and sleep;
For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

Some may have given up in despair of this life.  God is able to show us a new way.  If we will live our lives for Him, He will bless us with peace, joy and gladness.  These qualities do not arise from the things of this world, but from the Spirit, hence they are not dependent on external factors but rather on our internal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

IV.  A New Life:  Psalms 5:11-12

But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You;
Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them;
Let those also who love Your name
Be joyful in You.
12 For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous;
With favor You will surround him as with a shield.

For those who chose to place their faith in God, God will watch over them.  The new life that we have will be a life that is watched over by God.  We can have confidence in the Lord of lords and the King of kings.

V.  Mourning into Dancing:  Psalms 30:11-12

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
12 To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.

For those who have come out of the darkness into the light these verses are particularly powerful.  This does not mean that we should seek to fall far so that we can fly high.  It is a powerful testimony of the power of God for a person to walk with God throughout their life. We do not wish for any to fall away from God so that they can experience a greater sense of redemption.  Rather, we are to thank God for His mercy and grace in watching over us and sparing us from the ravages of sin.

Either way it is appropriate for us to sing praise to God and give Him thanks.

He has turned our mourning into dancing.

He has turned hopeless into hopeful.

He has turned death into life.

May He be praised forever and ever.

 

These are the sermon notes from 10/22/17.  All 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. 

Ornan Who?

September 6, 2017

I want to be like Ornan.  If I were to take a poll, I doubt that there would be one in a thousand who would recognize the name of Ornan the Jebusite.  Nonetheless, he is the hero of our message today.

I need to introduce the context of today’s scripture.  David had commanded that the nation of Israel be counted.  This was something that he was not supposed to do, but he did it anyway.  God was displeased with his action and gave him a choice of punishments.  David choose to ‘fall into the hand of God”.  70,000 people were slain by an angel that God had sent to carry out the judgement.

I.  Ornan:  I Chronicles 21: 15-16, 20

And God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it. As he was destroying, the Lord looked and relented of the disaster, and said to the angel who was destroying, “It is enough; now restrain your hand.” And the angel of the Lord stood by the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.

16 Then David lifted his eyes and saw the angel of the Lord standing between earth and heaven, having in his hand a drawn sword stretched out over Jerusalem. So David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell on their faces.

 Now Ornan turned and saw the angel; and his four sons who were with him hid themselves, but Ornan continued threshing wheat.

This angel had already slain 70,000 people.  It was an angel of death and destruction.  I can only imagine how terrifying the sight must have been for those who were present.

David and the elders with him fell on their faces.

Ornan’s sons hid themselves.

Ornan saw the angel and went back to his threshing of wheat.

Apparently Ornan was not afraid.  I suspect that he recognized that God was with him.  Psalms 118:6 says:

The Lord is on my side;
I will not fear.
What can man do to me?

I want to be like Ornan.  I want to have a walk with God that gives me the confidence to look at the angel of death and go about the business that is at hand.

II.  Soloman:  I Chronicles 22:12-13

 Only may the Lord give you wisdom and understanding, and give you charge concerning Israel, that you may keep the law of the Lord your God. 13 Then you will prosper, if you take care to fulfill the statutes and judgments with which the Lord charged Moses concerning Israel. Be strong and of good courage; do not fear nor be dismayed.

We need God to give us wisdom.  Wisdom allows us to know what to do in any given situation.  We do not want to depend solely on human wisdom.  We want the wisdom that comes from God.

Of course, God has already given us much instruction in His Word.  When God gives us direction, it is clearly in our best interest to follow it.  We should live our lives in obedience to God’s Word and His Spirit.

If we are walking with God in obedience we should expect that we can be strong and of good courage.  God is with us.

I want to be like Ornan.

III.  Daniel 11:32-33

Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. 33 And those of the people who understand shall instruct many; yet for many days they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plundering.

Daniel is speaking here about the end times, but really, it can apply to the people of God anytime.

Those who know God shall be strong and do great things.

May we come to know God.  May we know God more.  May we do great things in His service.  May we instruct others who see the difference that God makes in us.

Under the right circumstances the ordinary can be extraordinary.

Ornan was simply  threshing wheat…..in the presence of the angel of destruction.

I have never threshed wheat.  I have never seen the angel of destruction.

I want to know God in such a way that I will be courageous and faithful whatever I may face.

I want to be like Ornan.

Suffering

June 14, 2017

Most of the messages that we hear preached proclaim the good points of the Christian life.  We emphasize love, joy, peace, hope, wisdom, strength,  and overall blessings.

That is not the only part of the Christian message.

I.  Suffering:  Romans 8:16-18

 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

We prefer to emphasize that we are the heirs of the kingdom, together with Christ.  It is an easier sell.

However, with Christ we also going to experience a degree of suffering.  We prefer to think of the glory to come, but the sufferings of this world are a part of the Christian experience.

There are places in the world where Christians are still being killed for their faith.  Recently, in Egypt a group of Christians were on a trip to visit a monastery.  They were attacked by people with machine guns mounted on trucked.  Many were killed, some of them children, and more were injured.  They were targeted specifically because they were Christians.

Here in America, at least for now, it is unlikely that we will suffer that kind of persecution, but that does not mean that we do not experience suffering.  Whenever you deny the flesh to live for Christ there will be opposition.

II.  Hard Pressed:  II Corinthians 4:7-10

 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

I memorized these verses many years ago when I was a part of a gospel group called the Christian Life Singers.  It has spoken to my heart many times over the years.  There have definitely been times when I have felt hard-pressed and perplexed.  Life in the ministry has not been easy.  I have never actually seen the statistics, but I know that the percentage of people who serve in the ministry all the way to retirement is fairly low.

It is not just ministers.  All Christians have an enemy that seeks to destroy them.  God allows us to be tested so that we will grow in our faith.  We should always be aware that we are dependent on God.

III.  Renewed:  II Corinthians 4:16-18

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

As I have aged I have become more aware of the perishing of the outward man.  I am not as young as I once was, and clearly this physical body is not what it used to be.

That is all right.

The inner man is renewed day by day.

As we continue our journey through this life, we are able to grow in our relationship with Christ.  Our body may be aging and breaking down, but our spirit is aging and growing stronger.

As the things of this life begin to fade in importance, we recognize even more the glory of the life to come.

The light affliction of this life is nothing compared to the glory of the life to come.

IV.  Good Soldier:  II Timothy 2:3

You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

Sure, we focus on the good aspects of the Christian life.  That does not mean that we deny the reality of the spiritual struggle in which we are engaged.  I have often told people that my best preparation for ministry did not come from Bible college, but from my time in the Marine Corps.  As a marine we learned to never give up, to accomplish the mission.

At the end of this life I desire to hear the words “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  (Matthew 25:21)

God is good.  All the time.  However, there will be times of testing, trial and suffering as we go through the journey of this life.  Do not be surprised.  Stand firm in your faith.  Trust God.  He will see you through to the end.

 

These are the sermon notes from 6/4/17.  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.   

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.