Posts Tagged ‘Life’

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. 

 

The Elect One

October 26, 2016

The second half of Isaiah is filled with messianic verses.  There are many good scriptures to preach on.  I have selected a few.

I.  Come:  Isaiah 55:1-3

“Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
Come to the waters;
And you who have no money,
Come, buy and eat.
Yes, come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without price.
Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And let your soul delight itself in abundance.
Incline your ear, and come to Me.
Hear, and your soul shall live;
And I will make an everlasting covenant with you—
The sure mercies of David.

A.  Are You Buying That?

These verses are not talking about bread, milk or wine.  They are a reference to the focus of our life.  Are we focused on the things of the world, or the things of God?  In Matthew 6:33 we are told to “Seek first the kingdom of God…” .  If indeed we seek God first, then other things will come into line.

B.  The Abundant Life

Jesus offers those that follow Him abundant life.  (John 10:10)  That life does not begin at our physical death, but rather at our new birth. When we give our hearts to God and seek to walk with Him in this life, we truly have a life that is abundant.

II.  Build Up:  Isaiah 42:1-4

“Behold! My Servant whom I uphold,
My Elect One in whom My soul delights!
I have put My Spirit upon Him;
He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.
He will not cry out, nor raise His voice,
Nor cause His voice to be heard in the street.
A bruised reed He will not break,
And smoking flax He will not quench;
He will bring forth justice for truth.
He will not fail nor be discouraged,
Till He has established justice in the earth;
And the coastlands shall wait for His law.”

A.  My Elect One

These verses are talking about Jesus.  He is the one who will bring true justice to the earth.

B.  Restores Life

As a young person I read these verses and wondered who cared about bruised reeds, or smoldering flax?  Of course, these are symbols for something else.  The bruised reed is that person who has experienced difficulties in their life.  They have been bruised and they need to be restored.  God can bring restoration and life.  The smoldering flax is that person who has drifted away from God.  God calls to them and desires to see the fire of their faith restored.  God wants to bring life to those who seek Him. He does not give up on us.

C.  Justice

There will come a day when justice will reign on this earth.  It will not be under human leadership, but under the leadership of the Lord of Hosts.

III.  Jesus is Lord:  Isaiah 45:20-25

“Assemble yourselves and come;
Draw near together,
You who have escaped from the nations.
They have no knowledge,
Who carry the wood of their carved image,
And pray to a god that cannot save.
21 Tell and bring forth your case;
Yes, let them take counsel together.
Who has declared this from ancient time?
Who has told it from that time?
Have not I, the Lord?
And there is no other God besides Me,
A just God and a Savior;
There is none besides Me.

22 “Look to Me, and be saved,
All you ends of the earth!
For I am God, and there is no other.
23 I have sworn by Myself;
The word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness,
And shall not return,
That to Me every knee shall bow,
Every tongue shall take an oath.
24 He shall say,
‘Surely in the Lord I have righteousness and strength.
To Him men shall come,
And all shall be ashamed
Who are incensed against Him.
25 In the Lord all the descendants of Israel
Shall be justified, and shall glory.’”

    A.  Escaped From the Nations

God is Lord over all the earth.  We have been gathered from the nations to serve the Lord of Lords and King of Kings.

    B.  No Other God

There is no other God.  There is salvation in no other name.

    C.  Every Knee Shall Bow

It is better to serve God now and we can also rejoice later.  For those who reject Christ now, they will still one day bow before Him.  For them, that day will be a day of darkness.

    D.  Righteousness and Strength

We are not clothed in our own righteousness, but in the righteousness of Christ. We do not serve in our own strength, but in the strength that God gives to us.

Isaiah is a part of the Old Testament, but clearly he points to the coming Lord.  We can more fully understand the New Testament because of the prophecies that came hundreds of years earlier.

These are the sermon notes from 10/23/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

 

Pure Religion

September 14, 2016

These are verses that I distinctly remember puzzling over as a teenager.  I had nothing to do with widows or orphans, yet I wanted to be what God wanted me to be.

James 1:26-27

If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. 27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

I.  Bridle Your Tongue

James says quite a bit about controlling our tongue.

A.  James 3:8-10

But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.

We should be careful of what we speak.  However, the secret to controlling our tongue is not in our mouth, but in our heart.

B.  Luke 6:45

 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

The best way to control our tongue is to fill our hearts with the love of God.

Our words can be powerful. We should seek to speak words of life, words of encouragement, words of hope and words of love.

II.  Visit Orphans and Widows

A.  The first century was not like today.  There was no social security to provide for those in need.  Women did not have a place in the workforce.  A woman remained in her father’s home until she was married.  If her husband died, she needed to return to her father’s home or if she had a son that was old enough, he could provide for her.  If there was no one to provide for her, or for her young children, she was in trouble.

These are the people that James is talking about.  People who are in trouble.  People who are in desperate need.

For centuries the Christian church provided charity for those in need.  Today, with government programs, the role of the church has changed, but we should still be concerned for those who are in need and be willing to help when possible.  It is not just widows and orphans but any who are in desperate need.

B.  Balance: II Thessalonians 3:10

 For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.

There is a difference between being in need and being lazy.  Since resources are limited we need godly wisdom to be able to be good stewards of what God has given us.  We want to help those in need, we do not want to enable people to live unproductive lives.

C.  Retirement

In biblical times when a person could no longer work it was the responsibility of children to provide and care for their aging parents.  People would continue to contribute according to their abilities.

People in retirement today should continue to contribute in ways that they are able.

III.  Unspotted

A.  The Flesh:  Galatians 5:19-21

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

These verses provide us with a good starting point of what it means to be unspotted.  The idea of this list is not to point the finger at the problems that we see in the lives of other people, but to examine our own lives and ask God to help us turn away from these things.

Some spots take some time to get out.

B.  The Spirit:  Galatians 5:22-23

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

As we spend time in the Word of God, and prayer, God will mold us into the people that he wants us to be.  The Word of God and the Spirit of God work together to build the people of God.  They are spot removers.

C.  Effort:  Galatians 5:24-25

And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

The flesh is stubborn.  It continues to resurface for as long as we are in these mortal bodies.  We need to exercise our will, and the self control that comes from God and chose to do what is right in the sight of God.

It is an ongoing process.

D.  God is at work in us:  Philippians 1:6

being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

It is not in our own strength, but it does require our cooperation.

May God continue His work both in us, and through us.

 

These are the sermon notes from 8/28.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.  All quotes are from the New King James Version of the Bible. 

Hold Fast

July 11, 2016

We prefer to talk about the abundant life that God has for us.  We enjoy the many blessings that we receive.

How do we respond when things don’t go as we would hope?

What do we do in the face of tragedy?

I.  Job

A.  Do What is Right:  Job 1:1

There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil.

This is a good model for us.  We should fear God and shun evil.  We should seek to be blameless and upright.  We know that we cannot be perfect, but we should seek to live as God wants us to live.

Just because we are serving God doesn’t mean that we are exempt from hardship.  In a single day Job suffered the loss of all his great wealth and the tragic death of all ten of his children.  It just doesn’t get any worse than that.

His response has become a classic line.

B.  Response to Loss:  Job 1:20-22

 Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked shall I return there.
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

22 In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.

He mourned the loss and worshiped God.  These words were uttered long ago, but they have been repeated by countless other believers who have suffered loss.  If we turn to God, He is able to bring us comfort in times of tragedy.

Some might say, at least he still had his health.  That was the next to go.  He was stricken with painful boils that made him physically miserable.

    C.  Hold Fast:  Job 2:9-10

Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!”

10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

In times of hardship.  Hold fast to your integrity.  Actually, hold fast to your faith in God which is the true source of integrity.

If we are facing the loss of material things or the deterioration of our health we can still trust that God is with us.  He will help us through the difficult times.  A better day is coming.  If not in this life, then in the life to come.

Hold fast.

II.  Endure Hardship:  II Timothy 2:3

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

I served in the United States Marine Corps.  I have often said that that experience prepared me better for ministry than my years at Bible college.

Why?

A marine is not allowed to quit when the mission becomes difficult.  It doesn’t matter if you are tired, hot, cold, hurt, or whatever.

Accomplish the mission!

Our devotion to God should be even more of a commitment than a marine’s commitment to his/her duty.  After all, a marine is serving an earthly kingdom, while we serve a heavenly kingdom.

There have been many times when I have been tempted to leave the ministry.  There are far easier ways to make a living.  However, it is the desire of my heart to be faithful to my calling, to accomplish the mission that God has given to me.

Never quit!

It is appropriate to ask ourselves some questions when hardship comes our way.

Is this hardship the consequence of a bad decision, or mistake on my part?  If that is the case, then learn from your mistakes.

Is God trying to get my attention?  Have I been following the direction of God?  God sometimes allows things to go badly for us so that we will get back on track.

If we are doing what we are supposed to be doing, if we are serving God to the best of our ability, then we can recognize hardships as a test or trial of our faith.  We should hold fast and press on.

III.  Count it all Joy:  James 1:2-4

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

God uses the tests and trials of this life to mold us into the people that we are called to be in Christ.  We can rejoice in the knowledge that God is working in us.  The difficulties that we face actually can strengthen our faith and help in our development as Christians.

In addition  to the work that God is doing in us, God can use difficult experiences for His glory.  How we handle bad experiences can sometimes be the very best testimony that we give to unbelievers.

We can also rejoice in the knowledge that even in bad times, God is with us.  We can rejoice in the Lord.  He loves us and will help us.  His grace is sufficient for us.  (II Corinthians 12:9)

So, when we are called upon to suffer hardship;  hold fast to your faith, endure hardship, and count it all joy that God is working both in you and through you.

These are the sermon notes from 7/9/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.  All scripture quotes are from the New King James Version of the Bible. 

 

Rejoice and Give Thanks

June 2, 2016

Ain’t no sense in looking down!

There’s no discharge on the ground!

When going through Marine Corps boot camp we ran… a lot.  When we ran, we often sang.  The lines written above are an example of some of the things that our drill instructors would call out and that we recruits would repeat.

Oddly enough, I find some wisdom in those words that can be applied to our lives as Christians today.

I Chronicles 16:8-12

Oh, give thanks to the Lord!
Call upon His name;
Make known His deeds among the peoples!
Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him;
Talk of all His wondrous works!
10 Glory in His holy name;
Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord!
11 Seek the Lord and His strength;
Seek His face evermore!
12 Remember His marvelous works which He has done,
His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth,

I.  Give Thanks

Being grateful for what we have received is not meant to be simply an annual observance.  Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday, but if that is the only time that we are grateful, then we have an attitude problem.  At any given time, even in difficult, or bad times, we should be able to look around us and count our blessings.  Actually, once we start looking for things to be grateful for, we will be amazed at how many there are in our lives.

We should give thanks to God for his love, our salvation through Jesus Christ, His ongoing presence in our lives, His provision, His protection, His help, and so much more!

God is good to His people.  We should be grateful!

II.  Call Upon His Name

When we do experience problems, we can call upon God to help.  He is “an ever present help”.  (Psalms 46:1)

Knowing that God hears us when we pray, and that He is able to help, brings great comfort in times of difficulty.  We can trust that in any situation that we face, that if we call upon the Lord, He will give us the wisdom to know what to do and the strength that we need to do it.

III.  Make Known

Here at our church we regularly give people an opportunity to share their testimonies of what God has done in their life.  It is good to hear that God is at work both in our lives and through our lives.  God does not work only in the times of the Bible, nor in missions work overseas.  God is at work all the time in the lives of ordinary people.  We should learn to be aware of the hand of God working in our midst.  We should both give God thanks, and make known what He is doing in our lives today.  We share these testimonies, not only in church, but with our friends and family, really, with anyone with whom we are have a conversation.  We should watch for opportunities to share what God has done in our lives.

IV.  Seek the Lord

Our prayer time should be more than bringing a lists of requests to the throne of God.  Yes, it is appropriate to bring our requests before Him, but prayer is meant to be more than that.  We are to seek His presence.  Now, God is present everywhere, so it is not really a matter of trying to find where He is located, it is about having our spiritual eyes, and ears opened, so that we may see and hear Him.  It is about having our heart opened so that we may receive all that He has for us.

I encourage you to cultivate an awareness of the presence of God, to recognize that He is always with us.

V.  Rejoice!

As the people of God, we have much reason to rejoice. Our lives should not be marked by drudgery and struggle, but rather by blessings and glorious victory!  Again, do not mistake the difficulties of this world with final defeat.  Walk in faith!  See the victory that is ahead of us!  Rejoice in the God of our salvation!!

Ain’t no sense in looking down!

Look up!!

These are the sermon notes from 5/29/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

The memory verse for this week is I Chronicles 16:8, or if you prefer more of a challenge; 8-10.

Life Long Calling

March 3, 2016

The journey of our lives often take unexpected turns.  Even if we see a general direction, the exact route is often changed by detours.  We should not be surprised if things do not go the way that we expect them to go.

I.  Paul’s Calling:  Acts 26:15-18

 So I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. 17 I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, 18 to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’

Paul is sharing the story of his calling as a part of his defense in court.  His calling was dramatic and powerful.  His life and ministry have had an impact on the world.

My own story is much less dramatic.  I initially worked for my parents in the grocery stores that they owned.  I had done well in high school, but had no interest in going on to college.  I intentionally graduated early, because I had no desire to spend any more time in school.

I worked for my parents full time serving as a manager for one of the stores.  After about a year and a half, I came to the decision that I wanted to do something different.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but the pastor at my church encouraged all young people to go to Bible college for a year to get a solid foundation in the Word, so I went off to college at North Central Bible College.

I did well in school.  I enjoyed it and one year turned into two.  In my third year I began to question whether I was truly called to the ministry or if I was simply following the crowd.  I knew that I did not want to go back to the stores.  The idea of the military appealed to me.  My dad had served in the Marine Corps.  I started thinking about signing up.  I spoke with my parents, my pastor, and a teacher from the school.  They all agreed.  If I was called to the ministry, four years in the Marine Corps would not change that calling.  It was not a quick decision.  I started thinking about it around Thanksgiving and I signed up after the new year.

My years in the Marine Corps were good years.  I obtained the rank of sergeant and even had the opportunity to serve as platoon sergeant for a few months due to a shortage of staff NCOs.  It was a great experience and I seriously considered it becoming my career.

However, as I prayed about it, I strongly sensed that I was to return to Bible college, become a pastor and maybe someday teach in a college.

II.  The Steps of a Good Man:  Psalms 37:23

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

I was raised in the Lutheran church.  While in high school I started attending a nondenominational Pentecostal church.  I was very involved with that church for about four years.  Then I returned to the Lutheran church.  When I returned, I appreciated the liturgy and the symbolism even more than I had in my younger years.

When I was in the military I attended a Methodist church for a number of years.  The pastors were good friends and I spent every open weekend as a guest in their house.

When I finished my time in the military I went back to the Assemblies of God college that I had attended earlier.  I met, and married my wife while I finished up my degree there.  Then it was off to seminary.  I attended Luther Northwestern Theological Seminary.  In my second year there, I came to the conclusion that we had “irreconcilable theological differences”.  So now what?  I applied for and received credentials with the Assemblies of God.

When I left the Lutheran church, a member of my youth group gave me a plaque that read “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord”.  I have rather wondered at the twists and turns that life had taken, but I do believe that every experience has helped to prepare me for the future that God had for me.

We came to this church in February of 1991.  We have been serving here for 25 years.

I finished my masters degree in 1997 and began teaching philosophy part time  at the college in 1998.

We started the Chi Alpha ministry at the college where I teach in 2010.

We planted a church in December.

Only God knows what the future holds.

III.  Thoughts of You:  Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

I think that you have heard enough about my story.  I want to encourage each of you to realize that God has a plan for you.  He loves you and wants you to follow the plan that He has for your life.

IV.  Lay Down Your Life:  Mark 8:34-35*

When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.

We need to be willing to let go of our hopes and plans in order to take up the plan that God has for us.  Sometimes those plans will in fact be the same plans that we already held, but the key is to let God direct our steps.  He has come to give us life.  We can trust Him completely.  He has a good plan for our lives.

V.  Finish the Race:  II Timothy 4:7-8

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

My race is not yet finished, but I want to finish strong.  The goal is not to serve God for a moment, or for a season, but for a lifetime.

Wherever you may be on your journey, know that God has a plan for you.  You can trust Him with your life.  Serve Him not just for a day, but for a lifetime.

These are the sermon notes from 2/7/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I do not have any control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

*This is the memory verse for the week. 

Good and Faithful Servant

February 18, 2016

We hear a lot about leadership these days.  Today I want to address the idea of being a servant.

I.  Washing Feet:  John 13:1-5, 12-15

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.

12 So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.

Don’t get nervous, we are not going to have a foot washing service.  Although there are some churches that practice that ritual, we are not going to do that here today.

I do want us to recognize this action of Jesus as a powerful symbol of humble service.  We are called to be the servants of God.  If we are to follow the example of Jesus then we would recognize that there is nothing that we are ‘too good’ to do.

II.  Be a Servant:  Matthew 20:25-28

But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. 26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

We have a tendency to dream of greatness.  We want to be powerful, successful leaders; not humble servants.  Yet, we are called to serve.

There are many ways to serve.  If we ask God to guide us, He will.

Sometimes faithful servants are elevated into positions of leadership.  Sometimes they are not.  The goal for us as Christians is not worldly success, but faithful service to the Father in whatever capacity He calls us to serve.

III.  Bearing Burdens:  Galatians 6:2-5

 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load.

At first glance these verses seem contradictory.  Which is it?  Bear one another’s burden, or bear our own load?

It is both.  A part of our load is to help each other.  However, when we stand before God, we will not be able to point our finger at someone else to blame them for our choices.  We are to help each other, and we will each answer for our own choices.

IV.  Not Grow Weary:  Galatians 6:9*

 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

A life of service is hard work.  Sometimes we see the fruit of our labor, and sometimes we do not.  We are called to continue to do good, and not lose heart.  God is faithful.  We should be faithful to Him.

Our ultimate goal should not have anything to do with success as this world measures it.  Our ultimate goal should be to one day stand before the Father and hear the words “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  (Matthew 25:21)

Why Christ Came

January 11, 2016

At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Christ.  Jesus did not come to earth so that the American retailers can make money, He had a much greater purpose.

I.  To Save, Not Destroy:  Luke 9:51-56

 Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, 52 and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. 53 But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. 54 And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?”

55 But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. 56 For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them. And they went to another village.

I sometimes have conversations with atheists who are very angry.  In many of these cases the atheist has had an exposure to Christianity that either over emphasized the punishment of sins with a resulting legalistic, works oriented attitude; or people were hypocritical, saying one thing, but doing another.  These people have left the church, bitter, angry, and filled with hatred for the church.

I feel very sorry for these people.  They have had an exposure to a Christianity that very poorly represented what Christ intended for His church.

Christ did not come to spread hatred, punishment and death.  He came to spread forgiveness, love and life.

II.  Abundant Life: John 10:10

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

The life that God offers to us is not simply eternal life, it is abundant life.  An abundant life is filled with all sorts of good gifts that come from God.  Much of that comes from our growing ability to appreciate what God has done for us.  It is our ability to appreciate what God has given us in this world, but  even more important, is our ability to appreciate the relationship that we have with Him through Jesus Christ.

The abundant life does not begin when we physically die.  The abundant life begins when we are born again in Christ. (John 3: 3-6)

III.  On Our Side:  Luke 9:49-50

Now John answered and said, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow with us.”

50 But Jesus said to him, “Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side.”

Our society has such a competitive atmosphere that it has had an impact on the church.  We sometimes view people from other churches as if they were members of an opposing team, or even sometimes, an actual enemy.  We need to be able to recognize our allies and work together for the kingdom of God.  We need to be careful that we are not tearing down the work of God, just because it is not our work.  We especially need to be helpful to those who have been wounded in the battle.  Ministry can be very hard and sometimes people fail and sometimes people fall.  We should look to restore people to health and wholeness in Christ, not finish them off.

Christ came to love, to forgive, and to bring life.

So should we.

These are the sermon notes from 12/20/15.  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. 

 

Grow and Produce

December 21, 2015

I have exercised most of my life.  Physically I am well past my prime.Each year my times get a little slower and I get a little weaker.  I am simply trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle, trying to avoid the heart decease that has plagued my family history.  I appreciate that there is an area where growth is still possible, an area that is not in decline.

I.  Grace and Peace:  II Peter 1:1-4

Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

A.  A Like Precious Faith

We recognize that there are many churches that are preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We recognize that people who love God and are trusting in Jesus are our spiritual family.  Family is important.

B.  Grace and Peace

The grace of God and the peace of God are multiplied in our life as we grow in our knowledge of God.  This is a process that takes a lifetime of prayer, Bible study, fellowship and worship.

C.  Divine Power

We do not grow in godliness in our own strength.  God gives us what we need to become the people He has called us to be.

D.  Divine Nature

This is a truly amazing promise, that we might be partakers of the divine nature.   The Holy Spirit comes into our heart: not the physical organ that pumps blood, but that inner part of us that is eternal.   We are still creatures of flesh and blood, but with the Spirit of God we become born again as the children of God.

II.  Abound:  II Peter 1: 5-8

 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

A.  Growth

We should diligently pursue growth in our Christian life.  It takes effort and commitment on our part.

Our faith grows as it is challenged and proven to be reliable.  The challenges become greater as our faith grows stronger.

Virtue is the quality of developing righteousness on the inside and the outside, and being the same person in private as in public.

There is always more for us to learn.  We should seek to continue to grow in the knowledge of God.

As we learn the difference between right and wrong, we need to resist the temptation of the flesh to do wrong.  Exercising self control is an important part of growing in our Christian walk.

Perseverance is continuing faithfully to the end.  We do not quit.  We stand firm.

Growing in godliness is becoming more Christ-like.  I suspect that we all recognize that we have moments of godliness, but those moments should become longer and more frequent, the rule, rather than the exception.

We should be kind to all. Especially to those who least deserve it.

Over all, the love that God has given to us should be shared with all.  We should grow in our love for God, and our love for people.

B.  Produce

As we grow in these areas our very lives will be a witness of what God offers to us.  Other people will be encouraged to press on with their faith.  Those who do not yet know God, may be drawn to God.

I am thankful that I have not yet reached my prime in my spiritual walk.  I know that there is room for growth.  I have come a long way, but there is so much more.

May each one of us come to the Lord, grow in the Lord and have an impact for the Lord.

These are the sermon notes from 12/5/15.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.