Posts Tagged ‘Life’

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. 

 

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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.   

God is Able

December 14, 2015

Whatever circumstances we might face, God is able to bring us through them.  God can give us the wisdom to know what to do, and the strength to do it.

I.  Heard Their Cry:  Exodus 3:7-8

And the Lord said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites.

God saw the oppression that was faced by the Israelites.  God sees everything.  God sees the circumstances that we face.  He knows exactly what is going on in our lives even better than we ourselves.

God heard the cry of the Israelites as they called out to Him for Help.  God will hear us as well if we call out to Him.

God knew their sorrows.  God understands pain and suffering.  God knows exactly how we feel, what we think, and what has happened in our lives.

God knows.

God cares.

God understands.

God is able to help.

God planned to deliver the Israelites from their bondage.  They were a group of people who had been enslaved by a larger, more powerful nation.  God was going to deliver them.  God is able to deliver us as well.  Whatever our circumstances may be, nothing is too great for God.  God is able to deliver us.

II.  Brought Them Out:  Exodus 12:51

And it came to pass, on that very same day, that the Lord brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt according to their armies.

God was indeed able to deliver what He had promised.  He brought the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt.

This was a process.  God spoke to Moses and gave him directions.  Moses in turn gave directions to the Israelites.  This was not something that could be done our way.  It could only be done God’s way.  If we are in need of deliverance, we can ask God for help and He will give us direction as well.

Moses was obedient to God’s directions.  The Israelites were obedient to God’s directions.  We also, need to be obedient to the directions that God gives to us.

Even though they were  obedient, things got worse before they got better.  That happens sometimes.  We are not to lose faith in God.  He is able to do what He has promised to do.  We must be patient, be obedient, and have faith in God.  Sometimes we must endure the time of affliction.  It is during those times that our faith is tested.

Eventually, God will bring success if we trust in Him and are obedient.  We are not able to do it our way, but God’s way.  We cannot skip steps that we do not like.  We must follow God’s plan, not devise our own.

III.  God is Able:  Daniel 3:17

If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king.

We have skipped ahead hundreds of years to a new story in the Old Testament.  Daniel’s friends had defied a law that said that they were to bow down to a golden image.  They were told that if they did not bow down and worship that they would be thrown into the fiery furnace.  They declared their belief that God was able to deliver them.

They were thrown into the furnace and God did deliver them.  It is a wonderful story that confirms that God is with us even in the midst of fiery affliction.  Whatever we are facing we can trust that we are not facing it alone.  God is with us.

God is able.

IV.  But if Not:  Daniel 3:18

But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”

Sometimes Christians are called to be faithful even unto death.  Sometimes deliverance does not come in the physical world.

God is able to deliver us.

Sometimes that means that we are called to be faithful in this life, knowing that our reward, our deliverance will be in the life to come.  Over the years there have been many, many martyrs for the cause of Christ.  Even today, in various places around the world Christians are killed for their faith.  Their deliverance is still assured.  Their reward is in heaven.

God is able.

These are the sermon notes from 11/29/15.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

 

 

Who Do You Serve?

November 9, 2015

As we think about the future, there is a great deal of uncertainty: the fluctuations in global economy, the rising national debt, the rise of terrorist organizations,  the growing intolerance towards those who practice conservative religion, and the increasing polarization of politics, all contribute to a sense that we may be headed for serious trouble.  I am very glad that the Bible addresses how to live in troubling times.

I.  Where is Your Treasure?  Matthew 6:19-21

 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

We have limited resources.  There is only so much money, time and energy.  How are we investing our resources?  Of course, most of us have to work a job, or attend classes.  We all have daily tasks that need to be performed, but what do we do with what is left?  Certainly it is possible that we can use up all of our resources on ourselves, but is that what we are supposed to do?  Is that what we have to do?  We should ask God to help us prioritize our lives in such a way that they will be pleasing to Him.  We are not supposed to work ourselves to death, but we are to have the type of priorities that God has for us.  It might be enlightening to make a chart of how we use our resources, and see just what kind of priority is being given to God.  We might be surprised at what we see.

II.  Light or Dark?  Matthew 6:22-23

 “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

I love to watch sunrises.  There is something very special about watching the world wake up.  Things look different in the early morning light.

Jesus is the light of the world.  How often during the day do we focus on Him.  Of course it is necessary for us to focus on the task at hand, especially if driving or doing some other task that is potentially dangerous, but Jesus should never be far from our mind or heart.  If we allow His light to shine into our spirits, then our days will be so much better.  Remember, He is with us always, but are we aware of His presence?

III.  Who Do You Serve?  Matthew 6:24

 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

The first question would have to be “What is mammon?”.  Certainly, it is not a word that we use in our normal conversations.  Basically, it just means money.  What is comes down to is what is the focus of our lives?  Are we serving God, or just trying to accumulate money?  There is the saying “He who dies with the most toys wins”, but that is not meant to be our focus as the children of God.   We are to serve God first.  He will take care of us.  Only one thing can be most important in our lives.  That should be God.

IV.  God Will Provide  Matthew 6:25-34

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

If we seek God first, He will take care of us.  God knows our needs.  He can bless us with employment and can help what we have go further than we would expect if we will but trust in Him.  Jesus was a carpenter, but He referred to Himself as the Good Shepherd.  The Good Shepherd will guide, provide and protect His sheep.  We can trust that God will take care of us if we put our trust in Him by making our relationship with Him our top priority.

V.  Don’t Worry, Pray!  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.

If we find ourselves becoming weighed down with the concerns of this world, remember that we can turn to God in prayer, knowing that He will take care of us.    Pray until the peace comes.  In placing our trust, not in ourselves, but in God, we will find the peace that passes understanding.  We are, most often, still called to act, but God will give us the direction that we need. He will give us wisdom to know what to do, and the strength to do it.

So as we look into an uncertain future, we can trust that God will guide, provide and protect.  We can trust that in the end all things will work out for the good of those who place their trust in God.  (Romans 8:28)

These are the sermon notes from 10/25/15.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

The Search for Truth and Love

September 8, 2015

As a philosophy instructor I have a particular appreciation for the search for truth.  This appreciation comes from the realization that truth is not as easily grasped as one might think.  The discovery of truth provides a bedrock foundation upon which we can build our understanding of life.

I.  Truth:  II John 1-3

The Elder,

To the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all those who have known the truth, because of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever:

Grace, mercy, and peace will be with you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

As I read these verses I am reminded that Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)  If we have placed our faith in Jesus then we are at the correct starting point.  Starting with a belief in Jesus, the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth.  (John 16:13)  In Jesus, “you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32)  I believe that throughout our life we can grow in our knowledge of the truth.  You could say that our life is a journey in search of the truth, which fits really well with a philosophers ‘love of wisdom’.  

II.  Love:  II John v5

And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another.

As I read this verse I am reminded that the great commandments, according to Jesus, are to love God, and to love one another.  (Matthew 22:36-40)

I am also reminded of the line from the famous song by the Beatles “All you need is love…”

Love is a powerful force and a powerful motivator.  It is probably true that more people search for love than truth.

In Christ we find both.

III.  Obedience:  II John v6

This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.

Unfortunately, we may lose a few people here.  People want to do their own thing.  They want to be independent.  However “doing it my way”  is not a good thing in the Christian walk.  We are to do things His way.  We are called to be obedient.  We do have the freedom to say no to Christ, but if we have given our lives to Christ, then He is both Savior and Lord.  If He is not our Lord, then neither is He our savior.  I John 5:3 says “ For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.”  We are able to keep His commandments, not in our own strength, but because of the Spirit of God that dwells in us. 

IV.  Deceit:  II John v7

For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.

We must be careful in our search for truth.  There are those who would seek to deceive us and lead us away from the truth.

As we continue our journey through this life.  We can continue to grow in our knowledge of the truth.  We can grow in our love for God and for one another.  We can grow in our ability to be obedient to Christ, as we guard against the deceit that is in the world.

These are the sermon notes from 8/9/15.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.   

 

Good Grief!

September 3, 2015

Why do bad things happen?  If God is in control, why does He allow tragedies?  Bad things happen for a variety of reasons.  Some things happen because of simple natural law.  We age, we get sick, we eventually die.  It is the common fate of all humanity.  No one is exempt.  Some bad things happen as a result of human choices.  If we drink and drive, we may just kill someone.  Some bad things happen as a result of demonic activity.  Satan lives to destroy.  Sometimes God allows it.  God is also able to intervene.  Actually, God is sovereign and is able to stop, or deflect all evil.  The question is “Why does He allow bad things to happen?”  Although the question could be “How many times has He intervened and we are unaware?”

I.  The Lord Causes Grief:  Lamentations 3:31-33

For the Lord will not cast off forever.
32 Though He causes grief,
Yet He will show compassion
According to the multitude of His mercies.
33 For He does not afflict willingly,
Nor grieve the children of men.

Some people are uncomfortable with the idea that the Lord causes grief.  Does He cause, or allow, bad things to happen.  The Jewish people in the Old Testament accepted everything as if it came from God.  They emphasized the sovereignty of God.  These verses indicate that although the Lord causes grief, it is not something that He enjoys.   He does use grief as a teaching tool.  In the same way that human parents use punishment to teach their children right from wrong, God sometimes uses grief to instruct us.

II.  Punishment for Sin:  Lamentations 3:37-39

Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass,
When the Lord has not commanded it?
38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
That woe and well-being proceed?
39 Why should a living man complain,
A man for the punishment of his sins?

Once again we see the  language that God commands what comes to pass.  Certainly,  when the bad things that happen to us are a consequence of our sin, we should recognize we may have got off easy.  We have all sinned.  God has offered forgiveness in Jesus Christ.  Sometimes, even though we are forgiven of the eternal consequences of sin, there is a penalty that will be paid here on earth.

III.  Examine Our Ways:  Lamentations 3:40-41

Let us search out and examine our ways,
And turn back to the Lord;
41 Let us lift our hearts and hands
To God in heaven.

If bad things are happening to us we should examine our lives.  Are we living in unrepentant sin?  Have we repented of any known sin?  Are we caught up in the sins of others?  Is it merely a test of our faith?  Is it a learning experience?  Is God using it so that we may be a witness to others?

Even if we are unable to discern the cause we can trust that God knows what He is doing.  God is not surprised.  He will give us the wisdom and strength that we need for any challenge.

IV.  We Are Not Consumed:  Lamentations 3: 22-24

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!”

The difficulties that we face in this life will have an end.  We must simply trust in God to see us through.  His mercies are new every morning.  He is faithful to His people.  We should not lose heart.  Our hope is in God.

V.  The Lord is Good:  Lamentations 3:25

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

This does not mean  that there will never be anything bad in our life.  Bad things happen for a variety of reasons, but through them all, God is good to His people.  In fact, in times of grief it is even more important to turn to God for help, comfort and strength.  When grief drives us closer to God, it is good grief.