Posts Tagged ‘quality of life’

Into the Future

January 14, 2020

As we are still in the early days of 2020, I think about what lies ahead.

I.  Trust God:  Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

We can trust God.  As we look to the future, we do not know what will happen.  God does.  He is not surprised by the the twists and turns that life takes.  He knows all things that are going to happen.  He is our shepherd. (Psalms 23) He will take care of us.

We do not have to understand everything.  We do not have to know everything.  We can trust God.

In every area of our life, we should acknowledge Him.  We should ask for guidance.  We should ask for strength.  We should ask for help.  We should give God thanks and glory.

God will direct our lives, if we ask Him to do so.  The question is, will we follow His directions?

II.  Directed by God:  Psalms 37:23

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

First of all, the Bible might say man, but in this context, women are included.  Perhaps you are concerned that you are not good.  If you have Christ in your heart, then you are indeed a good person, because of Christ who is in you.

Again,  I look back over my life between the ages of 18 and 30.  There were quite a few twists and turns.  I believe that even though it might appear erratic, that God was guiding me.  All of those experiences, together with everything else since then, have combined to make me the person that I am today.  It may seem odd, but God knows what He is doing.  If we have given our lives to Him, He will help us navigate the path of life.

III.  We are the Clay:  Isaiah 64:8

But now, O Lord,
You are our Father;
We are the clay, and You our potter;
And all we are the work of Your hand.

The people that we become, the success that we achieve,  it is ultimately not up to us.  God molds us into the people that we were meant to be.  We do cooperate with God.  We listen for His voice.  We act in obedience to Him.  Paul put it this way.  “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.”  (I Corinthians 3:8)  I do sometimes wonder why God withholds the increase, but I trust Him to do His part.  I seek to do my part as a faithful servant.

IV.  God’s Grace:  II Corinthians 12:9-10

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I cannot promise that all of our dreams will come true.  I cannot promise that we will become healthy, wealthy and wise.  I can promise that God’s grace is sufficient for whatever trials we might face.  I can promise that one day, in heaven, there will be no more sickness, nor sadness.  I can promise that God will be with us through the journey of this life.

Whatever that journey might be.

 

These are the sermon notes from 1/12/20.  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.   

A Role of Suffering

January 11, 2020

I have been teaching for over twenty years now.  I am pleasantly surprised when students bring up things that are new to my way of thinking.  A recent example was a student who was writing about various religions views of suicide.  I have always approached the Christian perspective from the view of the sacredness of human life, that we are made in the image of God, that life is a gift and we should not waste it.  This young student in her report spoke about how a person who commits suicide is not appreciating the role of suffering in the life of a Christian.

The student became the teacher.

I should have know that.  I should have seen that.  I have dealt with the question of suffering, but never for some reason as a response to thoughts of suicide.

It got me thinking again about the role of suffering in the life of a Christian.

II Corinthians 1:3-7

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.

I.  We Suffer

Suffering comes in various forms.   The first that most people think of is probably physical suffering.  I have recently undergone hip replacement surgery.  My hip was severely degraded.  The person doing my initial screening for the surgeon, was surprised that I was still walking.  I had been dealing with various degrees of pain in my hip for about five years.  There are many people who suffer physically in a wide variety of ways.  How we respond to that physical pain can be a testimony to those around us.

Physical suffering is one thing.  Pain of the heart is something else.  There are many forms of disappointment, sorrow, stress and other experiences that may affect our hearts and minds.  Again, what we do with those feelings is important.

II.  We Are Comforted

A.  Suffering Will End:  God is able to bring healing.  God is able to bring comfort and peace.  We can bring our concerns to God and know that He is able to bring resolution.  The issues may, or may not be resolved in this life, but we can know that His grace is sufficient for us.  (II Corinthians 12:9) God has promised to be with us, to never leave us.  We are told that we can ‘do all things through him who strengthens us’  (Philippians 4:13) We do not face our suffering alone.

We also have the ability to look ahead.  We know there will be no suffering in heaven.  We may need to be patient.

B.  We are Comforted:

1.  By God:  The most important comfort that we receive is the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  God is able to lift us above whatever suffering we may face.  In His presence we find great joy and peace.  This joy and peace is not dependent upon external circumstances, but rather is dependent on the relationship that we have with God.

2.  By Others:  We are not meant to face the trials of this life alone.  Not only is God with us, but we are meant to have a relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ which is meant to be supportive.  We should have friends in the Lord with whom we may share our burdens.  We should be able to talk with each other, pray with each other and help to comfort one another with the comfort of Christ.

III.  We Comfort Others

As we have successfully dealt with suffering in our own lives, as we have received the comfort and consolation of Christ, so we can offer that comfort and consolation to others.  This is especially true when people are going through an experience that is similar to what we ourselves have gone through.  Certainly, each of us do not have to experience all forms of suffering, but there is something about the person who can truly relate with us because of similar experiences.  So, perhaps God allows us to suffer, so that we can truly relate to others who suffer.  We can offer hope, even as we have received hope.

Offering comfort and hope to those who suffer is truly a wonderful thing.

 

These are the sermon notes from 1/5/20.  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.   

 

A Different Side of Job

February 13, 2019

I was reading in Job recently and was struck by some verses that inspired a different type of message than you normally hear from the book of Job.

I.  Wisdom and Understanding:  Job 28:28

And to man He said,
‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom,
And to depart from evil is understanding.’ ”

A.  Wisdom:  When I read this verse in Job I was struck by the similarity with Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”  I have this verse on  a poster in my office at the college.  I have often thought that I should put up a complimentary poster of Psalms 14:1 “The fool has said in his heart,  ‘There is no God.'”  However, I don’t think that will set a proper stage for constructive dialogue.  Still, it is true that the decision to believe in God or not truly is the most important decision that we make in life.  

B.  Understanding:  It is important that we depart from evil.  Evil acts, evil company both contribute to a significant decline in the quality of life.  There are consequences for evil.  Wise people understand that.  This reminds me of a portion of Isaiah 1:16-17.  “Cease to do evil,  Learn to do good”  This is easy to say but a little harder to do.  First we must correctly identify both good and evil.  Do not look to the world to define these, look to the Word of God. 

C.  Ask God:  James 1:5 says “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”  Wisdom starts with God and God develops wisdom in His people.  True wisdom comes from God.

II.  The Breath of the Almighty:  Job 32:8

 But there is a spirit in man,
And the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding.

When I read this I thought about a couple of things.  First of all I thought about how as Christians we believe that Christ dwells in our hearts, as we are told in Ephesians 3:17 “ that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, “.  Then I also thought about Zechariah 4:6  ” ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the Lord of hosts.”  If we have given our lives to God then we do not do what we do in our own strength, but in the strength that comes from God.  This is very helpful for those days that we might feel overwhelmed.  We are not alone, God is with us.  That is a comforting thought.

III.  Spokesman:  Job 33:1-6

“But please, Job, hear my speech,
And listen to all my words.
Now, I open my mouth;
My tongue speaks in my mouth.
My words come from my upright heart;
My lips utter pure knowledge.
The Spirit of God has made me,
And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
If you can answer me,
Set your words in order before me;
Take your stand.
Truly I am as your spokesman before God;
I also have been formed out of clay.

The portion of this speech that I would like to focus on today is in verse 6.  The speaker identifies himself as a spokesman before God.  This made me think of II Corinthians 5:20 “ Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. ”  You see, we also are spokesmen for God.  It is our job to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the world.  Of course, we cannot share that good news to all the world by ourselves but each of us should look for every opportunity that comes our way to share it in our circle of influence.  Incidentally,  ambassadors represent both sides in communication.  We tell people about God, we also pray to God about the people in our lives.

One of my favorite phrases is that “God will give us the wisdom to know what to do and the strength to do it.”  Here in Job again I see that basic thought reinforced.  God will give us wisdom.  God will give us strength.  God wants us to help Him reach the lost people of the world.

 

These are the sermon notes from February 10, 2019.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.  

 

Worship and the Heart

November 1, 2018

Saul was the first king of Israel.  He was not faithful to keep the commandments of God and so the kingdom was taken away from him and given to another.  Samuel, who had anointed Saul king, was told by God to anoint one of the sons of Jesse the new king.  This is where our first verse today comes into the story.

I.  God Looks At The Heart:  I Samuel 16:7

 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. Forthe Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

We have a tendency to judge by what we see.  That is why there is such an emphasis placed on first impressions.  How we dress, our physical condition, our age, our race, our sex, all contribute to the first impression that we make on people.

After people have had an opportunity to get to know us, there is still a tendency to judge primarily by external factors.  Our wealth, our education, our athletic abilities or our skill can all contribute to how we view a person.

God  sees the heart.

All we can see are external features.  We can see actions and hear words, but it is possible for people to put on a show.  They can act, at least some of the time, the way that they want to appear.

God is not fooled.

It is not that all of these various factors are not important.  It is just that they  are not what is most important.  What is most important is the attitude of our heart.  We are to love God.  We are to love people.  That is a condition of the heart.

II.  A Troubled Heart:  I Samuel 16: 14, 23

 But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the Lord troubled him….

And so it was, whenever the spirit from God was upon Saul, that David would take a harp and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the distressing spirit would depart from him

The ancient Jews acknowledged all things as coming from God.  In the modern era we do not think of God as the originator of evil, but rather as allowing evil to afflict us.  Remember Job?  Satan could not attack him without God’s permission.  Today we draw a distinction between what God allows and what God does.

Either way, Saul is in distress.  You could say that his heart was troubled.  David played music and Saul felt better.

I would suggest that music can help a troubled heart.  Not just any music, I would suggest good Christian music, especially worship music.  If you are feeling down either listen to, or better yet, sing worship music.

Worship can change our attitude.  That is one reason why we begin service with a time of worship.  We want to shift our focus from the cares and concerns of the world and focus our minds and our hearts upon the Living God.  As we do this, we become more aware of His presence and in his presence there is fullness of joy.  (Psalms 16:11)

Of course the more important reason that we worship God is that He deserves our worship.  He is God after all.   Worship is not about what clothes we are wearing, what instruments we are playing or even the song list.  It is about worshiping God from our hearts.

On a side note, sometimes people have homes, apartments or workplaces that seem to have a sense of an evil presence. (And no, I don’t mean your boss!)  Demons do not enjoy worship music.  If you think that you might have a problem with a demonic presence in some physical location, try playing worship music in the area, even leaving it playing when you are not there.  It may have good results.

III.  A Cheerful Heart:  James 5:13

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.

If you are feeling good, sing psalms.  It is the expression of a joyful heart.  Our skill level doesn’t matter, just make a joyful noise.

There is a growing trend these days in churches to create an atmosphere that is similar to a concert.  A darkened room with stage lighting illuminating the people on the platform.  Do not be fooled by this appearance.  Worship is not a spectator sport!  It is not a concert that we attend to listen to with our ears and watch with our eyes.  It is an event where the people of God come together to worship the King of kings from our heart.

So, it is about the heart.  If you have a troubled heart, sing or play worship music.  If you have a joyful heart, sing worship music.  Just remember, when you are in worship, worship from the heart.

 

These are the sermon notes from 10/28/18.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

Be Rich in God

August 4, 2018

As Christians we may, or may not, be blessed with an abundance of material blessings.  We will have, however, blessings that this world may not comprehend.

I.  The Blessing of the Lord:  Numbers 6:22-26

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 23 “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them:

24 “The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
26 The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.” ’

There are three components to this blessing.  God blesses us by providing for our material needs.  He gives us abilities and opportunities and helps our labor to be fruitful.  God also keeps us from harm.   Some times we are acutely aware of His protection, but there are doubtless many times that we are blissfully unaware of the dangers that we avoid because of the protection of God.

The third part of this blessing is the most important.  The first two are represented by the simple words ‘bless’ and ‘keep’.  The last portion is given in verses 25 & 26.  It has to do with the presence of God is our lives.

There is nothing greater than having an awareness of God’s presence.  He is with us not only in church gatherings, or in times in the beauty of nature.  God is with us always.  He is with us in traffic, while shopping, during the workday, indeed all throughout every day.  But are we aware of His presence?  Do we turn our eyes towards Him?  Can we hear His voice, sense His presence?

The fledgling nation of Israel had been brought out of Egypt by the power of God.  They had a visible symbol of His presence with them in the column of smoke by day, and the pillar of fire by night.  They saw miraculous provision and protection over and over.

Yet they did not appreciate what they had been given.

II.  Not Enough:  Numbers 11:1

Now when the people complained, it displeased the Lord; for the Lord heard it, and His anger was aroused. So the fire of the Lord burned among them, and consumed some in the outskirts of the camp.

They had been complaining because the manna that God provided each day became tiresome.  They missed the food that they had in Egypt, never mind that they had been slaves.  God had promised them a land ‘flowing with milk and honey’.  They were unhappy with what God had provided for them while on the journey.

III.  Consequences:  Psalms 106:15

And He gave them their request,
But sent leanness into their soul.

This is a sad commentary on the consequences of that day.  God provided huge flocks of birds for them to have to eat, but sent ‘leanness into their soul’.  They did not appreciate the special relationship that they had been given by God.

They did not appreciate what God had done for them.

IV.  The Moral of the Story:

Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.

We too, are on a journey to a promised land.  Our promised land is heaven.  We have been given the promise that Jesus will never leave us nor forsake us, but that He will be with us always.  God provides for us and protects us and has given us of His Holy Spirit.

Yet sometimes we do not appreciate what we have been given.

We want more.

We want something different.

We fail to realize that the greatest gift that God has given to us is the ability that we have to live in relationship with Him.

May appreciate what we have been given.

May we seek more….of God in our lives.

May we always place God first in our lives.

 

These are the sermon notes from 7/29/18.  All quotations 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. 

 

The Spirit Poured Out

April 11, 2018

As a Pentecostal church the primary issue that distinguishes us from other churches is not our music or order of service, but rather our understanding of the nature, work and role of the Holy Spirit in the church today.

Joel 2: 28-32

“And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
29 And also on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.

30 “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth:
Blood and fire and pillars of smoke.
31 The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.
32 And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the Lord
Shall be saved.
For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance,
As the Lord has said,
Among the remnant whom the Lord calls.

I.  Outpouring of the Spirit

A.  Seek the Spirit:  It is appropriate for us to continue to ask God to pour out His Spirit.  We desire to see God at work through His Holy Spirit.  God is at work, but there is even more that could be happening.  God responds to the heartfelt, earnest prayer of His people.

B.  The Gifts of the Spirit:  I Corinthians 12:7-11

 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

These gifts are available to all believers.  It is appropriate for us to ask God to pour out His Spirit, with the manifestation of these gifts.  We do need to recognize that we do not have control over these gifts, they are given ‘as He wills’.

C.  The Fruit of 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.

All believers have the Spirit to some degree.  The fruit of the Spirit should be developing in all of our lives.  The gifts of the Spirit are given to specific people at specific times, but the fruit of the Spirit is for all believers and for all times.   The fruit of the Spirit in our lives is one of the very best testimonies of the transformational power of God.

II.  Day of the Lord

A.  Signs and Wonders:  The various signs that are described could have already been fulfilled.  The smoke of Mt. St. Helen’s volcano, the eclipse of the sun, the blood moons.  Although each of these things are rooted in natural phenomena, they still could be fulfillment of the prophecy in Joel.    Actually, many generations of Christians have interpreted the signs of their times and concluded that the end is at hand.  Of course, the end has not come yet so earlier generations were wrong, and we might be wrong as well.  What is important is that we be ready when the day comes.

B.  The Day of the Lord: To those who ‘call upon the name of the Lord’  it will be a great day.  Of course, we know that the name of the Lord is Jesus.  “There is no other name under heaven, given among men by which we must be saved.”  Acts 4:12  He alone is ‘the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through Him”  John 14:6

Sadly, for those who have rejected the Son, the Day of the Lord will be a terrible day of judgement.  For them it will be a day of darkness and mourning.

III.  Seek Good:  Amos 5:14-15

Seek good and not evil,
That you may live;
So the Lord God of hosts will be with you,
As you have spoken.
15 Hate evil, love good;
Establish justice in the gate.
It may be that the Lord God of hosts
Will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

We recognize that we are saved by grace, through faith.  (See Ephesians 2:8-10)  However, if we are saved, then our lives should be changed.  We should seek to do what is right.  We should work for justice in the land.   What kind of justice?  All kinds. We do not do this in our own strength, but by the power of the Spirit that God has given to us.

May the Spirit of God be poured out in our world, our churches and our lives.

 

These are the sermon notes from 4/8/18.  All Bible 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. 

 

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. 

Justice for All

May 17, 2017

Today on Mother’s Day, I am not going to preach about mothers, rather I am going to recognize that for thousands of years, even for kings, the words “Listen to your mother!” are good advice.

I.  A Mother’s Advice:  Proverbs 31:1, 8-9

The words of King Lemuel, the utterance which his mother taught him:

Open your mouth for the speechless,
In the cause of all who are appointed to die.
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
And plead the cause of the poor and needy.

In the 19th century there was a movement that thought that Christians should work to bring heaven to earth.  The emphasis was placed on making this world a better place for all.  It became known as the social gospel.  It was warmly embraced by liberal theologians.  There was a reaction to it.  Some felt that too much emphasis was placed on the things of this world to the exclusion of the more important  spiritual dimensions.  Conservative theologians gathered around this call to stress the spiritual dimension of the gospel.

It was never meant to be an either/or question.  It is not either the social gospel or the spiritual gospel.

It is both/and.  It is both the spiritual gospel and the social gospel.

II.  New Testament: James 1:27

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.

In the first century widows and orphans were in trouble.  The people of God were to help those who were in trouble.

It is still true today.  The people of God are to help those who are in trouble.  It is not just widows and orphans, but any who are in need.  We are to show compassion and offer guidance and assistance to any who need it.

III.  Justice for All

Christians are called to be salt and light.  We are to work for a better world, not just for Christians, but for all.

God is a just God and Christians should be a just people.

We should seek for justice in our families, our neighborhoods, our workplaces, our communities, our country and our world.

Christianity is not just about the life to come.  It is about life today.

 

 

These are the sermon notes from 5/14/17.  All Bible quotes are from the New King James.  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.