Posts Tagged ‘religion’

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. 

 

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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. 

Maturing in Christ

December 6, 2017

The message today starts with Philemon verses 4-7.

 I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers, hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints, that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother.

I.  Love

Apparently Philemon had a good reputation.  He was known to love Jesus and other believers.  This is very important.  Jesus addressed this practice in Matthew 22:36-40.

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

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

How do we express love for God?  Is it merely words or emotions?  We are told what it means to love God in I John 5:3.

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.

It is not burdensome, because it is not done on our own strength, but by the help of the Holy Spirit.  The more we love God, the closer we will draw to Him, the more the Holy Spirit will direct our lives.  Love God and the rest will come into line.

If we are disciples of Jesus we will love one another.  John 13:34-35 confirms this.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

II.  Faith:  Hebrews 11:6

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

Believing that God exists is the first step.  Believing that what God has spoken in His Word is another big step.   We are not always able to see how things are going to work out for us in this life, but we can continue to trust that God is all that He has revealed in His Word.  II Corinthians 5:7 encourages us.

 For we walk by faith, not by sight.

In this life we may not always understand, but the day is coming when we will know clearly.  Our faith in God enables us to live our the lives that he has called us  to live.  Hebrew 11:1 tells us.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Our faith in God changes the way that we live our lives.  Indeed, our lives are changed by faith.

III.  Effective Sharing

A.  I Peter 3:15

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

We all should be watching for the opportunity to share our faith.  We are all called to speak to others about our faith in Jesus.

B.  Matthew 28:19-20

 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

We do not stop at mere conversion.  Saying the sinner’s prayer is only the beginning of a lifelong commitment to being a disciple of Jesus.

IV.  Every Good Thing

A.  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 a disciple of Jesus that loves God and loves people our lives are changed.  The fruit of the Spirit should be present and increasing in our life.  We can use this list for occasional self evaluation.  We should ask God to continue to develop this fruit in our lives.

B.  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.

As we mature in Christ we should see God working both in our lives and through our lives.  Our lives are changed.  People see that change.  We can share the reason for the change.  God can use this process over and over.  We need to love God, love people, mature in the faith and share our faith with those around us.

 

These are the sermon notes from 11/29/17.  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. 

 

I was Glad

November 22, 2017

Other than my time in the military, when I was stationed at a place where church attendance was not an option, I have attended church almost every Sunday.  I am pretty sure that I could count on my fingers the times that I have missed.  I have always considered attending church to be worth my time.

I.  I Was Glad:  Psalms 122:1

I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go into the house of the Lord.”

This verse includes two parts; our attitude and our actions.  We should have a good attitude when we go to church.  When we attend church we will most likely spend time in praise, time in prayer, time with God’s people and time in the Word.  The attitude with which we do each of these things will make a significant difference.  Have a good attitude!  God can use poor music and a stumbling message if our hearts are open.  (Of course, good music and an anointed message is even better!)

It is necessary to actually go.  Some of us have gym memberships that we never use.  We may have good intentions, but it is necessary to follow through.

II.  Exhort One Another!   Hebrews 10:24-25

 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

It is not just about us.

Our attendance at church is good for us, but that is not all there is to it.  We can be an encouragement to each other to “stir up love and good works”.    You may think that your presence goes unnoticed, but each and every person contributes something to the overall experience.  Church is diminished without you.  Like a scarecrow in a field, sometimes just being there is enough.  Of course, for most of us we can contribute more, a friendly smile, a warm greeting, listening to someone’s story, there is much that we can contribute if we are open to being led by, and used by, God.

III.  Give Thanks:  I Thessalonians 5:18

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

There are two basic categories for the experiences that we will have in life.  They are either good or bad, with all kinds of variations and levels.  It is easy to thank God for the good things, they are, after all, good.  Yet we can thank God for the things that are bad as well.  We are promised in Romans 8:28 that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. ”  We don’t always understand, and some things are very painful in the moment, but God can ultimately use all things for good.  Furthermore, we can be thankful that God has promised to be with us always.  We do not face difficult times alone.  God is with us.  We can be very thankful for that assurance. 

It is God’s will that we give thanks.  Sometimes things happen that are not according to the will of God.  Both angels and humans have free will and they can do things contrary to the will of God.  Now, God is able to ultimately orchestrate all things for our good and for His glory.  There is a difference between the will of God and the plan of God.  God is all knowing and can weave things together in a way that we cannot understand with our human faculties, but we can trust Him and give Him thanks.

 

These are the sermon notes from 11/19/17.  All quotes are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

One Thing

November 1, 2017

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

I.  My Strength:  Psalms 27:1

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

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

II.  One Thing:  Psalms 27:4

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

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

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

III.  Seek:  Psalms 27:8

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

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

Lord, open my eyes that I may see you.

IV.  Teach:  Psalms 27:11

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

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

V.  Hope:  Psalms 27:13

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

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

We can trust Him.

VI.  Wait:  Psalms 27:14

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

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

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

 

These are the sermon notes from 10/29/17.  All quotes are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

This Into That

October 25, 2017

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

I.  Weeping into Joy:  Psalms 30:5b

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

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

II.  The Path of Life:  Psalms 16:11

You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

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

It is a new life.

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

III.  Peace:  Psalms 4:6-8

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

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

IV.  A New Life:  Psalms 5:11-12

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

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

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

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

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

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

He has turned our mourning into dancing.

He has turned hopeless into hopeful.

He has turned death into life.

May He be praised forever and ever.

 

These are the sermon notes from 10/22/17.  All quotes are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

A Big Project

October 4, 2017

Sometimes we have a big project to undertake.  We should research, prepare, plan and recruit workers with the necessary skills.  Nehemiah desired to see the wall rebuilt around Jerusalem.  The Jewish people had been allowed to return to rebuild, but progress had stalled.  Nehemiah traveled to Jerusalem to encourage the workers.

I.  A Mind to Work:  Nehemiah 4:6

 So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.

Initially, the project went well.  The people had been motivated to work and they contributed enthusiastically and good progress was made initially.

So often we start a new project with a fast start.  It is new, exciting, even fun, in the beginning.

This is true with the Christian life as well.  People who are new converts  are excited.  They attend church regularly.  They read their Bibles.  They see God at work all around them.

A good start is important.

II.  Failing Strength:  Nehemiah 4:10

Then Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is failing, and there is so much rubbish that we are not able to build the wall.”

After the newness wears off, the test of our wills begins in earnest.  It is hard work to build a wall.  There is a lot of physical labor.  Sometimes it can be overwhelming.

This is true in many other projects as well.  We become tired.  The obstacles seem to be larger and more numerous.  We may be tempted to stop.

In our Christian lives as well, there are times when we grow weary.  We are faced with the tests and trials of life and we can become discouraged.

III.  Frightened by Opposition:  Nehemiah 6:9

For they all were trying to make us afraid, saying, “Their hands will be weakened in the work, and it will not be done.”

Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands.

There were people around Jerusalem who did not want to see the walls rebuilt.  They threatened Nehemiah and made plans to attack.

Nehemiah responded by asking God for help and by taking appropriate action.

Sometimes people will actively try to stop us from doing the work of God.  We  should take this threats seriously, pray for guidance and strength, and take appropriate action.

The devil would love to destroy our relationship with God. He will try many different tactics to end our relationship with God and to render us ineffective.  We should watch out for his tricks and trust that God will guide and protect us.

IV.  Finished:  Nehemiah 6:15-16

So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days. 16 And it happened, when all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations around us saw these things, that they were very disheartened in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was done by our God.

Nehemiah was able to complete the project despite the obstacles.  God helped him.  The success was not due to Nehemiah, but to God who worked through him.

It is a wonderful feeling to accomplish major projects.  We should always give God the glory for enabling us to complete the work He has set before us.

God continues his work in us.  (Philippians 1:6)  As long as we are on this earth, there is work to be done in us and through us.  To God be the glory!

V.  Our Strength:  Nehemiah 8:8-12

 

So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.

And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn nor weep.” For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law.

10 Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

11 So the Levites quieted all the people, saying, “Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved.” 12 And all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them.

As a part of their celebration of the completion of the wall, the Word of God was read to the people.  As they heard the words of the law, they realized just how far they had fallen from where God had called them to live.  They knew that they were not living according to the law and they were sorrowful.

The leaders encouraged them.  The day was meant to be a day of celebration.  They were  not supposed to look at how far they still had to go, but to rejoice in how far they had come.

God loves us.  He is working in us.  We are becoming more like Him.  The process will continue throughout our lives.  We can rejoice that we are saved ‘by grace, through faith’.  (Ephesians 2:8)

It is the joy of the Lord that is our strength.  We find that joy primarily by spending time in the presence of God.  (Psalms 16:11) We also develop joy in our lives as a product of the Holy Spirit that dwells in us.  (Galatians 5:22-23)

The life of a Christian should not be filled with anger and sorrow, but rather with the love and joy and peace that comes from God Himself.  That is our source of strength with which we will finish the projects that God gives to us, most importantly the project of a lifetime of serving God.

 

These are the sermon notes from 10/1/17.  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. 

A Root of Evil

September 26, 2017

Caution!  Danger ahead!!  It is good to be warned of dangers that are ahead of us.  Forewarned is forearmed some say.  That is; if we heed the warning.

I.  Useless Wranglings:  I Timothy 6: 3-5

If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.

Here at this church we encourage individuals to study the Bible and to discuss it freely.  Sometimes this means that we have disagreements on interpretation.  These disagreements may be invigorating, challenging us to search the scriptures to back up our view.  I love it when, after a service, I see people sitting with their Bibles open, in deep conversation with their neighbor.

When do we cross over from a healthy discussion to ‘useless wranglings’?  Primarily, it comes down to our attitude.  Are we still listening to the points that the other person is making in support of their position?  Are  we considering the possibility that they may be right and we may be wrong?  Or are we simply trying to win an argument?? At the end of the discussion are we stimulated to learn?  Or simply angry??   Or filled with pride at our superiority?   Our attitude makes the difference.

I have often heard it preached that godliness is a means of gain.  Isn’t that the basic assumption of the prosperity gospel that was popular for many years?  Health and wealth for all believers??

We should be careful.  Our true riches do not lie in this world but in the next. Now, it is true that God blesses His people in a wide variety of ways, but we must be careful that we never place the pursuit of blessings over our pursuit of the One Who blesses.

Also, we must recognize that historically, there have been many, many Christians who have been poor in the things of this world, while rich in the things of God.  Which is more important??

II.  Great Gain:  I Timothy 6:6-10

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. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

We should be in pursuit of godliness.  It should be our desire to be more like Christ.  This involves a dying to the flesh combined with a growth in the spirit.  We cannot do it without God, but God requires our cooperation.

The ability to be content is a terrific trait.  It also goes counter to our culture which pushes us to always want more, bigger, and better, to never be content.  Christians need to be careful not to be caught up with the flow of society which drives us to always work to have more.  “He who dies with the most toys wins” seems to describe the goals of our society.

We should be different.

“The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil”.  Money itself is not evil.  It is the love of money that is evil.  It is the attitude that is wrong.  Some people think that this only applies to rich people, but that would be wrong.  Poor people can love money too.

God is to be our first love.  We are to seek Him first, above all else.  Then everything will fall into place. (Matthew 6:33)

III.  But You… I Timothy 6: 11-12

 But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses

We should pursue, not money, but the traits of godliness.  We will not become perfect in this life, but we should be steadily growing in godliness.

Fight the good fight.  Instead of trying to accumulate things, we should be accumulating souls for the kingdom of God.  We are effective in the work of the kingdom by being fervent in prayer.  Our prayers have an impact that we may not realize.  Everyone can pray and prayer is important!

We can also fight the good fight by our proclamation of the gospel.  We should always be looking for opportunities to share the hope that is within us, the good things that God has done for us, the good news of God’s love for all people.

Finally, we fight the good fight, by letting our light shine in the darkness.  That light, of course, is Christ in us, the hope of glory.  Without Him, we would still be in the dark.

 

These are the sermon notes from 9/24/17.  All quotes are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

Ornan Who?

September 6, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

David and the elders with him fell on their faces.

Ornan’s sons hid themselves.

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

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

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

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

II.  Soloman:  I Chronicles 22:12-13

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

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

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

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

I want to be like Ornan.

III.  Daniel 11:32-33

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

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

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

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

Under the right circumstances the ordinary can be extraordinary.

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

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

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

I want to be like Ornan.