Posts Tagged ‘teaching’

The Path of Life

January 16, 2014

God will lead us down the path of life, but will we follow His direction?

I.  Two Paths:  Psalms 1:1-6

Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
    Nor stands in the path of sinners,
    Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    And in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree
    Planted by the rivers of water,
    That brings forth its fruit in its season,
    Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.

The ungodly are not so,
But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the ungodly shall perish.

There seems to be only two kinds of people, the godly and the ungodly.  Clearly, the godly people are blessed, while the ungodly will perish.  If we believe the scriptures, we will certainly want to be godly people, so that we may enjoy the blessings of the Lord.

II.  Joyful Trust:  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.

A godly person is one who trusts in God.  One who trusts in the Lord may expect their lives to be filled with the joy of the Lord.  We are not meant to be miserable people, simply enduring this life while we hope for the next.  There will be times of testing, but our lives should be marked by the blessings of God.  We should remember that the problems of this life are temporary, but the blessings of the Lord are forever.

III.  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.

A godly person follows the path of life.  Here again there is a promise of joy in the life of the believer.  Here, the responsibility is placed on God to show us the path of life.  God is faithful, and He will reveal to us what we need to know.  We need to be faithful to continue to choose to follow the direction of the Lord.  God shows us the path.  He does not force us down it.  We should accept His invitation to follow Him.  It is in our best interest.

IV.  Prayer:  Psalms 19:14

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.

This should be a prayer of all godly people.  It is not just our actions, but our words and even the thoughts of our heart should be pleasing in the sight of God.

V.  Teach Us:  Psalms 25:8-11

Good and upright is the Lord;
Therefore He teaches sinners in the way.
The humble He guides in justice,
And the humble He teaches His way.
10 All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth,
To such as keep His covenant and His testimonies.
11 For Your name’s sake, O Lord,
Pardon my iniquity, for it is great.

Godly people are taught by God.  Following the path of life is an ongoing learning experience.  God will teach us His ways.  It is a lifelong process.  We recognize that we fall short and need forgiveness.  We recognize that we do not know everything.   There is always more to learn.

VI.  Wait On The Lord:  Psalms 27:11-14

Teach me Your way, O Lord,
And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies.
12 Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries;
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.
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.

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

Godly people wait on the Lord.  Life can be hard at times.  Do not lose heart.  Wait on the Lord.  He will strengthen us as we spend time in His presence.  He will give us wisdom and strength.  Wisdom to know what to do; and strength enough to do it.

God offers wonderful blessings to those who chose to follow Him down the path of life.

These are the sermon notes from 1/12/14.

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A Faithful Life of Service

July 10, 2012

Here are the sermon notes from July 8th,21012.

Introduction:  I have been reading recently in II Kings.  The story of King Josiah stands out to me.  He was the last godly king of Judah prior to its’ conquest by Babylon.  He became king when he was only eight years old.  When he was twenty-six he oversaw the cleansing, and restoration of the temple.  During the process, a copy of the book of the law was found.  Evidently, the children of Israel had strayed so far from the Lord that the revealed word had been set aside, and literally forgotten.  When King Josiah heard the words of the law, he tore his clothes in humble repentance.  He recognized how far Israel had fallen away from their service to God and he set about to make things right.

I.  A Time of Restoration

II Kings 23  Now the king sent them to gather all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem to him. The king went up to the house of the Lord with all the men of Judah, and with him all the inhabitants of Jerusalem—the priests and the prophets and all the people, both small and great. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant which had been found in the house of the Lord.

Then the king stood by a pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to follow the Lord and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people took a stand for the covenant.

First, I am impressed that the people listened to all the words of the Book of the Covenant.  This book may have been Leviticus, or possibly even the entire Pentateuch.  Today’s congregation may lose interest if a scripture readings goes for more the ten verses.

Second, this was no idle reading or commitment.  The king set about a methodical cleansing of the land of all foreign gods, altars and temples.  He was serious about his desire to restore true worship and the process continued throughout his life.

II.  King Josiah Lived a Life of Faithful Service.

II Kings 23  24 Moreover Josiah put away those who consulted mediums and spiritists, the household gods and idols, all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the Lord. 25 Now before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses; nor after him did any arise like him.

Notice that it is said that no king was like him..ever.  Not even King David, who is normally considered the greatest king.  We all know that King David had his  faults.  Apparently King Josiah was completely committed to serving God, faithful throughout his life.

III.  The Unexpected, Tragic End

II Kings 23 28 Now the rest of the acts of Josiah, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? 29 In his days Pharaoh Necho king of Egypt went to the aid of the king of Assyria, to the River Euphrates; and King Josiah went against him. And Pharaoh Necho killed him at Megiddo when he confronted him. 30 Then his servants moved his body in a chariot from Megiddo, brought him to Jerusalem, and buried him in his own tomb. And the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, anointed him, and made him king in his father’s place.

Why did God not protect King Josiah in battle?  God had delivered his people many times in previous years, why was this occasion different?

God has a plan.  He knows how the events of this world are going to unfold.  King Josiah served a very important role in restoring worship to the Jewish people.  Prior to his reign the focus was clearly on the temple, and on sacrifice.  After his reign there was a renewed emphasis on the study of the Word of God.  When the children of Israel were exiled to Babylon, they gathered together to study the word, for worship and for prayer.   It was a necessary change in focus for the years that were to come.

King Josiah reigned for thirty-one years.  He died at thirty-nine.  You might consider this an untimely death, or you could think of it as an early retirement.  Remember that for the people of God, our true reward is not in the things of this life, but in the life to come.

Conclusion:  We all have a part that we play in the plan of God.  We are called to faithfully serve, and we can trust that God knows what He is doing.  God does know what he is doing. we simply need to be faithful in our service to Him.  Our reward may come in various things of this life, but even more important is when we stand before the Lord to hear the words “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  Clearly, the best is yet to come.

 

Philosophy and Religious Faith

November 22, 2011

I was asked by a student the other day whether or not I had problems being both a pastor and a philosophy instructor.  I told the student that, actually, for me, they work together very well.  They both address similar questions.  When studying philosophy we examine alternative approaches and answers to questions.  This enhances the understanding of the complexity and range of the issues that are addressed.  As a pastor I propose answers to those questions.  This can provide a solid foundation from which to deal with the complex questions of life.  A solid foundation, with a breadth of understanding, is a good thing.  I have greatly enjoyed being both a pastor and a philosophy instructor and believe that I will continue to expand my knowledge and understanding in the years to come.

Generational Curse

June 16, 2011

Over the more than twenty years that I have been in ministry, I have occasionally spoken with people who have been concerned about the presence of a “generational curse”.   The biblical foundation for this concept is found in the Old Testament.  Exodus 20: 5 says “…For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, ”  ( see also, Exodus 34:7, Numbers 14:18, & Deuteronomy 5:9)

The concern is that there may be a curse afflicting those whose parents were ungodly,  even after their offspring  have turned to Christ.

Exodus 20: 6 says “but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”  I believe that when we come to Christ we are immediately set free from the spiritual implications of the “generational curse” .  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: old things have passed away: behold all things have become new. ”  (II Corinthians 5:17)  “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you  shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

It does take a while longer to be set free from what one minister called “generational consequences” .  As we grew up we may have learned behaviors that are not Christlike.  It can take a while to learn new behavior.  Our spirits are cleansed and reborn, now we must “cease to do evil, and learn to do good”.  It is a process of changing learned behavior.  By the grace of God, as we spend time in the Word, and in prayer, God will continue His work in us to remove the attitudes and actions that are displeasing to Him, and hurtful to us.

The First Step

November 26, 2010

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”  (Proverbs 9:10)

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, foe he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”  (Hebrews 11:6)

Faith is the initial premise to achieve true understanding.  Faith is not the conclusion to an argument.  When we interact with others we offer to them a relationship with Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  This offer is made through the Word of God, and is confirmed by the Spirit of God.  It is not achieved by logic, reason, or empirical proof; but by the Word, and the Spirit.  God has ordained that we must come to Him in faith, and then He will bring understanding as we grow in Him.

Faith is the first step that we take towards understanding.

A Strong Delusion (book review)

November 1, 2010

Joe Dallas, the author of “A Strong Delusion: Confronting the ‘Gay Christian’ Movement” does an outstanding job of clearly and compassionately  presenting a rebuttal to those who presume to call themselves Christian,  yet retain an active homosexual lifestyle.   Dallas writes as one who has been a part of the “Gay Christian” movement.  He candidly describes his personal struggle, explaining his reasoning and conclusions in a manner that is clear and precise.  He reports the history of the gay movement in America, the basic theology that supports the “Christian” version, and a rebuttal to the arguments presented by the gay community.

I highly recommend this book, published by Harvest House Publishers, 1996  ISBN1-56507-431-9.

Pastor/Teacher/Chi Alpha Leader

October 7, 2010

Tuesday was our first Chi Alpha meeting.  Chi Alpha is a campus ministry sponsored by the Assemblies of God, but open to anyone.  I am happy to be able to have the opportunity to lead this activity at the college where I teach.  I have been a lead pastor of a local church since 1991.  I have been teaching philosophy, ethics, logic and world religions, on a part-time basis at the local community college since 1998.  Chi Alpha allows me to blend the role of teacher and pastor at a secular location.   It is a wonderful opportunity for me, and I look forward to what God is going to do with this new ministry.

The God of Abraham

September 30, 2010

Jews, Christians and Muslims all look back to the God of Abraham.  Therefore, it can be claimed that they all worship the same God.  However, Jesus said “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God: nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me.” (John 8:42)  He also said ” I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father except through Me.”  (John 14:6)  Since neither Jews, nor Muslims recognize Jesus as the way to God, they no longer have access to the God of Abraham.  Furthermore,  Jesus said that “I and My Father are one.” (John 10:30) .  Therefore, if we accept the gospel of John, by rejecting Jesus, they have rejected the God of Abraham.

Is It Art?

September 14, 2010

The other day in my philosophy class we discussed art.  We had basically agreed that art was an attempt to communicate through the creation of something using visual, audio or other sensory experiences.

Then it was suggested that nature itself was art.  At first I thought that nature is often the inspiration for art, or the subject of art, but in itself, it is not art.  However, the more I thought of it I realized that maybe I was wrong.  Maybe it is art.  I found this to be an interesting concept, because normally we think of art as something created by humans.  Obviously, humans did not create the world.

God did.

So is the natural world a work of the Master Artist?  Does God seek to communicate something to us through the created world?

Yes, I think that I can accept that.  So yes,  nature is art.

Why Muslims Will Celebrate On 9/11

September 9, 2010

Muslims will celebrate the end of Ramadan on 9/11.  Ramadan is a month of fasting from sunrise to sunset every day.  The end of the month is celebrated with a special holiday called Eid ul-Fitr.    The Muslim calendar is a lunar calendar so the actual start, and end, of the month moves through the Julian calendar.  This year the celebration that marks the end of Ramadan falls on 9/11.  That is unfortunate, because some people will probably misinterpret the celebration.  It has nothing to do with the destruction of the Twin Towers.  If you had just finished a month of fasting, you would probably celebrate too!