Sermons 13

March 29, 2015

If God Can Use A Donkey     John 12:12 - 16

From the time she was young, our daughter, Eva wanted horse. Now horses are kind of expensive and so I was excited to read about the Adopt a Wild Horse and Burro Program.

You see in some of the South West states there is an over population of Wild Horses and Donkeys so instead of shooting them the Government rounds them up and make them available for adoption at a very reasonable cost.

So one day I borrowed Dave's horse trailer and loaded the family in the van and headed to Waterloo, Iowa to adopt a wild horse. The only problem was They really were wild horses and they were not very excited about being in captivity.

As we watched, people begin to pick out the horses they wanted the workers would try to get those horses out of the pen. As we stood there watching we saw one horse run smack into a post so hard that it fell over dead. Marla and I looked at each other and knew we were in over our heads.(Especially my city-slicking head)

It was then that we shifted our attention to a pen full of donkeys they were smaller and calmer in fact they just seemed to be wandering around the pen no running, no carrying on in fact one of them just stood there and ate hay while we watched That's the one we brought home I thought I had something in common with him I eat when I'm stressed.

Jack, as the kids named him, did in time become fairly tame and Eva could get up on him but he never wanted to move so she would just sit on his back going nowhere.

She finally discovered that if she would take a carrot cut up in her pocket, and throw a piece of carrot across the pen he would walk over and eat that carrot and stand there until she threw another piece of carrot.

So it kind of baffles me when Jesus Christ chose to ride a donkey as He came being heralded as the King of Kings! Why not a white stallion, even a Camel, I'd take an old gray mare before a donkey.

It's pretty amazing don't you think? The first truly public acknowledgment of Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah and He comes to town on a donkey.

God had chosen to fulfill his plan riding upon a donkey. What is the meaning of it? Well for one thing it makes the Messianic claim unmistakable, it wasn't every day, I'm sure, that people rode victoriously through the cheering crowd lined streets of Jerusalem on donkeys. 

But I'd like to think there's another message for us here, and that is; If God can use a stinky little donkey in the triumphant fulfillment of His plan then just maybe He's got a plan for me too.

So the question I'd like to consider with you this morning is "how does a donkey become fit for the service of the King of Kings and How can we be made useful for him too?"

First the donkey is...Selected.

Our scripture reading said: As they approached Jerusalem... Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, "Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away."

This specific donkey had been set aside for a noble purpose. 550 years earlier Zechariah had prophesied about this little donkey. Zechariah 9:9 says: See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey , God had a plan and this donkey was selected by God to play a part in His plan. And he has selected us too:

John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit”fruit that will last. 

Ephesians 2:10 - For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
 

You may not be a king or a queen but God knows you by name and He has a plan for you to serve Him, He has prepared in advance good works for you to do.

Next, notice with me that they brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them.

The donkey was prepared for the Lord's use and we need to be prepared too.

1 Peter 3:15 Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

2 Timothy 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 

Spending time getting to know the Lord in Prayer and study of His Word prepares us for His use and allows the Holy Spirit to work in us to sanctify us for Service.

Finally, to be useful to the Lord, like the donkey we must be submissive to God's plan for our lives.

Donkeys are not known for a submissive temperament, it is worth noting that this donkey presents himself to the master to be used. Like him we must present ourselves to the Lord...

2 Timothy 2:15 "present yourself to God"

Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God 

Yes, He has chosen us but He will not work against us He wishes for us to present ourselves to Him, to be submissive to His will in our lives.

The Donkey was satisfied to Play a Humble part.

In spite of the importance of the donkey's role in the fulfillment of prophecy, he still plays a small part. His job is to lift up Jesus so that Jesus can be seen by the crowds.

We have a similar role in God's plan, not to be exalted but to exalt Christ. To make Him be seen by the world. The apostle Paul wrote...

Galatians 6:13 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus warned us in His sermon on the mount not to be like the religious people who did their good deeds to be seen by men, the Good works that the Lord has prepared in advance for us are works that bring glory to His Name and not our own. Like the donkey we must be satisfied with a humble part in God's plan.

You know donkeys really aren't all that great. They're stubborn, they're smelly, they're small, not really able to do that much. But Jesus used a donkey in his most triumphant public moment here on earth.

He could have chosen a white stallion outfitted for battle as He's portrayed in the book of revelation. He could have chosen a camel decked out in sumptuous velvet. But He chose a donkey.

You may not be a white stallion, or even an old gray mare. You may have never really thought of yourself as a part of God's grand plan, but the Bible says that's exactly what you are. 

You have been Selected by Him to fulfill a part of His plan prepared in advance for you.

To fulfill that role you need to be prepared for his service by separation from the world's evil and commi'ent to Him

And you must be satisfied to take the role of a servant, fulfilling God's plan for God's glory and not your own. If God can use a donkey...certainly he can use you and me!

March 22, 2015

Almost     Luke 23:13-23:24

We've all had those "almost" experiences, haven't we? "I almost climbed the mountain." "I almost reached my goal." "I almost closed the deal." "We almost got there in time."

I suppose that the most famous "almost" in history would have to have come from Pilate because he almost released Jesus. He almost lowered the gavel and said, "Not guilty." He almost set Him free.

What a change that would have made in our perception of Pilate. Why, we might be calling him "St. Pilate" today. He almost did it But he didn't.

He had the authority to do it. He wore the signet ring that said he had the power to do it. All he had to do was speak the word decisively, and Jesus would have been set free. And he did it, almost.

Verse 23 says, "But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that He be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. So Pilate decided to grant their demand." He listened to their voices.

We've heard the voices, too, haven't we, voices saying, "Go on ahead and do it. No one will ever know!" You see Satan beckons us into paths we should not go.

But Pilate didn't have to listen to those voices. There were other voices he could have listened to.

He could have listened to his wife who said, "Don't have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of Him". He could have listened to her voice. And he almost did.

He could have listened to his own voice. Pilate was no dummy. He knew what was going on. He knew that the chief priests, were corrupt and greedy. He knew they were lying about Jesus. He could have listened to his own voice of reason and common sense. He almost did, but he didn't.

Pilate isn't the only one who's played the game of "almost." Some of us have played that game, too. " I almost went to church." "I almost read my Bible." "I almost said, `Here I am, Lord, use me.'"


 

Even though Pilate came that close to freeing Jesus, he didn't. So, as we view that scene we see soldiers going about their tasks. They were used to crucifying people. They had done it many times before.

First, they laid the crosses on the ground. Then they placed Jesus and the two thieves on them, driving sharp spikes through their hands and feet. Then they hoisted the rough wooden crosses into the air and dropped them into the holes and then they were done. Jesus was crucified.

So there He hangs between heaven and earth. Looking through tears and blood He could see the faces of the people who had gathered around Him.

And as we view that scene and look at their faces, we look for a friendly face someone we might recognize. Where is Peter? Surely Peter would have shown up, but Peter is not there, nor James nor Andrew nor Bartholomew.

The soldiers gather underneath the cross and begin throwing dice, gambling for His robe. And every time we look at those soldiers we see a little bit of ourselves, don't we?

Because sometimes we're so close to the cross, and yet so far away. They were right there, right next to the blood that was dropping to the ground. They could look up anytime they wanted to and see Jesus dying there. And yet, their minds were someplace else.

They were rolling dice to see who would get his robe while Jesus is praying, "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing."

The gospels tell us that Jesus spoke 7 times on the cross. Three times he spoke before the darkness came. "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing." Then He turned to one of the thieves and said, "Today you shall be with Me in Paradise." He also looked at Mary, His mother, and John, the apostle, and said, "Woman, behold your son, and son, behold your mother."

Suddenly darkness covered the earth. The winds started to blow. Lightning and thunder rolled across the sky and the ground began to shake.

And when the storm was at its height, Jesus cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" At that moment in time the sins of this world - your sins and mine - caused God the Father to turn His face from His Son.

Then the darkness left, and 3 more cries came from His lips, "I thirst," "It is finished," and "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit." Then it was over.

The greatest victory of all had been won. On a hill that looked like a skull, outside of Jerusalem, everything that God had worked for and planned was finally realized in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.

There is one very strong message that comes to us from Calvary, it is that God is able to weave it all together. He can take all the inconsistencies, all the fragments and pieces of our life and weave them together into a beautiful tapestry, just as He planned.

And that is a message we need to hear because one day the sun shines, and the next day it rains. One day we think everything is going our way, and the next our world comes crashing down around us. One moment we're young and healthy, and the next the doctor tells us that he has some bad news for us.

You see, when we first look at Calvary's cross we see something bad, something ugly but as we focus on that cross we realize that the cross was God's plan to redeem the human race

If we look correctly at the cross we find victory, not defeat. We find that our despair is replaced with eternal hope, because that is the message of Calvary."

So our prayer this morning ought to be, " God, help us never, ever look at the cross and see the One who died there without feeling the touch of a tear on our cheek, without feeling our hearts strangely moved and broken."

"Let us never come there, Lord, and just casually look at it, and almost be moved by it. But then turn away from it and go on with life as usual."

In just about every church service there are people who are almost ready to make a decision.

There are people who stand right on the brink of saying, "I surrender all. I'm going to follow Jesus." And they almost do it.

Others are just like those soldiers casting dice at the feet of Jesus. They're so engrossed in what they're doing that they never look up and let the message sink in and make a change in their lives. They're so near and yet so far.

So this morning, once again, we offer the invitation of Jesus, praying that if you're almost there, you won't turn away But that you will look and see and listen and make that decision.

It is the invitation of Jesus Christ, our Savior and our Lord. I really don't know how anybody can say "No" to Him. But some do. I pray that you will not, that you will answer "Yes," and come to make your commi'ent to Christ as we stand and as we sing together.

March 8, 2015

Ambassadors For Christ       2 Corinthians 5:17-20

According to the verses we just read those of us who are in Christ are new creations. We who were once separated from God (because of our sin) have now been reconciled, brought back together with God.

Now we have an obligation-to pay it forward. Since we have benefited from someone sharing the message of reconciliation with us now it's our turn to do the same for someone else. 

We should want others to experience the same love, mercy and grace we have received. We should want others to experience the same joy and peace we have found.

It's selfish to want to keep it to ourselves. It's wrong to think, I'm saved and that's all that matters. It's wrong when my attitude is, let someone else do it. 

I have to remember that someone cared enough about me to share the gospel with me so that my soul wouldn't end up in hell. They cared enough about me that they wanted me to experience the freedom from sin and bondage that they had experienced.

Now I need to get outside of myself and care about someone else. 

The message of reconciliation is the gospel. But the ministry of reconciliation means that we have been given the responsibility of spreading the gospel as well as serving others and being an example of Jesus Christ.

It's not just the gospel message that will win people over it's also the behavior of the messenger. Showing people the character of Christ will help to win them over to accept the gospel of Christ. 
The verses we just read say that we are Christ's ambassadors.  What's an ambassador? Webster's defines it as an authorized representative or messenger. 
If I am an ambassador of the United States that means when I go to another country I am there to represent the USA. When they see me and hear me they are getting a picture of what an American citizen is.

They might not get the chance to meet another American; I might be it. Therefore, their impression of Americans is going to be built on my behavior. If I go over there an act a fool, being rude or obnoxious then Americans as a whole will gain the reputation of being rude and obnoxious. 

Being an ambassador is no small thing. It's a great honor and privilege. Jesus isn't here anymore. He's gone back to heaven until He returns to claim His own. In His absence, we who are His followers are called on to be His representatives. We need to show Christ to the world. We need to share His message; we are His voice. 

It's like the prophets of the Old Testament. They were God's representatives to the people. They spoke as God led them. They did as God commanded them.

Now it's our turn. We are the ones who are called upon to be God's voice to the people. We are like John the Baptist-the voice of one calling out into the wilderness we are the ones telling thirsty people where they can find water. 

Paul understood the importance of being a voice for the truth. He also understood that it was no small task. In Eph. 6 he talks about the armor of God. In vs. 18 he highlights the importance of prayer.

Then in vs. 19-20 we find him asking for prayer. He writes, Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

Paul, knowing he was an ambassador, knowing he was to be Jesus' representative, Jesus' voice wanted the people to pray for him to fearlessly share Jesus' message. 
Being the voice of Jesus isn't always easy; it's risky. There were times when Jesus received some pretty harsh responses when he spoke the truth. The religious leaders often harassed him and even made a couple attempts to kill him when Jesus told them what they needed to hear.

Being an ambassador isn't easy but it's an honor and a privilege to be called upon to perform such an esteemed mission. We need to see the importance of being a true reflection of Christ to a world who doesn't know Him.

When people see us, do they see Jesus? How are we doing at being an ambassador for Christ? How are we doing in the ministry of reconciliation? 

An ambassador is a representative from their home nation to a foreign nation and that's how it is for us as Christ's ambassadors. As Christians we are citizens of heaven and are therefore, aliens and foreigners of earth.

Hebrews 11:13 says that we are aliens and strangers on earth. In a sense we are foreigners until we are taken to our homeland called Heaven.

A lot of times it's easy to spot someone from another county. They look different; they talk different; they have different customs. Like the exchange student we hosted, Rob, who ate tuna on his pizza and dipped his french fries in mayonnaise.

We, as ambassadors for Christ, as representatives in a foreign land, look, talk and act differently; we stand out. And because of it we are made fun of, or even hated by the citizens of the world. 

People will think it's strange that we don't think, talk and act like they do. We are now the weird foreigners. 

When foreigners come to live in another country they often adopt the customs of that country.  In Lev. 18 God warned the Israelites to not do as the Egyptians did when they were there.

He told them to not follow their detestable customs. We as God's people are not to follow the vile practices of the world. We are to be in the world but not of the world. 

In John 17:14 Jesus talking to His Heavenly Father said: I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.

Jesus said earlier in chapter 15 that if they belonged to the world it would love them but he has called them out of the world and that is why they were hated.

We have to be prepared that as foreigners and aliens in the world we are sharing a message that will be foreign and alien and many people will think it too strange to accept.

For some, it won't just be strange; they will find it downright offensive and hate us for it. Why? Because the message of reconciliation involves accepting that I am a sinner in need of salvation. It involves change; it involves surrendering to the Lordship of Jesus.

We have been given the message and the ministry of reconciliation. We represent the most important person the world has ever known.

We possess the most important message the world will ever hear. We are the voice of truth in the sea of lies. We are the light of Christ shining into the darkness. We are giving bread to the hungry. What greater honor could be bestowed upon a person? We are ambassadors of Jesus.

March 1, 2015

Understanding Our Mission   Luke 4: 14 - 19

Our world is different. Our challenges are unique. And to meet these new challenges, our church needs to rethink who we are and what God wants us to do.

There was a day when everyone knew each other. When someone needed help we all knew it. Today, the people who need Christ the most seem invisible. We have lost touch with them. I wonder Have we become so preoccupied with our church business that we overlook the very people God calls us to serve.

 I know there are more needs in Keithsburg and Mercer County than we can possibly meet. We can not do, and be, everything. We cannot be the depar'ent of Social Services, the recreation depar'ent, and the health and welfare depar'ent. So we have to be the church of Jesus Christ.

To do that we need to be who we are. We need to claim our sacred identity. Our faith must mold and shape us. If we forget who we are, if we become just another civic club doing good we will fail both God and the community God has called us to serve.

No place in scripture do we see these issues more clearly than in today's scripture reading. The lad from Nazareth is now a grown man. Jesus' public ministry is underway. Everywhere he goes people get excited and speak well of him.

Finally, he goes home to Nazareth. His home town That's never easy.  So it was for Jesus that Sabbath in the Synagogue. His cousins, aunts, and uncles were there. They were proud of him. They even asked him to read the scripture and say a few words.

Yet the people were unprepared for the radical newness of what Jesus said. Jesus understood something we are only now rediscovering: bold new ventures begin with a clear sense of mission and purpose. We must express in a few short, simple, specific words our goal. Jesus could hardly have found a better mission statement than this:

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom to the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

He read those words, handed the scroll to the attendant, and said, "that's what I intend to do with my life. That is my mission Today that purpose is fulfilled in me." There must have been a moment of silence. His neighbors could not believe what they had just heard.

Their first reaction was one of pride. What a fine young man! What a worthy ambition! Then their attitude changed when he applied God's word to their lives. He essentially told them that in spite of their high opinion of themselves and of their exalted place in God's eyes, there were Gentiles who would enter God's Kingdom ahead of them. That was a sermon they didn't want to hear. They got mad, and threw him out of town.

But they couldn't shut him up. Jesus spent the rest of his life proclaiming God's word. He invited everyone to be part of God's Kingdom. He went to poor with more than food baskets. He gave them good news. He told them God loved them. He offered them hope.

He also saw people captured by sin, burdened by guilt, enslaved by vices. He set people free from the prisons of their heart. He knew the blindness of those who have eyes but who do not see. And he opened their eyes to prejudice, bigotry, and self-centeredness.

People called him the messiah, but he refused to be the messiah they wanted. He never took up the sword, never commanded an army, and never usurped political power. What he did do was simply to be the incarnation of God's love And he did it with a clear sense of purpose and identity.

That is what we need in our church today. We need to rediscover who we are and what God wants us to do. We need to come to terms with what it means for us to be God's people. We need to fulfill God's purpose for our lives.

We need a set of marching orders that define who we are and what God is calling us to do in this place, in this time, to these people. As the prophet Isaiah put it, "Without a vision, the people perish."

Our job is to look after the poor, to take care of the ill, and to help the oppressed. When we follow Jesus, we love other people as much as we love ourselves. We even love our enemies. We go the second mile, turn the other cheek, and forgive those who persecute us. In short, we do the things Jesus did, because we are his disciples. That is our first task. We are to follow Jesus.

Yet even more than that, our mission is to make new disciples. It is not enough to be a disciple. Our task is to call other people to new life in Christ we are not true to our mission if we fail to tell others about Jesus Christ.

It's easy to get confused if we don't have a clear understanding of who we are and where we are going as God's people. It is easy to become like Alice in Wonderland. Lost in a strange kingdom among strange creatures, Alice wanders aimless and confused(sounds like  some churches).  She reaches a fork in the road. She looks right, then left. She does not know what to do.

"Which way shall I go?"  She asks out loud to no one in particular. Suddenly a voice materializes from a nearby tree. The Cheshire cat with a broad grin inquires, And Where are you going?" Alice admits, "I don't know." "Well," the cat says, "then it doesn't matter." If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there.

But we have a road map. At every junction we need to stop and ask ourselves: does this path help us 1) Follow Jesus, 2) Make Disciples, and 3)Transform the World? If it doesn't do at least one of those things, we are going in the wrong direction.

We have a lot of work to do. Our children and our grandchildren will not automatically grow up to be Christians without our help. And we cannot make it all happen by ourselves.

We all have different gifts and graces. Some are better at one thing. Some are better at another. Yet at the core of who we are must burn an overwhelming desire to follow Jesus, make disciples, and transform the world. These are our marching orders. This is what God wants us to do in our world. And the time to get on with this great ministry is right now.

February 22, 2015

A Tale of Two Men  Luke 18:9 - 14

There's nothing wrong with me, the man says.
But sir, you've just been in a terrible car accident. You're bleeding and have some deep bruises. There may be internal damage!
There's nothing wrong with me!
At least have a doctor check you out, sir. We have an ambulance right here “ it wouldn't take very long..
I told you, there's nothing wrong with me!
But sir.
Then the man walks away from the car accident. His wife picks him up and drives him home. Later he dies from internal bleeding.

There's nothing wrong with me can be a dangerous thing to say. Spiritually, it is probably the worst thing a person could possibly say. For a person to stand before God and say, There's nothing wrong with me “ is incompatible with Christianity, and unacceptable to God.

What is the opposite of there's nothing wrong with me? Wouldn't it be there's everything wrong with me? A Christian is someone who stands before God and says there's everything wrong with me. A Christian is also someone who says, But Jesus Christ has overcome my sin. He has taken away all the things that are wrong with me.

Jesus tells about two opposite people “ one who said there's nothing wrong with me and one who said there's everything wrong with me. Today we focus on these two people as we seek to learn better what serving Christ really is, and what it means to us today.

Jesus told this story to people who were confident in their own righteousness, and looked down on everybody else. Two men Jesus said went up to the temple to pray “ a Pharisee and a tax collector.

Remember, the Pharisees were the people who lived good, clean lives. The tax collectors were people who swindled and intimidated others out of their money.

Both of them came to church “ went to the temple to pray. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ˜God, I thank you that I am not like other men “ robbers, evildoers, adulterers “ or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get. Maybe you can sum up his prayer this way: I thank you, God, that there's nothing wrong with me.

Maybe he was right! He was a good citizen. He obeyed the law, lived a moral and upright life. He even did the religious things you were supposed to do “ he gave ten percent of his income to church, and he even fasted twice a week. Really, there's wasn't much wrong with him.

Then Jesus focuses on the tax collector in his story “ the opposite of the Pharisee. He had been stealing money from people his whole life “ hurting others so that he could live it up.

He knew that his whole life had been a disaster. Jesus says that the tax collector stood at a distance “ he wouldn't even walk up to the front of the temple “ He would not even look up to heaven “ he was so ashamed of his sin “ but beat his breast and said, ˜God have mercy on me, a sinner.'

His prayer was the opposite of the Pharisee's, wasn't it “ maybe you can sum it up this way, God, there's everything wrong with me. Help me.

Jesus goes on to say that the sinful tax collector was the one that was forgiven by God, and not the Pharisee. Why? Jesus tells us: For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

The Pharisee was proud, looking down on others, exalting himself. The tax collector was humble, sorry for his sins. What is Jesus saying there? Is Jesus saying that you earn the forgiveness of sins by being humble?

That's what a lot of people think, but that's not how it works. If that's why God forgives you, then your salvation would be completely dependent on you, and your level of humility. Then, you could never be sure if you're forgiven by God or not, because you will never know if you have been humble enough for God to forgive you.

The truth of the matter is, neither the Pharisee nor the tax collector deserved God's forgiveness. The Pharisee didn't because he was conceited and self-righteous “ thought he was better than everybody else, thought he was perfect.

The tax collector didn't deserve God's forgiveness because of the terrible life he had led. Neither one deserved to be forgiven by God.

God forgives people purely out of his mercy. As a result of his undeserved love, God forgives people because of the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross “ He offers forgiveness to all.

In his mercy, God chooses to forgive all those who humble themselves before him. Those who stand before Him and say, There's everything wrong with me. Lord have mercy on me. I am a sinner “ those humble people who recognize their sin, and recognize their need of a Savior those are the people that receive God's forgiveness.

Not because they're earning it by groveling, but because God shows undeserved love to all who are humble and sorry for their sins.

God is looking on the inside.

He wants us to give up the sin of hypocrisy “ acting like a Christian on the outside, but being proud and self-centered on the inside.

He wants us to give up the sin of duplicity “ being a Christian on Sunday, but living like an unbeliever on Friday.

It's time to give up the sin of being lethargic “ someday I'll get my act together spiritually. Right now, though, I'm just too busy focusing on everything except God.

Be that man who stood in the back of the temple, and looked down at the ground, and prayed to God, Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner. It's time for us to be like that man, to give up our sinful habits, our sinful attitudes, to stand before God and to ask him to forgive us, and to empower us to turn away from our sinful past and to live new lives that are dedicated to God.

And after we lay our sins before Christ, it's also a time to give up our guilty feelings. Just as that tax collector walked home justified before God, so can we walk away, knowing that we have been forgiven.

I no longer have to feel guilty about my sins. I no longer have to beat myself up about the way I've been living. I have been forgiven. My sins have been washed away by the blood of Jesus Christ. I can start over. I can work hard to be someone who obeys God, who worships God every day with the way I live my life.

Christianity is an attitude It's an attitude of honesty and humility, as we confess our sins to God. But it is also an attitude of relief and joy, knowing that our sins have been forgiven, that our slate has been wiped clean as we seek to serve God with our lives. 

Today may we see just how serious and terrible our sins are But may we also see how wonderful and deep our Savior's love is for us.

February 8, 2015

The Love of God       John 3:16 - 21

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 

That is about as open ended as it gets...Gods inner circle has an open invitation to everyone who will come.

Gods Love knows no end...and there is enough Love to forgive every man, woman and child for all time And not only forgive...but to Bless as well.

There is love and forgiveness for all who will believe on His Sons name and ask for forgiveness.

Gods Love, is the key to everything....without His love for us...we would be finished we would be nothing!

Everything He has ever promised us, done for us, or given us...is because of His Love for us...Not our love for Him.

Let me ask you this How much of His love is real in your life??
What I'm getting at is this A lot of people know about His love...but they are still walking around in the shadows of His love and all He truly wants to do for them!

There are many today who talk about the love of God, who are total strangers to the God of love.

When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house.

When His love has the run of the house...that means His love is everywhere and there is nowhere His love is not a part of in your life.

That's why satan fights so hard against Gods love...Because he loses when Gods love is prevalent anywhere And anytime it is.

Until a person can sing Jesus Loves me...and grasp how much His Grace can truly mean personally....how can you portray it to your fellow man?

Is the way your fellow man sees you and your life...portraying the love of God and the love He has for them?
It should...if it doesn't why would they want what you have?

If you were selling honey...and you were trying to tell everyone 
about it...and how good it is, how sweet it is, about all the amazing health benefits You could receive from it, by using it In your daily diet...and you had never tried it, or realized those benefits for yourself...

Don't you think it would be kind of hard to accurately describe what it could actually accomplish for them in their life? It would almost impossible...

But yet we talk about God's love...without completely experiencing the benefits were telling others about.

That's why we need to completely open ourselves up to the love of God...and let it have complete run of every aspect of our lives.

Years ago, a large church had asked a retired 92 year minister to tell what the greatest lesson he had ever learned in 50 plus years of preaching. 

There was a warm welcome as he was introduced and, as the applause quieted down, the old man rose from his chair and walked slowly to the podium.

Without a note or written paper of any kind, he placed both hands on the pulpit to steady himself and then quietly and slowly he began to speak.

He said: I thought about it for a few days and boiled it down to just one thing that made the most difference in my life and sustained me through all my trials. 

The one thing that I could always rely on when tears and heart break and pain and fear and sorrow paralyzed me The only thing that could comfort was this: Jesus loves me this I know. For the Bible tells me so. 

The church was so quiet you actually could hear his footsteps as he shuffled back to his chair.

The answer after 50 years of studying The only constant in his life
The thing that made the most difference in his life when he needed it the most....Was the fact that Jesus loved him.

Some people spend their whole life looking for love in their life and never come to the realization of how much God truly loves them.

 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

God's love for us...is a gift to us...
God's Love is the key to everything!

He loved you enough to give you His most prized possession...
With no guarantee that you would ever accept or love Him back!

Before there was ever a manger
God had already acknowledged there would be a cross.
His gift would come to us...at great expense!

That's how much Love God has for you!...and when you realize how much that is, how much that Love actually costs Him...you realize how precious you are.

Jeremiah 29:11-13  For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Gods plans for you are just that, they are His plans.
And they are great plans...they are awesome plans....they are fantastic plans...

The question is how much of God's love and blessing do we want? Remember the story of the feeding of the 5000.

Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. 41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42 They all ate and were satisfied, 43 and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. 44 The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.

Notice it said They all ate and were satisfied...Some ate less than others  Some ate more than others They all had as much as they wanted and they decided the amount....

When it comes to the Love of God...
You can have as much or as little as you choose.
We should choose much!!

God wants us to have the attitude of...Can I Have Some More PLEASE!
And we don't have to worry about Him having enough to go around...
In fact he loves it when you say can I have some more please!!

He has an inexhaustible supply...of which His Son Jesus is in charge of lavishly...dispersing exceedingly above all you could think or ask...

It's only when we experience Gods love to the full..
that we will have an abundance of it to give away..

And not just because you know about...
But because you've tasted of it..
And you know how sweet and good and satisfying it really is
And you just can't help but want to pass it around!

February 1,2015

CHAMPIONS     II Timothy 4:5-8

Today is Super Bowl Sunday. We all know what Super Bowl Sunday is about. It's about the National Football Teams who have played hard all year long in order to finish as champions!

 

The Seattle Sea Hawks and the New England Patriots have played hard, made mistakes, been up and down, had injuries, trials, tribulations, they've played in the heat and cold, in the rain and burning sun.

They've been cheered and jeered, sometimes, in the same game. They've been disappointed, elated, they've won and lost, but they all worked hard to get where they are!

Both teams have paid the price to finish at the top. Both teams are without a doubt champions, but there can only be one ultimate championship team!

It's been said that champions aren't born, they are made. Every single one of the players, playing this afternoon, will tell you they earned the spot they're in today. They weren't born that way but they trained, pushed and made themselves the champions they are!

The Bible is full of champions I think of David, he was a champion. Peter was a champion Mark, James and John, they were all champions But of all the people I think about in the Bible who were champions one stands out to me.

I'm talking about the Apostle Paul. Of all the people I see in the Bible, Paul stands out to me as a man who didn't fall by the wayside, or have any major failures as a child of God.

He understood things about God and God's ways that very few if any understood. He wrote about those things in order for the young church of the day to be the church God intended it to be.

In our Scripture reading this morning Paul says...I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Therefore is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

You know Champions are not made by accident and I believe that God intends for all of us become champions. But we have to take initiative in order to become the champions God made us and created us to be! 

None of the players in today's game were born champions They had to work hard in order for the champion to come out! They worked hard to be champions they planned to be champions ! They studied to be champions! They practiced to be champions! They even gave up things and suffered in order to be the champions they chose to be! 

They just didn't wake up one day in the Super Bowl! They worked to get there.

In the Christian life we have choices to make. To be a champion for Jesus Christ we need to commit ourselves to living by the playbook.

Paul says...I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race, I have
kept the faith.

Three times in this passage Paul says I have.  He says: I have fought, I have finished, I have kept.

In order to be champions we have choices to make otherwise we're just  get by kind of people! We might say: what if I make the wrong choice? The worst choice is making no choice at all to never try. 

Are you going to make a wrong decision along the way! Sure! Most likely you will make a wrong decision along the way but without making any decision you'll never go anywhere! 

But look at it like this God will always be by your side to help you make the right decision. If we listen, God will always help make the right decision But the decision is ours to make as we allow God to lead us! 

First Paul says: I HAVE FOUGHT!

Paul was a fighter He was not a quitter. Paul never backed down from a fight! Every single one of the players playing today is a fighter not a quitter! 

In II Corinthians 11Paul says: ...From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of robbers, of my own countrymen, of Gentiles, in the city, in the wilderness, in the sea, among false bretheren, in weariness and toil, sleeplessness, in hunger & thirst, in fastings, in cold and nakedness besides other things...

Paul was a fighter only a fighter would go through all Paul endured. Would you and I be willing to go through all that. Most likely many of us would think that we must be out of the Will of God if we were to go through even a little of what Paul went through!

He was a fighter! You will never be a champion if you are not a fighter.

Next Paul said: I HAVE FINISHED!

Paul finished what he started. One of the things I've noticed about some Christians is they give up! They quit! They don't finish.

The proof that Paul wasn't a quitter, was all that he went through for the cause of Christ and the gospel. Most of us would have quit after the first time we were given forty stripes save one.

But not Paul Paul was no quitter! So many times it's easier to quit than to stand and fight for the Kingdom of God! That's not the way of a champion. 

Paul was just as Human as you and me. Just as Human as any other man of his day But he was not a quitter. He didn't know what the word meant It wasn't in his vocabulary!

But Paul also said in II Timothy 2:3...You therefore must endure hardship
as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

And finally Paul said: I HAVE KEPT!

Paul was a keeper. It was his intention to keep that which he had been entrusted with. Keep that which was precious not only in his eyes but the Heavenly Father's eyes! That which had been entrusted to him to keep alive the precious faith from God!

In doing so Paul understood the trials, battles, hurts, pains, disappoin'ents and sorrows he had endured! But he understood it was little compared to what Jesus Christ had endured and what waited for him on the other side of this life.

Nobody on those two teams playing the Super Bowl today woke up there by accident! Nobody in those clubs didn't expect to get there! Every single one of them from the owners to the water boys had every intention and expectation of getting to where they are today! They wouldn't be there had they not! 

You have a choice to make! Are you going to choose to be a champion or are you just going to be one of those who just gets by? Takes the easy way. Paul was not one to take the easy way!

Others chose the easy way never making an impact or even a dent on the world for Christ! How about you? Are you a champion Will you be a champion for Jesus Christ?

January 25, 2015

He Also Made the Stars     Genesis 1:14-19

In verse 16 that we just read together Moses, inspired by the Holy Spirit, tells us that God made the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night. Then almost as an after-thought Moses says, "He also made the stars."

The Bible has much to say about stars. Daniel tells us, "...they that turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars for ever and ever." (Daniel 12:3)

Job tells us that the morning stars sang together at the dawn of creation. We are reminded that Jesus is the Bright and Morning Star.

When Deborah and Barak fought against Sisera, Judges 1:5 tells us that the stars in their courses fought against Sisera. And when God became flesh, a star hovered over Bethlehem's manger.

Now what does the Lord mean when He says, "He also made the stars "? Well, to be sure, there is only one sun and only one moon, but there are lots of stars. There is only one Savior, and there are very few bright leaders, but anyone can be a star.

Today I want to use stars to represent what we would call "little people" It is wonderful how God uses little people. There were many great and wealthy people living in Palestine the night Christ was born but the angels chose to appear to lowly shepherds watching their flocks by night. The greatest news the world has ever heard came to "stars," simple men, like you and me.

Also please note that none of the elite were chosen to carry the Christ Child; this was reserved for a star named Mary. And though He was and is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords He was not reared in a palace by royalty but rather by a star, a simple carpenter, named Joseph.

This is the way it has always been; God uses stars.

1. Who killed Goliath? It was the least likely of Jesse's sons, young David. 2. Who defeated the Midianite army with 300 men? He was the least boy of the least family of the least tribe of the least nation in the world, Gideon.

3. Where do we first find the leader of the Israelites who led them across the Red Sea? We find him in an ark made of bulrushes at the banks of the Nile River.

4. Who gave birth to the great Moses? A little slave girl named Jochebed.

Little people Little stars who did great things for God!

1. Who sent mighty Naaman to Elisha that he might be healed of his leprosy! A little house maid.

2. Who provided the food with which Jesus fed the 5,000? A little lad gave his lunch.

3. Who was the greatest giver mentioned in the Bible! A little widow.

4. Who did Jesus say is greatest of all? A servant.

5. And when he choose his disciples simple men of Galilee were chosen. You see God gets His big lights from the stars.

One day God made a star and put it in the heavens. He said to that star, "I want you to shine in this one particular place. No one will ever notice you, but you'll be a part of the beautiful heavens."

That star took its place the first night and the second night, the first week, the first month, the first year, the first decade, the first century, the first millennium, and year after year that star filled its place seeking no attention and getting no attention. No one ever looked and said, "What a beautiful star," but many looked and said, "Aren't the heavens beautiful tonight!"

The little star kept its place until the Heavenly Father Who made the star one day said, "Star, you have been faithful over a few things, I will now make you ruler over many. Go and hover over Bethlehem's manger and tell the entire world that Christ is come; God is made flesh; a Savior is born. You have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many."

The great men of the Bible made mention of their little stars or little people. Sometime read the last few verses of Paul's epistles and notice how many times he mentions the little people. Read David's farewell speech as he mentions his mighty men. Read of Moses who had his hands lifted by Aaron and Hur.

Not only does God bless little people, but God blesses little places. Most of us like the big places. When Jesus was born there were palaces, estates, inns, and plush homes, yet to a manger in a stable came the Savior of the world.

1. Where was the Last Supper conducted? In a borrowed upper room they met.

2. Where was David found? He was found humbly tending his sheep.

3. Where was Gideon? Hiding behind a wine press, threshing wheat.

4. Where was the Son of God buried? In a borrowed sepulcher they laid Him.

5.Where was Paul when he wrote many of the epistles? In Prison.

6. Where was John Bunyon when he wrote Pilgrim's Progress? Also in Jail.

7. Where did Moses receive his calling? From a burning bush on the backside of the desert.

8. To whom did Jesus appear in the Old Testament? To some Hebrew boys in a fiery furnace.

9. Where did John write the book of Revelation? In exile on the lonely isle of Pa'os.

Yes, God can bless your place. He uses little places.

Not only does God use little people and little places, but He uses little things. He uses such things to carry out His purpose as a manger, a stable, swaddling clothes.

1. What did Jesus use to feed the 5,000? He used five loaves and two fishes.

2. What did He give Shamgar with which to slay the 600 Philistines? An ox goad. (Basically a stick)

3. What did Moses use to the part the Red Sea and to get water from a rock? He used a shepherd's rod.

4. What did Jesus use to restore the sight of the blind? Mud!

There are no little things to God. He upholds the sparrows' wings, paints the lilies of the field, and numbers the hairs on our heads.

Even an insect under the microscope is as complete as a man with every minute detail arranged. Maybe you are here today and you don't feel like you have much to give to God. He does not need much; He just needs what you have.

Don't forget that Christ appeared to shepherds in the field, to Stephen outside the gate, to Jacob as he slept with a stone for a pillow, to the Hebrew children in the fiery furnace, and to John on Pa'os. He can come to you; He can help you; He can use you--a little person in a little place with little things.

What is your task? Do it and do it well. A little person in a little place can use a little thing and perform a little task and receive a great reward.

A star can bring light, lend beauty, bring folks together, give direction, and do many other things. Oh, to be sure, all of us cannot be the sun, and all of us cannot be the moon, but all of us can be stars. Thank God that He made the sun to rule the day. Thank God that He made the moon to rule the night, but thank God that "He also made the stars."

January 18, 2015

Be Still       Psalm 46:7 - 11

Many of us are just too busy. We make ourselves too busy to stop, to relax, and to be still even for even a few moments each week.

Many people feel as if they need to be active every minute of the day. 

We confuse busy-ness with being productive, successful, efficient, effective and meaningful. So it comes somewhat of a surprise to read in the Bible that Jesus also led a busy life. 

In fact, in the midst of a very busy time in his life, Jesus finds time...He makes time to find a solitary place to pray Quiet time a time alone with the Father.

Most of us feel like we need to be busy to be doing something. And for some reason, prayer just doesn't feel "busy" or "active" enough. We are a people a society in which being busy makes us feel worthwhile.

A generation or two ago, washing the family's laundry literally took an entire day. People referred to that one day of their weekly routine as wash day. Then technology came through with the invention of the washing machine. You could throw the clothing into this machine, leave it there and go do something else. 

What a time saver. So what happened? Did we end up with more time to relax? No, we filled our time with other duties...With other busyness. 

The invention of the computer enabled us to work so much faster. But did we find more free time? No. We simply filled that time with other duties... More busyness. 

There is something within us that seems to compel us to fill up every moment of our time with busyness or feel guilty if we don't. It is as if we are afraid of what might happen if we would just be still for a moment.

Even in our free time we have the Radio or the Television on in the background. I am convinced that many... even those who follow Christ, have almost lost the ability to be quiet to be still before the Lord. 

The Scriptures state this quiet command: "Be still and know that I am God."  Be still is a command. 

In the Bible, Jesus is often very busy.  Mark's Gospel gives the impression that everyone is in a hurry always busy. In fact...The word "immediately" appears over 50 times in Mark's short Gospel.

But as hurried and busy as His life was...Jesus made time to pray... to be with the Father. In Mark Chapter one, the Bible say: "In the morning, while it was still very dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went out to a deserted solitary place, and there ...he prayed."

Even in the fast paced, and very successful and meaningful ministry of Jesus, He would retreat to a quiet, solitary place for reflection, meditation, prayer and communion with the Father.

We also must take time and be in prayer... in communion with our Lord. 
It is a necessity in our hurried and busy lives. Jesus does not go to that quiet place... that solitary place and stay there permanently. He goes there to be in communion, to receive revelation, to be re-energized. 

Being still is finding a quiet time is God's will for our lives. We need to slow down. We need to be still and to quiet ourselves down. It is vital for our soul. 

So important is this principle, that God made the command for a day of rest, a Sabbath, it made God's top ten. It is one of The Ten Commandments. We must have Sabbath we must find rest.

It was a century or more ago in the deep jungles of Africa, a traveler was making a long trek. Natives of the area were hired to carry the loads. 

The first day they marched rapidly and went a great distance. The traveler had high hopes of a speedy journey. But the second morning these jungle tribesmen refused to move. 

For some strange reason they just sat and rested. When asked about this strange behavior, the traveler was informed that they had gone too fast the first day. And that they were waiting for their souls to catch up with their bodies. 

There are times when our lives move so fast, that we need to slow down and let our souls catch up with our bodies. 

Not only do we need solitary time but during that time we need to pray.  Jesus is our example.... And that is what he did. Our Lord went to his solitary place for a reason...to pray.

Prayer is not giving God a list of things that we need for him to do. There is a Science Fiction writer and theologian named Robert Sawyer. In all of his books, he will include a page or two of subplot that carries with it a profound spiritual insight.

In one of his books, people from earth are having their first encounters with an alien life form. One of the scientists is surprised to learn that the aliens not only believe in God, but also spend 8 hours a day in prayer. 

The scientist questioned them, "What in the world are you asking for that it takes 8 hours?" To this the alien is shocked and says, "what does prayer have to do with asking for things?"

So many people  (even many followers of the Christ) think prayer is giving God a list of things we want him to do. But Prayer is a time of communion with God. It is being in His prescience...spending time with Him. It might involve asking for things. It might involve thanking Him for things. It might simply be a time in His presence.

Be still. Be still and know that I am God.

Have you ever simply spent time with someone, and you both were quiet. 
Not really saying all that much, just quietly being together perhaps with your spouse. 

Maybe At the bedside of a friend or family member. Or just holding your child or grandchild in your arms. 

Be still. Be still and know that He is God.

Truth be told...We will rarely find God in the hectic moments in our lives, because we are too busy to look for Him, but we will often find God in the quiet moments. 

Mother Teresa shared this observation she said: "God rarely is found in the midst of noise and restlessness; instead, He is the friend of silence." 

The Psalmist Is Clear "Be still, and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10), He goes on to inform proclaim (Psalm 37:7), "Be still before the LORD ....and wait patiently for him." 

It is good for our soul. It is good for our relationship with others. It is good for our relationship with God.

Some of us are traveling through life too fast. And we are going to find ourselves in a mode of self-destruction. 

Jesus often went off to a solitary place for prayer. The disciples find him after his time in prayer with the Father. Jesus gets up and he is ready for action. 

There are times when our lives move so fast, that we need to slow down and let our souls catch up with our bodies. In the midst of our busyness we need to slow down and go to that solitary place for prayer.

January 11, 2015

Don't Stay Frozen   Exodus 3:1-6

About ten years ago I came over to the church around noon and turned up the heat for the Chris'as Eve Service. Unbeknownst to me was the fact that we had a frozen pipe in the ceiling.

I turned up the heat and left and several hours later Rosie came to the church and discovered water pouring out of the ceiling and had flooded all the way from the entry way back to the Sunday School rooms.

Apparently when I turned up the heat it defrosted the frozen pipe which as a result of being frozen had burst, and ran for several hours. What a mess that was!

Earlier this week I got a call from my son Andy, asking for advice on a frozen pipe. He and Kim bought a fixer upper house in Indianapolis and they are in the midst of fixing it up.

He followed the water pipe and found that he had water to the washing machine, but not to the nearby sink so we knew where it was frozen.

I told him to inspect the pipe under the sink and make sure that it wasn't broken and then take a hair dryer and see if he could get it to defrost.

He did and about a half hour later he had it defrosted with no broken pipes But being Andy he set up a web camera under the sink so he could watch it from work to make sure it didn't start leaking.

Then yesterday morning I got a call from my daughter Eva telling me that they had a frozen and broken pipe with water shooting everywhere and Ben didn't know where the shutoff was.

The house they live in doesn't have a basement and some smart person decided to put the water softener in the garage which is usually fine because they also put a heat vent from the furnace near the water softener.

The heat vent keeps the pipes from freezing except that Friday night Ben forgot to close the garage door when he came in and that little bitty heat vent was no match for sub-zero weather and an open garage door. Ben called some guys and they came and got it fixed Eva took Micah to the mall.

When you were a kid did you ever play the game Freeze Tag? The object is for the person who is it to run around and tag (or Freeze) everyone until the entire opposing team is frozen!

Well, here's the deal “ life is kind of like the game of Freeze Tag we have our team (Christ's followers) and the Devil is it and he's trying to freeze every believer.

One of the definitions of the word frozen is:  incapable of being changed or moved; not available for present use.

That's the mission of our opposing team To freeze us so that we are not available to serve God.

Does anybody remember Dr. Freeze from Ba'an? Dr. Freeze's greatest weapon was putting people in a frozen or cryogenic state.

If we were to pull out the church membership book I think we would find that there are easily a couple hundred people within a 15 mile radius who are members of this church but there is only 70 of us here this morning. 

Where are the rest? Sadly they have been frozen Just like the water in Andy's pipe they are like our definition said: not available for present use their spiritual life halted held in some cryogenic state.

My hope for everyone here is that we never become frozen in our spiritual journey.

Moses in Exodus 3 comes face to face with a burning bush that was not being consumed and it didn't bother him that's kind of weird. You would think that he might be somewhat fearful But not Moses He's like: eww Burning bush cool I think I'll check that out

A few moments later the Bush carries on a conversation with Moses that really did not bother him or scare him either that's even stranger  

Then the Bush says, I am the God of your Father. And wham all of the sudden Moses freezes!

He is experiencing one of the greatest spiritual moments of his life and what happens he freezes in fear.

There were really only 2 options for Moses
- Stay Frozen
- Move Forward

You see, Moses could have stayed in his frozen state, but he chose to move forward he refused to stay frozen.

There have also been some great people throughout history who refused to be frozen by opinions and they moved forward.

Listen to some of these expert opinions that could have frozen history had others not chosen to move forward:

- "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." - Thomas Watson, Chairman of IBM, 1943
- "There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." - Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977
- "This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us." - Western Union internal memo, 1876.
- "We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out." - Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.
- "Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value." - Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre.
- "Everything that can be invented has been invented." - Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899.
- "X-rays will prove to be a hoax" Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society, 1893.
- "Unworthy of the attention of practical and scientific men" “ British Parliamentary Committee report on Thomas Edison's electric light bulb.

Wow! It sounds like these guys were frozen! But others chose to see beyond the doubters and moved forward!
 

Jesus also had some moments where He could have froze. He was tempted by the devil, lied about, and betrayed but Jesus chose to always move forward no matter what life threw at him he always moved forward!

If we look at the main events of Jesus life we will see that he had many reasons to have frozen but we will see mixed in with those potentially freezing moment how He set an example for us to keep serving.

- Called the disciples (John 1)
- Changed water into wine (2)
- Clears the temple (2)
- Heals a man that could not move for 38 years (5)
- Jewish leaders persecute him (5)
- Feeds 5,000 (6)
- Walks on water (6)
- His own disciples desert him (6)
- Demon possessed man is set free (6)
- People try to kill him (8)
- Heals a blind man (9)
- Raises Lazarus from the dead (11)
- More plots to kill Jesus (11:45)
- Teaches great biblical truths (12)
- Empowers his disciples by washing their feet (13)
- Hated by the world (15)

- Jewish leaders persecute him (16,17)
- Intense times of prayer (17)
- Betrayed by a friend (18)
- Denied by a close friend (18)
- Killed (19)
- Resurrected from the dead (20)
- Inspires his followers again (21)

What if Jesus froze? What if Jesus gave up and said, The cost is too great.

Not Jesus he continued to move forward! He did not stop because he knew his life mission “ to seek and save those who were lost 

Here is what I want you to remember from this message You might even call it a Life Principle: Something set on fire can never freeze!

Honor God in your speech, your thoughts, and your actions! Live life with a burning passion for God!

You only have one life to live and it goes by so very fast use it well.

January 4, 2014

Who Do You See?     Matthew 15:21-15:29

The story we read here in Matthew seems to paint a picture of a Jesus I'm not entirely comfortable with. 
I mean “ the Jesus I know is:
The good shepherd.
The loving teacher 
The healer who reaches into broken lives and makes them whole 
The Son of God who came to earth to die for our sins.
Everything we've read about Him in the Gospels speaks of a tender and loving Savior who gave all He had for us

But here in this text we seem to be seeing an entirely different Jesus. Here, He appears to be harsh, callous, uncaring.

We're told of a grieving mother who comes to Him seeking help. 
And what does He do?
First He ignores this woman.
Then He tells His disciples that His ministry is only for the lost sheep of Israel.
Then He calls her a dog!

This isn't the Jesus I know.
This isn't how I'd expect my Savior to respond to a woman in crisis. 

But then I looked a little deeper and I realized a couple of things that I hadn't seen at first.

1. This is NOT the first time Jesus has been approached by Gentiles for help. In Luke 6:17we're told that shortly after Jesus chose His 12 disciples a great multitude of people out of all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases

Jesus healed people from Tyre and Sidon“ just like this woman was - only a few months earlier

And in Mt. 8 - just a few chapters previously“ Jesus heals servant of a Roman centurion.
Romans were Gentiles just like this lady was
They were hated by the Jews. 
And yet Jesus didn't object to healing that man's servant.

It's interesting to note that is the only time we know of that Jesus ventured into the land of Tyre and Sidon, and (as far as we can tell) this is the only person that He met while He was there.

Do you think Jesus knew about this woman before she came to Him? 
Do you think Jesus knew she was going to come and seek His help?
Do you suppose that maybe He came to Tyre specifically to meet her? (I think so)

This is Jesus - the Son of God He knows everything.
And I'm convinced that He came to the land of Tyre and Sidon just for this encounter.

Now, what kind of woman is she?
Well she's a Canaanite. A pagan. 
More than likely she has been a worshiper of idols.
And she's from the land of Tyre and Sidon.

Now this last is NOT a good thing.

Just a few days earlier, Jesus condemned the towns who'd rejected His teachings saying "Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. Matthew 11:21-22

Tyre and Sidon were the personification of wickedness.
They were the sin-cities of their day.
Had there been an advertising company back then that could have been hired to promote their cities, the tag line might have read a little like this:
What happens in Tyre and Sidon stays in Tyre and Sidon

Theirs was a land filled with immorality, corruption and self-indulgence

Now ordinarily, Jews didn't have much to do with Gentiles.
A gentile was anyone who was not born of Jewish parents.
How many of you here have Jewish parents?
Then you are Gentiles.
Jews wouldn't talk to you.
They wouldn't eat with you
They would have hated the idea of even doing business with you. 

So, when the disciples look at this woman that's what they saw.
She was a dog A worthless excuse for a human being.

But worse still she was from the land of Tyre and Sidon. Her people were the worst of all Gentiles.

So, when she comes to Jesus crying out for help, the disciples just want to be rid of her: Send her away, they say for she keeps crying out after us" 

They don't want her around. She's not worthy of their Master's attention.

Jesus knows what's going thru His disciples' minds
He knows how they view this Canaanite woman 
And that's why they're here in the land of Tyre and Sidon.
That's why He lets this little drama play out as it does.

Jesus knows all about this woman.
He knows of her sorrow and her pain and her need
AND He knows that she's the kind of person He came to earth to help

Jesus loves this woman but His disciples don't.

In Luke 19:10 Jesus said that He had come to seek and to save what was lost." 
He repeatedly spent time with people who no one else wanted to have around The tax collectors, the prostitutes, the sinners.

This woman has worn them down with her constant pleas.
They want her now to get what she came for.
They want Jesus to heal the woman's daughter but He holds back why?

Well, because there's one more thing He wants them to see 
And that's when the woman runs into the room, and kneels down at Jesus' feet "Lord, help me!" she pleads.

It's then that Jesus echoes the bigotry that His disciples had felt only a few moments before.
He replied, "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs."

You see this is what His disciples needed to hear.
They needed to hear, and know, that God loved even this woman they had despised.

Several years ago, the TV news program 20/20 had a segment on the marketing of baby chicks. They filmed the process of the packaging depar'ent as cute little tiny chicks traveled on conveyer belts past workers. As they moved along the belt the workers would select them to fit into boxes to be shipped out and sold.

The chicks were chosen by sex, size, general appearance. 
But some were not chosen. 
The cameras followed these unchosen baby chicks as they slipped by the workers and fell off the end of the conveyor belt to die. 

There are people in this world that don't fit into the box.
They travel through life, never getting picked never chosen

That's the way of this world. 
If you don't fit into the box, you're rejected and left to die. 
But the cross declares that this is not the way God deals with us. 
God doesn't choose us because we fit into a box. 
He chooses us because He loves us.

But there are a few conditions to being chosen by God, and this woman reflected those conditions in how she approached Jesus that day. 
First she accepted Him on His terms.
He was the Lord He was the Son of David.
He was the prophesied Son of God who had come to her Messiah.

Secondly, she came seeking mercy.
She didn't come expecting what was fair/ just/ or equitable
She came to Him asking for mercy because she knew she didn't deserve it.

And she came to Jesus on His terms
And that is what is expected of us today as well.
Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God?
Do you acknowledge that you are a sinner and that only the blood of Jesus can cover your sins?
Do you accept Him as your Lord and Master?

 

 

 Ezekiel 36:29 (KJV)
I will also save you from all your uncleannesses: and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you.
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