December 28, 2014
WHEN YOU REACH THE END OF YOUR ROPE 2 Kings 4:1-7
Have you ever felt like you were at the end of your rope? What do you do when you reach that point? We have all heard the saying: When you get to the end of your rope Just tie a knot and hang on. but, in reality, what does that mean?
Perhaps this morning some of us are at the end of our rope and don't know what to do.
What do you do when you are facing problems that you cannot solve?
What do you do when there are problems at work and it seems that there is no way out?
What do you do when you have too much month left at the end of your money?
What do you do when you can't escape the pain of loneliness?
What do you do when your heart is broken, your dreams are shattered and your hopes have been dashed to bits?
What do you do when you are walking through a spiritual wasteland and there seems to be no way out?
I don't think anyone but the Lord has the answers to all those questions. Yet, I believe we can find some help in the verses we just read because it tells us about a woman who was at the end of her rope.
She did not know what to do or where to turn. In her pain and her poverty she did the only thing that she knew she could do: she turned to the Lord. When she did that, God came through for her in a big way!
This passage teaches us the truth that God has a plan for our problem. These verses show us that just as God took care of this woman, He will take care of you. This passage lets us know that when we reach the end of our rope, there is help and there is hope. God knows our problems.
This woman is at a low point in her life. She is in desperate straits! Have you ever been there?
She is broken because her husband died and she can't pay her bills. As a result, her creditors are coming to take her sons away as slaves. She lost her husband, now she is about to lose her sons as well. She is over her head in debt and she doesn't see how she can make it.
She needs help, but the Bible doesn't say she turned to her family or friends. It doesn't say she tried to find someone to loan her more money. It says in her desperation she turned to God for help.
In spite of her pain, her problems and her lack of possibilities, she still looked up to God for the help she needed!
Even though she couldn't see a way out, she knew that she couldn't see everything. Even though she didn't understand everything she was facing, she still believed that God cared and that He could do something about her situation, so she cried out to Him in faith!
At some point, every person in this room is going to arrive at that low point of life. There will come a day when you will reach the end of your rope. Some have already been through it and can testify about how God got you through it. Others are there right now and are looking for some help. Others will arrive there someday. We will all have our days of trouble and trial. Job 14:1 says we are of few days and full of trouble. John 16:33 says: In this world you will have trouble.
When you reach that point, the world, the flesh and the devil are all going to tell you that God doesn't see and that He doesn't care. The fact is, He does see, Proverbs 15:3 tells us that The eyes of the Lord are everywhere
He sees everything we are facing. Not a single thing is hidden from His view. And, He does care, 1 Peter 5:7 tells us to Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. He cares more than you know about what you are facing.
Our problems, while they may appear to be insurmountable in our eyes, are really just God's opportunities in disguise. Therefore, no matter what you are called on to face in this life, learn to turn to the Lord first for the help you need. He cares! He is able!
Elisha asked the woman in our story two questions. 1.) What do you need? 2.) What do you have? By those two questions, this woman was made to see the size of her need and the smallness of her own resources. She needed everything and she had very little. She needed much, but she could not possibly meet her own needs.
Often God will use the trials, heartaches and burdens of life to bring us to the place where we can honestly see our need and our own inability to meet it.
Think about it, as long as we think we can handle things, why should we look to the Lord? If we have all the answers, why should we turn to Him with our questions?
But, when we stop and honestly answer those two questions, we will realize that we need more than we will ever be able to supply by ourselves. As long as we think we can, He won't!
This is clearly seen in the battle of Ai, Joshua 7. Israel had just come off a great victory at Jericho and they were feeling confident in their own abilities. They failed to look to the Lord for the help they needed and a little village that should have been an easy victory turned into a humiliating defeat.
Elisha's second question: What do you have? was designed to teach this widow that it may not have looked like she had much, but in reality, she already had everything she needed to obtain what she wanted. She couldn't see it, but God had already given her the very thing He would use to meet her need.
Her answer to Elisha is to tell him that all she has is a small jar of olive oil.
What we fail to realize is that God has already given us everything we need to get our need met. That widow said that the only thing of value she had was a jar of oil. Yet, you have I have so much more than a mere jar of oil!
Think about it! If you are saved, you are a child of God! He has promised to hear you prayers, Jer. 33:3. He has promised to answer your prayers, Matt. 7:7-11. He has promised to meet all your needs, Phil. 4:19.
We look at our problems and they look so large. We look at our possessions and they seem so small. Yet, we always fail to factor God into the equation! So, He places us in situations where our faith in Him must be expanded!
The woman and her sons filled one vessel after another until every vessel they had borrowed was full. She began that day with nothing, she ended it with everything! That is what our God can do.
When the day was done, there was enough oil in those borrowed vessels to settle her debts and provide for her future! God's supply was far more than sufficient!
That is the kind of ability our Father possesses. He is able to do more than you can imagine, if we give Him the opportunity! Get your vessels to Him and watch Him fill them all.
If you at the end of your rope today just know that He cares for you! Bring your vessels; let Him amaze you with what He can do with your situation.
December 14, 2014
Linus Got It Right Luke 2:7-14
As we come into the Chris'as season, it is easy to forget what is important as I mentioned last week we get our priorities mixed up and the true meaning of Chris'as gets lost.
We think it's about presents, decorations and parties But the truth is the true meaning of Chris'as is not found in the wrappings, but in the gift. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
In the Charlie Brown Chris'as program that is broadcast faithfully every year, Charlie Brown picks out a lonely tree with only a few branches as a tree for the gang's Chris'as program.
When he brings the tree back, everyone mocks him for picking such a lousy tree. And then, his friend Linus informs us all what the true meaning of Chris'as is all about. He says something like this:
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this is what Chris'as is about.
It is about the gift.
It is about God with us.
It is about God coming to touch us.
When it comes to the announcement about Jesus who would you have told first? After all, this is the Messiah. This was the greatest birth of all time. So if you were God, who would you choose?
You see, if it were us, we would most likely seek out the celebrities of the day. We would pick the beautiful people.
In the culture then, our choices may have included the religious leaders”the priests at the temple, the rabbis and the synagogue officials.
Perhaps the influential leaders of the city or the wealthy merchants.
Our choices and God's choice are different, because God intentionally chose the shepherds. This wasn't a random choice. God sent angels to shepherds!
Shepherds had no status in their culture. They were uneducated, smelled lousy, and were considered low-class.
During Jesus' time, being a shepherd was a dead-end job. There was no hope for advancement.
They had little chance of doing anything different the rest of their life. As a result, you wouldn't want your daughter to marry one. You would want your daughter to marry better.
Shepherds had a hard, thankless job. It was their responsibility to protect the sheep from robbers and wild animals. But in the big scheme of things, they were not considered very important.
God often chooses to do his greatest work through people or things we normally think of as weak or unimportant. This is what Paul means in I Corinthians when he writes:
Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things”and the things that are not”to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.
To God, nobodies are somebodies. Think about it the first names in the guest book belonged to the shepherds. Something exciting was happening to a people that were characterized by nothing exciting ever happening.
This was network-worthy news. If there had been TV back then, they would have been on the news. These social misfits were, by God's design and desire, the first to know and respond.
Do you think that just maybe God is telling us that we need to connect with those who are overlooked?
Some of the overlooked during that day were shepherds. But the truth that we must not miss is that God continues to identify with the poor.
God absolutely insists that we reach out to the overlooked. For when we do, we reach out to Him. And when we do not, we resist Him.
In Matthews Gospel we read For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.
The overlooked today come in many categories.
They are the elderly, outcast, and homeless.
They are the unappreciated and challenged.
They are the untouchable, the addicts, and the diseased.
They are convicted felons.
They are the battered spouses and neglected children.
They are migrant workers.
Essentially, the overlooked are the ones we are overlooking mainly because we think we are better than them.
Jesus said, Whatever you've done for the least of these, my brethren, you've done also to me. And so, if we want to touch Jesus, we have a special use for our hands”to touch people no one else wants to touch. We can find special purpose by seeking out the forgotten the ignored. We can seek out the untouched and touch them.
God doesn't give preference to any group or class.
He does not discriminate on the basis of intelligence, education, wealth, profession, political power, or social standing.
Our worship time together is ending, but our service has just begun; there are many people God wants us to reach that are being ignored, intentionally or unintentionally.
I challenge you to connect with the overlooked ask God to give you compassion and passion to understand the needs, and then extend the loving arms of God around others.
Connect with the overlooked see God's face on those who are ignored; touch them with your eyes, your time and your love.
Just like the shepherds, all are invited to worship.
All are invited to come and see.
By the grace of God, each one of us is welcomed here.
November 30, 2014
White Castles and Tin Cans Proverbs 27:1 - 7
Several years ago I preached a sermon that I called Air Castles and Tin cans. It was based on the idea that we sometimes set ourselves up for failure by building Air Castles in our mind about how our lives are going to work out because truth be told life has a way of making its own rules.
I thought about that sermon this past week as one by one the plans I, and others, had so carefully crafted fell one by one like a line of dominoes. So todays sermon will be a second installment on that theme but instead of Air Castles and Tin Cans I bring you White Castles and Tin Cans The reason for that title should become obvious in a few minutes.
For the past couple of years we have trekked to Our Daughter and Son in Laws house in Indiana for Thanksgiving. It has worked out well because Ben's parents also join us there and we make a nice day of it.
Eva is a planner and so she half asks, and half tells, everyone what to bring and that way no one person has to do a lot of work. This year Marla was to make the stuffing, I was to make a caramel pie and we were also to bring a corn dish made with Velveeta, Macaroni and Corn that Eva really likes.
This year Marla decided to get fancy and not take up coveted oven space for her dressing and so she read up on making dressing in a crock pot. She mixed it up and put it in a large crock pot and put it in the back of the car along with precooked caramel pie fixins and stuff for the corn casserole.
We had made lists and everything was coming together nicely We had even taken Boomer to the groomer on Tuesday so we didn't have to smell dog for a 12hour round trip. Then came the phone call Micah, our grandson, was sick and Eva was taking him to the doctor but Thanksgiving Dinner was still a go.
As we did the last bit of planning proud of our accomplishments Eva called with the news that Micah was being admitted to the hospital in Terre Haute well now we were going for sure. We mused on the fact that the crock pot of dressing was still nestled securely in the back of the car and wondered if we should take it out It was packed leave it there.
I had made reservations at a motel in Champaign for Wednesday night, we were going to get a good night's sleep and drive the rest of the way on Thanksgiving Day. So as Marla drove I called and switched reservations to a motel in Terre Haute.
When we got there we quickly unloaded and Boomer and I stayed behind while Marla went to the hospital to help entertain Micah who was not thrilled about being hooked up to an IV. So the nice restful trip and goodnights sleep was not to be Marla got back to the motel and we went to sleep. The phone rang I think it was around 4AM Could mom come? of course!
The source of the problem was Micah's chronic ear infections and the Doctor made plans for putting tubes in Micah's ears on Friday morning. FRIDAY?...that meant that Micah was going to spend Thanksgiving Day in the hospital and since leaving a 17 month old alone in the hospital is not how we roll Thanksgiving dinner was scraped. Did I mention there was a crock pot of dressing in the back of the car?
Ben's parents made plans to come Friday morning for the surgery and we told the motel to put us down for another night. Thanksgiving morning I went down and ate free breakfast at the hotel (Free food always tastes better) while Marla showered.
Marla decided that hospital food was not what the kids needed for Thanksgiving Dinner so she went to Cracker Barrel and stood shoulder to shoulder with 100 or so of her new friends and ordered 3 carry out Thanksgiving Dinners. I told her not to mess with one for me because I had eaten so much free motel breakfast. Besides there was still that crock pot of stuffing in the back of the car!
Eva and Ben live about 30 minutes from the hospital and so from time to time someone needed to make the trip to their house to let the dog out. After they finished eating Marla offered to go let their dog out and she stopped by and picked Boomer and I up to ride along and by then I was getting a little hungry.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear but a White Castle Burger joint open on Thanksgiving Day! My Thanksgiving Day feast consisted of Sliders from White Castle Those Pilgrims ain't got nothing on me!
Thursday night Micah pulls out his IV Mom can you come? another sleepless night. Early Friday morning brings a trip to let their Dog out again and drop off Boomer and his Kennel so we can both be at the hospital for the surgery. Four grand-parents and 2 scared parents huddled in a waiting room not what we had planned.
Okay here's your sermon Don't miss it! A few minutes ago we read Proverbs 27:1 Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.
We had all kinds of plans and none of them included White Castle or a hospital. Life is like that isn't it? We make plans for how our life should be and how this or that is going to work out for us and smack it doesn't work out the way we planned.
I know this is true because people have asked me if God is mad at them because everything seems to be going wrong for them. Now some things we do to ourselves
But often the things that happen just happen. So what do you do? Do you get bitter and grumble? Or do you make the best of what life throws your way? Maybe you planned your life to be a big pot of gold and all you got was a few pennies in a tin can What are you gonna do? Gripe or enjoy?
Was our trip to Eva's what we planned? No But we made the best of what we had. Okay I wanted a pot of Gold experience and I got a few pennies in a tin can Not how I envisioned my Thanksgiving Day but I do love White Castles!
Instead of complaining about how things didn't work out learn to make the best of it. The problem comes when we start boasting about tomorrow because things seldom work out the way we plan.
So go ahead and make plans but be flexible and make realistic plans Don't build air castles because far too often our air castles get shattered on the pavement of reality.
1Timothy 6:8 say: If you have food and clothes be content.
In Philippians 4:11 Paul tells us that he learned to be content no matter what was happening in his life.
Micah got out of the hospital yesterday and is doing good and the crock pot of dressing went down the garbage disposal.
Are you chasing that elusive pot of Gold that you think will bring you happiness or can you learn to be happy with your tin can of pennies?
November 23, 2014
Thanksgiving 2014 Psalm 100
It's sad to me that we are the only country in the world, except for Canada and the Philippines, that has a Thanksgiving Day. I wonder how our world would be changed if suddenly all nations would begin to observe Thanksgiving?
Psalm 100 includes the words: "Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations."
With all my heart I believe we are a people and a nation that has truly been blessed by God. And of all those who "give thanks to Him and praise His name" our name should be at the top of the list!
It is not uncommon for people to make wish lists at Chris'as, and draw up a list of resolutions for New Years. But there is another list we often overlook A Thanksgiving Day list of all we are thankful for.
If the average housewife were to compile a list of what she is especially thankful for It might read like this:
"I'm Thankful for my automatic dishwasher because they make it possible to get out of the kitchen before the family comes back in for their after dinner snacks.
I'm Thankful for my husband's small repair jobs around the house because that usually make it big enough to call in the professionals.
I'm Thankful for children who put away their things and clean up after themselves. They're such a joy you hate to see them go home to their own parents.
I'm Thankful for Smoke alarms because they let you know when the turkey's done.
Now our list might not be the same as theirs, but I'm convinced that if we began to make a list, we would find that we have much more for which to be thankful than just our material possessions.
Like you, I'm sure, my list would include the major things: life, health, family, friends, and the nation we live in, despite its flaws.
But even more than that, I'm thankful for my salvation, our church family, and the mercy that God showers upon us each day. With Jesus we have so much for which to celebrate on Thanksgiving!
But has it ever occurred to you that no Americans were more underprivileged than that small handful from the Mayflower who started the custom of setting aside a day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God?
They had no homes and no government agency to help them build homes. They had no means of transportation except their feet. Their only food came from the sea and the forest, and they had to get it for themselves.
They had no money and no place to spend it if they'd had any. They had no amusements except what they made for themselves, no means of communication with their relatives in England, no social security or Medicare.
But anyone who dared to call them underprivileged would probably have ended up in the stocks, for they did have four of the greatest human assets: initiative, courage, a willingness to work, and a boundless faith in God.
Our forefathers had "a boundless faith in God." That almost sounds strange today in a time when powerful forces are at work in our nation to strip us of every reminder that the very foundation of our nation was built upon the conviction that we are "one nation, under God."
The "Declaration of Independence" proclaims, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights . . ." And it ends with these words, ". . .with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."
Thanksgiving Day is a distinctive holiday. It doesn't commemorate a battle or anyone's birthday or anniversary. It is simply a day set aside to express our nations thanks to our nation's God.
In 1789, George Washington made a public proclamation I want to read a small part of it, but I want you to see the strong and absolute acknowledgment of God, and of our nation's dependence upon Him.
It starts out: "By the President of the United States of America. A proclamation: Whereas, it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor, and
"Whereas, Both Houses of Congress" (Did you hear that, "Both Houses of Congress?") "have by their joint committee requested me `to recommend to the people of the United States a day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God. . .'
"Now, Therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. . ." So read the very first Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation.
This Thursday our nation will pause once again to celebrate Thanksgiving Day. And one would assume that because of the example of our forefathers, and because today we have so much, that we would be an extremely thankful people.
But it's often just the opposite, isn't it? The more we get, the less thankful we become, the less mindful of God we are, and the more we want.
"Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever. His faithfulness continues through all generations."
In the O.T. the temple symbolized the presence of God. So whenever the people came to the temple and entered the courtyards they knew that they had come into the presence of God.
Now that temple no longer exists. But the place where we meet to worship God is called a "sanctuary," indicating that God is here. But God is everywhere. You know that. He is with you as you drive on the highway. He is with you when you work. He is with you as you care for your children. He is with you every moment of your life.
That is the source of our thanksgiving, isn't it? But I'm worried. What if God began to treat us like we so often treat Him? What if God met our needs to the same extent that we give Him our lives?
What if we never saw another flower bloom because we grumbled when God sent the rain? What if God stopped loving and caring for us because we failed to love and care for others?
What if He wouldn't bless us today because we didn't thank Him yesterday? What if God answered our prayers the way we answer His call for service? What if God decided to stop leading us tomorrow because we did not follow Him today?
"Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.
I pray that this will be a meaningful Thanksgiving for you and all of your family.
November 16, 2014
THANKS VETERANS! John 15:9 - 15
This past Tuesday was Veteran's Day, a time set apart to remember, celebrate and honor our veterans. A veteran is simply Someone who has served in their nation's military.
Sadly, many churches today don't honor veterans because they feel that celebrating and honoring veterans, is tantamount to celebrating and honoring war itself. Let me set the record straight on that. NO! It is not the same thing by any leap of the imagination!
War is from Satan. It is meant for no other reason than to satisfy the flesh of some ungodly men who are in charge of a nation. There is no good to be found in war. But as much as we hate war, we are forever grateful for our young men and women who are willing to go and be totally apart from their loved ones, and to fight and even die for those left at home.
That is why we honor veterans on Veterans Day: To tell them thank you for keeping us free.
After the Civil War, General Sherman gave the commencement address at a military academy in Michigan. In that speech, he said that war is hell. Later, in a newspaper interview, he repeated that, but then added, and thank God soldiers are from Heaven.
Even though we do not like, nor do we celebrate war in any way, we do know that God ordains the principles of sending soldiers into battle to defeat evil, even if it means fighting.
Our military often must leave home and go to terrible places, to be surrounded by terrible people, yet they are willing to do so. They spend their time remembering their loved ones. They suffer loneliness and homesickness.
They are dedicated to their nation and they know they may be called upon to give the ultimate sacrifice “ their very lives, for the sake of others. What kind of people do this?
In JOHN 15:13, Jesus called them friends when He said, There is no greater love than laying down one's life for a friend.
I believe that this verse describes a veteran very well. He may not like the idea of doing so, and certainly does not look forward to it, but is willing to lay his own life down to save another if the situation demands he or she do so.
And so, as we celebrate and honor our veterans, we should give them what they deserve: our remembrance and thanks for what they have done; our respect and Godly encouragement. Let's take our lead from the Apostle Paul when he said in Romans chapter one
I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of His Son, is my witness how I constantly remember you in my prayers at all times
In one of the presentations our veterans made here they said: It was not our preachers who gave us the freedom to worship, it was the veteran who was willing to do battle to keep that freedom. Likewise, it was not the community organizer who made this nation a great nation, it was the veteran who was willing to stand in defense of it. And it was not the lawyer who gave us the right to vote. It was the veteran who was willing to die if necessary, to keep us from losing that right.
Yes, our veterans have given us so very much, but I think the most precious gift of all was that they gave us a part of themselves. How can we not honor and appreciate them for doing that?
Philippians 2:4 says: Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Part of looking out for the interest of others is by remembering them and paying attention to them.
When our Founding Fathers grew tired of the tyranny they faced in England, they set out for this new land in which they could start over. That sounds eerily familiar with how the Israelites left the tyranny in Egypt and headed to the Promised Land to start over, doesn't it?
The problem they faced, though, was that when they got here, England still wanted to rule over them. So the new settlers had to make a hard decision. Did they just give up and accept this tyrannical government, or did they stand up and fight to be free, knowing that many would lose their lives? They chose to fight for freedom.
And every generation since has fought their own war for the very same reason; to remain free from tyrants and evil men.
Just as the American Revolutionary soldier went to war so his children and neighbors could live in freedom; and just as the soldiers of both World Wars did the same thing; as well as the soldiers in Vietnam and Iraq and Afghanistan, there is also another who left His home and went to walk among men so that evil could be dominated and defeated.
That man is Jesus Christ, our Savior. It is to the military personnel that I take my hat off to and salute, but it is Jesus Christ who I choose to worship and follow.
In the case of both Jesus and our military, their thoughts were not on themselves but on us. They were not concerned so much for their safety as they were for our safety. And they need to be remembered; they need to be thanked; and they need to be supported. And in the case of Jesus, He needs to be exalted and followed.
I am very proud to be an American citizen, living in the land of the free, provided by the men and women who were brave. I am proud of the veterans of the United States military. But I am even more proud to be a Christian, a person who realizes the value of a future spent in Heaven because of decisions made today.
The Bible records how the Israelites lived in Egypt in harsh conditions as slaves for over 400 years before God set them free.
Why did it take God that long to notice them? It didn't. It took that long for the Israelites to refocus and cry out to God for help, in unity as a nation. Once they did that, God began setting in motion the things that would set them free.
If America ever gets serious about saving our nation, all we have to do is call out to God in sincerity. After all, He gave us His solemn vow that is all we have to do.
2 Chronicles 7:14 is that promise.
If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves, pray, turn from their wicked ways and seek My face, I will then hear from Heaven and I will forgive their sins and heal their lands.
That is not a suggestion or something God might do “ it is a promise of what God WILL do if we will just refocus on Him and start relying on Him again.
A small boy got separated from his mom in a grocery store and began to cry until she stepped into view and said, Here I am. And the boy ran to her and held onto her leg with all his young might.
That is the type of relationship we should have with God! We should rely on Him so much for everything, that when we aren't with Him, we start to panic! You know in your heart if you have that kind of relationship or not. If you do not, I encourage you to.
In short, we each need to have such a close personal relationship with God, through a belief in Jesus Christ, that it sends us into a panic when we realize we aren't walking with God every with every step we take.
October 26, 2014
WHAT'S IN YOUR BASKET 2 Corinthians 11:24-33
WE'VE ALL HAD TIMES IN OUR LIVES “ WHERE WE'VE BEEN PUSHED TO THAT BREAKING POINT! THE POINT WHEN WE'VE TRIED EVERYTHING “ BUT NOTHING SEEMS TO WORK!
EVER HAVE ONE OF THOSE DAYS WHERE EVERYTHING SEEMS TO GO WRONG! WHEN YOU'RE SCARED TO ASK, WHAT ELSE COULD GO WRONG? BECAUSE YOU KNOW THAT SOMETHING ELSE MIGHT VERY WELL GO WRONG
THE CAR BREAKS DOWN “ DINNER BURNS UP “ THE CHILDREN GET SICK “ A FUSE BLOWS OUT “THE TELEPHONE WON'T QUIT RINGING “ THE NEWSPAPER GETS WET “ THE ROOF LEAKS “ THE CHECKS BOUNCE “ YOUR PRESCRIPTION RUNS OUT “ YOU LOSE YOUR CELL PHONE “ YOUR COMPUTER CRASHES “YOUR FAVORITE TV SHOW IS INTERRUPTED “ THE VACUUM CLEANER WON'T WORK “ THE BABY WON'T STOP CRYING “ YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN
THESE ARE THE DAYS “ WHEN YOU ARE AT YOUR WITS END! THESE ARE THE DAYS WHEN YOUR HEAD IS POUNDING “ YOUR PATIENCE IS SHORT “ AND YOU FEEL LIKE RUNNING OUTSIDE TO SCREAM “ BUT YOU CAN'T EVEN FIND YOUR SHOES!
ANYONE WHO SEES YOU WHEN YOU'RE HAVING ONE OF THESE DAYS MIGHT THINK THAT YOU ARE, A BASKET CASE!
WHEN WE'VE HAD A DAY LIKE I DESCRIBED JUST A MOMENT AGO “ A DAY WHEN WE'RE FEELING PRESSURED “ A DAY WHEN WE'RE REALLY DOWN AND OUT “ A DAY THAT WE'RE HAVING A PITY PARTY WE PROBABLY DESCRIBE OURSELVES, AS A BASKET CASE!
BUT FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO MAY BE FEELING LIKE A BASKET CASE TODAY “ I WANT TO TELL YOU TO HANG IN THERE “ AND BE OF GOOD CHEER! BECAUSE GOD IS STILL IN CONTROL!
THE GOD WHOM WE SERVE “ SPECIALIZES IN ALL KINDS OF CASES EVEN IN BASKET CASES!
NOBODY TOLD US, THAT THE ROAD WOULD BE EASY! IN FACT TEMPTATIONS, TROUBLES, HEARTACHES AND PAIN “ ARE WAITING FOR US JUST AROUND THE CORNER!
BUT WE CAN'T LOSE HOPE WE CAN'T LIVE IN FEAR BECAUSE WHEN IT APPEARS AS IF THE DEVIL IS ABOUT TO PUT OUR HEAD IN A BASKET “ GOD WILL SHOW UP EVERY TIME.
OUR TEXT THIS MORNING FOCUSES ON PAUL AS HE TELLS ABOUT ALL THE TROUBLE THAT HE EXPERIENCED.
PAUL TOLD HIS STORY FOR THE BENEFIT OF THOSE WHO WERE FRUSTRATED! BECAUSE IF ANYONE HAD A REASON TO BE BURNT OUT, FRUSTRATED, OR READY TO THROW IN THE TOWEL IT WOULD HAVE BEEN HIM.
LET'S SEE WHAT PAUL HAD TO GO THROUGH (STARTING IN VERSE 24 )
- HE WAS GIVEN 39 LASHES “
¢ 3 TIMES HE WAS BEATEN WITH RODS! ONCE HE WAS STONED! 3 TIMES HE WAS SHIPWRECKED! (HE SPENT A WHOLE NIGHT AND A DAY ADRIFT AT SEA )
- HE FACED DANGER IN THE CITIES “ DANGER IN THE DESERTS “ AND DANGER OUT ON THE STORMY SEAS!
- HE FACED DANGER (FROM MEN WHO CLAIMED TO BE CHRISTIANS ) AND HE LIVED WITH WEARINESS, PAIN AND SLEEPLESS NIGHTS!
- HE WAS OFTEN HUNGRY AND THIRSTY “ HE OFTEN SHIVERED WITH COLD, WITHOUT ENOUGH CLOTHING TO KEEP HIM WARM!
AND THEN ON TOP OF ALL OF THAT HE CARRIED THE DAILY BURDEN OF ALL THE CHURCHES!
IMAGINE HOW THEY FELT “ AFTER HE TOLD THEM EVERYTHING THAT HE HAD BEEN THROUGH THEY WERE LEFT THINKING, MAYBE WE DON'T HAVE IT SO BAD AFTER ALL!
HAVE YOU HEARD THE SAYING, DESPITE WHAT YOU'RE GOING THROUGH “ SOMEONE WOULD LOVE TO BE IN YOUR SHOES!)
AS PAUL CONCLUDES THE HARDSHIPS HE FACED HE TELLS ABOUT A TIME WHEN HE WAS IN DAMASCUS AND THE GOVERNOR PUT GUARDS AT THE CITY GATES TO CATCH HIM “ BUT HE ESCAPED IN A BASKET “ LOWERED THROUGH A WINDOW IN THE CITY WALL
AND SO PAUL WAS A BONA-FIDE BASKET CASE! HOWEVER, IN ALL OF HIS SUFFERINGS “ GOD GAVE HIM STRENGTH!
EACH TIME THAT IT APPEARED AS IF PAUL WOULD FACE DEFEAT HE BECAME A BASKET CASE AND GOD SWEPT HIM AWAY TO SAFETY!
AND WE NEED TO REALIZE AND UNDERSTAND THAT THE SAME GOD WHO DELIVERED PAUL BACK THEN “ IS RIGHT HERE TO DELIVER YOU AND ME TODAY!
WHEN TROUBLE POKES ITS UGLY HEAD INTO OUR LIVES NATURALLY, WE'LL GET FRUSTRATED BECAUSE WE'RE HUMAN “ AND WE ALL HAVE A BREAKING POINT!
BUT THE WORD OF GOD TELLS US WHAT TO DO “ WHEN TROUBLES ARISE: WE ARE SUPPOSED TO CALL ON THE NAME OF JESUS! (LET'S LOOK AT PSALM 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? 2) When the wicked came against me To eat up my flesh, My enemies and foes, They stumbled and fell. 3) Though an army may encamp against me, My heart shall not fear; Though war may rise against me, In this I will be confident. 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. 5) For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; In the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock. 6) And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me; Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD. 14) Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!
SO BEFORE LIFE MAKES YOU A BASKET CASE “ YOU NEED TO STEAL AWAY TO YOUR QUIET PLACE AND JUST HAVE A LITTLE TALK WITH JESUS!
IN THE OLD TESTAMENT“ PHARAOH HAD GIVEN A COMMAND THAT ALL OF THE BABY BOYS SHOULD BE KILLED! A HEBREW MOTHER DIDN'T KNOW WHAT TO DO “ SHE WAS POWERLESS TO STAND AGAINST THE EGYPTIAN SOLDIERS!
CAN YOU HEAR HER SAY, LORD, I HAVE A SON NAMED MOSES “ AND HE'S ABOUT TO BE SLAIN! I'M ABOUT TO LOSE MY MIND “ BECAUSE I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO!
GOD HEARD HER “ AND HE SAID, THAT SOUNDS LIKE A BASKET CASE! HE INSPIRED HER TO MAKE A BASKET “ AND PUT IT IN THE NILE RIVER! HE SAID DON'T WORRY ABOUT THE CURRENTS! DON'T WORRY ABOUT THE CROCODILES! DON'T WORRY ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF TURBULENCE “ HE SAID I'VE GOT A PLAN FOR THAT BABY. THAT MAKES MOSES A BASKET CASE AND IN CASE YOU DON'T KNOW THAT STORY PHAROES DAUGHTER FOUND THE BASKET AND MOSES WAS RAISED IN THE PALACE.
MAYBE SOMEBODY HERE TODAY HAS TAKEN ALL THAT YOU CAN TAKE AND YOU JUST CAN'T TAKE IT ANY MORE YOU'RE SAYING, LORD, I'M A BASKET CASE!
THAT'S WHEN YOU NEED TO REMEMBER THE WORDS OF PSALM 121 “ WHERE DAVID SAYS, I WILL LIFT UP MINE EYES UNTO THE HILLS FROM WHENCE COMETH MY HELP, MY HELP COMETH FROM THE LORD...
YOU SEE WE SERVE A GOD WHO “ SPECIALIZES IN BASKET CASES:
- HE SPECIALIZES IN MENDING THE BROKEN HEARTED!
- HE SPECIALIZES IN BUILDING UP WHAT HAS BEEN TORN DOWN!
- HE SPECIALIZES IN RESTORING WHAT HAS BEEN THROWN AWAY!
- HE SPECIALIZES IN RENEWING WHAT HAS BEEN WORN OUT!
- HE SPECIALIZES IN DRYING THE TEAR STAINED EYES!
- HE SPECIALIZES IN SAVING SOULS THAT HAVE BEEN LOST!
YOU NEED TO KNOW THAT GOD LOVES YOU “ AND HE CARES ABOUT YOU!
HE CARED FOR US SO MUCH “ THAT GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON “ HE SENT HIM TO PAY THE RANSOM FOR OUR SALVATION!
AND THEN JESUS CARED ENOUGH ABOUT US “ TO COME INTO THIS SINFUL WORLD “ AND DIE LIKE A CRIMINAL ON THAT OLD RUGGED CROSS!
HE CARED ENOUGH ABOUT US “ TO DIE FOR THE SINS OF THE WORLD! HE STAYED IN THE GRAVE FOR 3 DAYS AND 3 NIGHTS
BUT EARLY SUNDAY MORNING, HE AROSE FROM THE GRAVE “ READY TO DEAL WITH OUR BASKETS!
WHAT'S IN YOUR BASKET THIS MORNING?
WHATEVER IT IS “ THAT'S IN YOUR BASKET YOU NEED TO REALIZE AND UNDERSTAND “ THAT THE GOD WHOM WE SERVE “ IS ABLE TO SPEAK TO YOUR SITUATION “ AND TURN IT AROUND!
October 5, 2014
Are You Full? John 10:7-15
Many times in the Bible, Jesus uses the expression "I Am," which is one of the titles of God. Jesus says, "I Am," Not I will be, not I may be, not I might be, but I Am.
When we search the scriptures we find Jesus saying; "Before Abraham was, I am." He says: "I am the living bread which came down from heaven", "I am the bread of life he that comes to me shall never hunger", "I am the light of the world", I am the resurrection and the life", "I am the way, the truth and the life", "I am the true vine you are the branches".
Each time Jesus said I Am, he was making a claim to be equal with God the Father.
In our text today he says, I am the door, I am the good shepherd, I am come that that you might have a full life or we might call it a fulfilled life, or as the King James calls it an abundant life.
Here he presents himself as the good shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Television commercials claim that the full life goes along with drinking a certain beer, wearing a certain kind of tennis shoes, or driving a certain type of car. Try as you might you can't find full living in a can or in a bottle or a pair of tennis shoes or a car. You can't find a full life in a capsule or a pill or in any kind of drug. John 10:10 says that living a full life is only found in Jesus Christ.
Jesus says I am come that they might have a full, or fulfilled life.
One of the secrets to living a full life is serving God and serving others. A lot of people don't want to serve anybody. They don't want to do anything for anybody but themselves. But if we serve Christ, we will want to serve others. In serving others, we learn how to live the abundant life.
Abundant living is a total surrender to Jesus Christ. It is a lifetime commi'ent to serve him. If a man is in good health, has a stack of cash, a good family, and a nice house, yet never experiences the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, he isn't living. He is merely existing.
I hate to say it but there are a bunch of people in the world who are not really living, but just existing.
Living a fulfilled life does not happen until we have completely committed ourselves to Jesus Christ. Our commi'ent must compel us to say "no" to temptation, and "no" to everything that is contrary to the Word of God.
When you accept Christ as your Lord and Savior, you are just beginning to really live. You have eternal life now while you live on this earth. And Heaven, not hell, is your destination!
People who don't accept Christ, lack the best things that are here on earth-- love, joy, peace and are headed toward eternal separation from God. You can either have a full life here with Heaven waiting for you(Which doesn't mean you won't have some troubles) or you can have Satan's so called good life apart from God awaiting you. It is your choice.
Abundant living also means separating ourselves from the world. The Bible says we are in the world, but we are not of the world. You see, when we are born again, there are some things we just don't do.
When you are full of God and the things of God, you have a new walk, you have a new talk, you should act different, you should think different, you love different.
Hebrews 12:1 says: let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. According to the word of God, anything that is not in line with the Word is worldly. We have to live in this world, but we don't have to be a part of the sin and rebellion that is in this world.
Abundant living means living your life according to God's Word. You can't follow God unless you are going his way. Have you ever tried to follow someone who was going the opposite way of where you were going? It isn't possible.
You must be going in the same direction in order to follow someone. When you are going in the same direction, you are involved in the same things, and you see things in the same way.
The bible says "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" God wants his children to enjoy life and have fun and when you have fun in God, you get up the next morning and you don't have a hangover. In fact, when you get filled with the spirit of God, you'll have an everlasting high.
Abundant living is enjoying intimate fellowship with God. Intimate fellowship with God is prayer and Bible study. Some folk will grab a verse and read it because they feel that it's their duty. But bible study is diligent reading and meditating on the Word.
Prayer is talking to God.
Some people prayers are like the one you may have learned when you were a little child. "Now I lay me down to sleep." But you see, when you are really in communion with God, it's like the song says, He walks with me, and he talks with me, and he tells me I am his own. And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known."
How do we know we are living the abundant life? It's when we know and act upon the fact that our sins have been forgiven. We should shine as bright lights in this dark world, telling others what God has done for us. We should warn men, women, girls, and boys that the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.
We will also know that we are living the abundant life when we commune with God and put His Word first in everything. When the world has forsaken us, and we feel all alone, Jesus tells us, "I will never leave you, nor forsake you."
When your friends turn their backs on you, you can hear Jesus say, "I am a friend who sticks closer than a brother." When the responsibilities of this life come in like a flood and you feel overwhelmed, you can hear Jesus call to you, "You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you."
In the time of need, all your resources may seem to dry up. But you can hear Jesus say, "My God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory."
I'm so glad that this world is not my home, I'm just a stranger down here traveling through this barren land. One of these days I'm going to fly away so the world can't do me any harm.
I want to hear him say "Well done, thou good and faithful servant but until then I want to be full.