September 28, 2014
Living Letters 2 Corinthians 3:2-3
Throughout the bible we find that Christians are compared to many things. We have been compared to branches. Jesus said: I am the true vine, you are the branches.
We have been compared to salt. You are the salt of the earth.
We have been compared to lights, You are the light of the world.
We have even been compared to sheep My sheep know my voice and a stranger will they not hear.
Here in II Cor. 3 we are compared to letters. You and I are letters written with the spirit of the living God.
Letters carry messages. There are friendly letters, thank you letters, letters of congratulations, sympathy letters, love letters and we even have Dear John letters.
There are many kinds of letters, however, Christians are meant to be living letters of Jesus Christ, bearing a message of good tiding of great joy to a dying world.
The United States Post Office sees to it that the mail is delivered. Rain does not stop it. Snow and ice does not stop it. Storm, floods and blizzards may slow it down, but the mail will eventually be delivered. You and I ought to be just as determined to deliver the message that there is hope in Jesus Christ.
I believe that the Apostle Paul makes an interesting statement when he says You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. Paul says to the Corinthian converts and to the disciples that you are living letters.
Here we find Paul's letter is personalized permanent and public. It is personalized- our letter. It is permanent”written on our hearts; public “ known and read by everyone.
Have you ever thought of yourself as a letter? Have you ever thought of yourself as a living communication. Somebody said that the only Bible that some people will see is you. The only way that some people will ever hear about Jesus is if you tell them.
Just for a moment I want to look at a few characteristics of a letter. First of all a letter is written to convey a message.
God has designed every believer to be a deliverer of good news. It is the news that God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.
We were designed to convey the mind of Christ to men. Telling them that there is a reality in serving a true and living God. Let this mind be in you that is also in Christ Jesus.
People may refuse to listen to the gospel but they cannot ignore the testimony of a consecrated Christian life. The Bible says to let your light so shine, that men may see your good works and glorify the father which is in heaven.
The message you and I carry is an urgent message. The message that we carry is a message of life and death. The Bible says that the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Secondly, a letter is written to be read. Every Christian should let his Christianity be visible before the world. Matt. 5:14 says, you are the light of the world. Vs. 15, says let your light so shine that men may see your good works and glorify your father which is in heaven. Those who are Christians in name only are simply forged documents designed to deceive and mislead.
Our life and our conversation ought to be a letter to make known his praises. We ought to bless the Lord at all times and let his praises continually be in our mouth.
Places we used to go, Maybe we need to re-think ˜em. Things we used to do, Maybe we ought not want to do them any more. Ways we used to act we ought not to act like that any more.
Paul said, When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
There are many whom we associate with everyday who will never read the written bible. Whose only hope of salvation is that they may read or hear the living letter of your life and my life.
Not only is a letter written to be read, but it should be legible. As Christians our message becomes illegible when we live contradictory lives.
Too many times, folk cannot hear what we saying for looking at what we are doing. Do we live one way at church and another way at home. Do we sing and pray on Sunday but on Monday and Tuesday cuss like a sailor.
Do we live one way around our church family and another way around our friends. When our lives are inconsistent we send mix messages to an already confused world. The bible calls us to be steadfast, unmovable always abounding in the word of God.
There are many today whose message is illegible because there are too many blots in your life. You might be designed to carry a message of eternal truth, but all that the world can see is the blots.
Blots of tempers, blots of worldliness, blots of unforgiveness. Blots of Envy, blots of jealousy. Blots of strife. The bible teaches us that the only cure for an illegible and contradictory message is a life of holiness.
This morning every man, woman, girl, or boy is an open letter for Jesus Christ. Every Christian is an advertisement for the kingdom of God.
That's why God tells us to be Holy. That's why he commands us to be ye holy as I am holy. He has designed us to be living letters to a dying world.
We are to be messages of hope to people in a hopeless situations. Letting the world know that there is still hope in Jesus.
September 7, 2014
Seek Peace and Pursue It Job 3:25-3:26
It seems as if peace is so elusive for so many. Throughout our world there are civil wars and border wars and injustice and persecution of innocent people.
In our state we face news of job losses, traffic jams that lead to road rage, violent crimes, and social challenges. Just turn on the TV and in seconds you will find a program that will give you all the turmoil, fighting or violence you can handle for one evening.
Search your computer and get all you can stomach when it comes to the latest Hollywood or sports world scandal and the personal struggles they go through. Look at Facebook and read every day where someone is expressing their frustration about having a bad day, being sick and tired of being sick and tired, or experiencing frustration that makes them want to scream.
Take a poll of everyone here at church today and we would have our own list of things that rattle our cage and keep us stressed to the max.
Maybe there is someone here today who would agree with Job: "I have no peace...only turmoil."
So what do we do? What do we do with ourselves when we are faced with such disarray? God never intended for us to live this way. Let's find some help from God's Word.
The first point I want to make is The key to finding peace is trust.
- Isaiah 26:3 says: You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.
How is your trust level these days? Are you relying more on yourself and not so much on God?
Ever catch yourself saying: "I can't trust anyone, Who can you trust these days? I don't believe anything he says, What happened to the days when you could trust people?"
When our lives are filled with anything but peace, we often try a variety of other things to try and soothe our aching hearts. Alcohol. Tranquilizers. Food. Escape. Entertainment. Running. Exercise. Meditation. Positive Thinking.
What about prayer? What about releasing the stress and the strain and the pressure to the one who wants to free you from those burdens....Almighty God himself. Why not say a simple prayer:
"Lord, I trust in you. I give this to you...all the things that are not at peace in my life. I release to you. I trust you can handle these matters so much better than I ever could.
Help me not to pick them up again, but to leave them in your loving care."
The end result of faithfully praying that type of prayer is that God will fill you with, not only peace, but hope as well.
Listen to Romans 15:13 - May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. The key ingredient to finding peace is trust.
2. Peace only comes when we pursue it. - Psalm 34:14 : Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
A beginning point to experiencing peace is by trusting God. But, then we must pursue it. We must intentionally live in a manner in which our aim is peace and not turmoil.
Our pursuit must be so obvious that we have a plan. It's different for everyone, but it might be something like this:
At the beginning of every day:
- Pray - by releasing everything to God.
- Prepare - by reading the Bible for direction & wisdom for the day.
- Praise - sing or whistle or hum. Fill your mind with Christian music and faith filled lyrics that usher in peace. -Protect - Do your best, with the help of the Lord himself to protect your mind from any thoughts or influence which would potentially destroy your peace. That includes negative comments, angry responses, bitter feelings, unforgiving attitudes and destructive behavior. Peace only comes to those who pursue it.
3. Remember Jesus took our pain to give us His peace.
Isaiah 53:5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Jesus gave all for us. He took our sins, our punishment for sin, our guilt, our shame, and replaced it with His peace.
No sin that is forgiven can take away our peace.
No guilt that invades our souls can compare to the peace that floods our souls.
No wrong that we've ever done can burden us anymore because the peace of Jesus washes away our shame.
No eternal punishment awaits us because of our sins because Jesus died in our place to give us His peace.
If we are in Christ, then none of the transgressions of this life can rob us of peace. Know that today!
Let's look at the Isaiah verse one more time but emphasize the personal pronoun. Isaiah 53:5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Peace begins with our Savior. It's about Him, not about us!
He so loves us that He died in our place. And the result of that is peace. Peace replaces the damage sin caused. But we must accept it. We must believe that his sacrifice is true. We must know that Jesus really does care...He really loves us.
Yes, there are people that will remind you of your past.
Remind them of His peace.
Yes, there are consequences to sin. Allow the peace of Christ to lead you through the challenges.
Yes, there are difficult days that are filled with storms, but Jesus is the very one that said to the storm on the sea of Galilee: "Peace, be still."
His peace counters every storm. His peace covers every sin. His peace calms every fear. But, we must place our faith in Jesus, not ourselves, if we want to experience this peace.
4. The turmoil Satan brings will ultimately be replaced with the peace only Jesus can give.
Listen to this amazing verse - John 16:33 - I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
Romans 16:20 - The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.
We must constantly remind ourselves as believers that we are in a battle. We are not in a battle with ourselves. We are not in a battle with others. We are in a spiritual war against the forces of evil
He is called by Jesus the "prince of this world" for a good reason. (John 16:11) This world is his domain. This is where he attacks. This is why so much evil rears its ugly head.
Because Satan, though his power is limited, is still claiming victims every minute of every day. But he is a defeated foe. We know the end of the story. Satan is ultimately destroyed and Jesus is victorious. Evil will ultimately be removed from the earth and peace will be restored.
Yes, Jesus said it from his very lips: "In this world you WILL have trouble." He countered that by reminding us that He is the great overcomer...that in Jesus we find peace. Not in this present world, but in Jesus. He has overcome anything that Satan and the world can throw at us.
I am on the winning side in Christ. I am on the peaceful side when Satan whips up his frenzy of turmoil. The joy of the Lord is my strength, as Nehemiah said. He will sustain me. He will provide for me. He will strengthen me. He will ultimately lead me safely home!
Only Jesus can give you the peace that you crave. Quit striving to find it elsewhere!
May we all find the peace that Jesus offers...a peace that passes all understanding.
August 31, 2014
Labor Day Sermon 1 Thes. 4:11 and 2 Thes. 3:10-12
This is the Labor Day Weekend. Labor Day is a strange holiday.
While we call it "Labor Day," we try to do as little labor as possible and most working people have the day off.
Nobody has wished me a "Happy Labor Day".
We didn't get any Labor Day cards.
We don't decorate the house, or give Labor Day gifts.
The florists and greeting card manufacturers haven't found a way to capitalize on it yet.
It's a bad weekend for a Church because everyone wants to travel.
Labor Day is different things to different people.
To the factory or office worker, it may be a day off but for policemen, who deal with extra traffic and alcohol abuse, it's a tough day.
To farmers and ranchers, it's just another day to feed the cattle and work in the fields.
For preachers, it is an opportunity to talk about work and work is a very important part of God's will for people.
God has always honored and provided work. Genesis 2:2 says: And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.
God is a worker Himself and appreciates rest. He created us in His image and gave us work to do.
Genesis 2:15 Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. Even from the beginning, God gave men work to do.
When Jesus came to earth, God honored work: His birth was first told to working shepherds Luke 2:8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.
Jesus learned a trade as a carpenter. Mark 6:3 says: Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary ?"
Jesus was known as a carpenter! He worked with His hands in Joseph's carpenter shop.
Jesus also chose working men as His disciples. Peter, Andrew, James & John were fishermen and Matthew was a tax collector. Jesus called them from their labors to become "fishers of men".
In Luke 10:7 Jesus told His disciples the laborer is worthy of his wages.
So why do so many people think of work as something bad? We think work is a necessary evil.
Some people do as little as possible. The idea seems to be to get more money for doing less work!
This leads to the idea of someone else doing the work for you. Some people choose to be employers. They hire other people as employees to do the work.
In America, "labor" and "management" are adversaries. Labor wants the most money for the least work. Management wants the most work for the least money. This creates an adversarial relationship.
How many of you had chores to do when you were a kid? Have you noticed that a lot of kids today don't do chores? They expect Mom and Dad to just give them money!
We are raising a generation that doesn't want to work. They expect things to be given to them for doing nothing!
Listen to Ephesians 6:5-9 and see if these verses describe most work places: Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. 6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. 7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.
9 And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.
Slavery has been abolished, but many workers think they are treated like slaves and many employers have attitudes like a master. They treat their employees like slaves.
God cares about how we conduct our business and how we treat others. We will all face judgment, both employers and employees.
The Christian cannot separate his business from his spiritual life. He has no right to act like the heathen Monday through Friday.
The Christian does not live for self alone. Money is an opportunity to help others. Ephes. 4:28 says: Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.
Listen to Colossians 3:23. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters
Christian employees should do more than expected because they work for the Lord. If an employee can get by with shoddy work he has no right to do so. He works for the Lord.
Christian employers do the best, not the least they can for their employees because they also have a master.
The Bible tells us repeatedly to love one another. Listen again to Colossians: Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
So there are rewards for doing a good job!
The U.S.S. Astoria was the first U.S. cruiser ship to engage the Japanese during the Battle of Savo Island in World War II. It was a night action fought August 8th and 9th in 1942. Although the Astoria scored two hits on the Imperial flagship Chokai, she was badly damaged and sank shortly after noon on August 9th. About 2:00 that morning, a young Midwesterner, Signalman 3rd Class Elgin Staples, was swept overboard by the blast when the Astoria's number one eight-inch gun turret exploded. Wounded in both legs by shrapnel and in semi-shock, Staples was kept afloat by a narrow life belt that he managed to activate with a simple trigger mechanism.
At around 6:00 that same morning, Signalman 3rd Class Elgin Staples was rescued by a passing destroyer and returned to the Astoria, whose captain was attempting to save the cruiser by beaching her. The effort failed, and Staples, still wearing the same life belt, found himself back in the water.
Close to Noon, Navy seaman Staples was picked up again, this time by the U.S.S. President Jackson. He was one of 500 survivors of the battle who were evacuated to Noumea. Safely on board the ship, for the first time, Staples closely examined the life belt that had served him so well. It had been manufactured by Firestone Tire and Rubber Company of Akron, Ohio, and it bore a registration number.
Given home leave, Navy seaman Staples told his story and asked his mother, who worked for Firestone, about the purpose of the number on the belt. She replied that the company insisted on personal responsibility for the war effort, and that the number was unique and assigned to only one inspector. Staples remembered everything about the lifebelt, and quoted the number. It was his mother's personal code and affixed to every item she was responsible for approving. Do you suppose Mrs. Staples was glad that she had performed well on the job?
It pays both in this life and the life to come to do our very best!
How we carry our Christian principles into our work is important.
Our work performance becomes a Christian ministry. This gives work new meaning and dignity.
Christianity is not a one-day a week affair. God cares what we do Monday through Friday whether you are an employee or employer.
There is great encouragement in knowing this. This is the Labor Day Weekend!
Let's be thankful for the health to do our work!
Let's be thankful for our jobs!
Let's do our work to the best of our abilities!
August 24, 2014
BACKSLIDING Hosea 4: 1-3, 7-8, 16
A pastors son came to him one day and said, "Dad, what's a backslider?"
"Well, Son, that's someone who leaves our church and goes to another church."
The boy thought for a moment and said, then what do you call someone who leaves their church and joins ours?" "He's a convert, Son, a convert!"
The idea of backsliding is mentioned quite a few times throughout the Bible. Sometimes it is called sliding, turning aside, turning back, or falling.
The word actually means exactly what it sounds like it means. To backslide is to go backwards in your spiritual life.
Hosea 4:16 likens a backslider to a heifer. The backslider is like an ox that is in a double yoke. Both of the oxen are supposed to pull together to drag the cart or plow forward.
The backsliding heifer decides to turn to the side or to stop in its tracks or even to go backward! Of course, this hinders not only the heifer's progress, but also the progress of the other ox and the cart or plow itself! Can you see the application?
Jesus said for us to take His yoke upon us and learn of Him. We are supposed to be laboring together for the cause of Christ while getting to know Him more! When one of us backslides the church suffers and ultimately the cause of Christ suffers!
The causes of backsliding are numerous we don't intend for it to happen but it does. Sometimes it happens from spending too much time with negative people.
1 Corinthians 15:33 says: Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.
Solomon, was the wisest man in history, he had direct revelations from God Himself, but he let people turn his heart away from God! I Kings 11:4 says:
"For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father".
Proverbs 22:24-25 "Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul"
Proverbs 13:20 "He that walks with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed".
Whatever you do”don't let someone else determine your spiritual altitude!
So be careful about how much time you spend with people who drag you down and next be careful about what you see and hear. Computers are a wonderful thing but with just a click of a mouse you can be headed down a wrong path. Psalm 101:3 says: "I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes "
You see the devil knows that he can affect people, not only through what they see, but also through the ears as well! Romans 10:17 tells us "Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God".
The places we go, the people we meet, the things we see and hear, all affect us and is directly linked to backsliding!
In Revelation 2:4 God says: "I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love". Jesus spoke these words to a church that had all the outward signs of spirituality.
They were correct in their doctrine and practice! But they had left their love for Christ! That is really the main cause for backsliding ”misplaced priorities that lead to declining passion for the Savior that bought us with His life and saved us from sin!
Sadly it's easier to watch television than spend time with God in Bible Reading and Prayer.
It all begins with the heart...Long before you ever get completely out of church or do something we would call really sinful; you get backslidden in your heart!
Psalm 78 gives us a clue as to why we backslide It says: "For their heart was not right with him."
Keep your heart right with God, because everything that you do on the outward is influenced by what is inside!
Either you are going forward for God, or you are going backward! If you continue going backward, you will get into more and more things that you said you would never do.
If you stay backslidden long enough, there may come a time when people would laugh at you if you tried to tell them you were a Christian.
If you backslide, you hurt yourself spiritually and you hurt your testimony with others.
Jonah's story is a perfect example of this idea. He ran from God and got on a ship going the opposite way from where God told him. He figured it would affect no one but himself but he was wrong! God sent a storm that affected everyone and everything on that ship. Even the unbelieving sailors suffered because of a backslidden preacher!
We don't realize sometimes the amazing influence we have over many lives! But people are watching us. The people who are looking to us to set the example will be hurt when they see us backslide.
Some will be disappointed in us. Some will be discouraged by us! Some, unfortunately, will follow our lead.
Our church suffers when any member suffers, according to the Bible. If anyone is sick spiritually, it is like a part of our body being sick. We are to be salt and light to a dying world.
This morning I want every one of us to evaluate our life! Are we backslidden in our heart? Has it progressed to the point that we do not care who it affects and what people think about our actions?
My challenge for us this morning is to make some commi'ents to be faithful to do as we should concerning our walk with God and faithfulness to His church!
Understanding Righteousness Proverbs 11:3-11:11
In the verses we just read, God is calling us to be people known for our integrity. People who can't be bought, People who stand for righteousness in a land that is filled with evil and corruption.
In Micah 6:8 God declares: He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
So, what God says He expects from us is
- And a Humble Spirit.
And so here in Proverbs 11 God tells us what a righteous person looks like.
As God often did in the book Proverbs God draws a contrast between the righteous and the wicked.
Verse 3 says The integrity of the UPRIGHT guides them, but the UNFAITHFUL are destroyed by their duplicity.
Verse 5 says The righteousness of the BLAMELESS makes a straight way for them, but the WICKED are brought down by their own wickedness.
In verse 6 The RIGHTEOUSNESS of the upright delivers them, but the UNFAITHFUL are trapped by evil desires.
Verse 8 declares: The RIGHTEOUS man is rescued from trouble, and it comes on the WICKED instead.
Verse 9 says: With his mouth the GODLESS destroys his neighbor, but through knowledge the RIGHTEOUS escape.
In verse 10 it says When the RIGHTEOUS prosper, the city rejoices; when the WICKED perish, there are shouts of joy.
And in verse 11 God says: Through the blessing of the UPRIGHT a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the WICKED it is destroyed.
It's easy to see a pattern here. God is saying: These people are righteous these aren't. And He's telling us: MAKE A CHOICE.
DECIDE what kind of person you're going to be!
I think it is fair to say that those who respect the God of the Bible are more likely to embrace righteousness than those who don't.
To paraphrase the great writer Dostoyevsky, once you remove the God of Scripture from your life everything is permissible. Those who reject God's righteousness do so because it interferes with what THEY want to do in their lives.
It's kind of like the story I once read about a man went to see a psychiatrist.
He complained, "I've been doing some bad things, Doc, and my conscience is troubling me."
The doctor asked, "And you want something that will strengthen your will power?"
The man replied, "Well, no, I was thinking of something that would weaken my conscience."
Many people don't want God's righteousness. They want something that will make them feel better about their unrighteousness.
But God says: that's not gonna happen. God says: I don't care what your excuse is wrong is wrong.
Wrong is wrong, even if everyone else says it's ok! Exodus 23:2 says "Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong.
Wrong is wrong, even if you don't get caught! Proverbs 15:3 warns "the eyes of the Lord are in every place beholding the evil and the good". You can't possibly do anything that God doesn't know about!
Wrong is wrong, even if it doesn't bother your Conscience! The conscience can be trained to accept wrong-doing. You can build up a callous over your heart. Ephesians 4:18 tells us that's what happens to people who live in sin long enough
They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.
WRONG IS WRONG. And God does not accept excuses. God DEMANDS righteousness from His people.
To those who would choose wickedness, God says:
- The LORD's curse will be on your house. Proverbs 3:33
- You'll be brought down by your own wickedness. Proverbs 11:5
- You'll be trapped by your evil desires. Proverbs 11:6
- And, when you die people will rejoice. Proverbs 11:10
But if you choose righteousness that's a whole different ball game. God will bless you.
- God will hear your prayers. Proverbs 15:29
- You'll sing and you're glad - you'll be a happy person. Proverbs 29:6
- You won't go hungry. Proverbs 10:3
- You might get knocked down 7 times but each time you'll get back up again. Prov. 24:16
So God calls His people to righteousness.
But there's a problem we run into when we strive to be righteous.
Romans 3:10 says "There is NO ONE righteous, not even one
Job 9:2 agrees: " how can a mortal be righteous before God?
The problem is “ NO ONE is righteous before God. We've all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
So, let me see if I've got this right:
1. God wants me to be righteous
2. I want to be righteous
3. But I can't be righteous, because NO ONE ever is righteous.
Did I understand that correctly???
(Pause) Yes I did.
So if I can't be righteous, why would God demand it of me?
Why? Because God sets the bar high. He says “ this is what you are aiming for.
He's not saying you're always going to reach it, but that is your objective. You're going to touch the bar now and again, but there's no way you'll constantly be able attain that goal in your life.
To illustrate this truth of our imperfect righteousness How many of you have ever watched a Keithsburg softball game?
Keithsburg has one of the best High School teams in the area, and some of our young men played for them this summer when they won the championship again.
So, we have one of the finest softball teams in the area let's say we take them to Chicago and have them face off against the Cubs. How do you think they'd do?
I'm thinkin' They'd lose? How come?
They are good but they're still high schoolers. They can't throw a ball as hard and fast as a big league pitchers. They can't run as fast as the professionals can. They can't hit a baseball as far they don't have the same skills in the infield or outfield.
But just because they are not in the same league with the Cubs doesn't mean they can't play the game.
The Bible is telling us we're not in the same league with God. You and I will never be as righteous as God. But we can still be in the game.
August 10, 2014
I'm Still Amazed Titus 3:3-8
The Southern gospel group The Perrys sing a song called I'm Still Amazed and I'm borrowing that theme for today's sermon.
Amazement is defined as a strong feeling of astonishment or wonder. There are some things in this life that absolutely amaze me.
I. I'M STILL AMAZED BY GOD'S LOVE “ Verse 3 that we read together talks about all of our bad stuff then verse 4 says: But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared
Sometimes we are all hard to love. I am thankful that Marla and the kids possess an unconditional love for me! It is amazing how your family knows you better than anyone else but they love you anyhow!
Well, God knows more about you than anyone.
He knows your actions
He knows your thoughts
He knows what you have done
He knows what you are going to do
Knowing all this, He loves you anyway! That my friend, is AMAZING!
This means, in spite of what we once were (and who we still are) God chose to love us! Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. - How awesome is that! God knows us, yet He loved us enough to send His only begotten Son to make a way for us to one day be with Him! - I AM STILL AMAZED AT GOD'S LOVE! - Not only that .
II. I'M STILL AMAZED BY GOD'S SALVATION - v5 says: he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.
Webster's defines Salvation as rescue from harm, destruction or danger. That is what God did for us through the sacrifice of His Son! There was a great penalty for our sins. God sent Jesus to pay that sin debt in order to save us! We were destined for Hell and Jesus came and made a way of escape for us!
Someone has said: Religion is man trying to get up to God, Salvation is God coming down to man!
If you just look to the cross, then you will see much reason to be AMAZED AT SALVATION: But not only am I amazed at salvation
III. I'M STILL AMAZED BY GOD'S MERCY- v5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.
Because of God's mercy toward us, we do not receive the punishment that we deserve . Nothing can change the fact that that we can't live good enough we can't do enough good works to escape the fact that we are deserving of Hell.
But we are saved and delivered from that punishment and the reason that is possible is found in verse 5 - he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.
If you are here today and you have never been saved Maybe you are trying to get to Heaven based on the fact that you are a good person or that you have done good things
This verse proves that you will never qualify. You can't get to Heaven on your own! But God is merciful and He has made a way through His Son. And this mercy is available today! I experienced this mercy 35 years ago, and I'm still amazed!
That is not all, Let's go little farther and see that:
IV. I'M STILL AMAZED BY GOD'S GRACE- v7 having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
While mercy is not receiving what we do deserve, grace is receiving something that we could never deserve. Grace is the unmerited favor of God.
Our works will never be enough but His grace is more than sufficient. In fact we find that because of His grace we are justified. Through Justification God pardons all the sins of those who believe in Christ, God doesn't just pardon our sins. He initiates a personal relationship with us.
He walks with us intimately!
He cares for us immensely!
He blesses us immeasurably!
If God had just delivered us from our sin debt that would have much been more than we could ever deserve. But He went much farther! We are now His and He is ours! He is our Heavenly Father. And just to top it off, He said that we will live with him forever!
I don't know about you but when it comes to God's Love, Salvation, Mercy and Grace I'm still amazed! !
God took everything we have seen thus far and wrapped it up and gave it to us in the form of His Son I would like to address the fact that:
V. I'M STILL AMAZED BY GOD'S SON - v6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior.
The name of Jesus is AMAZING - Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. - Jesus left the glories of Heaven, came to this earth, took on a robe of flesh and became the ultimate sacrifice for sins!
Part of the song I mentioned earlier says:
I'm amazed this stranger would accept a manger in trade for a Kingly throne
and I'm still at a loss why he'd take the cross instead of a street of pure gold
He's the only King who gave everything in exchange for a cold dark grave
and I still love to ponder this God given wonder, oh yes I'm still amazed
Everything about Jesus Christ is AMAZING:
- He was born of a virgin
- Lived a sinless life
- Taught with authority
- Healed the sick
- Cleansed the lepers
- Made the blind to see
- Caused the deaf to hear
- Caused the dumb to speak
- Made the lame walk
- Cast out demons
- Raised people from the dead
- Laid down His life
- Paid the ultimate sacrifice
- Rose from the grave
- Ascended to Heaven
- Sat down at the right hand of the Father
- He has provided atonement for our sins
- He is making intercession on our behalf
- He has forgiven our sins
- Saved our souls
- Changed our lives
- Provided eternal life
- He has gone to prepare a place for us and
- He promised to come back to get us
He has defeated :
- The Grave
- Soon He will split the sky
- With a shout
- the voice of an Archangel
- and the sound of a trumpet
- He will call His children home!
- We will rise up out of this world of sorrow
- We will meet Him in the air
- AND SO SHALL WE EVER BE WITH HIM!
That's just a few of the reasons why I'm AMAZED BY GOD'S SON!
If you are here and you have never met Jesus, I hope you understand that He came and made a way for you to experience God's love, mercy, grace and salvation. Stop basing eternity on what you can do because it will never be enough. Put your faith, hope and trust in Jesus and what He has already done!
But for those who have been saved, are you still amazed by Jesus? When you look at all He has done for you, shouldn't that make us want to live for him? I know I fall short each and every day, but when it come to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ I'm still amazed!
August 3, 2014
The Image of His Son Romans 8:28-35
July 27, 2014
Take A Stand Ephesian 6:10 - 13
There was a small boy who walked to school every day and every day there was a bully who would take his lunch money. Since the boy was smaller, he would just give it to him.
Then one day he decided to fight back so he started taking karate lessons that cost $5 a lesson. After a couple lessons the boy decided that it was cheaper to pay the bully, than to pay for the karate lessons.
Too many Christians believe it's easier to pay the bully than learn how to defeat him. This morning we sang the song Onward Christian Soldiers did you listen to the words?
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before. Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe; forward into battle see his banners go!
Like a mighty army moves the church of God; brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod. We are not divided, all one body we, one in hope and doctrine, one in charity.
We are soldiers in the Army of Jesus Christ and there is a 3-fold assault going on against us the world, the flesh and the devil.
· We have our own flesh wanting our old life back.
· We have the world trying to drag us back.
· And we have the devil trying to make sure it all goes according to plan!
Our flesh, our old nature, fights against the Spirit of God, against the things of God in our life! Gal. 5.17 says: For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.
Our flesh our bodies can be like an anchor dragging us down.
Need proof? Some of you didn't want to be in church today. You woke up, thought about it, and actually considered skipping out.
Some of us didn't feel like reading our Bibles this week.
Some of us didn't feel like praying. WHY? Our old person (our flesh), pulled us down.
And so the fight rages If it's not our flesh, it's the world. We are fighting against our old nature and this world this society, this system that would separate us from God.
1 John 2:16 says: For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--is not of the Father but is of the world.
We are bombarded with pictures and products, there are advertisements and enticements, no rules, anything goes, satisfy yourself, and don't worry about the consequences. They make it look so good, too good
This world is tempting It's appears to be so much easier, so much happier, so much more everything without God and His rules! And that's exactly what Satan wants. That's why he is called the Tempter and the Destroyer.
According to a recent poll, more than 86% of Americans believe that there is a God. Some polls have that as high as 95%. But only 63% of American's believe there is a devil. And he likes it that way!
All you have to do is watch the news on any given evening and count up the number of depraved, horrible, and sickening things that man will do to his fellow man murder, kidnap, rape, child porn
Yes there's a devil all right and he's determined to destroy! He'll fight, he'll gnaw, he'll scratch, he'll pull out all the stops in trying to keep you from growing as a Christian.
You have heard me say that God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life and that's true! But at the same time, Satan hates you, and has a horrible plan for your life.
· He wants to distract, disrupt, and ultimately destroy you.
· He wants you, as a Christian, to be weak, feeble, and ineffective.
· He doesn't want you relying on Jesus or attending church, or reading your Bible, or telling others about God.
· He wants your marriages ruined, your kids shattered, and he wants you miserable and depressed.
Yes we are engaged in a spiritual war a serious battle.
· Think back to before you were a Christian.
· Satan was not opposed to you at all.
· You were no threat, no danger to his plans.
Then you chose sides, you committed your life to Jesus Christ and on that day, you became a part of the family of God. And by doing that, you declared war
But on that day, you also enlisted as a soldier of Jesus Christ.
Paul told Timothy Fight the good fight of faith 1 Timothy 6.12
As Paul winds down his letter, he exhorts us, encourages us, commands us as believers to be strong in the Lord. Verse 10 of the verses we read together says: Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Think back, in the Old Testament to Joshua. 40 years of wandering of wondering of waiting and the Israelites were ready to move into the Promised Land. Finally, they would walk into the Promises of God.
At the same time there were giants in the land, fierce & mighty people, armies, chariots, enemies, walled cities
· God told Joshua 3 times be strong!
· Be strong, I have gone before you.
· Be strong, I am with you.
· Be strong, Every place your foot touches is yours!
· Those are great words to enter into battle with!
Be strong, so that you can obey all the Words of the Lord. It's not easy to obey. Especially as all the forces of your flesh, all the temptations of this world, and all the accusations of the devil are coming in hard on you.
When are you the very strongest in your Christian walk? When you are the closest to Him. Whatever battle you're in, whatever temptation you face, God will give you the ability to withstand and overcome it.
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
July 20, 2014
What is your value? Luke 12:22-31
Some people see themselves as having little value. They feel they don't measure up. They feel that they're not important...That they just don't matter.
May I assure you this morning that God sees you as a person with value.
He sees beyond our shortcomings and our sin Beyond our guilt and unworthiness.
You and I have great worth and value to our God.
When God made man and woman it was the crowning glory of His universe.
In Genesis 1 we read: Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
In Ephesians 2:10 the Bible says that you are God's workmanship. You have been created in Christ Jesus with a wonderful potential! God has made you to be especially you and there's no one else just like you. You're unique and special. There's not another you, and never will be. Your fingerprints are unique, as is your DNA.
God has created you. Satan wants you to think you are worthless but you and I matter to God because we are His creation “ and we are unique.
God the Creator created you in His own image.
Think about this: God could have created the world without you, but He didn't.
He chose you.
He made a deliberate decision to bring you into existence.
He gave you your own characteristics.
He gave you the gifts that He wanted you to have
We are spiritual beings living in a body that God has given us for our time on earth.
Listen to what David wrote in Psalms 139. He said: For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.
We were not created by chance. We were designed. We exist as a result of the conscious, deliberate decision of almighty God. How much value do you have to God?
The value of something is measured by the price that someone is prepared to pay for it. Consider the great purchase price that God has paid for you You have great value and worth in the eyes of the Father
1 Timothy 1:15 Says: This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
God has chosen you to restore you, to include you in His family, To change you into His likeness By the price He paid, God has shown your value. He has established your worth.
Jesus paid an incredible price for your soul at Calvary Rom 5:8 But God showed his love for us, in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
You are loved completely and valued in His eyes.
God is not a respecter of persons.
God has a purpose for your life.
Your life means something.
You have meaning.
No matter what “ you matter to God.
There is a place for you.
You have significance.
You are made in the image of God.
You are a somebody.
You are a person of value.
God says you're important.
You're important because you are His child. His love is an unconditional love.
It's an absolute, overwhelming love. It's beyond all bounds It's a love without conditions, without reserve, beyond measure.
You need not fear that this love will be taken away. God loves you totally, completely, unconditionally. You're important to Him.
God's love for us is not based on anything that we've done... His love is always there. It's a gift, A commi'ent. He has prepared a place for you in His kingdom and that fact makes you very important, too.
Consider how wonderful God is to have loved you so much that He would create you, love you unconditionally, and make you such a unique individual.
You have a purpose, a reason for being here. God made you to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him now and forever
Why are we here?
What is our purpose?
What are we supposed to do?
Every person has different talents and abilities For God has given us each certain unique talents and abilities.
Each of us has a purpose or a mission for this life.
No one else has your exact mission.
If you do not complete your assigned task, no one can step in and complete it for you. It is unique to you, and only you can do it.
Do the best you can, with what you have, where you are find God's will and do it. It is our mission, our purpose, that makes our lives very important don't waste yours
Consider this You have an impact on everyone with whom you come into contact
Invest in the lives of others.
Care about people.
No matter where we are, we can all do something to give to the lives of those around us. This is something that is right before us every single day
See the potential See the positive Create hope.
What are you going to do with your life?
How will you use the very valuable life that you have?
It's all about Choosing
Choosing to make your life count
Choosing what really matters
What matters? People matter.
God showed it at Creation and at Calvary by His immense Love You've got the chance to make your life count and show others that they matter
What can I do today to show that people matter?
EVERYONE has talents. Find yours and use them. Learn from your set backs and failures. Apply the lessons you learn.
In Luke 12 we read: Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
The Beast Within Romans 7:15-7:25
Two men got into an argument that they could not resolve so they decided to ask a mutual friend which one of them was right.
The first man went to the friend's home and told his version of what happened. When he finished, the friend said, "You're absolutely right."
The next night, the second man called on the friend and told his side of the story. The friend responded, "You're absolutely right."
Afterward, the friend's wife scolded her husband. "Those men told you two different stories and you told both of them they were absolutely right. That's impossible...they can't both be absolutely right."
The man turned to his wife and said,..."You're absolutely right."
We have this same type of conflict ...This same type of battle within ourselves.
The flesh when it speaks to us is trying to convince us that it is absolutely right. Trying to convince us to follow it's yearning... it's wants.
Tommy Lasorda ...the former Los Angeles Dodgers manager described a battle with his inner self He said: "I took a pack of cigarettes from my pocket, stared at it and said, "Who's stronger, you or me?" The answer was me I stopped smoking.
Then I took a vodka martini and said to it, "Who's stronger, you or me?" Again the answer was me. I quit drinking. Then I decided to go on a diet.
I looked at a big plate of linguine with clam sauce and said, "Who's stronger, you or me?" And a little clam looked up at me and answered, "I am." Lasorda said...I just can't beat linguine with clam sauce.
The writer and theologian C.S. Lewis put it this way..."No man knows how bad he is until he has tried to be good."
God's Spirit is drawing us to do what we know is right, but we often don't do it.
In our text today.....Paul put it this way: I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.
In these verses, Paul is describing his own personal struggle his own battle within. He is describing his struggle with the old nature a battle with sin.
Many of us are familiar with the book by Robert Louis Stephenson that was made into several movies, "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde".
The story is all about the good Dr. Jekyll who is working on a potion that will allow him to actually become another person, to become the man Edward Hyde.
The two men could not be more different. Dr. Jekyll is a nice and well respected person, whereas Edward Hyde is malicious. He is a cold blooded killer.
At first Dr. Jekyll can control the Hyde within him but after a while Hyde begins to emerge on his own taking control of the Doctors life. The two men within fight for control over the body in which they both live.
It is a classic novel about "Right and Wrong", "Joy and Despair" ..."The struggle of Good and Evil." The struggle of the Natural man vs. the Spiritual man.
Mr. Stephenson was once asked, "Where did you find the model for your character Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." He said, I found it in myself."
Stephenson was a Christian and had learned that there is inside every child of God a Beast.
Every Christian is a new creation in Christ Jesus and has received a New Nature. Yet the old Nature yearns to be in charge and battles within for supremacy.
Stephenson went on to say "I find that there is always a struggle with the "Beast That Lives Within Me." The Apostle Paul had this same fight.
Most of us want to please God. We want to do His will. We want to be a light to the world and make a difference in the lives of others.
Yet, a battle rages within us Many times when we encounter The Beast that lives within and we yield to its desires and after we do we feel great remorse for what we have done.
We may feel that we are hypocrites. We may convince ourselves that something must be spiritually wrong with us. You may begin to doubt your own salvation.
Have you ever been caught in a place where you knew what God was asking you to do, but you did something else instead? There is a power struggle going on inside of you and you are caught in between.
We often get hold of something and we can't let go of it. It may be due to anger. It may be due to pride, but we just cannot seem to let it go. The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.
You have a hold of something ....That in reality has a hold on you.
The Ring-tailed monkeys in Africa are a delicacy to the Zulus, but they are extremely difficult to catch because they are so agile But the Zulus found a way to catch them.
They get a gourd and drill a little hole in it, just big enough for a monkey to get it's hand in it. They hollow it out and put melon or cooked rice into it.
Then they tie a rope to the gourd and to the base of a tree. The monkeys climb down the tree because they smell the food. They stick their hand in the gourd and grab the food inside.
But when they make a fist, they cannot get their hand out. They run up the tree with their hand in the gourd until they come to the end of the rope.
Bam! They fall from the tree! But they still don't let go of the gourd. Again and again, they run up the tree and fall down! They continue to hold on to the delectable food inside the gourd.
When the Zulus come along, they hit the monkeys with a club...and then they have monkey stew with rice!
Isn't that just like we are at times? We get a hold of something in our minds and we just will not let it go, even though it may be killing us.
This morning let's get our hands out of the gourd, let go of the beast and yield to Jesus for he alone is the author and finisher of our faith.
July 6, 2014
God Bless America 1Timothy 2:1-7
This is as we are all aware Independence Day weekend. And while Independence Day is not a religious holiday It is certainly worth our notice. I will be the first to admit that I often focus on what I don't agree with or like about our country or it's government when I should rather focus on how truly blessed we are as a people and as a nation.
The fact that we are at war with the lives of many of our nations armed forces personnel in harms way also gives me cause to stop and ask God to bless our nation and to give our elected officials(whether I voted for them or not) wisdom from on High.
Pray that they would recognize their own inadequacy to fulfill their tasks and that they would depend upon God for knowledge, wisdom, and the courage to do what is right.
Verse 1 that we just read tells us to pray for kings, but our nation is not a monarchy, so we are to pray for the President and other government officials. This passage of Scripture is a basis for praying for government officials, and for everyone in authority.
It is a good thing when we pray before an election But I wonder how many Christians, happy or disappointed about certain election results, stopped praying after the election was over. This is no time to stop praying for our President and for those who are in authority over us.
Mr. Obama's approval rating has plummeted I hope that means more people are praying for him. Our own Mayor has been cussed out I wonder if those cussers spent any time praying for him?
We don't need to slack off in our prayers for those who are in authority. We should pray regularly for each and every elected official on the local, state, and national levels. We should pray for those in political positions, for our judges.
We have been told that every vote counts And certainly every vote in the Senate and the House of Representatives counts. Did you know that a senator or state representative can choose at any moment to change his or her party affiliation?
He or she can choose to vote one way or another on any given piece of legislation. Each decision made can make a difference in the way our government is run and can also affect our daily lives. That's why it's so important that we pray and continue to pray!
Someone might say, Many of our politicians are not even Christians. What good is praying for them going to do? But that's even more reason to pray for them.
I firmly believe that the people in our government are elected in order to represent the people of this nation. Politicians aren't supposed to advance their own agenda when it comes to making policies, but are to represent the will of the people.
As voters, we expect our elected officials to vote certain ways when it comes time to vote. And if we want our elected officials to vote in line with God's Word and in line with biblical values, we must pray for them”even after the elections are over.
I encourage you to continually pray for our President and his Cabinet and for all of our elected officials. Pray daily that they will make right and godly decisions that will benefit our nation.
According to the Word of God, if we want to lead a quiet and peaceable life, living a lifestyle of godliness and honesty, it's imperative we pray for our President and for all those in authority.
What can we do but pray? I guess we could wring our hands and worry but that never solved anything.
In a day when it is fashionable to be negative about the United States, many people have lost sight of what has been accomplished by this great nation.
Newspaper headlines stress current problems.
Television news focuses on the menaces to our society. Overpopulation, pollution, drugs, race problems, pornography and mistrust of government are familiar themes to most of our citizens.
Yet, with all of these difficulties and more, the United States still sets the pace for the remainder of the world. America Has a Great History.
The first 4th of July was celebrated with guns, bells and bonfires.
A terrible price was paid for our freedom. July the fourth is still celebrated with fireworks, parades, picnics, and sports.
To make America the great land that it is, fifty-six Americans pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. It was no idle pledge. Their fortunes were forfeit, but their honor was not.
No signer defected, or changed his stand, throughout the darkest hours. Their honor, like the nation, remained intact. These men died, and most are almost forgotten by their countrymen If I were to ask us to name just 5 men who signed the Declaration of Independence, most of us could not.
But it doesn't really matter whether or not we know their names what does matter is that we remember that freedom comes at a high cost.
America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.
Today may you decide to daily pray for our nation and our leaders. Today may you decide that every time you find yourself criticizing an elected official that you will pray for those officials for at least as long as you criticized them.
Today may you decide that every time you find yourself worrying about the economy, the war, or the moral failures of our country and her people you will pray.
And may God Bless America.