September 15, 2013
Finding Strength 1 Samuel 30: 1-6 key verse-6
30 David and his men reached Ziklag on the third day. Now the Amalekites had raided the Negev and Ziklag. They had attacked Ziklag and burned it, 2 and had taken captive the women and everyone else in it, both young and old. They killed none of them, but carried them off as they went on their way.
3 When David and his men reached Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. 4 So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. 5 David's two wives had been captured”Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. 6 David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God.
We all need encouragement from time to time. All of us at sometime or other face a crisis when everything seems to fall apart. There are times of discouragement, when things go wrong even when we are trying to do right.
There are times of uncertainty, when don't know how things are going to turn out. There are times of stress, when our load seems heavier than we can bear. The task is more than we can handle. There can also be times of fear when our very sense of security is threatened. In all of those kinds of situations we need to be encouraged in the Lord.
In the midst of a time of great distress it says of David in our text in verse six, But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God. That sounds great doesn't it? But what does it really mean that David encouraged himself in the Lord?
David and his company of six hundred men had been off serving in the military of Kind Achish of Gath and in the process had left their wives and children in Ziklag unprotect-ed.
A raiding band of Amalekites came down on the village, capturing the women and children for slaves, looting the place and carried of everything of value, leaving behind nothing but a smoking pile of rubble.
When David and his men arrived home all that remained was heap of smoking ruins. Everything was gone; wives, children, cattle and all their property. What do you do when life falls apart? Many follow the adage, When in trouble, when in doubt, run in circles and scream and shout!
It is interesting to note how David's men reacted when they discovered their terrible loss. Verse four, Then David and the people who were with him lifted up their voices and wept, until they had no more power to weep.'
Some of them sat down and wept until they has no more tears to shed. But others complained and blamed David.
Verse six, Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters . Some went so far as to suggest that they stone David. It is always easy in a crisis to blame somebody else or to look for a scapegoat.
A lot of times when your life gets hairy you're tempted to do what David's troops did. You're tempted to take it out on someone else. Misery loves company. You're in the pit of despair and instead of spending time with God and asking Him what to do you do the stupid thing. You're hurting so you hurt someone else. Hurt people hurt people.
Think of what must have been going through David's mind as he stood over the ruins of his home not knowing whether his family was dead or alive. He must have asked himself some questions. Like, Why, if God is with me, is Saul trying to kill me? Why is Saul so insanely jealous of me? Why, if I am anointed do I have hide myself in the wilderness?
David had a choice. He could either, as a great many of us do, just stand there and continue to look, and see nothing but the disaster or he could look beyond them and see God. David met God and found the strength and direction to carry on. Then verse six continues with But David found strength in the LORD his God.
David had lost just as much as any of the rest of the men. David's only worldly possessions at that moment were the clothes he wore. Everything else was gone; his property was carried off by raiders, his home was a mass of smoldering embers.
But the was one thing that the Amalekites had not and could not take from him, they could not take his relationship with God. Although he could no longer say, My house, my city, my possessions, he could say, My God.
David was able to find strength in the Lord because he had a personal relationship with God. Alexander Maclaren states it this way, Whatever else we lose, as long as we have Him we are rich; God is enough; whatever else may go.
David Strengthened Himself in the Lord by seeking guidance and direction from God. (vv. 7-10) So David inquired of the LORD, saying, ˜Shall I pursue this troop? Shall I overtake them?' And He answered him, ˜Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all.'
He believed God and acted upon that belief in pursuing the band of Amalekite raiders and fighting to take back what they had lost. It would have done no good for David to sit around in the ruins of Ziklag and say, Well I Am Just Trusting the Lord. Real trust in the Lord is seen in David's willingness to act on what God had said.
David and the remaining four hundred men crossed over the brook and pushed on into the desolate desert badlands pursuing the Amalekites.
They just happen upon a sick Egyptian captive who had been left behind by the Amalekites. In verse eleven we read, Then they found an Egyptian in the field, and brought him to David; and they gave him bread and he ate, and they let him drink water. (12) And they gave him a piece of a cake of figs and two clusters of raisins. So when he had eaten, his strength came back to him; for he had eaten no bread nor drunk water for three days and three nights. (13) Then David said to him, To whom do you belong, and where are you from? And he said, I am a young man from Egypt, servant of an Amalekite; and my master left me behind, because three days ago I fell sick. (14) We made an invasion of the southern area of the Chere-thites, in the territory which belongs to Judah, and of the southern area of Caleb; and we burned Ziklag with fire. (15) And David said to him, Can you take me down to this troop? So he said, Swear to me by God that you will neither kill me nor deliver me into the hands of my master, and I will take you down to this troop.
It turned out that the Egyptian had been the servant of one of the Amalekite rulers, but when he became sick he was abandoned as too much trouble to bother with and left behind in the desert to die. That pretty much killed any sense of loyalty that the Egyptian might have had for the Amalekites. It is important to realize that if David had not been kind and generous to this hurting man he would have missed God's provision.
The Egyptian once revived realizing that he had been saved told David that he knew where the Amalekites could be found. They were on their way to a victory celebration when the poor Egyptian had been left behind so he could tell David exactly where to find them.
He led David down, and there they were, scattered over the countryside, eating, drinking and reveling because of the great amount of plunder they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from Judah. 17 David fought them from dusk until the evening of the next day, and none of them got away, except four hundred young men who rode off on camels and fled. 18 David recovered everything the Amalekites had taken, including his two wives. 19 Nothing was missing: young or old, boy or girl, plunder or anything else they had taken. David brought everything back.(1 Samuel 30:16 “ 19)
September 8, 2013
Without Regrets 2 Timothy 4:2-8
If you are like me, it is easy to look to our past and have regrets. Choices we made, things we did, words we spoke, friends we betrayed, people we let down and so on. One has to wonder if it is possible to live a life with no regrets.
The Apostle Paul is nearing the end of his life; he has been arrested by the Roman Emperor Nero and awaits execution. As he sits in his jail cell, I'm sure that many things ran through his mind. He probably thought of all the missionary journeys he had made, the churches he started, the people he told about the Lord and all the friends he made.
As he reflects over his life, he picks up his pen and paper and writes the words of our text this morning. "...the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."
You see, as Paul looked back over his life he sees a life of fulfillment and conten'ent. It certainly wasn't an easy life nor was it the life he thought he would lead. Remember, he was a Pharisee...His life was destined to one of ease and privilege until one day as he makes his way along the Damascus road, he has an encounter with the resurrected Lord and his life was radically changed.
The Bible records that he was beaten 5 times, shipwrecked 3 times, stoned once,(With rocks) , chased by robbers, harassed by Jews, distrusted by Gentiles and yet as he writes, he expresses no words of regret or remorse about the life he lived.
As the Apostle Paul pens these words, he knew his days were numbered.
Wouldn't it be great to be able to live a life of no regrets? You say it is not possible to live life that but I say it is. Sure there are going to be missteps along the way and missed opportunities but there are things we can do to live a life of no regrets.
In Psalm 90:12 Moses prayed for God to teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom. Moses was praying that God would help us know the brevity of life and live with no regrets.
If you knew that today was your last day to live, how would you live it differently? Most people would do everything they could to mend broken relationships, spend time with family and friends and witness to as many people as possible about Jesus.
Paul lived a no regrets kind of life. He said, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. He was able to face death without enduring the thoughts of things left undone. He didn't lament over wasted time and missed opportunities. He looked at eternity eyeball to eyeball without regrets.
In order to live a life without regrets, we need to know what to live for. The world has it all wrong. They say you only live once so go ahead and grab all the gusto you can. Party hard, live loose because when you die, that's it.
This philosophy teaches that the only thing to live for is immediate gratification. It teaches that the highest purpose in life is to be happy and pain free. But the Bible paints a very different picture of life. In fact, we are warned not to love this world or the things in this world.
To live a life of no regrets, we must learn what is important in life. Paul lived with no regrets because he kept eternity in view. He wasn't preoccupied with this temporary life. This is why he was able to say that he had learned to be content in whatever state he was in.
He knew what it was to be destitute and he knew what it was to have money left at the end of the month. These things really didn't matter to him because his priority was to live his life in forward motion; to keep growing in his relationship with God and to declare the gospel to as many people as he possibly could.
Paul fought the good fight and kept the faith because he refused to be sucked in by the world's philosophies. God was the priority in his life. Notice I said The priority, not a priority.
To live a life without regrets, God has to be number 1 in our lives. There are so many things clamoring for our time and attention. We can get so caught up in everyday living that we ignore the author of life.
We merely exist from day to day but truly have no life. Jesus said it so eloquently in Matthew 6 when he said, But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.
Let me ask you, what are you living for? What is the priority in your life? Is God in His rightful place? In the Old Testament whenever the children of Israel would set up camp, they would set up the tabernacle and then set up their tents around the tabernacle. It occupied the center of their lives and community.
Is God the center of your life or does He have to compete with all the other things bidding for your time? To live a life of no regrets, God must be the priority in our lives.
Jesus said that a man's life does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses. Now Jesus isn't against us having things; He is against things having us!
When the rich man came to Jesus to ask what he had to do to inherit eternal life, Jesus concluded that the wealthy man needed to sell everything he owned and give it to the poor. The Bible says the man went away sad because he was very wealthy. If Jesus asked you to do the same would you?
You see, this man did not know what to value in life. Society says that he who dies with the most toys wins but the reality is he who dies with the most toys still dies.
No one ever died saying they spent too much time in church or spent too much time reading the Bible. No one says that they prayed too much or went to church too much or witnessed too much.
Jesus tells us not to lay up for ourselves treasures on earth, but to lay up treasure in heaven. The only way we can do this is to know what to value. What did Paul value? Paul said, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Are we living in such a way that if we stare eternity in the face, we can do so without regrets?
September 1, 2013
A Familiar Story Matthew 14:13 - 21
Today I want to preach on one of my favorite stories from the Bible. The story is known as The Feeding of the Five-Thousand.
I hope that when you read the text verses with me that you didn't say, Oh I know this story I don't need to listen. The truth is that every time I read this story I see something new or see something in a different light.
Probably one of the reasons I so love this story is because we get to see God in action. God meeting needs. The whole story in a nut shell is that Jesus took a boy's lunch and multiplied it to feed 20,000 people. Wow!
But what if the boy had said No? What if when the disciples were checking the crowd to see if anyone had any food to share this boy had said, Nope.
Yes I know people would have gone away hungry But the biggest loss would have been that people from that day until today and then on into the future would have missed out. Missed out on what?
We would have missed out on a great truth and that truth is this If you and I will give the little that we have to Jesus He will multiply it and do amazing things!
Look at this building we are sitting comfortably in this morning. Look back to 1993 The levy breaks, the church is flooded and heavily damaged the church that was founded in 1864 and had been on the same corner since 1866 is ruined.
We had no money, no flood insurance, and no useable church building. But we had faith to be honest not a lot of faith maybe about the size of a mustard seed.
But we took that little seed of faith and we gave it to God and look! To God be the glory Great things He hath done!
Then a few years ago I was talking to my roommate from college and he was telling me about a village in Tanzania that had no church, and no gospel witness a village called Kitongo. And we as a church took the little that we had and gave it to God and today there is a church in Kitongo.
I looked it up, Kitongo is 7,028 nautical mile away from Keithsburg. (As the crow flies) Our church is the lad who gave his lunch and God multiplied it can you believe it? Little is much when God is in!
The story of the Feeding of the 5000 is the only miracle (except for Jesus resurrection) that is recorded in all four Gospels. Why do you think God wanted it in all four books? Matthew 14, Mark 6, Luke 9, and John 6. Was it an accident? I think not.
Listen to this verse John 21:25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.
So if Jesus did so much stuff why repeat? I think it's because God wanted to make sure we got it! And there is a lot to get here!
In the verses that precede the ones we read, the Bible records the death of Jesus' cousin, John the Baptist and it records that the disciples had just told Jesus.
So Jesus wants to get away and have some time to himself so the Bible records that He gets into a boat to get away from the people he needs a break ever feel like that? In Mark 6 Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.
But the people see Jesus and the disciples out in the boat and while they are rowing to the other side of the lake this huge crowd walks around the lake.
Jesus wanted to be alone but the crowd followed him. I don't know about you but if I needed to get away and people followed me I'd be kind of mad about it. So Do you think Jesus was angry when He saw all those people walking around the lake? No, the Bible says that when he saw the crowd He had compassion on them.
Now the disciples were a different matter. They say to Jesus: This is a remote place, and it's already getting late. Send the crowds away
Jesus says, No let's have a picnic.
Interestingly John's account of this story gives a couple of details that the others don't. For example the other three(Matthew, Mark, Luke) have the disciples saying: It's getting late, we better send the people away so they can get some food.
And then Jesus says, They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat. And they reply all we have is 5 loaves and 2 small fish.
Then John records Philip saying: Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat? 6He asked this only to test him, for he(Jesus) already had in mind what he was going to do.
Do you think that maybe when the hard things come our way that God is testing us? Philip said: It can't be done Jesus says: Watch this!
Are you facing something hard in your life right now? Turn it over to Jesus, because He already had in mind what he is going to do.
The second thing that is only found in john's account is where the 5 loaves and 2 fish come from. The other three say something similar to: We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish, but they don't mention the boy
Only John does when he records Andrew saying: Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?
Did you ever think about this Why a boy? Why a kid? After all it doesn't say there is a man here who runs a restaurant and he will feed everyone. It doesn't say there is a rich woman here who will pay for food for everyone nope there's a boy here.
Why because nobody saw it coming. A child would be the last one we would expect to be the answer to a need.
Why a child the Bible says that God uses the foolish to confound the wise.
Give what you have to God and let him multiply it, Give your problems to God and let Him solve them and don't overlook the small things they may just hold what you need.
August 18, 2013
Nicodemus John 3:14 - 21
The verses we just read together record a conversation between Jesus and a guy named Nicodemus. I want to read you a few more verses from the same chapter that will help put things in context. Starting with verse one:
Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.
Jesus replied, Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.
You see Nicodemus was RELIGIOUS, but he needed to be saved, to be born again”that is to be born again spiritually in God's family.
Though as a Pharisee he gave money to the poor and knew the Old Testament scriptures backwards and forwards, and avoided evil activities and people, Jesus looked him straight in the eye and said in essence, Nicodemus, all your good works and all your religious deeds and all your good intentions and all your sincerity will not do one thing to get you into God's kingdom. Jesus told him the same thing He tells us: YOU“MUST“BE“BORN“AGAIN.
So that's the setting of John 3:16. Jesus told Nicodemus what He did so that Nicodemus could know how to be born into God's family and thus have forgiveness of all his sins.
But let me ask you a question: WHAT IF GOD HAD NOT LOVED THE WORLD? “ The verse begins, For God so loved the world
Without God's love, our world would just be a dark planet hurtling through space without hope. There would be nothing to live for and no purpose for existence. It would be a world where prayers were but useless cries to the skies.
But, let me assure you this morning that God DOES love the world: Everything speaks of God's love for us. Every sunrise; every blade of grass; every drop of water; every birth; the face of every child”ALL speak of, and are evidence of, the love of God.
But the greatest evidence of God's love is the cross, which makes me wonder, What if God had not given His Son? The verse goes on to say: that He gave His one and only son.
What if instead of God giving us His Son, He gave us what we deserve; and instead of sending us His Son to die for our sins, and giving us the opportunity to have a life on earth worth living on this earth, and eternal life forever, He just sent us all to hell? How awful to consider!
You see, if God loved the world, but had not given His Son, we would never be able to know and experience that love. God's love would be frustrated without the cross of Calvary.
You see, real love always demands giving And God showed His love for us by giving His most treasured possession. Romans 5:8 says, But God, demonstrated his love toward us, in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
But God DID send His Son to die on the cross for our sin. God has given His Son, and apart from this there is no salvation.
Without sending His Son, there would be no eternal life There would be no hope in this world. Life would be a meaningless existence.
THIRD, WHAT IF GOD'S OFFER OF SALVATION WERE NOT FOR THE WHOEVERS? “ Look again at what Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:16 “ that whoever believes in him
WHOEVER what a wonderful word”What a comforting word! It's a word that embraces all of humanity, and yet it touches each and every one of us. It means the Gospel is for EVERYONE, which means it's for YOU and for ME!
Do you see it?”WHOEVER believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life! Now think about something with me for a moment:
- Suppose God had offered salvation only to THE RICH? People like you and me would never make it. All you folks who are broke days before payday”too bad for you!
- Suppose God had offered salvation only to THE HEALTHY OR THE PHYSICALLY FIT? I guess that would leave me out!
- Suppose God had offered salvation only to THE EDUCATED? “ Some would never make it to heaven because they haven't had the same opportunities as others. What if salvation was offered only to good, and righteous people? “ Then NONE of us would have hope of ever seeing Jesus because the Bible says there is none good, no not one.
Who can be saved?”WHOEVER! But you don't know my sin, you say. No, but God does, and He knew it two thousand years ago when He gave this wonderful promise.
In fact, listen again to a verse I read a few minutes ago: Romans 5:8 “ But God demonstrated his love toward us, in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. God doesn't save us AFTER we get rid of our sin. He saves us IN our sin” just as we are.
God doesn't save us once we clean up our lives to be good enough for Him. He doesn't save us after we've made ourselves holy or religious. It's just the opposite”He saves us IN our sin, just as we are and then He saves us FROM our sin, and makes us what we ought to be! You can't get a better deal than that! How precious to know that salvation IS for whoever.
Are you here this morning with a burden of sin? “ God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
Are you here loaded down with cares and problems from the mess you've made of your life?”I've got good news for you: God so loved the world, that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.
Whoever you are, if you're without Jesus as your Savior, come to Jesus today!
Aren't you glad that John 3:16 IS true?
- God Does love the world, and that means God loves YOU. If you were the only person on earth, God would have sent Jesus to die just for you. That's how much He loves you.
- God DID give His Son to die for your sins. The blood He shed on the cross is the only thing that can save you from your sins. Jesus was your substitute who paid the penalty for sin that you deserved to pay.
- And God's salvation is for WHOEVER. That means ANYBODY. That means young and old; smart or average; educated and not; lower class to upper class; wicked sinners like that thief on the cross with Jesus; and sinners like Nicodemus who was an outwardly religious and moral man.
It's like this: God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
August 11, 2013
Everyday Choices Luke 22:14 - 21
I was asked to help a guy out by mowing a small piece of property. The grass was about a foot tall and he asked if I would bring the church tractor and bush hog down and cut it low enough so he could mow it with a riding mower.
He had recently purchased the property and told me that he had walked it several times to make sure there was nothing, like rocks or bottles, in the tall grass that would cause me any trouble.
I made a couple of slow passes in 3rd gear to make sure that it was indeed safe to mow there. Everything was going fine(Except it was beginning to rain) but as I rounded the corner to make another pass I saw something in the grass about 15 feet in front of me that looked like shredded paper apparently I had hit something on the last pass through. No biggy, I thought probably just an old newspaper.
I slowed down as I passed the shredded papers only to realize that I had mowed over my own wallet and checkbook. I sat there in stunned silence for a moment in the now pouring rain.
For a brief moment I felt a rage building within me as I shut off the tractor and climbed down to examine the remains of my driver's license, cash, and credit cards all chopped into small pieces.
Then it happened I laughed. You probably would have thought I had gone bonkers had you seen me standing in the rain surveying the confetti that had only moments before been important documents with a smile on my face. I do have to admit that I did quit smiling when I realized the little green piece of paper that was smiling back at me was what was left of Andrew Jackson from a twenty dollar bill.
But I made a conscience decision that getting mad was not going to help. It was merely an inconvenience so I laughed. Yes My cash was missing too many pieces for the bank to replace but the guy I mowed for gave me more than enough money to cover it.
I went to the bank and applied for a new debit card It came in the mail 2 days later. Also in the mail was a letter from the driver's license facility telling me my license is going to expire soon I went there(with the little pieces I collected) and left with a license that was good for 4 more years not only that but my Master Charge card was also about to expire and they had sent me a new one a couple of weeks before that I had never put in my wallet and was safely tucked away in a desk drawer.
How silly would it have been for me to get mad and cuss and fuss when 3 days later virtually everything I lost was not only replaced but updated.
Let's look back at our Scripture reading. Jesus is sitting at the table with his disciples He has just shown His humility by washing their feet and as they begin to eat He tells them the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table.
He knew that Judas was going to betray Him But He had made a conscience decision of what He was going to do. If that was you or me and we had foreknowledge that someone was about to betray us would we wash their feet or sit calmly with them for a meal? I don't think so
Then a few verses later Peter is boasting that He would never do anything against the Lord and Jesus says you will deny me three times before morning. Jesus knew it before he had washed Peter's feet before he had shared a meal with him and He also knew that the rest of the disciples were going to scatter like cockroaches at sunrise.
Jesus knew He was going to be betrayed by Judas, He knew He was going to be denied by Peter, and He knew He was going to be abandoned by the rest of them but He never raised His voice, His blood pressure didn't go up, He chose how He was going to respond.
In Luke Chapter nine we read these words: As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. He knew full well what awaited Him mockery, torture, and death Yet He loved us so much He chose not to get sidetracked He resolutely set out for Jerusalem. Was He happy about what He was about to face? No In the garden He prayed, Father if it's possible, let this cup pass from me
He had a choice The Bible tells us that he could have called 10,000 legions of angels to set Him free but He didn't. He resolutely set out for Jerusalem.
In this life things don't always happen the way we want So what are you going to do when what you want doesn't match up with reality? Are you going to yell, cuss, scream, and throw things or can you laugh? And if you can't laugh can you at least control your emotions. Can you choose your response?
Life is too short to go around mad all the time. Jesus knew what they were about to do to him but he didn't lose His temper So why do we yell at our children? Why do we fight with family members, co-workers, and neighbors.
I was visiting a lady whose family was tired of being brow beaten, Her son said, All she does is yell and scream at us. While talking to her she said, I just can't help it And she began to get mad just talking about it her voice getting louder and shriller Then the phone rang and she picked it up and in the sweetest melody you ever heard she practically sang, Hel-lo. She could control it but she chose not to at least when it came to her family.
It doesn't happen automatically you have to make a choice. As I set there on that tractor I made a choice. Every day we have choices to make. How are we going to treat other people.
So tomorrow if you go into a restaurant and your food is cold What are you going to do? What are you going to say. You can wrinkle up your face in disgust and snap at the underpaid, over worked waitress, This is cold, or you could say, I'm sorry, would it be too much trouble to get this heated?
Do you know if you look for something to be wrong you're going to find it every time. If you want to find fault with me I'm sure I give you ample ammunition. If you choose to find problems in the church you will.
If you want to go through life with a look on your face that makes people wonder if you have been sucking on lemons or were baptized in pickle juice That's your choice.
But life is too short and people are too precious to live and act like that. Before you blow your stack, or show your ignorance Stop and think of Jesus washing the feet of those who were about to betray, deny, and abandon Him. Then choose your response.