September 24, 2017
We Are the Church Ephesians 1:18 – 22
Someone has defined the church as: The place where a small part of the population goes on a Sunday morning.
This morning I want us to briefly look at what the church is and what it isn’t.
Most people identify the church as a building…which is not necessarily true. There is such a thing as a church building, but without the church, it would only be called a building.
In order for the name church building to be used it has to have a church meet there. So, what then is a church? 1 Corinthians chapter 3 verse 9 answers that question.
“For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.”
The church is the people, not the building. So if Christ is not the builder of the church, then the church will collapse in no time flat.
Jesus has to be the foundation in order for the church to become sturdy to withstand the storms. Jesus speaking in Matt. 16:18 says: “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”
And Ephesians 2:20 says that Christ Jesus himself is the chief cornerstone.
The cornerstone is one of the most important parts to building. If it is not placed right, then the whole building can collapse with just one small jolt or jar to the building. Therefore, Jesus has to be placed in the right spot as our cornerstone.
Next…The Bible refers to the church as a flock
Luke 12:32 says: “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom"
I’m read that sheep are usually pretty easy to deal with, but there are those stubborn ones that need to be dealt with. When we had our live nativity several years ago…I had to put a sheep into a dog crate to get it to the church…and that didn’t go over so well!
Who cares for and deals with the sheep? The shepherd…John 10:11 Jesus says: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
A sheep’s pen back in Biblical days and even now in most countries consists of a large fenced in area with only one gate which serves as the entrance and exit.
One door. This is so that the shepherd can make sure his flock is safe and can count his flock as they come into the pen. The shepherd guards the door and becomes the target of attack by other predator animals in order for them to get to the sheep.
Jesus has laid down His life for us … He is the shepherd that keeps watch over us, His church every day and every night.
Next…The church is referred to as a Body (1 Cor. 12:27)
“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” We are body…but Christ the Head.
Remember in our scripture reading we read: “…God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body…”
The Bible also refers to the church as A Bride (Rev 19:7) “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready."
The bride is the one who gets the most attention at weddings. Think about it. The bride gets to choose the cake, the colors, the flowers, the outfits for the wedding party, the photographer, the food, the place the wedding will be held, the pastor, the decorations, the dress, and the tux.
The groom goes to the front without any introduction and waits for the bride. Then the bride enters with big fanfare and her own song, etc... Afterward the dress is put away in storage…but the groom has to return his tux to the rental company.
The Bible says that we are the Bride of Christ…which means Christ is the groom. He is the one who waits for us to come to Him.
So…The church is the people…and we are called a flock, a bride…and Malachi 3:17 says that we are a Treasured Possession.
Mal 3:17 says: “They will be mine,” says the LORD Almighty, “in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them…”
A treasured possession in most cases is something that is collectable and Christ is the Collector – Jesus tells the story of the lost coin in Luke 15: 8-10
“…Suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.' 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Christ sees us as His treasured possession. When we come to Him and accept His grace, I believe He takes us in and displays us for all the angels to see and rejoice with Him.
Next…We are Branches of the Vine (John 15:5) "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."
A vine is considered to be a plant that grows and climbs. As it gets bigger it creates branches. In John chapter 15 Jesus gives an incredible illustration on this. He says He is the vine.
John 15:4 Jesus says, "Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me."
As a vine grows and grows it produces branches. These branches need the vine to grow. The vine brings nourishment to the branches. it has everything the branches need in order to bear the fruit that it was designed to do.
In John 15:2 Jesus says “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”
Jesus tends to us and makes sure that we have everything we need to keep on growing in Him. He takes a lot of time with us as well, and has a lot of patience with us.
As a church, we need to continually ask Christ to prune us and make us stronger and larger in order for us to bear much fruit for His kingdom.
The church, is not a place. It's not the building, it's not the location, and it's not the denomination. We—God's people who are in Christ Jesus—are the church.
September 17, 2017
God Has a Dream For Your Life Romans 12:1-2
The Bible tells us that God, the Creator of the universe, knows you and wants to have a relationship with you.
God has a dream for your life!
God has a plan for your life and mine…
…A perfect plan that brings honor and Glory to Him and blessing to us.
I think every parent has dreams for their children...
…Dreams that began before they were even born.
The truth is your parents probably had a dream for you before you were born.
What will our baby be like?
What will they become?
What will fill their thoughts?
Will they do well in school?
Will they be athletic or artistic or scientific?
Will they get a good job?
God also has a dream for His children.
God has a destiny for His children.
God has a dream and a destiny for you.
Our heavenly Father has a dream for every one of His children, and God’s dream is to make you like His Son Jesus. Matthew 5:48 says, “you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
God’s dream for you and I is that we would be perfect. Perfect…that seems to be asking a lot…dreaming a lot, but when we come to know Jesus as our Lord and Savior, when we repent and turn to Christ, God sees us as perfect.
Isaiah 61:10 says, “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness…”
We could never be perfect in our own righteousness. When Jesus died on the cross, He did not just take away your sins. He also gave you His righteousness. God has clothed you and I with the robe of righteousness, which was paid for by Jesus’ blood.
In Romans 8, The Apostle Paul tells us how God uses every circumstance, every up, every down, every relationship, everything we ever go through to make us more like Jesus. God’s dream for you is about the kind of person you are destined to become, the kind of relationship you will have with Him.
God calls each of us to be loving, kind, gentle and holy. God calls us to be people who live out our daily lives with integrity.
God is with us every moment of every day. When you are driving your car, you can have a conversation with Him. When you are washing dishes, you can sing praise to Him. When you face a big decision in your life, you can ask your Heavenly Father to lead and to guide.
God cares about the details of your life, He wants to be in a loving and deep relationship with you.
God’s dream for His children, is that He wants us to think like Jesus, to walk like Jesus, to love like Jesus.
His dream is that we would be selfless like Jesus.
His dream is that we would live a life where our priorities are the same as Jesus.
His dream is that we would use our money and our time like Jesus would.
I wonder…how close is God’s dream to how we are actually living our lives today?
The way some people live their daily lives is far from the dream and plan that God has for them.
Some people who say they are Christians, show very little evidence that they are anything more than Christian in name only.
God’s dream for you and I is that we would be more than people who are called “Christian”, His dream is that we would truly be disciples of Christ. On fire for the Him, loving Him and loving each other.
That is His dream. That is His plan. That is His will.
Then, Romans 12:2 tells us: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world…”
Our relationship with the world must not be allowed to damage our relationship with God.
While many in the world say, “there is no God”, we are to live for God.
Many in the world see God as unimportant, but we are meant to live with God at the center of our lives.
The devil will try his hardest to lure us away from the way God expects us to live, we must never let the behavior and customs of this world draw us away from doing what is right in God’s sight.
God expects us to arrange our lives, our relationships, and our priorities around His will, His plan, His purpose, His dream, His Word.
The Word of God must be our guide to life.
God wants to be in relationship with you, not your religious activity. Yes there is a place for Bible study, yes there is a place for church, yes there is a place for prayer, yes there is a place for all kinds of spiritual things.
But we can do all those things and still not be in a relationship with Him. We can do all those things and still not be living a life surrendered to God.
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
If we are born-again disciples of Jesus Christ… then we cannot live with one foot walking with God and the other foot walking in the world.
We need to walk in the footsteps of the Savior…to follow His guide.
Paul doesn’t say try hard to be a good Christian. Paul does not say, "It is ok to compromise in certain areas." Paul says, “Let God transform you.”
Do not waiver in your faith, trust God, follow His plan, His purpose, His dream for you, His commandments.
Look at 1 John 2:4-6, If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love Him. That is how we know we are living in Him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.
God loves you and God has a dream for you.
1 John 2:15-16, Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.
Even though we stumble, even though we fall short, God continues to love us and forgive us.
You need to see yourself the way God sees you and experience all He has for you!
You are loved, you are valuable, you are precious, you are forgiven. God made you. You are His child. You are His masterpiece. Ephesians 2:10, For we are God’s masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
You are God’s masterpiece. Use the gifts, the strengths God has given you. Know what your weaknesses are, know where you experience difficulty, know where you fall short, but know God has a dream for your life, God has a purpose for your life.
September 3, 2017
Work Produced by Faith 1 Thessalonians 1:2 – 6
This message is not to make people who are busy feel like they need to do more. This is not about being busy- people are already busy!
The question for each one of us is…Are we doing our part in the kingdom of God and Do we know what we need to do?
One of the verses we just read says this: “We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
There are three little lines I want us to notice in that verse: 1) work produced by faith 2) labor prompted by love and 3) endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul tells them that he sees the work they are doing. “Whatever you do in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
The church is a living manifestation of Christ. It is equipped and empowered by Christ to get things done. God calls all believers to work for His church. Not all to be pastors, or teachers, but all to work for Christ.
You have to decide if you believe that…If you do, your prayer becomes Lord, “What do you want me to do”?
There are many good people, many talented people with great potential to serve God. The problem is they never move from potential to productive.
What good is a fruit tree if it never bears fruit?
What good is a car that is stuck in neutral? It sounds good, but it never goes anywhere.
What good is a dream if you never act upon it?
If you expect it to just happen…your dream will die!
God does not expect us to do it alone…What God calls you to, He will equip you to do. (repeat)
The Bible says: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and to the ends of the earth.”
God had a purpose- To equip the church and God’s people to have the power of God working in their lives. We are not alone! Because God has equipped us to do what He has called us to do.
“Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord.” Zechariah. 4:6
A Sunday School teacher had taught the class to recite the Lord’s Prayer by giving each child one small phrase to learn.
At the Sunday School presentation the class was asked to give their recitation. They began beautifully.
“Our Father who art in heaven” said Sarah.
“Hollowed be thy name,” said Rachel.
Everything went perfect one after the other until they got near the end… “For thine is the kingdom” said Billy and then there was a long pause. Finally a little girl spoke up and said, “Uh, the little boy who has the Power is absent today.”
If you take the power of God out…you are left with average people doing average things!
God’s power is for Service- to be a witness to this world. His power is for Service- To walk and operate in the power of the name of Jesus. We all have a part in kingdom work.
They say “Many hands make light work!” That phrased is not found in the Bible, but the principal is taught throughout God’s word.
If we look around we will see that -
People have physical needs.
People have emotional needs.
People have financial needs.
People have spiritual needs.
The purpose of ministry is meeting needs. God’s people making themselves available.
John F. Kennedy once said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” I want to tweak that just a bit and say…
“Ask not what God can do for you, but what you can do for God.” It will change your life forever!
God wants the church to grow- it is what we are to do. He wants to use you to do it.
God wants to meet the needs of people- He wants to use you to do it.
God wants to disciple and train Godly people- He wants to use you to do it.
How do you go from potential to productive?
By making yourself available. By finding where God wants you and get involved. By determining your talents and using them for the glory of God.
How do you discover what your ministry is? How do you figure out where you fit in?
Romans 12:1-8 gives us some answers: Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
1. Ask God what in your life He could use and make yourself available.
2. Make time for God. Purposefully give Him your time.
3. Evaluate your strengths- what do you do that could be used by God? He gave you that strength…use it for Him.
4. Work well with others- one body, many members with many personalities.
The one common denominator is to see God’s kingdom grow, and God’s people be disciple.
It takes all of us!
August 27, 2017
The Steps of a Good Man Psalm 37:23 – 29
In verse 23 we read the words “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord”. (Of course that includes men and women)
If you want God’s leading in your life…than you need to be in motion for Him. It says: “The Steps of a good man…” Notice it says nothing about the “standing still”…but rather the steps.
How about you? Are you making steps in your Christian walk…or are you at a standstill?
Phil 3:12 says: “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. (Paul said, I’m not there yet but I’m pressing forward I’m taking steps in the right direction)
One thing that I’m convinced of…is that I haven’t arrived yet. I haven’t accomplished all that God has for me; And you haven’t either.
The fact that we’re still alive means God has more for us. God is still changing us into what He wants us to be. God is still working in us to accomplish His purpose in our lives! God has more for us!
I’m not WHO I want to be, but I’m on my way! I’m in the process! God’s still working on me! I’m not WHERE I want to be, but I’m on my way!
So…Don’t get use to what I am…because I’m on the move…I’m taking steps…God is still working on me!
Don’t get use to where I am because God has more for me! I’m on my way somewhere! “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord”.
Incidentally…It may sound a little egotistical to call myself a good man, I’m not a good man…apart from the goodness I found when I trusted Jesus Christ as my Savior…If there is any goodness in me…It is because of Him.
If your life is at a standstill…Maybe it’s time to start moving. Maybe you need to say: I’m getting free from the addictions in my life, I’m fully committing to Jesus Christ, I’m losing some weight, I’m finding a job, I’m getting out of debt, My marriage is turning around, My kids are turning around, I’m getting some new friends! I’m breaking free from some bad habits. I’m taking some steps…
Oh to be sure they may be baby steps at first…but they are steps. And even the baby steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord!
If you want to move forward…you can’t look back.
Phil 3:13 says: “…I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.”
Don’t let past successes stop you from straining toward what is ahead. God has more for you but you can’t live in the past. So many people never receive what God has for them today because they get stuck in yesterday!
You can’t live in the past and receive all that God has for you. That is standing still. When we focus on the past victories…we forget to take steps forward. “I remember the good ole days, I wish it was like it used to be, I remember when…”
So Don’t let past successes keep you from moving forward and Don’t let past failures stop you from stepping toward to what is ahead.
Failure can be hard to deal with. So many people are chained to the past. Some of you are chained to a mistake, a failure, a sin. Some of you feel like a loser.
You feel like you can’t move on because of the past. Paul said we need to forget what is behind us and move forward! We might be tempted to think…How can I move forward? I’ve blown it!
Jesus died so that we don’t have to live chained to the past. Jesus forgives and forgets and we need to do the same! We need to forgive ourselves and MOVE FORWARD.
A major part of moving forward is learning from past mistakes. The last thing you want to do is make the same mistake over and over again. You have to learn from past mistakes so that you don’t continue to repeat them!
Henry Ford, said it like this, “Failure is the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently.”
What do I need to do to move forward? You need to learn from the mistake and move forward! Stop looking backwards!!
Defeat is sure to come when you live in the past. No matter how bad you’d like to, you can’t live yesterday over again. Learn from it and move forward. Stop looking backwards!
In Genesis 19 we read the story of the destruction of two towns Sodom and Gomorrah. God sent angels to warn Lot to get his family out. They told them…It’s time to get moving. Get out and don’t look back.
Genesis 19:26 tells us: “But Lot's wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.” I’d call that a permanent standstill!
Lot’s wife never reached her potential because she looked back. She missed out on what God had for her because she was stuck in the past!
So that took place in the very first book of the Bible in the old testament…But then in the New Testament we read this warning in Luke 17:32 “Remember Lot's wife!”
Every time you get ready to look back remember Lot’s wife! Every time you get ready to live in the past, remember Lot’s wife!
Every time yesterday’s successes become bigger than tomorrows dreams, remember Lot’s wife. Every time yesterday’s failures are bigger than tomorrows hopes, remember Lot’s wife. FAITH FACES FORWARD. Faith moves forward not backwards! “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord!”
Okay…so Philippians 3:13 “…But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead” and then verse fourteen continues: “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Paul stayed focused on the goal that God had for him. He said one thing I do, is forgetting what is behind and I’m pressing toward the goal! I’m moving forward toward the goal!
What’s your goal? It’s not good enough to just forget the past, you have to get focused and stay focused on the future that God has for you!
What are you focused on? Stop focusing on the past and start focusing on the future! Start taking steps of faith towards your future!
2 Cor 5:7 says: “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” We’re called to be people of faith! Quit living by what you see and start taking steps of faith towards your future! Faith faces forward. Faith is focused on the future not the past.
One thing I do, forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead…because the steps of a good man (or woman) are ordered by the Lord.
“At the End of the Day.” Psalms 51:7 – 13
Throughout our daily speech we often use a figure of speech we call an “idiom.” Idioms are not usually to be interpreted literally. For example:
• “Kicking the bucket” has nothing to do with a bucket.
• When we say something is “a piece of cake”, we aren’t referring to Duncan Hines or Pilsbury.
• When we say something costs “an arm and a leg” we aren’t trading body parts for material goods.
• Or when we tell someone to “hold their horses”, there are no animals involved.
• And truly when someone has just “bought the farm”, I don’t think we’re talking about a real estate deal.
I think we use idioms more than we realize:
• “Letting the cat out of the bag”.
• “A fish out of water”
• “I’m at the end of my rope.”
And then there is the phrase “At the End of the Day.”
Once again, don’t take the use of these words literally…saying “At the End of the Day” doesn’t mean 11:59 tonight.
We’ve come to use this phrase, “At the End of the Day” to kind of fast-forward to the unmistakable importance of “the ending of the story” so you don’t get sidetracked with the details on how the story was unfolding.
I want to take this idiom “At the End of the Day” and give it a few spiritual applications in our message today. We start in the Book of Genesis” where God created Adam and Eve.
A perfect world, a perfect garden, a perfect relationship. Often a walk in the cool of the evening with the One who created them and loved them.
They had the perfect marriage. No fighting over the remote, no income taxes. Who could ask for anything better? But one evening Genesis 3:8 tells us:
“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden”.
You say, “Why would they do such a thing?” Hide from God? Yes, they did hide and it was because they had disobeyed the one command that God had given them from the start, that they shall not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
They were subsequently expelled from the Garden and left to work the soil by the sweat of their brow. You see, there are always consequences for sin.
Scripture says: Genesis 3:23-24
“So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life”.
“At the End of the Day”, sin had entered mankind, and we’ve all inherited the sin nature from the first Adam and have to live in a damaged and darkened world.
Next we turn our attention to Noah and his family.
Noah, this man of obedience, not only is building this massive ark, but also preaching repentance and salvation to those who would hear. God gave Noah the perfect precise blueprint for the ark and told him of this great coming flood, though it had never rained, not one drop on this earth up till then.
Noah followed God’s instructions “to the letter” and completed the task God had given him. Hebrews 11:7
“By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family…”
You see… “At the End of the Day”, the rains came and the water rose. The boat floated, and Noah and his family were spared.
People had warning, but according to Gen. 6:5 it was at a time when “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of the heart was only evil continually”.
Now let’s look at Moses and the Israelites found in the book of Exodus,
God’s people were enslaved in the land of Egypt and God wanted them out. So He called Moses as his spokesman and as a leader of the Israelites.
It took 10 supernatural plagues to cause Pharaoh to let them go. Then as they made their exit from Egypt, God again saved their lives by parting the waters of the Red Sea.
Through the desert they started with God leading the way with a pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night…and with God’s daily provision of manna to nourish them.
As they approached the Promised Land, they sent ahead twelve spies to scope out their new home address.
Two of the spies came back with favorable reports, but ten, the majority, came back with doubts about whether they’d ever conquer the people in this new land.
They claimed that the giants were too much to handle in their own strength and…they would have been right…but they forgot that God was there with them.
And in listening to these ten nay-sayers, instead of God, they found themselves wandering through the wilderness for 40 years.
So…“At the End of the Day”, A whole generation was sidetracked in the wilderness because of disobedience and because they were trusting in man rather than God.
Now let’s quickly consider King David. As a shepherd boy, he slew Goliath.
Later he led many armies into battle and followed every instruction and every command of the Lord. Success followed him wherever he went.
He was a man after God’s own heart. He had compassion; he had the love of God, and he had mercy and understanding residing in his heart for his fellow men and women.
But one day a series of sins began --- it started with his look upon Bathsheba bathing on the rooftop one night. Are you inclined to say he was just at in the wrong place at the wrong time?
Maybe, but that was no excuse for what he did. Then came the entrapments of lying, murder, and the cover-up.
But “At the End of the Day”, he came to his senses and confessed, and repented, and accepted the consequences.
And in the finality of it all, he was restored to a right relationship with His heavenly Father. Why, because he recognized his sin and understood that it would not go away on its own. So he prayed and confessed it in Psalm 51…which says:
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.
Yes, “At the End of the Day” , for David and for us too, any sinful act or evil thought can be cleansed and blotted out if we come to the right place with the right heart and ask forgiveness from the only One is truly “Right.”
Which leads me to my final example…”You”. Are you still trying to decide if you want to belong to the world or to God? I’m not asking you if you’re male or female, young or old, Republican or Democrat?
I’m asking you if you are saved or lost? Those are the only two choices.
Are you a child of God and have you been forgiven of your sins? For there is an “End of the Day” coming our way.
God has placed His gift of salvation on the table in front of you, pre-purchased by the blood of His Son Jesus. And He asks You if you’ll accept it.
Because, if you do…from that moment on, your citizenship will be irrevocably recorded in the census books of Heaven.
One more thing before I close…God never wrestles anyone into the mansions on Heaven. You can’t earn your way there. No one can pray you in and you can’t sneak in the back door. Ephesians 2 says:
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast”.
You see, as you sit here and ponder all the struggles you have this day, this week, and this year.
As you see the turmoil this country is going through…know that there is a day when Jesus will return and God Himself will make all things right.
The question I want you to consider this morning is, “At the End of the Day”, where are you going to be watching all this from?
The decision is yours and the decision is now.
Romans 10:13 For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved."
August 13, 2017
Heads or Tails Romans 7:18-25
It seems to me that at times we seem to believe our behavior as Christians is a game of chance…Heads or Tails. Heads we will behave ourselves… and tails…the devil comes out in us!
Has anyone ever said to you: “You’re an angel”? Each one of us has the capability of displaying a spirit of generosity, kindness and goodness that makes us appear almost angelic.
There are moments when we would climb the highest mountain, cross the deepest river and go to the ends of the earth to help someone.
Then there are other moments when we are hateful, hostile and greedy. There are moments when it is hard to find anything good in us; when we look like, sound like, and act like devils.
We are the same person, but in each of us are those 2 diverse natures… Heads or tails.
In the "Dairy of Anne Frank," she writes: "The problem with me is, I am two different people."
Robert Louis Stevenson wrote "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," and in it we see the battle between good and evil in our lives.
But long before that novel was ever written, the Apostle Paul wrote about that same inward conflict in Romans 7:18-19, "I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do this I keep on doing."
Then in verse 24 he cries out, "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?"
You may remember that in the book Jekyll was a doctor, a scientist who was concerned about what caused seemingly good, normal people to have sudden bursts of terrible anger, uncontrollable rage, and to be capable of the worst types of depravity.
Dr. Jekyll believed that there were two different natures - one good and one evil constantly battling each other - in everyone. And with that I agree.
In addition to that, he was sure that, as a doctor, he could develop a formula that could separate out that bad nature and control it.
Experimenting on himself, he succeeded in developing a formula that, when he drank it, would cause his evil nature to appear. Then when he drank it again, the evil nature would disappear.
Dr. Jekyll felt that he had done a wonderful thing until one day he realized that his evil nature was becoming more and more powerful and more evil every day. No longer did the formula control it. Now this evil nature was appearing whenever it wished, and Dr. Jekyll was powerless to stop it.
Now if the apostle Paul is right, and there are the two natures, good and evil, battling within us, the crucial question is, "Which one is in control of our life? Which nature makes the decisions…the angelic or the devilish?"
So here is the problem we face. Almost everything we see with our eyes, hear with our ears, and experience with our senses feeds the evil in us. The world is all geared up to feed the bad side of us, and to place it in control of our life.
Almost every commercial on TV is designed to excite our materialistic instincts, to teach us that it is all right to be greedy and self-centered. Movies and TV programs appeal to the sensual and immoral desires that we have in life.
Why? Because our culture has feasted so long on that kind of junk that it is not satisfied unless it is getting more and more. And the world tells us, "That's the way everybody lives."
And the devil nature in us says, "Yeah, this is the way everybody lives. This is what everybody does. This is the way everybody talks today, and we're going to be just like everybody else."
It is so easy to allow the devil to take over part of us because that is what the world keeps feeding. Therefore it gains more and more power, and more and more influence over our lives.
But that doesn't have to be the case, and that is why I like to read about Jesus calling the disciples to follow Him. Do you remember? The first ones He called were fishermen, Peter, Andrew, James and John.
Luke 5:10 says that Jesus told Peter, "Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men." And verse 11 says, "So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed Him."
How about Matthew, the tax collector? Do you realize that being a tax-collector meant that Matthew had sold out to the Romans conquerors, and his own people considered him a traitor?
It meant that Matthew had bought his job from the Romans, and now was in a position to oppress his own people. The more money he collected, the more money he could put into his own pocket. And most tax collectors were out to get all that they could get.
It could be from a friend or a relative or a neighbor, it didn't matter. They all considered tax collectors the scum of the earth. They hated him. Nobody liked the tax collector, except maybe other tax collectors.
Probably even Matthew didn't like Matthew. He didn't like the way people treated him.
Matthew may have wanted to change, but the world keeps saying, "You can't change. You are who you are." That is the way of the world, and that's how the devil keeps control of our life.
But when Jesus saw Matthew, He saw something that the world didn't see. Now, I'm not trying to tell you that Jesus looked through rose colored glasses. He saw what was on the outside, but He also saw what was on the inside.
To the woman at the well He said, "The man you are living with is not your husband." He didn't compromise. He didn't try to overlook sin. It was there, and He called it what it was. But at the same time, He saw qualities that others missed.
He saw in Matthew not just a tax collector, but an apostle. He saw in Matthew one who could write a gospel that would influence millions of people down through the ages.
So he said to Matthew, "Follow Me." And for the first time, Matthew started to see himself in a different light. Matthew started to realize that there were capabilities in him that the whole world had missed, and that he had even missed himself. But Jesus saw them and said. "Come, follow me."
Saul was on the road to Damascus with authority to arrest and bring back to Jerusalem any followers of Jesus that he could find to stand trial for their faith.
But Jesus saw in him a champion, to be known as the apostle Paul, who would spend the rest of his life earnestly proclaiming Jesus as his Savior and Lord. Yes, this is the same Paul who cried out, "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?"
But he is also the one who later wrote in Romans 8 "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Jesus said to all of them, "Follow Me," and they followed, no questions asked. They didn't ask about the road that they would travel. The only thing they cared about was that Jesus was leading.
Is the road rough? Yes! Will there be disappointments along the way? Yes! Are there problems to be solved? Sure! But the point is, Jesus has called us to follow Him.
And as long as He is leading, and we're following, then that is all that is really necessary. If Jesus is leading, it doesn't matter what kind of terrain we're traveling.
Our highly competitive world seems always to be saying that the only thing that counts is if you are number one, if you can beat everybody else. But I wonder if that is really a picture of what God wants us to be?
Today…God sees you…He sees what’s inside of you. He sees something that the world doesn't see…that perhaps you don’t see. He sees your struggles and he cares.
There are two paths to take…who are you going to follow? Jesus says: “Follow Me”.
August 6, 2017
What Goes Up Must Come Down Acts 1:6 – 11
Sir Isaac Newton, was a famous mathematician, astronomer, and physicist. One of his claims to fame is his work and study on gravity that produced the famous saying: “What goes up, must come down.”
As we look at our Scripture reading today, we see that this observation is true.
Before Jesus ascended back into Heaven, He appeared to His disciples and others over a period of 40 days speaking about the Kingdom of God.
1.Jesus appeared to the women at the tomb. 2. He appeared to two disciples on their way to Emmaus. 3. He showed Himself to the Apostles in a locked room, 4. and then again a week later Paul tells us that Jesus appeared to 500 believers at once.
The disciples and other believers were witnesses of Christ’s ministry, His death, His resurrection, and now they are witnesses to these appearances of the risen Christ. They heard and saw the Risen Lord!
At the end of these 40 days, Jesus and His disciples were gathered on the Mount of Olives. As they are together, the disciples asked Him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
Jesus answers their question with some vagueness…He says, “It is not for you to know times or season that the Father has fixed by His own authority.”
Basically…Jesus tells them it is none of their business to know when He will return. They are not to worry about it!
Back in 2011a Pastor put up a billboard with the date of the return of Christ. The man was convinced that he knew the date and wanted to tell the world.
I think it is pretty obvious how accurate his prediction was. He should have focused on something else.
In our scripture reading Jesus tells the disciples what they should focus on. He tells them, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Jesus has the disciples focus on the task at hand. He says that they are to be His witnesses. Witnesses tell what they have seen and what they have heard.
They have the seen the life and ministry of the Lord. They have seen His sacrificial death and glorious resurrection. They are to go and tell the world about this.
The disciples are to tell this message in Jerusalem, the Jewish capital. Then they are to go to Judea, which is in Southern Palestine and outside of Jerusalem. Then they are to move up north to the Semi-Jewish Samaria, and then to the unbelieving world!
You see a nice progression of geography and ethnicity, as they move from place to place. It is like throwing a rock in the Mississippi River on a calm day. When the rock hits the water, the impact ripples across the river and spreads. This is like the Gospel message going out into the world.
After Jesus finishes speaking to His disciples, He is taken from them and their sight. He is going up. Jesus enters a cloud, which is a symbol of God’s presence in the Old Testament, and He is officially gone from their sight.
Jesus has gone to take His place at the Father’s right hand, which is a position of power. Paul explains the significance of this and the ascension in Ephesians 1:18-22. He writes,
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church…”
The ascension is no small thing…It’s not a footnote in the life of Jesus. In His ascension, Our Lord has been seated above everything, everyone, and every power.
We do not need to fear those things, or anything, for He has power over all things and is in control.
All of this is done for the benefit of His Church…That means us. As the One Who rules over all things, He does what is best for the Church and for Christians.
Luke tells us that Jesus has gone up, and He has gone up to the Father and is seated at the right hand.
Remember Newton’s saying “What goes up, must come down.”
We see that this is the message of the angels. The angels come to the gazing disciples. Angels have come at important events in the life of Jesus.
They were there at His birth, They were there after His temptation, They were in the garden of Gethsemane, They were there at the tomb on Easter morning, and they were present at Christ’s ascension.
The disciples have their eyes fixed in the sky and a couple of angels appear and say to the disciples, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw Him go into heaven.”
What goes up must come down.
Jesus will come back in power, glory, and majesty, but we don’t know when that will be. So what are we to do in the meantime as we wait for our Lord’s Second Coming? What did the disciples do?
The disciples listened to the Lord and waited until Pentecost. Once the Holy Spirit fell upon them, they were His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth.
As His forgiven and redeemed people who have been given the Holy Spirit, we have the same calling and task. We too are to witness about the grace that has been given to us, the love that has been lavished on us, and the hope that has been handed to us.
When we are given good and exciting news in our lives, what do we do? What do we when we become grandparents, get a new job, buy a house or a new car? We tell people right? We cannot keep that good or exciting news to ourselves.
The news that God forgives us through Jesus Christ is the greatest news that we have ever been given. Can we really keep such a great joy and message inside? No! We can’t help but tell others through our lives and words..
And since He has gone up, He is going to come back down…and for Christians, His return is a good thing! It means that we are going home!
That death and the devil are defeated. We will enjoy a new heaven and new earth with new bodies! There will be no sadness, sickness, or sin! And through faith in our Savior, we are ready and safe for His Second Coming.
What goes up must come down.
July 30, 2017
God Saw That It Was Good Genesis 1
I heard about a scientist who came to God and said, “I've figured out how to make a man without you.” God said, “OK, let me see you do it.” So the scientist bent down and scooped up a handful of dirt. God stopped him and said, “Oh, no you don't. Get your own dirt!”
Genesis 1 is one of the most beautiful sections of scripture…And its intent is clear: to show that God alone is the creator of all.
Today, I would ask that you simply trust that God has this passage here for a reason. I think sometimes we are intimidated to try to figure out the Bible for ourselves because we hear about the deeper meaning of things…but the best way to approach the Bible is to look for the simple, yet vital messages it has for us. First:
1. God brings order out of chaos.
In the creation account, all you see at first is God’s Spirit hovering over the mess of creation, a chaotic mess. Nothing can live there. It’s not good. But God is not done.
As God speaks each element of creation into being, he does so in a very purposeful way. God designs a planet upon which humans can not only survive but thrive. God creates food for the humans. God creates a livable habitat. God brings order out of the chaos.
Now if God can do that with creation, I wonder if he can bring order out of the chaos in my little corner of the world? Or yours!
Everybody’s life seems to fall apart at some time or another: sickness, disease, people that are hard to get along with, pesky neighbors, financial strain, problems at work, problems with the car…and certainly getting older brings its challenges.
Can God speak order into our chaos? Yes! God the creator of the universe can create good out of our bad, if we let him.
In Romans 8:28 the Bible gives us an incredible promise…It says:, “In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Most of you know Pastor Mark Harris from Aledo has stage 4 thyroid cancer. In one of his recent blogs he writes:
“…we understand the reality of this situation. Medically speaking, “palliative care” speaks for itself. And so, we have been approaching things with a strong sense of reality…
But we are also very hopeful people. And for us, it’s not a “pie in the sky in the great by and by” kind of hopeful. It is a very genuine hope, rooted squarely and firmly in our faith. Do the doctors think I will survive this? Quite frankly- no. Can God perform a miracle and heal me? Absolutely. Do we pray for that? You bet. Will it happen? Only God knows…
There’s a lot we don’t know. But what we DO know is that…we serve a God Who loves us more than we can fathom. And frankly, none of us is promised tomorrow.
So, we are committed to living every day with intention. Embrace the moment. Plan ahead, to be sure, but don’t get so caught up in the “maybes” and “what ifs” of tomorrow that we miss the wonder, beauty and joy of today. We continue to walk by faith and not by sight. We continue to claim, openly and unabashedly, that God is good, all the time!
Basically Pastor Mark is saying “I’m ready either way.” In other words…He found order in the midst of his chaos. That’s one thing God does, and secondly,
2. God creates good.
Notice how many times in this beautiful creation account, God assesses things and says, “And it was good.” God created it ... and it was good. And at the end of all his creative work, including the first humans, he pronounces, “And it was very good!” As the saying goes, “God don’t make no junk.”
God made it all good, and that includes you and me and this world in which we live. In fact every single person you will ever meet is made in the image of God. God made everything and everyone good.
Sadly some choose not to stay good.
In the first chapter of the book of Romans, Paul writes about how the creation has fallen. Yet, one day God will make a new heaven and a new earth, and he will make it all good again, with no more sin to ruin things.
Until then, our role is to do our best in this great world God has given us. Why? Because God made it all good.
Christians should be quick to forgive, quick to help, quick to make peace… Because God made it all good. God brings order out of chaos. God creates all good, and lastly,
3. God has our best in mind.
Pastor Duane Miller recently wrote a book called: “God Used My Tragedy,” In it he tells about three of his friends who died in a tragic drowning during his teen years when he was on a canoe trip in Canada’s Algonquin Provincial Park,
Many years later, Miller took a group of his own church teens there, canoeing and camping. He showed them the exact spot of the accident and shared how the Lord had helped him grieve and work through his guilt at having survived.
That night, around the campfire, the teens reflected on the week and all that God was doing in their lives. Afterwards Miller and a few others headed down to the lake.
He writes, “We stood in silence looking out over the water at one of the most spectacular sights I have ever seen. There was no moon, no clouds, and absolutely no breeze. I felt like I was standing on the edge of space gazing out at the universe. The water, smooth as glass, perfectly reflected the stars.”
He quietly slipped into a canoe and drifted onto the water. He said, “I felt like I was floating in outer space. Everywhere I looked I saw stars. As I attempted to take all this in, the peace of God’s presence filled my heart, and I became overwhelmed by the realization that the God who simply spoke words to create all of this truly loves me.
Here I am, a tiny speck of dust on Earth in the expanse of all of creation, yet God knows me personally and is active in my life. God loves me so much that He allowed His Son, Jesus, to die for my sins so my relationship with Him could be restored.
All I had to do was reach out in faith and receive the gift of eternal life.”
This is the God of creation, who made it all, made it for our good, and wants the very best for us, a relationship with himself.
July 23, 2017
Rest for the Stressed Matthew 11:25-30
This past week has been a wonderful week and a challenging week. I thoroughly enjoyed Vacation Bible School…But today my knees hurt and my back hurts…and so I might just be preaching to myself…But please feel free to listen in as I speak on the subject “rest for the stressed.”
When Jesus spoke the words we just read together…I think he was primarily speaking of religious stress. People were getting stressed out trying to follow God. The Jewish religious leaders had come up with so many cumbersome regulations on what a good follower of God should do, that people felt overwhelmed and stressed to the max.
There was no sense of closeness or intimacy with God; just an overwhelming imposition of “must.” “You must do this, you must do that.”
Then Jesus came on the scene. And in today’s passage He gives three simple instructions to find rest for the stressed. If you ever find yourself weary, worn out, even with religious activity, then you need to do these three simple things. First,
1. Come to Jesus.
Jesus says, “If you need rest, come to me.” He is our rest. Notice the invitation is to a person, not a program. He doesn’t say, “If you need rest, go to church more; or read your Bible more; or pray more; or give more in the offering.”
No, He doesn’t invite more religious activity. That was the problem of His day. The religious leaders were imposing more and more religious standards on the people; they simplified the Ten Commandments down to only 613 laws!
In Matthew 23:4, Jesus described these leaders as He said, “They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.”
And Jesus said, “Enough! Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Where is your life out of control? What kind of stress is running rampant with you? It could be religious stress, it could be family or other relational stress, it could be stress over your health or financial stress.
First and most importantly, come to Jesus. Bring it to Jesus. Give it to Jesus.
Secondly…Jesus invites us to ...
2. Take His yoke. A yoke is a wooden frame that joins together two animals, usually oxen, who work in tandem to pull the plow through the fields.
In Jesus’ time, people also used the word “yoke” metaphorically, to describe how one might be subject to another. For instance, rabbis talked about yoking themselves to God’s Law instead of to worldly cares.
But Jesus invites us to be yoked with ... Himself!
Christian discipleship is about being in relationship with Jesus. We come to Him, and we allow ourselves to be bound to Him. And in Him we find our rest, because as Jesus himself points out, He is “gentle and humble in heart.” Jesus will lead us gently as we bind our lives to Him.
Both the Old and the New Testaments speak of bringing our burdens to God. Psalm 55:22 says, “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you.” And 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
Listen to that verse in the Amplified Version: “Cast all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully].”
As we yoke ourselves to Jesus, we bring Him the good, the bad, and the ugly, all of it, and leave it with Him, and He gives us His peace.
A man once observed a farmer with his team of oxen plowing the field. The man noticed that one of the animals seemed a lot bigger than the other, so he asked the farmer about it.
The farmer replied, “That older ox is the best ox I’ve I ever had; he knows his way around the field. The reason I put the younger one with him is so the older, more knowledgeable ox could teach him how to plow.
If I never put them together the younger one would never learn…but together he learns to cooperate with and rest in the strength of the older ox.”
And so it is with us. We come to Jesus, we take His yoke, and as we bind ourselves to Jesus, we do what this younger ox did. We...
3. Learn from Jesus. The way of discipleship is to follow the Master, to become His apprentice. Jesus is the Master and we are the servant. As He said to his first disciples, “Follow me,” He says to us as well.
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ”. Paul could say that, because he had yoked himself to Christ Jesus.
What about us? As we come to Jesus, as we yoke ourselves to Him, what can we learn? The short answer: everything!
The Christian life is about relationship. It’s not about a bunch of rules. That was the problem in Jesus’ day: too many rules.
But on the other hand, the Christian life also is not about reckless lawlessness. Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17).
The Christian life is about binding ourselves to a person, the God-man, Jesus our Savior, who will help us to do God’s will.
As complicated as life may become, discipleship at heart simply means walking with Jesus in the real world and having Him teach us moment by moment how to live life His way.
Charles Stanley said, “When we surrender the circumstances of our lives to Him, He lifts us up and infuses our hearts with fresh hope and wisdom. Some situations are just too difficult for us to handle, but nothing is too great for Him. He promises to refresh our weary souls when we cry out to Him.”
A relationship with Jesus is the answer to our stress. Following Jesus brings rest for the stressed. Submit your calendar to Him. Give Him your goals, your aspirations, your relationships, your health. Find your life in Him.
I’ll close with a poem written almost 3,000 years ago, but still relevant today. You’ll find it in Isaiah 40:28-31:
28 Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Three steps to achieve that Come to Jesus, Take His yoke and learn from Him.
July 9, 2017
Phobos Matthew 10:26 – 31
There are many times in the Bible where God says, ‘Don’t be afraid.’ Do you know how many times God says, ‘Don’t be afraid?’
…God says, ‘Don’t be afraid’ every time you are afraid.” When you are knocked to your face in fear Jesus reaches down and says, “Don’t be afraid, it’s going to okay”.
What is it that you’re afraid of today? God has a message of reassurance and hope for you. He’s telling you that you don’t have to be afraid.
In the verses we just read…Jesus gives us three powerful reasons why you can say, “I am not afraid.”
(1) I’M NOT AFRAID, BECAUSE THE WORST THING THAT CAN HAPPEN IN THIS LIFE IS THE DEATH OF MY BODY—AND I AM AN ETERNAL SOUL!
Earlier in Matthew 10, Jesus sent out His disciples with the warning that they were going out like sheep among wolves, and there would be enemies who would arrest them and even kill them.
But then He said, “Don’t be afraid of those who kill the body.”
Fear can be can a debilitating force in your life. The Greek word for fear is “phobos” and there are at least 254 recognized forms of phobia.
According to Psychology Today, the five most common fears among Americans are (1) Arachnophobia (fear of spiders): (2) Glossophobia (fear of speaking in public); (3) Aerophobia (fear of flying); (4) Claustrophobia (fear of confined spaces); and (5) Acrophobia (fear of heights).
Jesus told the disciples not to be afraid…even though they faced the threat of death.
Look at our most common fears. The common thread is the fear of death. We’re afraid of spiders because we’ve heard of people being bitten by a poisonous spider and dying. We aren’t really afraid of flying, we’re afraid of crashing. We aren’t really afraid of close spaces, but of suffocating.
The only one of the top five phobias that doesn’t threaten you physically is public speaking—and some people would rather die than give a speech!
Jesus says we don’t have to fear those who can kill the body.
With the continuation of terrorist attacks on Americans, most of us live with a nagging fear that there will be another attack sometime in the near future.
We’ve told our kids there are no monsters under the bed—only to see again there are monsters that kill innocent civilians and think their god will reward them for it.
Jesus is saying, “Don’t be afraid—the worst they can do is kill the body.”
There are hundreds of verses in God’s Word encouraging us not be afraid. One of my favorites is found in Psalm 27 verses 1 & 2. “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?”
Jesus is reassuring us today that we don’t have to fear death because the worst thing that can ever happen in this life is the death of our body, and we are more than just a body: We are a soul.
C.S. Lewis wrote: “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.”
Physical death cannot destroy our soul, because our soul will live on long after the stars have burned out and the universe has faded away.
(2) I’M NOT AFRAID, BECAUSE IF GOD CARES ENOUGH TO NUMBER MY HAIRS, HE CARES ABOUT THE OTHER DETAILS OF MY LIFE!
We all know that God loves the world—collectively. But have you ever stopped to realize that the same God who put the stars in place loves you personally?
He cares so much for you that Jesus said He numbers the hairs on your head.
Now I want to ask a question “How many hairs does the average person have on their head?” Do you even have a guess? Well, someone counted.
If you are blonde (a real blonde…Not a Miss Clarol Blond) you have around 145,000 hairs;
If you have black or brown hair you have about 120,000 hairs and if you’re a redhead you only have 90,000.
And God knows how many hairs are on your head.
Our Heavenly Father, in His unlimited omniscience, can look through this crowd and say, “94,894” without counting or “114,925” without counting.
I also read that the average person loses 100 hairs a day…At least I’m above average in something!
The point is…if God can number something as trivial as my hairs, then He is smart enough to know everything else about me as well. He not only KNOWS but He cares. The Bible says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)
Why do we sometimes think there are things too trivial to bring to the Lord in prayer? We make a big mistake if we think there is anything too small or insignificant to bring to the Lord. If He cares about your hair, He cares about EVERYTHING in your life.
The Psalmist declares: “Oh Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar...How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! (Psalm 139)
The fact is… God knows you better than you know yourself!
(3) I’M NOT AFRAID, BECAUSE IF GOD CARES ABOUT A SPARROW WHO FALLS, HE WON’T STOP LOVING ME WHEN I FAIL!
Sparrows are some of the most plentiful, common birds in the world. Where you find people, you’ll find sparrows. They only live in populated areas because they are scavengers of leftovers. Sparrows hop up to you at the outdoor restaurant and wait for crumbs.
They aren’t known for their beautiful colors or for their sweet songs. Jesus said two sparrows sell for a penny.
They were cheap and common. It would make more sense to us if Jesus had said: “God knows when every eagle falls”, because eagles are such majestic birds…But Jesus was making a point that God cares for the most common, unnoticed birds.
Naturalists tell us that there are approximately 35,000 bald eagles in the U.S. and Canada. But who cares enough to count the sparrows? God does.
Notice Jesus didn’t say, God knows when a sparrow flies, He said God notices when a sparrow falls. That means when it dies. And Jesus didn’t say that God prevents sparrows from falling to the earth. He simply knows about it and cares.
The truth is sometimes we fail and fall, and we think we have disappointed God and that He no longer cares for us. But God knows when you fall, and He still loves you.
The Bible says, “The Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.” (Psalm 37:23-24)
Spiritually speaking, we’re all like toddlers learning to walk. We’re going to stumble and fall, but He has promised to uphold us with His hand. When we stumble He grips us even stronger and that’s when we need to grip His hand even tighter.
The God of the Bible isn’t some sinister tyrant who is watching over you just waiting for you to make a mistake so He can punish you. He is a loving Father who wants the very best for you.
You don’t have to be afraid, because God has promised He will NEVER leave you…nor forsake you.
He watches over every sparrow that falls, so you can be certain He is watching over you!
July 2, 2017
Anniversary Sunday Nehemiah 2:11-18
A couple of weeks ago Marla celebrated her 25th anniversary as Executive Director of the Mercer County Family Crisis Center.
Today I celebrate my 27th anniversary as pastor of the First Christian Church of Keithsburg.
In just a few days our nation will celebrate 241 years of freedom and on July 9th Marla and I will celebrate our 34th year of marriage.
A week later Ron and Pam will celebrate their 50th anniversary and a week after that Bob and Shirley will celebrate their first anniversary. A lot of celebrating going on!
Having served here as your pastor for the past 27 years I thought it would be a good idea to visit the past…as we look toward the future.
Today I want to look at what God has done, is doing, and will continue to do through us as a congregation and Pastor.
Have you ever noticed that Presidents look a lot older at the end of 4 years than they did when they were elected? I wonder does the same thing happens to a pastor?
A comedian was asked, what he would like people to say about him in 100 years and he replied, “I’d like them to say, “He still looks pretty good for his age.”
As we look back over the past 27 years of ministry, that together we have done in this community, I hope the community can still say, “we still look pretty good for our age.”
In our Bible reading this morning, Nehemiah arrived on the scene in Jerusalem over 80 years after it had been destroyed. The walls of the city were still torn down, and it looked pretty depressing.
But God was stirring in Nehemiah’s heart to do something, but he knew he needed the help of the people to make it happen.
When he shared a vision of what could be…the people responded “Let us start rebuilding.” The scriptures then state: “So they began this good work.”
Looking back to the year 1993, Three years after we arrived here, our church was making a major decision concerning its future. Would we fold as a church or would we open our hearts and minds to a new move of the Spirit of God?
Our building had been rendered unusable by the flood waters…We knew that change was going to have to happen. We knew that our journey would not always be easy. We knew that we would have to give up who we had been, in order to become what God wanted us to be.
I shared a vision of what could be…you the people responded “Let us start rebuilding.” … “So we began this good work.”
As a consequence, together we can look back and see how the hand of God has moved over the past 27 years.
God placed each of you in this church at different points along the journey with the gifts, talents, abilities and resources that we were going to need as a congregation to make a difference in moving our church forward.
God gave us different abilities according to God’s plan for each one of our lives. Each of us was given a role to play regardless of our age, our education, our profession, or our economic standing.
Together we decided to believe that God wanted to do a work in and through us.
If you look around today you will see a lot of wonderful people who have served so faithfully down through the years. But we also would have to look up to see some of them…because many of the great saints that served with us so well are now surrounding us in heaven.
We read in Hebrews 12:1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, 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.”
Together we have tried to make a difference in the lives of others. One thing about this church is that we are willing to meet you where you are, and give you chance after chance to get back on track. You can leave us for whatever reason and come back weeks, months or even years later and discover we still want to love you…because Jesus still loves you.
Together we have provided ministries to help us grow in the knowledge of who God is…and what God wants to do…in and through us.
The goal has been to learn how to love God, how to love each other, and how to serve the purposes of the kingdom of God.
Together in the past 27 years, we have learned it’s not about us as a church. It’s all about Jesus and the kingdom of God.
Together we, through the power of the Holy Spirit, have been able to do some incredible ministry in touching the lives of people.
In the process, we have found ourselves being touched back by the power of God…and God has blessed us in ways we could not have imagined. Even in the midst of our severe trials, God has been there for us.
Together we have seen what God can do with a group of people who are willing to say yes to the will of God for their lives.
Christal Williams said that when she came into our church, she realized there was something different taking place here. We believe that difference has been the love we have shared as a community of believers that is firmly rooted in a relationship with Jesus Christ.
I believe God has anointed us and empowered us to receive anybody who comes through our doors and make them our equal.
Together we should simply thank God for the gift of one another, for the presence of the Holy Spirit, and for the privilege of being a part of a wonderful congregation that meets in a building called the First Christian Church of Keithsburg.
Numbers 6:3 (KJV)
He shall separate [himself] from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried.
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