September 25, 2016
I Am With You Always - Matthew 28:16 - 20
Recently I was reading the passage of scripture that we just read together, known as the Great Commission I'm sure I have preached on it many times in my 26 years here. But
In light of last week's sermon about praying for God to lead us where He wants us to go as individuals and as a congregation I think that perhaps we should consider the words, go and make disciples of all nations as a challenge to do more outreach starting right here in our own community.
Don't get alarmed I'm not going to ask you to do anything yet. Perhaps next year when I'm no longer treasurer it will come together so that gives us several months to plan and pray about it.
What I want us to look at this morning is the very last line of the Great Commission which says: And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
I am certain that every one of us knows what it's like to go through difficult times. Where and to whom should we look for comfort and encouragement in dealing with these difficult times?
The answer is found in the promises of Jesus Christ Himself They will sustain us in the midst of any trial. They reveal truths upon which we can build our lives in both good times and bad. Today I would like for us to look at the most frequently stated promise in all of the Bible THE CHRISTIAN'S GREATEST COMFORT: And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
Jesus made this promise to us just before He ascended into heaven. It is a promise that restates a truth confirmed time and time again to Christian after Christian throughout the Bible I am with you always.
We are not alone in this world! God is not some distant, impersonal force somewhere out there in the universe. Not at all! He is present. He is powerful. He is interested. He cares when you hurt He will make His presence known and felt!
This was a message that Jesus' disciples needed to hear and which we need to hear even though we cannot see Him we know He is with us always.
Throughout His earthly ministry as He trained His twelve disciples Jesus was there for them whenever they needed Him. When the waves began to fill the boat while crossing the Sea of Galilee, they were able to reach out and touch Him in order to ask Him to save them from the storm.
When their minds were filled with questions and fears, they could sit back and listen as Jesus explained to them the truths of God.
When Jesus' work on earth was finished He returned to Heaven but before He left Jesus made the promise: I am with you always to reassure His follower then and now that He has not abandoned us to the forces of this dark world. No, He Himself is present with us, as He promised!
The Bible assures us that Jesus is God, one with the Father (John 10:30). There are many in our world who reject that truth. They view Him as merely a prophet of God, as a fine teacher of morals, or as one of many outstanding ethical leaders produced by this world. But, this is not who Jesus is!
Jesus is the "I am" God, In John 8:58 Jesus says of Himself: "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM".
This name for our God takes us back to Moses and the deliverance of Israel from Egypt when God called Moses to go back to Egypt and lead His people out of slavery, Moses asked God, Who should I say sent me in case the children of Israel should ask. God told Moses, "You shall say to the children of Israel, ˜I AM' has sent me to you'" (Exodus 3:14).
What is its significance? It is really twofold. First of all, if Jesus is "I AM" He will never be an "I was!" Jesus is not a "has been"”All powerful at one point in time but now feeble and unable to provide assistance.
No, Jesus is eternal”"the same yesterday, today, and forever" as the writer to the Hebrews states in Hebrews 13:8
Secondly, He is a personal God who knows, loves, and cares for us. He is not a remote force out there in the universe, but rather our God who can sympathize with our weaknesses and can provide appropriate and needed help when asked!
Consequently, let us recognize that our greatest comfort can be Jesus' promise "I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS," for Jesus is the one, true "I AM" God!
It can be our greatest comfort because "always" means "to the end of the age!"
This coming week I will be on WRMJ with The Thought for the Day
in tomorrow's Thought for the Day I will be talking about how
We live in a disposable age”disposable bottles, disposable bags, disposable diapers, disposable almost anything including relationship in the minds of many. We don't think of things lasting too long.
That makes it difficult to comprehend the wonderful nature of our Savior's commi'ent to us But Jesus' commi'ent to us is not disposable it was meant to last and it will! Jesus Himself will walk with us each day, of each year of each century, of each millennium, that He sustains us on this earth!
What a comforting thought this is, because we face so many difficulties in this world! Think of what it meant to Moses as he led the children of Israel through the many difficult situations and times in the wilderness to know that His Savior God was with Him at all times.
When faced with shortages of food and water; when faced with enemy armies; when faced with the grumbling and complaining of his own people, Moses was able simply to turn to God in prayer and talk to Him, the Bible says, "as a man speaks to his friend" (Exodus 33:11).
Think of what this truth meant to someone like Paul who at one point spent two years in prison in Rome awaiting trial. Instead of sinking into despair, we find Paul sharing the gospel with the guards who watched him. He wrote to the Philippians and told them that "the whole palace guard" had heard the gospel, and that they should join him and "rejoice in the Lord always" (Philippians 4:4).
Even so today, as we face many challenges, heartaches, and fears, as well as blessings, we can do so with confidence knowing that our Savior is with us at all times and in all places. We can rest assured that He will remain with us not just for a limited time, but for all time until the great day that we are either called into His presence through death, or when He Himself returns to earth on the last day.
May we find comfort as our Savior Jesus assures us, "I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS!"
September 18, 2016
Praying Like Antioch Acts 13:1 - 5
A five year old said grace at family dinner one night. "Dear God, thank you for these pancakes."
When he finished his prayer, his parents looked curiously at him and asked him why he thanked God for pancakes when they were having chicken.
He smiled and said, "I thought I'd see if He was paying attention tonight."
There are many prayers recorded in Scripture. From Moses to David to Jehoshaphat to Daniel - we're exposed to powerful, earth shaking prayers, and prayers that show us that God DOES pay attention.
But here, in Acts 13, we have a unique situation. We have several leaders fasting and praying and worshipping God, and they have unquestionably gotten God's attention.
But, look closely at Acts 13:1-3. What did these men pray? .It doesn't tell us what they said, does it? All we're told is - that in response to their prayer - the Holy Spirit told them to set aside Barnabas and Paul to set out on an adventure “ an adventure that would change the face of the world forever.
We don't know what they prayed, but they got God's attention I want to pray like that.
But we're not told what they prayed. The only thing we're told about their prayer was: they fasted when they prayed. Usually people fasted for one of several reasons:
People fasted when they were repenting of their sin or the sin of their nation.
People fasted when they sought protection from forces they couldn't contend with.
BUT MOST OFTEN people fasted when they were seeking insight.
Now, Antioch was a relatively new congregation, but it had experienced enormous growth. When the leaders at Jerusalem heard of this situation, they sent Barnabas and Paul to the church to teach these new converts about Christianity.
For a whole year, Paul and Barnabas taught a great number of people. AND they were so successful that they made a name for the church in the area. Acts 11:26 tells us believers were called Christians first at Antioch.
So “ Antioch is a growing church with powerful teachers and all kinds of potential. What could they be fasting and praying about?
I believe that the leaders at Antioch felt uncomfortable about something. Granted “ they were a dynamic church. They had marvelous leaders and great potential.
But I think they were beginning to suspect there was something more something bigger that they could accomplish. But they just didn't know what it was.
That's how I feel here in Keithsburg like the leaders at Antioch “ I'm beginning to think that there might be something bigger on the horizon for us.
I believe that part of the reason we're not told what Antioch's leaders prayed is because they had no idea what God had in mind. They just KNEW there was something else that God wanted them to do something else they weren't involved with yet.
But when this church prayed and fasted, when they opened themselves up to being used by God anyway He desired, God responded in a BIG WAY.
Did you realize, that when they allowed God's Spirit to lead and they set apart Barnabas and Paul to be missionaries:
* The world literally was turned upside down
* Antioch became the jumping off point for worldwide revival
* Nearly a dozen new congregations were established throughout Asia
* Paul began a ministry of writing that resulted in the composition of 1/2 of our New Testament
* And Antioch was established as one of the central hubs of Christianity in the ancient world.
all because, these men humbled themselves before God to seek His will
Like I said, I believe God has more in mind for us than we know how to pray.
So I think we should pray like Antioch did. Not telling God what we want but asking Him to use us. Lead us. Help us to be more than we can even imagine.
Ephesians 3:20 tells us our God "is able to do IMMEASURABLY MORE THAN ALL WE ASK OR IMAGINE, according to His power that is at work within us."
One pastor wrote: There came a time in my life when I earnestly prayed: God, I want your power! Time wore on and the power did not come.
One day the burden was more than I could bear. I asked God, why haven't you answered that prayer? God seemed to whisper back this simple reply: With plans no bigger than yours, you don't need my power.
I don't think we can plan big enough to be and do everything God has in store for us. So, I want to pray the prayer like they did in Antioch. I want to pray a prayer that gets God's attention and leads us to even greater goals than we can envision ourselves.
I've committed myself to spend more time this week praying for this church and our mission.
AND, I'm going to challenge you to pray throughout this week for the same thing. Let's pray and request that God leads us to where He wants us to go.
The story is told of a strong, broad-shouldered young man who had just started working at the construction site. He was obviously one of the strongest men there and he knew it.
And he wanted to make sure everyone else knew it too. So, he began to brag that he could out lift anybody on the site. In his pride, he especially made fun of one of the older workmen.
After a few days, the older worker had had enough. "Why don't you put your money where your mouth is," he said. "I will bet a week's wages that I can haul something in a wheelbarrow -over to that building over there - that you won't be able to wheel back."
The braggart just laughed - "You're on, old man," he said "Let's see what you got."
The old man reached out and grabbed the wheelbarrow by the handles. Then, nodding to the young man, he said, "All right, get in."
It might be prideful for us to think we know where God want us to go as a church. So, the prayer I want us to pray this week is a prayer asking God to put us in the wheelbarrow and then, for Him to wheel us where He wants to go.
September 11, 2016
911 “ Ten/Fifteen Years Later" Luke 13:1 - 5Today's sermon is not just a memorial to those who died on 911 though they are certainly worth remembering. Today's sermon is not specifically to honor those brave firefighters, police officers and others who rushed into the burning twin towers to help in the rescue, many of whom gave their lives Although it would be an easy comparison to Jesus Christ rushing into this world to rescue us from sin and giving his life to do so.
Today's sermon is rather for us to pause and reflect on the fact that life at best is unpredictable we are not promised tomorrow. With that in mind how does that effect how we live should our lives?
Every generation seems to experience one of those life-changing, world-changing events”events that you'll never forget, and that you'll always remember where you were, and what you were doing when you found out about it.
There may be some here today who are seasoned enough to remember where you were on December 7, 1941 when Pearl Harbor was bombed and the United States was drawn into World War II.
More of you are able to remember where you were on November 22, 1963 when President Kennedy was assassinated. While the younger among us may remember the Challenger space shuttle exploding on January 28, 1986.
And now to that list, we have added the terrorist attacks on our nation on that fateful Tuesday morning 15 years ago. Where were you when 9/11 happened? If you are at least 20 something, you can probably answer that question with a fairly vivid recollection of what happened that morning and what you were doing when the news struck our nation.
A decade and a half has passed since the terrorist attacks shook our nation, but the aftershocks have not gone away. We are less trusting. Passing through security in an airport is not as simple as it was before 9/11.
15 years later we can still feel the aftershocks, the wounds still hurt, and the questions still remain. Why would God allow something like this to happen?
Is this some sort of divine judgment on our nation? What possible good could God bring out of something so evil?
I remember those kinds of questions being asked 15 years ago. I remember that the answers given throughout the American religious community weren't always in line with God's Word.
Those questions are still being asked, and less-than-biblical answers are still being offered as conventional spiritual wisdom.
Certainly it is true that nothing happens in the world without God's knowledge, or outside of his control. Scripture says that God kills and makes alive. He brings down the mighty from their thrones and exalts the humble and meek. He is not like the gods of Mt. Olympus who sit up in the clouds aloof from the affairs of men. God is in control.
So yes, God knew what was happening on 9/11. Just as He knew what was happening in the Garden of Eden when Satan came and tempted Adam and Eve. Surely He could have intervened then, as much as any other time.
Human reason says, If God had intervened and prevented the devil from deceiving Eve, then we would not live in a fallen world. Why, God? Why didn't you step in? Why didn't you intervene?
But the why is not for us to know, or to speculate about. The Bible asks: For who has known the mind of the Lord. And God says: My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
In our scripture reading this morning Jesus poses a question: Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no!
Jesus says rather emphatically that this tragedy, brought about by Pontius Pilate's ruthlessness, was not God's punishment for some specific sin that these victims had committed.
And then Jesus takes it a step further. He moves the discussion from the tragic results of evil actions to the tragic results of complete accidents”the kinds of things that we might call acts of God.
He says to the disciples: Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them”do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! Jesus couldn't make the point any clearer. Tragedies are not necessarily God's punishment for some specific sin.
Jesus makes the point clearly, but I don't think that truth is always so clear in our minds. Voices all around us try to convince us otherwise. Some voices in the religious community suggested that the 9/11 attacks were God's judgment on the moral decline of America. The television preacher says that good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people.
Specific tragedies may not be God's punishment for specific sins, but all tragedies are reminders of sin's presence in this world and sin's presence in our hearts.
Sin is all around us, and even as believers, sin is still constantly within us. Terror and tragedy and turmoil put that reality before us, and that reality is a constant reminder for us to listen to Christ's urgent call to repentance.
September 11 is no exception. It is good for us to observe today as a nation and to encourage respect for our nation in light of an event like the first 9/11. That's a good lesson for us to take home as citizens, but Jesus is not out to teach us a civics lesson this morning.
He's out to teach us a spiritual lesson for our souls. No matter what the tragedy”whether public or private, whether the first century Tower in Siloam or the twenty-first century Twin Towers in New York City”Jesus message is simple and stark: Repent!
Repent! It seems like an odd thing for Jesus to say in the wake of tragedy”any tragedy. But Jesus calls us to repent because he wants to save us and because he wants to bless us.
Jesus' tough lesson for tragic times in Luke 13 might not be what we would expect to hear from him, but it is exactly what we need to hear from him. Don't miss our Lord's lesson on this day of remembrance.
Tragedies are not necessarily God's punishment for specific sins, But tragedies always call us to repent of our sin.
September 4, 2016
Something For You to Do Matthew 4:17 - 22
In Psalm 8 and again in Psalm 144 David asks God: what is man that you care for him, the son of man that you think of him?
David openly wondered how God could possibly consider using insignificant men and women for His purposes.
Compared to God we ARE insignificant.
We are not all that impressive And yet God desires to use us.
Ephesians 2:10 says: we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
That means God prepared things for YOU to do. But many people don't do anything for God because they don't feel that they are important enough for Him to pay attention to.
And I believe that is one of the main reasons Jesus chose men like Peter, James and John to be His disciples. They weren't all that important. They were just fishermen.
And yet when Jesus got done with them, they shocked even the Sanhedrin. Acts 4:13 says: When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were UNSCHOOLED, ORDINARY men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
So, can God use you?
If you spend time with Him. The more time you spend with Jesus, the more God can equip you to be used by Him
So that's what we're going to look at this morning: how God equips us to serve Him.
In Hebrews 13:20-21 the Bible says Now may the God of peace equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ .
That's God's plan
God plans to EQUIP us.
BUT how will He do that? Well a couple things come to mind
II Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
God equips us through this book.
The Bible teaches us It reprove us when we're not doing things right
And it trains us in righteousness so we know how do things right.
In short it makes us competent and fully equipped for every good work.
Now how does the Bible do that?
The Bible does that by teaching us the mind of God. That's what the Bible is - the Mind of God in written form. When you read and obey the words from this book, they are God's wisdom. All the answers you need about life are right here in these pages.
How many people here like to watch Jeopardy? Alex Trebek the host of the TV game show Jeopardy was once asked
How many of the answers do you know?
Trebek replied: All of them, because I have them in front of me.
In the same way, when you open the Bible and read its words, you have all the answers you need because they're right there in front of you.
David wrote in Psalms 119 Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me.
The more you know of God's Word, the better off you are.
But WAIT “ there's more! Just by reading God's words Scripture will change you.
Hebrews 4:12 the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
When you read the Bible, God's words work on you.
They CHANGE you. They MOLD you.
And God said almost exactly the same thing back in Isaiah 55
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
If you want God to use you, work with you, and change you READ THE BOOK!!! That's the first way God EQUIPS us for His purposes.
2ndly God equips us through others in the in the church
Ephesians 4:11-12 (God) gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to EQUIP THE SAINTS for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ
You see, as a church we can EQUIP each other.
Hebrews 10;24-25 say let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
So God EQUIPS us through His Word and thru His Church.
But equipping us is only part of the story.
Equipping us is no good if we don't do something with it.
So let's go back to Peter, James and John
Jesus said He'd make them fishers of men how' d He do that?
Well, for a while all they had to do was hang around.
Everywhere Jesus went they went
But when they were with Jesus, they did various things for Him.
- When Andrew first became a follower “ he went and found Peter and brought him to Jesus.
- And Shortly after Matthew became a follower he held a banquet in his house and introduced Jesus to all his friends.
So the first thing we can all do is introduce somebody to Jesus
It can be as simple as inviting people to church (kind of like Andrew did).
OR you can invite your friends over to your house for food and a Bible Study. You don't have to teach. Just be the host “ (like Matthew did).
Later on, Jesus sent His disciples out by twos to talk with people.
Essentially they were meeting the needs of the people they met. You can do that.
And their message was a simple one. A short sentence. You can do that. Tell people who Jesus is to you. Tell them that God loved them so much that He gave His only Son to pay the penalty for their sins. It's not hard but it requires that you be determined to carry Christ's message to your own personal world.
God says He's got something for you to do.
God has invested in tools to equip you.
And God doesn't ask much just DO something.
But even in a great church like this one there are decent and Godly people who haven't understood that God wants them to do something or if they do they overthink it.
If you are a parent with small kids at home you don't have to spend a bunch of time thinking if God wants you to go to Tanzania to be a missionary.
Right now your kids are your mission field.
We tend to overthink the things God might have us do and under estimate our ability to do something for Him.
When NASA first started sending up astronauts into space, one of the things they required of them was to keep logs. That required writing things down. But they soon discovered they had a problem they hadn't anticipated: ball-point pens wouldn't work in 0 gravity.
So NASA spent a decade and 12 billion dollars developing a pen that would write in 0 gravity, upside down, underwater, on almost any surface including glass and at temperatures ranging from below freezing to over 300 C.
And yes, they accomplished that goal.
It was American ingenuity at its finest.
Now, the Russians didn't have as much money to play with, so they came up with a much simpler solution they used pencils.
The point is this, you can overthink the challenge of being a servant for God.
It's not that hard.
It's not rocket science.
It's just a matter of letting God use you to change the world.
August 28, 2016
He Sees You Luke 13:10-17
In the verses we just read Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath and a woman was there.
She had been disabled for 18 years. She was bent over and couldn't stand up straight. What do you suppose she was doing there?
Was she there every Sabbath or had she come that particular day because she had heard that Jesus would be teaching?
Had she heard about how Jesus had compassion on people? Had she witnessed or heard the reports of His miraculous healings?
Had she heard people talking about how He seemed to have a special affinity for the least, the last, the lost, the broken, the lonely, the people living on the margins?
Was she hurting”mentally and physically? Is that why she had come?
Was this her last hope?
I wonder how many other things she had tried in order to be set free from her condition.
Had she tried self-medication”perhaps she had gone through addiction problems only to find that they only make matters worse.
Had she read self-help books? Had she spent money at seminars led by motivational speakers promising everything under the sun?
I know that some folks think this woman had osteoporosis”a degenerative bone disease. But I don't think so. I think her problem was more spiritual than physical
The Scripture tells us that she had been disabled by a spirit for eighteen years. And she was in a synagogue seeking help.
Also, when Jesus heals her He uses the language of being in bondage and being set free. I wonder what this woman was in bondage too?
What was the breaking point? What had caused her back to bend? Obviously, it hadn't always been that way.
What was that burden? Had it gone on for years? Did her back bend slowly, over time or did it happen quickly?
People with all sorts of burdens are walking our streets, working in cubicles next to ours, riding the school bus three seats behind us; living home alone, day after day.
Some people, like the woman who couldn't stand up straight are more visible than others.
I see a lot of these folks people with burdens On some folks I can see the weight of many years of suffering on their face.
For others I might see the crushing hurt of a new and painful reality.
Divorce can cause a person's back to bend as can the loss of a loved one; financial worries; poor health; a child who has run away, physically or emotionally.
Perhaps there are people here this morning who know the pain and oppression of being marginalized and alone.
Do we see them, the way Jesus saw the woman in the synagogue that day?
We never know what other people are going through, do we?
We never know the weight they are carrying. We never know
The woman in our Gospel Lesson this morning went to the Synagogue that Sabbath to hear Jesus preach the Word.
She must have been really surprised when Jesus not only preached the Word but saw her and called her to him.
You know, I think there is a lot more to this Scripture passage than meets the eye. And I say this due to the emphasis of Jesus seeing her.
What does it mean when Jesus sees someone?
I think it means that Jesus sees beyond the veil, beyond the faÃ§ade, beyond the pleasantries. I think it means that Jesus sees right into the soul.
When Jesus saw this woman, Jesus saw her hurts, her struggles, her pain. He saw this daughter of Abraham [who had been] bound by Satan for eighteen long years.
He saw her and it was love at first sight. And obviously I'm not talking about romantic love; I'm talking about agape love.
I'm talking about compassionate, merciful, unconditional love I'm talking about the love of Jesus.
And this agape love is the same love Jesus has when He looks at me, and you, and the sad looking beggar on the street corner, and the man holding a gun on a convenience store clerk, and a teenager taking her first drink or a young person trying drugs for the first time.
And when Jesus sees us, Jesus does the same thing He did for that woman that day”Jesus calls us to Himself. And if we come He places His hands on us; we straighten up and start praising God!!!
It took me a long time to learn to love and respect myself. And I didn't learn this or gain this strength on my own.
Jesus saw me; Jesus called me and called me and called me to Himself. I finally ran into His arms. And when I did; I stood up straight
I don't mean that I suddenly had great posture but I mean that I stood up straight on the inside.
When you truly give your life to Jesus Christ you will be a completely different person. Your whole outlook will change. You will have newfound confidence.
There may be times when we loosen our grip on Christ. And when we do that we go from standing up straight to slouching in misery and muck.
For me, the only way to live is to stand in the embrace of the One Who loves me”unconditionally, no matter who I am, no matter what!!!
And when I do this, I am finally set free from the agony”the bondage of concentrating and worrying about my own troubles and shortcomings.
It's then that I am able to see the hurt, the pain, the potential and feel just a little bit of the love that Jesus has for others who are walking in the chasm of self-hate and self-pity.
And that is exhilarating. It is exhilarating to love other human beings rather than worrying about what they think of you.
There is a lot of hate and hurt in this world.
How people make it through without Jesus I don't know. Many don't.
CNN had a story a while back about a little girl who was abused. She had a black eye, dried blood in the corner of her mouth and deep purple bruises all over her body.
But it's what she said when asked her name that's truly startling.
When they said Honey what's your name? She replied ˜Idiot.'
The girl is only 4. She lived with her mother and her mother's live-in boyfriend.
Police say she was called an ˜idiot' so often and for so long that it was the word that sprung to her young mind when a social worker asked her name.
I pray that young girl will be able to stand up straight one day soon.
I pray the same for her mother and her mother's boyfriend.
Hurt people hurt other people do they not?
A professor at Syracuse University used to say that stupidity is a learned behavior, and I believe this.
Not being able to stand up straight like the woman in our Scripture reading for this morning is a learned behavior.
Basking in the love of Jesus Christ is a learned behavior as well.
In John 8:36 Jesus promises that If the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed.
I have found this to be true.
August 21, 2016
PLEASE, DON'T FEED THE FEARS II TIMOTHY 1:7-12
Every now and then I see on the news that a bear was caught taking a dip in a family swimming pool trying to get relief from the heat. Authorities tell the families and neighborhood as cute as the cubs may be “Please, Don't Feed the Bears.
Why? Because feeding the bears will cause them to continue to return looking for food.
Isn't that how fear works? If we continue to feed our fear, it will continue to return, time and time again. If we continue to feed our fear we will not live in victory.
Jesus said in John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
- When Gods people are free from fear, they can walk in power, authority, and victory!
- When Gods people are free from fear, they will experience a more full life in Christ!
- On the other hand fear will steal our joy, fear will kill our motivation and fear will destroy our destiny. Please Don't Feed the Fears
Many of our fears begin as lies that the devil has told us, which shows why the devil is called the Father of Lies in John 8:44. He tries to handicap us with fear because he knows the truth will set us free.
The devil uses the natural emotion of fear against us to make us feel helpless in resisting him. He wants us to doubt the Lord and ourselves because it makes him appear stronger than he really is!
The devil discredits God in every way he can, whispering lying accusations to us about God, as he did to Adam and Eve. His tactics have not changed in all these years.
- Just as Satan led Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit Satan continues to help us feed our fears today.
I am not talking about the fear of the dark or monsters in the closet. No! The Devil is smarter than that, he deals with the fears we face each day “
Fear of Failure, Fear of loneliness, Fear of Ridicule, Fear of a Broken Heart.
In Matthew 14 -- We find Jesus feeding the five thousand, He then sends His disciples in a ship to the other side. They were obedient, but with that act of obedience came a great storm. (They were doing what He said He said, Get in the boat and go to the other side of the lake And that's what they were doing.)
- Sometimes we as Christians face our greatest storms when we are trying to obey God. We can be serving the Lord and still encounter a storm. We can be in the Church and supporting the Church and still encounter a storm. We can be living the best Christian life we can, and still encounter a storm
In the midst of the storm, Jesus came walking on the water. Most of the disciples were terrified, because they thought they were seeing a ghost. But Peter, after calling out and being assured it was Jesus, asked to come out to Jesus.
He said Lord if it is you, bid me to come We must give Peter some credit He was able to get his eyes off the circumstances even if it was for a short time, so that when Jesus said, Come! Peter walked on water!
Then the moment he took his eyes off Jesus and saw and felt the winds and the waves what happened? Fear. Fear set in and at that point he began to sink.
Notice that one of the strongest causes of fear is looking at our surroundings. Remember the verses were read? God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. We need a sound mind focused on the Lord, if not we will begin to operate in fear.
One of the ways the devil instills fear is by telling us lies about who we are and what we are facing.
- He whispers, Look at your pitiful condition.
- He whispers, Look at your sad ï¬nances!
- You're not gonna make it!
- God will never forgive you for that sin!
- You won't get that new job so don't even bother interviewing.
Fear has been deï¬ned as False Evidence Appearing Real. Fear makes you think the worst will happen! Satan holds up a magnifying glass to make things appear larger than they actually are.
I know that fears are real feelings But listen again to this verse. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
The spirit of fear intimidates us. It keeps us from being bold and courageous. Sometimes it shows up in subtle ways “
- Fearful to attend Bible Study I'm afraid I don't know enough None of us do that's why we are studying!
- Fearful to get involved What if I make a mistake?
- Fearful that you are not strong enough to face whatever you are facing. But remember God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power
- Please Don't Feed the Fears “
Often I find people who are struggling to deal with the -
- Pressures of Life
- Raising Children
- Jobs, or the loss of a Job
- Coping with illnesses
- The loss of a loved one
- Financial Burdens
- The list goes on and on
I am sorry but life is full of things that cause fear. None of us are exempt. The Apostle Paul In his letter to the church at Corinth details some of the struggles he endured: Shipwrecked, stoned, beaten, imprisoned, cold, naked, hungry. He had suffered the ravages of poverty and ill health.
Many people today, faced by the enormous challenges of life, find themselves faced with The spirit of fear” that is to say, a strong sense of wondering if they have the necessary ability to deal with the pressures of life.
Often we feel overwhelmed, anxious and worried about the future. So when Paul speaks of a spirit of power, love and sound mind is there any of us who doesn't want these things?
In the Old Testament book of Numbers Israel was standing on the edge of the Promised Land in the midst of the wilderness.
- In order to encourage their faith, Moses sent out twelve spies to look over the land to see if all that God said was true.
- When they came back, oh how different the reports were.
- Ten spies came back who could only talk of giants
- They were afraid, saying, We are as grasshoppers in their eyes
- All they could see was negativity
Only two came back carrying huge grapes and reporting, We are able to go up and take the land!
- They saw the same giants But theirs was a report of faith Because they were convinced that God's Word was true.
- Sadly enough, the people chose to believe the bad report
- Please Don't Feed the Fears
Fear will cause us to ignore the Power of God.
You may say, But I do have giants in my life We all do, Faith does not deny the giants But because of the power, love and sound mind that God has given us we don't need to fear the Giants in our Lives
No matter what you are going through, Please don't feed the fears.
You may be faced with giants, Please don't feed the fears.
Perhaps you can't see your way through, Please don't feed the fears.
Remember God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
August 14, 2016
Genuine Concern Philippians 2:19-26
We all fall or get knocked down at times, don't we? And how wonderful it is when we have a friend who cares enough to lift us up, dust us off, and help us continue on.
The Bible says to have a friend you need to be a friend. We need to cultivate a genuine interest in others. In verse 19, Paul says, "I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you."
Paul could have written a letter saying, "I'm in prison here at Rome, and the conditions are really bad. I need more help.
But Paul doesn't do that. Instead, he is concerned about the folks back in Philippi. So he sends Timothy to find out how things are going. And he wants so much for the news to be good.
In Philippians 2:3-4, Paul writes, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."
In other words, "be genuinely concerned about others."
Do you ever ask yourself on Sunday morning, "Why am I going to church? Am I going because I feel I owe a debt to God, so I'm trying to pay it back? Or because I'm carrying a heavy burden that I hope will be lifted?, Or because I like the fellowship. Why am I going?"
Why should we go? Well, if we're genuinely interested in others, the church becomes a training ground where we learn how to help one another.
So when you come to church, be on the lookout. Maybe you're sitting near a guest, here for the first time. Introduce yourself and tell them, "I'm glad you came." And let them know that if we can help them in any way to grow in their faith, that's why we're here.
Or when you listen to the prayer requests, and learn of someone who is having a difficult time write them a note and let them know that you'll be praying for them.
Or if someone you know is struggling with a heavy burden of grief or loss. Just let them know that you care.
Isn't it refreshing to know that we can care about each other without hidden agendas.
I have found it true that when you're genuinely concerned about others good things happen to you.
First of all, you begin to forget your own problems. We seldom realize that. We think that when I'm having trouble, I need to focus just on me, But that's not the answer.
The Bible teaches us that the quickest way to get rid of our troubles is to become involved in helping someone else.
Isaiah 58:10 says, "If you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs...and...strengthen your frame."
Also, when you're genuinely concerned about others, you'll find that when you're in trouble, others will be there for you.
So we need to cultivate a genuine interest in others.
Now the second lesson is that we need to offer sincere encouragement to others. In vs. 20, Paul says, "I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare."
Paul is still talking about Timothy. Paul had mentored Timothy, and watched Him grow in his faith. Now Timothy is an adult and has a ministry of his own. Paul looks at him and says, "I don't know anybody like Timothy."
In fact, the New American Standard Version translates that verse to say, "I have no one else of kindred spirit." And the two Greek words used there are words that mean "same soul." Paul is saying, "Timothy and I have the same soul. We're kindred spirits, like minded."
Paul writes that Timothy is a "same soul" friend. Then in vs. 21, he says, "For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ."
I think Paul is presenting a contrast. He is saying, "Most everybody else looks out for his own interests, but Timothy is not like everybody else. He's special, and he's interested in you."
We need friends like that. And we need to be a friend like that, someone who will pick us up when we fall down, and brush us off, and hold our hand, and go on with us toward the finish line.
Verse 25 begins the story of Epaphroditus who was a member of the church in Philippi. And the church there was a strong supporter of the apostle Paul.
So when they learned that Paul was in prison, they sent Epaphroditus to be with him, to be a source of encouragement and assistance to him.
But Epaphroditus wasn't able to help Paul very long because he became seriously ill. In fact, he almost died. Well, the news of Epaphroditus' illness got back to Philippi, and the people there were concerned about him. And Epaphroditus became distressed about their anxiety for him.
It would have been so easy for Paul to say, Well, I'm already sending Timothy to check on you and so I'm keeping Epaphroditus right here with me (even though he's not been well ) so I'm not alone. What am I supposed to do here in prison all by myself?
But instead, Paul writes to the church in Philippi and says, "I'm sending Epaphroditus back to you, and I want you to welcome him, and encourage him because he almost died for the cause of Christ."
Here's the point A friendship that is really a friendship isn't a selfish or smothering kind of love. Husbands and wives hear this. A friendship that is really a friendship isn't a selfish or smothering kind of love. I like to go to auctions Marla doesn't. She says: Go, have fun She doesn't say, If you loved me you would stay home.
She likes to play pickle ball I say Go, Have fun Don't trip over the net.
And parents need to hear it, too. There comes a time in every home when you have to let your children go, and that's really difficult to do. I read stuff my kids put on Facebook and I want to call them and say, are you nuts, what do you mean your voting for so and so? But I don't.
A friendship that is really a friendship isn't a selfish or smothering kind of love.
Back to Paul Over in 2 Timothy 4, Paul is imprisoned again and the circumstances are very different this time. His friends aren't there.
I don't know where they are. Maybe they're too far away to get to him. Maybe they're in prison themselves, or dead. Or maybe the prison wouldn't allow visitors. Paul's been in prison a lot.
So Paul writes these words in 2 Timothy 4:16-17, "At my first defense, no one came to my support But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it."
Your best friend, the friend of friends, is Jesus. He will never leave you, nor forsake you. And when you fall, He'll pick you up, dust you off, and walk with you hand in hand all the way to the finish line.
This morning, if you don't know Him as your friend, if He is not your Lord and Savior, then we extend His invitation. And He stands ready to meet every need in your life, forgive your sins, and give you the promise of everlasting life.
August 7, 2016
Church on Fire Leviticus 6:8-13
One night a country church caught fire and burned to the ground. While the building was burning, some of the town folk were standing around and watching it burn.
The pastor had been called and as he drove up he noticed a church member he hadn't seen in a while. Approaching the man the pastor remarked that he hadn't seen him in church for quite some time.
The man said to the pastor, that's because I haven't seen this church on fire in a while.
While this may be a little humorous and a little sad it's true. It seems that churches, just like individuals, can get in a rut.
We get into a routine of just going through the motions, patting ourselves on the back telling ourselves how good and faithful we are because we come and gather together every Sunday and do what everybody expects us to do.
But are we on fire for God? Our scripture this morning talks about keeping the fire going in our churches and in our lives.
That's a real problem facing our world today.
It seems that many Christians have let the fire that they had when they gave their heart and life to Jesus Christ burn down to where it's nothing left but a smoldering heap of the fire that it once was.
When we as Christians allow this to happen, our churches can't help but become places where there is no fire for God.
We, the church, must rekindle the fire for God and never let it go out. We must become a church on fire.
If we are to be a church on fire, we must first prepare for the fire. In verse 8 God tells Moses to prepare Aaron and his sons to receive the fire.
God was preparing His people to be who and what He wanted them to be. To be a church on fire, we must prepare for the fire.
There are things that must be done in order for God to bless what we are doing.
The first thing is that we must get ourselves in the proper fellowship with God. God is not going to bless our efforts if we are not in fellowship with Him.
We can't do that by attending church on Sunday and then not thinking about God until the next Sunday.
God will prepare us to be a church on fire as we build our relationship with Him. We need to get ourselves right with God. Then He can use us and His Church to bring people to himself.
We need to set an example for people to see so that they will seek out our God We must prepare ourselves to be this example.
If our church is to be a church on fire, we must first prepare ourselves for that task. We do that by developing a deeper relationship to Christ.
To be a Church on fire, we need to realize who the PROVIDER of the fire is.
As we looked at our scripture this morning, we saw that God told Moses that the fire must be kept burning.
What we also see is that these instructions were for a fire that was already burning, not how to start the fire. So where did the fire come from?
If we look in chapter 9, verse 24 we see who provided the fire.
It says: Fire blazed forth from the Lord's presence and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When the people saw this, they shouted with joy and fell face down on the ground.
You see when we prepare ourselves and do what God wants us to do, we don't have to worry where the fire will come from. God will provide the fire.
He will do this through the empowering of the Holy Spirit to do things that we never thought possible.
Jesus had spent three years preparing His followers and then when He left, He provided the fire of the Holy Spirit to empower them to do things that were absolutely amazing.
Folks, we can have programs for this and plans for that but if we depend on ourselves for the fire, we will be disappointed.
God will provide the fire, we just need to prepare ourselves for it and allow Him through the power of the Holy Spirit; to set this Church on fire.
If we prepare ourselves properly, God will provide the fire.
Notice here what God told Moses three times. God told Moses that they should never let the fire burn out. Once it's started this fire is to be a perpetual fire.
Notice in vs 9,12 and 13 that we read together God told Moses that the fire was to never go out. They were to be vigilant in their duties and always keep the fire going.
Keep the fire burning, keep the fire burning, keep the fire burning, God told Moses.
He also tells them to make sure that the ashes are disposed of and to keep wood on the fire. That sounds easy doesn't it?
What we need to realize is that they had to take this perpetual fire with them as they traveled and went about their business.
This altar was part of the tabernacle and the fire was part of that. The tabernacle had to be torn down and moved whenever the people broke camp.
When they camped again, the tabernacle would be reassembled. This was part of the job of the tribe of Levi.
If you read over in Numbers 1 where there was a count of all the able bodied men available for fighting, the tribe Of Levi wasn't in the mix. Their job was not to fight the battles; their job was to be the priests in the Tabernacle. They carried the fire for the altar with them wherever they went.
That was their job, their responsibility.
A church on fire has to have this perpetual fire and it must be carried with its members everywhere we go.
Just like the Levites, we are priests of God and we are charged with carrying the fire of God with us at all times.
In case you didn't know you are a priest listen to 1 Peter 2:5 Peter writes; And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What's more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God.
We are priests of God and just like the priests of the Children of Israel made sacrifices to God, we too offer spiritual sacrifices to our God.
Just as the priestly tribe of Levi was charged with keeping the fire burning on the altar, we too must keep the fires burning.
A church on fire keeps the fire burning.
We don't just start a fire on Sunday morning and then let it die out when we leave. A church on fire takes the fire with them wherever they go.
A church on fire realizes that the fire must be a perpetual fire We can't just start a huge bon fire to attract everyone's attention and then let it burn out.
Since we are in the midst of the Olympics let me put it this way A church on fire is not a church that is in a sprinting contest, we're in a marathon. We need to keep the fire burning at all times.
As followers of Christ we are in a marathon and the finish line is when we close our eyes for the last time here on earth and open them in the presence of the Lord.
Until then, we are to be a church on fire.
We do this by: preparing ourselves for the fire, realizing who provides the fire and insuring that the fire is a perpetual fire that it never goes out.
Have you prepared yourself for the fire today?
Have you given your life to Jesus?
If so How's our fire doing? Do we need to add a little more wood or get rid of some of the ash we've allowed to build up?
July 17, 2016
Showing Kindness Colossians 3:12 - 17
In verse 12 we just read: clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. The Greek word for clothe literally means “ to put on.
What Paul is saying here is that when we wake up in the morning and decide what to wear we should also ask ourselves, What kind of attitude am I going to put on today? Paul says kindness is a choice. It is something we can choose to put on every day.
There are a couple of reasons why we should be kind.
First, we should be kind because God is kind to us. Romans 2:4 says: Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?
We should not forget God's kindness to us. He's shown us kindness, tolerance and patience in order that we may seek Him and come to Him. We should be kind to others because God is kind to us.
Another reason we should be kind is that we want people to be kind to us. Jesus said in Matthew 7:12: "In everything treat people the same way you want them to treat you
We know it as The Golden Rule:: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
If you are rude to other people they are probably going to be rude to you. But if you are kind, most people will want to respond the same way.
So what does it mean to be a kind person, and how can we become one? Quickly here are five characteristics of a kind person.
First Kind people are sensitive to others. They are aware of the needs of those around them Become aware of the needs of those around you. Tune in to them. Kindness always starts with sensitivity.
Philippians 2:3-4 says: Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
Kindness always starts with noticing what is going on in other people's lives. Here is a fact: Everyone that you meet this week needs kindness.
The people you meet on the street need kindness “ the person sitting next to you in the pew needs kindness. Everyone needs kindness. Kindness starts with being sensitive to the needs of others..
We find an example of sensitivity and kindness in the life of King David as recorded in 2 Samuel 9. King Saul had died. Saul had tried to kill David on several occasions. David eventually became king.
Then David made an unusual request. He asked whether there was anyone left in Saul's family to whom he could be kind. They found Saul's grandson “Mephibosheth was still alive.
So David sent for Mephibosheth who probably thought, I am going to be killed because I am Saul's grandson. But here is what happens:
David said to him, "Do not fear, for I will surely show kindness to you for the sake of your father Jonathan, and will restore to you all the land of your grandfather Saul; and you shall eat at my table regularly." 2 Sam. 9:7
Mephibosheth's response is interesting He said: What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me? (v. 8)
He was part of the loosing family. He had become a cripple. I'm sure he was discouraged and down “ but David actively looked for Saul's family members in order to be kind to them. Be sensitive to those who are hurting.
A second characteristic exhibited by kind people is supportiveness. This means building people up rather than tearing them down. Watch what you say to people. Be supportive in your speech. Speak kindly.
Proverbs 15:1 says: A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.
Nobody likes to be put down. Kids say, Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. Baloney! Words do hurt! Labels hurt!
In fact, the Bible says that death and life are in the power of the tongue. You can destroy others with what you say to them. So build people up with your words. Give everyone you meet an emotional lift. Encourage them. Be supportive.
Proverbs 3:3 says: Do not let kindness and truth leave you...
How supportive are you in speaking to others? Do you encourage or discourage with your words? Do you lift up or tear down? Let's try to be kind all the time.
Kind words can build a bridge. Harsh words can tear it down. A Christian should speak kindly even when given the opportunity to retaliate.
A third characteristic of a kind person is the ability to be sympathetic. If you want to be kind “ learn to be sympathetic.
People appreciate it when you sympathize with them, when you grieve with them and hurt with them. Many times when someone is experiencing a crisis, people will say, I don't know what to say. Actually, you don't have to say anything. Just being there is an expression of kindness.
Sometimes a touch on the shoulder, a tear, a pat on the back, or a hug is all a hurting person needs. That is kindness. Romans 12:15 says: Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
The shortest verse in the Bible is John 11:35 Jesus wept.
Jesus went to a friend's house and his friend was dead. His response was simple. His response was natural. His response was human emotion. Jesus wept.
Perhaps he was teaching us to: Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
He was being sympathetic. He was showing kindness. If you want to know what kindness looks like “look at Jesus. No matter how many Bible verses you have memorized or how often you come to church “ if you are not kind “ you are not like Jesus.
Next: A kind person is straightforward. Sometimes kindness means being candid. Sometime it means laying it on the line “ telling the truth “ leveling with people.
Sometimes the kindest thing you can do is to be frank with a friend and tell that person exactly where he or she is wrong.
Proverbs 27:6 says: Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.
The Contemporary English Version says it this way: You can trust a friend who corrects you, but kisses from an enemy are nothing but lies.
A real friend will level with you and say such things as, You're blowing it or You're making the biggest mistake of your life.
Suppose a doctor examines you, finds something seriously wrong, and then says either You need surgery or Relax and don't worry about it.
Which is the kinder statement? If you need surgery “ the kind thing is for the doctor to tell you that you need it. Sometimes kindness means being straightforward.
Finally, if you want to be kind “ learn to be spontaneous. Do not wait to show kindness. Do it while you have the opportunity. Do it now. Be spontaneous.
Galatians 6:10 says: So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.
Note the phrase while we have opportunity. When should we be kind? Whenever we have the opportunity.
On some occasion you have probably thought, I ought to write him/her a little thank-you note. Or maybe you have thought, I need to make that phone call or I need to send a little gift or I want to take something over to the neighbors. Then you may have delayed and you kept delaying until you you didn't do it at all.
I suppose we all have had similar experiences. Yet, when it comes to kindness “ good intentions don't count. The opportunity may not last until you get around to it. Scripture says that when you have the opportunity to be kind “ you need to do it.
When you get the slightest inclination to call someone “ do it.
The classic example of spontaneous kindness in Scripture is the story of the Good Samaritan. You know the story “ a man was beaten by robbers and left half dead on the side of the road. A priest and another religious leader came along and walked right on past.
But then a Samaritan came by “ a person considered by the Jews to be of an inferior race. The Samaritan bandages the man's wounds “ takes him to the nearest inn “ reached in his pocket and paid for the man to stay there.
Kindness “ costs.
When the Samaritan saw the need “ he didn't think twice. He dropped everything without hesitation. He was spontaneous.
There are all kinds of people around us who are hurting. They are hurting physically “ emotionally “ spiritually.
You know it is one thing to hear a sermon about becoming a kind person “ but it is another thing to become one.
Our world is filled with people who need kindness. One of the fruits of Spirit is kindness “ won't you be kind to those around you?
July 3, 2016
The Water Jar John 4:6-10, 27-29
The Bible records that Jesus was traveling from Judea to Galilee and to get to Galilee He chose to go through Samaria. Normally Jews would take a route that would bypass Samaria. But Jesus had an appoin'ent there with a woman who didn't even know it.
She came alone probably because she had few real friends; she came to this out of the way spot possibly because she was shunned in the city. But Jesus was there to meet her. He would befriend her and He would not turn her away.
There is more to the story we skipped from verse 10 to verse 27 In those skipped verses, Jesus and this woman have a dialogue about well-water, her marital status and the proper place and manner of worship.
Then the Bible says, 28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah? 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.
Marla and I have been watching some of the Olympic trials on TV the last few days and one thing that they do wheather they are a swimmer or a sprinter is to lighten the load meaning they take off their sweat suits or warm up suits because in a race they would be a hindrance.
Perhaps it is a minor point, but have you ever wondered why the woman at the well left her water jar? She came there to fill it, why did she leave it? Maybe like the athletes, she didn't want any excess baggage. So
I. MAYBE SHE LEFT IT BECAUSE SHE WANTED TO GO UNHINDERED:
A. Water jars were heavy, especially when filled with water. They were also cumbersome and not the best running equipment.
B. 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.
So we are instructed to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. So we each need to ask ourselves what is our water jar that's slowing us down in our Christian race?
a. It might be a hobby or pursuit of some sort.
b. It might be a relationship we've allowed to get in the way of our Christian walk.
c. It might be some anxiety or apprehension or worry or unreasonable fear about something.
d. It might be a habit, or an obsession.
e. It might be some possession we value too greatly.
Or it might be some sin.
Can you imagine an Olympic athlete running a race in combat boots and a warm up suit?
Can you imagine living a triumphant Christian life all bogged down with needless fears or ensnared in some sin? Think about it:
1. These are harmful because they prevent us from fully living for Christ. They slow us down, bog us down and eventually put us out of the race.
2. These are needless burdens and entanglements because Jesus is our burden bearer and the sin forgiver. We don't have to bear our burdens alone or to stay in our sins -- He has given us relief.
Maybe that was the reason the Samaritan woman left her water jar it hindered her race. Or
II. MAYBE SHE LEFT IT BECAUSE SHE JUST FORGOT IT:
A. After all, she was amazed that this Jewish man would even speak to her, a Samaritan woman. She may have been so engrossed in her conversation with Jesus that she just forgot it. He had convinced her that He was the awaited Messiah. He had astounded her by telling her specific things about herself.
B. Jesus has an uncanny way of displacing other things when we pay attention to Him. Remember the song, Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.
C. In light of seeing Jesus, there are some things we, too, ought to forget.
1. Like Joseph let us say, For God has made me forget all my trouble... Genesis 41:51.
2. With Paul let us determine, ... one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:13, 14.
D. It is easy to get so wrapped up in things we forget something else.
The other day I was at the store and I called Marla and asked if there was anything she wanted me to pick up she told me one item As I got to the car and started to drive off I remembered that I hadn't purchased the one item she asked for I went back and got it!
3. Whatever we may forget, let us never forget Jesus Christ.
The Samaritan woman was determined to complete what she set out to do. That was to know more about Christ, and to tell others about him. She ran into the city, but maybe she didn't intend to stay there. Maybe she intended to go full circuit; to finish her course. So perhaps there is yet another reason she left her water jar.
III. MAYBE SHE LEFT IT BECAUSE SHE WAS PLANNING TO RETURN:
A. She ran into the village saying, Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done She clearly intended to return and to bring others with her.
B. She wanted to come back for more teaching, for more fellowship. Talking with Jesus once was not enough.
C. We too need to have a boomerang heart that keeps coming back:
1. For more time simply to be alone with Jesus, just to be in His presence, like Mary who sat at His feet learning.
2. We need to come back: For prayer time to lift our burdens to Him countless times in a day.
3. We need to come back: For confession and reconciliation when we've lapsed into sin.
4. We need to come back: For strength when we are weak, courage when we are afraid, wisdom when we are dumfounded, and rest when we are weary.
The woman at the well was determined to finish her course so she left her water jar; perhaps because she had such an urgent mission she wanted to go unhindered; perhaps because in her joy at meeting Messiah she forgot it; or perhaps because she knew she would be coming back to hear more. As a result Jesus gave her spiritual, living water.
He will do the same for every thirsting soul, for every parched spirit, for every dry and languid heart. He'll do the same for you, too, If you, like the woman have a deep and fervent desire for Him.
Like the woman at the well, perhaps you are thirsting for things that do not satisfy.
Like her, perhaps you have been moved to believe that He is the Promised Messiah, the Christ. Perhaps you, too, will set aside things that hinder you in order to run freely for Him.
Perhaps, as she did, you will forget the temporal things and seek Him.
Perhaps ...but, it's up to you. What will you do with Jesus today? You alone know the answer to that.
Ezekiel 31:12 (KJV)
And strangers, the terrible of the nations, have cut him off, and have left him: upon the mountains and in all the valleys his branches are fallen, and his boughs are broken by all the rivers of the land; and all the people of the earth are gone down from his shadow, and have left him.
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