Sermons 9

March 20, 2016

How to Prepare for Easter    Luke 19:29 - 36

This morning I'm going to depart from the usual Palm Sunday sermon and talk about how to prepare for Easter.

If you think about it we do a good job of preparing for Chris'as. We hang wreaths, light candles, decorate the tree, wrap gifts, and string enough lights on our houses to keep the man in the moon up at night.

But Easter What do we do? If you're a real fanatic you buy some candy, dye a few eggs and maybe buy a new outfit and BAM! You're done.

For Christians Easter is the most important day of the year or it should be. It's the day we celebrate Jesus Christ rising from the dead in order to make eternal life possible for you, and me.

So for the next  few minutes let's see what we can do to prepare for Easter.

This morning I want to share with you three ways we can most effectively and meaningfully prepare for Easter.

The first of these is found in the example of the disciples, and it's this: Do What Jesus Says.

Let's look at the first part of the Palm Sunday story, The Palm Sunday story is recorded in all four gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John meaning that we are to give it our u'ost attention.

Jesus sent two of his disciples on a strange mission. He said, Go to this village up the road untie the colt you'll find, and bring it to me.

Now, the Bible doesn't tell us which two went so we don't know.

The Bible also doesn't tell us what they talked about on the way. But if it had been me, I probably would be asking, You really think they'll just let us walk off with their colt? What if somebody takes a swing at us? Jesus didn't say what we should do if somebody takes a swing at us!

The Bible says: They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, What are you doing, untying that colt? They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it.

They didn't know how it was going to turn out, but they simply did what Jesus said to do. And look at the result. Their simple obedience brought glory to God.

All in all, that's a good model for you and me this week before Easter.
We could do no better than to follow the example of those two disciples who-- though they had no way to know what the future would hold and what their actions would bring about--they simply obeyed.

Of course, I'm pretty sure our obedience won't involve a donkey But only God knows what it will involve and only you and God know what obedience He will ask of you today, this week, this Easter.

Is He calling you to repentance? Is He calling you to stop finding fault in others, Is He calling you to make the decision to follow Him? Is He telling you to forgive someone? To help someone? To give something up? To take something on? To say yes to something? To say no to something?

I can't tell you, but I can say to you what His mother told the servants at the wedding in Cana: whatever He says to you, do it. And, you'll be amazed how your simple act of obedience will bring glory to God.

So, one way to prepare for this Easter is to do what Jesus says. The second is this: Feel What Jesus Feels.

Look at the next part of the Palm Sunday story: Luke 19:41 says: As Jesus approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it 

Something happened on the ride into Jerusalem that we don't talk about too often... In fact for years, I never even noticed that this event was part of this ride of triumph... It was there all the time, in black and white, but as often happens, I tend to get so caught up in the crowd, the shouts, the emotion, the excitement -- that I let the clear, unvarnished truth slip right by, unnoticed.

But I'm not alone; in fact, from every indication, the crowds didn't notice it, either. Matthew didn't record it. Mark didn't mention it nor did John.  Luke is the only Gospel writer who records this part of the story. As He approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it.

Don't miss it Jesus wept for the people of Jerusalem.

Not for himself not for the cross that awaited him. But for the fate that would come upon that city 70 years later.

Rather than the joyful shouts and praises that resounded all around, Jesus heard the cries and groans of the men, women, and children who would die in that city when, as He had prophesied, the Roman general Titus would invade in 70 AD and raze the city and destroy the temple, and brutalize its rebellious people.

Everyone else was having a party, and Jesus was filled with compassion for the lost sheep of Israel who didn't even know their own sad condition.

That, too, is a good model for you and me this week before Easter. We could do no better than to prepare for Easter by letting ourselves feel what Jesus felt, by letting our heart be broken for those who are hurting,
those who are wandering,
those who are searching,
those who don't even know they're searching,

I can't tell you who they are; but God knows, and you probably do, too:
Perhaps your neighbor,
your colleague,
maybe a brother or sister,
a mother or father,
maybe a close friend
maybe a casual acquaintance who hasn't yet experienced the forgiveness,
the deliverance, the peace, the freedom that comes when you experience new life through faith in Jesus Christ.

But I can tell you what will happen if you let yourself feel what Jesus feels: it will bring a flood of compassion into your heart.

So, one way to prepare for this Easter is to Do What Jesus Says. The second is to Feel What Jesus Feels. And my final suggestion to you today is to: Tell Who Jesus Is.

Listen to the conclusion of the Palm Sunday story: When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, Who is this? The crowds answered, This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee (Matthew 21:10-11).

When Matthew reports that the city was stirred, he uses the word, seio, 
from which we get our word seismic.

It's the same word he used later in his Gospel, in Matthew 27:51, where he said that at the moment Jesus died on the cross, The earth shook and the rocks split.

The city was stirred as an earthquake stirs the ground.

That's what will happen if you and I-- if this room full of people-- begin doing what Jesus says and feeling what Jesus feels: the whole city will be stirred!

That's what they're waiting for. 
They're waiting to see if there really is a God.
They're waiting to see if He really does care.
They're waiting to see if the people who fill the churches, and sing his praises, and cry out to Him, and claim to know Him, to see if those people are any different
if their God can really be trusted,
if their faith can really do anything.
They're watching you and me,
and if they see us doing what Jesus says,
and feeling what Jesus feels--
for them--
they'll ask Who is this Jesus?

Surveys indicate the majority of people who don't attend church,
who haven't experienced new life in Christ, give the same reason when they're asked why.

They say, No one ever asked.

Your mission to prepare for Easter Do What Jesus Says. Feel What Jesus Feels. And Tell Who Jesus Is.

March 13, 2016

Amazing Love!       Mark 14:32- 38

In the verses we just read Jesus tells the disciples except for Peter, James, and John to wait while He goes to pray they go a little further into the garden and Jesus says to Peter, James, and John Stay here and keep watch. And then the Bible says: Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed 

Prayer is a confession of our complete dependence on God. When we pray, we're saying we need His help, we need His strength, we need His enabling, sovereign, power to do something in our lives. 

But this is Jesus! This is the 2nd Person of the Trinity. This is the One who by Him and through Him were all things made.

This is the Lord. He is the One who walks on water. He's the one who feeds 5000 with just a few loaves and fish. He heals the sick, He casts out demons. He raised Lazarus from the dead.

But understand something “Jesus is not only 100% God He's also 100% man. He was born of a woman. He eats food for nourishment. He sleeps when He's tired. He has the entire range of emotions that all human beings have. And what we're seeing here is His humanity on display.

And here He's coming to God the Father, just like He's done every day of His life, and He's praying asking the Father to strengthen Him, and help Him because of what's going to take place over the next 24 hours.

In the next 24 hours He's going to be railroaded in a kangaroo court, falsely accused. He's going to be beaten to a bloody pulp and mocked, and spit on.

He's going to be whipped until His back looks like hamburger. He's going to have his beard ripped out. He's going to have a crown of thorns shoved down onto His head. He's going to be forced the carry a heavy cross down a road where crowds are again going to mock him. He's going to be nailed to that cross and lifted up for everyone to see.

But that's not even the worst of it. All of that stuff is physical we haven't even gotten to the spiritual side of it yet. 

You see ever since Jesus was born the devil had been doing everything he could to get Him to not go through with God's plan. He tried to have Herod kill Him when He was a baby. Then when Jesus began His public ministry, Satan tried to give Him the kingdoms of the world if He would just worship him.

In the Bible, there are several occasions when people encounter God, and they are filled with trembling and fear. Think about Moses on Mt. Sinai, or John in the book of Revelation. It says that when they saw God's glory they trembled with fear.

But what Jesus is about to experience is His Father's hand lifted up in judgment and wrath. 

That is what took place on the cross. While Jesus' physical body was hanging on the cross, God the Father poured out His wrath and judgment on His Son because of our sin past, present, and future.

And as He hung on that cross our sins were charged to Him, and it caused separation between the Father and the Son and it caused Jesus to say, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?

And the wrath of God, and the anger of God, and the justice of God was exacted on the Son.

In our Scripture reading Jesus knows this is coming. And He's filled with horror and dread at the thought of this at the thought of being separated from His Father, and at the thought of enduring the wrath of God Almighty. 
And this is why Jesus prays what He prays, If it's possible, let this cup pass from me. 

Man has sinned. Man has rebelled against the Sovereign Creator of the universe. The people who were mocking Jesus, and beating Jesus, and spitting on Jesus, is a picture of all of us. And God is perfectly just. If God does not exact justice, He ceases to be God

But here's the deal; God is not only perfectly just and righteous and holy; He's also loving, and merciful, and gracious, and He longs to show His love, and mercy and grace.

And so since God cannot simply forego justice, someone has to pay for our sins but since He is loving and merciful He Himself undergoes that justice and pays the price, in the Person of His Son “ Jesus Christ. 

It is humbling and amazing to know that the sinless Son of God, endured that anguish because of my sin. 

The Bible goes on to say that Jesus is greatly distressed and troubled about what's going to happen. His disciples the guys who have said, We're with you to the end Jesus  They can't even stay awake and pray for an hour.

And so Jesus is going through this all alone. And He asks if it's possible, let this cup of God's wrath pass from Him. But then look at what He says, Yet not what I will, but what You will.

If you had to sum up Jesus life with one word, what word would you use? Some of us might use the word love We know that greater love has no man than this, that He lay down His life for His friends and we know that God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son. So we might use the word love.

But I think another word that would be just as true, and just as accurate is the word obedient. Jesus' life is one of perfect obedience to His Father. He says I have come to do the will of Him who sent me. And really, those two words go hand in hand. Jesus loves not only us, but His Father, and He loves His Father so much, He will obey His will. 

Obedience and love are two sides of the same coin. That's why Jesus says in John 14:15, If you love Me, you will do what I say. (My paraphrase)

It's mind blowing when you think about it. That Jesus willingly went to the cross, to suffer for people who don't love Him or care for Him and who are enemies of God in order to reconcile them back to God. How is this even possible?

Well Hebrews 12:2 tells us that Jesus “ who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of God.

So, yes, Jesus saw the horror of God's wrath being poured out on Him. He saw the separation between Himself and God because our sins would be laid on Him but He saw past that. He saw the joy that was set before Him.

He saw Himself seated at the right hand of God. He saw all who would be saved by receiving God's grace made possible through His act of obedience. He saw His Father glorified in the saving of sinners by the sacrifice of Himself.

This should amaze each and every one of us. It should fill our hearts with praise. We should stand in awe in His presence and sing out Amazing love! How can it be, that you my King should die for me? 
What a wonderful Savior, and what a wonderful Lord!

The question is “ is He your Savior and Lord?

February 28, 2016

Who am I?         Hebrews 11:23-29

We live in a very uptight world. This is an age of tension. This is an age of anxiety. We all face situations that make us tense and rob us of peace of mind.

A major cause of heart attacks and high blood pressure is tension and stress. Most tension is the result of unresolved conflict. If you have an argument with somebody at work “ it affects your job “ but it also affects your life.

People have said, Leave your work at work “ but the truth of the matter is that our emotional and mental states are always with us “ they are part of who we are.

Today we are going to look at the life of Moses. He was a man who learned how to resolve the basic issues of life. As a result he became a prime example of how to enjoy peace of mind. I think Moses was one of the greatest men of faith in the Old Testament.

He was truly a man of faith. Yet if anybody had a right to be uptight “ it was Moses. He was called by God to lead two million Israelites out of the land of Egypt.

They were to cross the desert and go into a new country called Israel “ the Promised Land. It was a great that God had called him for such a task “ but for nearly the entire time the people complained, argued, and fought.

They spent forty years wandering around the wilderness and that time for Moses could not have been easy. 

Moses had every right to be uptight “ but the Bible tells us that the character of Moses was that of humbleness. The Bible says:

Now the man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth. Numbers 12:3 

Humbleness is an attitude that lead to quiet confidence “ inner tranquility “ and peace of mind. An attitude that keeps you from getting ruffled and upset when things get hot,

An attitude that says, When everybody's coming down on me “ I'm going to look up. When everybody around me is uptight and hot “ I'm going to keep my cool. I'm going to do what's right “ no matter what others around me do. 

Why was Moses able to have peace of mind? Why was he able to be at peace with himself? Because he did not live by his feelings “ he did not live by his emotions “ he did not live by the opinions of others “ instead he had a life of faith and he knew who he was.

Whether you are a teenager or a senior citizen or somewhere in between “ each of us eventually has to deal with the question Who am I? (v. 24) 

The first thing Moses dealt with is the issue of identity. He settled the issue of Who am I? Look at what verse twenty four says:

By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter. Hebrews 11:24 

Moses “ when he grew up “ refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. Pharaoh had proclaimed that every newborn Jewish boy should be killed, but his mother hid him in a little basket in the reeds of the Nile River.

Pharaoh's daughter came along to bathe and she found a little tar-lined basket floating in the water. In it was a little Jewish baby boy “ Moses. Immediately she fell in love with the baby “ took him home with her and raised him right there in the Egyptian palace.

We need to understand what is going on here. Moses was actually a Jew but Pharaoh's daughter raised him as an Egyptian. Everybody thought he was a bona fide Egyptian.

Years later as he was being groomed to be second in command in Egypt “ he had to make a choice: What am I going to do? I know I'm a Jew but am I going to pretending that I'm an Egyptian. Am I going to continue living this lie?

Moses had every comfort he could wish for in the palace and he could have stayed there. But he had an identity crisis: Who am I? Am I a Jew or am I an Egyptian? Am I going to live with a bunch of Jewish slaves or am I going to stay here and live in luxury in the palace? 

What would you have done? What decision would you have made? 

Every one of us must come to grips with this issue of identity. We all have a deep need to accept who we are. If you try to be somebody you're really not “ it's a quick way to get an ulcer.

Moses recognized this tension and he decided to quit pretending. He accepted his true identity. If you want to have peace of mind you need to know who you are.

It is a liberating experience when you relax and quit trying to be somebody you're not. The foundation for peace of mind is: don't try to be someone you're not.

Relax and be yourself. God made you and He loves you just the way that you are “ warts and all. You are special to Him.

You can pretend to be someone else or you can accept God's plan and be who you were really meant to be in the first place.

How would we remember Moses today if he had stayed in Pharaoh's court? Maybe we would remember him as an Egyptian mummy in some museum!

But he made the hard decision and By faith Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter.

From the human standpoint young Moses had everything. He had ultimate power “ ultimate pleasure “ ultimate possessions. Much of the riches of the world at that time were stored in Egypt.

Moses had what most people spend their entire lives trying to get: power “ pleasure “ possessions.

It is true “ of course “ that there are many things in your life over which you have no control. You had no control over who your parents were. You had no control over where you were born. You had no control over the genes that went into your makeup. But there is one thing which you have absolute control over and that is how you respond toward life. 

How are you going to respond? It's your choice. You can't choose all the circumstances that come into your life but you can choose whether those things will make you a bitter person or a better person.

It's your choice. It's your responsibility. Part of the problem with trying to be someone you're not is the worry that comes with it. Worry that someone will figure out the truth.

Just be real. Don't spend your life trying to keep up with the Joneses. Quit finding fault in others to make yourself look better. Quit trying to impress other people Let's just try to please Him. How do we do that?

Micah 6:8 says: He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

February 21, 2016

A Solid Church   Philippians 1:3-8

I really love the words found in the verses we just read, as the apostle Paul expresses his genuine feelings for the members of the Philippian church.

I felt such feelings last Sunday for this church and wanted to use this sermon to keep us on that right track.

What happened last Sunday? It was cold and snowy and many of you still came out. Not only that you made soup or a dessert for the soup supper and not only that you paid to eat your own soup or dessert. We only had a very few people from outside the church come eat but it was still a successful event. We have enough money to pay the insurance.

Now if you didn't make it out last week I'm not scolding you at all Honestly it was a white out at times it was dangerous to be out and I have always said don't take any chances if you don't feel comfortable trying to make it to church.

Sadly many churches are struggling today because of feelings of "bad blood" that exists between the pastor and the congregation. Many churches seem to keep a pastor only a short time.

I know there are some pastors who act like Control Freaks rather than "Loving Shepherds." I try not to be one of them

But as long as there is internal strife and confusion within the church, Satan Rejoices! People become hurt and outsiders are not won to Christ.

But you will notice in our text, how Paul's heart is filled with love when he thinks of those precious saints at Philippi. He says: "I thank my God every time I remember you." "I have you in my heart." "I long for all of you."

This great church planter had organized many local churches but it seems that this particular congregation was Paul's "crowning work."

Paul spent many days confined in prison, and especially toward the end of his life when he knew that death was just ahead He did not have a color television to watch .... cards to play or Facebook .... But what helped Paul to keep his joy and his peace of mind ... was when he thought of the time he spent with these precious people at Philippi.

How that they loved the Lord Jesus with all of their heart, how they lived faithful lives serving Christ, how they loved Paul and worked faithfully under his spiritual leadership. The times of fellowship they had together was still a blessing to Paul as he was confined in a Jail cell. 

The world likes to point condemning and criticizing fingers at the church, declaring that it's "full of hypocrites." But in every church you will find people that love God, love Christ, and are sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. They are blessings to so many people, they have a good name in their community, they are a great blessing to the pastor.  

This morning I would like to mention three groups of people that are a blessing to their church and a blessing to Christ.

#1 "Faithful People"
From Genesis throughout Revelation, God commends people that are "Faithful" in their service to Him. In Matthew 25:21Jesus declares: "Well done, good and faithful servant! Come and share your master's happiness!

Think about this for a moment: Every one of us should be faithful 1 Corinthians says: It's required that a man be found faithful.

not up one day and down the next day, not lukewarm and filled with apathy.... not unconcerned and undependable. But Faithful!

I am persuaded that it pays to live a Faithful life! If you are not living that faithful life there will come a day in your future when you will regret it! Some people whine: "You just don't know the things I'm going through in my life right now. I can't be faithful until things settle down."

I don't know another's trials and struggles but God does... Jesus does and the Holy Spirit does. And there is grace that is sufficient to enable each of us to rise above our circumstances and predicaments and live a faithful life for Jesus!

I have found in my own life, that whether I am faithful or not, does not depend upon the things taking place right now, but upon my desire to live faithful."

 Revelation 2:10 says: "Be thou Faithful unto death and I will give you a crown of life."

Faithful unto death! Not faithful for a little while faithful unto death.
Thank God for people in our past and present who have lived faithful lives and they have set before us a good example!

#02:The 2nd group of people are: "People Willing To Work For God".
One pastor said to another pastor: "My church is full of "willing people" --- some are willing to work and the others are willing to let them work.

Some people will do more than their share of work, some people will work at nothing in the church. Some people will work wherever you ask them to and some people will not work any place. 

We live in a day of "excuses." I can't do this, I can't do that .

Jesus heard excuses also. Jesus said "Follow Me." One man said, "I bought a piece of land and I must go and see it." Another man said, "I have bought some oxen and I must go try them out, see what they are capable of.

The third man was probably the only one telling the truth. "I have married a wife and I cannot come." In other words, my wife says I can't.

But thank God for precious people in our churches that are more than willing to work for God. They may not be the best at what they do --- but they give it their best effort and that is all that God asks of any of us.

It is always exciting to see people that will work for God 5 -- 10 -- 15 years after their conversions as eagerly as they did the day after they were converted.

Last but not least: #3
People the church could not do without are "loving people."
People who love Christ and people who love people! 

The world today is filled with a very destructive spirit: The Bible calls them: "Lovers of their own selves." Doing what they please regardless of who it hurts. That spirit can creep into a local church and before very long it will destroy a congregation! 

What causes a church to grow? People within the church that love people! Love covers a multitude of sins and causes us to overlook each others faults and short comings as we labor together to build the church! Jesus said" "By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, If you have love for one another."

"Blessed are the peacemakers..." Precious people who love one another aren't always demanding that things within the church be done "their way."

It takes years to build a church but Satan can come inside and work through unloving people and tear down within a day what it took years to build. Thank God for "loving people."As we close I want you to think of some precious person who was such a blessing to you because they were filled with the love of God. Then, ask God to fill your heart so that you too may be a blessing to those you meet day after day!

God Bless you and thank God for precious people that are blessings to the church, the community and their household.

February 14, 2016

God Is Love     1John 4:7 - 12

A few years ago stunned motorists watched as a car pulled into the outside lane on a bridge and stopped. As they watched in horror the driver's door flew open and a young man got out and ran to the railing. He climbed to the top and stood there for just a moment looking down then he jumped to his death into the water below.

Those who witnessed the drama were shocked they could do nothing It was too late to help. As the police examined the man's car, they discovered a number of letters that told the story. It seems that the man was deeply in debt, and his wife had left him and taken the kids. It seemed to him that no one cared whether he lived or died. No one loved him. What did he have to live for? Why not end it all?

Sadly there are many people in the world today who feel much like the young man on the bridge. In this tense, trouble-filled age they run out of money, friends, and purpose While troubles, worry, and fear seem to crush out all hope. They feel like they have no place to turn. They feel that no one loves, understands, or cares for them.

But today may I assure you that there is Someone who cares Someone who understands and loves. And regardless of the mistakes that have been made, He is ready to help if only we will let Him. That friend is God.

Some people think that God is a severe Judge who is just waiting for us to make some mistake so He could punish us. But the more I study the Bible the more I see His true character, I have found Him to be loving and kind, ready to forgive and to help if only we will let Him.

From the verses we read a few minutes ago, I would like you to notice what the Bible says about God. 1 John 4:8 says, "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love."

They say, The proof is in the pudding so John wants to make sure that we understand what he is saying so he gives us an example of love in the next verse which says: This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.

If you really want proof that God is love then take a look at Calvary. It took a lot of love on God's part to allow His Son to go through all that.

The remarkable thing is that God doesn't just love the good people, but He loves the bad ones as well. You know it's easy to love the nice people, the kind people, the friendly people. But it's hard to love the mean people, the unkind people, the cruel people and all the rest. But God does.

Matthew 5:44 - 45 says, "But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you: That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust."

It takes real love to be able to treat all people alike, both good and bad. He blesses both the good and the bad with the things they need. After all they are His children. And He loves them all.

James 1:16, 17 says, Don't be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

Every good gift, every perfect gift comes from the Father above who loves His children, and is anxious to bestow upon them the good things that He can so bountifully supply.

You will remember that Jesus used the birds as an illustration of God's loving care for His creatures. He said there are thousands of birds yet they seem to be able to get their fill.

And I can assure you that just as the birds are taken care of by a loving God, so we too if we are willing, can have the assurance that God will provide for our needs.

Matthew 6 says: So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

That is just the assurance that we need that there is Someone who cares. There is Someone who is listening. We are not battling it out alone in this world of ours. Someone loves us and is ever ready to help us.

However if we don't seek Him out, or believe that God is there to help us, then we limit His ability to do for us what He longs to do. He will not force His way into our lives. God waits for us to call on Him and to ask Him to help us, not only in emergencies but in every day living.

Satan would like us to believe that God is just sitting up in Heaven waiting to throw lightning bolts at our first misstep but Romans 5:8-10 says, "But God has shown us how much He loves us: it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us! By His death we are now put right with God We were God's enemies, but He made us His friends through the death of His Son."

It was His own love for sinners that led God to give His Son to die God hates sin but He loves the sinner. If Christ's death had been an unwilling one, it would have been enough to say He died "instead of us". But Paul says that Christ died for us He deliberately and willingly gave His own Life because He loved us. And I am glad that once we have accepted Christ there is nothing that can separate us from God's love.

Romans 8:38 -39 tell us: 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.

I want to assure you that there is Someone who does love us. There is Someone who does care and I am so glad that our Heavenly Father does care for you and for me. So much so, that He sent his own Son, Jesus Christ to Calvary to purchase our pardon.

Today it is well to remember that Someone did care and does care and that Someone is God.

Febuary 7, 2016

The Bible          2 Timothy 3:14 -17

Did you know that the Bible is still the number one selling book in the world? It is estimated that nearly 5 Billion copies of the Bible have been sold worldwide. We currently have about 7.2 billion people on the earth so we still have a way to go to get the Bible into everyone's hands. Today our focus is on the Bible. We will look to it as the light that lights our path in this dark world.

Never in human history have we needed its illumination more than we do today.

Psalm 119:105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

This verse in God's word suggests that we who are travelling with God are on a great journey headed in a specific direction. We are walking on a path, following the one who is Holy “ Jesus Christ and we are listening to God's words through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit as we travel this life.

Our Heavenly Father doesn't want us to walk aimlessly but has in mind a destination for us. That destination is Heaven where we will be with Him for all eternity.

As we travel we will encounter rough terrain. There will be deserts and rivers to cross, mountains and hills to climb and valleys and plains to cover. Life is full of obstacles and calls for us to be sure footed. God calls His children to follow His voice as well as His word.

In Genesis 6 God called on Noah to build an Ark so that the human race might be saved to start again.

In Exodus 3 God called out to Moses to lead His people out of Egypt and into the promised land.

God himself wrote out the words of the Ten Commandments with His own finger that we might have divine laws to govern our conduct and relationship with Him. Exodus 31 and Deuteronomy 10

Today God is calling out to you and me through the Bible.

It was never God's intent that we should live only by the 10 Commandments, but that we should live by every word of God.  

In 2 Timothy 3 Paul reminds Timothy of this truth. Listen again to our scripture. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,  so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

There are a lot of words in the Bible to use to build our lives upon But we can't pull God's words out indiscriminately as some have done and suggest that we only use this part or that part. Instead we are to rely on the Holy Spirit to help us discern the Word of God so that we apply not just part of God's word but the whole of it.

The Old Testament with its laws and judgements must be balanced with the New Testament with its grace and forgiveness. This was St. Paul's advice to Timothy  

2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Jesus reminded us that God's words are meant to give us life. John 6:63
It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

It is important that we read God's word. But rather than just have God's words on our minds the Lord would have us write them on our hearts. 

Proverbs 7:2-3 Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.

The Bible is THE TRUTH by which we should live by not just any truth it is THE TRUTH but our world would have us abandon it and replace it with the lies of this age. As TRUTH it is Holy and divine never changing or alterable and never wrong.

What truth are you building your life upon in these days?

We need to get back to God's word, the Holy Bible, as the light for our path. In this age of confusion and error when everyone seems to be doing whatever seems right in their own eyes we have the word of God to correct and direct us in the way we should walk.

Hebrews 4:12  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

God's words in the Bible are full of promises; Joshua 1:7-8 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.  Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

It's been said that the best way to get healthy is to exercise and eat right every day. And the best way to grow in character and spirit is to ingest spiritual truth from God's Word every day.

What if you let the Bible become a part of your life by reading it daily?

A study found that the one thing that made people better at whatever it was they were working on was the time they spent with that thing or activity or pursuit.

In a study of college music majors, they found that those who had put in 4 to 6 thousand hours on their instrument were likely to become music teachers But  those who had put in 6 to 8 thousand hours were likely to became music performers.

They then found that this applies not only to musicians, but also to chess players, hockey players, golfers, writers, computer programmers “ to everyone in every field from academics to arts to athletics. 

What if you could reach that kind of level in your Bible exposure? It seems ridiculous at first, but maybe it's not so far-fetched. After all, if you just show up for church an hour a week, in a year, you'll have logged 52 hours and in 20 years, you'll have logged 1,000. Sit in church from age 20 to 60, you've got 2,000 hours.

Add Bible study and you've got another 2,000 hours.

Suppose you were to commit yourself to reading the Bible for ½ hour a day, six days a week? That's far less than the time most of us spend in front of the television or Facebook.

So here's a weekly formula for you:
Church “ 1 hour 
Bible Study - 1 hour
Personal Bible reading - 3 hours 
20 years 5,000 hours 

At 30 years, you'll be at 7,500 hours. 

Add listening to biblical preaching on the radio while you're driving, and within a reasonable 30 year time period, you will be marked by the Bible. God's teaching, God's thinking, God's way of seeing and doing things will be coursing through your veins!

Our path must be the word of God that leads us to peace with Him in the here and now and eternal peace through faith in Him in Heaven.

Let us purpose our hearts to give God's word the Bible the proper place in our lives.

January 31, 2016

All Things        Romans 8:28-39

Before I get into this sermon I want to make perfectly clear that I believe that living the Christian life will give you a better life an abundant life, but I also want to state that being a Christian does not guarantee that life will be problem free. Paul, who wrote the words we just read, was beaten, imprisoned, and shipwrecked How's that for a bed of roses?

If you are a follower of the Christ you know that your life should be filled with joy and that you should experience joy in spite of the circumstances of life. 

The Scriptures clearly teach us that the joy of the Lord is our strength and that joy is present no matter the circumstance. 

When Jesus prays to the Father in John 17:13 He says, I pray "they may have the full measure of my joy within them."

And in the proceeding Chapter, he says to his disciples, "You will rejoice. And no one will take away ....your joy" No one, No person, No thing can take away your Joy! What a Promise! 

Jesus is speaking these words to his disciples, who are going to be persecuted. They are going to be robbed, tortured, and put to death. 

Yet Jesus promises to give them a joy that will withstand all of that. 

Nothing... Not disease, persecution, alienation, loneliness, torture or even death...will be able to take this gift of Joy away from them. Do you and I have that kind of joy?

In Romans 8 Paul speaks about living in a suffering world. He speaks of a world that is marked by brokenness, trouble, persecution and how His followers are to live in such a world. 

In the verses we read together Paul offers hope for finding joy in a suffering world. 

Paul tells us that if we follow Christ, our bad things ...which are bad things.... Work together for good. Romans 8:28 says: "We know that all things work together for good for those who love him "

All Things.....The Good, The Bad, The Ugly. All things ... happen to followers of the Christ. All Things ... happen to those who love him. 

The Bible tells us that God allows His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. Matthew 5:45

Circumstances that befall a believer are no worse and are no better than they are for anyone else. 

It is extremely important for us to understand this if we are going to fully experience His unwavering joy. Terrible things happen, ugly things happen even to those of us who are in Christ...To those who love God. 

Many pastors teach and many Christians believe that if you love and serve God, then you won't have any bad things happen to you. I'm sorry but that's not true! That is not what the Scriptures teach us.

Horrible things can and will happen to followers of Christ And believing in and loving and serving God will not stop them from happening. 

The same things that happen to everyone else in the world will also happen to those who love God. In our text Paul is clear... He says "All things" and he means...all things. 

Paul asks What shall separate us from the love of Christ? Affliction, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?

These are not good things.... These are terrible things. 

Paul is saying these things will happen to those who love God...and they can happen to us. Hardship...distress...persecution... famine... nakedness peril and sword will befall believers.

It is imperative that we understand this. Bad things do happen, But God works them together for good.

This verse does not promise that those who love God will have better circumstances than those who don't love him. 

Nor does this verse imply that bad things are actually good things. Rather, it acknowledges that these are bad things.

But we have the promise that they are working for good for those that love Him. God will work them to good effect in the life of a believer.

The promise is not that if you love God, only good things will happen in your life. The promise is not that if you love God, bad things are not really bad. 

The promise is that God will take the bad things, and He will work them for good in totality.

That does not mean that when something bad happens we can decide to give God a week to show us how the situation is going to work for good. 

In fact, don't wait a month, don't wait a year, don't wait a decade. The promise is not for a month or a year or a decade. The promise is not that we will necessarily see how every bad thing in our lives works together for our good. 

One of the main reasons Christians become discouraged is because they think that since they are saved that bad things won't happen to them. 

They say, "This isn't how it's supposed to be." Or This isn't fair I am a Christian...life should be better than this for me," But that is not what God's promise is. 

Some....mostly those who are young in the faith, feel that if I love God, if I am a Christian then I should have more good circumstances more good things happen to me than those who don't love him. But that is not God's promise. 

Until you understand what the promise is, you are going to be continually shocked or discouraged.

There is a little word between verses 28 and 29 that indicates that the verses go together. 

The little word is.... for. Listen carefully And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son 

God does not promise you better life circumstances if you love him. He promises you a better life. 

The Scriptures are speaking to a joy, a peace, a life, that goes beyond circumstances. 

Jesus Christ did not suffer so that you and I would not suffer. He suffered so that when you and I suffer, we will become like him. 

The gospel does not promise you better life circumstances; it promises you... a better life.

All things. .. The Good, The bad and the ugly work together for Good for those who love him... 

Why? So that we will be conformed into the likeness of His Son.

All Things work together for Good for those who love him in order to be more like Jesus.

In our text Paul uses the word predestined. Something that is predestined is fixed. 

What Paul is saying is that if you love God, you can count on a promise that is absolutely fixed, that will not change. So what is it that is predestined? 

The Scriptures tell us that those who love Him Will be conformed to the image of His son.  That is what is predestined. 

The Greek word here is morpha, ...from which we get the English word metamorphosis. Paul is saying that God promises to "metamorphosize" us. 

If you love God, everything that happens in your life will be used to mold you, sculpt you, polish you, and shape you into the image of his Son. 

God takes all of life's circumstances and works them together for this good.

The Good is our transformation Our metamorphism into the image of Christ. God is making you like His Son.

He will give you Christ's incredible compassion. He will give you Christ's incredible courage.

God is working everything that happens in your life toward that magnificent end That magnificent good. It is predestined. It is guaranteed.

The minute you become a Christian, you have intimacy with God. You have an unconditional relationship. 

The more you live out who you are in Christ, the more you become like him. Paul is not promising you better things or better life circumstances. He is promising you a life that is being conformed into the image of his son. An eternal life that never ends. 

January 24, 2016

Creating Storms   Jonah 1:1 - 5

Our scripture is from the book of Jonah but I'm not really preaching about Jonah, other than using him, and others, to illustrate my main point.

The main point or the sermon in a nutshell is this. Life has enough problems on its own without us causing more problems for ourselves.

I have found that life is often filled with trouble. Problems seem to have permanently taken residence in our lives. Job says man born of woman have but a few days, and those days are filled with trouble.

Trouble never takes a vacation or a day off. Trouble never goes to sleep on the job. And trouble is never hard to find. (In fact it usually finds you!) 

Trouble comes as problems looking to be solved. Trouble comes as an illness' looking to be healed. Trouble comes as burdens looking to be borne. Trouble can even come looking like a blessing.

Have you ever gotten something and oh how happy you were when you got it, but down the road it turned out to be more trouble than it was worth? A car that turned out to be trouble. A job that turned out to be trouble. A dog or cat that turned out to be trouble.

Most of us are about one step behind trouble and trouble is waiting to happen. You can be sailing smoothly on the sea of life and all of a sudden out of nowhere, the winds begin to blow, the waves become boisterous and when the storms of life are raging there is nothing that you can do, but call on the name of the Lord.

Has anybody ever had to call on the Lord. If you ever been there you know what I mean when I say this life is filled with trouble. And since there is more than enough trouble I want to tell you this morning that we should not create storms for ourselves. 

We do that when we fail to do what God told us to do. God said to Jonah go to Nineveh and preach to them against their wickedness. So Jonah says to himself, I'm not going to Nineveh I'm going to go the other direction.

In fact, Jonah says no. I'm not going to Nineveh and preach to them. I am going to go as far away from Nineveh as I can. Challenging God's authority Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. 

I need to tell you that this is where so many of us are today. We challenge God's authority and do what we want to do. Sometimes the Lord speaks to us telling us what to do and we do something else. 

We challenge God's authority directly by being disobedient to his word. The word of God says in 2 Cor. 6:14 don't be unequally yoked, with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And yet somehow we end up in an unequally yoked relationship and our life is miserable. That is called creating your own problems or like Jonah your own storms. 

We challenge God's authority indirectly by being disobedient to his law that says children be obedient to your parents, the law that says obey them that have the rule over you, The law that says let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. That means the police. 

Also when we challenge God's authority we place others in danger.
When we create storms in our life it doesn't just affect our life because we are not on the ship by ourselves.

Don't you know when you create a storm, everybody get soaked. Jonah disobeyed God and created a storm and everybody on the ship felt the ripple of the waves, everybody on the ship was fearing that the ship was in danger of breaking into pieces.

Awhile back I counseled a man who had just quit his job because he was tired of being disrespected and underappreciated. And on one level I can understand that. So he quit with no way to pay his rent, or car payment, or power bill. He created a problem a storm.

But he isn't in the storm alone He has a wife and kids that are now in a storm because of his actions. 

The Parable of the Prodigal Son tells about a father who had two sons. And the younger son said to his father, give me my inheritance now. And he did. And not many days after the younger son gathered his possessions, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. Sounds to me like he created a storm.

He created a storm for himself. But not only for himself f you keep reading you will find out that, the father sat on the porch day in and day out looking for his lost son. And the bible says he saw his son afar off and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry; for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.

Do you see it? The father was in the mist of the storm because of his sons foolishness. He lost his joy, he was hart broken, it was not until the lost son came unto himself and came home that they began to be happy.

Don't create storms because everybody gets wet. Think about all the mothers and fathers who stay up late at night praying for that child who has created a storm. How often does some parent put a mortgage on their house, because a child created a storm. 

Finally, when you create a storm, you place yourself in danger. Jonah created a storm, placed the others in jeopardy and when Jonah had to face up to his mess, he finds himself being tossed overboard into the sea. 

God has fixed it so that you can run, but you can't hide. David looks over and sees Bathsheba, he creates a storm. David tries everything to cover up his mess, he lies, and he kills, but Nathan comes to David and David has to face up to his mess and if you read the 12th chapter of 2 Samuel you will find out that he was punished. Judas, thought it was better to have 30 pieces of silver than Jesus and created a storm, but when he faced up to his mess, he found himself at the end of a rope.

When you create storms you will come to a point when you will have to face up to your mess and it won't be pretty. 

There is however good news. Because of Jesus I can make it through the storms and through the rain. If this morning you are facing troubles of your own making call out to Jesus for it is He alone who has the power to still the winds and the waves.

January 17, 2016

"We Would Like To See Jesus."   John 12:20 - 28

A man was coming out of church one day, and the preacher was standing at the door as he always did to shake hands. He grabbed the man by the hand and pulled him aside and said to him, You need to join the Army of the Lord! The man replied, I'm already in the Army of the Lord, Pastor.

The Pastor questioned him, Then how come I don't see you except at Chris'as and Easter?...He whispered back, I'm in the secret service.

John chapter 12 contains some interesting things We start out with Jesus visiting in the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazrus the same Lazrus that Jesus raised from the dead. In verse 3 we see Mary pouring very expensive perfume on the Lord's feet and wiping them with her hair as Jesus announces that His ministry on earth is just about over.

In John 12 we also learn that Judas the one who would betray him was a thief. Then beginning in verse 12 we read about Jesus getting the royal trea'ent as he enters Jerusalem and a little further down we read about God the Father speaking to Jesus in an audible voice that everyone there was able to hear A lot of good stuff here but it was is these few verses that we just read together that I want to focus on this morning.

It seems that there were some Greek guys and they came up to Philip with a request. "Sir," they said, "we would like to see Jesus."

"Sir, we would like to see Jesus." The Bible College where Marla and I met is located in Northwest Indiana just about an hour from Chicago. In downtown Chicago there is a Rescue mission for the homeless called Pacific Garden Rescue Mission. It was named by D.L. Moody who founded Moody Bible Institute, also in Chicago. The building that used to house the mission was formerly The Pacific Beer Garden.

I used to go with a group from the college and help hold church services there I have a couple of memories that stick with me from those days Number one was the smell pack 150 homeless people into a room smaller than this one many of whom abuse alcohol and drugs not good.

But second and the reason I'm mentioning the mission is the little brass plaque that is affixed to the top of the pulpit there. It has five words: Sir, We would see Jesus which is the King James version of "Sir, we would like to see Jesus." It reminds whoever is preaching or teaching behind that pulpit that the real reason they are there is to help the people see Jesus.

You have probably heard it said that there is a God-shaped hole that exists in the human heart.  We were made with a longing that cannot be satisfied except by our Creator.  It's that longing that keeps us coming back, keeps us returning to see the One who made us, to the One who saves us.

But because of sin we find ourselves trying to fill that God-shaped hole with stuff that just doesn't fit.  We chase after things that are fun for a while but they just don't satisfy:  money, power, status, sex, drugs, adrenaline rush “ you name it.  God is constantly trying to reclaim space in our hearts that we've rented out to other tenants.

The Greeks who come to talk to Philip are on the right track.  Sir, we would like to see Jesus.  Good for them. 

But think about this:  suddenly, the next words out of Philip's mouth become very important, even critically important.  What he says and what he does will determine whether or not these would-be followers will turn to the Christ or return to the world. 

They've come to Philip in the first place because they suspect he is like them “ he has a Greek-sounding name.  Also, he's from Galilee, where most people speak both Greek and Aramaic, so he can probably speak their language.  These Greeks have placed a lot of hope in this one little conversation, based on nothing more than a cultural connection:  Sir, we would like to see Jesus. 

And now the key question is:  what's Philip going to do? 

I can imagine this whole scene going wrong in any number of ways.  If he's feeling a bit tired, a bit overworked, he might ignore them altogether.  Or he might give them a more polite-sounding brush off:  I'm sorry, but Jesus is too busy to talk with you right now. 

Any one of those responses would have had the same effect People who came looking for Jesus would have gone away not having seen him.  They would have returned home with that God-shaped hole in their hearts remaining just that: a hole. 

Or, even worse, they might have gone away thinking that this Jesus wasn't all he was cracked up to be anyway.  I can imagine them saying, Well, if that's how the guy's disciples act, then I sure don't want any part of him.

Out in Kansas, there's a church called Westboro Baptist.  Part of this church's ministry is to protest at the funerals of American soldiers killed in Iraq.  Carrying signs that say things like Thank God for IEDs

When I read that a church is doing this in the name of God, in the name of  Jesus, it makes me angry.  Actually furious. 

You know the people who see that on TV, and read about it in the paper might have started their day thinking, We would like to see Jesus, and suddenly they wonder:  do I, really?  If that's how this guy's disciples act, then I don't want any part of him.

Now that's an extreme case, an over-the-top kind of illustration.  But still, the question remains:  How many times have people looked at us with the thought in their hearts, We would like to see Jesus?  In other words do you practice what you preach? Does Jesus really make a difference in your life?

And how many times have they gone away disappointed, because of something we said, because of something we did, because of something we didn't do?  How many times have we sent them off to try and fill that God-shaped hole with something else?

Philip in our story had a bit of an advantage Jesus was still walking around.  Even if the disciples couldn't help make a connection, people who really wanted to see Jesus could physically see Him. 

But today, the only way most people will get to know Jesus is through us as individuals and as a church.  How will they ever begin to know how to connect with Jesus unless they first hear it from us?  Unless they see Him in us?

Our job is to be like the old-time telephone operator, to help make the connection.  But what happens if we're asleep at the switchboard?

We want to see Jesus is the simple request. When you make it yours, others will see that.  Others will approach you, as they approached Philip.  And you will be able to help show them the way. 

January 10, 2016

How To Be Successful  Luke 5: 1 - 8

Have you ever failed at something? Have you ever tried something and it just doesn't work? It flops “ it fails. I know that I have failed many times. Things did not turn out the way that I had hoped.

It's reported that it took Thomas Edison over 10,000 tries to invent a reliable light bulb. When asked why he failed so many times he said, I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.

But the truth is “ failure can become a stepping-stone to success.

Our story starts out with Jesus surrounded by a crowd. They were pressing in on him “ so he notices two boats on the shore “ the fishermen were there too “ they were putting away their nets after a long unsuccessful night of fishing.

So Jesus gets into one of the boats and asks if they can move out in the water a bit. Of course they do and Jesus teaches the people from the boat. 

Let me ask you a question at this point “ whose boat was it? Who did the boat belong to? If you look closely at our text “ you will find that in verse three the boat belonged to Simon Peter.

It was his boat. The text does not tell us that Jesus asked permission to get in the boat “ it seems  that he just got in. But the text does tell us that Jesus asks Simon Peter to move out a little from the shore so that he could teach the people from there. Simon Peter's response was simple “ he allows Jesus to be in charge. That's my first point If you want to be successful allow Jesus to take control. 

At this point in the story we don't know how much Simon Peter knew about Jesus “ perhaps he had heard stories of him. But here is what we do know. Simon Peter allowed Jesus to get into his boat.

It doesn't say that he put up any argument. It doesn't say that he put up any type of fuss. It doesn't say that he tried to kick Jesus out of the boat “ it does say that he allowed Jesus in the boat - to take control.

That's the starting point If you want to be successful “ if you want to recover from failure “ you've got to allow Jesus into your boat. You've got to allow him to be in charge. You've got to allow him to be in control. Nothing “ absolutely nothing has greater influence on your personal success than having Christ in your life.

The Bible says in Phil. 4:13:I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Through the strength and power of Christ “ I can do all things. I can overcome my failures. I can become a success. 

In our story about Simon Peter “ it's important to note that he allowed Jesus to take control of an extremely important possession in his life “ his boat.

Peter's boat represented his livelihood. Peter's boat represented his income. When you're a fisherman “ your boat is your business! But Peter went ahead and let Jesus take control of it.

You know sometimes there are things we like to hold on to. Sometimes there are things that we don't want others to touch. Sometimes there are things that we just won't let go of. But you know what Jesus says? He says:

" those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.. Luke 14:33 

The Message Bible says it this way: "Simply put, if you're not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can't be my disciple. Luke 14:33 (MSG) 

You see the first step on the road to success is putting Jesus in control of your life. But that's not all “ to overcome failure you need to do what Jesus asks.

Our text says: When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch. Luke 5:4 

Jesus told Simon Peter “ where to fish, when to fish, and how to fish. 

Now let's remember that Peter and his friends were fishermen. They knew how to fish. They knew when to fish. They knew where to fish. They had been out fishing all night and they had caught nothing...They failed.

Simon Peter was tired “ he was exhausted “ he had come up empty handed “ he was disappointed. I can kind of imagine what might be going on in Peter's mind at this point. He may be thinking, What's the use. I gave it my best shot last night and I got nothing. I failed.

Why try again and who does this Jesus think he is? He's not a fisherman “ He's the son of carpenter. I'm the fisherman here. I'm the professional. I'm the expert. He thinks He knows more about fishing than I do?

But look at what Simon Peter says: Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets. Luke 5:5 

The truth is: It is easy to call yourself a follower of Christ “ it's much harder to act like one. It is much easier to call yourself a Christian “ it's much harder to live like one. Look at what Jesus says: "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. John 14:15 

It's one thing to call yourself a Christian “ it's another thing to do what Jesus tells you to do. If you truly are a Christian “ you follow Christ “ you do what he asks you to do.

Do you know what Peter did? He went out to the deep water “ he let down his nets “ he started fishing “ just as Jesus had told him to do. It was the same lake he had fished in the night before “ the same boat he had used “ it was the same nets that had come up empty “ he was the same man who had caught nothing the night before “ but this time he listened to Jesus and he did what Jesus asked him to do.

And what was the outcome this time? It was completely different than the night before “ he now had a boatload of fish actually two boat loads of fish!

He had let Jesus be in control. He had let Jesus take charge. He had done what Jesus asked him to do and now he was successful.

Look at what Simon Peter said after the miracle of the fish. He cries out: "Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!" Luke 5:8 

Peter's eyes are opened. He realizes that he standing in the presence of the King of kings and the Lord of lords. The miracle so astounded Peter that he cried out, Lord, I don't deserve this! I'm a sinner. This is too good for me. 

This incident became a turning point in Peter's life. He became humble before Christ. 

Folks when we stand in the presence of a Holy God “ how can we not be humbled? He is spotless “ He is pure “ He is all powerful “ and we are not. The Bible says: "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." 
James 4:6 

It wasn't by Peter's efforts that the nets were full. Sure Peter had gone out in the deep water “ sure Peter had let down his nets “ but it was Jesus who gave him the fish. God blessed him and Peter knew that God had blessed him and he was humbled. A big part of Christian living is walking humbly before our God.

How does this story relate to your life? Maybe you feel like the disciples before Christ came along: I've worked all night and come up with an empty net. Does that describe your attitude toward your marriage, your job, your relationship with others, your life?

Simon Peter didn't say, Lord, I've worked ten hours and didn't catch anything “ I give up. I'm through. No “ He didn't give in “ he didn't give up 

“ he let Jesus take control

“ he did what Jesus asked him to do

“he walked in humbleness before God and he became successful.

How about you “ what are you going to do? Let Jesus take control. Let him come into your boat and see what happens.

January 3, 2016

Land of the Giants     1 Samuel 17: 17 - 24

If you are at least as old as me you may remember a TV show from the late 60's called Land of the Giants. It was about seven people from earth who found their spaceship caught in a warp of some kind and ended up on a planet where everything was twelve times larger than on earth.

Each week they battled giant cats, children, or soldiers. I wonder What would we do if everything and everyone was a giant? 

The truth is that we do live in a land of giants. There are things that are bigger than us which seem to stand between us and being where God wants us to be.

In the Old Testament, God sent His people to a place called The Promised Land. It was a great place to live but it also was inhabited by giants which they would have to face and defeat.

We too live in a land of giants which we must face if we are to be where God wants us to be.

God told Moses there would be blessings and enemies in the Promised Land

He promised Joshua the Promised Land but told him he would have to be strong and courageous to face its challenges.

He anointed David to be king as a youth but David still had Goliath to fight.

In other words, there is great joy and blessing in following Christ but there will also be battles to fight. They are a necessity and they are very real!

We have read or heard this story at least a thousand times. The story of this young shepherd boy David and this huge problem named goliath. This same David that became King of Israel, the same David who was a man after Gods own heart, the same David that said The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want.

No matter how many times I read this story I see something new.

Everyday of our lives we run into our own giants. These giants come in different sizes and different types. These giants these problems always seem to show up un-invited. And let me just say you don't have to be 18 to experience problems in this life. You don't have to be 21 and legal to have giants in this life.

We make the mistake of thinking that young folks don't have problems.

Kids today have problems that many older folks have never had to deal with. There use to be a time when crack was a hole in the wall and coke was a soft drink.

In fact it seems like problems get worse and worse, that's why we need to spend more time encouraging our kids instead of getting on their case every time we see them.

We all have giants that we fight. We are not called to hold the fort against the giants of life. Unfortunately, that is the plan many Christians seem to have. They want to circle the wagons at the church building and hold off the devil until Jesus comes back. That is not God's plan!

When Goliath challenged Israel, Saul hid in his tent and just hoped everything would work out. He had adopted the philosophy of that great theologian, Charlie Brown who told Lucy, "I have a new philosophy. I'm only going to dread one day at a time." 

We aren't called to run for cover. A mom came home from shopping to find her children staring at something under a bush in the yard. When she looked to see what they were looking at she saw they had found some baby skunks.

Without thinking, she yelled, run kids, run! They did, but not before each child grabbed a skunk to take with them. We are often like those children. When faced with the giants of life we panic and make a mess out of things.

 The giants we face today may be unemployment, loneliness, abuse, depression, bills, grades, a career, temptation a mistake.

 
We must face the giant. No hiding, no running away, no cowering in fear.  Give it your best shot. 

Your Goliath doesn't carry sword or shield; he brandishes blades of unemployment, abandonment, abuse, or depression.

Your giant doesn't parade up and down the hills of Elah; he prances through your office, your house, your classroom.

He brings bills you can't pay, grades you can't make, people you can't please, temptations you can't resist, a career you can't escape, a past you can't shake, and a future you can't face.  

A giant is anything that exalts itself above God. We are to cast down every high thing. These are those things that seem too far above us to even hope to win against them. Goliath towered above everyone else in Israel. He was even taller than King Saul, the tallest man in the kingdom.

No matter how big Goliath was, Israel could have brought him down if they had let God fight their battle for them. There are many things that tower above us.

·Intellectual Giants “ People that seem to have all the knowledge. They are experts and we are not. How can we stand against their evidence?

·Philosophical Giants “ People who seem to understand life so much better than we do.

·Material Giants “ People who have so much more than we do. Who are we to question what they say or believe?

In the end, a giant is anything or anyone that refuses to give God His rightful place.

Goliath offers a challenge to the Israeli soldiers in verses 8. Standing down in the valley, he demands for someone to face him in battle. In fact, verse 16 informs us that this continued on for 40 days. Day after day, Goliath breathed his threats and challenges, while flaunting his size and impervious strength.

By the very sight of Goliath, the armies of Israel were dismayed and greatly afraid. The Hebrew wording reveals that the spirit of the mighty Israeli army was beaten down to defeat They were paralyzed with fear.

Personal valleys become the sites of personal conflicts. They are the giants of the soul. Goliath comes in many forms and shapes, albeit all very large. Your giant may be an overwhelming set of circumstances; a medical condition, a problem person at work, or a situation with your employment.

For some it is the goliath of habitual sin that meets you in the valley of weakness to continually intimidate you and rob you of personal joy, hope, and freedom.

The battle is real and constant. The New Testament speaks of a spiritual enemy, although very real in his constant badgering. His name is Satan.

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

Verse 23 that we read together said...Goliath stepped out from his line meaning he advanced. If you tolerate a giant long enough, he'll take over your territory and move right into your camp.

Giants boast of their strengths and intimidate you, they move in closer. They'll dominate your thoughts. They'll steal your joy. They'll take your peace. You can't afford to tolerate giants. You kill them.

What giants do you face in your life? Hebrews 12:1-2 gives us the ultimate answer for all the giants of life “ Look to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith 

Max Lucado wrote: Focus on giants “ you stumble. Focus on God “ your giants tumble.

 

 

 Ezra 10:32 (KJV)
Benjamin, Malluch, [and] Shemariah.
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