Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Prayer For The New Year

Colossians 1:9-11 

I saw an article that listed the five most popular resolutions made practically every year. The 5th was to take up a new hobby, the 4th was to make more money, the 3rd most popular resolution was to improve relationships, the 2nd was to stop smoking and the most popular New Year's resolution was, you guessed it, losing weight.

A woman walked into her bathroom at home. As she did, she saw her husband weighing himself on the bathroom scales, sucking in his stomach. The woman thought to herself, "He thinks that he will weigh less by sucking in his stomach." So, the woman rather sarcastically said to her husband, "That’s not going to help." Her husband said, "Sure it will. It’s the only way I can see the numbers."

Often this time of year, after the overindulgence of the holidays we make resolutions to change our habits and our way of life. A new year gives us an opportunity to start fresh and better ourselves. Unfortunately by the middle of January we’ve somehow forgotten our resolutions and have returned to our old ways.

I heard about a man who moved into a retirement community to spend the rest of his life there. It wasn’t long until he had made a number of friends among the other residents. There was one lady he was especially attracted to, & she was attracted to him, also. So they spent a lot of time together. Finally one evening he proposed, asking her to marry him.
The next morning he woke up remembering his proposal, but he couldn’t remember her answer. So he went to her & said, "I’m really embarrassed. I proposed to you last night but I can’t remember if you said `Yes’ or `No."’ "Oh, thank goodness!" she replied. "I remembered saying `Yes’ but I couldn’t remember who asked me."


Psalms 37:4 - Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

There are some amazing prayers in the Bible. Colossians 1:9-11 is one of them. This was Paul’s prayer for the church at Colosse. We would do well to incorporate this prayer into our life in 2012. Let's take a look at it more closely.

Paul’s prayer for the church at Colosse was a prayer for:

I. Perception – 1:9

For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; (Colossians 1:9 NKJV)

Paul prayed for the church that they would be able to understand or perceive the:

A. Will of God“that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will”

How are you going to do God’s will if you don’t understand what it is that God would have you do? The phrase “filled with the knowledge” means to have full-knowledge.

Paul did not want the church to guess at God’s will for their lives. Paul's asking that the church there be filled with God's knowledge means that is can be known! You can know what God wants you to do. You do not have to meander through life hoping your life is counting for something. You can know it is.

Ask God to fill you with the knowledge of His will this year. Tell Him that you are willing to go wherever He wants you to go this year. Surrender your time, talents and treasures to Him today. Don’t hold anything back this year. Your life belongs to God. Give it back and watch Him use you in His will.

One thing is for certain. If you are going to do the will of God this year you’re going to have to know what it is. God will show you His will for your life if you let Him.

Paul prayed for the church that they would be able to understand or perceive the will of God and also that they might be able to perceive the:

B. Word of God“in all wisdom and spiritual understanding”

It’s impossible to fully explain how important the Bible is in and to your life. It doesn’t matter how old you are – the Bible is your instruction manual, security blanket, code book, invitation to the grand ball, etc.

You may just be learning how to read. Read your Bible. It’s the instruction book for all of life. You’ll be a better student if you learn the principles found in the Bible and practice them throughout grade school.

You might be in your teen years ands all of your friends have turned their backs on God and the church. They think the Bible is a book of fairy tales and old stories that are unimportant. Read your Bible. It will get you through the years when you want to wander away from God, home, the church, and everything that is decent and moral.

You might be in you twenties when the teen-age years have gone and now you’re trying to figure out what to do with your life. It might not be popular among your friends to stand for God. Read your Bible. It will give you wisdom above your years and lead you into a life of significance.

You might be in your thirties or forties and raising children, teen-agers or young adults. You are going to need the encouragement and inspiration the Bible provides. Your children are still watching you. They may not come to you with their problems, but they are watching to see how you handle the pressures of life. Your Bible will help you be a true source of wisdom to them beyond their adolescent years.

You might be in your fifties and beyond. Read your Bible. All of the other generations need the guidance of godly Christian grandparents. Leave a legacy of godliness. Pass on your passion for the Bible.

Paul prayed for the church that they would be able to understand or perceive the will of God and the Word of God. Secondly, he prayed for:

II. Prosperity – 1:10

 That you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; (Colossians 1:10 NKJV)

Here again, Paul’s prayer for their prosperity was in two areas. First, he prayed that they might be prosperous (fruitful) in their:

A. WalkThat you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him,
The word “worthy” (axios) there means, “bringing into balance, equivalent”. Does your life balance with the Lord’s? Is your life the equivalent of His?

Paul prayed that the believers at Colosse would be prosperous in their walk with the Lord. My prayer for each of us this year is that we would be prosperous in our walk with Him. Remember Jesus’ story of the Talents. Read Mt. 25:14-30.

I’m not praying for you to make a million or to stockpile things that will rust and decay. I’m praying for you to prosper in your spiritual life. I’m praying that you will be the best example of what a believer in Christ should be. If we will do that, we will be prosperous.
Mt. 6:19-21.

Paul prayed that they might be prosperous in their walk. Secondly, he prayed that they might be prosperous in their:

B. Work“being fruitful in every good work”

That’s a good prayer, isn’t it? As we serve God this year, I pray that the work we do for Jesus Christ will produce more fruit than it ever has.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:58 NKJV

Paul prayed that the church would be able to perceive the will of God and the Word of God. He prayed that they would be prosperous in their walk and work. Lastly, he prayed for God’s:

III. Power – 1:11

Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; Colossians 1:11 NKJV

The Colossians needed the power of God in and on their lives and ministry. So do we. Like the Colossians, we need God’s power to:

A. Endure – for all patience and longsuffering”

B. Enjoy – with joy”

What a prayer! “Lord, help us to understand Your will and Your Word. Help us to prosper in our walk and work. And give them us power to endure the difficulties and still enjoy the journey.”

(I first preached this sermon beginning the year 2003. Wow, I'm amazed at how applicable God's Word is for us EVERY year!)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

How About Less Christmas Stress             
Luke 10:38-42                            

Whether you like it our not and whether you are prepared or not, the Christmas Season is upon us! Black Friday is coming! Ladies, it is a scientific fact that shopping is more stressful for men than for women. According to a report in “The Oregonian,” British psychologist David Lewis found proof that shopping is hazardous to men’s health. Testing volunteers ages 22-79 by sending them out Christmas shopping; he recorded blood pressure rates that “you’d expect to see in a fighter pilot going into combat.” In the same test, only one in four women showed any significant signs of stress from shopping.

“A few days before Christmas two men in Florida decided to go sailing while their wives went Christmas shopping. As the men were out sailing a terrible storm arose and they had great difficulty keeping their boat under control. While they maneuvered their way back to land their boat became grounded on a sandbar. They had to jump overboard to push with all their might trying to get the boat into deeper water. As they were straining against the storm, the wind was blowing terribly, the waves were rushing upon them and they were soaking wet and knee deep in sandy mud. Then one of the two looked at his buddy and said, ‘You know it sure beats Christmas shopping.’ ” 

What should be one of the most rewarding times of the year for us, a time which should bring us joy and warm our hearts, instead often brings stress and heartburn, headaches and depression. In fact, many are dreading instead of looking forward to the days leading up to Christmas.
The stress that plagues people at this time of the year is rooted in three basic sources; TIME (getting everything done), MONEY (paying for it) and EMOTIONS (conflict with family and past painful memories that resurface).

If you stop to think about it, stress is nothing new at Christmas. The events surrounding the very first Christmas were filled with an incredible amount of stress. Observe:
-Angels start showing up, scaring the living daylights out of people. 
-Mary is pregnant out of wedlock. 
-Joseph, Mary’s husband to be, wants to quietly break-off the marriage. 
-Joseph is told that Mary is carrying the Son of God and it is up to him to care for them. 
-Joseph, along with every other head of a household, is compelled by law to return to the city of his birth for the census. 
-Joseph finds himself on the road with a pregnant woman; no rest stops, no restaurants, no comforts (and there's NO donkey found anywhere in the Bible story for Mary to ride!).
-It's a definite possibility that Mary's mood was not the best, by the time they arrived in Bethlehem. 
-When they finally arrive at Bethlehem Joseph discovers there are no vacancies and he is going to have to tell his pregnant wife that they are going to stay in a barn (or stable, or cave).

I submit to you that there was a lot of stress associated with the first Christmas!

Let's direct our attention to a story recorded in Luke 10:38-42. It may seem like an unusual choice given what we’ve been talking about but you'll soon see why.
“Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. (39) And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. (40) But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me." (41) And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. (42) "But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her." (NKJV)
Poor Martha understood what stress was, rushing around trying to get everything ready – after all, Jesus was in the house! Martha surely represents every person, men included, who are so worked up about getting everything done that needs to be done so that they can “enjoy Christmas.”

Stress can result from anything that: Annoys you, threatens you, worries you, hurries you, angers you, or frustrates you.

Some of the symptoms of stress are:
• Frequent headaches.
• Irregular heartbeats.
• Getting dizzy or light headed.
• Indigestion or nausea.
• Difficulty failing or staying asleep.
• Waking up tired.
• Anger or irritability.

Martha was probably familiar with these symptoms.

I think that we can see some of the traits of the stress-prone person in the life of Martha. Perhaps you see some of these characteristics reflected in your own life.
1. Plans day unrealistically
2. Always in a hurry
3. Makes no plan for relaxation
4. Feels guilty about doing anything other than work
5. Sees unforeseen problem as a setback or disaster
6. Is always thinking about several other things when working.
7. Feels the need to be recognized and overextends themselves because of this.

That sure sounds like Martha. Does it sound like you?
In today’s text we will see four simple principles for overcoming Holiday stress.

How Too Overcome Holiday Stress

Set Realistic Expectations For Yourself

One translation of verse forty reads, “Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.” That sounds like our lives sometimes. Like Martha we can get so distracted by what we consider the many necessary things that we miss the main point. By focusing on those things of lesser importance we miss what is the most important.
Notice what Jesus tells Martha in verse forty-two, “Only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better.” What Martha had chosen was not bad or evil. All the work that she was doing was good, but not all she was doing was necessary. Perhaps all of the preparations you have planned for Christmas are good, but are they all necessary? The thing about Martha’s predicament is that no one had assigned her all these duties; she was the one who had decided what “had to be done.” If she had too much to do, it was not simply because her sister Mary was not helping her, perhaps it was because her plans were too elaborate.
Jesus told Martha, “only one thing is needed” and that one thing was spending relationship time with Jesus. We must not get so wrapped up in our preparations for the Holidays that we have little or (God forbid) no time for Christ.
The best thing you can do for yourself as we enter this Christmas season is, “Determine what is really stressing you.” For example, if it is really stressing you out, do you really have to have that special dessert that takes an entire afternoon to make? Do you absolutely have to decorate the house as elaborately as you did last year? Do you have to spend so much money that you’re still paying for Christmas presents next May?

Set Realistic Expectations for Yourself and:

Remember Why You Are Doing What You Are Doing

Martha got so busy serving Jesus she forgot to spend time with Jesus. We can get so busy with our preparations for Christmas, and our participation in Christmas that we forget to spend time with Christ.
I want to share a poem that I think says it better than I can, entitled, Can This Be Christmas?

“What’s all this hectic rush and worry?
Where go these crowds who run and scurry?
Why all the lights—the Christmas trees?
The jolly “fat man,” tell me please!

Why, don’t you know? This is the day
For parties and for fun and play;
Why this is Christmas!

So this is Christmas, do you say?
But where is Christ this Christmas day?
Has He been lost among the throng?
His voice drowned out by empty song?

No. He’s not here—you’ll find Him where
Some humble soul now kneels in prayer,
Who knows the Christ of Christmas.

But see the many aimless thousands
Who gather on this Christmas Day,
Whose hearts have never yet been opened,
Or said to Him, “Come in to stay.”

In countless homes the candles burning,
In countless hearts expectant yearning
For gifts and presents, food and fun,
And laughter till the day is done.

But not a tear of grief or sorrow
For Him so poor He had to borrow
A crib, a colt, a boat, a bed
Where He could lay His weary head.

I’m tired of all this empty celebration,
Of feasting, drinking, recreation;
I’ll go instead to Calvary.

And there I’ll kneel with those who know
The meaning of that manger low,
And find the Christ—this Christmas.

I leap by faith across the years
To that great day when He appears
The second time, to rule and reign,
To end all sorrow, death, and pain.
In endless bliss we then shall dwell
With Him who saved our souls from hell,
And worship Christ—not Christmas!

[M.R. DeHaan, M.D., Founder, Radio Bible]

Remember Why You Are Doing What You Are Doing and:

Don't Wait Too Long To Put Your Hope In Jesus Christ

Christmas is a spiritual time for some but for others it’s a time which reminds them that something is missing in their life. Christmas shows them like no other time of the year does, the spiritual emptiness they feel.

“Back in the days when service station attendant actually filled your car for you, a preacher waited to have his car filled with gas just before a long holiday weekend. The attendant worked quickly, but there were many cars ahead of him at the service station. Finally, the attendant motioned him toward a vacant pump. “Preacher,” said the young man, “I am sorry about the wait. It seems as if everyone waits until the last minute too get ready for a long trip!” The preacher, chuckled, “I know what you mean. It’s the same in my work.”

If you haven’t obeyed the gospel please do it today!

Don’t Wait Too Long to Place Your Hope in Jesus Christ and: 

Decide To Do Something This Christmas To Make A Difference

•Mend a quarrel, tell someone that may not know, how they have blessed your life.
•Forgive someone who has treated you wrong.
•Turn away wrath with a soft answer.
•Visit someone who is lonely.
•Surprise everyone and apologize if you were wrong.
•Be especially kind to someone with whom you work.
•Give your gifts this Christmas as God gave to you in Christ, without obligation, or reservation, or hidden meaning.

(I first preached this sermon December 5th 2004. Some of the content is borrowed from other fine preachers.)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Circling the Sufferer

Selected passages from the great book of Job

 Everyone can identify with some aspect of Job’s suffering: areas of family, personal health, and material possessions. It is not simply suffering that bothers us but unjust suffering. We grow up as children understanding that doing wrong equals punishment, but as adults we discover that there is sometimes no correlation between wrong doing and suffering. Job gives a voice to suffering. He protests… straight to the top. However, Job does not curse God or explain suffering. Job comes to see suffering as a mystery and develops respect for that mystery. But let’s look at the book of Job from an entirely new viewpoint, from which we’ve probably never looked from before… rather than relating to and identifying with Job, consider how we resemble Job’s friends, especially in the way that you relate to suffering people.

Job’s friends had good intentions to help but only added to his misery.

Christians can be a great comfort or a great burden to hurting people.

How can we, as Christians, be a comfort rather than a burden to hurting people?

There are three steps that Christians must take to comfort hurting people:


“Sufferers attract fixers the way road-kill attracts buzzards. And buzzards are sure ugly!"

 What kind of things from well meaning friends do suffering people hear?

1. Eliphaz   chp. 4

If you’re a good person, you don’t have to worry, because only the evil suffer.
I had a vision from the Lord…
If I were in your shoes, this is what I would do: appeal to God and count your blessings.

2. Bildad   chp. 8

God took your children, because of their sins, and if you don’t repent, you’re next.
So, repent and ask God’s forgiveness for whatever you did wrong.

3. Zophar   chp. 11

You don’t have any right to be angry at God.
There are some things that you just can’t understand.
Repent of your sins and reach out to God.

Characteristics of their comments:

a. They used the Word of God.

b. They gave spiritual diagnosis and prescription.

c. Some of their general statements were technically true but they were:

“Answers without personal relationship, intellect without intimacy.” Eugene Peterson

According to them, anyone who lives intelligently and morally is exempt from suffering.

Pattern to their behavior: (especially true of men!)

Appropriate the blame.
Attempt to fix the problem.
Accusation of failure.

How do suffering people feel when they hear things like this?

Job’s response to his friends: Job 16:1-6, 10, 19:1-6, 21:1-3, 26:1-4. Read these verses!


1. No matter how insightful we might be, we don’t really understand the full nature of their problems.

2. Our friends may not want our advice.

3. People do not suffer less when they are committed to following God, but more.

Three great contributions of the book of Job:

1. Witness to the dignity of suffering.

2. Witness to the presence of God in suffering.

3. A Biblical protest against religion that is reduced to “answers.”

“There is meaning beyond the mystery.” Rabbi Abraham Heschel

But we must become satisfied with the mystery. Job learned this lesson. See Job 42:1-6.

If you have to find the remains of Noah’s Ark to believe the Bible, if you have to analyze the DNA evidence of the Shroud of Turin to believe in Christ, if you have to understand why Godly people get cancer, why children die in house-fires, or why marriages fall apart to believe in God, you cannot enter the Kingdom of God.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists, and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” Hebrews 11:1, 6


Rather, than trying to prevent suffering, which is impossible, we should begin entering the suffering, entering the mystery and looking around for God. See Job 33:23-28.

We can be that angel/messenger, the mediator, to tell them that there is a “ransom” provided. God left the very portals of heaven and took upon Himself a robe of flesh. See 1 Peter 2:21-24.

“There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17

We have been called to suffer with Christ.

“For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for Him.” Philippians 1:29

“I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:10, 11

We have been called to suffer with others.

“If one part suffers, every part suffers with it.” 1 Corinthians 12:26

If you are really part of the body, but do not suffer with the rest, one must question your relation to the rest of the body. At best you are either spiritually numb to the pain or a wayward prodigal in the far country.

Stop feeling sorry for them.
Look up to them.
Learn from them.
If you are allowed, join them in protest and prayer.

Pity is near-sighted and condescending. Shared suffering can be dignifying and life-changing.

But we cannot walk in their shoes and share their suffering, if we are not willing to get dirty. The message of the gospel is this: we are not only called to share in the suffering of our friends and family, but also with the lepers, the prostitutes, the tax collectors, the Samaritans, the poor, the hungry, and the lonely.

(I built this lesson quite a few years ago with the help of several sermons I had read. I don't have the names of those authors any longer but I am truly grateful for the material of theirs that I "borrowed". ~ Mick.)

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

What Do You Want On Your Marker? 

I remember watching the funerals in Washington D.C. & in California of former President Reagan in June of 2004. I was reminded of legacy: Crowds, well-wishers, mourners, world leaders, celebrities, children, grandchildren, etc.

How many of you have grandchildren?
What memories do you have of your grandparents while growing up?
What will your grandchildren think of in fifty years when they think of you?
If your family could write the one thing they remember most about you on your marker, what would it say?
Some peoples might say, “He made a lot of money” Or maybe, “She knew how to have a good time,” Or someone else’s, “He had the best-kept yard in the neighborhood.” What will yours say? For what will you be remembered?
Grave marker inscriptions can be quite insightful and leave us wanting more information at times:

1. “Here lies Anne Mann. Who lived an old maid, but died an old Mann.”
2. “Beneath this sod, a lump of clay lays Arabella Young; who on the 21st of May began to hold her tongue.”
3. “The children of Israel wanted bread, the Lord sent them Manna. Old Clark Wallace wanted a wife, the devil sent him Anna.”
4. Here lies Johnny Yeast- ‘Forgive me for not rising.’
5. “Here lies Butch, we planted him raw. He was quick on the trigger but slow on the draw.”
6. “Under the sod and under the trees, lies the body of Jonathan Peas. He’s not there, there’s only the pod. Peas shelled out and went to God.”

These are all rather humorous but when we think about it seriously, what will your tombstone say? Let's look at a man who might have had the greatest inscription of them all. Who am I talking about? Turn in your Bibles to:

Gen. 5:21-24
21Enoch lived sixty-five years, and begot Methuselah. 22After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years, and had sons and daughters. 23So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. 24And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.

Enoch didn’t die, but if he had, his inscription would have been: He walked with God then he was no more. That is a legacy! When his children and grandchildren thought of him they remembered him as someone who walked with God! How did he do this? How did he obtain such a legacy? We are given two clues. The first one is found in
Heb. 11:5-6
 5By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him”; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God6But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

He Pleased God

He was commended as one who pleased God. You may be thinking, “Well, but I please God!” How? I have found at least two ways people are TRYING to do this:

1. Chores
This is probably the most common form of trying to please Him. People think, “If I can just do a little bit more, if I can give a little more God will be pleased with me.” What does God say pleases Him?
Read 1 Jn. 3:21-24. 21Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. 22And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. 23And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.
24Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.
Do you see it? It is not about chores! He gives us two ingredients: Belief & Love. Chores are the fruit growing from the rich soil of a loving heart. If you first love your neighbor, you will then want to demonstrate that love by helping him/her get to a heaven you really believe is there.

2. Church
Some of you are thinking, “Okay, I can see the chores thing but I think you might be going to far with this one. I mean God wants us to come to “church”, Right?” Let me explain. First read Mt. 15:8-9.
 8    ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth,
    And honor Me with their lips,
    But their heart is far from Me.
9    And in vain they worship Me,
    Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”
 What is going on here? Some Pharisees are talking to Jesus about the ceremonial hand washing and the fact that His disciples are not doing it. Jesus then turns and starts telling them about their vain worship and traditions. He says, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain…” Worship Him in vain? How do you do that? Listen. How many times have we been in “church” (one of my least favorite words) and you are standing and mouthing the words to the song while you wonder where everyone is going for lunch today? Why don’t you just sit down? I mean what is the difference? Do you think God appreciates the fact that, “Well, I’m so glad he is standing up at least. At least he has enough reverence to do that.” What? God doesn’t ask us to stand up for him! In fact in most cases you see people taking a knee or falling flat on their faces! God wants us to WORSHIP Him! Some folks think everything in life is worship. Hogwash! A good part of what a person does everyday is done without giving God a nod at all. God wants us to consciously & conspicuously love Him with all of our hearts and all of our minds and all of our strength! Nothing less will do! How do we do this? Practically, I think it starts with finding out who He is. When you see God like Isaiah saw Him, filling the temple with the train of His robe, in all His majestic glory you will have no choice but to worship Him. Read your Bible. Spend time in prayer. Write down what God does and watch for His handiwork in your life. Then you will see the reasons to praise Him.

Enoch knew these things and therefore pleased God. What else did he do to gain this “walking with God legacy”?

He Presented God's Word

Okay, first I want you to notice that his legacy was built on his faith in God and then by what he did through his deeds, worship, and religion. But notice it was also built on what he said.
Jude: 14f Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, 15to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”

What is this? He presented Gods word to people of his day. Some of you might be thinking, “But I can’t do that. I’m to shy.” That’s not what I’m talking about! How many of you said you have grandchildren? How many of you work with someone who doesn’t know Jesus? How many of you have a friend who is lost? Teach them right from wrong! Tell them what Gods word is!

Challenge Yourself

I want you to apply this word to your heart. Don’t let this be just another sermon. Let it be the word of God spoken to you and let it change you. Live it so that when you are gone, your grandchildren will say, “He sure did walk with God. “I don’t remember much about her, but she sure did love Jesus.” That’s the legacy you want! What if you don’t have grandchildren? What about your children and friends? What about those at the church and in our community? What will they say about you when you are gone? What are some things you can do now to ensure a “walking with God legacy” in the hearts of those around you? Invest in people. It will make all the difference here and in heaven.
I know I’m speaking to a group of people who should all know Jesus, but anytime I am given the chance to preach I am going to do this: If you don’t know Jesus, your legacy will be something else. In all of eternity nothing else will ever matter. It will not matter how big your boat is, how fast you car goes, or how many rooms your house has. No one will care what position you held or what church you went to. There will only be one thing on everyone’s mind concerning you: What did you do with Jesus?

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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Having a Big “But” Can Keep You Out Of Heaven

(This is in "preaching outline" form)
Luke 14:15-24 (ESV)
15 When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” 16 But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. 17 And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ 19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ 20 And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ 22 And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ 23 And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’ ”

Here are a few of the “buts” that are all too common among us:

But Everybody Else Is Doing It (a rationale for sinful behavior) 1. God is a non-conformist.
Every great man of God that was used of God was a non-conformist. The Bible tells us, “to be not conformed to this world.” Rom. 12:2
2. Noah in his day was different.
3. Enoch did not conform to the world. He walked with God.
4. Abraham was a non-conformist. Everybody else went to Sodom and Gomorrah.

But Times Have Changed (meaning the Bible is outdated)
1. They sure have, but that doesn’t change God’s word.
2. Politics change – Society changes – Customs change – Fashion changes, but God’s Word does not change.
3. In these days of inflation the wages of sin is still the same.

But I Don't Believe Like You Do
Some say they were brought up in such and such a church or in another religion. It doesn’t matter how you were brought up. The Bible says “You must be born again.”

But It Doesn't Matter What You Believe As Long As You Are Sincere
1. Satan uses this excuse more than any other to send people to Hell.
2. You may have Faith but unless you faith is in Jesus Christ, you can’t be saved.

But I Don't Understand It (ignorance as an excuse)
1. Rom. 1:20 says they are without excuse. There is no excuse for not being saved.
2. We live in a realm of things we don’t understand. – Electricity – Life (1st birth) –But we believe it.

But I'm Going To Wait
The Bible is full of people who put it off, who said, “I’m gonna wait”.
1. The rich young ruler
2. The rich man in Torment
3. Felix
4. Agrippa

But I'm Just Too Bad
1. In Acts chapter 2 Peter saw some of the men who had crucified Jesus believe.
2. Paul the Apostle called himself “the chief of sinners.” I Tim. 1:15

If you were sitting on the railroad tracks and a train was coming. You could make one of three decisions:
1. You could totally ignore the train and live like it was not coming. – Until it hit you.
2. You could say, “It’s a long way off. I still have time. I’ll just wait until it gets closer." – Problem is, you are still sitting on the track!
3. You could heed the warning and get off the track and be saved.

Only one of these responses will save your life. Which one have you made?

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Carrying Other People 

Mark 2:1-12
1 And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. 3  And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

Folks are self-centered — perhaps more than any other time in history urban migration, pressures of work and the demands of the family have left us with very little time for our unsaved friends. When we do have some time, we wish to relax and unwind in our own privacy. There is a lack of interest in spending time with other people, to be concerned for them and to share in their struggles. But as people of Christ, we are commanded to share with others the good news of God’s saving grace through the Lord Jesus. Unsaved people do not know how to trust in Christ and we need to lead the way for them to follow. Just like the four friends in Mark 2:1-12, we need to carry our friend who is "paralyzed" by sin and suffering to be healed by the Lord Jesus.

The above passage tells of four (4) principles that we need to observe when we consider carrying other people. So, how do we carry others?

Firstly, we need to carry our friends. This means we need to befriend others and earn their trust so that they will allow us to carry them to where they can find help. The American poet, Will Rogers said that, to him strangers do not exist. They are just friends that he has not yet met. If one has a choice, he will not allow himself to be carried by others that he does not know.

Secondly, we need to carry our friends to Jesus. The direction we bring them towards is the Lord Jesus Christ. The four friends brought the paralytic to Jesus. Our friendships must be intentional. It is not helpful to carry our friends all over the place, no matter how enjoyable that may be. If we feed a friend for a day or even build for him a house, what good have we done if he dies in his sins? Often Christians get so caught up with helping their friends they forget to take their friend to the Lord Jesus, the best Helper available. Jesus, promises complete help — help for the body, soul and spirit. We have seen Him change lives. He makes a difference!

Thirdly, we need to carry our friends above other people. When the four friends saw the crowded house, they lifted their sick friend above all the other people. This calls for creativity and a willingness to expend effort and finance (roof repairs!) to get our friend to Jesus. Many today do not have a passion for souls. If anything, the effort at soul winning is pathetic. We say a prayer now and then for our friend. The presentation of the gospel is ignored and if we manage to squeeze something in, we hardly persevere when the initial response is not enthusiastic. We need to work harder! Like the four friends we need creativity, we need to give priority to salvation of our friends. We need to eat souls, sleep souls and even dream souls! The eternal destiny of our friends must so occupy us that on occasions, even our loved ones need to take second place. We need to carry them above other people.

And finally, we need to carry our friends by faith. In Mark 2:5, Jesus saves the paralytic because of the faith of his friends. Similarly, we can bring our friends to the Lord and asks that He save them. No doubt each person needs to exercise his own freewill to choose the Lord in order to be saved. But we can pray that the Lord will bring about the right circumstances for that person to put his trust in Him. How many mothers have prayed for their children’s salvation and how many have had their prayers answered!

Faith is the ability to see God in every situation. It is the voice of faith that sings:

Expect a miracle everyday,
Expect a miracle when you pray;
If you expect it, God will find a way,
To perform a miracle for you today.

We are living in perilous last days. We need to make our lives count. Indeed he who wins souls is wise. (Proverbs 11:30) We must look beyond our own personal problems and look out for others. Who are you carrying to Jesus today?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Running Man (2)

Running Changes Your Prayer Life

1 Kings 18:36 - At the time of the sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command.

1 Kings 19:4 - He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die.

A. His first prayer was God focused. It was all about God. But notice the second prayer it was self centered, very narrowly focused- it was all about him.

B. When you run from God, your prayers will shift from being God centered and others-focused, to being self-centered and focused.

C. When you are serving God and obeying God your prayers will generally be God centered or others centered but from the moment you start running from your heavenly Father your prayers become self-centered.

Usually The Reason We're Running Is Not The Reason We're Running

Vs 3-Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.
Vs 4- I have had enough, Lord he said.

A. In verse 3, we get the impression that he is running because of Jezebel. He runs from Jezreel to a day’s journey past Beersheba maybe about 70 miles in total; it is there we discover the real reason for his running.

B. He felt God had put too much on his plate. His real problem was not with Jezebel. It was with God. “I have had enough, Lord.”
C. I tend to believe  that there are a multitude of superficial problems out there that we start running from…but the real problem is between God and self!

God Is There,...If You Listen

Look, here’s some good news, even when you run and let’s face it sometimes a Christian can’t think of anything else to do. You should but you just don’t. Even when you run, and wherever you run to, God is there!  You think you’re experienced with life’s agonizing wastelands? God has spent centuries in men’s wildernesses! You think you’ve experienced the lonely solitude of the wilderness? God has spent untold lonely ages there pleading for his children to listen to Him! Don’t you find it true that if you aren’t listening to a person, it’s the same as if their not there. Illus. “What was that you said?” God is there!,.. if you listen.

 Vs 5- All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat”.

Vs 9- And the word of the Lord came to him: What are you doing here, Elijah?”

A. At first, Elijah is a day’s journey into the wilderness south of Beersheba and God is there to minister to him through his angels.

B. He then sets out on a 40-day journey to Mount Sinai and when he gets there, God is waiting for him.

C. God was making the point that no matter how far or where you run to –you cannot run away from God. God is saying. “I will be there when you get there.”

D. Then God tells him “go back the way you came”. It was at least a forty-day journey and now he has to repeat it going in the other direction. God was making the point it would have been better if you to run toward me instead of away from me.


Today you may realize that you’ve been running away from God. Or perhaps you haven’t started running yet but you’ve got your running shoes on and you’re warming up to run. I urge you to run to Christ. He is waiting for you.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Running Man
1 Kings 19

Have you ever felt like running away (and who hasn't)?

You got so fed up and tired of “it all”, that running away seemed very attractive. Teenagers think about running away when they feel overwhelmed by the rules their parents have for them. Stay-at-home moms get tired of screaming children and dream of running away from it all. Husbands and wives at times consider running away because of their tiresome and ongoing marriage problems. Employees think about quitting when they become frazzled with added workload without added pay. And yes, you and I think about running away from all this Christianity stuff because there are times it seems too hard and way too much work.

In this Bible story the prophet Elijah had reached his breaking point, the serving-God-stuff was just too difficult. He had recently called down rain from heaven on Mount Carmel and killed all the false-prophets of Baal. Even as he is celebrating the great victory that God had accomplished through him, word comes that Queen Jezebel is going to have him killed. Elijah is overwhelmed by the thought that Jezebel is planning to “off”  him and he decides to run. So let’s think about some concepts from Elijah's story that we can use in our lives when we are tempted to become, "the running man".

When I Am Running Away From My Problem, I Am Also Running Away From God

Vs 3- Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.

A. Notice that Elijah is trying to run away from Jezebel. He is attempting to get some distance between the evil queen and himself. But he is also running away from God!

B. It's inconceivable that he doesn’t ask God what he should do. He doesn’t even talk to God about such a major decision as running away. Here is Elijah, who has had a wonderful relationship with God and now suddenly, with a major decision ahead of him he’s not talking to God. He puts on his jogging shoes and takes off.

C. Let’s remember that the warm-up to running begins in the heart before the running gets to the feet (this is extremely important to remember!).

D. We do the same thing as Elijah. We don’t ask God what we should do or we don’t wait for His answer when we do ask. We just put our jogging shoes on and start running. And the reason that we don’t ask or wait for His answer is that we already have a pretty good idea what He’d say. God would tell us we need to stay and work through it.

E. In another Bible story related in the book of Daniel I imagine that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego gave running a thought when told of the fiery furnace plan. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that Daniel considered running when confronted with the lion’s den. Humans have the “fight or flight” response built in but,

When You Run, Things Change All Right
(And often NOT for the better!)

Vs 3 he left his servant there.

A. Remember high school graduation time and you all promised each other that you would always stay in touch. Then you moved on to your college or job and your friends moved on to their college or job or military service, and everything changed.

B. When you decide to run and then do it, everything changes. Elijah had a faithful servant who had been with him through thick and thin. If Jezebel had caught up with Elijah, I'm sure that she’d have killed Elijah and his servant. Elijah takes his servant with him as far as Beersheba and then tells him he needs to go the rest of the way alone. So there's a change.

C. In vs. 15 after God has brought healing to Elijah, God tells him to go back the way he came. But what is interesting is that he does not pick up the servant that he left in Beersheba. The servant may have gotten on with his life but the Bible does not say that Elijah picked him up again. You run and nothing is ever the same.

D. You hear people’s regrets all the time. “I wish I had never left”. “It was a mistake to leave”. “I wish I could do it over again”. But the truth is that running changes everything.

To Be Continued.

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