Sunday, January 27, 2019

sunday am screenTEXT: Phil 3:8-17

 INTRODUCTION: Are you like me? Do you find yourself losing your focus quite easily? In the midst of a very hectic and fast-paced life, if I’m not extremely careful, I completely lose my spiritual focus. It isn’t something that is done intentionally, but the prevention of this loss must be done intentionally.

Much can be learned from the Apostle Paul concerning this matter. He was a man that deliberately maintained his focus, and his focus was knowing Christ. In Philippians 3:8-17, we can learn much from this godly man’s example.

 YOU MUST IGNORE THE DISTRACTIONS

 Life is full of distractions. Sometimes they come in the way of trials. Sometimes they come in the way of victories. Paul had experienced both, but in our text, his attention was centered on the accomplishments of his life, not upon the setbacks. In Philippians 3:4-6, Paul recounts his impressive list of credentials.

In those verses, Paul refers to the traditions he had embraced, his compliance to the Law, his impressive heritage, his fervent religion and even his political alliance. To many in Paul’s day, his resume’ was truly admirable and one that could have been coveted. Yet, in Philippians 3:7, Paul writes, “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.” Paul refused to be distracted.

One of the greatest problems with our accomplishments, our positions, our heritage and our traditions is that they can come to occupy a place that should only be held by Christ. It is Jesus that should be our security, our sufficiency and our satisfaction, not our accomplishments. In order to remain focused on Him, we will have to ignore those “good” things that can so easily distract us.

YOU MUST INITIATE THE DECISION

 In Philippians 3:7 we read these words, “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.” Had Paul “gained” anything because of his accomplishments? Absolutely! He was well thought of by his peers. He was well respected in the community. The governmental leaders admired him. Yet, Paul had the integrity to realize that, although his credentials helped him with man, they were of no help to him and his relationship to His God.

The phrase “I counted” means to lead or to be a leader. In other words, Paul assumed responsibility for his choices. He made some very difficult decisions. He determined that all of those things that had gained him favor with man were distracting him from his pursuit of Christ.

What is it in your life that is distracting you from truly knowing Christ? It could be your job. Even my job, the pastorate, could be a distraction as I seek to know Him. Our families, as important as they are, can hinder our relationship with Jesus, if we allow them to. I don’t know what your distractions might be, and you don’t know mine. We must be honest with ourselves. Sometimes we have to step back from the life that consumes us, take a really honest look, and step up to make the really hard decisions.

YOU MUST INVALIDATE THE DOUBTS

Maybe there was a time in your life when you made those difficult decisions. Maybe God convicted your heart, and you surrendered to Him, those things that were interfering in your spiritual life. Maybe it was at an altar. Maybe it was in the privacy of your own heart. Maybe sometime later, after you had made those commitments, you began to doubt.

Many of us have entertained those types of doubts. Their pressure has overwhelmed us. In Paul’s case, he recognized this and wrote in Philippians 3:7-8, “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ, yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord…” Paul refused to undo in doubt, what he had done in faith. In verse 13 he gives us a glimpse of his secret when he describes, “…Forgetting those things which are behind…” May God give us grace to make these types of choices and then may He give us grace to follow through on them.

YOU WILL INSPIRE YOUR DESCENDANTS

When we eliminate the distractions in our lives, verse 10 indicates that we will begin to truly know Christ. Our knowledge will go beyond knowing Him as Saviour. We will begin to know Him intimately. We will learn of Him. We will better understand how He thinks, and we will even begin to think like Him. Our lives will change, and that change will be for the better.

Not only will this knowledge impact our lives, it will impact the lives of those who follow us. In Philippians 3:17, Paul writes, “Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.” How do we expect our children to know a Christ that we don’t really know? How do we expect to ignite this passion in the hearts of those whom we lead in ministry, if the fire doesn’t burn in our own hearts? Are we leading, by example, in this critical area?

A couple of years ago, Adam LaRoche was offered a $13 million contract extension by the Chicago White Sox. This money would be added to over $72 million he had already made playing professional baseball. However, the offer was conditional, and the condition was, he had to “cut back” on the amount of time that his son spent in the clubhouse. Fourteen-year-old Drake LaRoche was a fixture in the Sox clubhouse. He came to work with his father every day. Although Drake was well received by Adam’s teammates, management feared that he had become a distraction.

Adam LaRoche declined the $13 million, and retired from playing professional baseball. The White Sox brass asked him to reconsider. As he thought and prayed about his decision, (LaRoche is a professing Christian), the words of one of his former chaplains resonated in his ear. “What do you want written on your tombstone? Do you want ‘Adam LaRoche: Gold Glove, batting average, hit so many homers, and has a million dollars in the bank account,’ or do you want, ‘Adam LaRoche, man of God, integrity, raised a great family, loving.’ Let’s be honest, I don’t know anyone who wants their stats.”

Adam LaRoche turned away from the distraction, playing baseball, to what he deemed most important, being a good father. It was most certainly a difficult decision, but one that LaRoche was willing to make. May we have that same willingness when it comes to our relationship with Jesus and our desire to know Him.S

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Sunday, January 20, 2019

frayTEXT: Isaiah 45:1-5

INTRODUCTION: Our theme for 2019 is taken from Hebrews 12:2 and the simple statement, “Looking unto Jesus”. If we are going to be successful in life, and if we are going to successfully navigate our way on our individual journey, we must keep our eyes upon Him. In Isaiah 45, God reminds us of the importance of maintaining proper focus.

THE PREVALENCE OF CONFUSION

You’ve probably figured this out life can be pretty confusing. As a matter of fact, life canbe very confusing! We’ve all wondered, or at least been asked, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Why does it oftentimes seem that the harder we strive, the further behind we get? Why is peace so evasive? The list could go on and on of questions that seem to have no answers. It is confusing, to say the least.

In Isaiah 45 we find a very confusing situation. In verse 1 we read, “Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut.” For a moment, let’s consider the first part of that verse.   There we read, “Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus….” To even the casual Bible student, that can seem pretty confusing.

When I think of the word anointed, I think of men like David. Samuel visits Jesse’s house in search of the Lord’s choice for a king. He finally finds David, and at God’s command, pours oil upon his head to anoint him. David went on to become a great king and a man whom God described as being “after God’s heart.” Quite to the contrary, Cyrus was a pagan leader. He was not one of the “good guys”. Yet, the Bible clearly states that God anointed him, much like He did David. Are you confused?

There will be many times in our lives when we will be confused. Any time we attempt to understand or explain, with our finite minds and mouths, an infinite God, we can become confused. Our God is inexplicable! In Isaiah 45:5 we read, “I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me.” His ways and His thoughts are much higher than ours. He lives on a different level. He is God and we are His people and we don’t have to understand Him. We don’t have to understand Him, but we do have to look to Him. Confusion will cripple us when we refuse to look to Him, even when we can’t explain Him.

THE PROOF OF CREDIBILITY

Why? Why, in the midst of all of the confusion, should we look to Him? Why, when His actions make no sense to us, should we focus upon Him? Why, when He anoints a pagan king to do His work, should we keep our eyes upon Him? In this passage, God provides for us just a few of His credentials. In verses 7-12 we find some unique things that set God apart from all others. There He speaks of forming light and creating darkness. In verse 12 He reminds His people that He made the earth and created man upon it. With His hands He stretched out the heavens. His resume’ is impressive, to say the least.

In verses 9-10, God addresses the fact that man has no right to doubt Him. There, He speaks about clay questioning the actions of the potter. He points to the fallacy of children aggressively questioning their parents. If God had no credentials, He would still be God because He says that He is. However, His works only substantiate the claims that He makes as being the one and only God.

 THE PRODUCT OF CONCENTRATION

In the midst of all of the confusion that is going on around us, we’ve got to keep our eyes on Him. In Isaiah 45:22 we read these words: “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: For I am God, and there is none else.” Simply put, God is stating that if we keep our eyes fixed on Him, even in the midst of our confusion, He will work things out for us! Again in verse 17 we find this truth. “But Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation: Ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.” By looking to Him, they can rest assured that they will not be ashamed. God used a pagan king named Cyrus to deliver His people from bondage. It didn’t make sense when Cyrus was anointed, but God’s people were certainly thankful that they looked to Him, even when they couldn’t understand Him.

Maybe we need to come to a place in our lives where we realize how helpless we are, and how helpful He is. When we focus upon Him, He works on our behalf. Understand, He didn’t command us to see Him, only to look to Him. We will not always understand. His ways will not always make sense to us, but by looking toward Him, we acknowledge Him as Lord. Spurgeon said, “Wherever I am, however far off, it just says ‘Look!’ It does not say I am to see; it only says ‘Look!’ If we look on a thing in the dark we cannot see it, but we have done what we were told. So if a sinner only looks to Jesus, he will save him; for Jesus in the dark is as good as Jesus in the light, and Jesus when you cannot see him is as good as Jesus when you can.”

In the midst of the confusion that may be prevalent in your life, look to God. Focus upon Him. The wise man wrote in Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” He is worthy of our trust and He is willing to help us. We must stay focused in the fray.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

 

good directions blog

TEXT: Genesis 24:48

 INTRO: If you’ve ever travelled at all, you know the importance of good directions. Many of us have known the misfortune of getting directions from someone that really doesn’t know where they are going. In today’s message, a servant named Eliezer reaches his desired destination, and when he does, he testifies that he did so because he had been given good directions. Notice Genesis 24:48.   “And I bowed down my head, and worshipped the Lord, and blessed the Lord God of my master Abraham, which had led me in the right way to take my master’s brother’s daughter unto his son.

Today, most of us have goals. The goal that some of us have is to reach that “expected end” that Jeremiah preached that God has for us. If that is going to happen, we are going to have to be sure that we are getting good directions. Let’s take a closer look at how Eliezer reached his goal.

 HE FOLLOWED THE RIGHT PEOPLE

If you want to arrive at the destination that God has for you, be sure that you’re following the right people. In Eliezer’s case, he chose to follow Abraham. In Genesis 24:1 we read,  “And Abram was old, and well stricken in age: and the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things.” In the minds of many today, Abraham would not have qualified as one who gives good directions simply because he was old. Some might conclude that Abraham could be “out of touch” or that he might not understand simply because of his age.

In more than 35 years of ministry, I have found that many people are more prone to seek “directions” from their peers than they are their elders. It also seems that this mindset is more prevalent today than it has ever been. The afore-mentioned prophet, Jeremiah, testified in Jeremiah 5:5,   “I will get me unto the great men, and will speak unto them; for they have known the way of the Lord, and the judgment of their God…”

 Most great (older) men don’t attempt to stick their noses in the business of others. When our children became adults, my wife and I determined that we did not want to be “those” parents. When some of them married, we determined that we most definitely did not want to be “those” in-laws. We are here for our children and their spouses, but we are not intrusive. It is up to them whether they seek direction from us or not. Eliezer made the wise choice of listening to what Abraham had to say.

HE WAS IMPRESSED BY THE RIGHT THINGS

Sometimes we fail to get directions from the right people because we are not impressed with the right things. We are easily impressed by education, financial success, charisma, or popularity. In ministry, we are oftentimes impressed by size. If someone’s ministry is experiencing explosive growth, then we want to read everything they’ve written. We might begin to emulate their style and integrate their methods. It has gotten many of us into a lot of trouble.

There is a descriptive phrase found in the latter part of Genesis 24:1 that could easily be overlooked. There the Bible states, “…And the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things.” Simply put, Abraham had the blessing of God upon his life. Maybe we should give more attention to that, than some of the other things that oftentimes impress us. Those who are educated might be a great help to us as we seek leadership, but our greatest help would surely come from educated ones who have the hand of God upon their lives. If popularity is going to impress us, let’s be sure that the popularity is a result of God’s magnification of a man and not that man’s self-elevating practices.

HE FOLLOWED THROUGH ON THE RIGHT DECISIONS

 Along our journey, each of us is going to make decisions. Some will be good decisions, and some will be regretful. In verses 2-3, Abraham challenged Eliezer to make a decision. The elder man provided the conditions and asked the servant to make a decision as to whether or not he would agree to the conditions. In verse 9 we read, “…And the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and sware to him concerning the matter.”

As I look back over my life, I realize that the life that I now enjoy is due to choices and decisions that I have made. As a younger man, I made decisions involving purity. I have tried to follow through on them. I made some decisions involving my commitment to Christ and His church, and I’ve tried my best to honor them. I made some decisions concerning my involvement in getting the gospel to the world, and I am still trying to make that decision a priority in my life and ministry. If your decisions are going to help you reach your desired destination, you can rest assured that Satan will attempt to dissuade you from keeping them. Like Eliezer, we must follow through on our right decisions, regardless of the circumstances.

HE LISTENED TO THE RIGHT VOICE

As we travel through life, we are going to hear many voices. There will always be someone that wants to influence us, and sometimes, those people can be pretty loud. If you’re trying to gather information that will assist you in your direction, Google will always be willing to help. There will always be a blogger that will readily speak to you through his or her writings. Yet, I have found that arriving at my desired destination has more to do with me listening to His voice than the voices of all others.

Let’s notice what Eliezer had to say in Genesis 24:7. “The Lord God of heaven, which took me from my father’s house, and from the land of my kindred, and which spake unto me, and that sware unto me, saying, Unto thy seed will I give this land; he shall send his angel before thee, and thou shalt take a wife unto my son from thence.” The voice of God often speaks, but seldom do some listen. In order to hear His voice, you must be in tune with Him. He speaks softly. He is not demanding. He is not demonstrative. Yet, in a still, small voice, He guides and directs His children along the pathway of obedience. Eliezer listened, followed and arrived at his destination.

HE YIELDED TO THE RIGHT WILL

On his journey, in search of a wife for Isaac, the servant happens upon a well. He has spoken to God, and has asked the Lord to do some very specific things. He plans to ask a lady for water, and if she is the one that God has chosen for Isaac, he expects her to offer to water his camels as well. As he is explaining this to God, notice what Eliezer says in Genesis 24:14. “And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also; let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master.”

 Notice in this passage that the servant was not asking that his will be done, but that God’s will would be done. He could have developed his own criteria based upon the damsel’s appearance, experience or financial status. Instead, he asked the Lord to reveal what He wanted. He submitted what could have been his will to the Father’s will. That is oftentimes our problem. We want what we want, more than we want what God wants. Did you know that God will get you where He wants you to be if you’ll just get out of the way?

HE HEEDED THE RIGHT REBUKE

Eliezer goes to the well and there he meets Rebekah. He puts this petition out to the Lord.  When he asks her for water, Rebekah does offer to water his camels, and the next thing he knows, he is at Rebekah’s house, talking to her family. He explains the purpose of his journey and the events that had brought him to that place, and then in Genesis 24:49 he says, “And now if ye will deal kindly and truly with my master, tell me: and if not, tell me; that I may turn to the right hand, or to the left.”

The servant wants someone to be honest with him. He wants them to tell him if he has gained their approval. He wants them to tell him if they will give Rebekah their blessing in returning with him to become Isaac’s wife. He wants them to tell him, and he plans to listen.

As we journey through life, God will place people in our path to help direct us. Sometimes that direction will come in the way of rebuke. If we listen to those rebukes, it will help us reach our destination. If we ignore them, it can bring tragedy. In Proverbs 29:1 we read the words of the wise man. “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” It is so important that we learn to listen to the people whom God has placed in our lives to give us direction.

What a wonderful thing to arrive at your destination and be able to say, “The Lord led me in the right way.” God does lead, and He uses people and circumstances to give us good directions. What a wonderful Saviour!

Sunday, December 23 2018

Blog pic

 

TEXT: Luke 2:8-17

INTRODUCTION: There are countless lessons to be learned as we consider the story of Christ’s coming to the manger in Bethlehem. One of the great lessons, one that is often overlooked, revolves around the people to whom the Lord first made the announcement. He made the announcement to the shepherds. What can be learned from this? Why did God choose these people? For those answers, let’s take a closer look at Luke 2.

THE ACTIVITY OF THE SHEPHERDS

Have you ever encountered a time in your life when you simply did not know what to do? As we come to the close of another year, maybe you currently find yourself in that place. I don’t know all that was going on in the lives of these men at this time, but one thing I do know, is that they were doing what they knew they ought to be doing. In verse 8, we read    “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.”

God reveals His unknown will to those who are doing His known will. In Psalms 143:8 David penned these words: “Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I put my trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.” God came to a group of men with some instructions about the future.   Isn’t it interesting that it was a group of men who were doing what they knew to do in the present?

 THEIR ATTENTION TO THE STATEMENT

As verses 9-10 bring these shepherds into the story, we find an angel speaking to them. In a moment, we will take a closer look at the message, but for now, let’s focus on the fact that the shepherds actually listen to what the angel is saying.

We live in a very busy, and a very noisy society. Unless it’s on purpose, there is seldom a time in our lives when things around us are actually quiet. In the car, we turn on the radio. In the house, we turn on the television. When we are not somewhere stationary, we have our ear buds and phones, and just to make sure that nothing ever silences the noise around us, our ear buds are even wireless! Some of us can’t even go to sleep without some kind of noise finding its way into our ears.

Yet, scripture reminds us in Psalms 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God….” I wonder how many times we fail to hear what God is trying to tell us because we are never quiet enough? (We must remember that He speaks in a still, small voice.) As God speaks to us through His Word, through preaching and teaching and through His Spirit, let’s be sure that we give attention to what He is saying.

Let me challenge you, take some time this Christmas, in the quietness of your own heart, to listen to Him speak. Turn down the Christmas music, turn off the Christmas movie and separate yourself for a while from all the people that Christmas might have brought into your life. If you’ll listen, you might just hear Him speak. That little baby in that manger might just say to you, “I love you so much that I gave my Son to die on the cross in your place.”

 THEIR APPREHENSION DUE TO SIGHT

Notice the response of the shepherds when the angel appeared. In verse 9 we read, “…And they were sore afraid.” Have you ever found yourself overwhelmed? If so, you are in good company. Moses was overwhelmed when God called out to him from a burning bush. Noah was certainly overwhelmed when God told him to build a boat. When Gideon heard the words, “Thou mighty man of valor”, he was obviously overwhelmed. In the early chapter of Joshua, God kept telling Joshua not to fear because he was overwhelmed.

We oftentimes have a complete misunderstanding of boldness. We see people that are almost brazen about things, and we wonder why we don’t have that. Can I submit that sometimes, people present themselves as being bold because they are full of themselves and independent of God? They never seem to be apprehensive, but that is not always a good thing. These shepherds were very apprehensive when they heard the message from the angels.

THEIR AWE OF THE SPECTACLE

As I read different commentaries about this passage, I kept finding the mention of the word awe. These shepherds were in awe of what was transpiring in their lives. Awe is not a bad thing, as a matter of fact, Psalm 33:8 commands us to be in awe of God.  “Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.”

 Are you in awe of God today? As you consider that baby in that manger, does He still cause you to wonder? Think about the focus on that manger and the awe of those that came to see the Christ child. Fast forward just thirty-three short years, and you’ll find no one “in awe”. As a matter of fact, those who surrounded the Lamb of God hanging on the cross hated Him and wanted to kill Him.

Too often, the same is true today. The longer we have known whom Jesus is, the easier it can be to lose our awe of Him. We all face the danger of becoming so familiar with the Saviour that He’s just another person in our list of contacts, and time with Him is just another event on our calendar. As we turn our attention to Bethlehem’s manger this Christmas, let’s be amazed by the truth that God loves us enough to send His precious Son down to the earth to die in our place.

THEIR ACTIONS THAT WERE SHOWN

So what? An angel shows up in the middle of nowhere, the glory of the Lord shows all around and a Saviour is born. The shepherds make their way to Bethlehem’s manger and see the baby firsthand. Were it today, they probably would have bought a T-shirt and shot a selfie, just to prove that they were there. (Instagram doesn’t lie!)

How was this event going to impact their lives? Were they just going to return to their sheep, and over time, forget what had transpired? No, scripture tells us in Verse 17,   “And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.” This miraculous event so impacted the shepherds that everywhere they went, they told people about it. Their lives had been changed! They had been given a different perspective. They wanted others to know what had taken place.

In a day or so, Christmas will be over for most of us. The gifts will all be opened, the decorations will come down (much faster than they went up), the tree will be discarded, and we’ll all go back to work. In much the same way, those shepherds probably went back to their sheep, but they went back different people. What had happened in that manger had transformed them. Oh that Christmas, 2018, would change us as well!

Sunday Morning, December 9, 2018

Sunday PM - 12:8TEXT:   Psalms 98:1-4

INTRODUCTION: In the 1700’s, Isaac Watts penned the words to a song that is very popular at this time of the year, “Joy to the World”. It’s not unusual to hear the song sung or played in shopping malls, restaurants, school plays and of course, church services. According to Watts’ testimony, the source of inspiration for the lyrics was the 98th Psalm.

It cannot be disputed; the coming of Christ most certainly did bring joy to the world. In 2018, his coming is still bringing joy, especially to those who know Him personally. Let’s take a closer look at this passage to see the reasons for the joy that has come to the world.

REVEALED SALVATION

 In Psalms 98:2 we read, “The Lord hath made known his salvation. His righteousness hath he openly shewed in the sight of the heathen.” When Jesus came to that stable in Bethlehem, God wrapped His gift to the world in human flesh and put him in a manger. In Titus 2:11 we read, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared unto all men.” That little baby was the Christ of the cross, and in Him was revealed the wonderful gift of salvation.

Notice that the psalmist wrote, “…In the sight of the heathen.” When we think of heathen people, we tend to think of those living in some remote, uncivilized jungle village. When God thinks of heathen, He thinks of people like us. If we remember to see ourselves for what we truly are, the gift of salvation will mean so much more to us. What amazing grace!

God’s gift of salvation was revealed through the shepherds. They were the ones that were chosen to spread the good news of Christ’s birth. Later on, the message was revealed through the disciples. As Jesus met with them in His post-resurrection body He commissioned them to “go into all the world and preach the gospel.” A personal soul winner revealed the gift of salvation in your life and mine. Someone told you about the gift of eternal life and how you could receive it by faith.   Since that night in that manger, God has been working to reveal His gift to people, and those of us that have received it should rejoice!

REMEMBERED MERCY

Not only can we find joy in revealed salvation, we can rejoice in the fact that God chooses to be merciful to us. In verse 3 we read these words: “He hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel…” Aren’t you glad for mercy? Can’t you rejoice in the goodness, the kindness and the faithfulness of God, as it is evident in your life?

There will never be a time in your life when God will forget to be merciful. He promises us in Lamentations that His mercies are new every morning. Like a recurring morning alarm that consistently wakes us up, God’s mercies are there each day when we awake to face the day. God, knowing what we will face and knowing how we will fail, has already prescribed mercy for us. Amazing!

RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENT

The truth is, this Psalm has much more to do with the second coming of Christ than it does the first. In verse 9 we read, “Before the Lord; for he cometh to judge the earth; with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity.” When Jesus came the first time He came to save the world. When He comes the second time, He will come to judge the world. Let me assure you, it is much better that you choose to establish your relationship with Him as your Saviour than it will be for you to be forced to establish a relationship with Him as your judge.

The great thing about Jesus as a judge is that His judgments are always right and fair. He will not be fooled.   While many today “go through the motions” of Christianity, the Lord knows what we do and why we do it. Though we may dupe our parents, our spouse, the pastor or other believers, we will not fool the Lord. By the way, His equity comes into play concerning our salvation and concerning our works. If you’ve never truly trusted Christ as Saviour, He knows that. In addition, He is well aware of your works, and will stand before us at the Judgment Seat to determine our eternal rewards. No work is too small to go unnoticed, all the way down to a cup of cold water given in His name.

Knowing that He alone is our judge, and that He will be fair in His judgment, should bring us great joy! A true realization of this should abolish the pressure to measure up to the standards and expectations of man. The Lord, He is our judge!

REJOICING MELODY

 Because of these things, there should be joy in our hearts. In verses 4-8 we read of expressions of that joy including singing, playing of instruments and the making of joyful noises. The joy that is in our hearts shouldn’t stay there. It should manifest itself in our countenance. It should be exhibited in all that we do. It should be obvious to everyone that there is something positive that has transpired in our lives and we should be quick to let people know that His name is Jesus!

That little baby in the manger was the bringer of joy to the entire world. Jesus didn’t come to bring salvation, to offer mercy and to righteously judge a select few. He came for everyone! As you experience the holidays this year, do so with great joy. Others really do need to see it.

Sunday Morning, October 28, 2018

10-28 Sermon

 TEXT: Exodus 15:1

 INTRODUCTION: Imagine what it must have been like that first morning when the people of God, for the first time in hundreds of years, knew what it was like to be free. It wasn’t long ago that they feared for their lives. There was nowhere for them to turn. The Red Sea was before them, the Egyptian army was behind them and there was a mountain on either side of them. They obeyed the voice of the Lord, stepped into the water, and God allowed them to cross on dry ground. Behind them they could hear the galloping of the horses and the clanging of the swords, knowing that those soldiers intended to kill them.

Now, it’s a new day. Pharaoh’s army and its horses have been destroyed. There is a tranquil calm. The people of God have a new land and a new life before them. Now, Moses and the people begin to sing. I don’t know what tune they sang, but I know the lyrics. They are recorded for us in Exodus 15. Let’s take a closer look at the song these people sang to the Lord.

MY PAST IS BURIED

In Exodus 15:4-5 “Pharaoh’s chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red Sea. The depths have covered them; they sank into the bottom as a stone.” Understand what that means. For a long, long time, these people had awoken each day to the reality that they had a nemesis. They were living in a strange land under strange rule. Now, that nemesis is gone!

What a joy it is for the child of God to know that God buries his past! In Micah 7:19 we read, “…He will subdue our iniquities; and thou will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” In Hebrews 8:12 we find that God not only buries our sins, He forgets where He buried them! “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.”

MY PRESENT IS BLESSED

Not only can I rejoice because my past is buried, I can rejoice because my present is blessed. Exodus 15:2 states, “The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” As God’s child, I can rejoice in the fact that He is my God…today!

 It won’t be long before the Jews are going to be facing some extremely difficult circumstances. They are going to find that there are giants in the Land of Canaan. They are going to have to face the reality that life isn’t a bed of roses. However, at this particular moment when they start singing, they sing about the fact that they are currently living in the presence of blessing, provided by their Father.

HIS POWER IS BOUNDLESS

Notice what is stated in Exodus 15:6-7   “Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy. And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee; thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble.” These people realize that the victory they are enjoying was not due to anything that they had done, but was the direct result of the amazing power of God. God had done this for them!

What do you need from God today? Can I remind you that it is within His power? There is nothing too hard for Him. He has never failed. God asks the question in the book of Jeremiah, “Is anything too hard for me?” The answer is an emphatic “No!”

HIS PROTECTION IS BEAUTIFUL

The Jews knew that they had an enemy. They also knew that their enemy sought their destruction. In Exodus 15:9 we read, “The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my lust shall be satisfied upon them; I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.” The Egyptians didn’t want to simply complicate the lives of God’s people; their desire was to destroy them!

In much the same way, our enemy desires our destruction. Today, he is walking about as a roaring lion, and he is seeking those whom he can devour. Like the Egyptians’ desire could only be satisfied by the destruction of the Jews, Satan will only be satisfied when you and I are destroyed. Jesus told Peter, “Satan hath desired to have you.”

 Thankfully, we are protected! In Exodus 15:10 the Bible declares, “Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them: they sank as lead in the mighty waters.” How easy is it for God to protect us from our enemies? He just blows upon them! He declared through the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 41:10, “Fear thou not: for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will upohold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” What a beautiful thing it is when God protects His children.

HIS PLANTING IS BEST

 God didn’t just bring His people out of Egypt, He is going to bring them into the Promised Land. God is taking these people somewhere. In Exodus 15:17 we read, “Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O Lord, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established.

The best place you can be today is the place where God has planted you. There is not a better location, a better relationship or a better occupation than the one God has chosen for you, the place where you’ve been planted. God doesn’t just want to deliver you from your problems; He wants to give you an “expected end”.

No wonder Moses and the people broke out into song. As their hearts were overwhelmed with the Lord’s goodness, they couldn’t help but sing. May we too, contemplate God’s goodness in our lives and may we offer Him praise for His wonderful works to the children of men.

Sunday Night, October 21, 2018

A Life Worth Remembering

 

INTRODUCTION: How will you be remembered? When your time on earth has concluded and you have gone on to Glory, what will be your legacy here on the earth? The older I get, the more important that becomes to me.

In Mark 14, we read of woman referred to as Mary of Bethany. She is a part of a group of people sharing a meal at the house of Simon the leper. During the meal, Mary approaches Jesus, breaks open a box of ointment, and anoints her Saviour. In verse 9, the Word of God declares, “Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel is preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.”

Evidently, the actions of this good woman got the Lord’s attention, and He made it clear that hers was a life worth remembering. Let’s take a closer look at why.

SHE IDENTIFIED WITH SINNERS

 Notice a distinction that is pointed out in Mark 14:3. The Bible makes it clear. She didn’t just have supper at Simon’s house, she had supper at the house of Simon the leper. Most students of the Bible know that lepers were ostracized by society. I can imagine that even healed lepers were stigmatized to some degree. Here was a woman that was not afraid to be identified with a man whom others might avoid.

As believers today, it is important that we not isolate ourselves from people in need. When the Pharisees and publicans criticized Jesus, they actually complimented Him. They said of Him, in Matthew 11:9, that He was a “friend of publicans and sinners.” If we can’t be involved in the lives of people in need, we’re really not a church, we’re just a religious organization.

 SHE INSISTED UPON SACRIFICE

 For Mary, just being with Jesus wasn’t enough. She takes a box of ointment, called spikenard, and she approaches the Son of God. Notice some things about this ointment.

It was expensive

 Later in this passage Judas states that the ointment was worth 300 pence. A penny was the equivalent of a days’ wage, so it would have taken Mary almost a year to earn enough money to purchase the ointment. She didn’t give the Lord something that was ordinary. She gave the Lord the best! Too often, Christians are guilty of not giving God what is right, but what is left. He is worthy of the best years of our lives, the first fruits of our increase and the early hours of our day.

It was expected

 John’s account of this story tells us that she had kept this ointment for just this occasion. In John 12:7 we read, “Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.” Mary worshipped Jesus because she planned to do so. It didn’t just happen. It was not an accident. It was a pre-determined plot that had been established in her heart and mind some time before.

It was exhausted

 Verse 3 tells us “….And she brake the box, and poured it on his head.” Notice that she didn’t open the box, she broke it. Notice that she didn’t sprinkle the ointment on Him, she poured it. Because Mary recognized the worth of her Saviour, she determined to give Him everything.

 SHE WAS INDOMITABLE TO SARCASM

Mary wasn’t going to be stopped by her critics. Judas was quick to condemn her. In verses 4-5 he did so publicly. As I read this, I considered how many times I have hesitated to do the right thing, the thing that God has impressed me to do, because I didn’t want to be questioned, scrutinized, criticized or ostracized. Thankfully, Mary didn’t let those concerns hinder her from doing the right thing.

Where did Mary find her boldness? Do you remember the time when Jesus came to her home? Martha was consumed with the busyness of hosting Jesus, but Mary was content to sit at His feet. She had a real relationship with the Saviour. She had gotten a good glimpse of who He really was. She didn’t care what Judas declared because she understood what Jesus deserved.

SHE WAS INVOLVED IN SERVICE

Simply put, Mary did something! She didn’t just sit and stare. She didn’t find satisfaction in simple association. She stood to her feet and demonstrated her love for the Saviour. Notice the action verbs in verse 3. The Bible states that she came, she brake and she poured. Her actions were dictated by her love for the Son of God.

As God’s children, we don’t serve Him in order to earn anything. I don’t serve to be saved, I serve because I’m saved. There is nothing that I can do to gain any more favor from the Lord than what I already have, but that favor that I enjoy provokes me to do what I do.

What did Mary do for Jesus? Verse 8 states that she simply did what she could do. That’s all that He expects of any of us. He wants us to do what we can for Him. He desires that our realization of who He is and what He’s done would provoke us to love and to good works.

Why did Mary’s actions so resonate with Jesus? Maybe because the things that she had done were consistent with things that He had done for her. He had proven His love for sinners. He too, insisted upon sacrifice. He was undaunted by the sarcasm and criticism of the many who questioned His identity and deity. Finally, He proved His love by His body being broken and His love being spilled out on the cross. Of course, we understand that His life was certainly one to never be forgotten.