Sermons 18

December 29, 2013

New Years 2014

Philippians 3:12-14

Can you believe that we're about to enter a new year?

They say Youth is when you're allowed to stay up ˜til Midnight on New Year's Eve and Middle age is when you're forced to.

But on Wednesday we start 2014, and as with any new year, we have new opportunities.

One thing I really like about the New Year is that it's an opportunity to start fresh on things.

I've got a number of things I'd like to accomplish, both personally and with the ministry of the church, and the New Year is a great time to start things.

People look at a new year and they start to think of things they'd like to accomplish in that new year.

Maybe it's a health goal, so they join the Y or some health club.

Or they set business goals, or even spiritual goals.

The new year is a great time to turn the page on stuff you'd like to get going on and accomplish in the next year.

It's also a great time to turn the page on some things you should put behind you.

The Bible verses we just read is a great passage for  looking at what we can accomplish as we look at entering a new year. Listen again to part of it

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. 

This morning I want us to briefly look at five lessons we can learn from these verses written by the Apostle Paul.

First: We all have an imperfect past.  

None of us can look at our past and see 100% success. We all have blemishes and stains that we'd just as soon forget.

The apostle Paul was no different.

He had a pretty ugly past in persecuting the Church, and my guess is that he had plenty of time to reflect on that.

But we also have to remember that Paul was a religious man even before he met Christ.

He was a Pharisee, he was an up and coming religious leader who had the trust of the religious establishment.

He could quote Scripture, he attended the synagogue probably every week.

But all of his religion didn't keep him from having a past that he didn't treasure as time went by.

You might have grown up in church, you might have been involved in church, you might have been a church leader of some sort

But just the same, you have an imperfect past.

It's imperfect because of the presence of sin in our lives. It's imperfect because we have chosen our way over God's way too many times.

But the second lesson we can learn from Paul is that We don't have to be a slave to that past.

Paul could have said, Look. I put people in prison, and I've had them killed. There is no hope for me, and there is no way I could ever be used by Christ.

But he insisted in our scripture that he had something worth moving on for.

He could look back on the fact that Christ had redeemed him from his past, and was continually working in him.

He says here: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what's ahead.

He recognized his past but he refused to be a slave to it.

It's interesting to note that when Paul wrote this book he was under house arrest, with a Roman guard at his door all the time.

He could have said, Well, I'm an old man, now. I guess I'll just sit here and bide my time until they chop my head off “ whenever that will be.

Here's a guy who had an imperfect past, and then had decades of fruitful ministry.

He was the most successful evangelist and church planter in the history of the early church.

And yet he still felt he had something to shoot for and to work for.

He still felt that he had a ways to go in his relationship and service for Jesus Christ.

And in spite of his circumstances, he still wanted to strengthen those things.

Some people look at their circumstances and decide that it's just not worth trying anymore.

But if we look to Paul as our example, we can see that it's never too late, and our circumstances don't need to stand in the way of our effectiveness for Christ.

Lesson number three from Paul is that No matter our current circumstances, we can move on to better and greater things.

Here's a guy who had known Jesus for many years and probably had a relationship with him that most folks could only dream of, and yet “ it wasn't enough.

It didn't matter that he was under house arrest. It didn't matter what his current circumstances were. He needed more of Jesus and he was willing to make the effort to make it happen.

And that leads us to the fourth lesson we can take from Paul, and that is that Moving forward only happens by intentional, determined effort.

Listen to the words of Paul here in this passage He says: I press on. Straining toward what is ahead.  

I mentioned Paul's circumstances and how he didn't let them get in the way.

He did what it took within his current circumstance, without making excuses. He just did it.

Christ was worth the effort for Paul, and if we will make the effort, we too will find it is worth it for us as well.

Paul was determined to move on from his past and from his present circumstances to gain more of Jesus Christ.

Which is our fifth and final lesson The goal is worth the effort.  Paul here calls it a prize.

When you focus on Christ and living for Him, you win.

I think so many people have a lukewarm relationship with Christ and no desire to live for Him because they see the work, but they don't see the prize.

Too many people live in the rut of just getting along like they always have.

Zig Ziglar says that a rut is just a grave with the ends kicked out. I want to encourage you to get out of the rut you may be in.

And I want to encourage this church as a whole to show the people around us that we are turning the page on the past, and straining toward what is ahead in our service for Christ.

Don't let the New Year be the same ol' same ol'...

Let's make this year the best year yet in our walk with Jesus Christ and in our service for Him.

December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve Service

An Audio Sermon

December 22, 2013

Childrens' Christmas Program

An Audio Sermon

December 15, 2013

Time to Work the Harvest                 Matthew 9:35-39

An Audio Sermon

December 1, 2013

Back When I Knew It All     Matthew 2:1 - 12

An Audio Sermon

Those of you who listen to country music, probably remember  a song by Montgomery Gentry called, "Back When I Knew It All." It's about getting older and wiser Some of the lyrics go like this.

Lord I'm learning so much more than back when I knew it all

As we get older many of us learned that we didn't know as much as we thought we did. We learned that the bottom can fall out from under us in ways we never imagined. Excellent employees and successful business people learned even their income wasn't secure, and economists who thought they knew it all, learned that they didn't.

Family and friends who we thought would always be around, became sick or died, and life was more fragile than we realized. Relationships we thought were wonderful showed a painful underbelly. A future we had all planned out  became unclear. Or the God we thought we had figured out, turned out not to be who God really is.

As Chris'as approaches we might do well to take some advice from the Magi. These wise men, as we often call them, were probably astrologers who saw something in the sky so unusual they took it to mean that a new king had been born. They found him, gave him their gifts, and went home by a different way than they had arrived.

This morning I want us to look briefly at five lessons we can learn from the these wisemen.

1. The Magi were open to receiving a sign and paid attention when it happened.

For them, it was a star. For us, it may be a comment someone makes, a song, a sermon, a book, an insight that seems to come from the blue. Like the Magi, be open to God sending you a message, and pay attention when it comes.

2. When the Magi realized that the star was important, they didn't just sit around and talk about it. They didn't just muse on its meaning. They did something about it.

They packed up their camels and headed out. I imagine when they told people they'd seen a sign in the heavens and needed to follow it, people laughed at them, and told them they were crazy.

Maybe other people said, "Go for it, or you'll never know until you try." When God gives you a sign or an insight, or tugs at your heart, pack up your camel and follow the star. It might take a long time to get there, but you'll never reach Bethlehem if you don't start the journey.

3. Don't be afraid to ask for help The Magi asked for help.

They used the information they had to go as far as they could on their own, which was to Herod's palace. They told what they were seeking, and although the priests didn't have a specific answer for them, they were able to guide them in the right direction. So, the third lesson is: Don't be afraid to ask for help. Even the Wise Men did it when they were looking for Jesus.

4. The Magi recognized what God wanted them to find, even when it was in an unexpected place and wrapped in unexpected circumstances.

By the time the Magi arrived, Mary and Joseph would have moved into a house, but it still would have been humble, with dirt floors and scant furniture.

The King of the Jews born here? To parents such as these? Certainly the Magi expected a king to live in wealthier surroundings. Here's how we know these Magi were truly wise: when what they were seeking was in a different package than what they expected, they still trusted that it was He, gave thanks, and gave their gifts.

The lesson for us is this: Maybe your life was headed one direction, and it took a radical change of course. It's not where you thought you'd meet Jesus, but like the Magi, let yourself recognize him in the unexpected package, and then follow him.

Or maybe you always pictured yourself one way, and God is showing you a different perspective. Give thanks, give your gifts to Jesus in the unexpected place where you've met him, and follow where he leads.

Here are the Magi's lessons for us, once again:

1. The Magi were open to receiving a sign and paid attention when it happened.

2. They took action.

3. They asked for help.

4. They recognized their destination, even when it wasn't what they expected.

5. Here's number 5. After they found what they were looking for, the Magi stayed open to new wisdom and guidance.

They paid attention to a dream in the night warning them not to go back to Herod, but to go home a different way than they'd come. After they found Jesus, they remained open to new insights, followed them, and went to additional, unexpected places.

When we meet Jesus, our journey doesn't stop, either. We realize that we've "learned a lot since back when we knew it all."

God comes to us over and over, with new insight, and takes us to unexpected places, both inside ourselves, in our relationship with Jesus, and in our relationship to others and the world.

When we meet Jesus, He changes us. We are welcomed and loved, challenged and convicted, set free and called into obedience.

After meeting Jesus, we take a different road than the one by which we arrived in Bethlehem. On this cold Sunday, when we have followed his light and seen his grace, Jesus gives us his dream, calling us to do "the work of Chris'as" that was His life and should be ours.

Like the Wise Men, be ready to meet God in the midst of your everyday activities, then rise up and follow the star.

November 24, 2013

Thanksgiving 

An Audio Sermon

November 17, 2013

A Little Help Here!      Exodus 17:8-16

An Audio Sermon

How many of us here have discovered that life is full of opportunities in which we are going to need some help? Jesus faced this reality, one dark and lonely evening as he prepared to go into the garden to pray on the night in which he was betrayed.

It is very significant that Jesus took the time to ask Peter, James and John to accompany him. The Scriptures tell us that Jesus began to be sorrowful and troubled, and then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow, to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me."

It would be great if two things could take possession of us. The first is to have the honesty and humility of Jesus to admit, I'm hurting and I need some help.

The second is to have a few friends that we could go and tell it to and they would be willing just to listen. Jesus told the disciples on his last night, I no longer call you servants, instead I have called you friends. 

Proverbs 17:17 says: A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. In Galatians we are encouraged to bear each other's burdens. Jesus put the ultimate price on the kind of relationships we should strive to have as Christians. He said, There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for a friend.

One of the early challenges in Moses's role as leader of God's people came soon after the parting of the Red Sea.

In our scripture reading this morning, the Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, "Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands."

I want you to notice, that Moses realized that even though God was at work in his life, he needed someone's help to solve this problem with the Amalekites. He was strong enough and humble enough to recognize this.

When Moses saw a problem, look what he did. He said to Joshua, choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with staff of God in my hand."

Moses is saying "this is something we all have to get involved in in order to win. It's going to take some soldiers in the battlefield, and it's going to require some time with God on the top of the hill.

Moses also had to be willing to let Joshua be the leader of the army, without being worried about some of the people thinking Joshua might be a better leader than him.

Now let's just suppose Joshua had the attitude, "Why doesn't Moses get out there and fight like the rest of us. Why should I risk my life, when He's going to be up on the top of the hill safe from the battle." In our church and in our families we need to work together, in order to reach a common goal.

Two men were riding a bicycle built for two when they came to a big steep hill. It took a great deal of struggle for the men to complete what proved to be a very stiff climb.

When they got to the top the man in front turned to the other and said, "Boy, that sure was a hard climb." The fellow in back replied, "Yes, and if I hadn't kept the brakes on all the way, we would certainly have rolled down backwards."

The body of Christ needs to work together. We are in spiritual warfare and everyone has a part to play in it. In verse 10 it says "So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning."

Now I want you to notice how this partnership of obeying God worked. When Moses did what he was supposed to do and Joshua did what he was supposed to do they were victorious.

Now Joshua could have fought his heart out in battle with his men, but if Moses did not keep up his hands toward God, their fighting would have been in vain.

They would not have won the battle because the Amalekites were more powerful than they were. Moses could have held his hands up like a champion, but if Joshua and his men had decided not to show up, there would not have been any victory.

Moses was smart in taking a couple of others guys with him, because the battle was much more fierce and demanding than he thought it would be. Moses was going to need some help in doing what God was telling him to do. In verse 12 it tells us " When Moses' hands grew tired, Aaron and Hur took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. 

Thank God for friends that can see when we need some help. Notice they didn't tell Moses, Just give it up. They tried to make it more comfortable for him to complete the will of God for his life at that moment.

 People in your home need to hear you say the same thing. Honey I can help you do that. Mom, I can take over that job. That's what a friend does. 

Aaron and Hur didn't just stop there. When they saw that making him comfortable was not enough, the Scriptures says "Aaron and Hur held his hands up--one on one side, one on the other--so that his hands remained steady till sunset. It's great that Moses did not say," oh that's all right I can handle it." 

When the load gets too heavy, be a friend. When the load gets too heavy, let others be a friend to you. Together the three were able to accomplish something that none of them could have done alone.

They remembered that they were all working for the same end to defeat the Amalekites. And because of their willingness to work together we have verse 13 which says: So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword. "

Now Moses is the one God used to write this book in the Bible. We just saw how Aaron and Hur, held up Moses arms together. Yet Moses writes, Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword. 

Do you see how humility and meekness is more concerned with getting the job done, than it is who gets the credit.

Friends are not jealous of each other. We are all going to need help at some point. Should it not come from those whom we have built up through words of encouragement.

Not only are hard times going to come, for most of us hard times are already here. I encourage us to be friends to one another, and to let others be a friend to us.

We can only call Jesus friend, if we first know Him as our Lord. We can only know Him as Lord, if we have surrendered our lives to Him, and asked him to be ruler of the decisions that we make.

I invite you to join in with Jesus Christ the greatest friend the world has ever known.

November 10, 2013

Veteran's Day        John 15:9 - 17

An Audio Sermon

Today is Veteran's Day and we truly appreciate all of you who have served in the armed forces of our great nation.

Even today there are thousands upon thousands of American men and women in uniform who are fighting our enemies on foreign soil. There are also those who are guarding the home front doing all they can to stop the enemies of our country from doing their worst.

It's a good thing to never forget that someone, somewhere, right this very moment, is paying the price for your freedom and that price is never cheap.

Today we pause to give thanks for those who have served this country in war, in peace, in times of great uncertainty, in times of great calm. I am of course talking about the Veterans of our various military branches. And truth be told, we ought to stop far more than once a year to say thank you to these dedicated men and women.

In this day and time, it is too easy to put aside what they have done for us, and what they continue to do for us, because we don't see it, up close and personal.

Whether they are actively engaged in protecting us, or actively involved in hostilities, they stand ready to do so at a moment's notice. With our smart weapons and long range missiles, it is easy to think that our military folks can somehow keep distant from harm's way.

But of course, that is absurd. When wars are carried out, military personnel are in harm's way, always. If you know a veteran, thank them for their service, for being the one who was and is prepared to defend this country if so called on. It is an awesome task, and one which we should all be grateful.

The history of Veterans Day begins with the armistice that ended World War I in 1918, Originally, called Armistice Day, the commemoration was born because hostilities in Europe ended on November 11, 1918 at 11:00 a.m.

What amazes me about all of that is that World War I was called: The War to End All Wars. Yet, slightly more than 20 years later, Europe exploded again with the threats of Nazism and Fascism. Eventually, when it was clear that WWI would not end all wars, Armistice Day was changed to Veterans Day to include honors for all military personnel of all times and wars.

As Christians, we are called to be peacemakers. We read the scriptures about beating swords into plowshares and we pray for peace and calm. But we live in a world that does not easily accept peace. Hostilities erupt and we Christians must deal with that fact, just like anyone else.

We are taught that the peacemakers are blessed. We are taught to turn the other cheek. Yet, we seek to find our place in a world that too often does not bless the peacemakers, does not turn the other cheek, and engages in violence. It can be a confusing place to be when the teachings of our faith bump against a reality that seems to challenge those teachings.

I wish I had an answer to ending all war now. But I don't. I cling to the words of scripture that there will come a time when war will cease, and people will not take up arms against each other.

I hate that throughout the years we have lost so many good people to human conflict and war. I pray for each and every one of those who have served, as well as those who are currently serving. I pray that they might know the peace of God in their hearts, and that they feel the support and thanks of a grateful people.

I long for the day when we can truly live in peace, when the War to End All Wars is truly and finally finished. But until that day comes, I will give thanks for those who serve and pray for their safety, and I will remember the words of Dr. Billy Graham who said: Sometimes you have to fight for peace.

There is another kind of veteran that I want to honor this morning as well. These veterans often go without recognition. These are the veterans of the church, the army of the Lord that goes forth every day to fight back the powers of Hell and overcome the enemy of our soul.

Every one of you who know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior and you are doing your best to serve the Lord, are among that number. You are a veteran of the Cross. You are a veteran of the war against darkness, sin and evil in this world.

No, you don't carry a rifle or drive a tank, but you wield a double-edged sword and wear the armor of God into battle every day that you live. Your war is never over until Jesus calls you home. You carry the scars of the battle with you all the time. You pick up your cross daily and then take your place on the front lines of the battle.

We know that our Commander in Chief has never lost a battle and has already won the war. In addition to that, God has empowered us to fight for justice and righteousness.

With the blood stained banner of the cross flying high in the winds of adversity, and unbroken ranks of Godly men and women, marching ever forward to destroy the strongholds of the devil, we go forth every day pushing Satan back on every front.

You have a great heritage from the Lord today. You have been chosen to be a soldier in the Lord's army. You aren't drafted “ this is an all-volunteer army.

When your race is won, and your last battle has been fought, you will stand before the Commander and receive your decoration for valor, your reward for faithfulness.

One day you will stand before God as a faithful veteran and you will hear those words, Well done.

In our scripture reading this morning we read these words: Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.(John 15:13)

Today we thank our veterans for being willing to risk their lives in service to our great country and we thank our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who willingly laid down his life so that through faith in Him, we can have eternal life.

November 3, 2013

Veteran's Day        John 15:9 - 17

An Audio Sermon

Today is Veteran's Day and we truly appreciate all of you who have served in the armed forces of our great nation.

Even today there are thousands upon thousands of American men and women in uniform who are fighting our enemies on foreign soil. There are also those who are guarding the home front doing all they can to stop the enemies of our country from doing their worst.

It's a good thing to never forget that someone, somewhere, right this very moment, is paying the price for your freedom and that price is never cheap.

Today we pause to give thanks for those who have served this country in war, in peace, in times of great uncertainty, in times of great calm. I am of course talking about the Veterans of our various military branches. And truth be told, we ought to stop far more than once a year to say thank you to these dedicated men and women.

In this day and time, it is too easy to put aside what they have done for us, and what they continue to do for us, because we don't see it, up close and personal.

Whether they are actively engaged in protecting us, or actively involved in hostilities, they stand ready to do so at a moment's notice. With our smart weapons and long range missiles, it is easy to think that our military folks can somehow keep distant from harm's way.

But of course, that is absurd. When wars are carried out, military personnel are in harm's way, always. If you know a veteran, thank them for their service, for being the one who was and is prepared to defend this country if so called on. It is an awesome task, and one which we should all be grateful.

The history of Veterans Day begins with the armistice that ended World War I in 1918, Originally, called Armistice Day, the commemoration was born because hostilities in Europe ended on November 11, 1918 at 11:00 a.m.

What amazes me about all of that is that World War I was called: The War to End All Wars. Yet, slightly more than 20 years later, Europe exploded again with the threats of Nazism and Fascism. Eventually, when it was clear that WWI would not end all wars, Armistice Day was changed to Veterans Day to include honors for all military personnel of all times and wars.

As Christians, we are called to be peacemakers. We read the scriptures about beating swords into plowshares and we pray for peace and calm. But we live in a world that does not easily accept peace. Hostilities erupt and we Christians must deal with that fact, just like anyone else.

We are taught that the peacemakers are blessed. We are taught to turn the other cheek. Yet, we seek to find our place in a world that too often does not bless the peacemakers, does not turn the other cheek, and engages in violence. It can be a confusing place to be when the teachings of our faith bump against a reality that seems to challenge those teachings.

I wish I had an answer to ending all war now. But I don't. I cling to the words of scripture that there will come a time when war will cease, and people will not take up arms against each other.

I hate that throughout the years we have lost so many good people to human conflict and war. I pray for each and every one of those who have served, as well as those who are currently serving. I pray that they might know the peace of God in their hearts, and that they feel the support and thanks of a grateful people.

I long for the day when we can truly live in peace, when the War to End All Wars is truly and finally finished. But until that day comes, I will give thanks for those who serve and pray for their safety, and I will remember the words of Dr. Billy Graham who said: Sometimes you have to fight for peace.

There is another kind of veteran that I want to honor this morning as well. These veterans often go without recognition. These are the veterans of the church, the army of the Lord that goes forth every day to fight back the powers of Hell and overcome the enemy of our soul.

Every one of you who know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior and you are doing your best to serve the Lord, are among that number. You are a veteran of the Cross. You are a veteran of the war against darkness, sin and evil in this world.

No, you don't carry a rifle or drive a tank, but you wield a double-edged sword and wear the armor of God into battle every day that you live. Your war is never over until Jesus calls you home. You carry the scars of the battle with you all the time. You pick up your cross daily and then take your place on the front lines of the battle.

We know that our Commander in Chief has never lost a battle and has already won the war. In addition to that, God has empowered us to fight for justice and righteousness.

With the blood stained banner of the cross flying high in the winds of adversity, and unbroken ranks of Godly men and women, marching ever forward to destroy the strongholds of the devil, we go forth every day pushing Satan back on every front.

You have a great heritage from the Lord today. You have been chosen to be a soldier in the Lord's army. You aren't drafted “ this is an all-volunteer army.

When your race is won, and your last battle has been fought, you will stand before the Commander and receive your decoration for valor, your reward for faithfulness.

One day you will stand before God as a faithful veteran and you will hear those words, Well done.

In our scripture reading this morning we read these words: Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.(John 15:13)

Today we thank our veterans for being willing to risk their lives in service to our great country and we thank our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who willingly laid down his life so that through faith in Him, we can have eternal life.

October 27, 2013

Does God Really Care?    Mark 7:31-37

An Audio Sermon

Does God really understand my suffering? Where is He when I need Him? Is God really able to help me? Perhaps you have asked these questions before.

In the midst of suffering, trial, and tribulation, we often wonder whether God really understands our situation; whether He is around when we need Him or whether He's really able to help.

Does God care about you? Yes, He does. We suffer with crippling diseases, accidents, cancer, mental illness, aging, the loss of a love one, the loss of a job, financial stress, marriage and family problems, drought for the farmers, flood for the town and other natural disasters, physical problems, and the list goes go on and on.

We go through all kinds of suffering, trouble, misery, sickness, and death, because Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden. Into their ears went Satan's lies and into their mouths went the forbidden fruit. Satan tempted Adam and Eve

Satan tempts us to think that God does not care about us. Satan tempts us to think that God is far away and can't help us. Satan tempts us to think that God is not powerful enough to help. But nothing is further from the truth. We see in the verses we read together that Jesus does care about us.

There was a man who couldn't hear and who had a speech impediment. His friends brought him to Jesus. They believed that Jesus could help. So, Jesus took the man aside. He put his fingers into the man's ears and, after spitting, touched the man's tongue. Then, Jesus looked up to heaven and sighed.

That little phrase with a deep sigh says a lot. In other words, Jesus groaned over this man who couldn't hear or couldn't speak. Jesus was expressing His agony over the physical suffering of this man.

Jesus grieved over the fallen-ness of creation. Jesus mourned over the ruin and the suffering that sin and Satan had brought into the world. Here, in our text, we witness the sympathy of our Lord over all earthly troubles, including times when we suffer.

This wasn't the only time when Jesus laments over the fallen condition of mankind. When Lazarus had died and Jesus saw Mary and Martha weeping, John 11 says that Jesus groaned and was troubled.

Then, Jesus wept. He groaned within Himself and He wept. From all of this, we see that Jesus is truly human. Yet, He is also the Son of God.

Throughout Jesus' ministry, we see Him having mercy and compassion on others. One day, Jesus had compassion on the multitude, because they were with Him for three days and had nothing to eat, and so, He miraculously fed them (Mark 8:1“9).

On another occasion, He was moved with compassion because the multitudes were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd (Matthew 9:36). He even cared about little children, and so, He held them in His arms and blessed them (Luke 18:15“17).

Jesus often cared about the sick, the paralytic, the leper, the blind, the deaf, and the demon possessed. Jesus spoke the Word, and they were healed.

Jesus even cared about the man in our text, and so, after having His fingers in the man's ears, Jesus said, Ephphatha, that is Be opened. And the man's ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. This miracle, along with all other miracles, proves that Jesus is the Son of God, the promised Messiah.

When we are having a bad day, when we suffer from trials and tribulation we, too, look up to heaven with a deep sigh. We, too, groan over the misery of our fallen world and over the suffering of our own sin.

We cry out, O Lord, do you really understand my suffering? The answer is Yes. Jesus came down from heaven, became flesh, and entered our world.

Our God is not a far away God who knows nothing about suffering. Isaiah 53:3“6 says of Jesus, He is a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He was despised and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities.

This is your Jesus, covered with your sin and mine. We have all suffered much, but Jesus has suffered more than any of us have ever suffered. Jesus on the cross is the answer to our dilemma of sin and death.

Three days later, the words He is risen are like the words Be opened. Christ's death and resurrection means that heaven is open for you, me, and all believers.

So, does our Lord really understand our suffering? Yes! He understands, because He has suffered for us and in our place upon the cross.

When we are having a bad day, when we suffer from trial and tribulation, we, too, look up to heaven with a deep sigh. We cry out, O Lord, where are you when I need you? He says to us, Lo, I am with you always. He also says, Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you.

When we cry out, O Lord, are you really able to help me? The answer is yes. If God can create the world, if God can bring an Easter out of a Good Friday, then, God has the power to help us.

Our prayers may not be answered in the way we want, but we are assured that He causes all things to work together for good to those who love him (Romans 8:28).

He invites us to pray to him in time of need. Jesus, who is gentle and lowly in heart, says, Come to me all ye who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.

Romans 8:35“39 says that no amount of suffering will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 Romans 8:18 says that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us. In the end, we know that God will deliver us from the evil of this world and bring us to eternal life in heaven. There, He will wipe away every tear from our eyes.

Does our Lord care about you? Yes! He is with you in the midst of suffering. He is with you today. He is your refuge and strength ” a very present help in trouble. 

October 20, 2013

Power to Serve      1 Thessalonians 1:2 - 6

An Audio Sermon

This message is not to make people who are busy feel like they need to do more. This is not about being busy- people are already busy!

The question for each one of us is Are we doing our part in the kingdom of God and Do we know what we need to do?
One of the verses we just read says this: We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

There are three little lines I want us to notice in that verse: 1) work produced by faith 2) labor prompted by love and 3) endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul tells them that he sees the work they are doing. Whatever you do in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.

The church is a living manifestation of Christ. It is equipped and empowered by Christ to get things done. God calls all believers to work for His church. Not all to be pastors, or teachers, but all to work for Christ.

You have to decide if you believe that If you do, your prayer becomes Lord, What do you want me to do?

There are many good people, many talented people with great potential to serve God.  The problem is they never move from potential to productive.
What good is a fruit tree if it never bears fruit?
What good is a car that is stuck in neutral? It sounds good, but it never goes anywhere.
What good is a dream if you never act upon it? 
If you expect it to just happen, your dream will die!

God does not expect us to do it alone What God calls you too, He will equip you to do. (repeat)

The Bible says: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and to the ends of the earth.

God had a purpose- To equip the church and God's people to have the power of God working in their lives. We are not alone! Because God has equipped us to do what He has called us to do.

Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord. Zechariah. 4:6

A Sunday school teacher had taught the class to recite the Lord's Prayer by giving each child one small phrase to learn.
At the Sunday School presentation the class was asked to give their recitation. They began beautifully.
Our Father who art in heaven said Sarah.
Hollowed be thy name, said Rachel.
Everything went perfect one after the other until they got near the end For thine is the kingdom said Billy and then there was a long pause. Finally a little girl spoke up and said, Uh, the little boy who has the Power is absent today.

If you take the power of God out you are left with average people doing average things!

God's power is for Service- to be a witness to this world. His power is for Service- To walk and operate in the power of the name of Jesus. We all have a part in kingdom work.

They say Many hands make light work! That phrased is not found in the Bible, but the principal is taught throughout God's word.

If we look around we will see that -
People have physical needs.
People have emotional needs.
People have financial needs.
People have spiritual needs.

The purpose of ministry is meeting needs. God's people making themselves available.

John F. Kennedy once said, Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country. I want to tweak that just a bit and say

Ask not what God can do for you, but what you can do for God. It will change your life forever!

God wants the church to grow- it is what we are to do. He wants to use you to do it.
God wants to meet the needs of people- He wants to use you to do it.
God wants to disciple and train Godly people- He wants to use you to do it.

How do you go from potential to productive?
By making yourself available. By finding where God wants you and get involved. By determining your talents and using them for the glory of God.
Closing,

How do you discover what your ministry is? How do you figure out where you fit in?

Romans 12:1-8 gives us some answers: Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God”this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is”his good, pleasing and perfect will.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

1. Ask God what in your life He could use and make yourself available.

2. Make time for God. Purposefully give Him your time.

3. Evaluate your strengths- what do you do that could be used by God? He gave you that strength use it for Him.

4. Work well with others- one body, many members with many personalities. The one common denominator is to see God's kingdom grow, and God's people be discipled. ¢ It takes all of us.

October 13, 2013

How's Your Faith?    Matthew 17:14 - 20

An Audio Sermon

While He was here on earth Jesus talked a lot about faith. He talked about having : Little faith, Much faith, and Saving faith.

He also talked about ways that we show a lack of faith. Let's look first at Little faith. We don't like to think of our faith as being little do we?

You will remember the story of the disciples in a boat and Jesus is sleeping. They become fearful because of a storm that's coming so they wake Jesus up in a panic.  Jesus rebukes the storm. He tells them that they have little faith because they did not recognize who Jesus is.

I believe Jesus calming the storm is Jesus showing us His authority over the storms of life and yet many times we don't get it, we ask just like they did, who is this that he can calm a storm?

Then there is Much faith - Jesus gives us an example of people with much faith. That is what we want to be a person of much faith, but often we fall short.

In Acts chapter 6 we read that the church is growing and the disciples just can't do it all so they tell the people to choose some Godly men to do some of the work of ministry. Acts 6:5 says: This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man of faith and of the Holy Spirit.

So we see that if we want to be a person of much faith. We cannot do it on our own, but we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit of God.

So what's the difference between a person of little faith and a person of much faith?

Little faith does not recognize who Jesus is(Like when the disciples said, Who is this Guy that even the wind and the waves obey Him?).

Much faith understands that faith is bigger than He or She is and knows that they must be filled with the Holy Spirit of God.

Ephesians 6:16 tells us to Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take your stand- in Jesus name when you have done all that you know to do- stand firm.

So Much faith requires trusting God and "Little faith" - "Why are you afraid? O ye of little faith". 

The Apostle Paul tells us to Be watchful, stand firm in the faith...

Much faith is Jesus saying to Peter, Come and Peter getting out of the boat and walking on water. Little faith is Peter taking his eye off of Jesus and beginning to sink.

And Saving faith is Jesus reaching down and pulling Him up in the midst of a storm and rebuking the storm.

The Word of God is meant to be planted in the ground of your life. (heart) and it is intended to give you faith to accomplish all that God wants from your life.

What is the answer to anxiety? Faith in God.
Do not be anxious for anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. Phil 4:6

What is the answer for confusion? Faith.
For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace. 1 Corinthians 14:33

What is the answer for disappoin'ent? And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

What is the answer to fear? For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2Timothy

What is the answer for doubt? Matthew 17:20 says: I tell you the truth, if you have the faith of a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain move from here to there, and it will move, nothing will be impossible for you.

What is the answer to failure? For though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again. Proverbs 24:16

God offers in His Word faith building to fortify our faith and make it useful for us to live life abundantly!

Lacking direction? Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5-6

Inadequacy I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Phil. 4:13

He promises to take that mustard seed of faith and nurture it to make you a man or woman of God. He Promises to take that little bit of faith and help you get through life's trials if you will let Him.

So what's our part in this? I believe to exercise faith we need to be faithful!

If your car only started one out of every three times, is it reliable? 
If you work only one or two days a month are you a reliable employee?
If you fail to worship God on a regular basis, are you faithful? 

You see Faith honors God and God honors faith...Faith honors God and God honors faith!

In his book experiencing God, Henry Blackaby says, We should attempt things so great that they are doomed for failure unless God intervenes.

You have probably heard these words before they were found scratched on the wall of a Nazi prison camp: I believe in the sun even when it does not shine. I believe in love even when it is not expressed, and I believe in God even when He is silent."  

As you read the Bible you will see that Jesus talked a lot about faith and as a Christian Faith is what we are to put into action.

O ye of little faith or moving mountains? If you are not where you want to be, but are willing to let God change you nothing is impossible to you!

To grow your faith, you have got to get the right perspective of faith. 
You take your faith and put it in God's hands and He grows your faith.

Faith is having the right perspective When Goliath came against the Israelites, the soldiers thought he was so big they could never kill him, and David looked at the same giant and thought he's so big I can't miss.

God takes each one of us and wants to build our faith on His firm foundation and the testimony of His faithfulness. 

2 fish and 5 loaves of bread in my hands are a couple sandwiches, but in Jesus hands it fed thousands.

It depends who hands it is in. What and who are you putting your faith in?

October 6,2013

Living On Purpose      Genesis 1:24 - 28

An Audio Sermon

Former President -Ronald Reagan once said: "There's purpose and worth to each and every life".

In Genesis 1:26 we read: Then God said, Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.

Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

Galatians 3:26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Cars are built for transportation.
Trucks are built to transport things.
Houses are built for shelter.
Stores are built to provide supplies.
Hospitals are built to provide care.

Schools are built to provide education.
Churches are built to provide hope.
All these things are created for a PURPOSE.

You and I were also created for a purpose.
God created you on purpose for a purpose.
You are not a mistake or an accident; 
You are not an uh-oh or a freak of nature.
You are a child of the King. Chosen of God.

PURPOSE: (Webster's): That which a person sets before himself as an object to be reached or accomplished 

We believe that God created us for some purpose, and if so how glorious must be His purpose!

It is so sad to me that so many people go through life having no idea why they are here or what God's purpose is for them and their life.

There are several ways to get through this life the question is Are you living life or only surviving?

You see Some people live in SURVIVAL MODE “ They just exist. They have no purpose, no focus, no hope; they just exist. They continue because their heart is still beating and they are still breathing; truly a sad and dismal existences.

Then Some people live for THINGS “ They go through life collecting and possessing more and more. They appear to be very successful in the rat race of life The problem with that is: even if you win, you are still a rat.

Finally Some people live for a purpose “ This is where we all should be living; because it is not mere existence and survival or even things that we need, rather its purpose.

Purpose makes you know that your life matters, that it counts for something. When you discover purpose, you will have discovered God's plan for your life.

Our son Andy just got a raise and promotion and Marla said, I think he found his calling.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

You are Created for a Purpose.
You are Created with a Purpose.
You are Created for God's Purpose.
You need to live for a Purpose.
You should live on Purpose.

ALL things have been created by Him and all things find their purpose in Him. -Colossians 1:16

Life without God is meaningless.
Living life for God is full of purpose.
Serving God brings true purpose unto your life.

Purpose directs us, Purpose leads us, Purpose guides us to the destination God has for each of us.

There are benefits to living a purposed life.
"Are you going anywhere?"  "Is there a purpose for it all?"

Purpose gives meaning to our lives. It gives us the ability to say, "I know why I'm doing what I'm doing!"

And ... the question needs to be asked: Are you living or are you just existing? 

There is a difference there is a tremendous difference. Living has been defined as "vigorous, alive and full of life." 

Existing is defined as just being there...

How many are just existing and not truly...living life? 

So many people wake up and follow a routine every day. 

They go about their business, but they have no real sense of purpose in their lives. Don't waste your life, invest it.

Jesus Christ had a purpose: Luke 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Jesus fulfilled His Purpose. In Hebrews 10:9  He said, Here I am, I have come to do your will. 

Jesus shed His blood on the cross to redeem you and me. And with His parting breath He said, It Is Finished.

John 20:21 Jesus said: "As the Father sent Me into the world, I now send you."

The life you live is not your own but it is a gift from God. 

Make the most out of this one life He has given you. 

Let us fight the good fight.... let us finish the race. 

T. D. Jakes said: "If you can't figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. Because your passion will lead you right to your purpose".

September 29, 2013

The New Legacy      Blue Grass Music Group

An Audio Sermon

September 22, 2013

Finding Strength     1 Samuel 30: 1-6

David and his men reached Ziklag on the third day. Now the Amalekites had raided the Negev and Ziklag. They had attacked Ziklag and burned it, and had taken captive the women and everyone else in it, both young and old. They killed none of them, but carried them off as they went on their way.

When David and his men reached Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. David's two wives had been captured”Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God.(1 Samuel 30:1-6)    

We all need encouragement from time to time. All of us at some time or other face a crisis when everything seems to fall apart. There are times of discouragement, when things go wrong even when we are trying to do right.

There are times of uncertainty, when don't know how things are going to turn out. There are times of stress, when our load seems heavier than we can bear. The task is more than we can handle. There can also be times of fear when our very sense of security is threatened. In all of those kinds of situations we need to be encouraged in the Lord. 

In the midst of a time of great distress it says of David in our text in verse six, But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God. That sounds great doesn't it? But what does it really mean that David encouraged himself in the Lord?  

David and his company of six hundred men had been off serving in the military of Kind Achish of Gath and in the process had left their wives and children in Ziklag unprotect-ed.

A raiding band of Amalekites came down on the village, capturing the women and children for slaves, looting the place and carried of everything of value, leaving behind nothing but a smoking pile of rubble.

When David and his men arrived home all that remained was heap of smoking ruins. Everything was gone; wives, children, cattle and all their property. What do you do when life falls apart? Many follow the adage, When in trouble, when in doubt, run in circles and scream and shout!

It is interesting to note how David's men reacted when they discovered their terrible loss. Verse four, Then David and the people who were with him lifted up their voices and wept, until they had no more power to weep.'
Some of them sat down and wept until they has no more tears to shed. But others complained and blamed David.

Verse six, Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters . Some went so far as to suggest that they stone David. It is always easy in a crisis to blame somebody else or to look for a scapegoat. 

A lot of times when your life gets hairy you're tempted to do what David's troops did. You're tempted to take it out on someone else. Misery loves company. You're in the pit of despair and instead of spending time with God and asking Him what to do you do the stupid thing. You're hurting so you hurt someone else. Hurt people hurt people.

Think of what must have been going through David's mind as he stood over the ruins of his home not knowing whether his family was dead or alive. He must have asked himself some questions. Like, Why, if God is with me, is Saul trying to kill me? Why is Saul so insanely jealous of me? Why, if I am anointed do I have hide myself in the wilderness?

David had a choice. He could either, as a great many of us do, just stand there and continue to look, and see nothing but the disaster or he could look beyond them and see God. David met God and found the strength and direction to carry on. Then verse six continues with But David found strength in the LORD his God.

David had lost just as much as any of the rest of the men. David's only worldly possessions at that moment were the clothes he wore. Everything else was gone; his property was carried off by raiders, his home was a mass of smoldering embers.

But the was one thing that the Amalekites had not and could not take from him, they could not take his relationship with God. Although he could no longer say, My house, my city, my possessions, he could say, My God. 

David was able to find strength in the Lord because he had a personal relationship with God. Alexander Maclaren states it this way, Whatever else we lose, as long as we have Him we are rich; God is enough; whatever else may go. 

David Strengthened Himself in the Lord by seeking guidance and direction from God. (vv. 7-10) So David inquired of the LORD, saying, ˜Shall I pursue this troop? Shall I overtake them?' And He answered him, ˜Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all.'

He believed God and acted upon that belief in pursuing the band of Amalekite raiders and fighting to take back what they had lost. It would have done no good for David to sit around in the ruins of Ziklag and say, Well I Am Just Trusting the Lord. Real trust in the Lord is seen in David's willingness to act on what God had said. 

David and the remaining four hundred men crossed over the brook and pushed on into the desolate desert badlands pursuing the Amalekites.

They just happen upon a sick Egyptian captive who had been left behind by the Amalekites. In verse eleven we read, Then they found an Egyptian in the field, and brought him to David; and they gave him bread and he ate, and they let him drink water. (12) And they gave him a piece of a cake of figs and two clusters of raisins. So when he had eaten, his strength came back to him; for he had eaten no bread nor drunk water for three days and three nights. (13) Then David said to him, To whom do you belong, and where are you from? And he said, I am a young man from Egypt, servant of an Amalekite; and my master left me behind, because three days ago I fell sick. (14) We made an invasion of the southern area of the Chere-thites, in the territory which belongs to Judah, and of the southern area of Caleb; and we burned Ziklag with fire. (15) And David said to him, Can you take me down to this troop? So he said, Swear to me by God that you will neither kill me nor deliver me into the hands of my master, and I will take you down to this troop.


It turned out that the Egyptian had been the servant of one of the Amalekite rulers, but when he became sick he was abandoned as too much trouble to bother with and left behind in the desert to die. That pretty much killed any sense of loyalty that the Egyptian might have had for the Amalekites. It is important to realize that if David had not been kind and generous to this hurting man he would have missed God's provision.

The Egyptian once revived realizing that he had been saved told David that he knew where the Amalekites could be found. They were on their way to a victory celebration when the poor Egyptian had been left behind so he could tell David exactly where to find them. 

He led David down, and there they were, scattered over the countryside, eating, drinking and reveling because of the great amount of plunder they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from Judah. 17 David fought them from dusk until the evening of the next day, and none of them got away, except four hundred young men who rode off on camels and fled. 18 David recovered everything the Amalekites had taken, including his two wives. 19 Nothing was missing: young or old, boy or girl, plunder or anything else they had taken. David brought everything back.(1 Samuel 30:16 - 19)

September 29, 2013

The New Legacy      Blue Grass Music Group

An Audio Sermon

September 8, 2013

Without Regrets      2 Timothy 4:2-8

An Audio Sermon

September 1, 2013

A Family Story      Matthew 14:13-21

An Audio Sermon

 

 

 Romans 7:19 (KJV)
For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
Click here to read more!