|Posted on August 13, 2009 at 11:12 AM||comments (0)|
Do you ever feel like a target is plastered on you back or maybe your forehead? If you say, ‘That’s crazy. I don’t feel that way,’ maybe I should rephrase my statement. As a Christian do you ever feel like a target is plastered on you back or maybe your forehead? Today like no other time in our six thousand year history, thousands, not millions by the way, are Christians targeted. This is the kind of message that will probably scare many from the cross upon hearing the truth. That is the exact opposite of what we Christians were told to do! But, bear with me and you will see why this message must be heard.
For a moment, let us pretend that you dear reader know nothing of the Gospel other than you are aware that Jesus Christ existed. You were never told that Jesus is God (John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God). You, up to now, never knew that God the Father loved you so much that he sent HIS Son, Jesus Christ to die a sacrificial death for you (JOHN 3:16) because of the sin in your life that separates you from God (Romans 3:23). You never knew that each breath you took without acknowledging Jesus as your savior was sending you that much closer to Hell (John 14:6). Finally, a Christian mustered up the courage to tell you all these things and that Grace alone saves us (Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God). You learn that Grace is given freely by the Lord God when we accept his Son as our savior and repent from the sinful behaviors (John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him/ Romans 10:9-13 if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, "WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED." For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for "WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.").
If you are a Christian, you know that our existence is great! We have the best relationship with our Lord, who by the way always hears our prayers, and life is good ALL THE TIME. Most of that is true. We Christians are sinners turned saints as The Bible teaches, but life is what it is. We have boatloads of trouble, depression, and heartache. Sadly, so many new Christians turn away and never grow in the faith, which makes me, question the legitimacy of their belief/commitment to Christ because of the trials that manifest themselves the second we leave behind the old life and become a new creation in Christ. As a matter of fact, getting back to what I said earlier, we as Christians have targets plastered on our backs with it appears everyone from Boot Hill to Capitol Hill literally gunning for us. That’s part of it, being a real Christian. If you are offended by my next statements, oh well. A real Christian is one who as Isaiah taught stands firm in the faith. Do you laugh at off color jokes? Do you stand around and stay silent when around friends/co-workers/family who aren’t saved? Do you-well, you get the idea. All of can improve in these areas. If you are attending church just to dress up and impress the neighbors, you are not a real Christian. If the only time you open The Word is when the preacher says to, you aren’t a real Christian. If you think parts of The Bible are true, but others are not because you can align them with your lifestyle, you are not a real Christian. If you encourage those new in the faith to continue living like Friday night instead of Sunday morning, you are not a real Christian. Anyway, back to the real Christian. If you are a real Christian, you know because God’s Word tells you that trials and hardships are coming.
Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.
Most psychologists will disagree with the cliché, “Use it or lose it,” but it applies to the scripture in James. If we say we are believers, followers of Christ, our lives, actions, and thoughts will be reflective of Him, His teachings, and His ongoing existence in our lives. If not, then we lose contact so to speak with God. We grow spiritually in Christ like our bodies do physically if we pray and learn His ways. Our salvation is not lost. We never lose that if we trust Christ’s words. “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.” (John 10:14) “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:27-28).
Most people say that God will never put on them what they cannot bear. Scripture teaches that God gives us strength to bear out the burdens. Jesus made it clear that we are to daily carry the cross. Let’s look at some folks from Bible times and how they withstood the trials and if you will the targets plastered on their backs.
Acts chapter seven introduces us to Stephen known forever as the first Christian martyr. Stephen gives a bang up number one first class summary of the highlights of both Old and New Testaments as he is validating and defending the Gospel of Christ. He is killed for his actions ironically by the decree of Saul later to be Paul. As Stephen lay dying he, the quintessential Christian target, exemplified the behavior he taught; he held onto the teachings of Christ. He looked up and saw Christ and said, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep.
Most will say/ask, “Hey, didn’t Jesus say that too?”
Yes. Stephen exemplified Christ in every aspect by asking for forgiveness for those responsible for killing him. How many of us can do this today?
The apostle Peter is truly a great representation of a person on their journey toward totally becoming the real, mature Christian. This may take a moment or three. Prior to knowing Christ, Simon Peter was just a fisherman minding his own business. When he was told that the Messiah had been found, Simon followed Christ. Grated when we first hear the message of redemption through Christ, we may not follow right away as Simon Peter did, but our stubbornness and quick tempers do follow us when we do finally follow just as his did.
Peter was always for lack of a better word second guessed Christ. When Christ washed Peter’s feet, Peter protested not understanding the importance of the symbolism. When Christ explained that He had to die, Peter refused to believe it saying in essence, “No, man, no!” Right before this, Christ spoke highly of Peter, but immediately referred to Peter as Satan because he was denying what Christ had to accomplish! How many times have doubted that God is in control because of our life’s circumstances? We tend to see the right now picture whereas Jesus has always seen the grand picture. Most know the story of Peter walking on the water towards Christ. Old Pete got out of the boat in faith when Christ commanded him. Many times when we are n fire so to speak for the Kingdom we do jump out of the boat and are ready to tackle everything. But the moment, our nature gets the best of us, we and Peter are alike. He started to sink when he took his eyes off Christ. How many times have we taken our eyes off Him?
Sadly Peter is mostly known for his denial instead o the strong founder of the church by a majority of people. As it happened, the disciples were being petty arguing who among them would be the greatest. Christ intervened saying what He had to say. One would betray the other deny. Before His arrest, Jesus scolded Peter and two others because they were too tired to stay awake and pray. Moments later when Judas betrayed Christ, Peter was the first to defend his master by drawing a knife and cutting a guard’s ear off. Now I’m not saying you or I are like Peter in that we go and cut ears off, but we do have spiritual highs and lows. One second we can’t spend an extra minute praying before the day begins. Next we are jumping headfirst into something without considering all things.
Three times Peter denied Christ. We deny Christ every time we don’t witness to someone who is lost and going to hell. We deny Him by not exalting Him. We deny Him by standing and listening in silence to those who abuse his name or deny that He is The Way, The Truth, and The Life. If we do anything less than proclaim the Gospel message to a lost and dying world then we are denying Him. We spend more time debating the merits of reality shows, our favorite meals, the next big blockbuster, and how Team A could have beaten Team B if only they had listen to Coach C, than we do studying and sharing God’s Word. We are no different than pre-crucifixion Peter. He grew and kept the command the Risen Christ gave him; “Feed my sheep.” Check out I and II Peter for the message and proof of growth.
As we close, let us remember those original twelve and Paul that were Christian targets for Christ and the Gospel.
Matthew killed by a sword wound.
Mark Died after being dragged by horses through the streets until he was dead.
Luke- was hanged.
John Faced death when he was boiled in a huge basin of boiling oil in Rome. However, he was miraculously delivered
from death. John was then sentenced to the mines on the prison island of Patmos . He wrote his prophetic Book of Revelation on Patmos.
The apostle John was later freed. He died as an old man, the only apostle to die peacefully.
Peter was crucified upside down on an x-shaped cross. According to church
tradition it was because he told his tormentors that he felt unworthy to die
in the same way that Jesus Christ had died.
James, The Less was thrown over a hundred feet from the Temple when he refused to deny his faith in Christ. When they discovered that he survived the fall, his enemies beat James to death with a fuller's club.
James the Great, son of Zebedee, was a fisherman by trade when Jesus called him to a lifetime of ministry. As a strong leader of the church,
James was ultimately beheaded at Jerusalem. The Roman officer who guarded James watched amazed as James defended his faith at his trial. Later, the officer walked beside James to the place of execution.
Overcome by conviction, he declared his new faith to the judge and knelt beside James to accept
beheading as a Christian.
Bartholomew also known as Nathaniel was flayed to death by a whip.
Andrew was crucified on an x-shaped cross. After being whipped severely by seven soldiers , his body was tied to the cross
with cords to prolong his agony. His followers reported that, when he was led toward the cross, Andrew saluted it in these words: "I have long desired and expected this happy hour. The cross has been consecrated by the body of
Christ hanging on it." He continued to preach to his tormentors for two days
until he expired.
Thomas was stabbed with a spear.
Jude, The brother of James, was killed with arrows when he refused to deny his faith in Christ.
Matthias the apostle chosen to replace Judas Iscariot, was stoned and then beheaded.
Paul suffered long imprisonments and torture before being murdered by decapitation under Nero in Rome most likely in 67 AD.
I pray that no one is wondering why all these men throughout history allowed themselves to die in such a manner. The reason is clear; Jesus Christ is real. They could not deny their experiences with Christ. They knew Christ and His message. They considered it, being a target, a blessing. Jesus reassured them just as He will reassure you today if you do not know Him as Savior. Jesus said as recorded in John chapter 15:18-19, “If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love [you as] its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you.”
If you have never accepted Christ as your savior, today is your day. There’s nothing special about the sinner’s prayer. Remember we are saved by Grace.
Father God, Lord, I know that I am a sinner. Lord I believe Jesus Christ is the Lord. I know he died on the cross for me. I know Lord that you raised him from the dead. Father, I repent of my sins and ask Jesus to come into my life as my savior. It is in Christ’s holy name, I pray, Amen.
|Posted on July 23, 2009 at 2:14 AM||comments (0)|
I remember the tenderness in your voice the first time I heard it. I remember you saying thesilliest things. I knew you were the most important person in my life. I knewwe were linked together. It is humbling to think God made me for you and youfor me. We were made for his Glory. I remember the first visit to Doctor Livensand the words, "It's positive. Congratulations you're pregnant." It still seems like a dream that I will wake up from.
Out of all the new experiences during the pregnancy, I remember the spicy pickled nachos that hit the spot. That was gross most peoplesaid I'm sure, but it's not theirs to digest. I remember listening to Bach and Beethoven. I think I liked Bryan Adams too. I remember all the kicks and jabs that were delivered dancing to the beats. Looking back on all that now, I wish I could experience it again.
In the early stages, I tried to imagine your face. I longed to feel your comforting, warming touch that would tell me all would be okay and the world is a good place to live, love, and grow. You were everything I wanted. Truth is, you were all I needed. All my life, some people called me names and didn't think I deserved to have you in my life because of how things needed to be. I'm as much of a person as they are. I remember how excited I was to feel and hear your heartbeat. It made me feel as though we were the only ones in the world. I dreamed of the day we would hold one another and dance the night away.
Do you remember the day, my hair was pulled back into pigtails and we spent the day snorting and having fun? What about the time myheart was broken and you promised to make it better with chocolate cake and scotch tape? I so long to cherish those precious memories, but I can't.
What will you remember?
The truth is I don't remember the pigtails, cake, or tape. I don't remember themusic. I can't recall even hearing your voice unless it was the loud hateful sound that was constant. I was twelve weeks old. I was only with you for three months and you decided to kill me. I know you didn't mean to get raped. You were the victim first before you became a murderer. I heard you call me a mistake. The politicians called me a fetus. God called me chosen when he created me. Did I want to call a rapist Daddy? No. Did I want to call amurderer Mom? I never had the chance.
I feared the word Misoprostol, but you let me live past the age range for that murderousdeath. Suction Aspiration is a nice way to say death. Mom, I remember trying to kick that suction thing away. It invaded my womb, my sanctuary! It started decimating my home and me! I open my mouth! I'm screaming! Mom, save me! Oh God it's ripping my toes. I hear my limbs coming apart! I can't see! My entire body is being savagely torn apart! This was not a choice! It's murder! Can't they hear my heartbeat? Can't they see I'm not a fetus, or a mistake, but a child created by God? My body is gone!
"Is number one out?"
"What are you doing? What?s that metal thing on my head doing? Oh no!It?s bearing down on me! I can?t stop it! It hurts It hurts It h-----------------------------------."
If the baby could talk now, she would say that this has not been graphically presented as a fundamentalist scare tactic, but rather as a presentation of how far gone our society has plunged when the act of murderis semantically sabotaged and referred to as choice. Our current president, Barrack Hussein Obama once said he did not want his daughters punished with a mistake referring to "unplanned" pregnancy in his defense of murder known as abortion.
With that being said, the same self-professed Christianpresident cannot say when life begins. Christian people hold The Bible sacred as God's holy, inerrant (without error), Word. We know that God knit us in our mother's womb and that He knows us before we are born. We know this because TheBible says it is so! In a Stephen King novel one character said, "God knows thetruth and waits." One day the unified voice of the murdered unborn will be heard with a loud trumpet. Woe be to those murderers in the guise of healers that killed helpless children and those who allowed it.
Most murderous mommas say it was not an easy decision to make. Most regret it after learning the truth of God's Word. Some will cling to the excuse that it was either her or the baby. It is what it is; ripping apart a living breathing creation inside your own body is not a procedure. It is murder.
|Posted on July 7, 2009 at 4:34 PM||comments (0)|
Michael Jackson has been dead for over two weeks, Today, July 7, 2009 his body will finally be buried at least once. Over the fourth, Steve McNair, football player, iconic figure to Nashville died possibly at the hands of his girlfriend. Many adjectives will be used to describe Mcnair such as great, warrior, devoted, father, son, husband, but I think the one I’ll remember will be adulterer based on Biblical fact and definition. None of that matters to the point of today’s message, but it is loosely related.
How much is a life worth? How is it the entire world forgets about the economic downfall, the debacle in Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, and the fact that the great one, our charismatic leader’s popularity is swaying in the midst of his inept ability to deliver on promises and perpetual backsliding? Answer: We are blooming idiots. Mcnair and Jackson are now in eternity. Their bodies are as The Bible says turn back to dust. As will we all. But here’s the hypocrisy; every day people die, killed even, and yet, not everyone is mourned like the so-called celebrities which is a delusional mantle that we as a people place on others because we view our own failed existence as pathetic. We look to others who have what we want and try so hard to vicariously live through them by thinking we are part of their world. Here’s an example; you ever say we when watching a football game in reference to the coaching or a play? Ever attend a concert or buy a song and think, “Oh man that song was written for me!”
Now why do I mention all this and how does it relate to scripture? There is a scripture that most people say to those who have lost loved ones. It is true like all scripture, but it is not appropriate to use on people who have just lost loved ones. Before we get to that scripture, I want to share the part of scripture that comes before it.
In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;
Wow. Let me break this down just to be sure everyone understands. Life is hard, full of tragedy, disappointment, trials, and sad realizations. If you are not a Christian, one who accepts and acknowledge Christ as the Lord of your life, you’re prayers according to scripture are of no use to God. God hears the prayers of His children. When we His Christian don’t know what to pray, we are told in the Word that the Holy Spirit, the third part of the Triune God; Father, son, and Spirit, intercedes, steps up to the plate sports’ fans for us. As a Christian there is nothing more comforting to know other than our salvation in Christ is secure than for the Spirit that lives within us to step up for us when we do not know where, what, or how to begin praying.
Now the scripture most people use at inappropriate time is this Romans 8:28:
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
How can a death of a soldier, teenagers, so-called celebrity, or an infant be useful? If you are a parent, the last thing you want to hear from anyone is that God is going to take your daughter’s senseless, violent death and turn it to good if you love him. The scripture doesn’t mean that exactly anyway, but it sounds like it to the grieving heart.
One concept that is so hard for nonbelievers so I’m told and a lot of new Christians is acceptance in destiny. King David wrote a lot about destiny in Psalms.
Lord, even before I speak a word, you know all about it. You are all around me. You are behind me and in front of me. You hold me in your power.
13-14 You created the deepest parts of my being. You put me together inside my mother's body. How you made me is amazing and wonderful. I praise you for that.
16 Your eyes saw my body even before it was formed. You planned how many days I would live. You wrote down the number of them in your book before I had lived through even one of them.
It is fair for us as failed flesh to question God. Job if you recall questioned God immensely in regard to his life circumstances. Paul furthermore addresses the idea of questioning God in general in Romans chapter 9:19-20 with a reference to Isaiah as well.
Who can oppose what he wants to do?" But you are a mere man. So who are you to talk back to God? Scripture says, "Can what is made say to the one who made it, 'Why did you make me like this?' "—(Isaiah 29:16; 45:9)
Does God sit back and watch tragic events like murders take place without intervening as Thomas Jefferson expressed? No. God is constantly moving in the lives of His children.
It is easy to say, “God is gone,” when bad stuff happens or stuff simply doesn’t go our way, but we must remember Romans 8:28 regardless of circumstance because it is the truth.
Regardless of how you feel about it, the fact of God’s being God is irrefutable by sarcasm, flawed science, your own over-extended sense of self-worth, and Satan’s attempts to blind you from the fact that:
God, Abba Father, Jehovah, I AM is the creator of all things. He made the infant that dies during birth, the infant that is mistakenly called a fetus and his violently ripped apart in the name of democratic choice, the unrepentant murderer on parole, the born again believer strapped to a table waiting for the phone to ring, the teenagers taken too soon, the so-called kings of music, men, sport stars, the elderly that sits alone in the nursing home waiting for visitors that will never come, the rapist, the victim, all either sinners or saints based on their belief in Him, Christ, The Alpha and Omega, Son of God, the unblemished Lamb.
|Posted on September 20, 2007 at 7:45 PM||comments (0)|
This is sure to get a stir out of folks. Most folks know enough of the Bible to indirectly quote I Timothy 6:10 concerning the love of money being a root to all evil, but then the rubber hits the road. The God of the Old Testament is the God of the New Testament. He is the God that left Heaven for Earth. He is the God that wants to engage the world in a meaningful, personal relationship. He is the same God that told His people to test him? What did you say? How can we test God?
Malachi 3:8-10 "Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. "But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' "In tithes and offerings.?
God speaking to Malachi redundantly asks, ?Will a man rob God?? God asked Adam after the fall where he was. Remember Adam hid from God. God asked Adam where he was so Adam would have to confess. God does the same thing here when teaching about money. ?Yet you rob me.? We are taught as God-fearing Christians to worship, honor, respect, love, and fear the Living God. Does it not break your heart to hear God say, ?Yet you rob me?? Oh God how do we rob you? God answers, "In tithes and offerings.?
Some folks fear the offertory plate. You worry if you have your check folded in an origami masterpiece so no one can what you are giving. Listen, I know. I?m guilty of this. I would not say it to you if it didn?t go through me first. Here?s the truth: If you aren?t giving what you should, then you are regardless of being lost or saved, you are doing wrong in the eyes of God.
?How much are supposed to give? Where in the Bible does it say we have to so and so,? exclaims the guilty heart.
Leviticus 27:30 A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD.
Deuteronomy 14:22 Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year.
We could spend literally hours going over how Abraham, Jacob, and others of the Old Testament gave a tenth to God. We could talk about the genealogical aspect of Levites? tithing, but the fact of the matter is God expects and demands we, His children, obey His commands. Jesus said, ?If you love me, keep my commandments.
?But didn?t Jesus abolish the old laws??
Jesus said he did not come to abolish the old law but to fulfill it. Again, if you love Jesus, keep His commandments. Let?s go back to Malachi and finish that verse:
You are under a curse?the whole nation of you?because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.
You are under a curse, the whole nation, because you are robbing me. No doubt our great nation is a blessed nation. We have more stuff than most. We have freedoms some places cannot even begin to imagine. We are stupid and arrogant if we think the Lord will continue His blessings if we continue on the path to hell we are on where we do not give to Him what He demands, when we deny His sovereignty, and we become complacent in our relationship with him. Now listen to this next part real good: ?Test me in this,? says the Lord Almighty. Nowhere else in scripture I believe will we find those words used in that context again. In other words if you will, God says, ?See if I?m telling you how it is. Give it a try.?
Let us finish that verse now: We give the whole tithe, God said test Him and then He says, ?and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.?
What happens after we tithe? We are blessed. I know people who have had unstable financial situations myself included that have gladly given just to be blessed later. God said it was so. No one has to be the truth for the truth to be true. Proverbs teaches a lot on the issue of money and giving. The following reiterates the blessing of giving to the Lord.
Proverbs 3:9-10 Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.
God?s Word teaches that those who gladly give to the Lord receive abundant blessings. But what happens if you are unable to give? Jesus watched an old lady with very little money give more than she could afford. He commented to the religious leaders of the time that the lady had given more with so little than they had with all their riches.
How can that be? She gave with a glad heart to honor the Almighty.
we all want money and stuff? Sure we do. It?s the American way of life. Jesus
said, (this is a bad paraphrase by the way) that we should look to the things
of Heaven and not of the stuff of earth.
How much should we want then if we as Americans deny our lust for materialistic stuff?
Proverbs 30:8 Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.
It is a good idea that we should desire only from God our daily bread. The bread is literal and symbolic of all our needs not necessarily our wants. We want so much, but God supplies our needs. We should neither want more or less than what we need. The rest will fall into place.
I hate to say it since I too have looked for Easy Street, but God?s Word is clear how a person is to attain wealth.
Proverbs 21:5 Acquiring wealth takes diligent planning; anything less may end up in ruin.
Plan and put back for not just rainy days, but also when trouble floods. We must plan wisely how to spend our money not just for ourselves, but for our kids. If you don?t have kids, plan extra for when you might have ?em or your retirement. Rest in the blessed hope of Christ?s grace, but at the time time, be diligent toward future problems that can arise. Satan has no power over the believer, but he can throw snares. Trust always in the Lord and as He said, test him by your giving and see how you are blessed.
|Posted on September 11, 2007 at 8:41 PM||comments (0)|
The above listed names are Biblical measuring sticks. These men were used for God?s purposes. The Lord chose these men for His purposes. Today, we are going to look at these men of God: a drunk, a coward, a murderer, a slacker, an adulterer, a denier, and a Christian persecutor with one purpose in mind: to show how God used them and how He will use all of us as His children if we accept His will instead of our own.
Most everyone Christian or otherwise know of Noah?s story. Here is the scoop in a nutshell. God was displeased with the route taken by mankind. He decided to start over by wiping out the evil in the land. Right away, nonbelievers shout that a loving being would not first wipe out all the people or send them to hell, that is a whole other sermon all together, but wait, God was and is merciful because one man found favor in God?s sight. Noah was the man of the hour.
Genesis 6:9 Noah was a righteous
man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.
He walked with God. That statement is profound. Did Noah physically walk with God, probably no, but he was righteous, he did as the Lord instructed and found favor. Noah loved the wine a bit much, so before going any further, we cannot use Noah as an excuse to get plastered. More on that in a moment. Let?s get back to boat building.
instructed Noah to build the ark with certain specifications. It took Noah 120
years to finish it. The ridicule he received from the public had to be rough no
doubt. Think about it. He is building a huge boat on dry land. He took it on
the chin. He could have stopped and joined the masses, but he trusted God
completely and completed the task as instructed.
Genesis 9:20 Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. 21 When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent.
by my statement about Noah being a drunk, I wanted to grab your attention. The
Bible teaches that it rained for 150 days I believe. Some of you are thinking
that if you were on a boat with every kind of animal times two, you might want
a drink too, but the Bible furthermore teaches against staying away from strong
wine and drunkenness. If I have offended you, please, do not look for an
apology. The point about Noah like all the other ones we are going to see is
that he is flesh, not perfect by any means, but still usable to further God?s
Father Abraham. Most people know that name. The Lord many times in the Old Testament was called, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob. Yet, earlier, I labeled him a coward. Again, I label not tt maliciously slander, but to bring a point to focus.
first look at how Abram stayed faithful to the calling of God in Genesis 12:1-3: The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your
country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show
you. "I will make you into a great nation
and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."
Can you imagine what Abram did next? He didn?t clean out his hear. He did not ask, ?What did you say?? He, according to verse 4, did as commanded. So Abram left, as the LORD had told him.
First example of Abram acting as a coward comes when he and
the family unit arrive in Egypt.
As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, "I know what a beautiful woman you are. When the Egyptians see you, they will say, 'This is his wife.' Then they will kill me but will let you live. Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you."
I do not wish to rant here, but folks fear of death drove this man, chosen by God to be a great nation, to deny his very wife. God had already told him plain and simple what the plan was going to be! Yet, Abram let fear dictate his actions instead of glorifying the Lord.
God reunited Abram to his wife, and Pharoah understood the errors of his ways a few verses later. But there is more to tell!
Genesis 15 teaches about the covenant between Abram and the Lord. Here is part of it. "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.?
Abram responds with the always classic BUT. But Abram said, "O Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?" And Abram said, "You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir."
We are just like Abram are we not? Yes, he followed when first instructed, but then God told him in today?s terms, I got your back, Abram interjected and replied, But God!?
But nothing. Check out The Almighty?s reply. Then the word of the LORD came to him: "This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir." He took him outside and said, "Look up at the heavens and count the stars?if indeed you can count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be."
Like Abram, we do not view time as God does. We live in a world of instantaneous gratification. We not only want something, but we gotta gotta got to have it right now! Just as Adam followed Eve, so Abram followed his wife.
Genesis 16:1-4 Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar; so she said to Abram, "The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her." Abram agreed to what Sarai said. So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian maidservant Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived.
Neither Abram nor his wife could wait for God. Regardless of their intention, Abrham now has a son, just not the one God will provide again not for Abram?s will, but for His own purposes. God blesses Hagar?s child by the way, but that?s another time.
Despite early fears and disobedience Abram known as Abraham demonstrates the second strongest example of following faith in the entire Bible in my opinion. Most of us here know that God delivered Isaac to Abraham. Now, God plans to test Abraham?s commitment.
Genesis 22:2 Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about."
This time there is not a record of Abraham saying, ?But God.? He simply followed his instructions. If you are a parent reading or listening to this, think of your child or children. Remember how soft their precious skin felt as you held them for the first time. Remember how your heart melted when a little voice said, Moma or Dada. Now imagine having to sacrifice them.
Genesis 22:7-8 Isaac spoke up and said to his
father Abraham, "Father?"
"Yes, my son?" Abraham replied. "The fire and wood are here," Isaac said, "but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?" Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." And the two of them went on together.
Earlier I stated that Abraham?s willingness to follow God?s instructions without question was the second strongest example of following faith. The first one is found in Abraham?s words, ?God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." JESUS CHRIST. God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son.
Abraham did not kill Isaac naturally. The Angel of the Lord stopped him before the deed was done and commended him on his faith.
Folks use the excuse of not being good enough to come to church let alone to accept Christ as Savior. We have looked at two examples of regular folks who God used despite their having flaws. The next example is no different. For the sake of time, I will attempt to be brief. Moses killed an Egyptian that was beating a Jew. Bottom line: Moses was a murderer. He was cast out of the land. It is after this ordeal, Moses comes face to burning bush. Moses received his proverbial marching orders from the Most High. God told him that he would be used to lead God?s people, the Israelites out of captivity.
Exodus 3:10 10 ?So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt."
How does Moses respond? Look at verse 11. But Moses said to God, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?"
But Moses said!?! Did he not hear what God said? But Moses said. It doesn?t matter what Moses said. Moses asked the question that we all do when great tasks are at hand. ?Who am I to do this?? Allow me to tell you who you are. You are the one Christ died for. You are the one that Jesus Christ shed His precious blood for. You may see yourself as a drunk, a nobody, a coward, or a killer, but after the blood of Christ covers you and cleanses you of sin, God sees a new creation. God sees his children who worship and glorify His name. Moses by himself could not lead a dying man to life support, but with God with him, and directing him, everything went according to God?s plan! Are we any better than Moses? The book of Romans instructs that there is no favoritism with God.
Let s now look at Jonah. Historically, Jonah would not come in the middle, before David, but I wanted to place a slacker in the middle. God gave instructions to Jonah, to preach salvation to the people of a place called Nineveh, but Jonah ran away from the Lord. How many of us have run away from God? Here is an example: Let?s say a person accepts Christ as Savior on Sunday, but by Tuesday the world has them back in the fold of the muck and mire. Are they truly saved? Not for me to say, but they heard the Lord knocking on the door of their heart, they opened it, invited him in, and now are avoiding Him just like Jonah. Scripture teaches that God caused a storm to blow up at sea. Ultimately, through a casting of lots, Jonah ended up in the water. Oh, right, the big fish came and swallowed Jonah.
One positive thing occurred in the belly of the beast. Jonah prayed to the God, he was trying to avoid. It was not a prayer of desperation exactly. He praised God for allowing him to live and not drown. Listen to the verse
Jonah 2:9 ?But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord.?
God commanded the beast to release Jonah. Prayer. It?s our privilege to pray to our Lord God Almighty. If we stop running from God, pray to him with gladness in our hearts regardless of what is holding us, be it a fish, sadness, or any other form of bondage, we will be released by His glory.
Every time David is preached or taught, the phrase, ?a man after God?s heart? is brought up. I wanted to look at two points/parts of David?s life. Once little children were brought to Jesus just so He could place His hands on them and pray. The disciples acted like celebrity security and chewed out those who brought the children. However, Jesus had a different view on it.
Matthew 19:14 Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."
We must be bear the child like faith that is total belief and trust in Christ, God?s Son, the very Word. This ties us back to that young boy David. Most know the story. David took a stand in faith to face a giant monster of a man. Due to David?s age and being just a boy, the soldiers? armor and weapons were useless. David however, was prepared to do battle against Goliath. Here?s what David says to God?s adversary:
I Samuel 17:45-47 David said to the Philistine, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD's, and he will give all of you into our hands."
One rock to the head later and David was victorious. Remember though before the precious blood of Christ cleanses us, we are like dirty rags. No one is righteous before a Holy God. King David, while possessing a strong faith in God still fell short to sin. He and another man?s wife conceived a child. He used his power as king to have the other man placed at the front lines of the fighting at the time. Guess what. God still used David to fulfill His plans. As a result of his sinful liaison, David?s child with Bathsheba died. Before the child?s death, David proved his faithfulness to God.
II Samuel 12:16-18 David pleaded with God for
the child. He fasted and went into his house and spent the nights lying on the
ground. The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the
ground, but he refused, and he would not eat any food with them. On the seventh
day the child died.
It?s not always about our pain. God does as God sees fit. David?s response to his child?s death confused the servants at first. See, David washed, changed his clothes, and ate. His people did not understand why he would act in such a way. David explained:
II Samuel 12:22-23 "While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, 'Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me and let the child live.' But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me."
The part that hangs with me every time I read it is, ?I will go to him, but he will not return to me." That is the child like faith in the God that is the absolute, the beginning and end, the Great I Am that makes David a man after God?s own heart. He knew without a doubt what God had done and would do in his life. I pray that we all hold fast to that faith in Him when we are confronted with tragedy brought on by life or in some cases sinful behavior.
Peter of the book of Acts is not the same Peter from the Gospels. Physically, the body is the same, but the Peter of Acts was a much more defined in faith apostle than the denying Peter of the Gospels. Peter was one of the more passionate followers.
Matthew 16:17-18 17 Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
After Jesus explained to Peter why He was washing his feet, Peter begged to be completely washed missing the point obviously. Peter upon learning that Jesus was going to be killed went as we say, plum off.
Matthew 16:22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!" Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."
Rebuke means To criticize or reprove sharply; reprimand. So here is Peter, a man full of compassion for the Lord, meaning well, but missing the point. We are all sometimes like Peter on our Christian walk as far as being fired up. That?s not entirely bad if we are directing our efforts for Christ?s will and not our own. Our Lord compliments him by calling him ?the rock? on which the church foundation would be placed to calling him Satan. Peter?s passion for the Lord no doubt was true, but he was listening to Christ through human ears rather than spiritual ones.
Peter was by today?s medically induced, pill popping world, bi-polar by his actions. He goes from defending Christ to denying Him. As the scriptures teach, when Judas betrayed Jesus Christ, Peter took a sword and attacked the arresting guards. One man?s ear was cut off. Afterwards, Peter sadly lives up to one of Jesus? prophecies. Prior to the arrest, Jesus told Peter that he would deny Him three times before the crowing of a rooster.
Matthew 26:69-75 Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. "You also were with Jesus of Galilee," she said. But he denied it before them all. "I don't know what you're talking about," he said. Then he went out to the gateway, where another girl saw him and said to the people there, "This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth." He denied it again, with an oath: "I don't know the man!"
After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, "Surely you are one of them, for your accent gives you away."
Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, "I don't know the man!" Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: "Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times." And he went outside and wept bitterly.
The point to this is simple. Even the most fired up followers of Christ can fall and stumble. The difference between real believers and the real deniers is real believers may stumble and fall, but we reach out for Christ as he always holds us in His hands. Jesus and Peter have a little later on after the resurrection, but that?s a different sermon.
Jesus Christ took one of the most devoted Christian persecutors and transformed him into one of the greatest apostles and Christian figures in the world. Saul who would be Paul is credited with writing under God?s inspiration 13 books of the New Testament. He truly served Christ despite his earlier attempts to kill Christians, including by the way, a man named Stephen, the first Christian martyr.
No matter who you are, you can be
used by the Alpha and the Omega, the Holy, Mighty King of
kings. If you are not a Christian and have read this,
please take a moment to think about all the times in your heart
you know that the Lord has called you. Jesus Christ will
take you just as you are . He will lift you up just like He did these
men I 've mentioned here today.
|Posted on September 10, 2007 at 5:36 PM||comments (0)|
Websites like myspace, facebook, knowallmyfriends, and itsme.com are fine websites if used correctly. I made up the last couple of sites, but anyway here is the point. Myspace is used as a tool to reach people (long lost friends) as well as a way to meet new folks. I see nothing wrong with that part. It can be a place for Christians to witness to others. However, it is not all roses. Predators use myspace to lurk and lure young folks into a cesspool of evil, darkness, and pain. These people have not the first ounce of goodness.
What?s the difference between a monster using myspace to destroy young folks and people posting curse words, sexual images, or thoughts? You may say that is an unfair question, but wait, let me clarify. The person posting the curse words, sexual images/thoughts, and overall questionable content lists under religion-Christian (meaning they are Christians). The difference between the two: not much!
You may be thinking, ?How dare you say that!?
My response is, ?How dare you think it! How dare you, if you are a Christian, not be offended!?
I have always tried to be a straight shooter on who Christians are. Let me do a brief recap of who Christians aren?t. Oh, but you do that and you are judging someone! We all know that Jesus said not to judge. Okay, I am not judging individual people. I am however going to stand firm on Christ?s teachings and speak of the hypocritical stance we ?Christians? take when we choose what scriptures are true today based on our mood.
Christians do not worship God, the Father just when we are happy and all is well. Christians do not turn others away. Christians do not look down on others for dressing, speaking, and looking a certain way. Christians do not let opportunities to witness slip away. Christians do not say children are choices.
Sounds like we have some work to do, huh? Once we are saved by God?s Grace, we no longer should live our lives for ourselves. We live to serve Him as He lived as a man to serve us. Missionaries are true examples of this concept. They give up virtually everything to spread the Gospel of Christ to a people many times over that try to kill them daily. So what new excuse are we going to use not to talk to our family, neighbors, and friends about His saving Grace?
You mean to
say that as Christians, we live for Christ? True Christians do, the washed in
the blood of Christ Christians do, the real Christians, who feel conviction
from the Holy Spirit do. Do not take my word for it. Look at what God says
I CORINTHIANS 3:16 Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?
2 Corinthians 5:14,15 For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.
So you are God?s temple, and you abuse it physically and spiritually. By the way, I am guilty of the physical abuse. One too many pieces of Devil?s Food Cake. As Christians, His children, we must put our own selves away as we are new creations in Him, and pursue a life of abundant joy resting in His Grace, living to please Him, by glorifying His name and spreading His Gospel to the lost. As Christians, when we use myspace, interact with others, think thoughts, and speak words, we should remember that we do truly represent the God we serve.
The only thing worse than doing evil in the sight of the Lord while we call ourselves ?Christians? is to become complacent and think of His sacrificial death as an afterthought. John wrote in Revelation of Jesus Christ?s message to the lukewarm church Laodicea, ?I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm?neither hot nor cold?I am about to spit you out of my mouth.?
What a sad declaration it is when God?s people continue to run amuck without thinking of Him. The Israelites in any of the Old Testament scriptures constantly complained and fell back into old pagan ways, and God, the only living, merciful Lord Almighty gave them as He does us countless chances. Make no mistake. The Lord God, Jesus Christ said He would return in a time known only to the Father. When He returns, may He find clean temples that are serving Him gladly. In this digital age, we should not log on to myspace, but rather we are www.hisspace.com . God bless.
|Posted on October 13, 2006 at 6:39 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted on September 18, 2006 at 6:57 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted on September 15, 2006 at 12:01 AM||comments (0)|