Sermons Archives: January 2016

At Peace With God’s Timing

Posted on Jan 19, 2016 | Download

When God Delays For 40 Days. One of the more fascinating scriptures to me is Exodus 32:1. It says, “Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, ‘Come make us gods that shall go before us, for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’” You would think that after 400 years of captivity and being apart of the EXODUS that included miracle after miracle that they would allow a bit more time for God to do His work with Moses on the mountain. Not so, though. It only took 40 days and the people were up in arms! Looking back, I remember times in my life when I had an expectation for things to happen in a certain time frame and in the end, my time frame really didn’t mean a hill of beans. I remember going into my freshman year of high school as an aspiring basketball player. The only problem was that my boyish body wasn’t  up for the task of my MAN sized dreams. I was like a little runt who had not hit the growth spurt that many of my thick bearded buddies had. It was not till the summer AFTER my freshman year that the MAN in me came out and all of the sudden I was bigger, faster, stronger. The result was going from  a role player on my freshman basketball team to a sub on the Varsity team my sophomore year. Comically, it was still a year LATE in my mind though. God's Timing. There are several other stories I have of God not working things out in my time frame. It’s funny how that works. I could have swore that I was suppose to get married in my early twenties. God at least let me get the “twenties” part right and I got married to the love of my life at… 29. I recall starting college when I was 18 and after a long detour, not graduating till I was…30. I also remember the talks where my wife and I wanting to at least wait a year before we had children. Well, at least we got nine months of alone time, right? Story after story and lesson after lesson, God reminds us that His timing is supreme. I have learned through the 15 years of being devoted to Christ that in many ways it’s less about the fulfillment and more about the waiting. The waiting is the place of preparation. It’s the place that gets you ready to be able to handle the fulfillment. So you can fully appreciate it. In the waiting comes the refining, the maturing, the character and the heart. God's Promise, My Character. Just recently we had a very generous family give us a very nice Honda Odyssey minivan. Of course, this is HUGE to us because we are in the middle of the adoption process that will take our two kids to three or maybe even more. The point being, we need a larger vehicle then our smooth riding Honda Civic. Since our second son was born, I have been looking at minivans online, especially Honda Odysseys. That’s almost two years of looking, researching and above all… waiting. We knew God had a plan and in that plan was a time frame. We did not know the time frame, but at this point in my life, I really didn’t care. I knew this season was more about what is God doing IN ME in the waiting, then WHEN will we get a car our whole family can fit in. Like the Israelites, there were many times that I almost took matters into my own hands. I would go and visit dealerships, call people about their Odyssey listings online, etc. The problem was there was no peace. We knew that God wanted to do a miracle in our lives when it came to this vehicle. When I would begin the process of “creating my own golden calf” so to speak, I would feel the nudge of the Holy Spirit. That still small voice saying, “just wait”, “keep holding on”, “I have not forgot about you”, “I am faithful”. In the end, I obeyed and went with the PEACE over the instant gratification of doing things my way or in my own timing. God was gracious and we are beyond thrilled about the new vehicle addition to our family. We can’t wait for the call when we as a family hop into our new van and go pick up the newest addition(s) to our family! Maybe your a missionary praying for a certain break through in your ministry or your finances. You could be that praying neighbor who is waiting so anxiously to see your neighbor come to Jesus. Or maybe your are a family that has been waiting for what seems like forever for that new baby through adoption. Instead of seeing it as God's delays, let's look at it as God's opportunities. Let’s make use of that time the very best we can. Grow, learn, love, change and all of the sudden, your nudge will not be to create a golden calf, it will be the Lord making good on HIS word!

Resolved to Hope

Posted on Jan 13, 2016 | Download

Don’t get your hopes up. "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life." (Proverbs 13:12) A statement given and received by all of us at some point or another. “Don’t get your hopes up.” Hope is a curse word in most of our mental dictionaries. We use it to describe a desire that might be fulfilled, but probably won’t, or is at best uncertain. But hope is one of the major concepts in the Bible. It is used over 150 times throughout Scripture. Our culture sees hope as an unfortunate reality of life, while the Bible describes hope as foundational to the Christian faith and to every Christian’s joy. What is hope? "Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?" (Romans 8:24) Hope is, in one sense, just a fancy word for waiting. We hate waiting. And as technology (and with it, convenience) continues to increase, our impatience increases and intensifies. But there is a sort of threshold. If you begin to save up for some significant purchase, say a new guitar, when you finally make the purchase you are thankful for the wait and the hard work it took to save enough money to buy it. On the other hand, if you have been applying for jobs for over a year and you finally get one, you may be thankful for the job, but the wait seems to have very little value, and is seen as more of an enemy than anything beneficial. We may place some value on waiting, but at some point deferred hope becomes discouragement. The certainty of what we hope for decreases with time. The longer we wait the more uncertain we become that our hopes will ever come to pass, with one exception. The object of our hope. "And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts…" (Romans 5:5) Deferred hope almost always disappoints but Christian hope does not. The above verse gives an odd reason for this phenomena, “Because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts...” So hope does not disappoint because Jesus loves me? That sounds a little too “Sunday school” to be of any real help. Why is waiting good news for the Christian and bad news for the Christless? The difference isn’t so much the waiting, but the object of our waiting. What Christians await ultimately is the resurrection. Our hope is anchored in the reality that no matter what this life brings, not matter what disappointments we face, no matter what opportunities, or relationships, or loved ones we lose on this earth, every loss will be regained a thousand times over at the resurrection. Every other hope may disappoint, but the hope of a final resurrection is absolutely certain. God’s love is the foundation for our confidence because He is strong and He is trustworthy. He is strong enough to bring to pass anything He wants, and He is trustworthy enough do exactly what He has promised. So God, being a good Father who loves us, gives us every reason in the world to trust Him when He says that when this life is over, true life will have only just begun. It is His love, having been “poured out within our hearts,” that enables us to trust in His promise of life, and life to the full, forever. Every other hope may disappoint and discourage, but the Christian’s hope of the resurrection cannot disappoint because it is absolutely certain. The What transforms the Wait. "We rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame." (Romans 5:2-5) The object of our hope changes everything. Every challenge to the hope of the resurrection only increases our confidence in it rather than weakening it. In every other hope, the longer we wait, or the more difficulties that get in the way, cause us to lose hope, but for the Christian, our hope can only increase. Therefore, “We rejoice in hope of the glory of God (that is, the final resurrection). Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” So we rejoice in the hope of the resurrection, but we also rejoice in everything that seems to get in the way of that hope, because every source of pain in this life can only increase our hope for the next life. Every loss here only reminds us of what we will gain there. Every suffering on this earth stirs in us a longing for an end to all suffering, that is, our eternal home. So every hope that fails you now is simply another scale falling from your eyes, clearing your vision to see the light that doesn’t dim, the joy that doesn’t end, the hope that doesn’t fade. Get your hopes up, and get them high. "But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” (Lamentations 3:21-24)  But this does not mean we should give up on our present earthly hopes. It means the opposite, in fact. Christian hope transforms worldly hope. Buddhism tells us to live this life detached from any feeling of love or joy because those experiences usually bring suffering, and suffering is our enemy. Even the movie Star Wars subtly gives this message. In Episode II Yoda says to Anakin, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” It makes suffering out to be the ultimate evil, and it makes the feeling of fear and anger out to be enemies that should be avoided at all costs. This is a perfectly understandable idea for those who are not Christians, because suffering has no value. Thus, the world would tell us, “Don’t get your hopes up.” But dear Christian, get your hopes high, higher than ever before, because you cannot lose. Either your Father will bless you with what you hope for in this life, or He will bless you with the suffering that leads to endurance, character, and hope for the life to come. So in a certain sense, there is no bad day for a Christian. Of course we feel pain, but, “This light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17), and “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). So you have no reason to limit your hope in anything, because if you get what you hope for you win, and if you don’t you win all the more. This is why Paul can so confidently say, “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). This year, if you resolve to do nothing else, resolve to hope.

9 Things God Has Called You To Do With Your Life?

Posted on Jan 5, 2016 | Download

If you ever find yourself wondering what God's will is for you life, this little passage makes it pretty clear. “We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus,” (1 Thess. 5:14-18 NASB). It’s helpful to take lists like this and turn the commas into numbers. Suddenly what seems like a series of vague concepts develops into a delightful list of do-able actions. We are talking about God’s will here. So let’s break down each one.   1. Admonish the unruly “The unruly are those who are out of order, using a military word that describes the soldier who breaks ranks or marches out of step. This is the self-willed person who simply demands to hold his own opinion or preference. These must be warned.” Guzik’s Commentary Depending on your personality, this might be difficult for you. Or enjoyable. Regardless, as Believers, if we see a fellow brother or sister demanding to hold his or her own opinion or preference and breaking the ranks of unity…call that out. Admonish means to warn, exhort or encourage. Speak up in love and help them get back in step.   2. Encourage the fainthearted “Those of little souls; the faint-hearted; those who, on the eve of a battle, are dispirited, because of the number of the enemy, and their own feeble and unprovided state. Let them know that the battle is not theirs, but the Lord's; and that those who trust in him shall conquer.” Clark’s Commentary In other words, there are brothers and sisters around us who are timid, feeble-minded, scared to death. They’re facing the forces of the enemy and would rather run and hide. Nothing encourages us for battle better than knowing we aren’t alone and that the battle belongs to the Lord. (Proverbs 21:31) Encourage one another.   3. Help the weak "Cling to the weak" is a lovely piece of advice. Instead of letting the weak brother drift away and finally vanish altogether, the Christian community should make a deliberate attempt to grapple him to the Church in such a way that he cannot escape. It should forge bonds of fellowship and persuasion to hold on to the man who is likely to stray away.” Barclay’s Commentary Romans 15:1 reminds us that “we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves.” Each of us have areas of weaknesses that could use the strength of others. We have all benefited from those special times when a stronger brother or sister actively and sympathetically assisted us in our moment of need. The benefits are mutual. The bonds unbreakable. Here is where true community is lived-out.   4. Be patient with everyone Patient means what you think it means but here are more ways of describing what patience looks likes in our lives. “To persevere patiently and bravely in enduring misfortunes and troubles, To be patient in bearing the offenses and injuries of others, To be mild and slow in avenging, To be long-suffering, slow to anger, slow to punish.” Everyone means what you think it means. Every. One. Even the annoying ones. It means not being irritable, thinking before you speak the harsh words, taking a deep breath and extending the same amount of patience to them as you would want extended to you. “True Christianity is shown by its ability to love and help difficult people. We do not look for only perfect people to minister to and to minister with.” Guzik   5. See that no one pays back evil for evil “The moment we feel ourselves acting from a desire to “return evil for evil,” that moment we are acting wrong. It may be right to defend our lives and the lives of our friends; to seek the protection of the law for our persons, reputation, or property, against those who would wrong us; to repel the assaults of calumniators and slanderers, but in no case should the motive be to do them wrong for the evil which they have done us.” Barnes Revenge. Vengeance. “That’s what you get.” These are strong motivators so prominent in our culture. But as Believers, we are to see that no one ‘pays back’ for the evil which was done to them. We aren’t called to ‘get even.’ We are called to forgive. “Above every other virtue, the virtue of forgiveness characterizes the Gospel.” Stedman   6. Seek after that which is good for one another and all people “The phrase ‘to all men,’ seems to have been added to avoid the possibility of misconstruction. Some might possibly suppose that this was a good rule to be observed toward those of their own number, but that a greater latitude in avenging injuries might be allowable toward their enemies out of the church. The apostle, therefore, says that the rule is universal. It relates to the pagan, to infidels, sceptics, and persecutors, as well as to the members of the church. To every man we are to do good as we are able - no matter what they do to us.” Barnes Numbers 5 and 6 on the list fit together like a hand and glove. I imagine a fist balled up in anger and revenge releasing under the strain of mercy and forgiveness. Ok, so I’m not gonna punch you in the face now. That’s good. But it’s not enough. Now, put on a soft glove and extend goodness to that person. Yes, to those in the Church. Of course! But to those outside who will know us by our fruits. Goodness is on the fruit list. (See Galatians 5:22)   7. Rejoice always “To count your blessings, to be grateful and always realize how much God has done for you, and despite adverse circumstances, to always remember what a glorious future awaits you and how fortunate you are to be a Christian--this can never be stressed enough. Erdman reminds us, ‘If a person is not rejoicing, it is because he is not appropriating to his personal needs all the available riches of grace in Christ Jesus.’” Dunagan Rejoice. Celebrate and declare. That’s the easy part. Always. In every circumstance. There’s the rub. A true mark of maturity in Christ is when one learns to “rejoice in all things.” It’s certainly ok to acknowledge the sorrow, to grieve and hurt. The danger comes when we find ourselves despairing of the hope and future we have in Christ Jesus and forgetting the reservoir of grace, strength and power that comes when something has surpassed our ability to endure. Right there, in that moment, we have cause to celebrate but only if we know 2 Corinthians 12:9-10: “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” We have reason to rejoice. Always.   8. Pray without ceasing “You are dependent on God for every good; without him you can do nothing; feel that dependence at all times, and you will always be in the spirit of prayer; and those who feel this spirit will, as frequently as possible, be found in the exercise of prayer.” Clarke When you learn to gladly accept your dependency upon God you find yourself speaking to Him more throughout the day. Quick prayers for wisdom and direction. Supplications of needs and wants. Heartfelt prayers for healing on behalf of yourself and loved ones. Desperate prayers of protection in frightening times. Sudden declarations of praise and thanksgiving. The lines of communication are wide-open because your posture is one of receiving of Him. Praying without ceasing means two-way communication. Talking and listening.   9. In everything give thanks "When joy and prayer are married their first born child is gratitude." Spurgeon We can be thankful IN every situation and circumstance. That’s different than being thankful FOR everything. Who is really thankful for a serious illness, natural disaster or flat tire? When we are thankful IN a situation, we are acknowledging that God is sovereign and can redeem any situation. Romans 8:28 reminds us that God can cause everything to work together for the good of those who love Him. When we’ve been in an attitude of joy and a posture of prayer our hearts are already inclined to be thankful IN the everything. For THIS is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Simply put, God’s will is His desire or pleasure for us. It’s not His will therefore we MUST do it. It’s His will, therefore we CAN do it.