No Doubt

We get our Strength from/in God
God is great. His name is above all names.
We worship Him through all things – good or bad
Because He knows us, and loves us
Only He can save us, we can’t save ourselves no matter how hard we try
He takes care of us, He is our God…

Have you ever been bitterly disappointed in your own life? Ever wonder where you’re going or what it is that you’re supposed to be doing? Ever doubt God? I have found that it is easy to doubt God. To doubt His word and to doubt that I am doing what He wants me to do.

Let’s see, fear…got that. To lack confidence…got that. To consider unlikely…got that. I’ve got doubt in abundance, and it usually shows up about the time God wants me to do something for Him, or often it comes up when I’m being tested…how simple to fail a test, how easy to fall into the world’s view and walk away from God…how acceptable to give in to the temptations of Satan and turn our face from God. See, the foolish thing we think is that we ought to be able to understand God. That we should be able to at least have an idea about what it is God is doing, or what He wants from us. I would have to disagree with that view. God is unfathomable, unknowable, but at the same time, He is our God and He wants what is best for us.

If only God would speak; if only he would tell you what he thinks! If only he would tell you the secrets of wisdom, for true wisdom is not a simple matter. Listen! God is doubtless punishing you far less than you deserve! “Can you solve the mysteries of God? Can you discover everything about the Almighty? Such knowledge is higher than the heavens — and who are you? It is deeper than the underworld — what do you know? It is broader than the earth and wider than the sea. If God comes and puts a person in prison or calls the court to order, who can stop him? For he knows those who are false, and he takes note of all their sins. An empty-headed person won’t become wise any more than a wild donkey can bear a human child.

Job 11:5-12

If only He would speak…if only He would tell us what He thinks, what He wants. Anybody ever see the movie “Bruce Almighty?” A part that always stands out in my mind is when Bruce is praying to God for a sign and the pager goes off, then a sign in the street, then another sign and another sign. Every time something happens that is so obviously from God, Bruce would blow it off as something natural, or would miss the point. How often do we miss what God is trying to show us? How often do we take are eyes off God and look at what is in the natural world. Anybody want to take a guess at what happens to us when we look at the world instead of focusing on God?

And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.

Matthew 14:28-32

But the thing is, it’s ok to be tested, it’s ok when we have to stretch our faith and really search for meaning and guidance. God is ok with us seeking Him and asking for Him to show us His will. He wants to build our character, He wants to strengthen us, He wants us to wait on Him and know that He will take care of it.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

James 1:2-8

You see, as we are tested, we begin to seek God more diligently, to look for answers from Him who supplies everything. The great thing is that God never asks us to believe Him without sufficient evidence. How many times does God show us that He exists? How can we doubt a God who is always in our lives? How many times in this church are words given that are exactly what is being preached? How often do things just work out for us when there is no way it could ever have happened?

So how do we get rid of doubt? Well, first off, we stay in God’s word, every day. We pray, we fast. We must also be in fellowship with other Christians. We build each other up, we help each other to stay faithful, we save each other from doubt.

But you, my dear friends, must remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ said. They told you that in the last times there would be scoffers whose purpose in life is to satisfy their ungodly desires. These people are the ones who are creating divisions among you. They follow their natural instincts because they do not have God’s Spirit in them. But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love. And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives. Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen.

Jude 1:17-25

I have felt doubt numerous times. I have doubted that I’m in the will of God, I have doubted that I’ve heard from God and I have doubted that God cares about me enough to pay any attention. I have made it through these doubts and become stronger in my faith because of the things I have been taught. Scripture covenant, read every day, pick up the phone and call someone, ask for prayer. These are the steps to staying faithful and beating doubt.

The Making Of Disciples

Barry preached that “America has been lost to the enemy one family, one heart, one soul at a time, and it can be rescued only in the same way, one family one heart, one soul at a time.”

Fill our hearts with the excitement of knowing you … so that we will continue to spread the Gospel of the good news Jesus Christ changing one family, one heart one soul at a time. All across the land, going to every city and village … every city and village in the whole nation. Forgive us that we haven’t done this yet. Barry prayed that God would show us what we all are to do. And give us the courage to do it.

I preached about evangelism: going forth and making disciples of all nations. Going forth. Matthew 28 doesn’t say to we have to save anybody, it doesn’t even say to bring them in to the church. It just says to go and make disciples.

So I have two simple questions this week – 1) How many people stepped out of their comfort zone in the past two weeks and rescued someone? 2) What exactly is a disciple anyway?

A disciple is (a) one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another: as one of the twelve in the inner circle of Christ’s followers according to the Gospel accounts; (b) a convinced adherent of a school or individual.

I agree with this, though I’m not exactly sure why they included the second part of the definition except that they are referred to so many times in scripture as the 12 disciples. However, there are hundreds of references to Jesus’ “disciples” that could include the hundreds that where following him:.

The Lord now chose seventy-two other disciples and sent them ahead in pairs to all the towns and places he planned to visit. These were his instructions to them: “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields. Now go, and remember that I am sending you out as lambs among wolves. Don’t take any money with you, nor a traveler’s bag, nor an extra pair of sandals. And don’t stop to greet anyone on the road.

Luke 10

Anyway, so how do we make a disciple? What do we need to do in order to become a disciple of Christ and to bring others with us? Relationship. To make a disciple, to be a disciple, you must have a relationship with a person. Whether you are a disciple, or you are making a disciple, it all the same.

Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Matthew 22:36-40

Love thy neighbor as thyself … tough concept. Who is our neighbor?

And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.” But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Luke 10:28-37

How many times have we said hello to someone that has come in to our church? How many times have we greeted them and spoken to them? How many times has someone come to our church once and never come back? Oh we talk a great game, we speak nicely to them, we have a great conversation with them, and then what? How many visitors to our church has had a visit from one of us to their home? A phone call? Anything? How much time do we invest in others to make them feel loved or wanted?

I remember when I first came to Christ, I was so hungry for God, and I think everybody here can relate to this, I was so hungry for God that I was constantly seeking. Gene Horne called me every single day, sometimes just to say hello, sometimes to ask me about a scripture passage, sometimes to correct me, sometimes to pray for or with me. The thing is, if he hadn’t done that, would I have continued to come to church? The investment he made in my life changed my perception of him and of Christ. Why would some guy I barely know keep calling me and asking me how I was doing? How was I feeling? Did I need prayer? He showed that he loved me through his actions, just as Christ showed me His unbelievable love for me by allowing Himself to be nailed to a cross.

It comes down to this: most people want to know “what have you done for me lately?”

So, what have we done for others lately?

I have family members that I would love to see come to Christ. I have neighbors that I would love to see come to Christ. I have been convicted of the slackness in my commitment to make disciples.

Last night I went to JJ and Heathers wedding. While I was there I talked to a young lady named Cassie. She is the daughter of a friend of mine named Spuds. She said she never sees me anymore and asked why I never come over since I live so close. And she’s right, they live about 2 minutes away from us and I never go to their house. But Spuds is a great guy, and he is so close to becoming a believer. He’s been going to church sometimes, he was beginning to understand, and I have been so slack that I haven’t even asked him how his walk with God is going, even though I see him on a regular basis. Fail.

We fall into a kind of pattern, talking about God to those whom we know are believers and avoiding offending those who we are not so sure about.

Jesus said that where our treasure is, there also will our heart be. He was talking about treasure in heaven, but how do we build that treasure except by investing in the kingdom of God. A literal translation is that what we spend our time with, what we invest our time in, that’s where our heart is going to be. If we spend time with God, our heart will be turned toward God. If we spend time with the world, our hearts will be turned to the world. If we spend time with our spouse and our kids and our friends…there also will be our heart.

If we spend time with people who we are “discipling” there also will be our hearts. So the key to making disciples is becoming invested in someone, showing interest in their lives, showing them that you love them. Sometimes it’s hard, what with all the other “things” on our busy schedules. But really, what is a 10 minute phone call once a day if it can mean the difference between salvation and condemnation? Our church had a practice activation for the “calling once a day” that God specifically placed on us to ready us for when He would call us to begin to grow our church. I believe that the time is now. We have been waiting for an evangelist to be brought here, or for someone to be given an evangelical anointing, when all the time God wanted for each and every one of us to become evangelists. Call, walk, spend time, go forth, take the gospel, make disciples. We don’t have to go on a missions trip to find people in need, there are as many dying here in this nation as any country on earth, there are as many in need of spiritual rescue in our neighborhoods as anywhere.

Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come,’ so now I say to you. A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

John 13:33-35

So how have we showed our love for others this past week? What can we do this coming week to show our love to someone else?

Remember that Satan’s evangelists never stop, never get tired, never back down. They lie, they backstab, they pervert God’s word. And they are everywhere. We must be more vigilant, more persuasive, more determined than they.

Spiritual Search and Rescue

How many of us have been in a tight jam and needed someone else to help us out? How many times have we had a problem that we couldn’t solve ourselves? How many times in our lives have we needed rescuing? I can tell you from my personal experience, the count is pretty high. In the physical realm, in the world, I’ve needed rescuing a number of times. But let’s talk about the important realm, the important part of our lives, the spiritual realm. How many of us have floundered spiritually and needed someone to step in and rescue us … usually from our own silliness, our own mistakes, our own stubbornness.

Last week Barry preached that “America has been lost to the enemy one family, one heart, one soul at a time, and it can be rescued only in the same way, one family one heart, one soul at a time.”

Fill our hearts with the excitement of knowing you…so that we will continue to spread the Gospel of the good news Jesus Christ changing one family, one heart one soul at a time. All across the land, going to every city and village … every city and village in the whole nation. Forgive us that we haven’t done this yet. Barry prayed that God would show us what we all are to do. And give us the courage to do it.

The answer: Evangelism.

So how do we do that? How do we evangelize?

First let me say that I’ve actually been taking a class on evangelism for the last 4 weeks. Great class, fantastic teacher, hasn’t said a word that I didn’t already know but put it together in a way that I would never have figured out without him. I love God. I love that He puts people in our lives that we need at the right time and the right place. He wants to do the same thing with us, He wants us to be in the right place at the right time to help someone else. The person teaching the class is Rick Stem, some of you might know him. He made a statement the first week I was there that changed my attitude toward evangelism considerably. He said: “Evangelism is the top priority of God! It is also the top priority of Satan.” Wow, what a statement. Absolutely true, absolutely scary. The thing is, Satan’s evangelists never stop, never get tired, never back down. They lie, they backstab, they pervert God’s word. And they are everywhere.

So what can we do? God answers that in scripture, we’ve all heard it many times.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Matthew 28:18-20

I know this passage, we all know this passage, and this is probably going to offend some of us, we’re going to get defensive and say to ourselves that “I do what I can … I talk about Christ.” That may be the case, it is for me. But ask yourselves this: “How many people have I rescued this week?” How many people have I asked ” Do you know Jesus Christ?” How many people have you rescued this week? This month? This year?

Matthew 28 doesn’t say to we have to save anybody, it doesn’t even say to bring them in to the church. It just says to go and make disciples.

God is clear in scripture that we are to go forth and evangelize the world and preach the good news. Nowhere in scripture does God say: “Sit in your church, praying and hoping that people will come in and give their lives to me.” I know we all try to live Godly lives and influence people that we come in contact with, but how many hours do we spend actively seeking to bring people to Christ? How many hours do we spend on spiritual search and rescue? How many? 1 hour, 2 hours? 20 minutes? Worldly enjoyments yield little time to evangelism.

Barry asked last week that we have the courage to do what God asks of us.

After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves. Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road. But whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’

Luke 10:1-5

Think maybe these guys were apprehensive? I do. Don’t take any money, don’t take any food … just go. Pretty scary orders.

Here’s the thing, every person in here has expressed a desire to go on a “missions” trip. Some even have. Gone to other countries and helped people in need, and all the while there are people in our own neighborhoods who are perishing, dying a slow and painful death leading to eternity in hell. And we sit by and watch them dying because we are too scared to talk to them about Christ.

Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”

Luke 24:46-47

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

Mark 16:15-18

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

John 20:21-23

This is a change we have to make inside of ourselves. We must change our attitude about how we live if we are to be obedient to God’s word. Can we ever “do enough?” Can we ever say that we are doing everything we can? How hard would it be to give up a Saturday morning sleeping in to knock on the neighborhood doors, asking everyone if they know the saving power of Jesus Christ? How much sacrifice would be involved to give up a Sunday afternoon nap or a trip to the movies, or a volleyball game to bring one person to the kingdom of God? To rescue one person from the spiritual death that they are blindly walking toward. How much sacrifice is it really? We have to stop lying to ourselves, lying to each other, lying to the world and especially trying to lie to God. We have to stop putting ourselves and our wants first and start obeying the word of God.

There’s a song we have sung a few times that says this.

We’ve got our
Marching orders
We’ve got our
Marching orders
Now is the time
To carry them forth

Go forth,
Jesus loves them
Go forth,
Take the gospel
Go forth,
The time is now
The harvest is ripening
Go forth!

Randy Rottwell – Go Forth

The Embarrassment Of Sin

AKA Fail

How many of us here have done something embarrassing? How many times have we done the same embarrassing thing? I’m not talking about: “oh my gosh, I can’t believe I burped in front of my boyfriend or girlfriend…” or, oh man, I can’t believe my pants just ripped.” I’m talking about doing something that was truly embarrassing, not just to yourself, but to your faith, and while I don’t believe God can be embarrassed, embarrassing to Christianity.

EMBARRASS implies some influence that impedes thought, speech, or action <embarrassed to admit that she liked the movie>. DISCOMFIT implies a hampering or frustrating accompanied by confusion <hecklers discomfited the speaker>. ABASH presupposes some initial self-confidence that receives a sudden check, producing shyness, shame, or a feeling of inferiority <abashed by her swift and cutting retort>. DISCONCERT implies an upsetting of equanimity or assurance producing uncertainty or hesitancy <disconcerted by finding so many in attendance>. RATTLE implies an agitation that impairs thought and judgment <rattled by all the television cameras>.

I think that most of us actually think of the word embarrass within the definitions of the synonyms more so than the actual definition of embarrass. Anyway, the embarrassment which I am talking about is the feeling of self conscious distress, almost to the point of an inability to function. Anybody ever been in that situation?

I’ve come to the conclusion that it is difficult to embarrass myself, I don’t really have anything to personally be embarrassed about … not usually. There are exceptions, but for the most part I don’ really care enough about my “image” to really be embarrassed by anything that I do.

On the other hand, I have also concluded that I can do things that I am ashamed of, and that can easily become a wedge between myself and God. We the church, and we individually are always being watched, always being judged by our actions. Sometimes we mess up a little…and sometimes we mess up a lot. So how do we handle it? How do we handle it when we mess up SO bad that we feel like we have no business calling ourselves Christian? Calling ourselves followers of God?

I was written up this week at work for a number of things, some deserving, some made up, all of them embarrassing and all of them completely avoidable had I followed the precepts that my faith in Christ dictates.

My boss asked me to do something that I thought was a bit ridiculous, and still do, however, scripture tells us to submit to authority and Christ says to do what we are asked without question. Turn to Matthew 5:38-48: (NIV).

You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

And Paul talks about doing things that are unfair in Ephesians 6:5-8 (KJV):

Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.

But oh my gosh is it hard. Hard to submit to silliness, hard to do things that are SO unfair. But when we don’t, who do we embarrass? Have I embarrassed myself by being written up for things I should never have done, or have I embarrassed Christ, because I’m a follower of His and should never have done anything so stupid?

I’ll elaborate on what I got in trouble for, because I know that if I was sitting out there and someone said they got in trouble for something silly, I would be very curious.

I actually got written up for a number of things, using school resources for unauthorized use: I play email chess without the chess club sponsor at the high school. Playing video games on school computers, sending personal email through my school account, watching a movie on a school computer. All of which I have an “excuse” for, none of which matter.

I was also written up for disrespect, telling my supervisor that his request was silly. He asked me to inventory an entire school, I asked him for a copy of the current inventory to work from, he wouldn’t provide it, I told him it was silly to start from scratch.

All of these things are wrong by the letter of the law, all of them are wrong because I never should have done them, knowing that I am supposed to be the salt of the earth…a light in the darkness. Knowing that everyone else knows that I claim to be a Christian. Fail.

So now what? What am I supposed to do? How am I supposed to look people in the eye and continue in my job knowing that I’ve done something I never should have done?

Oh and by the way, my first reaction was anger…anger at the injustice, anger at the fact that my supervisor calls my work sub-standard, anger at the demeaning “performance improvement plan” I’ve been put on to “improve my work attitude.” It has been a difficult couple of days, knowing that I was to preach today and unable to step away from my anger, to forgive, when all I wanted was revenge. And honestly, I’m still struggling with it a little bit. I’m a lot better then I was on Friday, but I still feel like I was treated unfairly in many ways, but I know I’m wrong in my attitude, I know I’m wrong in my anger, I know I’m wrong in the way I have handled it. Fortunately, God redeems, God heals, God teaches, God molds us into useable objects through trials.

We are blessed that scripture has some great examples of what we are supposed to do when we fail so miserably in our walk with God.

Moses murdered a man, and God used him as His mouthpiece for an entire nation. David committed adultery and murder to cover it up, and God called him a man after His own heart. Peter denied Christ three times, just because he was afraid.

So what do these men have in common that God was able to use them all so powerfully?

Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more! Why have you despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon. Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun.'” So David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die. However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die.” Then Nathan departed to his house. And the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and it became ill. David therefore pleaded with God for the child, and David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. So the elders of his house arose and went to him, to raise him up from the ground. But he would not, nor did he eat food with them. Then on the seventh day it came to pass that the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead. For they said, “Indeed, while the child was alive, we spoke to him, and he would not heed our voice. How can we tell him that the child is dead? He may do some harm!” When David saw that his servants were whispering, David perceived that the child was dead. Therefore David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” And they said, “He is dead.” So David arose from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. Then he went to his own house; and when he requested, they set food before him, and he ate. Then his servants said to him, “What is this that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive, but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” And he said, “While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell whether the LORD[a] will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”

2 Samuel 12:7-22

I’m going to read a couple of scripture passages about Peter’s denial of Christ. Matthew 26:75, Mark 14:72 and Luke 22:60.

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.

Matthew 26:75

Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept.

Mark 14:72

Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed.

Luke 22:60

All cover Peter’s reaction to his failure to acknowledge Christ. In all three accounts Peter wept, in two of them he wept bitterly Moses fled, but God didn’t leave him alone.

Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” So He said, “I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”

Exodus 3:10-12

So who are we? Who are we that we can fail so miserably and think that God can still use us? We are priests, prophets, kings. We are the redeemed of Lord. We are covered in the blood of Jesus and bought with the death of Christ. We are God’s adopted children. What more do we need, what do we need to learn? What do we so desperately need to understand?

The answer: it doesn’t matter how badly we mess up, it doesn’t matter how embarrassed we are, it doesn’t matter how much we think we have failed God. It doesn’t matter what other people think of us. It just doesn’t matter. All that matters is that we love God, that we repent, that we seek His face, that we answer His call, and that we grow in our faith through every trial.

The Temptation of Sin

Temptation (Webster)

  1. The act of tempting, or enticing to evil; seduction. When the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season. – Luke iv. 13.
  2. The state of being tempted, or enticed to evil. Lead us not into temptation. – Luke xi. 4.
  3. That which tempts; an inducement; an allurement, especially to something evil. Dare to be great, without a guilty crown; View it, and lay the bright temptation down.

Temptation (Free Dictionary)

  1. something that seduces or has the quality to seduce
  2. the desire to have or do something that you know you should avoid; “he felt the temptation and his will power weakened”
  3. the act of influencing by exciting hope or desire; “his enticements were shameless”

Funny how the definitions are different in both of those dictionaries. Webster defines temptation as something evil, the free dictionary just says that temptations are “seductions, hopes, desires… “wow, what a difference. Unfortunately for the world, I think the free dictionary is what the world believes.

The scripture verse that stands out in my mind about temptation is when Jesus was baptized and fasted for 40 days in the wilderness.

And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered. And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread. And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season. And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.

Luke 4:1-14

Being forty days tempted by the devil. And not once did Christ give in to Satan’s temptations. Notice that each time Satan tempted Christ, the things he tempted Christ with changed: Food, Power, Pride. Satan changes his tactics as he runs into resistance, but it’s all the same, he wants us to sin, he wants us to fall short, he wants us to question our faith and our God. He has done this from the beginning.

Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, “You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, “You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.'” Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” And the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Genesis 3:1-13

Satan tempted Adam, and Adam gave way to temptation and chose sin over God. How many times have we done the exact same thing in our lives? How many times have we chosen sin over God? The Israelites did it in the desert, not just once, but over and over again… constantly falling into what the Lord promised in Judges 2:2-4 (New Living Translation).

For your part, you were not to make any covenants with the people living in this land; instead, you were to destroy their altars. But you disobeyed my command. Why did you do this? So now I declare that I will no longer drive out the people living in your land. They will be thorns in your sides, and their gods will be a constant temptation to you. When the angel of the LORD finished speaking to all the Israelites, the people wept loudly.

God told them what was going to happen if they failed to listen to His instructions, just as He tells us what is going to happen if we fail to listen to His instructions.

Christ talks about temptation a number of times.

And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me. But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea. What sorrow awaits the world, because it tempts people to sin. Temptations are inevitable, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting. So if your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one hand or one foot than to be thrown into eternal fire with both of your hands and feet. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.

Matthew 18:5-9

So why, and how are we tempted? And what do we do about it?

Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.

James 1:12-14

God does not tempt us…Satan tempts us, in fact, he is called the “Temptor” in scripture:

And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”

Matthew 4:2-4

And we tempt ourselves with our own desires as we read in James. We are tempted by our own desires…I keep saying that…hoping it will change, knowing that it’s not going to. We have to endure temptation, and through enduring, become better Christians. So how do we do that? How do we endure temptations? When His disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, He taught them a short prayer, it covered everything that Christ knows is important.

In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Matthew 6:9-13

Other translations say “deliver us from evil” however, I don’t think there is much difference between Evil and Evil one. Satan is evil.

So again, how do we deal with temptation?

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

1 Corinthians 10:12-16

God gives us a way out, He always does. Do we choose to take it? Do we choose to continue in our sin or do we choose to walk away? When we walk away, we glorify God, and He recognizes us, and knows that we continue to grow in our relationship with Him.

Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.

James 1:12-13

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

James 1:2-4

Blessed is the man who endures temptation, count it all joy when you fall into various trials. These are the things that build our character, that show God that we can put ourselves second and put Him first.

Honor Thy Parents – A Christmas Story

How many of us here today have lost their temper with their parents? Or should the question rather be: “how many times have those of us here lost their temper with their parents?” How often do we do things that our parents have expressly forbidden, or even just asked us not to do? How often are we tempted do ignore our parents and do our own thing?

Besides, what exactly does “Honor” they parents mean?

Merrian-Webster defines it as follows.

Function: noun

  1. good name or public esteem : reputation
  2. a showing of usually merited respect : recognition <pay honor to our founder>
  3. privilege <had the honor of joining the captain for dinner>
  4. a person of superior standing – now used especially as a title for a holder of high office <if Your Honor please>
  5. one whose worth brings respect or fame : credit <an honor to the profession>
  6. the center point of the upper half of an armorial escutcheon
  7. an evidence or symbol of distinction: as
    1. an exalted title or rank
    2. badge, decoration
    3. a ceremonial rite or observance <buried with full military honors>
    4. an award in a contest or field of competition
    5. archaic : a gesture of deference : bow e plural
    6. an academic distinction conferred on a superior student
    7. a course of study for superior students supplementing or replacing a regular course
  8. chastity, purity <fought fiercely for her honor and her life – Barton Black>
  9. a keen sense of ethical conduct : integrity <wouldn’t do it as a matter of honor>
  10. one’s word given as a guarantee of performance <on my honor, I will be there>
  11. plural : social courtesies or civilities extended by a host <asked her to do the honors>

That is a lot of meanings, but I don’t think any of those things really covers what God is talking about when He tells us to Honor our father and mother. Please turn to Exodus 20:1-17.

And God spake all these words, saying,
I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
Thou shalt not kill.
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Thou shalt not steal.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

God thinks it is important enough that it is the first commandment He gives that does not pertain to Him specifically.

Well, we know where it is, but we still don’t really know what it means to “honor” our parents.

Read Exodus 21:15,17: “And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death. And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.

Read Leviticus 20:9: “For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him.

Read Proverbs 20:20: “Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness.”

So, God says that if you hit your parents ¨ or curse your parents, you are to be put to death. While Exodus and Leviticus are certainly speaking of the first death, Proverbs is a much scarier verse, in that it is certainly speaking about the second death. Christ uses the alliteration of darkness in His parables for those who are cast out of the kingdom of heaven. What do you think would happen to this nation if a law went into effect that upheld that scripture? How different would it be if children knew that they would be killed if they “disrespected” their parents by hitting them or cursing them?

I read something this morning about this ¨ the second part of the commandment says: “that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” I have always interpreted this as being an individual’s life ¨ but this think about this: how does NOT honoring your parents affect a nation? If the youth of a nation have no respect for their parents, as a whole, how is that going to change the strength, the cohesiveness of a nation? How is America doing in regards to the youth of this country “honoring” their parents?

So again, what does it mean to NOT honor your parents?

If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

Deuteronomy 21:18-21

God says, if a child does not obey the voice of his mother or father ¨ if his parents correct him and he still does not listen, then take him to be judged. I doubt very seriously that our countries courts would even hear a case for a child who fails to “obey” their parents, they barely hear cases about a child beating their parents ¨ there are some countries however, that still punish children for disobedience. Again, this brings home the question: What happens to a nation when its youth begin to disobey and “dishonor” their parents? So I think we have a pretty good idea about what happens when we don’t honor our parents, and I think we are beginning to understand a little about what it means to honor them. Let’s delve into that a little more: Turn to Ephesians 6:1-4.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

And read Colossians 3:21: “Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.”

Paul is perfectly clear: obey your parents. But, he also gives a little nudge to the parents to help their children out – parents: don’t be a jerk, don’t push your children to anger just because you can, treat them with the love that God commands. (Please remember that Love, according to God, is not a feeling ¨ but how we treat one another. And there is no such thing as “Tough Love.”) We (parents,) if we expect to be honored by our children must raise them according to the instructions God gives us in scripture.

And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

Deuteronomy 6:5-9

Our children should be brought up quoting scripture every day, able to stand strong in their faith and knowing God’s word. If we do that, then honor will be easy for them.

So what does Jesus say about honoring our parents? He covers it directly and then He also covers it in a couple of parables.

But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

Matthew 5:3-9

Jesus says that honoring your parents is not just obedience to them, but it is also supporting them and nurturing them in their old age.

One of the parables Jesus uses is about a father who sends his two sons to the fields to do work. Turn to Matthew 21:28-31.

But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.

Matthew 21:28-31

Honor thy father and thy mother. I think we have a pretty good idea about what God wants from us in this respect. Obedience, charity, support, respect – it’s almost difficult to define. Last thing: why do you think I called this sermon “A Christmas Story?”

We celebrated the birth of Christ a couple of days ago, and to us it is a great and joyous celebration. But imagine how Christ felt. Imagine this, it’s December 24th, Jesus and God and hanging out in heaven, the entirety of creation spread out before them and God says: “well son, it’s about time for you to go to earth, be stuck in a human body, grow up, get ridiculed, beaten, spit on, slapped and finally, You’re going to get nailed to a cross and die. Oh, and by the way, I have to leave You to Your fate, I can’t interfere.” And Jesus turns to His Father and says: “Ok Dad, whatever you say.”

Thank you Jesus for honoring your Father and teaching us the true meaning of the 5th commandment.

Thank God He has a Plan

Last year, I gave a sermon about what we have to be thankful for. I found that the word thankful appears only 3 times in scripture in the KJV: Psalm 100, Romans 1:21 and Colossians 3:15. Once again, I’m going to be preaching about being thankful.

Merrian Webster defines it this way.

  • conscious of benefit received <for what we are about to receive make us truly thankful>
  • expressive of thanks <thankful service>
  • well pleased : GLAD <was thankful that it didn’t rain>

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Colossians 3:1-3, 15-17

Verse 15 says, “and be ye thankful.” For what? Everything in this passage is telling us one thing: be thankful that God is God and that Christ is His son. Be thankful that Christ lives in us.

According to scripture, being thankful isn’t an expression of thanks, or being glad; rather, it is a mindset about who God is, what He is, and the fact that He is God. God calls us to be thankful always not just when something good happens. Being thankful is a state of mind that we are to be in at all times.

So how is that possible? How can I, being the sometimes pessimistic human that I am, negative in my attitudes and always seeing the bad things that are about to happen, or the possibility of the failure that I know I can achieve today, how can I be thankful all the time? What exactly is there that I can focus on that will allow me to have a “thankful” mindset?

A couple of weeks ago, I was really struggling at my workplace. I seem to be doing that a lot lately. Things are not going well, my superiors don’t seem to have a clue as to what I can do, or what I should be doing. I’m apologizing to the teachers about not being able to solve their problem more often than I am actually able to fix the issue. It is frustrating and almost humiliating. There is no respect for any of the technicians for their abilities or their knowledge or their work ethi … the list goes on. Generally speaking it is a difficult task to go into work knowing that you can fix problems, yet not having the authority or the ability to do so because of the restrictions placed by those in charge. I was to the point that I wanted to quit, and every day I had to force myself to go to work.

I love how God works in our lives: He places people in a position to minister to us; He sends people to say things to us; He puts us in positions that we have to learn what He wants us to learn. It almost sounds as if He has a plan.

Anyway, I went to a customer’s house, her name is Betty Chaplin. We tend to see each other on a regular basis, usually when one or the other of us is struggling with something in our lives. She is a wonderful woman who loves the Lord and whom God puts in my path on many occasions, especially when I need correction or encouragement. This time, she asked me a question. She asked, “Do you believe that God has a plan?” What a simple question, and one that I, myself, have asked others many times! Do I believe that God has a plan? Of course I do; God has to have a plan: He sees everything, knows everything, has everything, does everything; He is God. So ,of course I answered, “Yes.” to her question. Then she asked me, “If you believe God has a plan, why are you so worried about what is happening at work?”

Good question! Why was I so worried about “stuff” at work? What was it that I was so consumed with that I could not seem to find any joy or anything to be thankful for at work? I don’t remember exactly what was said after that, but it was something like, “So why are you so worried about what’s going on at work? Why not just do what God has set you to do, knowing that He has bigger and better plans for you?”

One of the best examples in scripture about God having a plan for us is Joseph. Joseph went through a lot of bad times, but God definitely had a plan for him; he just had to get through the bad stuff first. Now if that isn’t the truth. If you ever think you’re having a bad day, think about the stuff Joseph had to go through – being thrown down a well, sold into slavery, taken from your land and your family, thrown in prison. Now that’s a bad day at work, and all he did was go out to check on his brothers because his father asked him to. Did God have a plan? Absolutely!

God openly tells of us His plans throughout scripture. One of the first in scripture is the plans He makes for Abraham. Open your bibles to Genesis 18:10-19 (KJV).

10 And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. 12 Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also? 13 And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? 14 Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son. 15 Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh. 16 And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way. 17 And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; 18 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

First, God is going to make an old couple pregnant. Then, He is going to make that one child, the one child of promise, into a great and mighty nation. Then, He is going to bless the entire world through that nation. Now that is a plan!

So We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer. People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives. Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. The Lord has made everything for his own purposes, even the wicked for a day of disaster. The Lord detests the proud; they will surely be punished. Unfailing love and faithfulness make atonement for sin. By fearing the Lord, people avoid evil. When people’s lives please the Lord, even their enemies are at peace with them. Better to have little, with godliness, than to be rich and dishonest. We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. God have a plan for us? Scripture says that He does.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

O Lord my God, you have performed many wonders for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal. If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them.

Psalm 40:5

The Lord will work out his plans for my life – for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me.

Psalm 138:8

You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.

Proverbs 16:1-9

These are a few of the passages that tell us that God has a plan for each and every one of us. But we can also see in our own lives, look back at some of the things that have happened to you, can you see God’s divine hand involved? I know that I can. Some of the things that I’ve done should have ended in my death. But God has a plan, and we can never fail to do what God knows we are going to do, He is God after all. Sometimes it takes a few bumps and bruises, but if we believe in Him, and we seek Him, and we want to do His will, then He will direct our paths and His plan will come to fruition through us. Ofcourse, His plan is going to prevail whether we believe in Him or not. However, when we are believers in Him, then He can direct us and make our lives exactly what they should be.

For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building. So don’t boast about following a particular human leader. For everything belongs to you – whether Paul or Apollos or Peter, or the world, or life and death, or the present and the future. Everything belongs to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.

1 Corinthians 3:9, 21-23

The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. As the Scriptures say, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.” So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom. So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense. But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.

1 Corinthians 1:18-25

Those called by God – we – are God’s workers: powerful, wonderful, exciting statements. And we should be thankful for them every single day. We know we are called by God: He says so in His Word. Here are some verses that should make us very thankful:

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

John 10:27

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

Romans 8:14

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

God says that we should be thankful always, that it is a mindset and we should walk around joyful and thankful, giving praise and glory to God in everything we do. I didn’t see that for a while, but now, I just have to remember that no matter what we are going through, we can hear His voice and be thankful that He has a plan … and it’s good.

Fear or Love, The Choice is Ours – Part 6

Casting Out Fear

Over the past several weeks I’ve been preaching about our relationship with God. I started with a song called Slow Fade. The song is about how we lose our strength bit by bit, as we succumb to our fleshly desires and slowly fade into darkness. How easy it is to just give in to the world and do what everyone else does. Apathy follows, and we begin to just “go through the motions” of being Godly, of being Christian, of believing in God. So easy, so much easier then being what God wants us to be.

Read Matthew 7:13-14 (NLT): “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.

So we have to seek the narrow gate, we have to wait upon the Lord, we have to bind ourselves to Him so that nothing can separate us from the love that is Christ Jesus. The song, “Slow Fade,” starts with the line, “Be careful little eyes what you see. It’s the second glance that ties your hands as darkness pulls the strings.” Is it coincidence that a song about fading away from God, uses strings to bind us to darkness, when God wants us to weave our lives together with Him with the strength of a woven rope?

I ended last week with, so when are we going to learn to rely on His strength all the time? How, or what, is it that allows us to rely on His strength all the time? Or maybe a better question would be: What is it that prevents us from relying on His strength all the time? The answer: fear. Homework for this week was to read 1 John 4, paying special attention to 17-19.

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. All who confess that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first.

The definition of the word fear is as follows.

  • A feeling of agitation and anxiety caused by the presence or imminence of danger.
  • A state or condition marked by this feeling: living in fear.
  • A feeling of disquiet or apprehension: a fear of looking foolish.
  • Extreme reverence or awe, as toward a supreme power.
  • A reason for dread or apprehension: Being alone is my greatest fear.

Agitation, anxiety, disquiet, apprehension, dread. Anybody feel these things on occasion? Before a test perhaps? Before a game? When your mom says, “clean your room?” How about when you have to pray before a meal, or when you’re confronted with a decision about how to act? Godly or worldly? Narrow gate or wide?

Why is it that we are so afraid of what others think, why do we allow the darkness to pull the strings, why do we “Go through the Motions?”

Because we’re afraid. We’re afraid of what others think, we’re afraid of what might happen, we’re afraid of so many things. There’s a song by Matt Redman called “You Never Let Go” that speaks about God, fear, love and why we should never be afraid.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
Your perfect love is casting out fear
And even when I'm caught in the middle of the storms of this life
I won't turn back
I know You are near

And I will fear no evil
For my God is with me
And if my God is with me
Whom then shall I fear?
Whom then shall I fear?

Chorus:
Oh no, You never let go
Through the calm and through the storm
Oh no, You never let go
In every high and every low
Oh no, You never let go
Lord, You never let go of me

And I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on
A glorious light beyond all compare
And there will be an end to these troubles
But until that day comes
We'll live to know You here on the earth

Chorus:
Yes, I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on
And there will be an end to these troubles
But until that day comes
Still I will praise You, still I will praise You

What a fantastic song. Matt pulls together scripture to teach us what fear is, and what casts fear out. We are all familiar with Psalm 23, and we read 1 John 4 this week and this morning. Turn to 2 Timothy 1:7-9 (NLT).

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News. For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus.

God promises us that we never have to fear, that we can build our relationship up with Him by waiting on Him to deliver us. Remember that waiting on God does not mean to simply sit like a couch potato and think that God is going to move the couch to where we need to be. Waiting on God is an active pursuit of binding ourselves with Him in so many ways.

Fear is what makes us give in to the second glance, the slow fade. Fear is what makes us go through the motions, without ever really meaning anything. Fear is what drives us to walk away from God when we should be walking toward Him. God’s love is perfect, casting out fear and allowing us to wait on the Lord, strengthening our relationship and binding ourselves to Him with a cord that cannot be broken.

So my final questions to everyone are: Do we want to allow darkness to bind us and fall to the second glance? Do we want to spend our lives going through the motions? Do we want to give in to our fear of rejection and fear of the world to follow the wide path that leads to hell? Or do we want to claim the spirit of love that God so graciously gave us, the spirit of power that God wants us to have? How long are we going to sit and do nothing, when we could be waiting on the Lord, strengthening the rope that binds us to Him instead of to the darkness? How long until we fall into the love that is Christ Jesus, knowing that through Him we can do all things, knowing that nothing can separate us from His Love.

Fear or Love…the choice is ours.

Fear or Love, The Choice is Ours – Part 5

Strength In God Part 2

We talked about Strength in God last week. I ended with how we seem to get closer to God in times of trouble and stress; we rely on Him so much to get us through the hard times. Then we seem to walk away from Him in the good times, forgetting that He can do the same things in the easy times as He does in the hard times. How easy is it for us to limp along in our own strength when there is no trouble? David understands this concept. He lives this concept. I asked everyone to read and meditate on 2 Samuel 22. David’s Song of Praise. I hope everyone read it at least once.

David’s Song of Praise. David sang this song to the Lord on the day the Lord rescued him from all his enemies and from Saul. He sang: “The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. He is my refuge, my savior, the one who saves me from violence. I called on the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and he saved me from my enemies. The waves of death overwhelmed me; floods of destruction swept over me. The grave he flew, soaring blazed forth. The Lord thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded. He shot arrows and scattered his enemies; his lightning flashed, and they were confused. Then at the command of the Lord, at the blast of his breath, the bottom of the sea could be seen, and the foundations of the earth were laid bare. He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemies, from those who hated me and were too strong for me. They attacked me at a moment when I was in distress, but the Lord supported me. He led me to a place of safety; he rescued me because he delights in me. The Lord rewarded me for doing right; he restored me because of my innocence. For I have kept the ways of the Lord; I have not turned from my God to follow evil. I have followed all his regulations; I have never abandoned his decrees. I am blameless before God; I have kept myself from sin. The Lord rewarded me for doing right. He has seen my innocence. To the faithful you show yourself faithful; to those with integrity you show integrity. To the pure you show yourself pure, but to the wicked you show yourself hostile. You rescue the humble, but your eyes watch the proud and humiliate them. O Lord, you are my lamp. The Lord lights up my darkness. In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall. God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. For who is God except the Lord? Who but our God is a solid rock? God is my strong fortress, and he makes my way perfect. He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights. He trains my hands for battle; he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow. You have given me your shield of victory; your help in the gutter like dirt. You gave me victory over my accusers. You preserved me as the ruler over nations; people I don’t even know now serve me. Foreign nations cringe before me;as soon as they hear of me, they submit. They all lose their courage and come trembling from their strongholds. The Lord lives! Praise to my Rock!May God, the Rock of my salvation, be exalted! He is the God who pays back those who harm me;he brings down the nations under me and delivers me from my enemies. You hold me safe beyond the reach of my enemies; you save me from violent opponents. For this, O Lord, I will praise you among the nations; I will sing praises to your name. You give great victories to your king; you show unfailing love to your anointed, to David and all his descendants forever.

2 Samuel 22

David is giving everything to God, every bit of strength, every bit of glory, every bit of existence. Knowing that it is God and not himself that accomplishes everything. I wish I had a faith like that. I briefly mentioned that there was another person in scripture that gave God everything and walked in a strength that I can only dream to achieve. That person is Paul. Turn to 2 Corinthians 11:16-33 (NLT).

Again I say, don’t think that I am a fool to talk like this. But even if you do, listen to me, as you would to a foolish person, while I also boast a little. Such boasting is not from the Lord, but I am acting like a fool. And since others boast about their human achievements, I will, too. After all, you think you are so wise, but you enjoy putting up with fools! You put up with it when someone enslaves you, takes everything you have, takes advantage of you, takes control of everything, and slaps you in the face. I’m ashamed to say that we’ve been too “weak” to do that! But whatever they dare to boast about—I’m talking like a fool again — I dare to boast about it, too. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? I know I sound like a madman, but I have served him far more! I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my feeling that weakness? Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger? If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am. God, the Father of our Lord Jesus, who is worthy of eternal praise, knows I am not lying. When I was in Damascus, the governor under King Aretas kept guards at the city gates to catch me. I had to be lowered in a basket through a window in the city wall to escape from him.

2 Corinthians 11:16-33

Now that’s a resume! How many of us have been beaten for Christ? Whipped? Stoned? Shipwrecked? How many of us have lost a job for Christ? Maybe a friend? Such a little bit of sacrifice, yet we so often feel that we are being persecuted for our belief in Christ … how little we really are.

There are times in our lives that we feel embarrassed about our relationship with Christ. This is a statement, not a question. How many times do we NOT say what we should? How many times do we keep silent when we know we should be speaking for Christ? How many times do we fail to pray aloud, or give glory to God, or pray for someone who is hurt, or sad, or spiritually broken? We see it, I know each and every person in this room knows the Holy Spirit and hears Him clearly on many occasions, yet we are too afraid of what men think to do what He asks us.

So how does Paul do it? How does Paul have the faith, the strength to do what he does?

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 3:14-21

What is it that gives Paul his incredible strength? His incredible faith in Christ? I know that I struggle and I’m only faced with things like: Should I say God bless you to the cashier at the grocery store, or should I pray out loud for lunch, or maybe a really hard day is when I have to pray for an injured player on the football field. Compared to Paul, I live an idyllic life. Paul has a strength I can only hope for, that I can look to attain, but have as yet, not even come close.

Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:11-13

But where does the strength he talks about come from? Paul says, “I am strong in my weakness.” We read the last few verses of 1 Corinthians 11. Turn to 1 Corinthians 12:1-10.

This boasting will do no good, but I must go on. I will reluctantly tell about visions and revelations from the Lord. I was caught up to the third heaven fourteen years ago. Whether I was in my body or out of my body, I don’t know—only God knows. Yes, only God knows whether I was in my body or outside my body. But I do know that I was caught up to paradise and heard things so astounding that they cannot be expressed in words, things no human is allowed to tell. That experience is worth boasting about, but I’m not going to do it. I will boast only about my weaknesses. If I wanted to boast, I would be no fool in doing so, because I would be telling the truth. But I won’t do it, because I don’t want anyone to give me credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message, even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “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.

1 Corinthians 12:1-10

How is it that Paul is strong in his weakness? I talked about how we seem to rely on God when we are in the most trouble, or the most pain, or the most fear. This is what Paul is talking about. Being strong in our need, because it is then and only then that we really begin to rely on God for everything. When we can do it ourselves, when we can accomplish everything without help, we do not seek God, we do not rely on Him for our strength. HOWEVER, when we are weak, when we are suffering, when we are in need, we cry out to Him and ask Him to hold us up, strengthen us. So when are we going to learn to rely on His strength all the time? How, or what, is it that allows us to rely on His strength all the time? Or maybe a better question would be: What is it that prevents us from relying on His strength all the time? The answer: fear. We are going to continue this next week. Homework for this week is to read 1 John 4, pay special attention to 17-19.

Fear or Love, The Choice is Ours – Part 4

Strength In God Part 1

Remember last week we talked about waiting on God. I ended with, “Now, I think that we can wait, or hope or expect for a long time, but if we do not have strength, if our lives aren’t bound up with God, woven in and inseparable from God, then waiting might be a bit pointless.”

So we must learn to wait on the Lord, we must learn to build our ropes; we must learn to strengthen the cords that attach us to God.

Some of the strands that should be in our rope:

  • Keep your focus on God.
  • Read the Bible daily.
  • Pray daily.
  • Love your enemy.
  • Attend church regularly.
  • Learn from Christian friends.
  • Tell others about your faith in Jesus Christ.
  • Obey God’s laws.

What we talked about gives new meaning to the verses in Deuteronomy, Luke, and Mark.

Read Deuteronomy 6:4-5: “Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.” And Christ says in Mark 12:30, “And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.”

So the question of the day is this: Is it our strength … our physical strength referred to in these passages? Is it our spiritual strength? Or is it the strength we get from being woven in with God? The strength that can’t be broken?

The dictionary has many definitions for the word, strength.

  1. The state, property, or quality of being strong.
  2. The power to resist attack; impregnability.
  3. The power to resist strain or stress; durability.
  4. The ability to maintain a moral or intellectual position firmly.
  5. Capacity or potential for effective action: a show of strength.
    1. The number of people constituting a normal or ideal organization: The police force has been at half strength since the budget cuts.
    2. Military capability in terms of personnel and material: an army of fearsome strength.
    3. A source of power or force.
    4. One that is regarded as the embodiment of protective or supportive power; a support or mainstay.
    5. An attribute or quality of particular worth or utility; an asset.
  6. Degree of intensity, force, effectiveness, or potency in terms of a particular property, as:
    1. Degree of concentration, distillation, or saturation; potency.
    2. Operative effectiveness or potency.
    3. Intensity, as of sound or light.
    4. Intensity or vehemence, as of emotion or language.
  7. Effective or binding force; efficacy: the strength of an argument.

I don’t think that any of these definitions really cover what God says we can have in Him, if we wait on Him, if we rely on Him, if we believe in Him.

There are many people in scripture that depended on God for strength. Samson, who lost his strength when he followed his flesh, called upon God for literal strength and pulled an entire building down on his own head, killing 3,000 Philistines. Job called on God for strength to endure the trials Satan had put him through, never once cursing God as Satan hoped, and his wife encouraged, and his friends thought he would. However, the 2 people I think depended the most on God’s strength, leaned on Him through their lives and did things through Him that would and could never be done without Him are David and Paul.David leaned on God for some amazing things through his life. Last week we read Psalm 37. This week we are going to examine some of the other passages about David’s strength in God. David’s first act in Scripture is covered in the 17th chapter of 1 Samuel (NLT).

1 The Philistines now mustered their army for battle and camped between Socoh in Judah and Azekah at Ephes-dammim. 2 Saul countered by gathering his Israelite troops near the valley of Elah. 3 So the Philistines and Israelites faced each other on opposite hills, with the valley between them. 4 Then Goliath, a Philistine champion from Gath, came out of the Philistine ranks to face the forces of Israel. He was over nine feet. 6 He also wore bronze leg armor, and he carried a bronze javelin on his shoulder. 7 The shaft of his spear was as heavy and thick as a weaver’s beam, tipped with an iron spearhead that weighed 15 pounds. 13 Jesse’s three oldest sons — Eliab, Abinadab, and Shimea — had already joined Saul’s army to fight the Philistines. 14 David was the youngest son. David’s three oldest brothers stayed with Saul’s army, 15 but David went back and forth so he could help his father with the sheep in Bethlehem. 16 For forty days, every morning and evening, the Philistine champion strutted in front of the Israelite army. 17 One day Jesse said to David, “Take this basket” 19 David’s brothers were with Saul and the Israelite army at the valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines. 20 So David left the sheep with another shepherd and set out early the next morning with the gifts, as Jesse had directed him. He arrived at the camp just as the Israelite army was leaving for the battlefield with shouts and battle cries. 21 Soon the Israelite and Philistine forces stood facing each other, army against army. 22 David left his things with the keeper of supplies and hurried out to the ranks to greet his brothers. 23 As he was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, came out from the Philistine ranks. Then David heard him shout his usual taunt to the army of Israel. 24 As soon as the Israelite army saw him, they began to run away in fright. 25 “Have you seen the giant?” the men asked. “He comes out each day to defy Israel. The king has offered a huge reward to anyone who kills him. He will give that man one of his daughters for a wife, and the man’s entire family will be exempted from paying taxes!” 26 David asked the soldiers standing nearby, “What will a man get for killing this Philistine and ending his defiance of Israel? Who is this pagan Philistine anyway, that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?” 27 And these men gave David the same reply. They said, “Yes, that is the reward for killing him.” 28 But when David’s oldest brother, Eliab, heard David talking to the men, he was angry. “What are you doing around here anyway?” he demanded. “What about those few sheep you’re supposed to be taking care of? I know about your pride and deceit. You just want to see the battle!” 29 “What have I done now?” David replied. “I was only asking a question!” 30 He walked over to some others and asked them the same thing and received the same answer. 31 Then David’s question was reported to King Saul, and the king sent for him. 32 “Don’t worry about this Philistine,” David told Saul. “I’ll go fight him!” 33 “Don’t be ridiculous!” Saul replied. “There’s no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win! You’re only a boy, and he’s been a man of war since his youth.” 34 But David persisted. “I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,” he said. “When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, 35 I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. 36 I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God! 37 The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!” Saul finally consented. “All right, go ahead,” he said. “And may the Lord be with you!” 38 Then Saul gave David his own armor — a bronze helmet and a coat of mail. 39 David put it on, strapped the sword over it, and took a step or two to see what it was like, for he had never worn such things before. “I can’t go in these,” he protested to Saul. “I’m not used to them.” So David took them off again. 40 He picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them into his shepherd’s bag. Then, armed only with his shepherd’s staff and sling, he started across the valley to fight the Philistine. 41 Goliath walked out toward David with his shield bearer ahead of him, 42 sneering in contempt at this ruddy-faced boy. 43 “Am I a dog,” he roared at David, “that you come at me with a stick?” And he cursed David by the names of his gods. 44 “Come over here, and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and wild animals!” Goliath yelled. 45 David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies — the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! 47 And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!” 48 As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him. 49 Reaching into his shepherd’s bag and taking out a stone, he hurled it with his sling and hit the Philistine in the forehead. The stone sank in, and Goliath stumbled and fell face down on the ground. 50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with only a sling and a stone, for he had no sword. 51 Then David ran over and pulled Goliath’s sword from its sheath. David used it to kill him and cut off his head. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they turned and ran. 52 Then the men of Israel and Judah gave a great shout of triumph and rushed after the Philistines, chasing them as far as Gath and the gates of Ekron. The bodies of the dead and wounded Philistines were strewn all along the road from Shaaraim, as far as Gath and Ekron. 53 Then the Israelite army returned and plundered the deserted Philistine camp. 54 (David took the Philistine’s head to Jerusalem, but he stored the man’s armor in his own tent.) 55 As Saul watched David go out to fight the Philistine, he asked Abner, the commander of his army, “Abner, whose son is this young man?” “I really don’t know,” Abner declared. 56 “Well, find out who he is!” the king told him. 57 As soon as David returned from killing Goliath, Abner brought him to Saul with the Philistine’s head still in his hand. 58 “Tell me about your father, young man,” Saul said. And David replied, “His name is Jesse, and we live in Bethlehem.”

Talk about relying on God for strength. David does this his entire life, and more importantly, he understands that it is God who allows him to accomplish so much. Turn to Psalm 27 (KJV).

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident. One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple. For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock. And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD. Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me. When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek. Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation. When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up. Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies. Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty. I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

Can any of us think of a time when we could use God’s strength, a time when we need to rely on God to do something for us, through us, that we can never accomplish on our own?

I can give an easy example … preaching. There is no way that I could do this without God. There is no way I could get up here and speak these words without His intervention, and guidance, and love. He gives me the strength, the knowledge, the words. He does it all; I merely speak the words He tells me.

That is an easy example. There was a time in my life that I needed Him so desperately, that I was so dependent on Him, that there was no way I could even lift a foot to get out of bed without His support. When Kyleigh was born, and she would not eat or better yet, when she could not eat. That was probably the hardest time of my life, but once I fell in God’s lap, and leaned on Him for strength, it was almost like I wasn’t a part of my own life, I just kind of floated through that time, letting God speak through me, walking the way God wanted me to walk and doing what He wanted me to do.

It is funny, but we seem to get closer to God in times of trouble and stress, we rely on Him so much to get us through the hard times, then we kind of walk away from Him in the good times, forgetting that He can do the same things in the easy times as He does in the hard times. How easy is it for us to limp along in our own strength when there is no trouble? David understands this concept. He lives this concept. Turn to 2 Samuel 22.

This chapter is referred to as David’s Song of Praise. We are not going to read this, it’s our homework for the week. Read this passage and pray over it … meditate on it, and we’re going to continue next week.