And They Shall Know No Fear

The title of the sermon today is: “And They Shall Know No Fear.” This is a sentence referring to a group of heroes in a series of fictional books I have enjoyed for the last couple years. The books are set 40,000 years in the future where humanity is ruled by a deity who united the galaxies known only as the Emperor. The heroes are called Space Marines; they are genetically modified warriors who were designed to be the most perfect instrument of military prowess humanity has ever created. Their job is to protect humanity from the whiles of the Dark gods of Chaos, a lifetime of service and protection until death takes them to the Golden Throne. They are 9 feet tall, built of solid muscle, have 2 hearts, three lungs, and bodies that heal themselves 10x faster than normal humans. They are armed with the best weapons, have the best training, and they are even equipped with the best bodies, but the most valuable weapon they wield is their unfailing, unflinching, and inexhaustible faith in and obedience to the Emperor.

To be a Christian with no fear one most have complete faith in God, be listening to the Holy Spirit for instructions for his life, when those instructions are heard to commit to obeying them and to rely on God for the discipline to make those decisions and the strength to persevere with them till the end. And those happen to be the 3 parts of today’s sermon 1) Faith 2) Listening and Obedience 3) Discipline and Perseverance.

FAITH

Well I figure the best way start off with the topic “faith” is to get some definitions of it. The Bible in Hebrews 11:1 declares that: “Faith is the Substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” From this we know that faith is a thing of substance, meaning that it is a thing of reality and in the verse that it is the substance or reality of something hoped for. This thing that is hoped for, is something that every human feels an unquenchable desire to have, that is love, undenying, all accepting love, the type of love only the Creator who made you could give so freely. The second part of the verse refers to faith as “the evidence of things not seen”, this makes faith not as blind as we may have thought of it was. God didn’t give us the ability to reason and use logic so that we would blindly follow Him just because He claims to be God, but He gave us evidence of His existence and His character through His Creation, from the tiniest bug to the most imposing of mountains, the evidence of God the Creator and His love for us is right at our finger tips so that all we would have to do is use the brain He gave us to find Him. The famous Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines faith as: “the assent of the mind to the truth of what is declared by another, resting on his authority and veracity, without other evidence, the judgment that what another states or testifies is the truth.” Mr. Webster is saying to us that faith is you believing that something is true just because of the identity of speaker. God conveniently gave us His Word in a highly portable and easy to use package, the Bible. Through the reading of God’s Word we hear from Him truth, the truth that God’s actual identity is the Creator of Everything and that He loves every single human He created. Now because truth is reality and reality which is truth cannot be swayed, He gives us the ability to hope in the reality of His Word and therefore the ability to have complete and utter faith in it and in Him. In Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest, the entry for May 8 says: “Faith is not a pathetic sentiment, but a robust, vigorous, confidence built on the fact that God is holy Love.” It goes on to say “Faith is the Heroic effort of your life, to fling yourself in reckless confidence on God.” This is my favorite of the three, it is telling us that because we know that God is Love (because 1 John 14:6 tells us so “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.”) We have license to run with reckless abandon in Gods perfect will for our lives, like a Space Marine hero charging into battle to show the wrath of the Emperor to his foes.

LISTENING AND OBEDIENCE

When we become Christians we invite Jesus to live in our hearts and to be our master. Now this is all great but we must remember that we have just embarked on the life-long process of continually asking God to mold us, and purify us to conform to his plan in our lives. This process requires constant seeking of God’s will for us and obedience wherever and whenever He asks it. One of the best ways to listen to God is to meditate on His Word. God left His Word on Earth so that we might be able to have a hard copy of his will and a canon to measure what is right and what is wrong. Romans 12:2 says “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” The only way to be a light to this world is to take the Word of God and let it work in you, if you don’t know what is in the Word there is no way you will be able to know what is good and if you don’t know what is good you’re more than likely going to do what is evil, right? John 14:6 says, “I am the Way the Truth and the Life no one comes to the Father but through Me.” If God is what He says He is, than His word is no different: His Word will show us through truth the way we are supposed to go to get to the life that Jesus has for us. The Holy Spirit is also a way for us to hear the Lord, and as Christians the Holy Spirit is available to us. So now you may find yourself asking … “What does the Holy Spirit do?” John 16:8 sheds some light on the subject “When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.” And John 16:13 says “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” These verses say that the Holy Spirit is in our lives to guide us in the way of truth and convict us as to what is sin, righteousness and judgment, but just because we know what God’s will is doesn’t mean we are in God’s will- we must commit to obeying the truth God has revealed to us. Matthew 6:24 says “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” You must commit yourself to God by having faith in his truth and acting upon what that truth is, you cannot be neutral with God: you are either marching forward in victory with the Son of Man or you are fleeing in defeat; the choice is yours.

DISCIPLINE AND PERSEVERANCE

Now we come to Discipline and Perseverance, without these two faith and listening and obedience mean nothing if we can’t maintain them. We are not in this battle against the Prince of the Air for short time but like our Space Marine friends we are in it till we are called home to our Maker. This means that the enemy’s tactics are not for the short term but they are to be the thorn in our side, the termites gnawing at our foundation, the rust corroding our armor. They are in it for the long haul and so we must be as well. 1 Timothy 1:7 says “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” With this knowledge we can be firm in the power we wield through Christ and in our ability to use our self-discipline to persevere and to everyday give ourselves to Gods command.Hebrews 12:10-11 says “Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” God is a God of discipline and if we let him work in our lives to correct us when we are wrong and give over certain parts of our lives that we cling to the tightest it will reap righteousness and peace in our lives thus enabling us to be a constant light to those around us and have unwavering integrity and judgment at all times. This requires us to be humble and admit our weaknesses and shortcomings by checking ourselves often and having other believers hold us accountable as James 5:16 says “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” We need to do this so that we do not let the Father of Lies gain a foothold in our lives because we were too proud to seek help. If you think your brother will look down on you because of your confessions remember Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” Our bodies and everything in the world are dying and are temporary but our souls are not, by having the self discipline to let God work in us not just once or twice a week but day by day, we will be renewed. By fixing our eyes on the unseen (oh my could this be Faith?!) our current troubles will fade because we have an eternal perspective – and no matter what we will choose to obey the Lord.

CONCLUSION

With this knowledge we can …

  1. Have Faith in our walks and in Gods plan for our lives.
  2. Not only Listen to the Lords instruction but OBEY it.
  3. Be Disciplined in our walks and Persevere through its trials.
  4. Go into the battle field of earth and KNOW NO FEAR.

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.

Fear or Love, The Choice is Ours – Part 3

Wait Upon the Lord

God wants to be known, He wants to be recognized, He wants to have a relationship with us. Why? Because He Loves us.

I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference. Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne. Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.

Revelation 3:19-22

So with all this evidence, with all the visible signs that every single person on the planet can see and know, why is it that we still just go through the motions? How can we change our hearts so that we consistently follow God’s laws?

Answer: stop fighting, give in, submit to God, knowing that He loves you. How easy and how wonderful if we could just fall into His lap and know that He was going to take care of everything.

Read Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV): “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Ok, so now we have this peace … this unbelievable peace that God grants to those who believe and pray and listen to the Holy Spirit. I’ve actually even accepted God’s peace a couple of times, but then something happens, something disturbs me peace, something breaks through and pulls me away from that peace that God gives me and I end up angry, or depressed, or confused. So what do we do now?

Read Psalms 27:13-14 (KJV): “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.”

So first we have peace…now we wait.

Webster defines the word wait as follows: “to stay in a place or remain inactive or in anticipation until something expected takes place.”

Good definition, stay inactive, in anticipation until something expected takes place. What do we expect when we wait upon the Lord? Scripture has a number of references to waiting upon the Lord. We sing about it all the time.

Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Isaiah 40:28-31

I’ve done some studying on the word “wait” used in this verse. Steven Wickstrom wrote an article that says the following:

The word, wait, is the Hebrew word, “qavah.” The word, “qavah,” has two definitions or meanings. It has both a literal and a figurative meaning. The literal meaning of the word is “to bind together like a cord.” First let me explain what “to bind together like a cord” does NOT mean. It does not mean to tie a cord around a bundle of sticks to keep them together. Instead, picture in your mind the process of making a rope (cord) by twisting or weaving (binding) small strings together to form the rope. The more strands that are twisted or woven together in a rope, the greater is its strength. Ah, there’s that word strength again. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says “[…] a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

Now I’ve made rope before, to make a rope, for it to have any strength, you have to weave lots of little pieces of string together, twisting and weaving, over and over and adding more strands to gain strength. Once you weave it together, you have to twist it and pull it hard enough that the strands begin to knot up, otherwise, it all just unravels once you let go. How can we twist and weave God into our lives? How many strands do we need to have in our rope to give us the strength to meet every challenge?

Steven goes on to say:

The literal definition of “qavah” implies strength through numbers. The more strands in your rope, the greater its strength. Just as a rope’s strength comes from being made of many strands, so our strength comes through being united with Christ. The “rope” of our lives gains strength by being twisted or woven or bound together with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The figurative definition of the word “qavah” is “to wait, to hope, to expect.”

John Oswalt, an OT scholar, notes that “waiting on the Lord” implies two things.

  1. Complete dependence on God
  2. A willingness to allow Him to decide the terms

Oswalt writes,

to wait on him is to admit that we have no other help, either in ourselves or in another … [it is] to declare our confidence in his eventual action on our behalf. Thus waiting is not merely killing time but a life of confident expectation.

Oswalt, New International Commentary on the Old Testament: The Book of Isaiah Chapters 40-66, p. 74

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. Some of the verses in scripture that tell us to wait upon the Lord, and how to do so:

  • Psalms 130:5 (KJV): “I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his Word do I hope.” (Stay in His Word)
  • Proverbs 20:22 (KJV): “Say not thou, I will recompense” [repay evil for] “evil; but wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee.” (Don’t get angry, or seek revenge.)
  • Psalm 123:2: “Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God, until that he have mercy upon us.” (Expect God to have mercy and love.)
  • Isaiah 8:17: “And I will wait upon the LORD, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him.” (Pray, seek, listen.)
  • Isaiah 30:18: “And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him.”
  • Jeremiah 14:22: “Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain? or can the heavens give showers? art not thou he, O LORD our God? therefore we will wait upon thee: for thou hast made all these things.” (Know that God is God, and He can do all things.)

So many people use the figurative definition when they try and talk about “waiting” on the Lord, and that’s fine, we should wait, hope and expect. However, I think He means more then just the figurative; I think God wants us to understand the literal meaning of the word “gavah” and how we can apply it to our lives.

I went to a breakfast last Saturday, the guest speaker was the new (relatively) Bishop of SC for the Episcopalian Church. He said a couple of interesting things, one of them was this: Winston Churchhill had a saying, “Play for more than you can afford to lose, it’s the only way you really know the game.”

For us to “really” learn to wait on the Lord, I think we have to play for more then we can afford to lose. Job waited on the Lord, knowing that God was the only one that could save him. Moses waited on the Lord … who else or what other power could ever have delivered the Israelites from the Egyptians, or kept them alive and whole as a nation for 40 years in the wilderness? David waited on the Lord his entire life. Depending on God to deliver him from impossible situations.

Psalm 37, a psalm of David.
Don't worry about the wicked
or envy those who do wrong.
For like grass, they soon fade away.
Like spring flowers, they soon wither.
Trust in the Lord and do good.
Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you your heart's desires.
Commit everything you do to the Lord.
Trust him, and he will help you.
He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn,
and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.
Be still in the presence of the Lord,
and wait patiently for him to act.
Don't worry about evil people who prosper
or fret about their wicked schemes.
Stop being angry!
Turn from your rage!
Do not lose your temper —
it only leads to harm.
For the wicked will be destroyed,
but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land.
Soon the wicked will disappear.
Though you look for them, they will be gone.
The lowly will possess the land and will live in peace and prosperity.
The wicked plot against the godly;
they snarl at them in defiance.
But the Lord just laughs,
for he sees their day of judgment coming.
The wicked draw their swords
and string their bows to kill the poor and the oppressed,
to slaughter those who do right.
But their swords will stab their own hearts,
and their bows will be broken.
It is better to be godly and have little
than to be evil and rich.
For the strength of the wicked will be shattered,
but the Lord takes care of the godly.
Day by day the Lord takes care of the innocent,
and they will receive an inheritance that lasts forever.
They will not be disgraced in hard times;
even in famine they will have more than enough.
But the wicked will die.
The Lord's enemies are like flowers in a field —
they will disappear like smoke.
The wicked borrow and never repay,
but the godly are generous givers.
Those the Lord blesses will possess the land,
but those he curses will die.
The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
He delights in every detail of their lives.
Though they stumble, they will never fall,
for the Lord holds them by the hand.
Once I was young, and now I am old.
Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned
or their children begging for bread.
The godly always give generous loans to others,
and their children are a blessing.
Turn from evil and do good,
and you will live in the land forever.
For the Lord loves justice,
and he will never abandon the godly.
He will keep them safe forever,
but the children of the wicked will die.
The godly will possess the land and will live there forever.
The godly offer good counsel; they teach right from wrong.
They have made God's law their own,
so they will never slip from his path.
The wicked wait in ambush for the godly,
looking for an excuse to kill them.
But the Lord will not let the wicked succeed
or let the godly be condemned when they are put on trial.
Put your hope in the Lord. Travel steadily along his path.
He will honor you by giving you the land.
You will see the wicked destroyed.
I have seen wicked and ruthless people flourishing
like a tree in its native soil.
But when I looked again, they were gone!
Though I searched for them, I could not find them!
Look at those who are honest and good,
for a wonderful future awaits those who love peace.
But the rebellious will be destroyed; they have no future.
The Lord rescues the godly;
he is their fortress in times of trouble.
The Lord helps them, rescuing them from the wicked.
He saves them, and they find shelter in him.

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.

Can you think of other strands?

In conclusion – if we have love in our hearts, if we love our friends, our family, then we’d better start talking. If we love our neighbors as ourselves, we’d better start talking. If we can’t stand the thought of anybody spending eternity in hell, we’d better start talking.

Fear or Love, The Choice is Ours – Part 2

Through the Motions

We’ve probably all heard the song by Matthew West called “The Motions.” The lyrics are this:

But I know that I've gotta make a change
I don't care if I break,
At least I'll be feeling something
'Cause just okay is not enough

Help me fight through the nothingness of life
I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day without
Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
"What if I had given everything, instead of going through the motions?"

What if we are just going through the motions? What if our hearts aren’t where they’re supposed to be? What if what’s on the inside … in our hearts and minds, doesn’t match the face we show on the outside? How many times have I asked myself, “why am I doing this? Is God really real? Is it worth the struggle?” Anybody else have questions like that once in a while?

So how do we know that God exists?

Read Romans 1:19-20: They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

Let’s examine some facts that every human can know and see. Marilyn Adamson, a self-proclaimed atheist (now a Christian) wrote the following after she converted:

Does God exist? The complexity of our planet points to a deliberate Designer who not only created our universe, but sustains it today.

The Earth…its size is perfect. The Earth’s size and corresponding gravity holds a thin layer of mostly nitrogen and oxygen gases, only extending about 50 miles above the Earth’s surface. If Earth were smaller, an atmosphere would be impossible, like the planet Mercury. If Earth were larger, its atmosphere would contain free hydrogen, like Jupiter. Earth is the only known planet equipped with an atmosphere of the right mixture of gases to sustain plant, animal and human life.

The Earth is located the right distance from the sun. Consider the temperature swings we encounter, roughly -30 degrees to +120 degrees. If the Earth were any further away from the sun, we would all freeze. Any closer and we would burn up. Even a fractional variance in the Earth’s position to the sun would make life on Earth impossible. The Earth remains this perfect distance from the sun while it rotates around the sun at a speed of nearly 67,000 mph. It is also rotating on its axis, allowing the entire surface of the Earth to be properly warmed and cooled every day.

And our moon is the perfect size and distance from the Earth for its gravitational pull. The moon creates important ocean tides and movement so ocean waters do not stagnate, and yet our massive oceans are restrained from spilling over across the continents.

Water…colorless, odorless and without taste, and yet no living thing can survive without it. Plants, animals and human beings consist mostly of water (about two-thirds of the human body is water).You’ll see why the characteristics of water are uniquely suited to life:

It has an unusually high boiling point and freezing point. Water allows us to live in an environment of fluctuating temperature changes, while keeping our bodies a steady 98.6 degrees.

Water is a universal solvent. This property of water means that thousands of chemicals, minerals and nutrients can be carried throughout our bodies and into the smallest blood vessels.

Water is also chemically neutral. Without affecting the makeup of the substances it carries, water enables food, medicines and minerals to be absorbed and used by the body.

Water has a unique surface tension. Water in plants can therefore flow upward against gravity, bringing life-giving water and nutrients to the top of even the tallest trees.

Water freezes from the top down and floats, so fish can live in the winter.

Ninety-seven percent of the Earth’s water is in the oceans. But on our Earth, there is a system designed which removes salt from the water and then distributes that water throughout the globe. Evaporation takes the ocean waters, leaving the salt, and forms clouds which are easily moved by the wind to disperse water over the land, for vegetation, animals and people. It is a system of purification and supply that sustains life on this planet, a system of recycled and reused water.

The human brain…simultaneously processes an amazing amount of information. Your brain takes in all the colors and objects you see, the temperature around you, the pressure of your feet against the floor, the sounds around you, the dryness of your mouth, even the texture of your keyboard. Your brain holds and processes all your emotions, thoughts and memories. At the same time your brain keeps track of the ongoing functions of your body like your breathing pattern, eyelid movement, hunger and movement of the muscles in your hands.

The human brain processes more than a million messages a second.7 Your brain weighs the importance of all this data, filtering out the relatively unimportant. This screening function is what allows you to focus and operate effectively in your world. The brain functions differently than other organs. There is an intelligence to it, the ability to reason, to produce feelings, to dream and plan, to take action, and relate to other people.

The eye…can distinguish among seven million colors. It has automatic focusing and handles an astounding 1.5 million messages — simultaneously.8 Evolution focuses on mutations and changes from and within existing organisms. Yet evolution alone does not fully explain the initial source of the eye or the brain — the start of living organisms from nonliving matter.

Does God exist? The universe had a start – what caused it?

Scientists are convinced that our universe began with one enormous explosion of energy and light, which we now call the Big Bang. This was the singular start to everything that exists: the beginning of the universe, the start of space, and even the initial start of time itself.

Astrophysicist Robert Jastrow, a self-described agnostic, stated, “The seed of everything that has happened in the Universe was planted in that first instant; every star, every planet and every living creature in the Universe came into being as a result of events that were set in motion in the moment of the cosmic explosion…The Universe flashed into being, and we cannot find out what caused that to happen.”

Steven Weinberg, a Nobel laureate in Physics, said at the moment of this explosion, “the universe was about a hundred thousands million degrees Centigrade…and the universe was filled with light.”

The universe has not always existed. It had a start…what caused that? Scientists have no explanation for the sudden explosion of light and matter.

Does God exist? The universe operates by uniform laws of nature. Why does it?

Much of life may seem uncertain, but look at what we can count on day after day: gravity remains consistent, a hot cup of coffee left on a counter will get cold, the earth rotates in the same 24 hours, and the speed of light doesn’t change — on earth or in galaxies far from us.

How is it that we can identify laws of nature that never change? Why is the universe so orderly, so reliable?

The greatest scientists have been struck by how strange this is. There is no logical necessity for a universe that obeys rules, let alone one that abides by the rules of mathematics. This astonishment springs from the recognition that the universe doesn’t have to behave this way. It is easy to imagine a universe in which conditions change unpredictably from instant to instant, or even a universe in which things pop in and out of existence.

Richard Feynman, a Nobel Prize winner for quantum electrodynamics, said, “Why nature is mathematical is a mystery…The fact that there are rules at all is a kind of miracle.”

Does God exist? The DNA code informs, programs a cell’s behavior.

All instruction, all teaching, all training comes with intent. Someone who writes an instruction manual does so with purpose. Did you know that in every cell of our bodies there exists a very detailed instruction code, much like a miniature computer program? As you may know, a computer program is made up of ones and zeros, like this: 110010101011000. The way they are arranged tell the computer program what to do. The DNA code in each of our cells is very similar. It’s made up of four chemicals that scientists abbreviate as A, T, G, and C. These are arranged in the human cell like this: CGTGTGACTCGCTCCTGAT and so on. There are three billions of these letters in every human cell!!

Well, just like you can program your phone to beep for specific reasons, DNA instructs the cell. DNA is a three-billion-lettered program telling the cell to act in a certain way. It is a full instruction manual.

Why is this so amazing? One has to ask….how did this information program wind up in each human cell? These are not just chemicals. These are chemicals that instruct, that code in a very detailed way exactly how the person’s body should develop.

Natural, biological causes are completely lacking as an explanation when programmed information is involved. You cannot find instruction, precise information like this, without someone intentionally constructing it.

So why do atheists fight against believers so much and so hard? What is it that makes them want to prove us wrong? Malcolm Muggeridge, socialist and philosophical author, and former atheist, wrote, “I had a notion that somehow, besides questing, I was being pursued.” C.S. Lewis said he remembered, “…night after night, feeling whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all of England.”

Atheists fight us so much because they know in their hearts that they are wrong, and if they could just convince us, then maybe, just maybe, they can get on with their lives without guilt.

Not going to happen. God wants to be known, He wants to be recognized, He wants to have a relationship with us. Why? Because He Loves us.

Read Revelation 3:19-22. “I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference. Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. 21 Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne. Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.”

Write this down: www.reasons.org. Great website, dedicated to giving scientific reasons about why God exists.

So with all this evidence, with all the visible signs that every single person on the planet can see and know, why is it that we still just go through the motions? How can we change our hearts so that we consistently follow God’s laws?

Answer: stop fighting, give in, submit to God, knowing that He loves you. How easy and how wonderful if we could just fall into His lap and know that He was going to take care of everything.

Read Phillipians 4:6-7 (NIV). “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Fear or Love, The Choice is Ours – Part 1

Slow Fade

Slow Fade By Casting Crowns

Be careful little eyes what you see
It's the second glance that ties your hands as darkness pulls the strings
Be careful little feet where you go
For it's the little feet behind you that are sure to follow

It's a slow fade when you give yourself away
It's a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
It's a slow fade, it's a slow fade

Be careful little ears what you hear
When flattery leads to compromise, the end is always near
Be careful little lips what you say
For empty words and promises lead broken hearts astray

It's a slow fade when you give yourself away
It's a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day

The journey from your mind to your hands
Is shorter than you're thinking
Be careful if you think you stand
You just might be sinking

It's a slow fade when you give yourself away
It's a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
Daddies never crumble in a day
Families never crumble in a day

Oh be careful little eyes what see
Oh be careful little eyes what you see
For the Father up above is looking down in love
Oh be careful little eyes what you see

Slow Fade

Does anybody here, other then me, have a problem that they know about, but they continue to fight? Anybody have a problem with lying? Procrastination? Poor work habits? Lust? Laziness? Gluttony? The list goes on. We fight against these strongholds on a regular basis, sometimes giving in … ok, often giving in, we continue to try and stand strong without relying on the one thing we can always count on. How often do we know that something is wrong, something that we do over and over and yet continue to do and how often do we fall short of the mark that God has set for us?

I want us to listen to this song and I’m going to talk about what it has said to me, and what it should say to all of us.

Be careful little eyes what you see It’s the second glance that ties your hands as darkness pulls the strings.

Read 1 John 2:15-16 (KJV) “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”

Lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, pride of life … these are the things that bind us, that keep us from God, that lead us to darkness. So what can we do about it? How do we avoid the darkness that ties our hands? It’s all around us, every single day. Women in skimpy clothing, men jogging shirtless, television, MTV, covers of magazines. Everywhere we look temptation rears it’s ugly head. How do we fight it, how do we have a chance against everything that the world has to offer, against that “second glance that ties our hands?”

Read Romans 13:13-14 (NLT) “Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy. 14 Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.”

Read 1 John 2:15-16 (NLT) “Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.”

Think about this: God says we belong to the day and we don’t belong to this world, so why should this world have so much that we crave, why should we give in to those things the world says we should? The next line of the song:

Be careful little feet where you go for it’s the little feet behind you that are sure to follow

Everything that we do affects those around us, especially when we have children. This line makes me want to cry, because I can imagine the damage that we do to others when we fall into the darkness. And it’s not just our children, it’s our co-workers, our friends, our students, the kids on our team.

Alex came home the other day and told me that his coach had used profanity toward him … he had told his coach that he couldn’t play because his pinky hurt. His coach said “you gotta be blanking me!” Needless to say, I was a bit upset. Not that the coach was upset because Alex couldn’t play, though that annoyed me a little, but because the coach had so much darkness that he would fall to the level of using profanity to a 12 year old. Coaches have SO much influence on the children they deal with and it can be used for good or for evil. I know that sound cliche, but it’s true. Anyway, I called the head coach (it wasn’t the head coach that said it) and confronted him on it. His excuse was that “that’s who he is on the field, he can’t help it.” I told him that was ridiculous, the guys a teacher and he wouldn’t dare use that type of language in the classroom, he’d lose his job. Then he said, “well, I hear that kind of language from the boys in the locker room all the time.” I almost laughed. I told him, “of course you do, how would you expect your team to not curse, when they hear it from their coaches every single day, they want to be just like you, they look up to you, they strive to be you. We have the same problem at the high school, for the first few days. None of the coaches on my staff use profanity, and we don’t tolerate it from the athletes. When they see that the coaches don’t use it, and they get in trouble for it on the field or off the field, they begin to change the way they speak. I’ve seen it every year I’ve coached. The first few days, I can stand outside the locker room and hear the profanity flying, after a week I can stand outside the locker room and maybe once in a while hear a swear word. It’s the standard I hold everyone to, because it’s the standard God holds me to.”

Everything we do, everything we say, everything we are…someone is watching us and someone is sure to follow.

Read 1 Timothy 4:16 (NLT) “Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you.”

Read James 3:1-2 (NLT) “Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly. Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.”

Be careful little ears what you hear. When flattery leads to compromise, the end is always near.

Come on man, let’s do it, what’s wrong with just this once? One time isn’t going to hurt you, live a little, take a chance. Anybody ever given in to peer pressure? Cursed because everyone else is doing it? Looked at something or watched a movie that we knew we shouldn’t, but everyone else was so we did? I’ve heard so many times to guard our eyes and our lips and our hearts. But let’s look at how our ears affect us. Think about the popular songs of today, violence, sex, stealing, lawlessness, all embedded in the songs that so many people listen to. How hard is it to avoid temptation when we can hear it in our ipods and on our televisions every minute of every day. “Be careful little ears what you hear.” For what you hear will certainly affect what you think and how you act.

Be careful little lips what you say. For empty words and promises lead broken hearts astray.

How many of us make promises we don’t keep? I know I do, how many time have I disappointed my wife because I’ve said “I’ll be home in an hour” …but I’m not. How many times do we have to say we’re going to do something and we don’t before someone’s heart grows cold. I’ve been late so many times, when I say I’ll be back in two hours nobody even believes me. And for good reason, something always seems to come up, something always needs to be done…just one more thing, just a few more minutes. There’s always an excuse, and it’s always wrong. Christ says: “let your yes mean yes, and your no mean no”

Do we want to be like Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:17 (NLT) “You may be asking why I changed my plan. Do you think I make my plans carelessly? Do you think I am like people of the world who say ‘Yes’ when they really mean No’?”

I don’t want to be that person anymore, I want to be the kind of person that keeps his word, not because of pride, which would be an easy trap to fall into, but because that’s the kind of person God wants me to be.

Everything in this song has been leading up to the next few lines, which hit me so hard every time I hear them:

The journey from your mind to your hands. Is shorter than you’re thinking.

What we think is how we act, how we act is who we are and who everyone else sees us to be.

  • Psalm 77:12 “They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.
  • Psalm 119:97 [ Mem ] “Oh, how I love your instructions! I think about them all day long.”
  • Psalm 119:148 “I stay awake through the night, thinking about your promise.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:34 “Think carefully about what is right, and stop sinning. For to your shame I say that some of you don’t know God at all.”
  • Philippians 4:8 “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
  • Colossians 3:2 “Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.”

Be careful if you think you stand. You just might be sinking

Do we think we’re in control, or is it darkness that has tied our hands? Is God the controller in our lives, or the world? Be careful.

Read 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 (NLT) “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”

When we fall, it’s not all at once, “it’s the second glance that ties the hands and darkness pulls the strings.” How often do we look twice? How often do we think twice about doing things we know we shouldn’t? How easy is it to just give in this once?

It's a slow fade when you give yourself away
It's a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
Daddies never crumble in a day
Families never crumble in a day

Stand firm, trust in the Lord, read scripture every day do not give in to the temptations that are all around us every single minute of every day. Some scripture verses to help us:

Read Matthew 26:41 (NLT) “41 Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”

Read James 1:13-16 (NLT) “And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, ‘God is tempting me.’ God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters.”

Read Romans 12:2 (NLT) “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

Read Ephesians 5:8-11 (NLT) “For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them.”

And most importantly, Matthew 6:9-13 (KJV) “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen”

Be Not Afraid

Anybody here, besides me, ever been afraid? What are some of the things we are afraid of? Failure? Embarrassment? Getting beat up? Losing our shoes? Getting old? My personal fear, the one I struggle with more then any other: the fear of success. Although I am also struggling with a little bit of stage fright the last week or so.

I have spoken twice before about fear: The first time I talked about fearing God, the second I talked about not being afraid and how we deal with our fears. Today, the Holy Spirit has directed me to talk about what happens when we are afraid. What happens to us when we live in fear, afraid of the repercussions of what we do, or what we say. The dictionary defines fear as follows.

  • an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger
    • an instance of this emotion
    • a state marked by this emotion
  • anxious concern : solicitude
  • profound reverence and awe especially toward God
  • reason for alarm : danger

Synonyms include fear, dread, fright, alarm, panic, terror, trepidation mean painful agitation in the presence or anticipation of danger. Fear is the most general term and implies anxiety and usually loss of courage (fear of the unknown). Dread usually adds the idea of intense reluctance to face or meet a person or situation and suggests aversion as well as anxiety (faced the meeting with dread). Fright implies the shock of sudden, startling fear (fright at being awakened suddenly). Alarm suggests a sudden and intense awareness of immediate danger (view the situation with alarm). Panic implies unreasoning and overmastering fear causing hysterical activity (the news caused widespread panic). Terror implies the most extreme degree of fear (immobilized with terror). Trepidation adds to dread the implications of timidity, trembling, and hesitation. Afraid:T

These words appear in scripture a bunch.

  • Afraid: 189 times (Job 17 Psalms 14)
  • Fear: 501 times (Job 21 Psalms 75)
  • Terror: 44 times (Job 9 Psalms 5)
  • Dread: 18 times (Job 3 Psalms 0)

752 times God’s word speaks about fear or being afraid. Anybody else think He is trying to tell us something? I watched (finally) the movie “Facing the Giants.” Great movie, made me cry. I’m not sure what others got out of it, but I got this: When we live our lives in fear, God can’t help us, but when we walk away from our fears God can do things that are miraculous, time after time. I’m pretty sure this is scriptural, let’s turn to Jeremiah 42 please. This is a great passage that illustrates how God wants us to deal with our fears. The leaders of Israel have come to Jeremiah and asked him to pray to God for them.

And it came to pass after ten days, that the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah. Then called he Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces which were with him, and all the people from the least even to the greatest, And said unto them, Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, unto whom ye sent me to present your supplication before him; If ye will still abide in this land, then will I build you, and not pull you down, and I will plant you, and not pluck you up: for I repent me of the evil that I have done unto you. Be not afraid of the king of Babylon, of whom ye are afraid; be not afraid of him, saith the LORD: for I am with you to save you, and to deliver you from his hand. And I will shew mercies unto you, that he may have mercy upon you, and cause you to return to your own land. But if ye say, We will not dwell in this land, neither obey the voice of the LORD your God, Saying, No; but we will go into the land of Egypt, where we shall see no war, nor hear the sound of the trumpet, nor have hunger of bread; and there will we dwell: And now therefore hear the word of the LORD, ye remnant of Judah; Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; If ye wholly set your faces to enter into Egypt, and go to sojourn there; Then it shall come to pass, that the sword, which ye feared, shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine, whereof ye were afraid, shall follow close after you there in Egypt; and there ye shall die. So shall it be with all the men that set their faces to go into Egypt to sojourn there; they shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: and none of them shall remain or escape from the evil that I will bring upon them. For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; As mine anger and my fury hath been poured forth upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem; so shall my fury be poured forth upon you, when ye shall enter into Egypt: and ye shall be an execration, and an astonishment, and a curse, and a reproach; and ye shall see this place no more. The LORD hath said concerning you, O ye remnant of Judah; Go ye not into Egypt: know certainly that I have admonished you this day. For ye dissembled in your hearts, when ye sent me unto the LORD your God, saying, Pray for us unto the LORD our God; and according unto all that the LORD our God shall say, so declare unto us, and we will do it. And now I have this day declared it to you; but ye have not obeyed the voice of the LORD your God, nor any thing for the which he hath sent me unto you. Now therefore know certainly that ye shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence, in the place whither ye desire to go and to sojourn.

Jeremiah 42

Pretty clear message here – Fear God, if you don’t fear God, but instead fear the sword, or famine, or pestilence, then those are the things which will have power over you. Hmm, fear gives power? Why is that? If we fear something other than God, and God tells us to only fear Him, does that mean that we are making a god or an idol out of the very thing we fear? We place our fear in front of God and remove ourselves from his covering, allowing that thing that we fear to come to pass.

Turn to Matthew 14 please, let’s see what Jesus says about it. Jesus has just fed the multitudes and when He went up to the mountain to pray, He sent his disciples across the sea.

But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshiped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.

Matthew 14

What was it that Peter feared? Christ was with him on the water, yet he doubted, and the instant that he did, he began to sink. 752 times … God tells us about fear, Christ tells us about fear and we’ve talked about the consequences of fearing something other then God, so what does God say will happen when we are not afraid, when we really believe His word? Remember what was promised to the Israelites in Jeremiah? Turn to Psalm 91 please.

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.

Psalm 91

Psalm 91 is a direct answer to Jeremiah 42, when we are NOT afraid, when we believe with our whole hearts, amazing things happen. “Facing the Giants” is a great illustration of that, Kyleigh is an amazing illustration of that. When we have faith, believe God and His word, He becomes the thing the only thing that has power over us. But when we don’t fear God and God only, the very things that we fear begin to overpower us, and like Peter, we sink.

Read Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 KJV.

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14