Saturday, August 19, 2017

Souls in Danger

Gtcotr/ss082017

James Rowe was born in January 1865 in Devonshire, England. At the age of 24 he emigrated to the United States taking up residence in New York and working for the railroad. He later worked in Texas and Tennessee finally settling to live his life in Vermont. His daughter remembers he had a friend, Howard Smith. Howard was a small man with arthritis so severe that it crippled his hands and left him with great pain. She wondered how he could use his hands at all let alone play the piano … but he did.

Rowe would pace back and forth in his living room humming a tune that came up in his spirit and Smith would in turn play it and then feebly jot down the words he heard Rowe sing to the new tune. In 1912 on just such a day Rowe began with these words:

Souls in danger look above, Jesus completely saves;
He will lift you by His love, out of the angry waves;
He’s the Master of the sea, billows His will obey;
He your Savior wants to be, be saved today.

Love lifted me; Love lifted me,
When nothing else could help, love lifted me.

Many of you know the rest of that hymn … “I was sinking deep in sin” … “All my heart to Him I give”. Rowe began writing gospel songs in about 1896 and is credited with more than 9,000 published hymns, poems and recitations. This hymn along with so many others impacted my life and gave me a foundation to understand my soul in danger and the stretch of a loving Savior’s hand towards me. Today however, there are still so many souls in danger … and thankfully Jesus is still reaching out His hand.

Recently I heard an encouraging word from a colleague named Jeff Wickwire concerning how each one of us is responsible to manage our own soul. As a result, I have been meditating on what I heard the Spirit of God say to me and this morning I want to share what I believe He wants me to say to you. On that note turn with me to the Old Testament Book of 1 Kings, Chapter 19.

It was about 850 years before Christ. King Ahab and Queen Jezebel ruled the nation of Israel and Elijah was the prophet of God in the land. Jezebel was an evil woman who couldn’t stand the thought of anyone else having influence over her or her husband. She was very selfish and possessed a vile hatred of those whom she felt stood in the way of her getting to live her ambitions. She detested anyone who told her no and she would do anything to make herself look good and to get her way.

When Jezebel could not control God or His prophet she began intimidating and executing the other prophets of Jehovah. Then she started her own religion, ordained her own prophets, fashioned her own gods and subjected the whole nation to follow her seductions. 

However, Elijah remained faithful to God and prayed that the heavens would withhold rain. After 3½ years the famine had taken its toll and the nation of Israel was devastated. God kept Elijah hidden from King Ahab and Queen Jezebel until it was time for a showdown.

In the third year of the famine God spoke to Elijah and told him to gather all Israel, along with King Ahab and all the prophets which had been ordained by Jezebel, to the top of Mt Carmel … God was going to send the rain … but first He would send the fire!

Perhaps you’ve heard or read the account and how the false prophets built an altar at Elijah’s challenge and placed their offering thereon before calling on their god to send fire to consume the offering. They cried and prayed and cut themselves and spent the day in extreme efforts to no avail. Then, Elijah built his altar to Jehovah and laid a sacrifice on the altar before requesting that water be poured all over the offering and altar so that even the ditches were filled. Then, Elijah simply asked God to send the fire … and He did! The fire came from heaven and consumed the offering, burned up the rocks and licked up all the water.

When Israel saw that Jehovah was God and there was no other … Elijah led them to slaughter all the false prophets of Jezebel for whose sake the famine had come upon the land. Then Elijah told King Ahab to get himself off the mountain and back across the valley to his city before the torrential rains overtook him. I encourage you to read the whole account but for now let’s pick up here with this story in 1 Kings 19:1.

1 Kings 19
1 ¶  And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword.
2  Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.”
3  And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life …

·        Elijah faced the famine, the angry King and the hundreds of false prophets only to let fear get the best of him when threatened by an evil woman with a sharp tongue. His emotions overwhelmed his faith.

4  … And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!”

·        “I am no better than my fathers” … Right … as James said, Elijah was a man subject to like passions such as we … we are all human and as such subject to the hurts, pains, fears, disappointments, passions and emotions of life – just like everyone else.
·        It’s what we do with our fears and our pain as Believers in Christ that makes us different.
·        Elijah journeyed to Mount Horeb, the mountain of God, and looked in the past for his future … it wasn’t there. Your past is not your future!

9 ¶  And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
10  So he said, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”

·        It is evident that Elijah’s soul was weary. His mind, his will and his emotions had been so taxed and attacked over the past few years that he was simply mentally and emotionally frayed. (Meltdown)
·        Elijah was a man of God. Your soul can be saved and at the same time you can be disappointed, sad, weary and afraid. Elijah was overwhelmed with life … he had allowed his soul to become sick.
·        We can be saved and sick at the same time … right with God but not in a healthy place in life … mentally, emotionally, physically or spiritually overwhelmed.
·        Here are six signs we glean from this account that may indicate your soul is tired and weary and in great need of refreshing.
1.   Exaggerated Negatives (Comes across fussy and complaining)
2.   Can’t take one more thing (“It’s Enough!” Overwhelmed)
3.   Just want to run away and hide (Depressed and withdrawn)
4.   Angry with and/or blaming others (“Not my fault”)
5.   Feeling all Alone (Nobody else knows or cares; martyr/victim)
6.   Paranoid (Others are out to get you …)

11  Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake;
12  and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.

The LORD, Jehovah, passed by … God caused the wind, the earthquake and the fire … but those things weren’t God. God was showing Elijah the difference between the work of God and the God of the work. Elijah’s soul was wearied because of all the work he was doing for God but he was not spending enough time with God. (The past is not enough for your future!)

You can’t fellowship a miracle and you can’t praise a song. It all boils down to separating the work of God from the God of the work. Elijah had been so busy working for God that he forgot to keep himself connected to God. As soon as Elijah reconnected with the God of the work, God spoke a fresh word to him and gave him a new assignment in life. Elijah went on from that cave to anoint two new Kings and a new prophet who would do twice as much as Elijah ever did. And then, Elijah never died … he got so close to God that God sent a chariot of fire to pick him up and take him straight to heaven, first class! I’d say that Elijah found his refreshing.

How about you?

Do you need to reconnect with God? Is your soul tired or weary? Are you drifting away? Do you need a refreshing – mentally, spiritually, physically, emotionally?

No one can take care of your soul but you. You are the only one who can connect yourself to the God for whom you live.

It’s not just “Fix my problem God!”, but rather, “God, fix me!”.

Souls in danger look above, Jesus completely saves;
He will lift you by His love, out of the angry waves;
He’s the Master of the sea, billows His will obey;
He your Savior wants to be, be saved today.

Love lifted me; Love lifted me,
When nothing else could help, love lifted me.


God’s love will lift us when nothing else will do. Reconnect with the God of life, light and love. You can begin this with prayer – right now – and believe me: There’s a fresh word just waiting for you!

Rubbish

Gtcotr/ss081317

Philippians 3  NJKV
7  But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.
8  Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ
9 ¶  and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;
10  that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,
11  if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
12  Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.
13  Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
14  I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

1.  I am not saved because I gave my life to Jesus. I am saved because He gave His life for me.

2.  Faith is not about what I can get God to give me but about what God can get me to give Him.
a.   Will you give God your problems – marriage – money – relationships – etc, and trust Him.
b.   Faith is about giving it to God and trusting Him with the results.

3.  There is room for only one number one in my life.
a.   If Jesus is Number One, pleasing God will come first in my life.
b.   There is always something I can do to please God in every situation.

c.   When we please God, He becomes responsible for the consequences and the outcome.

Drifting Away

Gtcotr/ws081617

Our focus this evening will be on the children of God, those who have already been born again by the grace of God when they first believed in and called upon Jesus to save them. Many souls who have been saved are yet unhealthy, unhappy and disconnected from the House and from the Family of God.

Life presents common pressures and problems to all. Some children of God get disappointed, disillusioned, distracted, detoured or defeated by the enemies of their soul and drift away from the will or the work of God. Caught up in their own pursuits or pain they begin to live a life apart from the Family table of the Lord.

As time goes by and almost without notice they settle into a routine of life that belies the salvation they once received. Many exempt themselves from joining with others to praise and worship the Father and they refuse to offer themselves to help in the work He is doing to build the Kingdom they will one day inherit. They feel they are ok with just them and God.

Church does not get old to God any more than school for our growing children gets old to us. When our child feels school is just too much trouble, too boring, too bothersome and they don’t want to get up and go, what do we say? God feels much the same way about His children … only it’s not just about getting a good education so they can get a better job … it’s about people missing an eternity in hell and handling the hell of this life.

Some of God’s kids however are just rebellious and feel they are old enough to make their own decisions and that their Heavenly Father is just too old and out of touch. They say things like, “It’s my life … I’m going to do whatever I think is best for me.” Or, “I’m taking a break for a while.” And then they begin to drift away from Church and away from God. Added to this problem is the fact that they often influence their family and friends to go along with them on the drift. Unfortunately many are lost in the drift and never find their way home.



How can we remedy this or insure it does not happen in our lives? Let’s see what God has to say on this matter.

Hebrews 2:1  Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.

When the Bible uses the word “therefore”, we can look just above that word and see what the word therefore is there for.

In the preceding chapter, the writer of Hebrews encourages us to realize that God never grows old and that His values never change. Once again I’ll say that God has a plan and His plan is the same today as it was 5000 years ago and will be forever. For this reason, the Holy Spirit instructs us to be ever vigilant to “give more earnest heed” to the instructions given to us in the Bible.

The Bible paints a clear picture of God’s will for each one of His Children. When we begin to substitute our worldly motivated goals for His heavenly motivated goals we begin to drift and soon our priorities and values get all mixed up. This is the process of becoming entangled in and conformed to this world.

The Apostle John admonishes Christians that they should avoid falling in love with the world and all it promises.

1 John 2
15  Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16  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.

Paul helps us with some practical instructions when writing to the Born Again Believers in Rome. He said:

Romans 12  NKJV
1  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
2  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
3  For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.

We should not think that we can or that others can do it alone. The Apostle continues to describe our place in the Body of Christ which is the Church.

We need realize that the world endeavors to creep into our lives through thoughts and the activities offered promising to make us rich, happy, without pressures and problems, free and able to enjoy life without family and life without restrictions. That however is an empty promise. When we allow ourselves to be enticed or controlled by the lust of other things above the plan of God for our lives we begin to drift away.

Perhaps we would all do well to look at our life values and prioritize them by making a list of our top five life values. This will help us to discover if we are scheduling our values or if we are perhaps drifting away from the plan of God for His Children. I have made my list – yours might not be exactly like mine but allow me to tell you my values and how I schedule the priorities of my life.

1.  Family
2.  Faith
3.  Finances
4.  Future
5.  Friends


Other things like Facebook, snapchat, golf, hunting, TV, worry and weekends can always find time after I have scheduled my values each week. A life in order, God’s order, makes a difference. It keeps us from drifting away!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Rise and Shine


Gtcotr/ss080617

In about the year AD56 the Apostle Paul wrote his first letter to the leadership and congregation who attended the Church he had started in Corinth. Corinth was an important Roman port city that connected international trade routes from East to West and was situated in what we now know as the nation of Greece. The letter Paul wrote contained strict instructions for the Church to deal with the evident sin and the disunity which had been allowed to exist and grow among the people in the congregation. The Church family was divided and some Believers looked down on the poor Christians imagining themselves to be more spiritual than others. Paul rebuked them and told them to stop being so worldly. He threatened to visit them and correct these things personally if they did not straighten up and start acting more like Jesus.

About a year later Paul heard that that first letter he had written had been well received and that the Believers in the Church at Corinth had followed his instructions. Paul was well pleased and so he wrote a second letter to commend them and to further encourage them to continue to be a good witness to those who had not yet accepted Christ as Lord and Savior.

Our key scripture today comes from this second letter and I offer it to you this morning so that we can begin to examine our Christian lives. It is God’s continued hope that we might start acting just a little more like Jesus and a little less like the world. Let’s begin our journey today with:

2 Corinthians 4:6  For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

The Apostle Paul was not impressed with how spiritual a person claimed to be if their life did not reflect the basic elements the fruits of the Spirit. Those fruits which should be evident in the life of every Believer are: Love; Joy; Peace; Patience; Gentleness; Goodness; Faith; Humility; and Self Control. (Philippians 2:15 … you shine as lights in the world) We need to be light to a lost and hurting world. God wants us to Rise and Shine!

Paul contended that if these fruits of the Spirit aren’t visible in the life of a Christian then there is little reason for anyone else to want to follow Christ themselves. Why would anyone want to be like us or follow our beliefs if we are filled with hate, unhappiness, pride or lack of self-control? Our lives are supposed to change when we become Followers of Jesus. To help explain this change to the Corinthian Church Paul’s referenced Genesis 1.

Genesis 1
1  In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
2  And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
3  And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

In the chaos and darkness of a world without a direction; a world without hope; an empty world without a future, God commanded light to shine. Life began; hope rekindled; the world changed when the light began to shine! This is still the hope of God for our friends, family and the world.

What a picture of the eternal hope of God. New hope; new faith; new life is made possible when the light begins to shine in the darkness. My life was changed because someone shinned the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ on my path. Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world! (John 9:5) And indeed, He is. However, Jesus also told His followers:

Matthew 5
14  “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.
15  “Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.
16  “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

The prophet Daniel foretold the future of those who proclaim the glorious light of the Gospel of Christ. Lead others to the saving grace of God.

Daniel 12:3  Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever.


Conclusion: Rise and Shine! You are the light of the world … and the world needs Light! [Join Team COTR this Fall … “Every Heart - Every Home!”]

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The First 5 Commandments

Gtcotr/ws080217

Genesis 1  NKJV
26  Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27  So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
28  Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

·        Be Fruitful
·        Multiply
·        Fill the Earth
·        Subdue
·        Have Dominion

Even in the perfect world God created for His children there were restrictions. Even a perfect world must have order and expectancy. Because Adam and Eve disobeyed God sin entered the Paradise God had created for mankind and separated them. Sin Separates
·        Man from God
·        Man from Each Other
·        Man from the Blessings of God

God so loved the world that He gave His Only Son saying whosoever will believe on Jesus shall be saved from the corruption which is to come upon all the world. In order to be saved from the separation caused by sin each person must be born again.

The Children of God are called to follow those same original instructions God gave to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

In today’s language, we can confidently say that the will of God for every Born-Again child of God is to:

1.   Gather
2.   Grow
3.   Give
4.   Go
5.   Govern

Three Points to Ponder as we enter the month of August and begin to gear up for things God has planned for His Church Family this fall.

·        Faith makes things possible, Faith does not make things easy.

·        Sometimes the Lord just wants us to be willing.

·        God’s grace is always sufficient.