Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Taking The Limits Off God

Taking The Limits Off God


Key Scripture: Psalms 78:41 Yes, again and again they tempted God, And limited the Holy One of Israel.

I. God Is Not Like Anyone Else You Have Ever Known

A. And We Don’t Naturally Think Like God Thinks

Isaiah 55 NKJV

8 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD.

9 "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.

B. Only In Our Lives Is God Limited By Our:

1. Knowledge

2. Logic

3. Experiences

C. God Has Greater Knowledge; Eternal Logic; Unlimited Abilities

Isaiah 55

10 "For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater,

11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

D. These scriptures speak to the productive process of God’s Word

II. God Is Not A Man

A. God Does Not Have To Lie

Numbers 23:19 "God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?

B. In Fact, It Is Impossible For God To Lie

Hebrews 6:18 “It is impossible for God to lie”

C. Why? Because everything He says comes to pass.

1. God does not just speak the truth … He is the Truth!

2. We are told to speak the truth - Ephesians 4:15

3. God’s Word Is Truth! John 17:17

III. In Fact God Has Exalted His Word Above Everything Else

A. Psalms 138:2 I will worship toward Your holy temple, And praise Your name For Your lovingkindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.

B. Isaiah 40:8 “The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever."

C. Matthew 24:35 "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.”

D. Psalms 119:11 ¶ Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You!

IV. God Is Not Limited To

A. Our Knowledge

1. However, we usually are.

2. We are limited by our knowledge of:

* God and His Word

Note: Our victory is limited by our faith in God and our faith is limited by our relationship with God. (Do we know God?)

B. Our Logic (Sometimes we don’t achieve a victory mindedness)

1. But we sometimes are.

2. We are limited if we limit God to our own ability to reason

3. We should embrace God beyond our ability to figure it out

C. Our Experiences

1. But we often are.

2. Just because we have not yet experienced something, does not mean that the experience is not valid. (from toothaches to miracles, from falling in love to moving mountains by faith)

V. Have Faith In God --- Don’t Limit The Holy One Of Israel!

Mark 11

22 So Jesus answered and said to them, "Have faith in God.

23 "For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.

24 "Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

The Day After Christmas

The Day After Christmas


In a little while we will be reading from the book of First John.

You know, the word Christmas is from an Old English term, ‘Christes Maesse’, which was used to identify the Festive Worship Service held on December 25th of each year commemorating the birth of Christ.

God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son, Jesus the Christ, to the world, born of a virgin, wrapped in simple cloths and laid in a humble manger. Jesus was a gift from God.

Shepherds came and worshiped that gift the first Christmas.

It is in Christ’s memory, following God’s example, that we give gifts to others on this festive day.

Observed with any motive other than to commemorate this day and these acts of giving to the glory of Jesus the Christ, is not Christmas.

The spirit of Christmas is a spirit of giving and worship and not that of commercialization, partying or self indulgence.

Where there is no Christ, there can be no Christmas … there may be gift giving, family meals, festive parties and/or winter vacations … but there is no Christmas. Christmas is the worship of Christ alone without regard as to the time of year.

One of the more dangerous potential results of the current anti-Christmas groundswell we hear in the media this year is not that of replacing Christmas as the focus of this winter season’s commercial endeavors, but rather the most potential danger would be realized if the whole world embraced Christmas as their holiday without embracing Jesus as their Christ.

I say, that Jesus was given to the whole world. So let the whole world worship and celebrate the gift if they will. If some will not, it’s understandable. Why should those who do not have Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives celebrate His day of birth and worship Him?

I am quite happy, in fact a bit happier, with Christmas being set aside solely as a Christian Holy Day of worship.

This past week on Fox News I heard a young Muslim author, educated and articulate as she was, so ill-informed about the fundamentals of her own faith. She was in favor of all Muslims celebrating Christmas as a part of the broader picture of the ‘one world mindedness’ and the ‘why can’t we all just lighten up’ type of philosophy, I suppose.

She even stated that Muslims should realize that Jesus is one of the five most important prophets in Islam.

Even though she may be repeating what she has heard or read, there is no way Jesus could ever stand up to the scrutiny of any true test aimed at identifying prophets in the Muslim religion or in any other religion for that matter.

To every other religion, except that of Christianity, Jesus proves out to be a heretic, a liar, a blasphemer, a thief, a psychotic, schizophrenic, embellishing, argumentative dictator with a God complex who leads silly women, influences young children and simple minded men to leave their securities and to wander in deserts following after a mad man who teaches that He alone stands between God and mankind.

Jesus is either the One and Only Incarnate Son of the Living God and the Only Way to eternal life or else He is the number one deceiver - con artist in the history of this world. Either He deserves all praise and homage or else He deserves banishment and punishment forever apart from all sane and good souls.

Jesus cannot be just a good man or some other religion’s prophet. These people need to go back and re-survey Jesus’ claims.

Jesus is Christ and Christmas is His Day To Be Worshipped as God.

Know Christ, Know Christmas ---- No Christ, No Christmas.

Now, getting on with the message this morning:

I want to pass on an answer to a question asked me by the Holy Spirit while I was preparing for this message yesterday.

I waited until late Christmas morning, after prayer and opening up presents, doing the chores on our little farm, eating a family breakfast and spending a little time playing with my granddaughter, before I went into my office and began studying for this morning’s sermon.

I was reading scripture when my concentration was interrupted by the question: “What did you get for Christmas?” I pushed the question aside and quickly re-focused my mind on the passage I was reading from the book of Luke.

“What did you get for Christmas?” rang in my mind again. The voice so interruptive and so familiar. I recognized it was the Holy Spirit. As is my habit, I quit reading and gave Him my full attention. He has never asked me a question without also wanting to give me the answer. I figured that I was about to learn something I could share.

I asked Him, “What did I get for Christmas?”

The Holy Spirit, in less time than it takes to twinkle the eye, filled my thoughts with revelation and I understood.

What Did I Get For Christmas?

Jesus! That one was pretty easy.

What did I get when I accepted that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and gave my worship to Him?

I received Jesus.

God so loved the world that He sent Jesus into this world to save all who would accept Him. He came to:

* Save us from an eternity in hell … and to …

* Save us from the hell of this life

Jesus came to give us victory and to make us victorious.

When we accept Jesus we receive:

Victory and

A Victory Mentality

I have the Victor living in me.

Scriptures For Today: 1 John 5 NIV

1 ¶ Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well.

2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands.

3 This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,

4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.

5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

10 ¶ Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son.

11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

14 ¶ This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

Jesus came because you and I could not get the victory by ourselves

We couldn’t handle it

The deceiver was too deceptive

The demands of righteousness were too demanding

The temptations to sin were too strong

The flesh, our carnality, was too weak

The demons against us were too powerful

The punishment due us was too severe

Jesus came to give us victory over the damning power of sin, death, hell and the grave for all eternity --- and ---

To make us victorious over the governing power of sin, sickness, poverty and defeat while we walk upon this earth.

Today God wants every person on planet earth to accept His Christmas present - Jesus the Christ.

Receive eternal victory over death, hell and the grave.

Today, God wants every Christian not only to accept but also to enjoy the Christmas present He gave … to:

Live victorious over sin, sickness, poverty and defeat in this life.

There is victory over this world and then there is a victory in this world.

Stir up your victory mindedness. You are an overcomer!

Adopt a victory attitude.

Get a victory focus.

Talk a victory talk and

Walk a victory walk.

That’s what I got for Christmas … and I am going to enjoy it?

He knows I needed it. It fits me perfect.

Merry Christmas to you from God.

I hope you all enjoy what He got you.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Points to Ponder, Continued

Points To Ponder, Continued


Tonight we are going to continue in a similar vein to last Wednesday evening by going over a couple more points to ponder. These are points I have added to my original 122 point sermon.

Again, what got me started cataloging these points was a love God gave me for ‘Truths That Transcend Time’

Encapsulated principles from God’s word that put a handle on the message God is speaking from heaven.

God began to develop my love for simply stated truth early on in my Christian walk by connecting me to the book of Proverbs as a part of my daily bible reading plan.

I told you about the ‘Proverb For The Day’ plan last week. How that there are 31 chapters in the book of Proverbs, one chapter sufficient for each day of the month. On the 3rd I read chapter 3 and on the 16th, chapter 16 and so on. God really has built a deep respect in me for simply stated truth which transcends time.

After more than two decades of reading Proverbs, I have come to think and speak to myself and others out of the reservoir of wisdom I have gleaned. In fact, when I prepare sermons I go back over and over the sermon boiling it down until I can say what I believe God wants the people to hear in only one sentence or one simple statement. If I am successful in making it memorable, people will leave with something they can rehearse to themselves and repeat to others.

Today is the 22nd of December. Today I read Proverbs 22 and once again found a scripture that spoke directly to me. Let me share it with you before we begin the points to ponder.

Proverbs 22:3 ¶ A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, But the simple pass on and are punished.

I. Last Wednesday Evening We Covered Five Points

A. Point #282 God will never fail us in helping us to not fail Him.

B. Point #260. The future will tell the truth.

C. Point #259. Unless you already know everything, you are a candidate to learn something.

D. Point #256. God first calls, then equips and finally positions us for our greatest day.

E. Point #254. Our future depends on what we do today.

II. Tonight We Are Only Going To Look At Two More Points

A. For these I am going to reach back a few years to some old sermon themes. First is:

1. Point #130. We must start where we are to get where we’re going; use what we have to get what we want; and attempt what we cannot do to accomplish all we can.

This point was developed through a series of sermons which I preached several years ago. Since that time I have used these simple truths to reinforce other points as the Holy spirit has inspired. One place we found these truths very useful was when we were involved in a study of the miraculous in January through June 2002.

In that study we based our lessons on a passage of scripture from:

2 Kings 4

1 ¶ A certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, saying, "Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the LORD. And the creditor is coming to take my two sons to be his slaves."

2 So Elisha said to her, "What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?" And she said, "Your maidservant has nothing in the house but a jar of oil."

3 Then he said, "Go, borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors—empty vessels; do not gather just a few.

4 "And when you have come in, you shall shut the door behind you and your sons; then pour it into all those vessels, and set aside the full ones."

5 So she went from him and shut the door behind her and her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured it out.

6 Now it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, "Bring me another vessel." And he said to her, "There is not another vessel." So the oil ceased.

7 Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, "Go, sell the oil and pay your debt; and you and your sons live on the rest."

2. This little woman embodied these principles of:

* Starting where she was “I have a problem”

* Using what she had “a little oil”

* Attempting the impossible “pour out & set aside”

3. So must we at times:

Start where we are to get where we’re going, use what we have to get what we want, and attempt what we cannot do to accomplish all we can.

For the second truth tonight I have chosen:

B. Point #134. We don’t have to tear down one thing to build up another. (or - put another way)

We can be happy about where we are going without being ugly about where we have been.

1. Transitions are tough

2. Why make them tougher

3. It’s where we came from that made us who we are

4. The road we walked on brought us where we are

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

Speaking kindly to others and about others is one of the most Godly and gracious gifts one can possess.

Don’t live a life of being ugly and tearing down, be kind and build up.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

The Christmas Message, Part Three

The Christmas Message, Part Three


In this season we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus of Nazareth. Traditionally we read the Christmas Story out of the book of Luke.

It’s here that we find several central figures surrounding the birth of Jesus. Three primary characters which Luke draws our attention to are:

1. John the Baptist

2. Mary, the mother of Jesus and

3. Jesus Himself

Each one had their part to play in the unfolding plan of God which we now call The Christmas Story.

I. Two Sunday’s ago we learned that John the Baptist was:

* Sent on a mission for God

* As a representative of the kingdom of God

* With a message from God

“Prepare for the coming of the Lord”

* This classified him as an Ambassador

We concluded that Sunday with a scripture:

2 Corinthians 5

20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.

* We have now become Ambassadors

* We too are on a mission for God

* As a representative of the kingdom of God

* With a message from God

When considering John the Baptist, we realize that:

The man is gone but the ministry remains.

We are now the voice of one crying in the wilderness of this world: “Prepare for the coming of the Lord”

Last Sunday we looked at the second central figure in this unfolding plan of God to bring Jesus into the world. That figure was Mary, the mother of Jesus.

II. Mary

A. We clearly found in Luke 1 that God Chose Mary

B. We also learned that Mary Chose God

1. She chose God for her whole life. We saw that:

A. She was there for Jesus’ birth

B. She was there for His baby dedication

C. She was there for 30 years to raise Him

D. She was there for His first debate at 12 years of age

E. She was there for His first miracle at the wedding in Cana

F. She was there for His great meetings in Capernaum

G. She was there for His crucifixion

H. She was even there in Acts 2 in the upper room at Pentecost when God poured out the Holy Spirit on all 120 believers.

I. She was there when Peter preached in the streets of Jerusalem and saw 3000 people born again and converted to Christ.

J. She was no doubt a continuing part of the first local church in the city of Jerusalem

* In fact, one of her other sons, James, who was a half brother to Jesus, was the Senior Pastor of that church for many years.

* What Did We Learn From Mary?

* She chose God and She was always there --- basically:

Mary showed up!

* She was a spectator, a participator and a facilitator

* She was a part of what God was doing through Jesus and the Holy Spirit all the days of her life.

We should never underestimate the importance of showing up.

III. Now For The Key Figure In This Christmas Story - Jesus

Let’s turn to Luke, Chapter 2 (NKJV)

Luke 2

1 ¶ And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.

2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria.

3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,

5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.

6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.

7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

8 ¶ Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.

10 Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.

11 "For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

12 "And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger."

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

14 "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"

15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, "Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us."

16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.

A. Just as we have now taken on the ministry and responsibility of:

1. John the Baptist as Ambassadors preparing for the coming of Christ … and …

2. Mary, choosing God’s will for our whole life and showing up to participate in God’s work for all of our life

B. We have also been commissioned by Jesus to take up His ministry and His responsibilities while He is away in heaven.

C. What is that ministry and that responsibility which has now become our ministry, our responsibility?

D. The Angels announced it!

1. Good Tidings - Good News! (verse 10)

* Our part in this unfolding story is to bring Jesus to a lost and dying world. A Savior has come! Good News, not bad news

2. Great Joy! (which will be to all people)

* a non-exclusive ministry

* Jesus can fill every heart with great joy.

3. Glory To God! (verse 14)

* God gets all of the credit for this wonderful plan

4. Peace On Earth!

* this Jesus in any heart will give lasting peace

5. Good Will Toward Men!

* God’s will toward mankind, every one of us, is good

IV. In This Continuing Christmas Story

A. A Savior was born in the City of David, Christ the Lord!

B. We Are --- You Are Now:

1. A Royal Ambassador

2. Participating In The Plan To Bring Jesus To All People

3. That plan is to bring:

* Good News

* Great Joy

* Glory To God In The Heavens

* Peace On Earth

* Good Will To All People

C. Let’s Go And Tell Everyone This Christmas Story

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Points to Ponder

Points To Ponder


Over 20 years ago I began a practice of reading from the book of Proverbs each day. There are 31 chapters in Proverbs which corresponds to and accounts for each day of every month.

Using this ‘Proverbs For The Day’ system, I always know exactly where to go to get a piece of my daily bread from Heaven. On the 16th, I go to Proverbs 16, on the 21st I go to chapter 21 and so on.

I read the whole chapter and then attempt to settle in on one particular thought or verse which speaks to me. I use that scripture to meditate on for that day. It continues to amaze me just how specific a supply these Proverbs are for my daily needs.

This ‘Proverbs For The Day’ method combined with my other daily bible reading has given me a respect for the encapsulated truths from God’s word.

Today is December 15th so according to this plan one would read from Proverbs 15. Today I found a scripture that spoke to me and I have attempted to meditate on it, be more conscious of its implications and put it into practice in my life situations today. My Proverb for the day today is:

Proverbs 15:1 ¶ A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.

Not nearly every day of the past 20 years have I kept to this plan, but in total representation of my life, I have been and am a Proverbs man.

I believe that this has affected my life in several ways.

* I always have a ready answer to the questions of life.

* I love to boil down the truth I understand and encapsulate it in a single thought or phrase.

I often find myself thinking and speaking in Proverb form:

* Single sentences or central thoughts that cut to the heart of a truth.

This is where my original 122 Point Sermon came from. Encapsulated truth that I had come to know, trust and rely on.

Truths such as:

* God has a plan

He will succeed

We have an opportunity to participate

* What you are going through may not be punishment for your past but positioning for your future.

* God does not first seek your permission before He upsets your plans.

* The journey is your friend.

Each year I add to my ‘Points to Ponder’. This past year has been no exception. I’ve learned many things this year and when I could afford it I have put in the extra time necessary to meditate on my lessons of life in order to boil the truth down to a simple statement which I could easily rehearse to myself and readily repeat to others.

Tonight, as we draw close to the end of 2004, I want to take a little of our time together and recap some of the truths we have learned together this past year. Perhaps this review will help to solidify some of the things God has done in our lives and perhaps these points will help us to get a handle on God’s work so we can rehearse it to ourselves and be ready to share it with others.

I. Truths That Transcend Time

A. Point #282 God will never fail us in helping us to not fail Him.

1. If it is our goal to please Him, He will make sure we do.

2. As with each of these points, there are scriptural basis:

* Hebrews 13:5 For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."

6 So we may boldly say: "The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"

* Psalms 37:23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD

* Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;

6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

* Just read all of Psalms 37

B. Point #260. The future will tell the truth.

1. Luke 12:2 "For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known.

3 "Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.

2. Romans 14:11 For it is written: "As I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God."

12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.

II. Some Other Points

For the sake of time tonight, allow me to briefly include a few more of these ‘Points to Ponder’ without expounding on them quite as much.

If they speak to you then I challenge you to search them out, study the scriptures and see if they measure up to a principle reflecting the whole counsel of God’s word.

A. Point #259. Unless you already know everything, you are a candidate to learn something.

B. Point #256. God first calls, then equips and finally positions us for our greatest day.

C. Point #254. Our future depends on what we do today.