Wednesday, June 30, 2004

God's Justice

God’s Justice


The US legal system is based upon a presumption of innocence. This simply means that a person is innocent until proven guilty.

Sometimes, the justice system one is raised under, determines how they see God’s justice, or perhaps, how they think God’s justice system should work.

At times we can read the bible’s account of how a matter unfolded, see God in action, and come away feeling that the final decision seemed a bit unfair according to our way of thinking. We balance that with the firm conviction that God is always right and righteous.

Such is the case when I read the passage in 1 Kings 13. Through the years I have had a difficult time fully understanding this story.

You may be familiar with it.

* God sent a prophet from Judah to Bethel to prophesy against the altar Jeroboam had made for the children of Israel on which they worshipped false Gods.

* The young prophet is told by God to not eat bread or drink water in Bethel, and to go home by another way from which he had come.

* The prophet obeys God, prophesies, is protected by the Holy Spirit, heals the king, and when asked to return to the king’s house, refuses, by stating he is under orders from God not to eat or drink, but leave … so he leaves.

* An old prophet of God in Bethel is informed by his sons of all that this young prophet had done and said. The old prophet inquires by what way did this young prophet leave town.

* The old prophet mounts his donkey and goes out after the young prophet finding him sitting under an oak tree resting.

* The old prophet ask him to come home with him and eat bread.

* The young prophet rehearses what God had earlier told him - “don’t eat bread or drink water, and go home by another way.”

This is where it gets challenging for me:

* 1 Kings 13:18 (NKJV)

18 He said to him, "I too am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the LORD, saying, ‘Bring him back with you to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water.’"(He was lying to him.)

19 So he went back with him, and ate bread in his house, and drank water.

20 Now it happened, as they sat at the table, that the word of the LORD came to the prophet who had brought him back;

21 and he cried out to the man of God who came from Judah, saying, "Thus says the LORD: ‘Because you have disobeyed the word of the LORD, and have not kept the commandment which the LORD your God commanded you,

22 ‘but you came back, ate bread, and drank water in the place of which the LORD said to you, "Eat no bread and drink no water," your corpse shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.’"

23 ¶ So it was, after he had eaten bread and after he had drunk, that he saddled the donkey for him, the prophet whom he had brought back.

24 When he was gone, a lion met him on the road and killed him. And his corpse was thrown on the road, and the donkey stood by it. The lion also stood by the corpse.

Am I the only one who has some problems understanding what just happened here?

Years ago when I first began to study this passage, I respectfully said in my heart to the Lord, Lord, it looks to me that this is just not fair.

I believe that after much seeking, the Lord answered me with His kind voice and caused me to understand that justice and fairness are not always the same.

The Lord may not always seem fair, but He is always just.

I attempted to instill this in my children’s lives when they were growing up. On purpose I did not spend the same amount of money on each of them for Christmas or at birthdays but got them what I believed they wanted or needed --- what was best.

I did not always allow them to do the same things or go the same places. Rather I attempted to make them understand that what often may seem fair, may not be best.

Just because one person gets to date or drive at the age of 16 and another sibling does not, may not mean that a parent is playing favorites. There are many issues at stake and a much broader perspective than just what seems fair to the affected individual.

I believe that one the most enlightening subjects I have ever attempted to study is the subject of God’s Justice.

Without further ado, let’s peer just a little into this subject.

Here are some things I have learned about God’s Justice.

1. Every person is 100% responsible to God for their actions and decisions.

* 1 Kings 13 - the young prophet did disobey God - he had reasons why, good ones, but they did not cover the fact that God had directly told him not to do what he obviously later did.

* Obedience is our proper response to God’s word.

2. Forgiveness and restoration are two separate issues.

* A person can be forgiven without being restored.

> “You haven’t forgiven me because you still treat me like you don’t trust me.” It’s because I don’t trust you!

> Forgiveness is free, paid for by Jesus.

> Restoration may take time and effort from all parties.

While we are on this subject:

* Forgiveness does not mean exemption from consequences

> Deuteronomy 3

25 ‘I pray, let me cross over and see the good land beyond the Jordan, those pleasant mountains, and Lebanon.’

26 "But the LORD was angry with me on your account, and would not listen to me. So the LORD said to me: ‘Enough of that! Speak no more to Me of this matter.

27 ‘Go up to the top of Pisgah, and lift your eyes toward the west, the north, the south, and the east; behold it with your eyes, for you shall not cross over this Jordan.

* David’s sin with Bathsheba & their son’s death

* God does not have to forgive (Esau’s quest)

> Hebrews 12:17 For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.

> 2 Timothy 2:25 & 26 “if …”

> God does not have to forgive - God chooses to forgive

> He chooses each time you ask Him acknowledging the truth

* Mercy is greater than judgment

* James 2:13

3. If we roll a stone it will roll back on us - Proverbs 26:27

* Judges 1:7 (Adonibezek) “God has repaid me.”

4. If someone smites us on one cheek, we turn the other - Luke 6:29

* 2 Samuel 16 Shimei the cursing rock thrower

> “Maybe the Lord will look on my affliction and be good to me for the cursing I am taking today”

* Pray for those who persecute us and treat us unjustly

> Let God vindicate us or punish others if He sees fit

5. It ain’t over until it’s over

* Malachi 3:17-18 “ In that day … then you will see”

* 2 Peter 2:9 The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment,

* Numbers 14:18 God, by no means, clears the guilty …

* “You might get by, but you won’t get away!”

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Persuade Yourself

Persuade Yourself


There are a few things you need to talk to yourself about.

Repeat after me: God Is! - God Can! - God Will!

Our text for today will come the book of Romans, Chapter 4

Key Scripture: Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

Moses wrote this, in fact it is well accepted that Moses wrote the first five books of the bible, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

What many may not realize is that even though this period covers approximately 2553 years, only five intermediary links between Adam and Moses were required to verbally pass on these full accounts of creation, the flood, the captivity and the exodus.

Counting both Adam and Moses, only seven people were needed to personally witness these amazing stories first hand.

The longer life spans from creation allowed these testimonies to be passed on verbally by those who lived them. People like:

* Methuselah who talked with Adam for 243 years

* Shem who talked with Methuselah for 98 years

* Shem did not die until Isaac was 50 years old

* Levi who talked with his grandfather, Isaac for, 53 years

* Amram, son of Kohath:

> Walked and talked with Levi

> Married Levi’s daughter, Jochebed

> Was the father of Miriam, Aaron and Moses

According to my Timeline Studies

> Isaac was born about 2048 years after creation

> This correlates to about 2066 BC - (Nelson)

> By some accounts, the midway point between creation and the birth of Christ is very close to the time when Abraham was called to sacrifice his son, his only son Isaac, on the mountain of Moriah, a hill which would later be called Mount Calvary.

Abraham so impressed God that God blessed him and decided to not lay any sin to Abraham’s account. Romans 4:3-8

In fact, lets go ahead and look at Romans 4

1 ¶ What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?

What did Abraham find out that persuaded God to so bless him?

The Story of Abraham

* Born and named Abram, he was the third son of Terah, descended from Noah through Shem.

* Abram was born and raised in the city of Ur, in Chaldea, which encompasses modern day Iraq, near the city of Al Kut, about 175 miles Southeast of Baghdad.

* At 70 years old he was called by God and moved 300 miles North to the city of Haran. Acts 7

* Later he received a more specific call from God who promised to make him a great nation. Genesis 12

* God changed his name to Abraham meaning father of many nations.

* Hebrews 11:8 says that Abraham trusted God, “not knowing where he went”.

* Living a migratory life, dwelling in tents, Abraham and his household, probably over 1000 people, journeyed South to the land of Canaan.

* God so greatly increased Abraham that he was forced to separate from his nephew, Lot, who chose to live in the fertile plains of Sodom while Abraham took up residence in an area just a short distance South of Jerusalem, in what is now known as the city of Hebron.

* God spoke to Abraham again in Genesis 15 and promised him a son.

* When Abraham’s wife, Sarah, was 75 years old and barren, she grew impatient with God’s promise and persuaded Abraham to have a child with her servant girl, Hagar. Thus Ishmael was born .

* When Sarah was 90, Genesis 17:17, and Abraham was 100 years old, she conceived and in the course of time Isaac was born.

* Genesis 22 tells us that Abraham was tested by God and told to offer Isaac as a sacrifice to God. When God saw Abraham would obey, God sent an angel to stop him.

* Abraham dies at the age of 175

* In the New Testament Abraham is called

> Faithful Abraham Galatians 3:9

> The Friend Of God James 2:23

> Romans 4:16 The Father Of Us All

Romans 4 (KJV)

17 ¶ (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.

18 Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.

19 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb:

20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;

21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.

22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.

More than just a belief, Abraham was persuaded.

What persuaded Abraham - He persuaded himself!

* Abraham chose to believe God - he heard the stories and …

God’s Presence

God’s Promise

God’s Performance

Are For The Fully Persuaded

Persuade Yourself -- God Is! - God Can! - God Will! -- Deal with Doubt

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

First Works

First Works


You may wish to turn to our main text for tonight which will be found in the book of Revelation, Chapter 2. While you turn let me read our:

Key Scripture: Acts 2:42 ¶ And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. (NKJV)

Tonight I want to talk about the importance of doing the first works of a Christian, which are namely:

* Prayer

* Study Of The Scriptures

* Fellowship With The Saints

Last week I shared with you that:

If the devil cannot make you bad, he will try to make you busy.

… even busy with our Lord’s work - so busy in fact that we forget to tend to our own Christianity.

Remember the story in 2 Kings 6 - I recently heard Pastor Ken preach a tremendous, life challenging and life changing message from this passage.

* It was in the days of Elisha, around 850 years Before Christ

* The school of the prophets had become too small

* Elisha ok’d a new joint building project for the college

* Students went out to cut down trees for the needed lumber

* One student was so busy working for this worthy kingdom project that he evidently forgot to attend to one of his basic duties:

> Making sure his axe head was properly secured to the axe handle before he went out to the work for the day

* While he was chopping, cutting down a tree, the axe head came loose and flew off the handle right into some evidently deep water.

You can read the story and see how the prophet fixed the problem.

But this story reveals what happens to people, even good people, even people who are busy working on kingdom projects, when they don’t take the time and develop the discipline to take care of the basic things in life. They can loose the edge - their sharpness - their ability to accomplish the work of God.

From the husband and wife that don’t set time aside for their relationship to the heavy equipment operator that is not disciplined to grease his machine regularly - not properly attending to the basic things in life can come back to haunt you.

Such is the case described by Jesus to John the Revelator written in the scriptures for our admonition.

Have you found Revelation 2 yet?

Revelation 2 (NKJV)

1 ¶ "To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands:

2 "I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars;

3 "and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.

4 "Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.

5 "Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.

6 "But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

7 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God."‘

I. The Nicolaitans

A. Unknown and uncertain origin - best understanding from some early church fathers … Unruly, fornicating idolaters.

B. Revelation 2:15 reveals that:

What was a hated deed at Ephesus became an embraced doctrine in Pergamos.

II. The Church of Ephesus

A. Jesus had taken account and was familiar with their:

1. Works

2. Patience

3. Righteousness

4. Prudence

5. Commitment

6. Perseverance

These were some of the hardest working, most productive and unselfishly motivated Christians of their day … yet …

B. Jesus had something against them

C. They left their first love - ?

III. The Young Rich Ruler Syndrome

A. Matthew 19; Mark 10 & Luke 18

B. Mark 10:21 sums it up

Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "One thing you lack …”

1. He had been busy keeping the second table of the law which deals with how we live our daily lives with respect to others around us.

2. He had forgotten to keep the first table - the first four commandments which deal with our primary responsibility to have a proper relationship with God, first and foremost, before we go about attempting to make a living, make a life or make a difference.

C. Being busy, too busy to do the basics, too busy for God, too busy for what really matters - our first love/works - is being too busy.

1. Even if you are busy doing good things

2. Even if you are not bad

3. Too busy to keep the main thing the main thing is too busy.

IV. The Remedy

A. Remember where you once were - where you fell from

1. In relationship with God

2. In relationship with your spouse

3. In love, peace, joy … of life

B. Repent - decide to change now

C. Return - do the first works again (love is work)

We must do our first works to get back to our first love.

D. Or Else! - somebody else is going to take your place.

V. (What Are) The First Works (for the Christian)

A. Prayer

B. Study Of The Scriptures

C. Fellowship With The Saints

Communicate, get to know you & spend time with you.

These things will help keep a right relationship with God

These things will help keep your sharpness about you

These things will help keep your candle from going out

These things will help you overcome so that you may be given to eat from the tree of life which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.

Keep it simple

Do the basics

Start now

Sunday, June 20, 2004

What Makes A Father's Day

What Makes A Father’s Day


Today we celebrate Fathers, by recognizing them, their valuable place in our lives and the honor due their station.

Key Scripture: Genesis 18:19 For I know him, (Abraham), that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him. (KJV)

A father is more than a sperm donor; more than a mother’s current live in partner; more than just someone who lends you their last name or one you have to answer to - - - the role has requirements.

A father is responsible; demonstrates his love; is strong but merciful and kind. He studies to give wisdom as his answer. A father provides, protects, encourages, corrects and defends his family. He is the leader both by example and by position.

A father, just like Abraham, superintends his family giving them security and a foundation for their future. When it comes his time to leave this world and be gathered home, he hopes to leave them blessed and not cursed, confident and not confused, unified, not divided, serving God and not just themselves.

Numbers 14:18, along with several other scriptures, reveals that a father who opposes God will leave a curse upon his children and grandchildren unto the third and fourth generation.

Deuteronomy 7:9 tells us that the person who keeps covenant with God, their blessing will extend to a thousand generations.

We all are blessed when our fathers are blessed.

With these thoughts it is safe to say that A Father Deserves His Day!

And we should all make it happen for him.

Keep in mind this morning that I will be using scriptures which relate to God’s Fatherhood over, and the relationship He has with, His Son, Jesus. Using them as our main example, I will attempt to show:

What Makes A Father’s Day

Now, from my experience, let me tell you about a few great days in every father’s life.

I. First: When A Man Hears That He Is Going To Be A Father

A. This Happened For Our Heavenly Father When

1. God Chose A Woman - Mary - to be the mother of His Son

2. Mary Had A Choice

* She had questions

* She certainly could not have understood it all

* She made her choice

Luke 1:38 “Be it unto me according to thy word.”

B. What makes a father’s day?

C. When the woman you have chosen, chooses you.

* More about that later.

II. Another Great Day: When Your Child Is Born

A. There is nothing that can take the place of that feeling

B. That, in and of itself, whether it’s God or man, that makes a father’s day.

III. Then: Each Time Your Child Recognizes You As Their Father

A. It begins like we see it in scripture. Jesus first recorded words:

1. “I must be about My Father’s business” Luke 2:49

2. What makes a father’s day?

3. When a child embraces their father

4. John 10:30 “I and My Father are one.” (Identification)

* Its when your child is not ashamed or afraid of you

* Its when your child does not deny you but chooses to associate with you and wants to be around you & work with you

* That makes a father’s day!

B. It continues through young adulthood as seen by Jesus in

1. John 8:29 “I always do those things which please My Father” (How many of you children can say that?)

2. What makes a father’s day?

3. When a child follows the counsel of his father

C. It culminates with Jesus saying to God:

1. “not My will but Thine” Luke 22:42

2. What a bitter-sweet day for a father - to witness their child making tough and at times costly, but right decisions in life.

3. What makes a father’s day?

4. When a child becomes an adult and acts responsibly.

Note: It’s not the tie, the shirt, some new socks or the new tools from Sears that makes a father’s day. It’s you!

You Make A Father’s Day!

Let’s recap in practical terms.

IV. How To Make A Father’s Day

A. A Wife’s Recipe

1. Trust your husband

2. Support his decisions

3. Follow his lead

4. Let Him and others know it.

B. A Child’s Recipe

1. Embrace your father

2. Follow your father’s counsel

3. Grow up and act responsibly

VI. A Word To Fathers

A. I borrow what Phillip said to Jesus -

* a bit out of context perhaps, but true nonetheless:

B. John 14:8 Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and we will be satisfied."

C. Your family, your community and your world will benefit from the Father in you --- Show us The Father.

D. Lets Pray For Our Fathers Today

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Handling The Trials Of Life

Handling The Trials Of Life


Key Scripture: James 1:2 ¶ My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials. (NKJV)

Temptation, Testing, Trial, Tribulation, Affliction, Persecution, Trouble

Text: James 1

2 ¶ My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,

3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

I. Count It Joy - How can we count it all joy? Because we know that:

A. God will not send evil our way.

* James 1:13 ¶ Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.

B. Pressures have the capacity to work for us, not against us.

* 2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,

C. Nothing too strong can come against us.

* 1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

II. It Is A Given: In This Life - There Will Be Tests!

John 16:33 "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

A. The devil will try to make you bad.

* If the devil cannot make you bad, he will try to make you busy.

B. The devil will attempt to defeat you.

* If the devil cannot defeat you, he will attempt to defeat someone whose defeat will defeat you.

C. The devil will attempt to disqualify or discredit you.

* If the devil cannot get you to disqualify yourself, he will attempt to discredit you himself.

1 Peter 4

12 ¶ Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;

13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.

14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.

15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters.

16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.

III. The Recurring Theme - Rejoice!

A. James 1:2 “Count it all joy!”

B. John 16:33 “Be of good cheer!”

C. 1 Peter 4:13 “Rejoice!”

D. Romans 5:3 “We glory in tribulations!”

IV. Glory In Tribulations

Romans 5

3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations …

A. Tribulations = tests, trials, afflictions, pressures, temptations, hardships, difficulties, sufferings

B. Glory (different than the Glory of God)

1. To boast (confident, not arrogant; sure that you win)

2. To rejoice (… in the victory before the battle)

* When we are tempted, tried, tested, pressured, afflicted or suffer hardship, we can stand there and make our boast, rejoicing in the victory we have in Christ who will not allow more to come upon us than what we are able to bear. He will bring us through in victory.

* 2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory

> This glory: Greek - doxa = honor; dignity; praise; grace; majesty; excellence; value; magnificence; Godly splendor & brightness.

* We can be confident in times of trouble knowing that God has designed us so the things which come against us actually make us stronger than we were before.

* Exodus 1:12 But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were in dread of the children of Israel.

V. There Is A Process To Victory

Romans 5

3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;

4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope.

5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

A. Tribulation

B. Perseverance (a strategic mental attitude of not giving up)

C. Character (proof)

D. Hope (Hebrews 6:19 which hope we have as an anchor …)

E. Victory (we will never be ashamed we chose God’s way)

* Every time life offers you a trial, and life will, handle it God’s way. You are going to go through it anyway, you may as well come through better and not bitter. God’s not tempting you - He’s helping you.