Thursday, July 29, 2004

The First Two Steps (Once Again!)

The First Two Steps (Once Again!)


You may wish to turn in your bibles to 1 Timothy

Key Scripture: Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (NKJV)

On a Sunday morning in November of last year, I preached that:

1. God has a plan

2. He will succeed

3. We have an opportunity to participate

By the end of that service we had concluded that most of us were in one of three possible places and needed God to either:

1. Show us what He wanted us to do

2. Get us ready to do it

3. Open the door

Since that Sunday, so many have sensed and seen God at work. Others have been going about their business of life and though unaware, God has nonetheless been working on, in and through them in greater measure, just because of their initial response to His word.

Not only do I believe that the opportunity to serve Him in a greater way is coming, I believe that for many, it is already here.

What we face in life, the bountiful blessings, along with the Tests and trials are designed to work for us, not against us. (2 Corinthians 4:17)

When God sent His angel, Gabriel, to Mary, (Luke 1), and announced to her that God had a plan and that He had included her, her response was simply: Mary offered herself up to the plan of God.

She may not have realized God was so serious and that He took her response ,“Be it unto me according to Your word.”, very seriously.

The plan of God, like a seed, entered into Mary’s life and, although it took some time and some change on her part, she eventually …

The same thing happened to Joseph, her fiancée, it was tough and embarrassing at one point, then really a blessing at another, but through it all, he allowed God to be the both the author and the finisher of his faith. (Hebrews 12:2) Like Joseph, Our life should be a script that only God could write and only God could produce

The Apostle Paul encouraged Timothy, to be faithful to God‘s plan and be content to allow God time and room to work that plan.

Point #98 God is working on you to work in you so He can work through you.

Point #38 What you are going through may not be punishment for the past, but positioning for the future.

Point #179 It’s not what you are going through, but what you are going to that matters most.

Point #154 God does not have to first seek your permission before He upsets your plans.

Have you found 1 Timothy 6 (NIV)

3 If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching,

4 he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions

5 and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.

6 ¶ But godliness with contentment is great gain.

7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.

8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.

9 People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.

10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.

12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Paul is saying, Timothy, don’t be overcome with the pursuit of success, rather True Satisfaction Comes by Discovering Your Purpose and Pursuing Your Destiny

God has a plan and it includes you.

Destiny is your opportunity to participate in God’s plan.

The First Two Steps Once Again!

1 Timothy 6:6 ¶ But godliness with contentment is great gain.

If godliness with contentment is gain, then godliness with discontentment means nothing, and ungodly discontentment causes a person to loose in life.

Step 1: Decide To Be Godly … It’s A Choice

* It’s a choice not to be ungodly

Cuss; lie; cheat; steal; fornicate; get drunk; do drugs

Step 2: Learn To Be Content

Remember Our Key Scripture: Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Look more closely at that passage in context: Philippians 4

11b For I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:

12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Even become godly and content … make it your goal, Jesus will help.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Making It Happen

Making It Happen


This morning I am not going to be reading from just one passage, but will reference several scriptures in efforts to adequately give a foundation for the truth God has inspired me to share today.

The primary concept for our message today can be found in the heart of our:

Key Scripture: Matthew 17:20 “… I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." (NIV)

There are at least three key ingredients to living a successful, meaningful and fulfilled life.

I. Three Key Ingredients

A. Purpose

B. Passion

C. Power

II. Allow Me To Elaborate

A. First - Purpose

1. There are different paradigms of purpose - for example:

* A person’s Eternal Purpose

> The things that await us in the hereafter

* A person’s Earthly Purpose

> Make a living, make a life & make a difference

* A person’s Daily Purpose

> Goals for each day, to make it the most it can be

> The reason I got up this morning

> Linking my today with my earthly life and eternity

> Making today count in the big picture

> Being available to God’s will today

> Advancing the cause & enjoying the journey

Note: A continuing sense of true purpose comes only from a growing relationship with God.

B. Then There Is - Passion

1. The spiritual and emotional energy that gives us an excitement to pursue a thing.

Note: When my daughter April first went to ORU she lived in a girls dormitory. The girls of her wing all had tee shirts made with a portion of scripture from Psalms 56 written on the back. It went like this:

“Be merciful to me, O God, for men hotly pursue me.” (Psa 56:1)

Although it may be taken a little out of context in this occasion, nonetheless it does describe

Passion - The hot pursuit.

2. Passion can be displayed as - Zeal

When Jesus went into the temple and saw the purpose of God replaced by the purposes of man, He displayed His passion. After He had platted a whip from small cords He drove them all out of the temple, emptied their change and turned over their tables. Then Jesus began to preach and quote scriptures to them all.

Upon seeing this Jesus’ disciples remembered what David had written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit when prophesying about the coming Messiah in Psalms 69:9. The disciples statement can be found in:

John 2:17 Then His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up." (NKJV)

The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 3:12 that he was following hard after Christ so that he might fully get a hold on what had already fully gotten a hold of him. For this he would throw away everything else he had and was. This is passion!

Enduring passion for the purposes of God comes only from a growing relationship with God.

C. This Brings Us To - Power

1. I am talking about the power to make things happen.

2. To Be Empowered

* so that you can take control & make things happen

III. The Power To Make It Happen

A. Jacob

1. Genesis 27 Isaac blessed Jacob with his words

* Where did Isaac get that power?

2. Genesis 49 Jacob speaks the future over his sons

* Where did he get the power to do that?

3. We Know This To Be - Prophecy

* Prophecy can exist on at least 3 levels

> Telling what has already happened

> Telling what God says is going to happen

> Declaration of faith that what you say will happen

4. We clearly see this in the Old Testament --- But what about the New Testament?

B. Lets look at the Apostle Paul.

1. 2 Timothy 1:6 Paul had the power to give a spiritual gift to Timothy - Paul possessed the power to make it happen.

2. 1 Timothy 4:14 The elders of the church under Paul’s leadership spoke over Timothy’s life and imparted special spiritual abilities to him. The elders had the power to make it happen.

3. Acts 13:11 Paul, being withstood by Elymas the sorcerer, tired of his resistance to and perversion of the gospel, declared that Elymas would be blinded for a season - and it happened just as Paul said. This is definite power to make it happen.

C. What about Peter?

1. Acts 5 Discerning that Ananias and Sapphira were not telling the truth about the money they had pledged to the church, Peter spoke with power. This Christian husband and wife both fell down dead as a doornail right there in the church.

2. Peter exercised the Power to make it happen!

IV. What Comes Out Of Your Mouth, Spoken With Purpose And Passion Releases Power To Make Things Happen.

A. Where can we find purpose? True purpose comes:

* From a growing relationship with God!

B. Where can we get a passion for the purposes of life?

* From a growing relationship with God.

C. Where do we get the power to take control and make things happen? Power, like true purpose and enduring passion comes only:

* From a growing relationship with God.

Listen to these scriptures:

John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.

Mark 11

22 And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.

23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.

24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.

Isaiah 57:19 I create the fruit of the lips …

Job 22:28 Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee: and the light shall shine upon thy ways.

Psalms 2:7 I will declare the decree …

Hebrews 10:35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.

This word translated confidence is the Greek word ‘Parrhesia which means The freedom, boldness, courage and assurance to speak out.

To be so fearless in the face of opposition that you are actually cheerful in a confident outlook about your future.

Now that’s Power!

Power to take control and make things happen!

Instead of being controlled and just letting things happen.

Where does that power come from?

Say it with me: From a growing relationship with God.

The power of God belongs to the children of God.

V. Three Keys To Power

A. A Growing Relationship With God

B. An Unselfish Purpose

C. A Boldness To Speak Out

VI. Close -

When Jesus’ disciples marveled that the fig tree had obeyed Him and withered away in only a day, Jesus said to these men:

“I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." (Matthew 17:20 NIV)

* Do you lack a growing relationship with God?

> Do you lack purpose for eternity, earthly life, for your today?

> Do you lack passion for life, family, job, church, eternity, tomorrow?

> Do you lack the power to take control and make things happen?

* Good News! - You can begin that growing relationship with God today. Right here, right now! No matter the past - the future is yours and nothing will be impossible for you if you only have faith.

Growing Relationship - Unselfish Purpose - Boldness To Speak Out

Wednesday, July 7, 2004

God's Justice Contintued

God’s Justice Continued


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

God’s justice system has no presumption in it at all. God knows, without a shadow of doubt, whether we are innocent or guilty.

In fact, God has already informed us before trial that all have sinned and all are worthy to be sentenced to eternal death. However a pardon is available through a specific sacrificial substitute.

The fact that God will only accept one way to forgiveness doesn’t seem fair to our western way of thinking, leading some to believe that if God is not a fair God, then they feel they have righteous ground to take against Him. I promise you, this is not the case.

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

What is the definition of just?

Whatever God does is just.

Let me ask you: If God decided to send you to hell, to whom would you appeal? What court or power can reverse the decision of a sovereign, all encompassing, omnipotent Creator of the universe?

I have seen people get angry with God - so mad at Him that they wrongly accuse Him, even curse Him, or withhold relationship from Him in a feeble attempt to demonstrate their disagreement like some bratty misbehaving child. This is never acceptable.

God is a good and loving God. He cares for each one of us so much that He gave His Only Begotten Son as a sacrificial substitute for our sins. God is a just God and a justifier of those who love His Son.

I tell you again, one of the most enlightening subjects I have ever attempted to study is the subject of God’s Justice.

Last week I attempted to share some things which I have learned about God’s justice. Tonight I would like to continue with that topic. Last Wednesday, in looking at God’s justice, we discussed that:

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

* 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.

* Forgiveness does not mean exemption from consequences

> Deuteronomy 3:25ff Moses was forgiven but not restored.

> 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.

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

We talked about Adoni-Besek from Judges 1 - “God has repaid me”

* We reap what we sow … but do we understand that:

* We can also reap what our hearts intended to sow.

Deuteronomy 19

19 "then you shall do to him as he thought to have done to his brother; so you shall put away the evil from among you.

* God reserves the right to judge us by our intentions, not just the letter of the law.

> for good or for bad

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

> Give God time and space to work.

* Historically, God has been a God of the underdog

5. It ain’t over till it’s over

* It wasn’t over for Joseph when he was wrongfully sold into slavery by his brothers.

> or when he was falsely accused by Photiphar’s wife

> or when forgotten by the king’s cup bearer

* It wasn’t over for Job when he lost all he had in the world

> or when he got so sick he could hardly survive

> or when his friends forsook him

> or when his wife abandoned him

* It wasn’t over for Samson when he fell for the wrong woman

> or when he had his hair cut off and his eyes put out

> or when he was made a laughing stock to his enemies

* It wasn’t over for the children of Israel by the Red Sea

> or when the water of Mara were poisoned

> or when they were defeated at the battle of Ai

* It wasn’t over for David when he was hated by Saul

> or when he lost his wife to his army buddy

> or when he conspired to commit adultery and murder

> or when his own army wanted to kill him

> or when his own son dethroned and dishonored him

* It wasn’t over for Peter when he caught no fish that day

> or when he sank trying to walk on water with Jesus

> or when he cursed and denied Christ three times

> or was in Herod’s jail chained between two guards

* It wasn’t over for Paul when he was arrested and imprisoned

> or when he was shipwrecked on an island

> or when he was bitten by a venomous snake

> or when he was stoned and left for dead on a trash pile

> or when he was run out of town by an angry mob

* It wasn’t over for Jesus when He was rejected by His church

> or when He was not accepted by His community

> or when He was betrayed by His friend

> or when He was crucified by His creation

> or when He was forsaken by His Father

It’s not over for you either

* Just because things aren’t going your way

Romans 8

31 ¶ What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,

39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I promise you,

It ain’t over till it’s over!

And it ain’t over yet!

Soon the trumpet of God will sound

The Eastern clouds will part

The Son of Man will come in the air

The dead who have received Christ will rise to meet Him

We which are alive will be caught up together

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye

This corruptible body shall take on an incorruptible image

This mortal shall put on immortality

Death will be swallowed up in victory

I shall see my Savior face to face

Forever I shall be with my Lord!

Sunday, July 4, 2004

Independence Day

Independence Day


A little history:

I would like to draw your attention to a copy of the Declaration of Independence as signed on July 4th, 1776.

* In June of 1776, after some debate, the Continental Congress impaneled a Committee of Five to draft a declaration of independence.

> The committee members included John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingston and Roger Sherman who elected the fifth member, Thomas Jefferson, as their president, giving him the responsibility to put the first draft together.

* He began on June 11th and the process took 17 days in all.

> The initial draft was reviewed and edited by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin.

* Next it went to the full Committee of Five.

> In total 26 changes were made from Jefferson’s original draft.

* On June 28th, 1776, it was presented to congress.

* On July 1st at 9am Congress was called to order. Serious debate over the issues of independence consumed most of that hot and humid Monday. Three colonies were as yet unconvinced.

* On July 2nd the question of independence was put to vote and unanimously passed by the 12 colonies who voted. The New York delegates were required to abstain from voting.

* It was on July 2, 1776, that the united Colonies of America officially became the united States of America.

* John Adams reasonably expected July 2nd to be the celebrated day. He wrote to his wife Abigail Adams on the 3rd of July:

"The Second Day of July 1776 will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. . . . It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires, and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more." (John Adams to his wife Abigail, July 3, 1776)

* On July 3rd the Committee of Five’s declaration of independence became the focus of Congress. The day grew long with debate and so the discussion adjourned until the morrow.

* Thursday, July 4th, congress made some changes to the manuscript and approved the Declaration of Independence.

> Copies were immediately made and distributed by order of congress.

> On the night of July 4th, John Dunlap is believed to have printed between 200 and 500 broadsides of the Declaration which he gave to congress. Many were sent to friends and family members of the delegates.

* July 6th a copy was presented to the New York Provincial Congress.

> July 9th New York adopted a resolution joining with the 12 other colonies in support of independence.

> July 15th, the resolution from New York was presented to the Continental Congress.

* It was then, and not before, that the document was entitled:

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

Interesting to note:

* Of the 200 to 500 unsigned Broadsides printed by John Dunlap, only 25 are known to be in existence today.

* The original, signed by John Hancock and Charles Thompson on the night of July 4th, 1776, is lost.

* A signed copy delivered to King George III, contrary to popular belief, had only Hancock’s and Thompson’s signature affixed.

* The remaining signers were not published until 1777.

* In 1989, a man browsing a flea market purchased a painting for $4.00. He was interested only in the frame. Concealed in the backing of the frame he found an original Dunlap Broadside of The Declaration of Independence.

* In August of 2000 it was sold at a New York auction for an $8,140,000.00 price.

* After all of the effort, review and edit of the Declaration of Independence, here is a copy of that completed 1776 document.

(Show the document on screen)

At the very top of this document we read:

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

Do you notice anything odd?

* The words “unanimous” and “united” are evidently not the main thoughts here.

Contrary to what some believe:

It was never our independence or our declaration of it that made us great.

In fact, I believe the contrary, it was actually our admitted and much demonstrated dependence which caused us to rise as a nation.

I believe that our Declaration of Independence would better be described as our Declaration of Dependence.

A closer look at the much poured over wording of this great and lasting document will reveal that as we are now, so were our forefathers then: We Are All Dependent On Two Sources

The First Source - God, Creator of the universe, the Supreme Judge of the world and Divine Protector of all things.

Look at these acknowledgements by our forefathers:

(Put the Declaration back on screen & highlight)

* In the first paragraph:

“Nature's God entitle them”

* In the second paragraph:

“endowed by their Creator”

* In the last paragraph:

“appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions”

* And again in the last paragraph:

“with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence”

Here we see our founding fathers acknowledging God and their clear dependence on Divine - Supreme Guidance and Protection.

There was never an intent by the framers of our nation to separate God from our government and its workings.

I told you that there were two sources which our forefathers were dependent on. First was a Holy and Just God, who had a divine plan.

The second source - each another.

Look at their phrase in conclusion. In the last paragraph of the document, dependence on God is mentioned twice, but not forgotten is the dependence we have on each another. The last sentence reads:

* “we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

You see, it is more than just words we commit to. It’s a principle. Our honor and dignity demands that we, made in the image of God, be like unto Him. This leads us to pledge our lives as covenant to the greater causes and higher claims of this world and of that world which is to come.

We Need God and We Need Each Other

Our nation was once unanimous and united. We are no longer.

Today our nation is separated and divided and its people have endeavored to become truly independent of one another. Those not like us, those not for us or those not with us.

Sad to say, the church in America has followed suit.

Imagine what could happen if people were to become truly united and in complete agreement.

Genesis 11:6 "Look!" he said. "If they can accomplish this when they have just begun to take advantage of their common language and political unity, just think of what they will do later. Nothing will be impossible for them! (NLT)

Matthew 18:19 "Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.

20 For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." (NIV)

Psalms 133

1 ¶ Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity!

2 It is like the precious oil upon the head, Running down on the beard, The beard of Aaron, Running down on the edge of his garments.

3 It is like the dew of Hermon, Descending upon the mountains of Zion; For there the LORD commanded the blessing—Life forevermore. (NKJV)

Our greatness as a person, a church, a community or a nation stems from our unity. This is where the blessings of God lie - in unity!

First there must be unity with God

God is the perfect pitch we tune ourselves to.

He won’t change, we must.

Next we must walk together in unity with others.

Others are the ones we play our life out in harmony with.

It doesn’t always have to be our way.

Give a little for the greater cause.

Make your declaration of dependence today.

We need God and We need Each Other.

Happy 4th of July! God Bless America!