Sunday, June 26, 2005

An Oasis of Faithfulness

An Oasis of Faithfulness


One of the most moving stories of the bible is the account of the life of Ruth. This story takes place near the latter part of the 12th century BC, when Israel was governed by the Judges whom God would raise up from time to time to deliver His people from their captors and from their sin.

Ruth was a young and evidently beautiful and well mannered girl from the country of Moab. She was not a Jew but rather a descendent of the eldest son of Lot. Moab was born from a drunken incestuous relationship between Lot and his firstborn daughter after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Ruth’s character and commitment, despite her ancestry, served as an oasis of faithfulness in an age marked by selfishness and sin. The once holy people of God had turned themselves over to idolatry and unfaithfulness to the law of God and God needed someone to lead them.

As often is the case, God turns to and chooses an outsider, someone unknown, to magnify and exalt His grace through. God calls greatness from obscurity and works His plans through common people.

The story goes that there was a famine in the land of Israel. So a man from Bethlehem named Elimelech took his wife Naomi and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion and moved to the neighboring country of Moab.

Eventually Elimelech died and Naomi was left with her two sons who later took Moabite women as wives for themselves. One young woman who was named Orpah and the other named Ruth.

After about ten years both Mahlon and Chilion also died leaving the three women alone. Naomi, sad and lonely, decided she would return to her homeland. Both of her widowed daughters-in-law committed to go with her to her people.

“Why should you go with me?” Naomi asked, I have nothing else to offer you. Return to your families and I will return to mine. With this they lifted up their voices and wept again. Here the bible records a verse which has become the basis for many great sermons.

Ruth 1:14 And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her.

Today we still encounter two types of people: Kissers and Cleavers!

As Orpah returned to her family Naomi once again urged Ruth to do likewise. However, Ruth confidently replies:

Ruth 1

16 But Ruth said: "Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God.

17 Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me."

Well, many of you know the rest of the story or you can read it in the bible in the book of Ruth. If you do not have your own bible you can go to our web site at and click on the resources section of our home page which will provide you further access to an online bible.

In brief, Naomi and Ruth returned to Bethlehem in Judah of Israel and there through a series of divine appointments which only God could have orchestrated, Ruth met a distant relative of her mother-in-law’s family who was named Boaz. Because of Ruth’s diligent work and demonstrated faithfulness to the covenant she made with Naomi, Boaz, a man of great means, took special notice of her and ended up asking Ruth to marry him.

Eventually Boaz took Ruth as his wife and even though she had been evidently barren for more than a decade in her first marriage, God now enabled her to conceive and she bore a son named Obed who was the delight of his grandmother. The bible says that Naomi took the child, laid him in her lap and became his nurse.

Obed is the father of Jesse who is the father of David the King, a man after God’s own heart, the leader God wanted for Israel. This means that Ruth is one of the great grandmothers of Jesus, the Messiah.

The story of Ruth reveals many truths. Here are five which are evident principles from God’s word.

#1. Our future is not determined by our past, but by our God.

#2. God does not first have to seek our permission before He alters our course.

#3. What may seem like a surprise to us is actually a plan to God.

#4. Sometimes we have to let go of one thing in order to take hold of another.

#5. If it’s not good, God’s not finished yet.

In other words … “It ain’t over til it’s over.” Give God some more time and space for Him to work His plan.

Today I know that God has a plan for your life … do you? What may seem like chance encounters, the fact that you are listening to this today, these are no coincidences. God is orchestrating His will using your life as a piece to a much greater picture which only He can paint. Your future is not determined by your past, but by your God.

We may as yet be unaware how the things which we are facing could ever be used by God or turned for any good. This is no doubt how Mary the mother of Jesus felt when the Roman guards scourged her Firstborn Son, stripped Him, placed a crown of thorns on His head, spit on Him and mocked Him before leading Him away to be crucified. (Matthew 27:26)

Perhaps Simon the Cyrene felt it unfair to be compelled to carry the cross of this condemned enemy of the state, (Matthew 27:32), but in both cases, God did not need their permission to alter the course of their lives and fit them into His eternal plan.

We must allow God, with His eternal perspective, to write the script of our lives with the pen of His justice and the hand of His grace.

Never adjust your theology to accommodate a tragedy. Life will offer opportunities for us to believe that God is punishing us or has forgotten our plight. Not so! What may seem like punishment for the moment is really positioning for a lifetime. God is good to His children! He is leading you to your highest calling, your greatest day.

In respect to Ruth cleaving to her mother-in-law and letting go of all that was familiar and secure to her I offer this insight. Without letting go of the past, some good, some bad, we can never fully get a firm hold on the future and all of its untapped potential.

Life demands risks - without which no one would ever get married, start a new job, have children or become a witness for the Kingdom of Christ.

Sometimes we have to let go of one thing in order to take hold of another.

And lastly remember, “It ain’t over til it’s over.” And only God decides when it’s over.

Stay in the game, focus on the future and believe that God is not finished telling the story of your life yet!

Won’t you stand.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Avoiding Sin

Avoiding Sin


Sin means to miss the mark and therefore not share in the prize.

As though one were shooting an arrow at a bull’s-eye …

What is the mark?

It is the finish line. To have run our race, finished our course and to have kept the faith.

To complete our life with our character, integrity, morality, honor and grace intact having kept ourselves unpolluted by the world and all its enticements.

1 John 2

15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

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.

17 And the world passes away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abides for ever.

What is the mark? Our mark is God’s goal for our life.

The Apostle Paul wrote:

Philippians 3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

To miss the mark is to sin … to stray off of the path and err from God’s way.

Proverbs 16:25 There is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

To avoid sin is to avoid its consequences.

Sin will take one farther than they expect to go

Sin will keep one longer than they want to stay and

Sin will cost one more than they are willing to pay

Because when we know what to do and we don‘t do it, our sin has become exceedingly sinful. James 4:17 & Romans 7:13

So tonight I wish to share three bible ways to avoid sin and its consequences.

I. Romans 6:6-16 Says that “We are no longer the servants of sin … unless we yield!”

A. We have been made free from sin

B. Sin no longer has dominion over us ... unless ... We Yield!

C. Allow it to have place, grow and take over in our lives.

II. 3 Bible Ways We Can Avoid Yielding To Sin

#1. Confess and Forsake Your Sin

Proverbs 28:13 He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.

a. 1John 1:9 If we confess our sins He will cleanse us

b. James 5:16 Confess one to another … and be healed

c. John 3:19-21 Bring darkness to light and darkness will flee

d. 2 Timothy 2:25-26 Acknowledging truth is a necessary first step to recovery

e. Hebrews 12:1 If we want to run the race of life successfully we must lay aside the sins which detour us in the face of the great cloud of witnesses who offer us their testimony in scripture.

#2. Flee!

a. Run away from sin and its enticements.

1Corinthians 6

18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.

19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;

20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

b. There are just some things one needs to flee from. Wake yourself, shake yourself and run!

#3. Dont Travel The Highways of Sin

a. Speaking of the harlot who seduces a man to sin, the bible says: dont wander in her paths (dont go down the road she lives on, walks on or occupies)

Proverbs 7:25 Dont fool around with a woman like that; dont even stroll through her neighborhood. (The Message)

b. Romans 13:14 Make no provision for the flesh …

c. Matthew 7:13-14 Walk the straight and narrow way …

d. Proverbs 6:23-28 Dont think you will not be affected by fooling around with sin.

“Can a man take fire into his own bosom and not be burned?”

e. James 1:2 Count it all joy when you fall into temptation

f. Matthew 26:41 Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation

g. James 1:13-15 The cycle of sin

* Enticement

* Conception

* Sin

* Death

Note: The devil may tempt us with many things to see what tempts us. He tried this with Jesus in Luke 4 but could not find any area of His life that was not covered by the Word of God.

Hebrews 4:15 says that in all points Jesus was tempted like as we are yet He was without sin.

Don’t forget to Cover yourself with the Word of God in prayer.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

The Pattern Life

The Pattern Life


Key Scripture: 1 Corinthians 11:1 ¶ Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. (NKJV)

(NIV) Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

Our text for today comes from:

John 11:35 Jesus wept.

What conclusions can we draw from this scripture?

Jesus had friends

Life long friends - Friends He cared about.

Took time to build and maintain these friendships

Time just hanging out together, eating, fellowshipping etc.

Different than His disciples, followers, family & others

Jesus valued His friendships and they affected His life.

Jesus was not afraid to show His human frailty

He allowed Himself to feel and expressed His feelings

He knew life and death from the eternal perspective …

But also from the temporal earthly perspective

He was sad and at a loss

He was hurt and missed His friend

He cried when His friends cried and when they died

Honest emotional expression can be cathartic to everyone

Sometimes we need to just open up and be honest with our emotions and not be afraid to show our human side

When Jesus was burdened, He talked to God

“Father, I thank You that You have heard me” John 11:41

The Apostle Paul said:

1 Corinthians 11:1 ¶ Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. (NKJV)

Did the Apostle Paul follow Jesus’ example?

#1: Did Paul make friendships a priority?

At Ephesus, when Paul was about to get into deep trouble … he ended up listening to his friends who gave Paul sound counsel …

Acts 19

30 Paul wanted to appear before the crowd, but the disciples would not let him.

31 Even some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, sent him a message begging him not to venture into the theatre.

When Paul was a prisoner, bound and on his way to Rome:

Acts 27:3 The next day we landed at Sidon; and Julius, in kindness to Paul, allowed him to go to his friends so they might provide for his needs.

#2: Did Paul ever let others see his human side?

Although Paul certainly was spiritual, he was real, touchable and human. He did not feel that he always had to act super-human.

If Jesus was tempted in all manner like as we are, then it is certain that Paul was tempted too and so will we be … the feat is to not allow our humanity to become carnality and lead us into sin.

Paul revealed his human side to all of us when he identified with the common struggle to resist sin.

Romans 7

24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin? (NLT)

15 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. (NRSV)

18 I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

19 For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to dothis I keep on doing. (NIV)

The Apostle Paul continues to express the frustration with his humanity and its wrestle with the pleasures of sin.

In this he says:

24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?

25 Thanks be to Godthrough Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to Gods law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. (NIV)

Paul identified with the struggles which humans face in life’s daily challenges. Paul also wrestled with temptations of the flesh and mind.

Continuing in Chapter 8 of the book of Romans, Paul gives the remedy which frees mankind from the law of sin and death - it is:

Christ Mindedness!

Having our minds filled with the words and praises of Christ, keeping spiritual things our focus and our continual diet.

Like Jesus, Paul was honestly expressive concerning the frailties of his humanity.

#3: Did Paul talk to God when he was burdened?

Acts 16:25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.

The Apostle Paul said:

1 Corinthians 11:1 ¶ Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (NIV)

#1: We too need friends.

For this we must show ourselves friendly. Proverbs 18:24

A friend loves at all times. Proverbs 17:17

Even God has friends:

Abraham was a friend of God … James 2:23

Enoch was God’s friend … Hebrews 11:5

The best friend you will ever have is Jesus!

John 15:15 Jesus called us friends

John 15:14 You are My friends if you do what I ask.

#2: We need to value the expression of our human feelings

We need not try to appear super spiritual with never a temptation, never a trial, never a burden, never a need.

We know that God always gives victory and triumph to those who walk in His ways - but what overcoming testimony does one have if we appear to never have had a trial or test in life.

All have sinned … everyone has turned to his own way … the victory is in Christ not in us, but in Christ in us, this is the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27

#3: When we are burdened, we need to talk to God

A part of the remedy of Romans 8 which the Apostle Paul delivered to us is prayer.

When Jesus’ friend Lazarus died, Jesus spoke to His Father God … He groaned in the Spirit … read it in:

John 11:33 ¶ Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled.

We also have this grace of spirit to reach God without words:

Romans 8:26 ¶ Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

Conclusion: Ephesians 5:1 ¶ Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

Five Lessons Of Life


Opening Scripture: Ecclesiastes 10:19 A feast is made for laughter, and wine makes life merry, but money is the answer for everything. (NIV)

I. Life Lesson #1 is found in:

Ecclesiastes 10:20 Do not revile the king even in your thoughts, or curse the rich in your bedroom, because a bird of the air may carry your words, and a bird on the wing may report what you say.

What We Say Will Be Said

We should not put too much emphasis on what others say about us.

Ecclesiastes 7

21 Do not pay attention to every word people say, or you may hear your servant cursing you

22 for you know in your heart that many times you yourself have cursed others.

II. What We Do Will Be Found Out

A. Luke 12

2 There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.

3 What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.

Dont be a hypocrite; There is nothing covered that shall not be uncovered; What is spoken in secret shall be proclaimed in public

B. 1 Timothy 5

24 The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them.

25 In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not cannot be hidden.

III. What We Believe Will Be Tested

A. Mark 4:17 Test arise for the words sake

B. Genesis 3:1 “Hath God said?”

C. We cannot afford to change our theology to accommodate a tragedy.

IV. What We Compromise To Keep We Will Lose

A. We Must Lose Our Life To Christ In Order To Save It

1. Matthew 16

25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.

26 What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?

2. Mark 8:35 and Luke 9:24 say the same thing

B. 1Samuel 15:22-23 “To obey is better than sacrifice”

V. It Will Take Courage To Keep Going Forward

A. Job

B. 1Samuel 30:6 And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.

Our Success Will Be Directly Dependent On Our Ability To

* Play By The Rules (The principles and guidelines of life)

* Endure The Process