Sunday, April 29, 2018

A Decade to Remember


Micah 6:8  He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?

Do you remember what you were doing in 2008? America elected Barack Obama as President; the 750 Billion Dollar Bailout; and OJ Simpson went to jail. How old were you in 2008? Where did you live; where did you work?

Sometimes 10 years ago seems like so long ago and sometimes it seems like only yesterday. If you already have grown children, you know that 10 years can go by so quickly. One sobering thought is the realization that The next ten years will not be one second longer than the last 10 years.

A lot can happen in a decade. Take for example the 10 years between Paul’s first visit to Philippi in AD51 and 10 years later in AD61 when Paul is sitting in a Roman prison and thinks to write a letter to his friends in the Church in Philippi.

In AD 51, Paul was about 46 years old. He had been a Believer in Jesus as Messiah for almost 20 years. Acts 16 gives us the account of Paul having received a vision from heaven where he saw a man saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us …”. Paul accepted the challenge and set sail from Turkey across the narrow gap of the upper Aegean Sea and came to the first small city in Greece known as Philippi.

Young Timothy had recently joined Paul and Silas and was on his first missionary journey. You can bet he was in for a few surprises. When Paul and his team arrived in Philippi, they found that the city had no synagogue. Rather the Jewish population along with those Gentiles who had converted to the worship of Jehovah gathered out of town by a river for Sabbath prayers. So, on that next Sabbath, Paul went to meet with them.

These missionary believers must have arrived at the place of prayer a bit early that Sabbath because there were only a few women present and so Paul began to talk with them. The Bible tells us that one of those ladies was called Lydia. She was a foreign business woman from Thyatira. In those days foreigners were identified and often called by the name of the place they were from.

Lydia was a Province, like a State, in what is now modern-day Turkey. The city of Thyatira is in the Province of Lydia. Thyatira was well known for its beautiful cloth which was dyed purple, a royal color, which was in high demand throughout the Roman Empire.

After Paul spoke with the ladies who were waiting for prayers to be made by the river, Lydia believed his message about Jesus being the Messiah and she was born again. Lydia must have been a fairly well-to-do business woman since afterwards she invited Paul and Silas and Timothy to lodge with her in her home. Thus, began Paul’s first visit to Europe in AD51.

As Paul went to prayer over the next few days:
·        There was a fortune teller with an unholy spirit
·        Paul cast the devil out of that fortune teller
·        For that, Paul and Silas were arrested
·        Then they were beaten with rods
·        Thrown into the dungeon
·        And their feet were fastened in stocks
·        In the midnight hour they began to pray and sing praises to the Lord
·        God sent an earthquake and opened all the prison doors
·        Every prisoner’s chains miraculously unlocked and fell to the ground
·        The jailer feared and was hopelessly suicidal
·        Paul stopped him, and he exclaimed, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
·        Paul replied, “Believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and you and your whole household will be saved!”
·        He did, and he was …
·        The City officials apologize for beating Paul and Silas and released them
·        They went back to Lydia’s house
·        And then they were off on another Kingdom adventure to share the Gospel with everyone they met in every city …

Ten Years Later: AD61/62
·        The Church in Philippi had grown and had done well for a decade
·        There were now many Believers in Christ in Philippi
·        And the Church had ordained Bishops and Deacons
·        The Church at Philippi was a mission Church to their own city and throughout the region
·        However, Paul was now in prison in Rome threatened with death
·        Nero’s debauchery was well known throughout the Roman empire
·        Paul decides to write a letter to the people in the Church in Philippi
·        The Philippian Believers weren’t dissuaded by Paul’s imprisonment in Rome. Perhaps many of them first met him when he was in jail in Philippi. Maybe they had been:
o   His jailers
o   The ones who arrested him
o   Perhaps they were the city councilmen who apologized
o   Or the men who beaten him and Silas with rods
o   They could have even been fellow prisoners who were set free that night by the earthquake …
·        At any rate, they are not ashamed of the one who brought the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them. They knew Paul had endured such hardship so that they could hear and be saved.
·        Now, after ten years, they understood what they owed this Apostle

A lot can happen in a decade …

Ten years will come and go so quickly. What can you imagine will happen over the next decade? Paul saw what he prayed and longed for come to pass. He said he had no greater joy than to see those whom he led to Christ were still living for Christ. Paul was an evident success.

These are things that happen when individuals and families, communities and nations are exposed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Things change! And as a result of the witness of Paul to people like Lydia and the jailer, Churches sprang up all across the Roman Empire and turned the world upside down. By the year 300AD, Christianity conquered the whole empire.

Like Paul and Lydia and those early Believers in Philippi, you too will write the next ten years of your life by the decisions you make today. You can write anything you wish. What do you want others to believe about your next 10 years? Will you live for Christ? Begin writing your future right now.

While Paul was in prison in Rome, he wrote a letter to encourage the Church in Philippi. He told them about His commitment to Christ. His letter encourages me as well. Because of his example I also want you to know:

1.  I am confident that God will continue His work in your lives until He completes it on that final day.

Philippians 1
1 ¶  Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
2  Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 ¶  I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,
4  always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy,
5  for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now,
6  being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

You too should be confident that God will continue to work on your family, friends, co-workers and even on your enemies to bring them to salvation in Christ. Never lose hope …

2.  I am committed to seeing every trial I face as an opportunity to witness for Christ.

Philippians 1
12 ¶  But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel,
13  so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ;
14  and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

You should also be committed to seeing every problem as another opportunity to please God and be a good witness for Christ.

25 years ago Moses Vegh, a true father in the Lord, encouraged me to never complain about the pressures that pushed me deeper into Christ.
After all, A diamond is nothing but an old piece of coal that made good under pressure. Never lose heart …

3.  I am convinced that nothing shall ever separate me from my salvation.

Philippians 1
19  For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
20  according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.
21 ¶  For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

A decade will come and go anyway … and it will go by so quickly. Do you remember 2008? My hope is that when 2028 comes, and it will, you’ll look back and remember the challenge I gave you in 2018.

Live for Christ! Live confident, committed and convinced.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Home Improvement Series - Part 4 Building Better Finances


Proverbs 9:1  Wisdom has built her house, She has hewn out her seven pillars…

·        Money problems are most often not math problems but behavior problems.

There are two common ways to increase finances:
1.   Work for your money
2.   Let your money work for you
Luke 16:13  “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

·        What you do with a little is what you will do with much.

Jesus talked about two types of riches.
1.  Uncertain Riches
1 Timothy 6:17  Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.

Proverbs 23:5  Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; They fly away like an eagle toward heaven.

2.  True Riches
Luke 16:11  “Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?”

Jesus told the young rich ruler that if he would participate in the Kingdom with his finances then Jesus would participate in the man’s finances with His Kingdom. As a result of this partnership, the young rich ruler would gain treasure in heaven. This is a guaranteed return on the investment.

·        Take what you have, start where you are, and do the best you can.

Our text for this lesson on Building Better Finances comes from:

Ecclesiastes 10 NLT
18  Laziness leads to a sagging roof; idleness leads to a leaky house.
19  A party gives laughter, wine gives happiness, and money gives everything!
Ecclesiastes 11 NLT
1 ¶   Send your grain across the seas, and in time, profits will flow back to you.
2  But divide your investments among many places, for you do not know what risks might lie ahead.
4  Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest.
6  Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another — or maybe both.

It is God’s hope that we will all:
·        Make a living
·        Make a life
·        Make a difference

Life is not about getting … Rather life is all about getting to give.

1 Timothy 6:10  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

7 Pillars upon which to build better finances. These 7 pillars should be working together in our lives in order and in balance, without one dominating the others. Without these 7 things I cannot see the Word guaranteeing true riches to the Believer. As well, keep in mind that a man’s wealth does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.

1.  Work
2 Thessalonians 3:10  For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.

If a man does not provide for his own family, he has denied the faith …

2.  Tithe
Proverbs 3
9  Honor the LORD with your possessions, And with the firstfruits of all your increase;
10  So your barns will be filled with plenty, And your vats will overflow with new wine.

Malachi 3
10  Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the LORD of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it.
11  “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,” Says the LORD of hosts;
12  “And all nations will call you blessed, For you will be a delightful land,” Says the LORD of hosts.

It is important to sanctify our increase and our possessions by honoring the Lord. This insures we are not serving money nor trusting in uncertain riches which can pierce us through with sorrows and then take wings and fly away. Tithing honors God and sanctifies our money.

3.  Give (Tithing and Giving are not the same)
Luke 6:38  “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

Proverbs 11:25  The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself.

·        God gives us bread and seeds … plant the seeds!
·        We give to meet needs; sow seeds; and follow the lead of the Holy Spirit.

4.  Pay Bills
2 Kings 4:7  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.”

·        Most often the quickest way to get a raise it to cut a bill.
·        The reason why you can’t buy what you want is because you bought what you wanted.

5.  Save
Proverbs 13:22  A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, But the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.

·        God will bless your storehouse only if you have a storehouse.

6.  Invest 
Ecclesiastes 11:2  But divide your investments among many places, for you do not know what risks might lie ahead.

True riches are gained by investing in eternity. We make eternal investments when we participate in God’s Kingdom plan and when we give to the poor. He counts it as a loan which He has guaranteed to repay.

Proverbs 19:17  He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD, And He will pay back what he has given.

7.  Spend
Ecclesiastes 3:13  And also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor — it is the gift of God.

·        One problem with money is that a dollar only spends once.

Ecclesiastes 5:19  As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor — this is the gift of God.

In conclusion, there are several things we can do to positively affect the accumulation and the management of our financial wealth. Along the way it is important to remember the principles we shared this evening. And also remember:

Proverbs 21:5  The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, But those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Our God


What do you do:
·        When the future scares you
·        When others are in danger
·        When you just don’t know what to do

Hebrews 11 NKJV
1 ¶  Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
2  For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.
3  By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.
4 ¶  By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.
5  By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him”; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
6  But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
7  By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.
8  By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
9  By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise;
10  for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

Verse 8“By faith Abraham, when he was called, he went out, not knowing where he was going.”

This passage points to the Old Testament story of Abraham as being a glimpse of a New Testament reality. All of the accounts we read in the Bible are meant to be more than history lessons about the Patriarchs of our faith, these testimonies were written, preserved and given to us as a spiritual guide for our lives. This passage is all about you and God today.

Hebrews 11 details the unfolding of the Gospel through the lives of men and women chosen by God to be the forerunners of our faith in God and in His Son, Jesus the Christ. We call it the faith chapter …

Hebrews 11:1  Now faith is our …
1.   Substance of the hope we have in Christ
2.   Evidence of the unseen eternal realm of God
3.   Good testimony we have obtained
4.   Confidence of things we cannot humanly understand

Those things which are impossible with man are possible with God.

Let’s take a look at the first 7 things the writer of Hebrews wants us to know about God and the unfolding Gospel in this chapter on faith.
1.  God is the God of creation v. 3
2.  God is an accepting and a forgiving God v.4
3.  God is a friendly God Who enjoys relationship with us v.5
4.  God is a God who rewards those who seek Him v.6
5.  God is a redemptive God Who saves the righteous from destruction v.7
6.  God is God of the unknown v.8
o   He is God in life
o   He is God in death
o   He is God in sickness
o   He is God in health
o   He is God in prosperity
o   He is God in need
o   He is God in the beginning
o   He is God in the end
o   He is the God of all we know
o   He is the God of all we cannot understand
7.   God is the God of your future vs. 9&10

He is not only the God of the Future, He is the God of my future and He is the God of your future.

·        What do we do when the future scares us?
·        What do we do when others we care about are in danger?
·        What do we do when we just don’t know what to do?

We trust God … He is still God in the unknown …


Perhaps you are in a place where your faith has been tested. Maybe you have unanswered questions or future uncertainties … what will you do?

·        Who will you marry?
·        Where will you live?
·        What job will you get?
·        When will help arrive?
·        Why are things so hard?

Hebrews 11 contains testimonies of men and women just like you. Ordinary, everyday people who were begin tested by life. These decided to trust God in trying times … even with the unknown.

God created the whole universe and then He created you …

He accepts us and forgives us even when we aren’t perfect …

He wants to have a relationship with you …

He will answer and guide you if you will get serious and seek Him with all your heart.

He is a God Who saves, and He will save you from destruction …

He has your unknown concerns already worked out for your good …

He is the God of your future and your greatest day is yet ahead!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Home Improvement Series – Part 3 Building Better Marriages


We simply do not know how God feels about some things. For example: Is God pro Dallas Cowboys or does He prefer Pepsi to Coca-Cola or any number of opinion driven concerns.

We don’t know what we don’t know but we do know what we do know. God has not left us without witness or without instructions for the greater things of life. And, when it comes to building better marriages, God’s Word is the most valuable instruction book in the universe.

God knows marriage. He invented it; created it; instigated it; formed it; sanctioned it; thought it up; or whatever you wish to call it, first. Marriage only exist because God saw it was best from the beginning. The original marriage is a pattern God intended to give us to follow.

Marriage cannot be relegated to the political or opinion driven arenas. We see a lot of opinions dominating the news from time to time which oppose the original pattern of marriage however, God has not given us any indication that He has changed His mind about this union. Without getting bogged down in the defense of marriage, allow me to set the stage concerning this covenant as we see and understand it through the eyes of God.

First and foremost, we understand that God is pro-marriage. The Bible is clear that not every person will or should be married. However, God’s general intent for man and woman is that they be married, have children, teach them to follow the Lord and continue to populate the earth.

God hates when a marriage ends in divorce. He hates to see a covenant destroyed and relationships end because of the hurt and pain it adds to so many lives. God knows how it feels since He has been divorced twice Himself. God counts Himself as a divorcee Who had to put His wife away because of her adulterous affairs. He can empathize with anyone who has experienced failed covenants.

Perhaps this is the main reason why God has given so much attention to and such clear instructions to help His children build better marriages.

Let’s look at the top 7 pillars from God’s Word which will provide strength for your marriage. Remember, these are things you can use to work on yourself or things which you and your spouse can work on together. These are not things which solely apply to your spouse or things about which you are supposed to judge or criticize your spouse.

1.  A Personal Commitment to God and His Word.
a.   God’s Word should always have final say in your life.
b.   Always listen to, support and submit to the whole counsel of the Bible.

Joshua 1:8  This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

c.   We all need someone in our marriage who can correct us when we need it. With no one to straighten us out, we often fall prey to emotional issues, opinion driven arguments, fears & feelings.

2.  A Personal Commitment to Covenant
a.   God puts people together in a relationship first for what they can give, not for what they can get.
b.   Covenant means “your good at my expense”.
c.   You can’t stop obeying the Word of God just because someone else does.

Matthew 19:6  “So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”

3.  A Personal Commitment to the Roles, Rules, Rights and Responsibilities of Marriage.

Ephesians 5
32  This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
33  Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

a.   Roles – We are different … Ephesians 5:22-33
b.   Rules – 1 Peter 3:1-7
                                         i.    Won without the Word – beholding the attitude and behavior (of the spouse)
                                        ii.    Dwell with understanding as heirs together …
c.   Rights – 1 Corinthians 7:1-5
                                         i.    Over her/his body
                                        ii.    Inheritance/Assets (God is a common law God …)
d.   Responsibilities – Primary God-given …
                                         i.    Provider – 1 Timothy 5:8
                                        ii.    Homemaker – Titus 2:3-5

4.  Communication – The message sent is the message received.

a.   Seek to understand before you seek to be understood …

James 1:19  So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to get angry.

5.  Forgiveness

Ephesians 4:32  And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.

6.  Money 
a.   It’s not how much you make but how you spend what you make that matters.
b.   Disagreements can divide and destroy relationships
c.   Discuss and Decide on a Spending Plan

Proverbs 3:9  Honor the LORD with your possessions, And with the firstfruits of all your increase;

7.  Family and Friends
a.   Leave and cleave – Genesis 2:24
b.   Honor and respect – Ephesians 6:2
c.   Establish friendship boundaries – 1 Corinthians 15:33
d.   Protect family time

Proverbs 27:17  As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.