Saturday, October 27, 2018

Run Swiftly


It’s not over until God says it’s over. (That’s for someone today …)

2 Thessalonians 3:1 ¶  Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you,

“Just as it is with you …” – What an interesting statement. Allow me to explain this phrase and its meaning.
·        In about the year AD50, the Apostle Paul was 45 years old and he went on his first mission trip to Europe. He came to what is now Greece, specifically to the port city of Philippi on the Aegean Sea. You can read about his time in Philippi in Acts 16.
·        Although Paul was able to lead several people to Christ and birthed a great Church there, things didn’t go so well for him. He was arrested and beaten and put into prison and fastened in stocks and chains.
·        God performed a miracle there and opened the prison doors. Many more people were saved, including the jailer and his whole family.
·        However, Paul ended up being forced to leave the city of Philippi. Being led by the Holy Spirit, he passed through a few towns to get to another large Roman city about 100 miles away called Thessalonica.
·        Acts 17 gives us the account of Paul arriving in Thessalonica.
·        The Bible says Paul spent three Sabbaths trying to persuade those who attended services at the local Synagogue in Thessalonica that Jesus of Nazareth was the promised Messiah. We read in:

Acts 17
4  And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.
5  But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar …

Every indication is that the Apostle Paul spent very little time with the Believers in Thessalonica and yet they became one of the most powerful and influential Churches in Europe. About a year and a half later, about AD 51 or AD 52, the Apostle Paul was in the city of Corinth and he wrote what we now know as 1 Thessalonians. Then, less than a year later, Paul wrote a second letter to the Thessalonian Church. Praise God, we still have both.

In less than three years, with perhaps only three weeks initial investment, the Apostle Paul saw the Church in Thessalonica grow to maturity. He credits them with keeping those first instructions he gave and commends them for allowing the Word of God to do such a quick work in their lives.

That’s what Paul was referring to when he told them to pray that the word of the Lord would run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you. So, with those thoughts in mind, let’s continue.

2 Thessalonians 3 NKJV
1 ¶  Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you,
2  and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith.
3  But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.
4  And we have confidence in the Lord concerning you, both that you do and will do the things we command you.
5  Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ.

What things did the Apostle Paul command the Believers in the Thessalonian Church to do? To find those commands we need to look at the first letter he wrote to them. Let’s go to near the end of that letter …

1 Thessalonians 5
14  Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.
15  See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.
16 ¶  Rejoice always,
17  pray without ceasing,
18  in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
19  Do not quench the Spirit.
20  Do not despise prophecies.
21  Test all things; hold fast what is good.
22  Abstain from every form of evil.

I could write an exhaustive commentary on every admonition in this passage. They are commands from the Apostle Paul inspired by the Holy Spirit and therefore the living Word of God. Suffice it to say, we need to be above the persecutions and threats of unreasonable and wicked men and direct our hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ.

Warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak and be patient with all men.

Do not render evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourself and for everyone else.

Each one of us may have challenges and temptations to be less than patient, loving, kind and merciful. At times we may feel less than gracious, forgiving or hopeful. These moments of temptation may indeed challenge us to call upon the Lord for strength to make it through a trial.

However, it is one thing to be challenged and tempted to fall short of God’s commands concerning how we treat others … but … it is something completely different if these loving qualities of the living God are totally absent from your heart.

·        Perhaps you have never been born again.
·        It’s just possible that the old carnal nature you were born into this world with, still rules your life.
·        Maybe you can’t connect with the love, forgiveness, kindness, mercy or the goodness of God towards others.
·        You may not even feel bad for being, talking or acting ungodly.

These are all signs that you need to be born again.

The child of God has the God-given Spirit of Life and although they may be tempted or challenged to sin, they overcome and, they end each day and every trial:
·        Rejoicing always …
·        Praying without ceasing …
·        Giving thanks for everything, for this is the will of God in Christ …
·        They do not quench the Holy Spirit …
·        They prove all things and hold fast only to that which is good …
·        And, they abstain from every form of evil …

Have you been born again?
        How about your loved ones?
                Your friends?

Friends don’t let friends go to hell …

Pray with me that the Word of the Lord will run swiftly and be glorified in others, just as it is with you …

And … if you are convinced you are born again but you are yet absent the love, mercy, kindness, forgiveness or the common care for others, asks yourself, where did it go?

Have you been wounded; become hard-hearted; are you closed off to the Holy Spirit’s convicting power; are you reprobate and without the ability to feel bad about being bad? If so … there is hope and help for you if you can recognize your need, repent of your hard-heartedness, rededicate your life to Christ through earnest prayer and receive forgiveness and renewal.

1 John 1:9 just might be your only salvation.

Some of you need prayer for yourself  this morning and some of you need to pray for others … the altar is open today for you … won’t you come.



Psalms 147:15  He sends out His command to the earth; His word runs very swiftly.
1 Peter 4:14  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.
1 Thessalonians 1:6  And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit,
1 Thessalonians 4:10  and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more;
1 Thessalonians 5:11  Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.
1 Thessalonians 1:5  For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake.
1 Thessalonians 2:1   For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain.
1 Thessalonians 2:13   For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Wonderful World of Women


Judges 5:25  He asked for water, she gave milk; She brought out cream in a lordly bowl.

Rebecca 2000 BC – Daughter of Bethuel; Wife to Isaac; Mother to Jacob.
·        A hard worker willing to get her hands dirty to help strangers.
Genesis 24: 19  And when she had finished giving him a drink, she said, “I will draw water for your camels also, until they have finished drinking.”

Jael 1300 BC – Wife to Heber the Kenite; Great granddaughter to Jethro.
·        She had a plan and seized her opportunity to destroy her enemies.
Judges 5:25  He asked for water, she gave milk; She brought out cream in a lordly bowl.

Abigail 1000 BC – Former wife of Nabal; Wife to David the King.
·        Made a bold decision to stand in the gap for her family and friends.
1 Samuel 25
24  So she fell at his feet and said: “On me, my lord, on me let this iniquity be! And please let your maidservant speak in your ears, and hear the words of your maidservant.”
28  “Please forgive the trespass of your maidservant. For the LORD will certainly make for my lord an enduring house, because my lord fights the battles of the LORD, and evil is not found in you throughout your days.”

Queen Esther 475 BC – Orphaned girl raised by her cousin Mordechai.
·        Counted the costs and embraced her destiny. Only she could do it …
Esther 4:16  “Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!”

Mary 6 BC – A young girl from the town of Nazareth; Mother of Jesus.
·        Fully committed to the calling of God on her life … impossible faith!
Luke 1:38  Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Long Game


Life is a long game.

Relationships are built one kindness at a time.

Life is made up of simple formulas. Scientists spend their whole life trying to discover the patterns and laws of nature. Yet, these simple truths have been written in the pages of the Bible and are crystal clear, even to a child.

Families endeavor to teach their children right from wrong by instilling a few of the basic values common to mankind.
·        Kindness invokes kindness
·        Unkindness invokes unkindness
·        Kindness can even revoke unkindness

Galatians 6
7  Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 
8  For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.
 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
10  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

The Circle of Life – Things begin and things end

The Cycle of Life – Both good things and bad things happen in life between the beginning and the end

The Secret of Life – The secret of Life is giving

We reap what we sow … thank you for sowing such kindness and care into the lives of so many hurting people along the Gulf coast of Florida. God will not forget your labor of love.

Tonight I need your help packing 101 20-gallon trash cans with$10,000 worth of new tools that we have purchased for the victims of Hurricane Michael in the panhandle of Florida. Make sure you get one item from each of our 20 stations, pack it with love, and take it to our trailer. Thanks!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Together We Can


In the wake of Hurricane Michael which devastated much of the panhandle of Florida on Wednesday of this past week, our Church is responding once again to meet the needs of those who have lost so much. We have a mandate from our Lord Jesus Christ to help those in need.

The entire gulf coast of Texas was hit hard by Hurricane Harvey just over a year ago and we have not fully recovered yet. However, today we are in much better shape than we would have been had so many individuals, organizations and Churches not reached out to us with resources that made the difference. From prayer to provisions, water to generators, food to financial assistance, people from all over America and around the world sent help.

One group of people who worked hard to collect and transport much needed supplies to help southeast Texas communities through our Church was Lighthouse Church in Panama City, Florida, led by Pastor Cole. Although I’ve never met him personally I can testify to his character and concern because of the way he responded to our critical need.

When it became evident that Panama City was in the path of the historic category 4 strength hurricane, Hurricane Michael, this past week, I called Pastor Cole to see how he, his congregation and community was fairing. Later that day he sent me a text with pictures of the Church building where he pastors. He said, “The roof just blew off!”. Later he shared that their second campus looked like a “lumberyard”.

I notified several pastors from around the nation to begin praying for their recovery. Later I met with our Church staff and made several other contacts and decided to push hard to respond with tangible assistance by way of purchasing and transporting some much needed supplies to assist Pastor Cole in helping his congregation and community to dig out and begin with some measure of recovery and rebuilding.

We know what it is like to be in a disaster area with no way to get the things you need to begin the healing process. We know what items will be in abundance and which ones will be so useful and yet in great demand. We understand people want to help but often don’t know what is really needed. We have spent hours unloading trucks hoping to find the tools and supplies we knew we could immediately use.

With these things in mind our staff put together a “Together We Can” campaign and shopped and struggled over just how much and what types of critical tools and supplies we felt were best and could be purchased and packaged for transport and distribution for only $100 per container. The results are represented by what you see in our foyer and on the overhead.

It is my hope that our Church congregation would show our appreciation to the congregation of Lighthouse Church in Panama City for the seeds of compassion they sowed in our lives and communities by raising $5000 this morning above our regular weekly giving to be used to fund 50 of these containers filled with tools. I believe we have enough clout and credibility to raise another $5000 from other pastors, churches and friends to make a total of 100 containers of supplies to help with critical needs immediately.

This Wednesday evening I would like to invite you to participate in packing and stacking the containers we have ready to be transported to Panama City. We will have everything in place by that time. If you want to help with some of the shopping and purchasing and getting ready for our Wednesday night work or if you are willing to be a part of our transport crew, sign up at the information desk and someone will contact you.

Now, let’s get to the message for today entitled, Together We Can!

Matthew 14:19  Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes.

Point 1: This is the only miracle recorded in all four Gospels.

Point 2: Jesus did not feed the 5000.
·        Rather:
o   He Took the fish and loaves
o   He Blessed them by giving thanks to God for the provision
o   Broke them by His own hand as an offering to God
§  Every offering and each sacrifice must be broken, burned, bruised or dead to be accepted by God.
§  From bulls to the fruit of the vine …
§  From the Brazen Altar to Gethsemane …
§  From broken bread to poured out wine …
§  A broken and a contrite spirit the Lord will not despise.
§  This is the divine miracle of multiplication.
§  Jesus was multiplying the resources … He started the miracle He hoped the disciples and others would continue.
§  God breaks hearts, not hopes, not homes and not heads.
o   And He Gave the broken pieces to His disciples and His disciples used them to feed the multitude.
§  Just like Jesus, the bread could not be fully given until it was first truly broken.
§  And neither can we …
·        In each account, Matthew 9; Mark 8; Luke 9; and John 6, Jesus first put the responsibility to feed the multitudes on the shoulders of His disciples … then He gave them the means to do it … and then the disciples fed them.
·        God still sees the hungry multitudes and is asking us what we will do to feed them.
·        God will still make a way for us to do it.

All God needs are some blessed people who are willing to be broken.
·        People like Isaac; Joseph; Ruth; David; Jeremiah; Daniel; Mary; Martha; Zacchaeus; Paul; Martin Luther; Billy Graham; and you …

1.  He will accept you
2.  He will bless you
3.  He will clean up your life
4.  He will make you a blessing to others

God breaks hearts, not hopes, not homes and not heads.
·        God won’t give you cancer – He will give you the answer.
·        God won’t make you sick – He will heal you.
·        God won’t make you poor – He will provide for you.
·        But God will lay the burden of the lost, hurting and hungry on your heart in hopes that it will break … then He will multiply your resources and use your broken heart to feed the world.

Point 3: Together we can!
·        Together we can reach our families.
·        Together we can reach our communities.
·        Together we can reach our nation.
·        Together we can reach the world with the Gospel of Christ.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Choose Life


1 Kings 3 NKJV
16 ¶  Now two women who were harlots came to the king, and stood before him.
17  And one woman said, “O my lord, this woman and I dwell in the same house; and I gave birth while she was in the house.
18  “Then it happened, the third day after I had given birth, that this woman also gave birth. And we were together; no one was with us in the house, except the two of us in the house.
19  “And this woman’s son died in the night, because she lay on him.
20  “So she arose in the middle of the night and took my son from my side, while your maidservant slept, and laid him in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom.
21  “And when I rose in the morning to nurse my son, there he was, dead. But when I had examined him in the morning, indeed, he was not my son whom I had borne.”
22  Then the other woman said, “No! But the living one is my son, and the dead one is your son.” And the first woman said, “No! But the dead one is your son, and the living one is my son.” Thus they spoke before the king.

A few things to note here before we continue.

·        The Bible is not just a history book detailing the lives of others, but it is a roadmap for our lives.
·        In order for us to get the full scope of this account, it must be viewed in light of both context and culture.
o   Try and put yourself in the times and in the place of this story.
o   Look around for the obvious and ask yourself a few questions.
·        How did these two ladies gain audience with the King? Why was he hearing this case?
o   King Solomon was certainly not the first one to hear the testimonies of these two women.
o   Throughout history fair-minded governments have offered avenues of appeal. In this case and culture, going before the  King was the last appeal and his judgement was final.
o   No doubt all eyes were on this case and it was much noted among the politicians and the common folk alike.
o   High profile cases often polarize people and we can well imagine everyone had their own opinion.
o   Without divine intervention, any decision King Solomon made was apt to divide his kingdom and lose much needed support.
·        As well, some scholars have suggested these women weren’t really harlots but rather they were inn keepers or food servers or some more common trade workers. This is simply not the case.
o   First let’s look at the facts:
§  These were two women, both absent of husbands to make or support their case alongside them.
§  They evidently lived together and shared a house together where no one else lived.
§  They had both gotten pregnant within a few days of each other and gave birth alone together in the house.
§  The fact there was no midwife speaks of the state of poverty one might expect from a harlot out of work due to the late stages of pregnancy.
o   Also, we see a parallel between King Solomon’s display of divine wisdom and that of Jesus in the Gospel of John chapter 8. Both the Old and New Testaments tell the same stories.
§  Jesus was confronted by those who had legal right to judge such cases of adultery.
§  The adulterous woman was brought before Jesus as the Supreme Judge.
§  All eyes were on Jesus, just as all eyes were on King Solomon that day.
·        Furthermore, the Hebrew word translated “harlot” in this verse and 82 times in the OT = play the harlot, go a whoring, be a prostitute.
·        Lastly, this is a picture showing that all people, regardless of age, stage or situation of life, deserve a hearing and should be afforded the same protection under the law. This is also the heart of God and a picture of His divine justice for all mankind.
o   Both Jesus and King Solomon heard the case before attempting to render their verdict.
§  Solomon would later write in his book of Proverbs:

Proverbs 18:13  He who answers a matter before he hears it, It is folly and shame to him.

§  We all do well to hear a matter before we answer. Being swift to hear and slow to speak is wisdom in action.
§  What does it hurt to fully hear a matter before we decide on our opinion?
§  Even a fool is thought to be wise when he holds his tongue and reserves judgment. (Proverbs 17:28)

Now, let’s get to the meat of this morning’s word. In verse 23, King Solomon repeated the matter to insure he and all who were listening understood the gravity of the argument.

1 Kings 3
23  And the king said, “The one says, ‘This is my son, who lives, and your son is the dead one’; and the other says, ‘No! But your son is the dead one, and my son is the living one.’ ”
24  Then the king said, “Bring me a sword.” So they brought a sword before the king.
25  And the king said, “Divide the living child in two, and give half to one, and half to the other.”
26  Then the woman whose son was living spoke to the king, for she yearned with compassion for her son; and she said, “O my lord, give her the living child, and by no means kill him!” But the other said, “Let him be neither mine nor yours, but divide him.”
27  So the king answered and said, “Give the first woman the living child, and by no means kill him; she is his mother.”
28  And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had rendered; and they feared the king, for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to administer justice.

This divine judgment caused everyone to see and agree with the King. I wonder what happened to the other woman? Maybe she repented …

Those who call for a sword to divide the baby are heartless and without the love of God. God says, “Mark those who cause division among you.”

You see, this story is not really about the wisdom of Solomon but rather about the love of mother for her child. Love will always choose life.

When your hurt makes you lose perspective and you find yourself wanting to hurt others, don’t’ call for the sword - think again, and choose life!