Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Truly

gtcotr/ws061224

God often hands us something He knows will help us.

He guides us in the way we should go.

God makes sense, to anyone, anywhere … He speaks everyone’s language.

As for me, when I was a young man, God gave me what I needed and positioned me in a place of His choosing so that I would find Him and get to know Him. He gave me time and set me up to see Him in the things around me.

Right now God is not one bit interested in punishing you for your past sins. He is not thinking of ways to punish you but rather He has calculated ways to position you. God is positioning you to see Him, hear Him, get to know Him, and experience Him in your life.

God has firm plans to get your attention and change your life for His glory.

As I said: God often hands us something He knows will help us. He paces us according to His lesson plan for our lives.

When God dropped in me a passion to study His Word, He also provided me with a King James Bible and a big blue hard cover Strong’s Concordance. These were perfect for where I was and how God wanted me to discover a solid rock foundation for my life at that time. For more than 45 years I have preached, counseled, did mission work, and lived my life standing on that same solid rock I first discovered for myself from the study of God’s Word. Nothing takes the place of personal Bible study.

This evening I am going to share two foundation stones I discovered from God’s Word upon which I still stand today. I will be reading them from the King James Version. The first is from the book of Numbers, chapter 14.

Numbers 14:21  But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.

The truth that overshadows every event on planet earth, in every generation, from the Ming Dynasty to the Roman Empire, and from Noah’s Ark to the 2024 elections in the US, Israel, and Great Britain, is that all the earth shall be filled with the glory of God.

Isaiah 45:23  I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.

Romans 14:11  For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

Job 19 KJV

25  For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:

26  And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:

This truth has kept me focused on the goal and knowing that if it is bad, God is not finished yet.

The second stone in the solid rock foundation stone of my life and ministry comes a few verses later when God makes another firm declaration.

Numbers 14:28  Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the LORD, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you:

The voice of my faith-filled confession gives me the opportunity and the ability to forecast my future and prophesy my victory in Christ. I refuse to believe the devil and his propaganda. The Lord is my Shepherd, and I shall not want. God is easily touched with the feelings of my infirmities. He will never leave me or forsake me. No weapon formed against me shall prevail. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, and nothing shall separate me from the Love of Christ for I am more than a conqueror.

And I won’t ever forget it or stop declaring it.

Cursing the darkness does not equal lighting a lamp. Why so downcast o my soul, put your hope in God. I would have fainted had not I believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Look up, lift up your head, your redemption draweth nigh!

Ask God to give you a passionate desire to study His Word and to personally discover the solid rock foundation upon which you may build your life. Nothing takes the place of a personal relationship with God through:

·        His Word

·        Prayer

·        Worship

·        Gathering together with other Believers

All the things the first Church did to preserve the doctrine for us and future generations.

God had handed you something He knows will help you.

Saturday, June 8, 2024

Unshakable

 Gtcotr/ss060924

1 Corinthians 15:58 ¶  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

For my 50th birthday I went to Pamplona, Spain, and ran with the bulls in the San Fermin Festival that year.

The festival lasts for 7 days and those who come to run choose how many days they want to run. You have to get up before daylight and get in the crowd to claim the spot where you want to encounter the bulls along their route. There are three cannons that mark the morning. The first one signals the runners to find their spot. The second cannon signals the release of the bulls and the third cannon signals when all the bulls are safely in the ring and the streets can be opened to the public again.


There were thousands of people dressed up and ready to run each morning. The first morning I ran a short portion at the beginning of the route until the bulls passed me. Once all 10 bulls pass, big wooden gates are closed to keep the runners from continuing to chase the bulls and to keep the bulls from turning back on an unsuspecting crowd.

I was a little disappointed with my first run since I didn’t get to follow the bulls all the way to the city center and into the bull ring. Only those who get into the bull ring with the bulls are allowed to play with the 5 fresh young bulls they let out into the ring. Chasing and being chased by the bulls always looked like such fun on TV. But that morning I wasn’t allowed into the ring because the bulls all passed me up quickly.

So, the second day I was better prepared. I claimed my spot early.

And when the first cannon went off, I took off. There were a couple of thousand runners, and I felt like I was in the race of my life. I thought to myself … I’m over 50 years old and this may be the last real race I’m ever going to run. I’m going to give it all I’ve got. I was in fair shape but to my credit, I was probably one of the few runners who wasn’t recovering from a hangover that morning.

As we stretched the run out and approached that famous curve just before the long ‘locked in’ corridor where people are often caught by the bulls and have nowhere to take cover, I was already in the lead.

The course was paved with stones and wet, but I was determined. I wanted to make it all the way to the bullfighting arena and so I pushed myself. The route is lined with shops and people watching from balconies and I stayed out in front all the way up the hill, around the statue of Earnest Hemmingway, and down through the narrow tunnel and into the arena. I made it … I was the first one of hundreds that came gushing through the gate behind me.

The whole arena was filled with cheering people. As people continued pouring in, I made my victory lap, clinching my fists and raising my hands, jogging around the large arena where the thousands sat yelling and chanting. They were even throwing things out into the arena as I ran by their sections.

After a minute it began to feel and seem a bit odd. They were all chanting the same thing in unison. And the things they were throwing were cans and trash and half-eaten fruit. When I looked up at the crowd, they seemed angry and what they were saying wasn’t my idea of praise.

I circled more towards the center of the ring and away from the seats and stopped to ask a guy what they were saying. He told me the crowd was calling me the son of a whore because I was the biggest chicken of the day. He said that I had made it all the way to the bullfighting arena before they had even let the bulls go.

It was about that point that I heard the second cannon go off, signaling the release of the bulls way back at the beginning of the run. I had been so focused and ran so fast that I made it all the way to the end before the bulls were even let out. The crowd was not congratulating me, they were cursing me … making fun of me … belittling me … calling me names … and for a moment, I felt their shame was deserved and I wanted to hide. I took my top shirt off hoping no one would recognize me and blended in the crowd before going to meet the bulls who were about to arrive.

You don’t have to be what other people believe you are.

I found myself trying to prove to myself that I wasn’t what others thought I was. I felt like I needed to redeem myself, if for no one else, at least for me. While I was dodging the bulls and trying to help those who were tripping and in danger of being gored, I believe God spoke to me.

I came away from the day with two new truths I still rehearse today.

1.   Not one of the people shaming me while sitting in the safety of their seats were out in the streets or down in that arena with the bulls.

a.   It’s fairly easy to judge and criticize the quarterback when you’re sitting at home in your recliner on a Sunday afternoon.

b.   What are you doing besides complaining?

2.   I won the race I was running.

a.   No one else knows the race you are running.

b.   I had no responsibility to run the race they thought I should run. I was running my race, for my reasons … and I won.

Why allow someone else’s stupidity to set the mark of your success?

Don’t let someone else decide who you are.

Hebrews 12 NKJV

1 ¶  Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

2  looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

3  For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.

28  Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.

29  For our God is a consuming fire.

God says:

·        You are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.

·        You have received a kingdom which cannot be shaken.

·        God will have the final say.

·        Run your race with endurance.

·        Be unshakable, immoveable, and full of grace.

How can you be unshakable?

1.   Commit your life to Jesus Christ.

2.   Lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares you.

Faith Supplements Part V: Perseverance

Review:

We are continuing our series called Faith Supplements. We are going through the 7 spiritual ingredients listed out in 2 Peter 1 that help form a godly life. Whether it be vitamins, minerals, herbs, etc, supplements are so important. They help maintain and even increase our overall nutrition in areas we might be lacking.Supplements help provide a boost to our overall health. 

 

Similarly, our spiritual health is just as important. Like vitamins, there are spiritual supplements that we can take everyday to help boost our faith, spiritual walk. In part one, we discussed the responsibility we have to maintain our relationship with God.


God has given us everything we need in order to build a godly life
Godly Life = to be pleased with God and to be pleasing to God
God gives us the desire and the ability to do what pleases Him
Everything we need to build a godly life is found in His Word
They are His great and precious promises given to us
By which we have access to the divine nature
And help us escape corruption from our evil desires

 

Virtue

Peter says to make every effort = make the necessary adjustments
Supplement your faith = add to your faith
Virtue = The courage to do the right thing in every situation
Culture and society do not determine the right thing.
The right thing is that which God has commanded in His Word
Only God establishes truth
Virtue is doing the right thing, according to His Word, even when nobody else is
We all need convictions. Without convictions, we can be talked into doing anything.
We need godly convictions- they give us the courage to do what is right in all situations
Like Daniel, we must have godly convictions so that we too can have the courage to do what is right even when it gets difficult.

 

Knowledge

On top of virtue, the Bible encourages us to add knowledge
Knowledge = Truth acquired from Gods Word
Knowing what is right in Gods eyes
The spiritual battle we are in is all about truth; God wants to get truth into the hands of everyone. The devil wants to deceive as many people from the truth as possible.
When we know the truth, it sets us free. Therefore, we need knowledge of the truth.
Knowledge of the truth informs us of what truly matters

 

Self-Control

On top of Knowledge, we are encouraged to add self-control
Self-Control = The ability to do the right thing in the moment of temptation
Mastery over desires; dominion within
There is a battle for self-control in our life
The devil is working overtime to gain control over your life. He wants to have dominion.
He is using the things of this world to entice the desires of your flesh to giving in to temptation. When we do that, we concede control in that area of our life over to the devil.
He wants to remove control, while God wants to produce self-control in our life. That only happens when we choose to trust Him with the reigns of our life.
Let us live by the spirit, think before we act, ask the Holy Spirit to helps us, and then choose to do the right thing. 
Doing so will allow us to walk with self-control in our life.

—————————————————————————————————

 

That brings us to our spiritual supplement for today.

 

Did you know that there are 21 million American adults that struggle with depression in some way, form or fashion. That is approximately 8.3% of the total adult population. Depression is often characterized with a feeling of hopelessness. It can leave you feeling like there is no purpose, making you want to quit in many areas of life.

 

Did you also know that there are supplements available to help with depression? There are specific vitamins that are needed for the production of neurotransmitters, which are brain chemicals that control mood and brain function. Being deficient in any of these vitamins can disrupt serotonin and dopamine, which promote feelings of calmness and happiness. Deficiency in vitamins can also disrupt melatonin which are needed for sleep. Deficiencies in vitamins B, C, and D can increase the risk of depression.

 

Just as there are supplements for the feeling of wanting to give up, there is also a spiritual supplement for a similar reality when it comes to our faith.

 

There are times in our spiritual walk when we feel like giving up. There are times when we get tired of standing strong through trials, gathering together with other believers, or fighting the good fight of faith.

 

The good news is that there is a spiritual supplement for that; it is called perseverance.

 

2 Peter 1:5-6

5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance…”

 

We all like shortcuts. We live in a society that sells and promotes making things easier; especially my generation.

Microwaves
Drive throughs
Longer phone charging cables
Food delivery
Grocery delivery
Lawn mowing service
Etc

 

We like things that make life easier. We are willing to pay money to skip the things we dont have time or just dont want to do. We love shortcuts. We love convenience. We love life hacks.

 

However, in the Christian life, there are no shortcuts. There is no convenience when it comes to our Christian walk. There are no life hacks that can make walking out faith easier. There is only one road when it comes to the christian faith and it requires perseverance.

 

At the end of the day, we have to choose between convenience and the cross. The Christian life is not convenient. Jesus did not promise us that things will be easy.

 

Much of our lives are dominated by convenience. The mantra of my generation is easy is good, easiest is best.” 

 

We are willing to pay more money for more convenience. However, the problem with convenience that it cuts out the hard work and struggle that is necessary to make one battle-tested.

 

Someone who is battle-tested is someone who is proven. Someone who is battle-tested is someone who knows what it takes to be victorious, to overcome.

 

You dont become a champion by merely reading books. You dont become successful by simply watching Youtube videos. You dont become an overcomer by asking Google. You dont become great by doing something just a couple of times.

 

There is only one road you can take in order to be successful, and that road involves struggle, hardship, and difficulty. You have to go through hardship, you have to work though struggle, you have walk through difficulty.

 

There is a spiritual supplement needed to get through hardship; perseverance.

 

Perseverance = Steady persistence in a course of action, especially in spite of difficulty, obstacles, or discouragement.

 

This is the idea of staying straight and not swerving to the left or to the right. It is to not change your mind, but to continue forward. It means to be steadyto be consistent. 

 

Perseverance = Hupomone = to remain under

 

It means to remain under disciplineto continue to be disciplined. Last week we talked about self-control. Perseverance is literally the continuance of self-control. 

 

That makes a lot of sense when we apply it to hardship. It takes a lot of discipline to remain consistent and to not give up.

 

Synonyms for perseverance:

• Steadfastness
• Patience
• Endurance
• Persistence 
• Determination

 

There are 3 areas the Bible encourages us to be steadfast in:

Persevere through Hardship
Persevere with People
Persevere in the Faith

 

 

I. Persevere through Hardship

James 1:2-4 NIV
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

We are called to persevere through trials. In fact, James tells us that the testing of our faith produces perseverance in us. It is this perseverance in us that makes us mature and helps us to become more complete as believers. It makes us more like Christ. Jesus Himself suffered

Verse 2 of James chapter 1 tells us to consider it pure joy when you face trials. Now that is an odd statement. Who would consider it exciting to go through hardship? Not very many of us would say that they are excited about what they are having to endure. However, when I think about it from another angle, it kind of makes sense.

I played basketball for much of my life. I considered myself a high level basketball player at that. When I played, I never wanted to play if it was easy. That was not fun to me. There was no value in playing if it was going to be easy. Instead, I was always looking for a challenge. I got excited when there was a challenge. I loved the struggle of working through a hard fought matchup. Mainly because it was a test. I lived for these moments. I knew that was the only way that I would improve and mature as a player. Starting the game was easy, fighting through it was the hard part. Sticking the game out was always the most difficult.

Looking at it from that angle, it helps me to see things from Gods perspective in a clearer light. It helps me to understand a little more why God allows us to go through hardship. Doing so allows the Holy Spirit to produce the perseverance in us needed to grow as believers. When we lean on the Holy Spirit through difficulty, He produces in us patience, steadfastness, endurance, and a determination to trust God and to keep going.

I remember being in the kitchen when we got the news our daughter Malaya would have down syndrome. I remember the shock of that news. I remember being in the hospital, not really knowing what to do with having a child with special needs. I remember being in the hospital hearing the news that she would need open heart surgery. I remember watching my little baby girl go back to the OR at the hospital with the surgical staff down what seemed to be an endless hallway. I still remember walking through the difficult and hardship of it all. While going through this is probably the hardest thing I have ever had to face, I can say that it has matured me through the process.

While we may not want hardship to come our way, while God does not cause trials in our life, He has called us to endure through them. He is working all things together for the good of those who love Him.

II. Persevere with People

Romans 15:5-7
5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

We are called to persevere with people. That word endurance” is the same word for perseverance” (hupomone). With perseverance, we are called to 
 -  Live in harmony with others
 -  Be unified under Christ
 -  Accept others as Christ has accepted us

This is completely different from simply tolerating people. We are not called to just tolerate others. To tolerate is to endure with distaste. It is that, I will allow you around but I dont like you” attitude.

Instead, we are to live harmonious with one another, to be in agreement. That is to embrace others despite how they differ from us. We do this by being unified under Christ. We keep him the main thing. He is what unites us all together. Finally, the reason we can/should accept one another is because Christ has accepted us.

III. Persevere in the Faith

Galatians 6:9 
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

We are also called to persevere in the faith; to fight the good fight of faith. Let us not give up. Let us not get give up on sowing seeds of
 -  Obeying God and pleasing Him
 -  Growing in the Word
 -  Sharing the gospel with others
 -  Gathering together for church
 -  Living right before God and before others
 -  Being a light to the people around us

For in due season, at the right time, we will reap a harvest. What is that harvest? Eternal life.

Romans 2:7
To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.

Philippians 3:13-14
13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

If we do not give up

Let us not give up. Let us press on. Let us keep going. Let us persevere.

 

 

TAKEAWAYS FROM PERSEVERANCE:

 

1. God is with you through the hardship
The struggle of hardship is making you stronger
2. Show patience toward others that Christ has shown you
3. The prize of eternal life is worth the good fight of faith