Monday, March 18, 2019

Enemies of the Cross


2nd Sunday in Lent

                            Prayer
                         Phil. 3:17-21
Introduction
When I was in high school, there was a boy I will
call Bob who I became friends with.  He was a good person.  His family farmed, and he was very well behaved.  He didn't get into trouble.  He didn't curse, at least that I had heard.  He didn't do any of the things that I associated with being sinful.  He was very easy to talk to.  Eventually, I noticed him hanging around with Sam who I knew to be a Jehovah's Witness.  As I recall I warned him about it, but he didn't say much about it nor listen to my warning.

One day, Sam approached me with some of his flyers and I told him in no uncertain terms that I did not accept his beliefs and that I believed those who did were condemned.  I had been told that the only way to get rid of a Jehovah's Witness was to slam the door, insult them, etc.          After this I found out how close Sam and my friend Bob were; Bob was very indifferent and cold to me after that.  He and Sam left me alone;  they said very little to me after that.  Bob had been a Jehovah's Witness all  along.  I'm not telling this story as an example of how to get rid of a Jehovah's Witness because I learned after this that reacting this way only closes the door of opportunity to win them to Christ.  I am telling this story because it is an example of a time when I considered someone to be an enemy of the cross.  We all have people or organizations who we  consider to be enemies of Christ!

Trans.    But these aren't the people that Paul recognizes as enemies of Christ in our scripture today! Let’s take a look!


I.   Who isn't His enemies?

A.   Those that live by his example or live by the word!

B.   Live a life totally yielded to Christ!
1.   V.20 "our citizenship is in heaven" It won't be a  perfect life!
2.   It will be one that fails but picks up and goes again.
3.   But it will be one that God can count on.

II.  Who are these enemies?

A.   Those whose God is their belly!

1.   Only look out for themselves: #1.
2.   Look what I have done.
3.   Compelled by greed and self-gain.
4.   Everything they do has to do with what they will get
     out of it.
a.   This is talking about self gratification; even
     church stuff becomes about self gratification   for them.
b.   When considering things at church, the question is not, will it reach others, but it     becomes, what will I get out of this.
c.   Will I be fed if we do this?
d.   Will I like doing it this way?
5.   They use the Gospel for self-gratification.
a.              They want to be in church because it helps their business.
b.              They want to be a member because it helps them get elected!

B.   Those who profess to be Christian but put Earthly things before Christ!
1.   They profess to be Christian with their tongue, and show with their actions that Christ isn't important enough to sacrifice anything for!
a.   Christ isn't that important.
b.   It's a matter of priorities, and Christ doesn't rank too well!
b.   Christ is only worth lip service!
2.   This does more damage to Christianity than
one who doesn=t even profess Christ!!

III. What will be the destiny of these enemies?

A.   V. 19,  Whose end is destruction!

B.   We can fool the world, but we can't fool God!

C.   God requires more than "Lip Service."

Conclusion:
A.   Only those who live a yielded life are pleasing to God.

B.   How about us today: are we yielding it all to Christ?

C.   We can fool ourselves, but this scripture seems to be plain that Christ must be first in our lives!!

                            Prayer

Monday, March 11, 2019

Driven By Desire!


1st Sunday in Lent


Introduction:
     A.   Today is the first Sunday in Lent.

     B.   During Lent, we think of our sin that caused Christ to         have to die.  We examine ourselves.  We think of our               desires.  Sometimes those desires are bad and result               in sin.

     C.   This morning, I want to suggest that not all desires               are bad, and that sometimes we should be driven                    by desire!  We just have to decide whether or not the desire is something we should be driven by!

     D.   It is a desire for something and a dream that it can               happen that causes us to do what we need to do to see
          it happen.

     Trans.
          But what desire should we be driven by?  That is what
          we want to look at this morning!

                            Prayer
                          Romans 10:1

I.   What desire should we be driven by?
     A.   Paul was writing to Christians in Rome.

     B.   Paul said, It was his heart's desire for Israel to be              saved!  A good desire!!

     C.   We could substitute someone's name that we know who            isn't a Christian!
          1.   Is that truly our heart's desire?
          2.   Or is our heart's desire other things?
              a.   more possessions?
              b.   pleasure?
          3.   What are the main desires that we are motivated                     by?

II.  Why does it matter what our desires are?
     A.   Luke 6:45 "The good man brings good things out of the                        good stored up in his heart, and the evil
                   man brings evil things out of the evil
                   stored up in his heart. For out of the
                   overflow of his heart his mouth speaks."

          What our desires are is what we become because that is         what we are shooting for!

     B.   Do we really desire to see the people around us come
          to Christ?  If we do and we act on our desires, it can         happen!
          1.   If we don't act and aren't driven by this desire
              and although we have the desire, they still may
              never come to Christ!
          2.   If we don't have this desire at all, we for sure    
               won't do anything about it!


III. What action should this desire move us toward?  Notice Paul   had a desire in his heart, but he didn't leave it there!
     A.   He prayed to God.
          1.   Are we doing something about it by taking it to
              God in prayer?
          2.   God is our greatest power source!
          3.   God can lead people to the church and guide us in
              what we should do!
              a.   We pray for the sick.
              b.   We pray for financial difficulties.
              c.   We pray for personal problems.
              d.   How long has it been since we prayed for                       someone to come to Christ?

     B.   Paul witnessed.
          1.   Paul tried to take every opportunity at his
              disposal to share Christ!
          2.   Paul was motivated by a desire for people to come
              to Christ!
          3.   Do we take the opportunities that God gives us to              share Christ?
              a.   not in a pushy way!
              b.   but in a sincere, concerned sort of way.
          4.   If we do not, maybe it is because the desire
              isn't there.  It should be!
          5.   Or maybe it is because we just aren't acting on
              our desires!
          6.   I like the way John Wesley put it; he said,                         “Offer them Christ.”
              a.   We can offer by sharing what Christ means to                   us!
              b.   We can offer by saying Christ has made a                       difference in my life!
              c.   We can offer by inviting them to church                        where they will hear the gospel message!
          7.   Be driven by a desire to offer them Christ!

Conclusion:
     A.   Whether or not the people we know become Christians
          makes a difference in this life and for eternity!  We
          have what they need!

     B.   As a church and as individuals, is it our heart's
          desire to see people come to Christ?  Is this our
          goal?
          1.   Do we follow our desire up with prayer?
          2.   Do we witness?  Do we offer them Christ?
          3.   If not, let's make some commitments as we
              encounter Christ at the table this morning!  


Prayer of Confession
Service of Communion

                         Closing Hymn

Monday, March 4, 2019

Listen to Him!


                                                       Transfiguration of the Lord Sunday!
                                     
                                          Luke 9:28-36
Introduction:
A.     This Sunday is Transfiguration of the Lord Sunday.

B.     Transfiguration of the Lord is another one of those Aha moments where God shows those present who Jesus is!

C.      God says, this is my son, listen to him! 

Trans:
The Transfiguration is about hearing Jesus. It is about listening to Jesus, but more than all of that it is about believing Jesus!

                                                Prayer
I.       First, we have to believe Jesus!
A.     Before we can be right with God, we have to believe that God came in Jesus to do for us what we can=t do for ourselves, forgive our sins and give us a new start!

B.     Before we can ever hope to make a difference for God, we have to  believe that he can make a difference today!

C.      But then what?

II.      Then, this belief must bring us to the right action!
A.     Just to believe in general that God came in Christ does nothing for us until we make it personal and believe and receive that God did it for me in particular, asking God to forgive us of our sins.  It  must become something personal. We must act on what God has done for us!

B.     Just to believe that Jesus can make a difference today is not  enough!
1.     If we don't yield our lives to Christ for service.
read  Jas. 2:17 - 20
2.     God has chosen to use people to get the Kingdom work done  in the world today!  Without us, it will not get done.

C.      Do you believe?  What are you doing with that belief?

III.     Some say they believe, but their actions don’t support that belief!
A.     They believe in God and may even believe in Jesus, but they are taking the wrong actions upon those beliefs. 

B.     Few people when you point blank ask them will tell you they don=t  believe in God, but they haven't accepted that God came in Christ  for them, and they feel guilty.

C.      Because of this guilt, they lash out at Christianity!
1.     They try to bring Christians down to make themselves look better.
2.     They try to make the church look bad.
a.      If they hear any bad news, they are sure to tell it.
b.      If they can tell a joke that makes the church look
        stupid, they will.

D.                God isn=t for them a personal thing; God is a by-word and isn=t something to be taken very seriously.

IV.     But others believe and are going about doing the Lord's business.
A.     They are claiming the promises that they can make a difference.

B.     They are working and serving, and they are seeing fruits for their labor.

C.      They feel a purpose and are happy with their Christian lives.

V.     Churches that are growing are blessed with some of these believers.
A.     They believe God can make a difference, and they are excitedly working for the Lord!

B.     They aren't defeated with the belief that "nothing will work today."

C.      Instead, they "know" something will work, and they are busy trying to find ways to minister to the needs of people today that do work!!

Conclusion:
The Aha moment this morning it that God came in Christ.  Jesus is not only God’s son but is God in the flesh.  The first question that we have to    deal with then is, ADo we believe that?@    The 2nd is, AWhat are we going to do because of that belief?@

A.     Do you believe this morning?

B.     What are you doing because of that belief?

C.      Is God pleased with it?

D.     Maybe you need to respond to God this morning by saying, “Yes, I Believe!  Use me to make a positive difference in your world!”

Closing Hymn

Monday, February 25, 2019

Three Types of Excuses



Introduction:  read Acts 24:25
AAnd as he discussed justice, self-control, and the coming judgment, Felix became frightened and said, AGo away for the present; when I have an opportunity, I will send for you.@[i]A

A.   Have you ever heard someone say,  "When I get my life straightened out, I will serve God?"

B.   This is a very popular excuse!  It's not the right time!  When I get my life straightened out, I'll do it!

Trans.
I want to talk this morning about 3 types of excuses!

                            Prayer

                        Luke 14: 16-24

I.   A great supper prepared, all things are now ready!

A.   God has prepared a Great Supper!  He has gone to great length to prepare it, sent Christ to die.

B.   All things are now ready!
II Cor. 6:2b  "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold,  now is the day of Salvation."

II.  The Invitation is extended!  Three basic excuses were given.

A.   An excuse because your "Sold out" to something or someone else.
1.   This man had bought a piece of ground.  He wanted to see if he'd gotten a good deal!
2.   Material gain came between him and God!
3.   He was so wrapped up in making a profit that he left out God!
4.   Examples for today:
a)   Making a crooked deal to make money!
b)   Afraid to really serve God because of losing job!
1)   Don't be radical!
2)   Example of Steve and HUD circuit breaker.
5.              Be ASold Out@ to God; don=t let anything stand between you and God!

B.   An excuse because you'd just rather do something else!
1.   The second man had just bought 5 yoke of oxen, and he wanted to try them out!
2.   He'd rather spend time with the things of the world than with God!


3.   Examples for today:
a)   pleasure may come between us and God.
b)   leisure may come between us and God.
c)   love of possessions!
d)   family could come between us and God.
4.              What would you rather do than anything else?  I hope it involves God; this man turned down God=s invitation because he would rather do something else.

C.   The third type of excuse is an excuse because you just don't want to; you really don't care!
1.   This man said, "I've just gotten married!"
2.   He really just didn't want to attend because after all he could have taken his wife with him!
3.   This excuse says,  "God I really just don't want  you; I have no good excuse!"
4.              Do we really want God?  This excuse calls for us to ask ourselves that question.  If we do, we will make time for God.

III. The invitation is extended again and accepted!

A.   There are those who will accept!  This is the positive aspect.

B.   We can't judge by looks who will accept!

C.   Everyone is the same in importance to God!

D.   The invitation goes out to  "Whosoever!" 
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his  only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in   him should not perish, but have everlasting  life."

Conclusion:  v. 17b,  "All things are now ready!"

A.   All excuses aside; we'll do what we really want to do!!

B.   Now is the accepted time for you to accept God's
          invitation!!

C.   Are you making excuses for not really making Christ Lord of your life? for not becoming a Christian?

D.   Let's come to Christ this morning, all excuses aside!

                            Prayer


[i]The Holy Bible  : New Revised Standard Version. 1996, c1989 . Thomas Nelson: Nashville

Monday, February 18, 2019

The Way of Love


                                                   
Intro.
            A.        Last Thursday was Valentine’s Day.

            B.        When we think of Valentine’s Day, we think of Love.

            C.        I ‘ve found a reading entitled “Love” by Susan Downs that I would like to read.

                                                                          Love
            WHAT A WONDERFUL opportunity we have to show and share our love           for one another on Valentine’s Day!  On this day, we can be as        sentimental and poetic with our loved ones as we want to be, and we look   forward to receiving expressions of love from those who care for us but         don’t always demonstrate or verbalize their feelings.  Valentine’s Day is a special day - the only day in our calendar year completely dedicated to giving and receiving love.  However, there is sometimes an emotional         letdown at the end of this day because it is the only one in which beautiful           gifts and joyous declarations of love are in abundance.  What we    sometimes don’t realize is that every day of the year is meant for loving.          The apostle Paul advised us: Let all that you do be done in love. (I Cor.            16:14) There ought not to be one day, or even one moment in a day, that             we are not freely giving love to someone.

            Trans.
                        To find out about this Love that we ought to give the year round, let’s turn to
                                    I Cor. 13.
                                                                         Prayer
I Cor. 13

I.          Let’s look at verses 1 & 2.
            A.        The Corinthian church was having problems.  Everyone was desiring the
                        noticeable gifts!  (See 12:27-31)

            B.        But Paul says, even though they do those desirable and noticeable gifts and have
                        not Love, they are nothing!

            C.        Do we desire the more noticeable gifts today?
1.         Many think they aren’t important if they don’t preach, teach, sing, or play
            a musical instrument!
2.         Paul says, if we do these things and have not Love, we are nothing!

II.        Let’s look at verse 3.
            A.        Paul says, “Even though I sell my goods to feed the poor!”  A good thing! “Even
                        though I give my body to be burned in sacrifice!”  The ultimate sacrifice!  “If I
                        don’t do it from a heart of Love, it doesn’t profit me anything!”
            B.        This can be compared to good things that we might do today:
1.         Helping someone financially.
2.         Teaching in church.
3.         Preaching.
4.         Helping on a committee or committees.
5.         Singing.
6.         Taking food to people.
           
            C.        Notice he doesn’t say it won’t help them!

            D.        He says, “it doesn’t profit me anything!”
1.         We may help others and do some very good things!
2.         But, if it isn’t from a heart of Love, we can still die ourselves spiritually.
3.         Helping and ministering to others out of a heart of love actually helps us to
            grow spiritually!
4.         WE NEED TO THINK ABOUT THAT ONE!
           

III.       Then Paul goes on to describe Love! 

            A.        Love is Patient!
                        1.         Patient with those who God is not done with yet. 
                        2.         Patient with those who are trying but have not yet arrived!
                        3.         When you think about it, that covers everyone, including ourselves!

            B.        Love is Kind!
                        1.         Oh, that we could have a little kindness today.
                        2.         Kindness when someone doesn’t agree with us politically!
                        3.         Kindness when we post on facebook!
                        4.         Kindness when we speak and when we act!

            C.        Love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.
                        1.         This covers a lot.
                        2.         Be happy with what we have; count our blessings. Not envious of what                                          others have.
                        3.         Yet, not bragging about what we have and lording it over others!
                        4.         By all means, don’t be arrogant or rude to others because they have less,                                         whether material possessions or knowledge.
                        5.         Consider that everyone is someone God has created and are special in that                                                 way.  Consider that if we are not arrogant, we might learn something from                                                 anybody!

            D.        It does not insist on its own way.
                        1.         Love realizes that we are not God and do not have all the answers!
                        2.         Sometimes love requires compromise!
                                    a.         I tell couples I am meeting with before marriage, “It isn’t a 50/50                                                    compromise that they should expect, because sometimes they will                                                   have to give 100% to make it work, but it shouldn’t always be the                                                   same one giving the 100%.
                                    b.         Any relationship if healthy, requires compromise!
                                    c.         That relates to politics as well!  We do not have all the answers.                                                       Democrats don’t have all the answers.  Republicans do not have all                                                 the answers.  Unless we are willing to compromise, we find                                                       ourselves polarized and not getting anywhere!  Sound familiar?

            E.         It is not irritable or resentful.
                        1.         The world doesn’t owe us anything!
                        2.         God doesn’t owe us anything!
                        3.         We shouldn’t be irritable or resentful when we do not get what we want!
                        4.         Love is content! Love is pleasant!  Love is kind!  Love is thankful!

            F.         It does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.
                        1.         Don’t rejoice when someone fails.
                        2.         Don’t kick them when they are down.
                        3.         God is truth!  Rejoice when someone finds God!

            G.        It bears all things!
                        1.         In a democratic society, there is something to be said about demanding                                          rights, especially when we are demanding them for others!
                        2.         But the self-centered attitude that some people have, including Christians, is                                  scary.
                        3.         Love sometimes requires to suffer long, to bear all things!

            H.        Believes all things!
                        1.         Believes God is alive and well!
                        2.         Believes love makes a difference!
                        3.         Believes our vote counts!
                        4.         Believes we can make a difference!
                        5.         Believes that if we claim the promises of God, we can grow today!

            I.          Hopes all things!
                        1.         If you do not have hope, you are defeated!
                        2.         Love has hope!

            J.          Endures all things!
                        1.         Love doesn’t give up.
                        2.         We will sometimes be tempted to throw in the towel.
                        3.         Love says keep on, it matters!  The Love of God is worth it!

Conclusion:
            A.        Love never fails!  (Vs. 8) 
                        1.         The love of God will not fail.
                        2.         If we will concentrate on loving God and others, we will be on the winning                                   side!  We will make a difference!  Amen!

B.        Read poem:


                                                                 Definition of Love

            Love is not practical.  It does not measure
                        What it sends forth, as though a boundless treasure
                        Were it’s to share.  It knows no special season
                        And makes its gifts for no particular reason
                        Except that it is love.  This is sufficient.
                        Love is all-knowing, and it is proficient
                        At finding hidden needs and secret sorrows
                        And turning cloud banks into bright tomorrows.
                        Love does not wait for thank yous or for praises.
                        It has no need for these, or flowery phrases.
                        Love searches out the lonely one, the friendless,
                        And gives its all, because love’s stores are endless.
                                                                             - Marie Daerr Boehringer

            C.        Let’s tap into that Love this morning and go forth and share it this week.

            Closing Hymn