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Want Some Change? - 10/8/17

WANT SOME CHANGE?
Philippians 2: 1-11

Sometimes people easily change their mind. … I heard about a guy who e-mailed
this to his ex-fiancée: …
My dearest Linda, … I’ve been so desolate ever since I broke off our engagement.
Simply devastated. … Won’t you PLEASE consider coming back to me? …
You hold a place in my heart no other woman can fill. … I could never find
another woman quite like you. … I need you so much. … Won’t you forgive me and
let us make a new beginning? … I love you so.
Yours always,
John
P.S. Congratulations on winning the lottery!
Yes, … John changed his mind … but other times, it’s not so easy to change our
mind, … even when it’s in our best interest.
Yet, the truth is, … God calls us to a radical change of mind, … for our own good
… and for the good of the Church family.
Today’s scripture contains three ways to change our mind. … First, it says: …
1. “Thinking the same way” … or as in most translations; … “Be like-minded.”
Paul begins chapter two with a plea. … It’s a poetic plea, punctuated with four uses
of the word “if”:
“If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any
fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy”
Paul knows they already have this, … so he really means “since.”
“Since you have all of these things...” He continues in verse 2: … “fulfill my joy by
thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing
on one goal
Paul teaches we need to be like-minded.
Note, he DOESN’T say to be “same-minded,” … because that would be pretty
boring and useless. … He says “like-minded,” or “thinking the same” …
which means to be united on one purpose. … We need to overlook petty
differences and agree on the big stuff. … The big stuff here is that we are the body
of Christ. … We have the same love. … We are one in spirit. … We are one in
mind. … What unites us is greater than what divides us.
Think of the military culture. … If you go to boot camp, the drill instructor is there
to chisel out of you all that background stuff that makes you unique.

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Their task is to instill in you a new group identity. … It’s not about you anymore;
… it’s about your unit, … your platoon, … your flight.
What unites you as a team is greater than anything that might divide you.
So it should be with the Church.
When we become a believer, … we are linked not only to God as His child …
but also to brothers and sisters across the globe. … We are part of The Family.
That’s why if we discover a Christian on a cruise ship in the Caribbean, … we
immediately find a kinship.
First Christian, here in Mt. Pleasant, … needs to be “healthy Church family”, …
not a “dysfunctional family”. … We need to be a family that first and foremost,
works hard to get along. …. We need to overlook the small stuff, … work through
conflict … and become quick menders … and speedy forgivers, … so others in this
community … can see the love of God in the way we treat each other.
When that happens, … people are drawn to God.
A certain hymn says it best: … “They will know we are Christians by our love.”
Paul says, … “Thinking the same way” or “Be like-minded.” … He then builds on
that in verses 3-4,
2. Be humble-minded!
Let me re-read the verses to you. They contain a great definition of humility: …
“ 3  Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more
important than yourselves. 4  Everyone should look out not only for his own
interests, but also for the interests of others.”
You have heard this from me before: … true humility doesn’t think less of one’s
self. … True humility simply thinks of our self ... less.
You have less time for selfies, … for personal updates in social media, … for hair
appointments or mirror glances, … less time for plotting how to get your way.
Why? … Because you are busy serving others. … It’s not that you become a
doormat, to be used and abused, with no life of your own. … It’s simply that you
learn to value others before yourself.
You try to live by the acronym: … “JOY”: … Jesus, … Others … and then You.
This is a familiar theme throughout the New Testament. … Romans 12:10: …
10  Show family affection to one another with brotherly love. Outdo one another in
showing honor.
Galatians 5:13: … 13  For you were called to be free, brothers; only don’t use this
freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love.
Ephesians 5:21: … submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.

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And 1 Peter 5:5: … 5  In the same way, you younger men, be subject to the elders.
And all of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God
resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.
Marriage is a laboratory for moving from selfishness to selflessness.
My theory is that God has a sense of humor; … He must the way He leads us to
marry someone who is our opposite.
Opposites attract ... and then they attack. … What we thought was so cute when we
first met … NOW DRIVES US CRAZY! … Yet, … if we make our marriage
work, … we discover that what unites us … is greater than what divides us.
This is a commonality in the greatest of military and corporate leaders in America.
The best and most successful leaders are humble leaders who want to not only
accomplish the mission … but also care for and develop their subordinates.
Those were always the leaders who motivated me the most, … not only in the
business world … but in leadership of ministry.
This is the way with the Church.
Paul teaches we find like-mindedness in being humble-minded. … While each one
of us is different, … part of our harmony … is developing a humble, serving heart,
… putting each other above ourselves.
A second century believer was so moved by these verses that he quoted them just
before his death. … Tradition tells us that Polycarp, the Bishop of Smyrna, …
was martyred in the year 155. … His enemies tied him to a stake and lit a fire
under him. … Miraculously, the flames would not come to him. …
Undeterred, … the mob stabbed him to death. … In a letter he wrote before his
arrest that circulated among the Churches, … Polycarp quoted today’s passage to
speak of his willingness to die for his faith … because of his strong calling to serve
other believers in humility.
Be like-minded and humble-minded, both in the context of verse 3, … which is to
be, … Christ-minded.
Jesus referred to himself as humble (Matthew 11:29) … and Paul rightly points us
to Christ as the ultimate example of selfless humility. … Verse 5 reads: … Make
your own attitude that of Christ Jesus
Paul illustrates Christ’s humility with a beautiful poem in verses 6-11. …
Most scholars think it was an early hymn of the Church and have nicknamed it the
“kenosis,” from the Greek word in verse 7 that describes Christ “emptying
himself.” …

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Scholars have differed over what that phrase means. …
My understanding is that, … when Christ volunteered for the mission to become
fully human, … to step down from the glories of Heaven to become one of us, …
He set aside, … for a time, … His divine qualities. … While He walked the earth,
… he relied on the Heavenly Father just as we do. … That’s why He could
honestly say to His disciples about the timing of his second coming: … “Now
concerning that day and hour no one knows—neither the angels in heaven, nor the
Son —except the Father only” (Matthew 24:36). … That’s why scripture can say
that Jesus was tempted in every way common to man, … yet did not sin (Hebrews
4:15). … He lived a full 100% human life, … dependent upon God just like us.
He didn’t cheat and rely upon His godliness to live the perfect life. …
No, … He set all that aside when He stepped down from Heaven to earth.
Verses 6-8 depict that downward trek.
Can we imagine the voice of all creation (Colossians 1:16) … now limited to a
baby’s cry?
Max Lucado marvels; … “The God of the universe kicked against the wall of a
womb, was born into the poverty of a peasant, and spent His first night in the feed
trough of a cow” (From “Next Door Savior”).
This downward mobility required great humility. … The One who was in essential
nature or form God himself … became in essential nature or form a human; …
100% God … and now 100% human.
THIS human would suffer and die, … not just any death … but a poor criminal’s
death on a cross.
Paul describes this in 2 Corinthians 8: 9: … “For you know the grace of our Lord
Jesus Christ: Though He was rich, for your sake He became poor, so that by His
poverty you might become rich”
Because he humbled Himself, … verses 9-11 tell us how God the Father exalted
Him above every other name.
That is the pattern of the Bible; … when we humble our self, … God will lift us
up. … If we choose to take the high road, … if we elect forgiveness over revenge,
… if we pick serving over being served, … God will take care of us.
It may not look like it today … but trust in Him.
For Christ, … it didn’t look so hot on that fateful Friday … but the tide got a lot
better by Easter Sunday.
So let’s change our mind! … Move away from the self-centered compulsion …
and seek to have the mind of Christ, … to serve rather than to be served, …
to build up the body of Christ … and to love others with the love of Christ.

5

Let us pray:
Lord, … I lift up to You this flawed congregation, … we ask for help with our own
sinful selves that so often pursue our self-centeredness and selfishness.
Help us to love each other as you have loved us. … Help us to focus on the One
who gave Himself for us, so that we could be with you forever and ever.
Perhaps You would help us lead someone to receive Christ as their Savior … so
that we may share our Table with them in future services.
As we continue our Christly life in our daily walk, … let us remember the One ...
6  who, existing in the form of God,
did not consider equality with God
as something to be used for His own advantage.
7  Instead He emptied Himself
by assuming the form of a slave,
taking on the likeness of men.
And when He had come as a man
in His external form,
8  He humbled Himself by becoming obedient
to the point of death—
even to death on a cross.
9  For this reason God highly exalted Him
and gave Him the name
that is above every name,
10  so that at the name of Jesus
every knee will bow—
of those who are in heaven and on earth
and under the earth—
11  and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father
AMEN

Islam - 9/24/17

ISLAM
Psalm 77: 10
“Allah is One, and Christ was just a Prophet”
The Islam religion is the fastest growing cult in the world. … It is important to note
the reason for the word “cult”. … For the most part, … Islam is a forced religion.
It has claimed nearly 1 billion followers in countries throughout the world.
It originated in Saudi Arabia, … and from there it expanded along trade routes to
Africa and Asia.
The country with the most Muslims is Indonesia, with 120 million.
In addition, there are millions more in parts of Eastern and Western Europe and in
the Americas. … 1 out of 6 human beings on the face of the earth subscribes to the
faith of Islam.
The word “Islam”: means “Submission” (to Allah the God of Mohammed, …
the man who founded this religion).
A believer in Mohammed’s religion is a Muslim, meaning: … “one who lives life
according to God’s will.”
So who is this Mohammed?
I. Mohammed
a. Born in Arabia in the city of Mecca in A.D. 570
1. He was the member of a highly respected, prominent family.
2. His mother died when he was 6 and his grandfather who was raising him, died
when he was 9.
3. So he was then raised by his uncle Abu Talid and worked herding flocks.
b. As a adult, … Mohammed got into the caravan trade and went on trips to Syria
and Persia.
1. Scholars believe that, in his travels, Mohammed developed his concepts of
monotheism from several sources, including the Monophysites, who believed that
Christ had only a divine nature … and Nestorians, … who divided the Incarnate
Christ into two separate natures,; … divine and human, … in one person (denying
that the man Jesus was both fully God and fully man).
2. They also believe that he absorbed a great deal of teaching from Jews who
exposed him to the Talmud.
3. As a result, it is unlikely that Mohammed’s opportunities to learn about; …
“the one true God”, … came in great part from anyone who really understood the
Bible.
4. Even the Muslim writer and scholar, … Caesar Farah, … admits that
Mohammed’s narration of scriptural events shows he; … “could not have…had an
educated knowledge of the sacred texts.”
1. It is no wonder that Mohammed developed theologically flawed ideas, which he
later expressed when developing the Qur’an.
c. In the caravan trade, … Mohammed gained the attention of a wealthy widow
named Khadija.
1. When they married, he was 25 and she was 40.
2. During their marriage, Mohammed spent most of his time in solitary meditation.
3. It was age 40, when he supposedly received his first revelation while envisioning
in a cave on Mount Hira, near Mecca.
4. Mohammed says that the archangel Gabriel came to him during a dream and
brought the following command of God.
“Read in the name of thy Lord who created, who created man of blood coagulated.
Read! Thy Lord is the most beneficent, who taught by the pen, taught that what
they knew not unto men”.
5. From this command to “read” comes the name for the Qur’an, meaning; …
“the reciting” or “the reading”.
Since Mohammed could not read or write, … the Qur’an is his reciting of these
revelations given to him.
6. Mohammed was deeply disturbed from this and told his wife, … who thought he
might be possessed by jinns, … supernatural beings in Arabia folklore.
7. But she also assured him that his words were true, … as did other family
members.
d. Upon the urging of his wife and family, Mohammed began to preach in the
streets and marketplaces in Mecca.
1. He never claimed to be divine … but insisted that Allah had called him to be a
prophet.
e. His preaching of the lifestyle and beliefs of the people brought him much
opposition … but his influential uncle was able to protect him.
1. Once his uncle dies in A.D. 620, … plots were made to kill Mohammed and his
followers.
2. So Mohammed was forced to flee to Yathrib.
3. This departure is called the hegira and marks the beginning of the Islamic
calendar.
4. In Yathrib, … Mohammed become the religious and political leader of the city.
5. The people of Mecca organized an army to destroy Mohammed and his
followers … but the Islamic forces won out.
6. Mohammed entered Mecca and destroyed every idol in the Kaaba, … the main
temple, … except for the black stone, … a sacred meteorite enshrined there.
7. Mohammed then declared the Kaaba to be the most holy shrine of Islam.
8. Since that time, … it has been the spot toward which all devout Muslims direct
their prayers.
9. From there, … he would strengthen his position as the leading prophet and ruler
of Arabia.
f. He united the tribes into a vast army to conquer the world for Allah.
g. Mohammed dies in A.D. 632, … which just sparked the spreading of Islam
across the world. … According to Encyclopedia of Islam, … Muhammad's death
may be presumed to have been caused by Medinan fever exacerbated by physical
and mental fatigue. … A Shia hadith found in The Book of Sulaym ibn Qays, …
quotes Muhammad as saying that he was killed by poison.
II. The Teachings of Islam
a. The Qur’an is the sacred scripture of Islam
1. It is 4/5 the length of the New Testament and includes 114 chapters.
2. It is a mixture of Mohammed’s dictated words, … he said he received from God
… and the writings of his disciples who remembered his oral teachings after he
died.
3. Much of the Qur’an jumps from one place to another and doesn’t follow any
kind of narrative.
4. Muslims claim that it is copied from an original Arabic, … which is in heaven.
b. Besides the Qur’an, … Mohammed developed teachings and sayings called
Sunnah (literally meaning “path”).
1. The Sunnah became a base for tradition built on Mohammed’s conduct as a
prophet and how he handled situations while being guide, judge, and ruler of his
Muslim followers
2. They were gathered into one body of work called the Hadith
3. They use this as a supplement to the Qur’an, … the same way the Talmud
supplements the Hebrew Bible in Judaism.
c. Another body of teaching in Islam is the Shariah
1. It is combination of legal interpretations of the Qur’an and the Sunnah.
2. Shariah means “law”, … and it lays down a strict and comprehensive guide of
life and conduct for Muslims.
3. It contains prohibitions against eating pork, drinking alcoholic beverages, as
well as punishments for stealing, adultery, apostasy, and blasphemy.
III. The Six Doctrines of Islam
*These doctrines are a requirement for every Muslim to believe.
a. God
1. There is only one true god and His name is Allah
2. Allah is all seeing, … all knowing … and all powerful
b. Angels
1. The chief angel is Gabriel, who is said to have appeared to Mohammed
2. There is also a fallen angel named Shaitan, … as well as his jinns (demons)
c. Scripture
1. They believe in four inspired books
(1). Torah of Moses
(2). Zabur – Psalms of David
(3). Injil – the gospel of Jesus
(4). Qur’an
2. Muslims believe though, … that Christians have corrupted their scriptures and
the Qur’an is Allah’s final word to mankind and supersedes everything else.
d. Mohammed
1. The last of the great prophets
e. End Times
1. On the last day the dead will be resurrected.
2. Allah will be the judge … and each person will be sent to heaven or hell.
f. Predestination
1. God has determined what He pleases … and no one can change what He has
decreed.
IV. The Five Pillars of the Faith
*Besides the six doctrines to be believed, there are five duties to be performed
a. Statement of belief
1. To become a Muslim, a person must publicly repeat the Shahadah, … basically
saying that there is only one God … and Mohammed is His prophet.
b. Prayer
1. Muslims pray five times a day
2. They must kneel and bow in the prescribed manner in the direction of the holy
city, Mecca.
c. Alms
1. Every Muslims must give 2.5% to the masque
2. This is used for widows, orphans, the sick and other unfortunates
d. Ramadan
1. The ninth month of the lunar year
2. Serves as the highest of Muslim holy seasons.
3. They are required to fast for the entire month
e. Pilgrimage to Mecca
1. This is called the Hajj … and must be performed at least once in a Muslim’s
lifetime.
2. But if it is too dangerous for the believer to go, … they can send someone in
their place.
V. How the Qur’an contradicts the Bible
a. For Muslims, God is one, … period.
1. They attack the Christian teaching on the Trinity and say we are committing
blasphemy.
2. They teach that Allah is all powerful … and relatively impersonal
3. They omit the name of Father for God, … to avoid the idea of the Father and
Son.
4. What the Bible teaches:
(1). Ps. 77:10-15 & Isa. 43:13, speak of the greatness of God
(2). Deut. 7:8; Jer. 31:3; Eph. 2:4; 1 John 3:1, 4:7 – God is a God of love
b. They deny that Jesus is the Son of God
1. The Qur’an refers to Jesus as a prophet … but ranks far below Mohammed.
5. What the Bible teaches:
(1). Matt. 8:29, 17:5; John 1:1-5, 8:58, 10:30, 14:9, 20:28; Col. 1:15-17, 2:9; …
speak of Jesus’ divinity
c. The Qur’an teaches that Christ never really died on the cross
1. According to them, … Allah took Jesus to heaven just before the crucifixion
2. What the Bible teaches:
(1). All four gospels are filled with eye witness accounts of the crucifixion
(2). 1 Cor. 1:23, 2:2, 15:3, 4; Gal. 2:20, 6:12, 6:14; Eph. 2:16 also speak of the
crucifixion
(3). Matt. 16:21, Jesus himself predicted His own death
(4). Mark 10:45, Jesus tells us why he had to die
(5). Matt. 26:28, Jesus promised that through his shed blood there would be
“forgiveness of sins”
d. The Qur’an also teaches that each person must take care of his or her own sins.
1. They earn salvation by following the five pillars of the Muslim Faith. … Instant
redemption is accomplished through martyrdom for the faith
2. If they don’t make it, it’s their own fault.
3. What the Bible teaches:
(1). John 3:16, Acts 4:12; Rom. 3:23-26; Eph. 2:4-9; … all tell that the only way
humanity can find forgiveness is through faith in Jesus Christ.
To close: …
A key rule to remember when trying to witness to a Muslim, … is that we cannot
bring the scripture out right away. … They believe that the Bible has been
contaminated by Christians and don’t believe it.
Witnessing to Muslims requires a lot of time and patience, … along with a
steadfast walk with God … that displays the nature of God in all that we do.
It is by our daily walk and witness, … that the Muslims will be drawn to Christ.
Very few of us will ever be able to travel to an Islamic country and become a
missionary of Jesus Christ in that nation.
What we have in this country as of late, … is God in His wisdom, … bringing
Muslims to us. …
Let them COME!
These are more fertile fields that we all can plow!
Romans 8: 31: … What then are we to say about these things?
If God is for us, who is against us?
AMEN

Special Notice

This is one of those times that it is hard for me to pass on wit and humor. On
Friday, the Church laid to rest as fine a Christian as one could know. Harry
Eversole’s life on this earth ended quite abruptly; … none of us were prepared,
much less what Beverly and the Eversole family has and will continue to
experience.
I believe I can safely speak for the whole congregation that Harry was loved as
much or more as any member that has ever walked through our foyer. Most of his
thoughts were concerning the wellbeing of others.
I could write ten pages very easily on the attributes of Harry Eversole but I would
be wasting your time; … we all know what they were and will dearly miss him and
his servant’s spirit.
Harry’s life should speak to all of us as to how a Christian should appear. When we
looked upon Harry, … we saw the face of Jesus Christ.
No greater compliment can be made of a mere mortal.
We love you, Harry. Say hello to Jesus and all the Apostles for us!
Your servant in Christ,
Pastor Jim

Persecution - Who Needs It? - 9/17/17

PERSECUTION: … WHO NEEDS IT?!

Matthew 5: 10

The well-known Beijing Shouwang Church has been forced to hold its worship
services outdoors, enduring non-stop persecution at the hands of the Beijing
government.  In a 20-plus month period, many believers were taken into police
custody, verbally and physically abused, put under house arrest, etc.  The reason
for Shouwang Church being forced to hold outdoor worship services was the
government’s long-term unlawful interference and pressure, locking the Church
out of its leased meeting site and then preventing the Church from taking
possession of the keys to property it had purchased.  The senior pastor Jin
Tianming followed the unique model of house Churches defending their rights by
using the law and applied on behalf of Shouwang Church for an administrative
review of the actions of  the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau.  According
to the data collected by Shouwang Church, because they persisted in attending
outdoor worships services, “members of Shouwang Church were detained 1,600
times by either Domestic Security Protection agents  in various districts [of
Beijing]  or in 90 different police stations across Beijing. Sixty people were evicted
from their homes and more than 10 people lost their jobs because they attended
Shouwang Church’s outdoor worship services or simply because they were
Shouwang Church members; other believers were confined to their homes on the
weekends, while Shouwang Church’s pastors, elders and ministers remain
confined to their homes.
The United Nations released an extensive report on Islamic State violence in Iraq,
and estimates that ISIS currently holds some 3,500 people, mostly women and
children, in the country. The report, jointly issued by U.N. Assistance Mission for
Iraq and U.N. human rights office in Geneva, declared ISIS atrocities in Iraq to be
“war crimes, crimes against humanity, and possibly genocide.” Some of
the crimes described in the report include executions by shooting, beheading,
bulldozing, burning alive and throwing people off the top of buildings
Amy Coney Barrett, nominee for a seat on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, when
being grilled by Senator Feinstein, questioned Barrett about the upholding of Roe
v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that made abortion legal. Referring to her
conviction to being an “Orthodox” Catholic, … Senator Feinstein stated this: …
“When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives
loudly within you. And — that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large
numbers of people have fought for years in this country.”
In-other- words, … if you are a Christian, … especially a Catholic Christian,

you are not qualified to be a sitting judge in this country, … that is, according to
Senator Feinstein. Feinstein’s loathing of Barrett was made obvious by her tone
and line of questioning.
(According to that line of reasoning, … John F. Kennedy should have never been
President)
This is just a small example of the persecution Christians face today … and as we
can see, even holding a position within the Government of the United States can be
jeopardized simply because of our Christian belief. … We feel somewhat immune
from this by living in the US but this is how it breaks down, worldwide: …
Each month, 322 Christians are killed because of their faith; … 214 Christian
Churches and properties are destroyed; … and 772 forms of violence are
committed against Christians, such as beatings, abductions, rapes and forced
marriages!; … This according to Open Doors, USA
Why is this so: …
If we could all turn in our Bibles to Matthew 5. … and look at the very first
beatitude in Vs. 3 and then look at the 10 th Vs., … which was our scripture reading;
… we will quickly notice that they both end with the same promise. “Blessed are
the poor in spirit: ... Blessed are those who are persecuted” ... and here’s the
promise: ... “because the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs”.
These two verses are what we might call “bookends”. … The beginning and the
end … because they present the same promise.
We have studied the beatitudes in the past … and as just a refresher, … here are
the eight key blessings … or happiness that they teach: …
Key #1: … We must learn to eat humble pie. … Humility is a key to happiness and
blessings. … Humble people do not think less of themselves: … They just think of
themselves less.
Key #2: … Joy comes in the mourning. … Blessings come when we learn to
grieve over the sin that is in our lives … and then, … deal with it.
Key #3: … Blessed are the meek … or gentle. … Meekness is not weakness.
Meekness is strength under control.
Key #4: … We are happy when we are hungry and thirsty for the right desires; …
the matters of God.
Key #5: … Practice mercy. … This book is a book that teaches mercy. …
The Good Samaritan practiced mercy while the other two men passed the injured
man completely by.
Key #6: … Happy are those whose heart is pure. … Many of us need a
spiritual heart transplant; … a new heart.

Key #7: … Be a peacemaker. … With all of the conflict we see in our world, …
being a peacemaker will not only bring us happiness … but it will pour over into
the lives of others. … All the way back to the book of Genesis, … we see conflict.

Today we come to Key #8.
Matthew 5:10-12: … Those who are persecuted for righteousness are blessed,
for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. 11  “You are blessed when they insult and
persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of Me. 12  Be
glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they
persecuted the prophets who were before you
Now when we look at the Big Picture, … we see two huge truths!: …
(1) We learn the 8 keys to happiness … and …
(2) Not only do we see a picture of happiness and blessings, … we see a picture of
Jesus Himself.
Know these verses of and about Jesus: …
* I am gentle (meek) and humble in heart (Matthew 11: 29)
* Jesus knew grief. He wept over the death of His friend Lazarus (John 11: 17-28)
* Jesus was always hungry for more of God. … While the disciples slept, … Jesus
prayed all night in the garden of Gethsemane; … Sweat drops of blood (Luke 22:
39-44)
* When people objected because Jesus invited sinners to eat with, … He and the
disciples said it’s not the healthy who need a doctor. It’s the sick. He said go and
learn what this means. I desire mercy, not sacrifice (Mark 2: 17)
In scripture after scripture, … we see that the Beatitudes give us a clear picture of
who Jesus was and how practicing these principles can lead us to real happiness.
Today we move to the final key, … Key #8, … and it is probably the most unlikely
of all. ... In fact, … this is often referred to, as … the blessing no one wants.
Blessed are “those who are persecuted”. … Happy we are, … when people insult
us;... glad … when people say bad things about us.
Let me ask a question: … Is that what we look forward to each day?: …
Persecution, … slander, … gossip, … insults?!
I don’t … but we have to look at the whole context. … We are happy when people
practice these outrages … because of our faith; … because of Him. … If Jesus is
the reason for our persecution, … then we will be content.
This is what we call a paradox. … A paradox … is not … two ducks.
A paradox is a statement, … that when we first hear it, … we cannot understand
how it could possibly be true.

I see three of them in this passage: …
1. Persecution is a GIVEN in the Christian life. … Too many people have bought
into the lie that says, if we live for Christ, … everything will be just hunky-dorrey.
We will be successful, … wealthy … and problem free.
The Greek word for that kind of thinking is “bull-hockey”; … in Latin: …
“Baloney”.
To be clear, … the Bible teaches that just the opposite will happen to those who
obey Christ. … Jesus never taught a “prosperity gospel.”
He taught a “persecution” gospel.
Happy are those who are persecuted because of righteousness.
John Stott (an English Christian leader and Anglican cleric) said: … “we should
not be surprised if persecution comes... but rather we should be surprised if it does
not”.
Jesus told the disciples that they would face incredible struggles: …
Matthew 24: 9: … “Then they will hand you over for persecution, and they will kill
you. You will be hated by all nations because of My name”
This is exactly what took place in the lives of the apostles: …
* Philip was beaten, thrown into prison and crucified.
* James was stoned to death.
* Andrew was crucified and left on the cross for three days.
* Bartholomew was beaten with clubs and was then crucified.
* Simon was crucified.
* Jude was crucified.
* Tradition has it that Peter was crucified upside down because he said, “I don’t
feel worthy to be crucified in the same manner as the Lord.”
Paul taught in 2 Timothy 3:12: … “In fact, all those who want to live a godly life in
Christ Jesus will be persecuted”
Peter wrote in 1 Peter 4:12: ... “Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery
ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to
you”
Persecution is a Given.
There are at least two reasons why we will be persecuted: … (A) Because of the
life that we live. … Vs. 10: … “those who are persecuted for righteousness.”
Now some of us might feel persecuted or mistreated … but most likely, … it has
nothing to do with righteousness. … If we don’t use deodorant, … don’t claim
persecution because no one wants to sit next to us. … If we’re rude or
disrespectful, … don’t be shocked if we are left out or possibly pushed away.
There is a difference between being persecuted for righteousness sake …

and being self-righteous. … Real persecution comes when we are living a godly
life!
(B) We will be persecuted because of the Lord we love. … Jesus declares that
people will insult, … persecute … and give false witness … because of Me.
To be righteous means to be like Jesus.
Understand, … for one reason or another, … some people are so upset with God,
… that they take it out on those who love Him.
In the early Church, … Christians were confronted with a choice; … to follow
Caesar … or to follow Christ. … Rome declared they could not do both, …
although Jesus actually said they could. … The early believers who said: …
“I choose Christ” … were branded as outlaws / criminals.
2. Persecution is a Gift. … Most of us will agree that persecution is a given …
but to say that it is a gift, … is a stretch for most of us.
Blessed are those who are persecuted. The Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
That’s the gift; … and no one can take it away.
Hebrews describes what happened to a number of the heroes of the faith. … Just
read Hebrews 11:36-38. … Verse 38 contains a very curious phrase: … “The world
was not worthy of them” … and in some mysterious way, … they saw persecution
as a gift that brought them to their home in Heaven!
You and I live in a country where we are allowed to freely gather for worship.
Authorities will not come in to shut us down for preaching the gospel. … We will
not be arrested in the parking lot because we are carrying a Bible. … Most of us
have never been beaten because of our righteous behavior. … Here’s the point; …
We might never be called on to give our life for Jesus … but the question is; …
would we?
Would we? … We sit here today in padded chairs and we say “absolutely!”
How do we know that? … How do we know if we would be willing to give it all
for Christ?
Let’s check our commitment meter: …
Check our commitment to prayer and God’s Holy Book. … What does that have to
do with it? … If we are not willing to study God’s Word, … we probably will not
give our life.
Check our checkbook. … That hurts! … If we were able to look at someone’s
checkbook, … we would be able to tell a lot about their lifestyle. … In the USA,
… we have much more than most of the world. … Check our checkbook and see if
we are committed with our finances. … If we’re not willing to give just 10% of our

income to the Kingdom (even when we miss a Sunday), … how can we convince
someone that we are willing to give our all? … Check the checkbook.
Check our commitment to sharing God’s Book / Word. … Do we share it even
with our family?; … Our friends? … If we don’t do it now, … we certainly won’t
when we are being persecuted.
Persecution is a Given. Persecution is a Gift.
3. Persecution brings Gladness / happiness. … James 1:2: … “Consider it a great
joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials”
The Holy Word teaches us; … to be persecuted … is to be happy.
What could that possibly mean? … How is that possible?!
Well it doesn’t necessitate being happy when a problem comes up, … when a trial
pulls us down … or when people mistreat us.
It is to be happy for what the Christian life represents.
If we are living a godly life … and someone persecutes us for that reason, …
be happy! … Why? … It shows we love Jesus! … It demonstrates we are living a
Christ-like life! … Be happy … because we will see Heaven … and great will be
our reward!
A group of Chinese Christians; ... men … women … and some children had been
worshiping in a secret house Church at night with all shades pulled down. …
They were a part of what we sometimes call the underground Church.
One evening, … as they were having Bible study, … a group of armed soldiers
kicked the door down and held all of them at gunpoint. … They said we have heard
that you are Christians … and were sent here to find out for sure. … We plan to
kill each of you if what we have heard is true.
They shouted; … “how many of you are truly believers in Christ?” … Some hands
went up … but not everyone was willing to admit their faith.
So those who didn’t raise their hands were sent out of the building. … Once they
were out, … the soldiers said; … “OK, … now you can put your hands down.”
The people were surprised, … some almost in shock!
The soldiers informed the remaining congregation that two weeks prior, …
they went to raid a group similar to theirs with orders to kill everyone … but
preparing themselves outside to kick the door down, … they heard the ones inside
talking about God’s love. … “We had never heard that before … and we all gave
our lives to Christ”. … “We wanted to come here and worship with you … but we
just wanted to make sure you were actually committed”.
AMEN

No Greater Gift - 9/10/17

NO GREATER GIFT
John 15: 9-13

His is one of the most famous legends from the American Civil War. 
His actions spawned a monument in Fredericksburg, Virginia, … that still stands
today. 
His name is Richard Rowland Kirkland, and he is known as the Angel of Marye’s
Heights.
The story first appeared in the Charleston News and Courier in 1880 written by
former Confederate General Joseph B. Kershaw; … it goes something like this: …
The Battle of Fredericksburg, in particular the Union charge up Marye’s Heights,
… was a disaster for Uncle Sam.  … The Confederate line had entrenched at the
top of a slope behind a stone wall.  … Their position was optimal, … as it allowed
them free fire over the sweeping hillside while posing little risk to themselves. 
It would be suicide to charge it … but the Union was desperate. 
Commanding General Burnside needed a victory to overturn the rising tide of the
Confederacy.  … So, he ordered the charge despite the odds. 
Unit after Unit of blue-clad soldiers stormed up the heights, … only to be met with
devastating gunfire and artillery from behind that wall. 
In short, … it was a bloodbath. 
Although a few came close, … no unit was able to breach … and the Confederates
held their position.
By nightfall, Marye’s Heights was a swath of bodies in blue, … soaked in their
own blood.  … Most were dead.  … The ones lingering begged for water and aid,
… their cries haunting every living soul on those heights. 
Getting to them was impossible … because nervous sharp shooters fired at
anything that moved.
This was when Confederate Private Kirkland, of the 2 nd South Carolina, entered the
story. … Crouching behind the stone wall, … he was tormented by the cries of the
wounded. 
He went to General Kershaw … and asked if he could bring them water. 
Kershaw denied his request, citing that it was too dangerous. 
When Kirkland insisted, … Kershaw was moved by his compassion and relented.
So it was that a little Johnny Reb risked his life by treading the active battleground
of Marye’s Heights … and ministering unto the Union wounded. 
Gathering every canteen he could carry, … he went from man to man, … all of
them crying out for water seemingly at the same time. 

Seeing his errand was one of mercy, … the Union sharp shooters held their fire …
and watched in awe as this lone man aided the dying men … that were not even his
own!: … Bringing them water and comfort. … Kirkland repeated this errand of an
angel, … time-after- time, … each time willingly, … even though his own life was
hanging by a shattered thread.
“No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life”
Richard Rowland Kirkland; … The Angel of Marye’s Heights
In your Bibles, … please turn to John 15: 9-13 to follow along.
Jesus talked very often throughout the Gospels about love … and about the
application of love in our lives.
I’m sure your pastors have delivered sermons on love … and most likely on the
difficulty of love; … the “Mission Impossible” of, … love our enemies, …
yet as believers, … we do not have the option to … “not love”.
This evening, … please allow me to challenge all of us with this question: …
When people see us, … do they see the love of Christ?
Admittedly, … that is a very difficult question … and it is not always easy to
answer. … However, … for the believer, … those who CLAIM to be a Christian,
… we have a commandment to love … and in order to grow in the Kingdom, …
we must be willing to do this, … without hesitation.
More to the POINT: … If we do not display a Godly love for EVERYONE we see,
meet, or know, … including a stranger on the street, … regardless of their status in
life, ... we need to examine our self, …as to why.
It’s a tough example to follow … but Jesus is Lord … and we are not!
When we were born into that new person, … we committed ourselves to love one
another; … PERIOD!
Today, … we will look at this deeper … and before we dismiss prayerfully, …
maybe our hearts will be opened a bit more.
(Pray): … Dear Lord, … I pray that every fiber of our bodies will be open to You
… and to the path of Love … that your commands require us to follow. … AMEN
Point 1: … The order of love (v9): … “As the Father has loved Me, I have also
loved you. Remain in My love.”
Look at the sequence of love. … It is VERY important that we understand this
order of love. … God loved Jesus first. … He loved Him so much, …
He discussed with Him, the creation of Man.

Genesis 1:26: … “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.”
God was not talking to the angels; … He was talking to His Son!
This is the first revelation of the existence of a Triune God-head (Father, Son,
Holy Spirit) … and we … were not there!
Jesus can say with all confidence: … God the Father … loved Me first.
Then Jesus confesses that He has loved us: … “I have also loved you”
At this point He has not gone to the cross … but He knows the cross is coming.
Jesus understands His role in the Father’s plan … and so He gives this directive to
His followers: … “Love”.
That expression of love commands us to “remain”!
The Greek word for “remain” is “Meno”, … which defines: … “to stay in one
place, at a given time, with someone”.
When we obey the commandments of the Father, … we are remaining.
When we remain in this kind of love, … we are obedient.
St. Augustine put it this way: … “It is not that we keep His commandments first,
and that then He loves; but that He loves us, and then we keep His commandments.
This is that grace, which is revealed to the humble, … but hidden from the proud.”
The love the Father has for Jesus … is what allows us to be loved.
Because of the sacrifice on the cross, … we are loved today; …
without it, … we would be destined to an eternity without Him.
Point 2: … Are you willing to follow? … Vs.10-11: … “If you keep My commands
you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commands and remain
in His love. 11  “I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and
your joy may be complete”
Are we willing to put it everything aside … and obey the Father?
Here’s another challenge: .... Think about the Word … in a way that could change
… how this world thinks.
Further down in John 15:19, … we read, “If you were of the world, the world
would love you as its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have
chosen you out of it, the world hates you”
As Christians, … we do not belong to this world! … We must forget about the
world’s commandments … and look to the commands of Jesus Christ.
Are we willing to lay everything we know down and follow God’s love?
Here is a quick test: … Your daughter, granddaughter, niece, in-other- words, …
your favorite little girl in the world … wants to get married. … The man she has
chosen is an upright, faithful man and lives by God’s Word in everything he does.

Yet, he is of another ethnic heritage, … social status … or lives in another country,
altogether; … Do you love? … Or do you condemn?; … and if so, … Why?
My answer regarding Lindsey (my daughter) is simple: … He better know the Lord
to date my daughter, … period! … If not, … she will be unevenly yoked.
You see, … God SAVED us … to love one another unconditionally.
Where do I get this?: … Galatians 3:26-29: … “for you are all sons of God
through faith in Christ Jesus. 27  For as many of you as have been baptized into
Christ have put on Christ like a garment. 28  There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free,
male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29  And if you belong to Christ,
then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise”
This is the calling of the Church, … the calling of the saints (of which, YOU ARE)
… and the calling of all Christian believers today!
God created the entire human race to live with Him in peace and harmony …
but our sin made that impossible. … We must understand that in God’s eyes, …
His love for us is not based on race, … social status, … or even our gender.
We belong to the human race, … created and sanctified by God …
and unconditional love; … a command, … to all His children!
Examine your own life; … me included: … Do we love like our Heavenly Father?
Let’s look at the commandment of love … given by the Savior.
Point 3: … What is commanded? … Vs.12: … “This is My command: Love one
another as I have loved you.”
In case we did not understand where Jesus was coming from, … it is plainly
spelled out for us.
We are called to love one another, … without any division!
His example of love took Him to the cross; … it took Him to immense physical
pain and scorn in the form of an execution that He did not deserve.
Vs. 13: … “No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his
life for his friends”
This is the amplified view that we have to follow today. … Jesus has given His life
… so that we could be different, … so that we could be stood apart! …
He has given His life so that we could learn how to love … because we have seen
it demonstrated through Him.
If He is our Savior today, … His example of loving unconditionally is what we
have to follow.

Remember the challenge at the beginning: … When people see us, … do they see
the love of Christ?
Want to know more about love?; … Read and study the Gospels; … listen deeply
to your pastor in their Sunday sermon; …
Turn to the person next to you, … hold their hands, … look into the eyes of a
Christian, … behold the love of Jesus Christ!
Jesus is calling out to us to love one another. … Are we willing to love
unconditionally?
For a moment, … please pray for each other that your heart will always be open to
complete and unconditional love; … Agape Love.
We must allow the Father to work in our life; … We must allow the Holy Spirit to
come in and give us peace, … so that it flows from each of us as love and
compassion for one another.
Romans 8: 1: … “Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ
Jesus”; … only repentance and forgiveness.
Psalm 111: 10: … “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
all who follow His instruction ] have good insight. His praise endures forever”

AMEN

Bridge Over Troubled Waters - 8/27/17

BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATERS

Luke 12: 22-34

Chuck Swindoll on “Stress Fracture”: … “Whoever dubbed our times, …
‘The Aspirin Age’, … didn’t miss it very far. … It is correct to assume there has
never been a more stress-ridden society than ours. … For many, … gone are the
days of enjoying bubbling brooks along winding pathways or taking long strolls
near the beach. … The relaxed bike ride through the local park has been replaced
with the roar of a motorcycle whipping through busy traffic. … The easy-come,
easy-go lifestyle of the farm has been preempted by a hectic urban family going in
six different directions, … existing on instant dinners, … shouting matches, …
strained relationships, … too little sleep and too much television.
Add financial setbacks, … failure at school, … unanswered letters, … obesity, …
loneliness, … a ringing phone, … un-planned pregnancies, … fear of cancer, …
misunderstandings, … materialism, … alcoholism, … drugs … and an occasional
death: … then subtract the support of the family unit, … divide by dozens of
opinions, … multiply by 365 days a year … and you have the makings of madness!
Stress has become a way of life; … it is the rule rather than the exception!”
The Bible doesn’t use the term “STRESS” … but does mention: … worry, anxiety
and burdens … which are a part of your life and mine! … Almost in epidemic
proportions, … stress is a feeling created when we react adversely to particular
events; … the body’s way of rising to a challenge and preparing to meet a tough
situation with focus, strength, stamina and heightened alertness.
Some stress is good, … while too much can be disastrous, … if not deadly!
“SLOW DOWN”: … This is what our reading from the Holy Word is teaching us!
When we get ahead of ourselves, … begin to have more questions than answers, …
we need to slow down … and stay in step with the Lord, … remembering He says
to plan is good … but to worry is wrong!
“Worry”; … to be anxious, … worn down … by cares and fears which takes all the
joy out of life.
Anxiety isn’t limited to adults … and is found in alarming numbers of young
children, … most from financially secure homes … many demonstrating symptoms
not even see in children from war-torn nations!

Jesus gives us 6 reasons not to worry: …
1. God gave us life; …we can trust Him for whatever is needed to support it. …He
ALWAYS provides
2. Birds don’t worry about tomorrow or store things up; …why do we seek security
in accumulating possessions when we can’t see or control what tomorrow brings?
3. Worry won’t add anything positive to our life; …in fact, … it’s harmful and can
result in numerous health issues (Drew Peterson)
4. Flowers that had a life expectancy of one day and then used as fuel for fire; …
They were exquisite to behold, … so what makes us think God will be forgetful of
humanity, … the crown jewel of His creation?
5. The characteristic of a non-believer is a distrust of God; … we trust in the love
of God: … We should feed our heart on the record of what God has done in the
past … plus the promises He has pledged, … that, leaving nothing to worry about
for the future
6. Live one day at a time and we’ll conquer worry; … tackle the demands of each
day as it comes … without borrowing from yesterday or tomorrow
Isaiah 26:3: … “You will keep in perfect peace the mind that is dependent on You,
for it is trusting in You.”
SOLUTION FOR ANXIETY: … Philippians 4:4-7: … “Rejoice in the Lord
always. … I will say it again: … Rejoice! Let Your graciousness be known to
everyone. The Lord is near. Don’t worry about anything, but in everything,
through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let you request be known to God
and the peace of God which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and
minds in Christ Jesus”
Paul’s therapeutic counsel might lack credibility if it were not for the fact, …
he models and demonstrates its reality; … he was writing FROM prison, … facing
the executioner’s ax!
Concern is a facet of every healthy life … but ongoing worry, without interruption,
… is unhealthy; … being obsessive or fixated, results in immobilization, counter
productivity and a dishonorable representation of Christian faith
THE MOST repeated negative command in Scripture: … “fear not” – 365 times;
… “for I am with you”
Do we believe that is an unrealistic answer?: … Then Pray; … and it isn’t just
about TALKING, … prayer includes LISTENING!
When we are anxious, worried or weighed down, … it’s good to enlist others to
pray for us … but the key is for us to pray … because … “the peace of God which
surpasses every thought” … is a result or by-product of prayer by the one in need!
Remarkable peace is not a prayer REQUEST, … it’s a prayer RESULT!

God’s peace stands as an invincible, … unbeatable, … impassable sentry of our
heart and mind
Often our anxiety revolves around the desire for a solution to a situation over
which we have NO CONTROL … but want to take control. … Jesus in
Gethsemane emerged changed … but it wasn’t what He said, … it was what
God SAID TO HIM … which made all the difference!
Rather than worrying, … pray, … formulate a positive action to take, …
implement it … and then keep on praying for results!
LAYING DOWN THE BURDENS: … Matthew 11:28-30: … “Come to Me, all of
you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29  All of you, take up My
yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will
find rest for yourselves. 30  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Believers in Jesus’ day were over-loaded with the burdens of the Law of Moses, …
the traditions of the Pharisees … and trying to make themselves acceptable to God:
… It was MORE than they could bear!
Jesus invites them to lay down their heavy burden … and accept the salvation He
will secure for them
We tend to accumulate burden after burden, … ours and even other’s …but never
seem to put them down.
“Yoke is easy” … “burden is light”. … A yoke made to fit … allows the team of
oxen to work powerfully together
“Yoke” … represents a commitment to be His follower or disciple; … learn from
the patient and gentle One.
Why do we forget that His power is shared with us?! …
1 Peter 5:7: … “casting all your care {Anxiety, … Worry} on Him, because He
cares about you.”
STRESS RELIEVERS: …
Rejoice: … It takes a willful decision to sing and praise God. … Whether we are
feeling depressed, … anxious … or bothered by some annoyance, … we can
exercise our ability to rejoice. … Encourage our self in the Lord … by counting
our blessings (ALL THAT WE HAVE!), … don’t allow the negative to dominate
our mind and heart!
Yield our self totally to the Lord (SUBMIT); … we are not as apt to become
irritated if things don’t go our way … and the result is we become an example to
others; … communicating in verbal and non-verbal ways!
Our God is greater than any problem!

Remember Prayer: … Start the day talking with God … and it will program our
thinking, … attitudes, … spirit … and actions … to call on Him for everything.
Seek discernment; … learn to say “NO” … and avoid becoming overloaded.
Contemplate, … envision: … Take time to see how the Lord calms the storms in
our heart, … mind … and relationships. … He doesn’t promise calm seas for our
journey … but He does promise a safe harbor.
Meditate: … Try to memorize Scriptures, … study, … read, … discuss what God
says to you in His Word.
Without spending time with God (and this Bible is how He reveals Himself), …
we won’t have the capacity to live in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Apply what we learn; … make consistent applications to the principles of Scripture
… and the principles taught by Jesus.
He knows how to handle stress better than any doctor, … seminar … or self-help
book … that money can buy!
Psalm 91:1-2: … The one who lives under the protection of the Most High
dwells in the shadow of the Almighty. 2  I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my
fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
Worship and worry cannot live in the same heart: … they are mutually exclusive
AMEN

A Troubling State of the Nation - 8/20/17

A TROUBLING STATE OF THE NATION

2 Chronicles 7: 12-22

There is something that has been weighing heavily on my mind … and I am sure,
several of you also.
That is; … what is happening to this nation … and what is happening to this
world?!
It no longer suffices to peacefully protest, write letters and speak out against
situations one disagrees with; … now a physical attack is more in order … or the
destruction of whatever it is that a person believes offends them … and often, with
law enforcement standing by, … doing nothing, … usually by the orders of city
officials.
The Mouse That Roared was a 1959 Cold War satirical movie based on a 1955
novel of the same title about a tiny country in financial ruin that decided to declare
war on the United States so that it could then accept defeat … and … the millions
of American dollars in aid that would come from the US … to help rebuild the war
torn economy.
Today, … we have a tiny, improvised nation, … North Korea, … that is actually
threatening to attack us with nuclear weapons!
There was a time when youth looked up to professional sports players as heroes;
… now, … so many have arrest records that most of today’s disillusioned youth
have turned from the standout football, baseball or basketball player to … dark
heroes … like X-Men, The Flash, Electra, Beast, Storm … and lately, even Batman
and Superman have taken to evil. … Heroes that are already flawed, … so it is
hard for them to disappoint … or not live up to expectations.
By the stroke of a pin, … the definition of what marriage has been defined as by all
cultures throughout history, … has now changed into an undefinable union.
Even the description and characterization of male and female are on the ropes!
What has brought this crazy, … upside down, … backwards, … nothing-makes-
since-anymore society into our present day reality?
We Christians have a lot of the blame to shoulder; … that’s right, … many of us!
It has been said that Christians are a lot like tea bags. … You’ll never know how
strong they are, … until you put them in hot water!
Unfortunately, … we may never get to know how strong some Christians could
actually be … because they will do just about anything to avoid being put …
into hot water.
What I am trying to say, … is that we have serious problems in our country today
(and the world, for that matter) … and most … are doing very little about it.

2

Who would have ever dreamed that we would have court battles over our right to
pray and display the Ten Commandments, … crosses … and nativity scenes?
All it takes is just one person to cry out to the ACLU to get everyone to cower in
fear. … To be “PC”, … Six Flags Over Texas will no longer fly the six flags that
have flown over Texas; … just the US flag from this point on.
Where is everybody?; … or should we be asking, … "where are those who call
themselves Christians?"
Sadly, … the cry is going unheard because too many Christians have sold
themselves out to silence and political correctness.
Christians who deal with the problems of our country … by either backing off and
turning a blind eye … or simply refusing to get involved at all.
Christians who don’t regularly pray, read and study the Bible, or attend Church.
Christians who won’t write their federal, state, and local officials when anti-
Christian legislation is introduced against them.
Christians who don’t stay informed with what is going on around them.
Christians who quickly adopt the "blind-eye; deaf-ear" attitude towards sin.
No wonder America is in the shape that it is in!
We can’t blame the pornographers for lust and adultery. … We can’t blame
Hollywood for the corrupt and obscene entertainment.
We can’t blame Miller and Anheiser-Busch breweries for alcoholism …
or Phillip-Morris Tobacco for lung cancer.
Neither can we blame Colt, … Smith and Wesson or Remington Arms for gun
violence.
Then who can we blame?
We start by pointing the finger at every person who claims that they are a
Christian! … it’s mostly our fault for closing our eyes, … plugging our ears … and
keeping our mouths shut.
We have … (“We” being the general Church) … failed to live up to our identity of
being Christ-like because we refuse to acknowledge the sin that is right under our
noses.
We no longer hear the cry of the truly oppressed … nor speak out against injustice.
The greatest way to advance the cause of evil and corruption, … is for good people
to sit by and do absolutely nothing.
We are to blame … and we need to make a drastic change!
The change I speak of is America’s remedy! … We hold the key to America’s (and
then, the rest of the world) … spiritual revival.

3

Today’s scripture says that the medicine for our country … involves swallowing
three different doses of God’s cure-all: …
“humble themselves, … pray and seek My face,… and turn from their evil ways”
(Vs. 14b) … back to God.
“then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land” (Vs. 14c)
First, … we must humble ourselves. …
This Hebrew term means to subject ourselves and become subdued. …
In-other- words, … we must subject and subdue … our pride.
Pride elevates us above others … and above God Himself.
When we subject ourselves to God, … our whole life comes into its proper
perspective.
Being humble doesn’t make us weak. … Humbleness is actually … strength under
control. … Humility is true strength … and reaches to Heaven. …
Pride is true weakness … because it reaches no further than our own ego.
1 Peter 5:5-6: … “And all of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one
another, because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. 6  Humble
yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at
the proper time”
We must become humble.
The second step of America’s remedy is to pray and seek God’s face.
Most, … if not all, of our problems today could be cured simply through prayer.
Far too many are neglecting to pray out of a misguided notion that there isn’t any
need to do so since God automatically takes care of all our needs … or that He has
a better agenda to attend to, … then us!
Even when we do pray … it usually becomes a one-sided conversation consisting
of a selfish, vague, laundry-list of spiritual and personal demands for God to meet.
James 4:2: … “You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot
obtain. You fight and war. You do not have because you do not ask”
Even when we do ask, … we don’t get it … because our whole motive is wrong;
… for-the- most-part, … we want only what will give us pleasure.
This is why God instructed Solomon to make sure they didn’t "just" start praying
again for the sake of praying. … God wanted His people to pray the right way.
We need to attempt to recapture the sacredness of prayer in our lives.
This is seeking after God with personal and intimate communication that is filled
with admiration, … thanksgiving, … praise … and intercession.
We must pray … and seek the face of God (try hard to know Him).
The third step of America’s medicine … is to turn from our evil ways.

4

The Hebrew word for "evil" … applies to those things that are wicked, … bad, …
cause misery, … distress … and disaster.
The Hebrew word for "ways" … can also describe "path, way of life, or conduct”.
That being said, … as part of the process, … we must turn away from all that is
evil … and all that will cause us nothing but misery, pain, heartache …
and the removal of God’s blessings.
Whatever conduct … or way of life … that is not pleasing to God is a sin … and
we must attempt to eliminate it.
If that means losing weight off our temple, … then shed the pounds.
If it requires us to stop smoking, … then stop fumigating the Holy Spirit’s
Tabernacle.
If it is giving up our membership at a club (or even some exercise programs) …
that has a history of cult-like activities, … then we should turn in our resignation.
If it means to stop filling our mind with garbage, … then throw away the
questionable DVD’s, books and music; … stop watching the soaps, MTV …
And most prime-time network and cable.
Some of what I have said (and this applies to me, also) … sounds like too much to
ask … but it’s just that simple.
It amazes me how much “world” is in the Church … and how little “Church” there
is in the world. …
We, … as a Church, … should never have any event connected to the Church that
does not deal with fellowship, evangelism, scripture study, feeding and clothing
the hungry or offering love and care to those in need; … if it doesn’t fit into at least
one of those categories, … it shouldn’t be at the Church!
This is part of Rick Warren’s advice in The Purpose Driven Church … and it is
good council!
Fulfilling the great commission of making disciples for Christ!; … Matthew 28:
19-20, … is the picture!
If there is no way to glorify God, … then we shouldn’t do it!
Romans 12: 1-2: … “Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to
present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your
spiritual worship. 2  Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the
renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and
perfect will of God
The blessings for humbling ourselves, … praying and seeking after God …
and turning from our evil ways, … will be the assurance that God will hear us, …
forgive us, … and heal us.

5

If we continue to fight Him … and go our own way, … if we persist in allowing
this nation and world to unwind, … we can look to a future described in
2 Chronicles 7: 20: … “then I will uproot Israel from the soil that I gave them,
and this temple that I have sanctified for My name I will banish from My presence;
I will make it an object of scorn and ridicule among all the peoples”; … except it
won’t be Israel, … IT WILL BE US!
The Hebrew word for "uprooted" dictates; … "broken down, knocked out,
demolished, shattered, broken up," and "to lay in ruins."
This may explain why many Christians today live fruitless, broken, and nominal
lives. … This may clarify why many of our Churches are stagnant, dying, and/or
exclusive clubs for members only.
We can pray that it be our desire to find pardon, … healing … and recovery from
all forms of Satan driven evil that tries so desperately to destroy our relationship
with God.
To close today, … there is very little that could be more appropriate of a reading,
than Jeremiah 4: 1-2: …
“If you return, Israel—this is the LORD’s declaration—you will return to Me,
if you remove your detestable idols from My presence and do not waver,
2  then you can swear, “As the LORD lives,” in truth, in justice, and in righteousness,
then the nations will be blessed by Him and will pride themselves in Him”
AMEN

Eclipse - 8/21/17

Like most of you, … on Monday I tracked the progress of the eclipse. In this part of East Texas,
we only got about an eighty percent covering of the sun; … partially blocked.
The sun, almost blocked out … but not completely … and then its return to its whole self in the
sky above!
Does this speak to you as it did to me?
With all the chaos in the US and the rest of the world, … it is like evil (Satan) is trying to block
out the Son: … “Let’s tear down a statue, sandblast a relief, drive a car into a crowd that we
don’t agree with, hate someone or something, … just for the sake of hating.”
It’s as if the Son will never shine again.
It makes me grieve.
As the sun came back to its full brilliance, … so will the Son. Matthew 16: 18b gives me the
assurance I need so desperately on this dark earth: … “and on this rock, I will build My Church,
and the forces of Hades will not overpower it”.
The gates of hell … will not be able to stand up to the forces of the Church … and the awesome
power of the Son! PRAISE GOD!
For those of us who persevere and stand boldly for the Church of Jesus Christ in the face of
Satan and humanity’s ignorant, selfish nature, … this is what we are to look forward to: …
Revelation 21: 1-4: … “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the
first earth had passed away, and the sea no longer existed. 2  I also saw the Holy City, new
Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her
husband. 3  Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look! God’s dwelling is with humanity,
and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be
their God. 4  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will no longer exist; grief,
crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away”.
This is the FULL LIGHT OF THE SON!
Stand Boldly!
Your servant in Christ,
Pastor Jim

How's Your Investments? - 8/13/17

HOW’S YOUR INVESTMENTS

Luke 19: 11-27

In Luke 19, it is late winter and Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem for His last
Passover … and the last week of His earthly life. … He has just arrived in Jericho,
the lowest city on the face of the earth which is 1000 feet below sea level.
That makes Jericho comfortably warm in the winter and a great escape from the
cold weather and snow of Jerusalem. … Consider it the Palm Springs of its day.
Before the birth of Jesus, … Herod the Great enlarged and beautified Jericho
making it the site of his winter capital. … As a result, … Jericho quickly became a
highly desired location for the winter villas of the Jerusalem elite and Temple
leadership wanting to curry favor with Herod .
Many of the priests of the Temple were thought to live in and around Jericho as
well.
Every time we read Scripture, … we need to ask what happened before this
particular reading: … There are three points that help direct our understanding of
today’s scripture.
First, is the raising of Lazarus. … Our Scripture begins with: … “and they thought
the kingdom of God was going to appear right away”
A month prior to the telling of the parable of the 10 Minas, … Jesus brought
Lazarus back to life. … This was consider to be an unmistakable sign of the long
promised Messiah. … Word began to spread among the people in the area …
and certainly among the pilgrims headed to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover,
consequently the crowds at Jesus’ entry to the city on Palm Sunday.
So, … many in Jesus’ entourage believe He is going to Jerusalem to overthrow the
Temple leaders and the Roman 10th Legion, … resulting in His earthly reign to
establish peace, prosperity and social justice; … the three messianic expectations
of the Jews for their Messiah.
They believed this was certain and immediate!
That changes what we do … and how we do it. …
It’s that sense of certainty and immediacy that Jesus could return at any moment …
which the Church has lost today … and which impacts our parable.
The second event is just prior to Jesus’ arrival in Jericho when He restored sight to
a blind man, … a symbolic act suggesting that we are going to need new eyes to
understand who Jesus is, … what He is about to do … and … what He is
expecting of us!

Third is the encounter with Zacchaeus just prior to our parable.
Our Scripture today starts with: … “As they were listening to this”
That connects this parable with the previous scene: … the welcoming of a
despicable Judean Chief tax collector into the Kingdom of God.
Being a tax collector in Israel meant that you were a scorned person who possessed
considerable wealth, … very few friends … and no hope of inclusion.
Of those in the despised tax collecting fraternity, … Zacchaeus would have been
viewed as one of the worst.
As a Chief Tax Collector, … he was responsible for enticing, recruiting and
training other Jewish young men to become tax collectors.
That made Zacchaeus a traitor to his faith and country by working for Rome, …
which the Jews considered to be the kingdom of evil.
Fortunately for Zacchaeus, … as well as you and me, … Jesus always sees what a
person can become … in Him; … not what he or she was before His call.
So Jesus rescues another lost sheep when he calls Zacchaeus down from a
sycamore tree … and dines with him and his unclean friends.
Welcome to the Kingdom of God!
We find in Jesus, … God’s unyielding pursuit of us with His grace … and the
lengths he will go … to rescue the outcast.
Knowing the end of his life is near, … Jesus needs to remake His disciples’
understanding of what their responsibilities are as they await His return.
Jesus tells them a story that had a familiar ring. … A man of noble birth went to a
distant country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return.
This would have quickly conjured up flashbacks of Herod the Great and his sons.
When Herod died in 4 BC, … Herod’s son Achelous went to Rome to persuade the
Roman Senate to place him on his father’s throne. … This was contested by his
half-brother, Antipas, … His aunt Salome … and others in Herod’s extended
family. … While the family was engaged in their political lobbying efforts with
Emperor Augustus, … a group of Jews arrived in Rome and petitioned Augustus to
dissolve Herod’s kingdom. … Everyone in the first-century Near East would be
completely aware of the uncertainty that comes with a change of leadership and
those fighting for power.
Will your nobleman prevail … against the others vying for the throne who wanted
to rule over the same territory? … Because of these uncertainties, … the natural
tendency of any slave or servant awaiting his master’s return … would be to
cautiously avoid any exposure to your nobleman’s adversaries. … Care needed to

be taken in the marketplace so as not to be too closely identified with your
nobleman.
If he lost his quest to be king, … you could very well lose your home and security
as well. … New kings can be very vindictive against their rivals …
and all who supported them.
In our parable today, … this nobleman summoned 10 of his slaves, … gave them
minas, … which were the equivalent of three months’ pay … and said to them: …
“Engage in business until I come back”.
This command is better translated as “transact” with these (minas) until I return.
The implication of this assignment is that the nobleman’s slaves are to venture into
the marketplace and do business with that which he entrusted to each of them.
In doing so, … it will be no secret in the community who these slaves are
representing. … Then, Jesus complicates the plot by saying, … his subjects hated
him and sent a delegation saying: … “We don’t want this man to rule over us.”
There are four concepts we learn from this parable.
First, … we are called to name and own our allegiance … and live boldly as
followers of Jesus. … It would be easy to profess our allegiance once the nobleman
returns and has become King. … Jesus is saying, … “I’m asking you to assert your
allegiance now, … before I return”.
Kenneth Bailey (renowned New Testament scholar, seminary professor, author,
Presbyterian career missionary, and international lecturer) … tells the story of
teaching some short courses at the Lutheran Church of Latvia.
While there, … he observed the interviewing of prospective students …
and inquired of the interviewers, … what questions they asked.
The reply: … “The most important question is ‘When were you baptized?’
Bailey asked why is that so important? … They answered: … “If they were
baptized during the period of Soviet rule, they risked their lives and compromised
their futures by being baptized. … But if they were baptized after liberation from
the Soviets, we have many further questions to ask about why they want to become
a pastor.” … He then writes: … “The Master challenges His servants to live boldly
and publicly as His servants, … using His resources and unafraid of His enemies,
… confident in the future as His future.” …
Hugh Hewitt, in his book, … “The Embarrassed Believer”, … contends: …most
Christians are embarrassed believers. … They do not talk about their faith or
Church. … They don’t have Bibles on the corner of their desks. … They never
engage others in spiritual conversations. … And the result has been the dramatic
increase of pornography and violence over the last five decades. … The values of
the world today pale in comparison to the values of mid last century. …

He writes, … “From Paul’s imprisonment and martyrdom to this year’s murders of
Christians around the globe, there is an ennobling and inspiring thread of courage
uniting saint after saint. It is an inheritance of every believer. And it is to this that
we are called.”
Paul writes, … “For I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is God’s power for
salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16a) … And Jesus said, …
“If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful
generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his
Father’s glory with the holy angels” (Mark 8: 38)
Too many of us are … embarrassed, silent, secret agents for God … yet we are
called to be bold witnesses of Jesus Christ!
He closes with these words: … “Christians in America trying to save the lost,
comfort the suffering, cure the ill, clothe the naked and bring joy to the despairing
will not make a significant and lasting impact unless they do so openly and without
apology as Christians. The witness must accompany the work or the work will not
endure and the world is hungry for our witness.” Bold witness!
Second, … Jesus seeks faithfulness.
When the nobleman returned after receiving the kingdom, … he summoned these
slaves to whom he had given the money for an accounting … and commends the
two slaves that brought him ten and five minas respectively.
The master’s affirmation is for their faithfulness, … not the profitability of their
transacting. … The nobleman is commending them for being willing to be
identified with him in the public arena … and for being bold and courageous in
their transactions for him in an uncertain and possibly hostile environment.
With this parable, … Jesus provides His disciples with a significant part of their
Post-Pentecost job description. … He expects them to be transacting for Him with
the gifts He has generously made available to them; … e.g., … His Word, …
His Spirit, … spiritual gifts, … abilities and opportunities He has endowed (lent) to
them. … He expects His disciples to be bold, courageous, steadfast and persistent,
… as they willingly identify with Him, … even in the face of adversarial pushback.
Not just with people like us … but with the outcasts of this world as well.
Their future accountability will be rooted in how faithfully they discharged these
transactional responsibilities. …
How profitable these interactions are, turn out NOT to be the (primary) focus …
but rather one’s faithfulness.
This raises the question for us to consider: … how faithful have we been in the
Master’s business … and using to the resources lent to us, … to accomplish His
purposes?

Third, … it all belongs to God! … (How difficult this is for most of us to accept!)
Note the emphasis on “your mina.” … Turns out, these servants are not slaves but
stewards. … The slaves are clear that these minas are not theirs … but rather a
temporary gift from the nobleman. …
It’s realizing … and, … most importantly, … accepting, … all we have belongs to
the Master.
Randy Alcorn tells of starting a Church in 1977 which grew dramatically so that by
1990 it was a very large Church. … He was making a good salary and collecting
royalties off several books he had written. …Then through a series of events, … he
felt God calling him to take a stand on a controversial social issue. … He joined
several non-violent protests and was arrested several times. … Then he and the 20
others with whom he was protesting had a court judgment against them which
included garnishing 25% of his wages (what is not mentioned in this version of his
story, … is that he had the opportunity to op-out of the law suit … and through his
11 and 9 year old daughters advice, decided God wanted him to remain in the suit).
… Instead of his wages supporting the organization he was protesting, … he made
the decision to resign the Church he had built. … The only way to avoid
garnishment was to take a minimum wage job and to have his wife go back to
work to help support the family. … Fortunately, they had just paid off their house
and he had divested himself of all royalties from his books.
Then another court judgment came against him, … this time $8.4 million, …
the largest ever against a peaceful protest.
He writes: … “By all appearances, and certainly by the world’s standard, our lives
had taken a devastating turn. Right? … Wrong! It was one of the best things that
ever happened to us. ‘What others intended for evil, God intended for good.”
(Genesis 50:20) … We began Eternal Perspective Ministries. … (My wife) Nancy
worked at a secretary’s salary, supplementing my minimum wage salary.
All of the assets (and bank accounts), including the house were in her name. …
I owned nothing at all. … I have access to plenty but I still don’t own anything.
(And) I began to understand what God means when he says, “Everything under
heaven belongs to me.” (Job 40:11) … but learning about ownership was only half
the lesson. … If God was the owner, I was the manager. … More than ever before,
I needed to adopt a steward’s mentality toward the assets he had entrusted, …
not given, … to me.”
Fourth, … our view of God determines how we live.
Not all of the slaves transacted faithfully in the public arena. … Then another slave
came and said, … “Master, here is your mina. I have kept it hidden away in a cloth

21  because I was afraid of you, for you’re a tough man: you collect what you didn’t
deposit and reap what you didn’t sow”
It’s clear that this slave had a different perception of this generous, nobleman than
the others did who were faithful; … therefore it led to his doing nothing with that
which was entrusted to him.
It matters what your view of God is.
It is life-shaping and life-changing, … whether our view of God is accurate …
or is distorted and flawed. … Our view of God always shapes the nature and
character of our faithfulness.
Kent Crocket in his book, Making Today Count for Eternity, writes; …
“Everything we do for God is based upon our concept of God.”
This principle is true for all cultures and individuals on earth. … How one lives is
motivated by a person's conceptions or misconceptions of his or hers god.
This is critical … because a poor perception of what God is truly like can
potentially be the source of serious misdirection in an individual's life.
In 2006, Gallop conducted a poll to determine people’s perception of God. …
What they found is, while 91.8% of Americans claim to believe in God, … most
are sadly ignorant of what the Bible says about who God is.
They found four main misperceptions of God: … "the Authoritarian God", …
"the Benevolent God", … "the Critical God", … and … "the Distant God."
While all four views possess a microcosm of truth, … they reveal a very limited
understanding of God.
Jesus came to reveal who God really is; … not only the depths of His love …
but the length to which He would go to call us back home into relationship with
Him. … That would become abundantly clear as Jesus willingly went to the cross
to take the punishment for our sins.
There’s the story of a boy who was continually in trouble at school. …
His father could not understand why. … He provided for him in every way with a
good home, raised him in Church, … spent time with him fishing and going to his
ballgames … and he showered him with his unconditional love … but the boy
wouldn’t straighten up! … One day his son was upstairs playing around with his
baseball, … which he’d been told repeatedly not to do; … he ended up breaking
one of his bedroom windows. … The father headed upstairs and took off his belt.
The boy knew what was coming so he voluntarily bent over next to his bed …
but the father said; … “Son, here, take this belt.”
Then his father took off his shirt and kneeled down next to the bed and said, …
“Son, I want you to give me seven lashes with this belt across my back.”
His son started to cry and said that he couldn’t do it. … His father kept insisting
until the son finally relented and started hitting his father across the back with the
belt … but it wasn’t hard enough. … The dad said, … “Harder son, harder!”

When the boy finally lashed the belt across his father’s back seven times with
greater force, … the father asked him: … “Son, do you know why I had you do
this?” … The son said “No.” quite tearfully.
He said, “When Jesus went to the cross for us, He took the worst punishment that
has ever been inflicted upon any man. He was pummeled, He was beaten, and His
beard was plucked out, even though he was innocent.”
Then the dad asked; … “Why did he do this?”
The boy, still whimpering, … hesitated … and finally said; … “I don’t know.”
“He took the punishment that He didn’t deserve … to save those who didn’t
deserve being saved. … That is how much the Father and Jesus loved us.” (John
3:16).
The boy was visibly shaken by this lesson and from that day forward, … he never
seemed to get into the same amount of trouble. … Not perfect … but changed!
The message of God’s love displayed on the cross by Christ forever changed this
young man … and it has forever changed us … because now, … through the cross,
… we can see who He really is … and live our lives in response to that TRUTH.
As we wait for Jesus’ return, … may our faithfulness endure any obstacle,
oppression … or test!; … may we be BOLD agents for our Christ!
AMEN

Enlistment to God's Command - 8/6/17

ENLISTMENT TO GOD’S COMMAND

Luke 17: 1-10

This has been called “the most troubling parable” in the Bible. … Why does Jesus
say we are like: … “good-for- nothing slaves”?
I know I must have read this before … but somehow I managed to glossed over it.
Here’s one for ya; … most books on the parables of Jesus … omit this one.
I was in Life Way awhile back and read an article in Christianity Today Magazine
about this oft-looked- over parable of servant-hood … and several thoughts from
this message stuck with me.
So what is a servant?: … Jesus is describing either a paid household servant …
or a slave. … The terms are interchangeable because they were both (in most
cases) … by personal choice. … We tend to forget that. …
We think of people being captured and sold into slavery. Many Hollywood movies
have depicted slavery in all its dehumanizing horror.
In Bible times, …at least in Israel, … slavery was voluntary indentured servitude;
… a means of getting out of debt … and for no more than six years; … sooner if a
bondsmen could pay off what they owed.
At times, it was a kind of apprenticeship … and included the learning of valuable
job skills. … It was never a racially defined class of humanity.
What the American South did with slavery is not the slavery condoned in Scripture
… (though southern slave owners used this parable to justify their version of
slavery).
Lifelong slavery and the practice of slave traders is condemned in Holy Scripture
(Luke 4: 18, 1 Timothy 1: 10 and Revelation 13: 10, to mention a few).
In what is mostly an overlooked parable, … found only in Luke, … Jesus
compares slavery … to discipleship.
We are God's servants. … That's not something we may aspire to.
In the parable, … a domestic servant finishes farm work, then prepares the master's
meal. … That's his job. … Should the master invite the servant to sit down and eat?
Should the master thank the servant for his work?
You'd think, in both cases, … the answer would be “yes”... but the answer is “no.”
The servant is simply doing what is expected.
Jesus is not saying that, … if we're in a position of authority, … we have the right
to be uncaring. … Our Heavenly Father doesn't treat His children that way …
and neither should we.
In another parable (Luke 12: 37) the master returns home and finds His slaves
gainfully employed: … He rolls up His sleeves … and serves them. …

Jesus is describing the attitude of a servant. … Whether we're thanked or not, …
we choose to serve.
In the Christian life and faith, … whether our life situation improves or not, …
we continue to live for Jesus.
In my career in Western sales, at times, I was over many employees.
The highest position I ever obtained was that of National Marketing Executive and
Director of Sales for the country of Canada.
I created sales strategies, planned marketing objectives, trained salesman, handled
major customers and attended Trade Markets from Calgary to Dallas.
Those I worked with never had any doubt as to what I expected of them.
I learned early on, it was easy to fire someone … but very difficult to draw the full
potential out of an individual.
I wasn’t always the best at this … but I tried to be fair and compassionate.
There were times I had to make corrections … and I strove to accomplish that
without being mean-spirited.
Do we understand that, … as Christians, … we're under authority?; … Or do we
live independent of God, … on our own?
When we come to God in prayer, … our attitude should be: …
“I am Your servant.”
In our consumer-driven American Christianity, that's hardly a popular message.
We tend to be more concerned with what we can get from God, …
not what we can give Him.
We come to Church and to Him, … expecting to get needs met; ... not to work.
Yet Jesus set the standard: … “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served,
but to serve, and to give His life—a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
He also said: … “So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also
ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14).
Elisabeth Elliot (Christian author and speaker) noted: … “The best way to find out
whether you really have a servant's heart is what your reaction is when somebody
treats you like one.”
These are hardly the only passages that offers a “disciple-as- servant” metaphor.
Jesus also tells us to “take up our yoke,” … “No slave can serve two masters,” …
and “a slave is not greater than his master.”
The Apostle Paul's favorite title for Jesus is “Master”... and “slave” for himself.
Yet, didn't Paul say in Galatians 3:28 that: … “There is no …, slave or free”?
He is speaking of human relations. … Among ourselves is an equal standing ...
but our relationship to God is that of serving our Lord and Master.

We tend to stand up for our rights; … we often feel a sense of entitlement.
We’re inclined to think of God as a celestial vending machine, … catering to our
needs, … dispensing whatever we desire.
We think of God, … not in terms of Master … but Servant.
He's like Santa; ... we pray by giving Him our wish list, … not by reporting for
duty.
One thing I learned in management, … one surrenders a lot of rights: …
the right to speak freely, … the right to privacy, … sometimes even the right to
live where we choose … and if business crashes, … don’t expect to be treated
fairly.
A lot of executives and managers, believe-it- or-not, … say they feel like slaves, …
not only to their CEO’s … but to their customers and the economy.
When we come to Jesus, … the CEO of our salvation, … we surrender our plans,
… we turn from our selfish ways … and we … give up control.
We come with obedience … and dependence.
This is what being a disciple is all about. … Jesus is Lord; … we are not.
We don't have the option of choosing what to obey. … There's no negotiation here;
… we are under orders … and submission is a matter of obligation
In organizations we philosophy about servant-leadership … but the truth is, …
the higher up one goes in business, … the less likely we are to serve.
I read of a retired General about his transition to civilian life. … He said, “The first
day of my retirement from the Army I got in the back seat of my car and nothing
happened.” … Bobby, Herald, Bill and Blake probably get that better than the rest
of us. … Upon retiring, … the General no longer had his Military Driver.
Victor Frankl tells of his experience in a Nazi concentration camp in his book
Man's Search for Meaning. … He notes that the prisoners who kept their sanity
were the ones trying to help their fellow prisoners and share what little they had.
Their physical and mental condition was strengthened by their compassionate
focus on something other than themselves.
We all know of “Cafeteria Christians”, … who pick-and- choose what they want to
do, … as if obedience was selective and optional. …
Just like that General, … even he was under orders … and did as he was told.
We too are under orders, in the Lord's Army. … As soldiers of the cross we follow
the word of our Commander.
One reason we gladly serve and obey is that, … unlike the master of the parable,
our heavenly Master is “gentle” and “humble in heart”, … a compassionate Lord.

“All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble
in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. 30  For My yoke is easy and My
burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30).
It is OUR privilege to serve Him.
We’ve all had bosses we HAD to obey … and others we gladly followed …
because we RESPECTED them!
Has Jesus won us over? … Do we obey to avoid punishment and hell … or for the
selfish reasoning of building our mansion in Heaven?
or because we love … and respect Him?
Are we loyal to Him? …
When we obey God, … we find our actions become the means He uses to open our
eyes and transform us.
Here's the key to this troubling parable: … Because our Master is powerful, …
we can lean on Him for strength.; … because He is good, … we can trust Him to
care for us ...
so our bondage … is really our freedom!
Let us serve.
AMEN
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