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God's Name; Ours to Claim, Not to Abuse! - 3/19/17

GOD’S NAME; … OURS TO CLAIM, … NOT TO ABUSE!

Exodus 20: 7

The Declaration of God’s Name: …

One of God’s most beautiful gifts to humanity, … is the gift of language, …

the ability to speak. … It is one of many human traits that distinguish us

from animals, … other than Mr. Ed!

As is true with every good gift God has given to His children, … sin has

found a way to abuse it … and misuse it.

Music; … it’s a gift from God … but can be used for good … or for evil.

Sex; … it’s another gift from above; ... beautiful in its proper bounds …

but Satan has twisted it in awful ways for evil.

Internet; … We first need to thank Al Gore for inventing it!

Seriously, … it’s a powerful tool for good … and yet wickedness makes its

home there as well; … what a web we weave!

Here’s some Scripture about how speech can be misused:

Prov. 25—backbiting

Prov. 11—gossip

Prov. 10 - 30—slander

Prov. 16—evil; speech

You might also want to read what the Ten Commandments has to say about

lying … or bearing false witness.

As bad as all these are, … there is a sin committed with the tongue that is far

worse than any of the above … and that is using God’s name in vain.

I’m talking about using God’s name in a blasphemous way; …

attaching “D-A- M-N” after it … or saying “Jesus Christ” … in a manner of

cursing, … rather than speaking that beautiful name … the way it is

intended.

We’ll make another connection with all other cursing, later.

Do you want to put someone in their place, kindly … yet effectively?

Do what someone did to me when I used the words, “Jesus Christ”, … when

I was impatient because a line was moving slowly in a store.

He said, … “It’s not His fault, it’s theirs!” [pointing to the help at the

register]. … “Yeah, you’re right,” I admitted (feeling embarrassment and

even shame.

The name of the Lord is sacred. … It’s a holy name. …

At that name, … angels bow down; … demons tremble; … Satan has to flee.

The name Warren Buffet may open doors of finance, … Einstein may open

doors of brilliance, … Michelangelo may open doors of art … but the name

of Jesus, … will open to you the doors of Heaven!

Romans 10: 13: … For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be

saved

We honor names of military generals like MacArthur, Patton, Schwarzkopf,

and others. … We honor spiritual leaders like Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell,

D. James Kennedy, Adrian Rogers, etc.; … How much more should we

honor the name of Almighty God?!

Psalms 8: 1: … Yahweh, our Lord, how magnificent is Your name

throughout the earth!

Psalms 25: 11: … Because of Your name, Yahweh, forgive my sin, for it is

great

Psalms 111: 9: … He has sent redemption to His people. He has ordained

His covenant forever. His name is holy and awe-inspiring

Another translation reads: … holy and reverend is his name.

It’s for this reason that I have always been uncomfortable with the term

‘reverend’ attached to my name because the Bible says it’s HIS name; ..

He is due reverence, … certainly not me. … I prefer Pastor Jim, … Brother

Jim … or just Jim … but I’ve answered to many names, … some not so

good!

Jesus’ name is so holy and powerful, … that just by the mention of it; …

every knee will bow one day!

We need to be reminded of the mindset of the Orthodox Jew in Bible days,

… concerning the name of God, … as well as many Bible translators for

centuries, before the invention of the printing press.

When these scribes would copy the Word of God, … every time they would

encounter a name of “God”, … they would rise from their work table, …

go and wash … and often change their clothes, … pick up a new quill never

used before … and then proceed to write the name of “God”.

They would do this every time; … sometimes up to three times in a single

verse. That’s how respected and revered the name of “God” used to be.

What a terrible sin it is … to ever drag His beautiful name … through the

swamp!

Names are very significant. … The Bible says that a good name is better

than great riches.

Let me rattle off some names and you call out the first thing that comes to

your mind: …

Judas [traitor]

Thomas [doubter]

Hitler [murderer]

George Washington [honesty]

In the days of the outhouse, … a teen boy thought it would be fun to tip one

over and roll it down a hill. … His dad later came to him and asked him if

had done just that! … He thought about lying and denying … but he decided

to do right … and so, he admitted to the deed.

His dad said he was about to whip him for the prank!

“Aw dad … but I told you the truth, … just like George Washington told the

truth when he chopped down the cherry tree … and he didn’t get a

whippin’!”

His dad replied; … “The difference is, my son, ... George’s dad wasn’t IN …

the cherry tree!”

What do you think about when you hear the name of God? …

The Bible has over 300 names of God. … That’s because it’s impossible to

capture the full character of God … in any one attempt.

Gen. 22—Jehovah Jireh: … The Lord will provide

Ezek. 48—Jehovah Shammah: … The Lord is there

Jer. 23—Jehovah Sidon: … The Lord our righteousness

Exodus 6: 1-5—El Shaddai: The Lord is sufficient

Exodus 15: 1-2—Jehovah Rapha: The Lord our healer

Exodus 17: 1-3 …Water from the rock:—Jehovah Nissi: The Lord our

victory

Judges 6: 1-3—Jehovah Shalom: The Lord our peace

Geness 14: 1-3—Jehovah Elim: The Most High God

Matthew 1: 1-3—Jesus...there’s just something about that name!

Jesus is: …

The voracity of truth, … the verity of love, … the victory of grace, …

the visibility of God!

It’s honey to the taste, … harmony to the ear, … healing to the soul!

“Christ” is His messianic name. … He is the Christ … and that is the name

we wear as Christ***ians.

“Little Christ” … or “Christ-like Ones”; ... that’s what it means.

It’s a special privilege … but an awesome responsibility.

The Declaration of God’s Name: …

Vs. 7: … Do not misuse the name of the LORD your God, because the LORD

will not leave anyone unpunished who misuses His name

We live today, … in the midst of the most cursing generation of all of

human history. … Foul words are regularly added to a generous list of terms

we can say … but shouldn’t.

Most people, … even many Christians, … don’t think twice about using the

words damn or hell … in a flippant ways.

Atheists say ‘hell’ all the time … and would claim not to believe in it.

Some say hell … and they expect to go there; … no problem.

Others have been saved from it … and yet, … still say it; ... what a mockery,

… what a sad revelation about how worldly many Christians are today.

Then there’s the ‘f-bomb’, … the filthiest utterance we can say …

and so considered the most powerful … and the most used … by the scum of

society. … Some say it so much in all situations, … they don’t even know

they are saying it anymore.

Others think they are adding emphasis … by using it … but …

if what we are saying is so weak that we need to add such a word, …

we should revisit our real point … and try to strengthen it in other ways!

The ‘a’ word is now commonly accepted on regular, prime time TV …

but it best describes the person who would stoop to use it!

The ‘s’ word is not far behind … and further reveals what a potty mouth

one is, … when they say it.

Rap music is full of all the above … and so much more. … Especially terms

derogatory to women … or racial slurs.

A common “R” rated movie averages foul language every 32 seconds.

PG 13 … and most sitcoms, … average one every minute or two …

and we allow this into our homes!

Our kids don’t have to hear it from us, … if they hear it from our TV; …

it makes it look OK to them.

Cursing used to be considered ‘man language’... and you’d hear someone

say, ‘watch your language, there’s ladies present’ … but it’s not just a

“man” problem anymore.

Young girls, … not far detached from their dollies, … are making statements

today, … that would make a sailor blush!

As bad as all of this is, … the most vulgar expression to come from us, …

is to speak the lovely name of God in a vain way … and if we took that more

seriously, … we would also think twice before saying other curse words.

When we curse we reveal four traits: …

1. Lack of character. … The Bible says our mouths speak what is in our

heart. … What’s down in the well, … comes up in the bucket!

We can tell what a person IS, … by what that person SAYS.

A great preacher of yesteryear, … Sam Jones, said: … “When I get around a

man who swears, I watch my pocketbook; ... for any man who would swear,

… would surely steal!”

2. Lack of intelligence. … When we have to use profanity to get our point

across, … we are revealing an empty head … and a black heart.

Profanity is the attempt of a feeble mind, … to express itself forcefully.

3. Lack of understanding. … Think about how foolish it is to use a curse

word. … What does it get us?

LISTEN TO THIS: … With most sins, … we at least get something in

return, ... even pleasure for a short season.

Stealing is wrong … but at least we got something!

I’m not justifying sin; … just making a point.

We have a flat tire and curse. … Did that put air into the tire?

Now if the hot air coming out of our mouth could go into the tire, …

it would be different.

Can cursing ‘un-stub’ our toe?; … Make our golf ball move from the rough

to the fairway?; … Fix our broken window?

What do we earn by cursing?; … Only one REWARD: …

the judgment of God!

V. 7: … ‘the LORD will not leave anyone unpunished’.

4. Lack of reverence and respect. … A person takes God’s name in vain and

says, ‘sorry, I didn’t mean that.’

That’s like saying, … ‘God is meaningless to me. I can use His name and

not even mean it.’

Well, that’s exactly what the word ‘vain’ means. …

It defines; … empty or meaningless.

It’s a lack of reverence to God … and a lack of respect to any others around

us.

You ask people not to curse around your children … and most everyone

respects that … but what about around US?

I don’t think Christians should just overlook it … and we all do, … we’re so

used to it, … that we don’t even seem to hear it.

When Salvation Army founder, William Booth was dying, … there were

some legal matters to tend to. … The lawyer said to Mrs. Booth; …

“If you can get him to sign these papers, the will can be executed much more

smoothly.”

The problem was that he was drifting in and out of consciousness …

and often delirious … but they were able to wake him long enough to try to

get the signature.

Miraculously he was able to grasp a pen and begin signing, though scribbled

somewhat roughly. … The lawyer said it was good enough.

Then he died.

Later, … examination revealed that on every one of those papers the

signature was different than his known inscription; ... matter of fact, …

it was not even his name: ... On every line he wrote: … “Jesus”.

The only name on his mind in his dying moments ...

and it should be our most respected name … in all our living moments.

AMEN

Pastor's Corner - 3/21/17

Pastor’s Corner 03-21- 2017

1. “You shall have no other gods before me

2. 4  “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on

the earth beneath or in the waters below.

3. 7  “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone

guiltless who misuses his name.

4. “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your

God is giving you.

5. 13  “You shall not murder.

6. 14  “You shall not commit adultery.

7. 15  “You shall not steal.

8. 16  “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

9. 17  “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife,

or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your

neighbor.”

The nine commandments given to Moses!

I would venture to say that as you read over these commandments God gave to His people, very

few of us would think of purposefully disobeying any of them.

We take these commandments seriously, … don’t we! … Murder; … absolutely not! … Worship

other God’s; … NO WAY! … We try not to curse using the Lord’s name. … We love and

respect our mom and dad. … Mess around; … out of the question! … Steal; … If we didn’t earn

it, we certainly do not feel we have a right to it. … Lie; … Again, something we really try to

avoid … and just because “the Jones’ have it, doesn’t suggest we believe it should be ours and

not theirs; … I should be grateful of their blessing!

Did I leave something out? … Oh yeah, … that one we obey when it is convenient and doesn’t

interfere with golf, travels, visits, ball games, fishing or our sleep!: … 8  “Remember the Sabbath

day by keeping it holy. 9  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10  but the seventh day is a

sabbath to the LORD your God. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Why do we think this commandment is less than the others? Why is it so easy to miss Church …

and fellowship with other Christians? Why do we believe that this is a commandment that only

applies some of the time? Why is it so hard to look about us and see all the gifts God has laid in

our laps … and believe that it is only right … to give back about 1 ½ hours a week … to praise

and worship our Lord and Savior? It doesn’t matter if your Sabbath is Sunday, Saturday or even

Wednesday; … Why would we fail to honor our God?!!!!!

Your servant in Christ,

Pastor Jim

Lent: Greatest Commandment - 3/5/17

LENT – GREATEST COMMANDMENT

Exodus 20: 1-6

Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, … which begins on

Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. … Lent comes from the Anglo

Saxon word lencten, which means "spring." … The forty days represents the

time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and

preparing to begin his ministry.

Lent is a time of repentance, … fasting … and preparation for the coming of

Easter. … It is a time of self-examination and reflection. …

In the early Church, … Lent was a time to prepare new converts for baptism.

Today, … Christians focus on their relationship with God, … often choosing

to give up something … or to volunteer and give of themselves for others.

Sundays in Lent are not counted in the forty days because each Sunday

represents a "mini-Easter" … and the reverent spirit of Lent is tempered

with joyful anticipation of the Resurrection.

Let us pray: … O Heavenly Father .... help us to be mature in the faith.

To be passionate in our relationship with You … and with those that You

place into our lives. ... That we may be open to the transforming power of

the Holy Spirit … and be conformed to the image of Your Christ.

In Jesus name, … we pray.

AMEN.

There was a young boy who built a toy sailboat. … He would take it to the

park every day and sail the little boat on the pond.

Because he loved his boat, .... he was careful not to let it go too far out into

the pond.

But then, ... the inevitable day came ... when the boat sailed beyond his

reach.

He had gotten himself soaked trying to retrieve it … but the boat had gone

out too far for the boy to rescue it.

He went home, heartsick, … expecting that he would never see the boat

again.

A few weeks later, ... he was walking through town ... when he saw his boat

in the window at the little secondhand shop.

He was so excited!

He went into the store and said, … "I've found my boat! ... I made that

boat! ... It's mine … and I'd like to have it back!"

The man behind the counter answered, … "Well, maybe it was your boat at

one time … but it's my boat ... now.

And if you want it, ... you will have to pay me 20 dollars.”

"Twenty Dollars" … shouted the boy. … It seemed like an enormous

amount.

He had no idea how he could ever come up with that much money.

He started to hang his head and walk out of the store ... but the owner said,

"If you'd like to earn a little money, I Could use some help around here."

And so it was agreed.

Every week the young boy would come and sweep the floors, ... tidy up the

shelves … and in return, … the owner would give him a few dollars.

Finally the day came when he brought his pocket full of crumpled bills to

the store … and bought his boat back.

He was thrilled.

As he walked out of the store holding his boat like a long-lost friend, …

he said, … "You're mine … twice now!

You were mine the first time ... because I made you; … and now you're mine

again ... … … because I bought you."

Before giving the Ten Commandments, … God stated this: … “I am the

LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of

slavery”

God is reminding His people that not only did He create them ... but He

redeemed them; ... He bought them.

This is the relationship that God had with Israel … and that is the

relationship ... That God wants with us.

We are His because He created us … and we are His ... because He bought

us out of ... Our slavery to sin.

He created us … and He redeemed us.

That relationship is the basis for the commandments that God gave to Israel.

God Led the people of Israel ... out of Egypt.

God Led them through the desert; …

and the commandments are another way that God Leads His people.

The First, And The Foundational, Commandment Is: … That there is one

God … and … "Do not have other gods besides Me."

These words ... command God's people to worship, … love ... and to serve

only .... the one, … true … God.

With this first commandment, … God makes it clear that His people are to

… have … a … relationship … with … Him.

God sees our relationship with Him … much like a marriage relationship.

Christians, ... We … an His Church … is called ... the Bride of Christ.

It's not enough to stand at the altar and say; … "You'll be my Favorite soul

mate!";

The words are; … "Do not have others."

If either spouse … does not disown all others, … it usually spells destruction

... for the marriage.

There is only one God; … the God who is revealed to us in the Holy

Scriptures … and He is calling us into relationship with Him.

Have we allowed other gods … into our life?

Where do we set our affections?

In-other-words, … when our mind takes a break from the complexities of

daily living, ... where does it come to rest?

Like a compass needle, … even though it is spun around, … will always

come to rest pointing north; ... where does our mind point … when it comes

to rest?

What is important to you? … Where do you spend your free time? …

What do you think about? … What do you long for?

What are you living … for?

In Christ, ... we are told in the Scriptures, … to set our affections on things

above, … not on things of the earth.

Understand!; … we are dead … and our life is dependent on Christ, …

in God.

We are a new creation, ... a new creation in Christ Jesus. … The old has

passed away; ... the new … has come.

The First Commandment, urges us .... to be in relationship … with God.

God is to be first … in every aspect of our life.

When we lose sight of the first commandment, ... we lose sight of God.

We must be mature in the Faith.

We must stop praying generic and vague prayers.

Spiritual maturity requires us to move in faith to: … "Not my will …

but Your will be done"

We must have a passion for who we are … in Christ Jesus!

A young disciple of Christ ... who was wanting to become all that God has in

store for him, … visited the home of an elderly Christian.

He had heard that this old man ... throughout his whole life ... had never lost

his first love for Christ.

The elderly man was sitting on the porch with his dog, ... taking in a

beautiful sunset.

The young man posed this question: …

"Why is it, sir, ... that most Christians zealously chase after God during the

first year or two after their conversion … but then fall into a complacent

ritual of Church once or twice a week ... and end up Not looking much

different than their neighbors ... who aren't even Christians?

I have heard that you are not like that.

I have been told that you have fervently sought after God ... throughout all

these years.

People see something in you ... that they do not see in most other people.

What makes you different?"

The old man smiled and replied, … "Let me tell you a story: … One day I

was sitting here quietly in the sun with my dog.

Suddenly a large white rabbit ran across the field right in front of us.

My dog jumped up … and took off after that big rabbit.

He chased the rabbit over the hills with a passion.

Soon, other dogs joined him, … attracted by his barking.

What a sight it was, … as the pack of dogs ran barking across the creeks, ...

up the stony embankments, ... through thickets and through the thorns!

Gradually, however, … one by one, … the other dogs dropped out of the

pursuit, .... discouraged by the course ... and frustrated by the chase.

Only my dog continued to hotly pursue the white rabbit.

Now, ... In that story, young man, ... lies the answer to your question."

The young man sat in confused silence.

Finally, he said, ....."Sir, I don't understand.

What is the connection between the rabbit chase … and the quest for God?"

"You fail to understand," .... answered the well-seasoned old man, ...

"because you failed to ask the obvious question.

And that is, ... Why didn't the other dogs continue with the chase?

The answer to that question is; ... they had not seen the rabbit!"

Are we in relationship with the one true God?

Do we know Jesus, … are we maturing in the faith?

Is our Passion for Him engrained in our very soul?

Our Lord instructs us how to portray that passion: …

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all

your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”

Deuteronomy6: 5 and Luke 10: 27

You shall love … and Beloved.: …

How can we not love?

How can we who have encountered the risen Christ, ... do anything else ...

but love ... and follow Him!

Only those who have encountered the Christ; ... Who have seen the risen

Lord; ... have the commitment ... to continue with the chase!

Only those who have encountered the Christ, ... will persevere …

to finish the race ... and to finish well.

Only then will we passionately ... Love the Lord our God …

with all our heart. …

Only then … will we passionately Love our neighbor as our self.

Only God knows our heart. ... God knows that we desire that passion to be

ignited in our life!

John Wesley was once asked the secret about his ministry.

He said, "I ask God to set me on fire ... and let people watch me burn."

As we enter this season of Lent; … My prayer for all of our lives, …

is to ask … for God’s … Holy fire!

To Let it burn, ... setting each of us on fire … with a passion.

A Passion to love the Lord, our God, … with all of our heart, … with all our

soul, … with all our mind ... and to love our neighbor … as our self.

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, … AMEN

Suffering is Part of the Plan - 2/19/17

SUFFERING IS PART OF THE PLAN

Matthew 16: 21-28

In the scripture just before this passage, … Peter is the hero. …

He had just confessed that Jesus was the Christ, the son of the living God.

Jesus had asked the disciples who do men say that I am? … The disciples

gave Him many different answers, then He asked them; … "but who do you

say that I am?"

That’s when we get Peter’s great confession of faith; … "Jesus , You are the

Christ, the Son of the living God"

Peter was a hero; … he understood who Jesus really was; … he understood

that Jesus was no mere man … but a living part of the God of creation, …

the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Jesus was the Son of God who came to this earth to show and to tell the

people of God, … the Israelites, … about God in a very real and personal

way.

Peter had put it all together! … For that moment, at least, … Peter knew who

Jesus was.

But in today’s Bible reading, … Peter quickly changes from the hero, …

to the goat; … from one who is illuminating great truths, … to one who is

babbling and carrying on about things that he doesn’t understand … or even

want to understand.

Peter changes so quickly in fact, … that Jesus associates him with the devil

when He says; … "Get behind me Satan"; … you are tempting Me, …

you are hindering Me, … you are trying to make Me change my mind about

the course that I am supposed to take!

What did Peter do that was so wrong … that he changed so quickly from the

hero, … to a goat, … in just a few short minutes?

After Peter’s confession, … Jesus began to tell the disciples about what lie
ahead for Him. … Jesus informed the disciples that He would suffer at the

hands of the religious rulers, … He would in fact be put to death by these

temple leaders … but God would raise Him on the third day.

Jesus was explaining the concept of the suffering servant, …

the suffering Messiah to the disciples … and Peter, out of love and respect,

… out of his own ideas about the Messiah, … out of his own sense of glory

and righteousness, … took Jesus in his large arms and said; …

"God forbid, Lord. This shall never happen to you.";

2

Peter could not let Jesus suffer … because he loved Him so much; …

he could not let Jesus suffer because he could not believe in a Messiah that

was nothing less than a … conquering Messiah; … He could not let Jesus

suffer because that was not the dreams and the expectations he had of Jesus

… and the dreams and expectation he had of himself as a follower of Jesus.

No, … suffering was not a part of all of this, … at least in Peter’s mind.

But Peter was wrong; … suffering was a part of the plan that God had for

Jesus. … Jesus must suffer for the sins of this world so that our salvation

would be secure in the person of Jesus Christ!

Jesus tells Peter it is the will of God for Him to suffer, He says: … “You are

an offense to Me because you’re not thinking about God’s concerns, but

man’s”.

Men … cannot understand the workings of God, … men have their own

thoughts about the plans of God. … Jesus is saying, … God’s plans are that I

must suffer so that you will not have to suffer. … Jesus tells that he must

understand what is the will of the Father for His Son. … Peter must

understand that suffering is part of this plan, …. not glory, … not riches, …

not a grand army … but suffering, … death … and the cross, …

then God will act to raise Him on the third day.

God will bring life … where there was death, … God will bring glory where

their was suffering, … God will deliver Jesus from the hands of Satan …

and exalt Him to the throne of glory at His right hand in the heavenly

mansion in the sky.

God will do all of this … because He is a God of love.

Jesus then goes to tell Peter especially … and the disciples also, …

that everyone must take up their cross to follow Him.

Jesus is instructing that being a follower of Jesus … is no easy matter.

There is sacrifice, … giving up personal possessions, … physical suffering,

… priorities must be set in ones life, … so what really counts, … eternal life,

… has the priority set at number one.

Jesus teaches the disciples … and us, … that whoever looses ones life for

Him, … will find it.

Whoever forget about the demands, … the values, … the standards of this

world; … whoever is willing to live totally for Jesus; … that person will find

life in Jesus, … that person will know Jesus as the Savior of life.

3

Jesus pronounces … that the Christian life is not easy … but it is the most

difficult life to live … because it is a life of sacrifice, … it is a life living for

Him instead of ourselves … or the world around us!

Yet in this day and age, … we make the Christian life so easy.

We constantly appeal to new members by stating how easy it is to join the

Church. … The rigidity … and discipline … of being Christian has

disappeared.

Most come to Church when they feel like it … or when they have nothing

else to do. … Attendance usually depends on fair weather. … in some

Churches, … if deer season has opened … or the fish are running!

Another person of the 20 th Century, … has described the Christian life in this

age in a like manner: …

Dietrich Bonhoeffer who was a martyr during World War II in Germany

wrote… "The Cost of Discipleship"; … in which he says that Christians

today are living by cheap grace. … He wrote: …"Cheap grace means the

justification of sin without the justification of the sinner. … Cheap grace is

the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, … baptism

without church discipline, … communion without confession, … absolution

without personal confession. … Cheap grace is grace without discipleship,

… grace without the cross, … grace without Jesus Christ, … living and

incarnate”.

Bonhoeffer describes; … “Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought

again and again, … the gift which must be asked for, … the door at which a

man must know. … Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow Jesus

Christ. … It is costly because it casts a man, … his life … in it’s grace …

because it gives a man the only true life. … It is costly because it condemns

sin … and grace justifies the sinner. … Above all, … it is costly because it

cost God … the life of His Son. … Grace is given because God did not

reckon His Son too dear a price to pay for our life … but delivered Him up

for us. … Costly grace is the Incarnation of God. … Costly grace confronts

us as a gracious call to follow Jesus. … It comes as a word of forgiveness to

the broken spirit and a contrite heart. … Grace is costly because it compels

a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow Him."

Bonhoeffer is describing a life which is fulfilling the charge of Jesus when

he says: … “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up

his cross, and follow Me”.

4

Bonhoeffer, in his preaching and writing, … is stating under no-uncertain-

terms, … we have lost sight of the grace which is so costly.

We have turned the grace of God into something so simple, … so watered

down, … without meaning or sacrifice, … that we don’t comprehend or

grasp what it means in this day-and-age, … to be a follower of Jesus.

Bonhoeffer doesn’t want to turn the grace of God into a new legalism …

but he does want his readers to understand that responsibility goes along

with the grace that God has given to us.

He is pointing out that we have taken that responsibility for to easily.

We have said that God is such a loving God … that He would understand

and forgive, … when we don’t follow through on our part of the covenant

He has made with us.

We have taken God’s love for us, … as an entitlement … an “owed”!

It doesn’t mean anything to us that God chose to have His Son die for us …

so that we might have eternal life. … It doesn’t even register that Jesus

sacrificed Himself for us and our sins.

It doesn’t mean anything to us that we are called upon by God to live in that

same kind of lifestyle, … that we are to live a life that reflects the same kind

of love, … compassion and concern, … that Jesus had for humankind.

What we are hearing from this Holy Scripture, this morning, is a challenge

for us to live a life that is not centered on self, … nor on the world … but a

life that is given over to Jesus and His demands.

A life that is willing to sacrifice something; … some priorities; …

some worldly values; … some creature comforts, … so that we might serve

our Lord and others around us.

I would like to leave you this morning with a story told by a Pastor by the

name of Victor Meyer who serves as Lutheran a minister: …

"The party was changed with excitement ... to which had been added a pinch

of mellowness. … It was the last time the graduating seminarians would be

together before moving to their new areas of ministry.

Among all the conversations that night, … one was most memorable. … You

see, Ed was going deep into the heart of Appalachia, … a poor mining town

to be specific. … This particular field of mission would provide Ed with very

little monetary compensation. … He would have to be on guard to maintain

his nutritional health. … There would be some risk involved, too. People

there didn’t like … ‘no strangers move’ in.’

5

He’d have to earn their trust and respect. … The nearest medical doctor or

facility for that matter, … was two hours away.

Disease and sickness was common.

Ed was a graduate with a lot going for him. … He was skilled and sensitive

and could serve the Church almost anywhere. … He could easily have gone

to a nice suburban area; … he didn’t have to settle for living in poverty.

He could have opted for a classy parish … and thus spared himself the grief

and ridicule he was absorbing from his father.

Ed chose freely to give up many personal luxuries when he graduated. …

Why?? … "Because”, he said, … “I believe Jesus meant it when he said I’d

find real life. … I’ll loose many things I enjoy and take for granted …

but I expect to gain a fuller, richer life anyhow. … When I consider what

Christ gave up for me … and these people in poverty, ... well, ... do I have

another choice?"

Do we have another choice as we live this life … and claim we are bound to

Jesus Christ, … the Son of the living God???

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit

AMEN

Transfiguration - 2/20/17

Sunday, February 26th, is the day the Church celebrates the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ. You are most likely familiar with Matthew 17 and the Transfiguration event. Jesus asks Peter, James and John to come with Him to a high mountain. It is there that Jesus becomes His Heavenly self instead of an earthly creature. He and His garments are whiter and brighter than a mortal can even take in. Moses and Elijah converse with Him and are possibly conveying what the immediate future holds or maybe even subjects concerning the Eternal Kingdom. Speculation is all we have because scripture does not go into detail … but we are painted a picture of what Jesus Christ’s appearance will be like when we get to our Heavenly reward.  
 
His face shone like the sun. Even His clothes became as white as the light”.
 
To be a Christian: …
This is what happens to us when we become a servant of our Lord and Savior; … not in physical appearance … but to our spirit, … our soul.
When we realize and confess that we are a sinner and beg for forgiveness and mercy; … when we ask Jesus to come into our heart; … when we finally realize how mortal we are and that there is no way we will ever have real joy and success in our life without turning that life over to Jesus Christ, … then our spiritual being, … the part of us that never dies, … is forever whiter than snow and brighter than the sun!
 
What a phenomenal Savior we have; … what a glorious God we serve!
 
Psalm 34: 5: … Those who look to Him are radiant with joy;
their faces will never be ashamed.
 
Your servant,
 
Pastor Jim
 

Is It Strike Three? - 2/12/17

IS IT STRIKE THREE?

Genesis 20: 1-18

Most of you have heard of Babe Ruth, the famous baseball player who was

exceptional at hitting home runs. … The crowds would cheer his coming to

the plate with great enthusiasm. … They would shout: … "you’re the

greatest!" or "we know you’re the best."

Babe Ruth played for many years and as the years progressed Babe’s skills

diminished. … Soon he was striking out a whole lot more than hitting home

runs. … Those same crowds now booed him when he came to the plate!

The crowds applauded him when he was successful … but rejected him

when he failed.

I guess that’s what we should expect from people when … we strike out; …

when we don’t have the success others expect … but how does God respond

to our failures? … How does God react when … we strike out? …

How will God look at us when we fail … a lot more then we succeed …

in our Christian walk?

These are important questions … because we will all have times when we

strikeout. … Sometimes we will have repeated moral failures. …

Other times, … our faith will not stand the test. … On occasion, … we’ll fail

to live up to our calling from God or the expectation of others.

How does God respond when we strikeout?

This is a question we can answer … because the Bible shows us how God

responds to his people’s faults and failures.

One true account found in our reading today: …

Vs. 2: …Abraham said about his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” So

Abimelech king of Gerar had Sarah brought to him.

Vs. 9: … Then Abimelech called Abraham in and said to him, “What have

you done to us? How did I sin against you that you have brought such

enormous guilt on me and on my kingdom?”



Here, … God reveals how he responds to spiritual or moral strikeouts.

In this story, we see that Abraham once again distrusts … and therefore lies

about Sarah being his sister in order to protect himself. … This is, despite

the fact, that Abraham has committed this same sin before when he was in

Egypt and had been rebuked by Pharaoh.

2

This incident with Abimelech makes Abraham … a repeat offender.

Abraham has been in this situation, previously … and has failed before.

Perhaps we can identify with Abraham, here … because the same struggles

… and the same failures, … keep turning up in our own life, …

even long after we may have believed they were gone or overcome.

When we’re in a situation like this, … we may wonder how God will

respond to our repeated failures.

We may doubt God’s love for us … and expect to be pulled from the game

… or even kicked off the team … because of our spiritual strikeouts.

I’ve got good news for you and me … because we see from this story how

God really responds when we strikeout.

He responds with grace! …

He does this in four ways.

First: When we strikeout, … God still forgives us

Second: When we strikeout, … God still protects us

Third: When we strikeout, … God still blesses us

Fourth: When we strikeout, … God still uses us



From there Abraham traveled to the region of the Negev and settled between

Kadesh and Shur. While he lived in Gerar, 2  Abraham said about his wife

Sarah, “She is my sister.” So Abimelech king of Gerar had Sarah brought to

him

Now, we do not know why Abraham moved from where he was to the

location in Gerar. … There is no hint from Scriptures that he had done so out

of any wrong motives or unbelief. … We do know that this city is on the

border of … or just outside of the Promised Land … and that it is ruled by a

powerful king; … Abimelech.

In-other-words, … these are very similar circumstances to when Abraham

failed before … and realizing this, … he should have been even more alert

… or attuned, … to this temptation.

That is a lesson for us also. … We need to always be alert for sin …

but especially diligent when we know we’re in a situation where we have

proven to fail, before!

Abraham strikes out, spiritually speaking … because he once again lets his

fears dictate his actions … and therefore, … he deceitfully claims that Sarah

is his sister.

He does, thinking it will keep him from being killed … and the result is that

the local, powerful king takes Sarah as his wife.

3

As a result of his distrust in God’s protection … and his self-motivated

conniving, … the worst possible scenario happened; … Abimelech decided

to take Sarah to be one of his wives.

This may have been out of personal desire; … after-all, … she was a

beautiful woman even in her old age … or it may have been for political

reasons, … as was often the case in those times.

In-any-case, … this is a serious situation … because now the entire covenant

promise to Abraham and Sarah, … is in danger of not being fulfilled!

God did intervene to protect Abraham … but let’s review God’s response to

strikeouts: …

First: When we strikeout, … God still forgives us

This is not spelled out in this scripture, … though it is in many other Bible

references. … Nevertheless, we know that Abraham was forgiven because of

the ways God responded to Abraham in the rest of the story.

God protects him … and then blesses him with material goods from

Abimelech… and then God has Abraham pray for Abimelech’s family to be

healed.

These acts all imply strongly that Abraham was forgiven … and that his

relationship with God was a healthy one.

This is good news for us! … God’s grace is sufficient to forgive all of our

failures, … even when we are striking out a lot more … than hitting home

runs.

He is rich in mercy. … He is unlimited in patiences toward His people. …

He is always ready to restore us by forgiving us.

Praise the Lord!

First: When we strikeout, … God still forgives us

Second: When we strikeout, … God still protects us

There are instances when we may think that our disobedience means that we

have forfeited all of God’s promises and protection. … We blew it …

and consequently we are on our own, … is our way of thinking.

Perhaps we disobeyed God’s word about finances … and as a result, find

ourselves in a mess.

We may think that our failure to fully obey God would keep God from

protecting us or delivering us.

Perhaps we disobeyed God by lying and it is leading to … or has led to a

heap of trouble and complication … and we think God won’t help us out

because our sin got us there in-the- first-place. … This is not true. … God is

a gracious God who still protects us in spite of our sins.

4

This should not be interpreted to mean that there are no serious

consequences to sin or disobedience; … THERE ARE ALWAYS

CONSEQUENCES FOR OUR SIN!: …

remember King David and Bathsheba.

We see God’s protection and intervention in these next few verses.

Vs. 3-7: … But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him,

“You are about to die because of the woman you have taken, for she is a

married woman.”

4  Now Abimelech had not approached her, so he said, “Lord, would You

destroy a nation even though it is innocent? 5  Didn’t he himself say to me,

‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ I did this with a

clear conscience and clean hands.”

6  Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that you did this with a

clear conscience. I have also kept you from sinning against Me. Therefore I

have not let you touch her. 7  Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet,

and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, know

that you will certainly die, you and all who are yours.”

God’s revelation to Abimelech in the dream makes very clear that God is

very serious about marital purity. … Adultery or fornication is not either a

laughing … or small matter as our society often views … or portrays it …

in the media.

The punishment for marital unfaithfulness, under the law, … was death …

and God tells Abimelech; … "you’re as good as dead!"

Now Abimelech had not "approached her", … which, … in Bible Speak, …

means he had not had sexual relations with her, … so technically, … he had

not committed adultery. … So Abimelech appeals to the justice of God and

says, " would You destroy a nation?"

Here we see very clearly that Abimelech understood that the sins of a leader

… has a great impact on the people being led.

Abimelech reminds God that Abraham had lied … and that he had planned

to marry Sarah with "clear conscience."

He was really not guilty of the sin God was saying he would suffer for.

God is a just God and only judges in fairness, as we can read in Genesis 19

with the story of Sodom.

Now God of course knew Abimelech’s heart, … which, by-the- way, …

was more righteous than Abraham had expected … and in his mercy, …

kept Abimelech from sinning.

5

What we need to take note of, … is how God intervened to keep the

promise to Abraham from being ruined. … Abraham, like us, …

does not deserve this mercy … but God protects us even when we fail to

obey him. … God gets us out of messes we create by our own disobedience.

Thank you Jesus!

First: When we strikeout, … God still forgives us

Second: When we strikeout, … God still protects us

Verse seven is interesting because God still considers Abraham a man of

God, … with God’s calling still on his life. … We see that God tells

Abimelech that Abraham "is a prophet" … not … "was a prophet."

God still has plans to use Abraham … and all true believers, …

despite the fact that we may strike out repeatedly.

In fact, … Abimelech is instructed to have Abraham to "pray for you and

you will live."

We will see how God uses the believer despite their failures, … even more

in verses 17, 18 … but for now, … let’s look at how Abimelech and

Abraham responded to God’s revelation.

Vs. 8-13: … Early in the morning Abimelech got up, called all his servants

together, and personally told them all these things, and the men were

terrified.

9  Then Abimelech called Abraham in and said to him, “What have you done

to us? How did I sin against you that you have brought such enormous guilt

on me and on my kingdom? You have done things to me that should never be

done.” 10  Abimelech also said to Abraham, “What did you intend when you

did this thing?”

11  Abraham replied, “I thought, ‘There is absolutely no fear of God in this

place. They will kill me because of my wife.’ 12  Besides, she really is my

sister, the daughter of my father though not the daughter of my mother, and

she became my wife. 13  So when God had me wander from my father’s house,

I said to her: Show your loyalty to me wherever we go and say about me:

‘He’s my brother.’”

We see in verses 8-10 that Abimelech and his people have the opposite

reaction that Abraham would have expected. … Abimelech’s obedience is

prompt … and the Bible says that; … " the men were terrified."

6

In-other-words, … they had the fear of God, … even though Abraham

disobeyed God because he believed; … “There is absolutely no fear of God

in this place”.

This tells us that the reason for Abraham disobedience and distrust was

totally unnecessary! … God had been watching out for Abraham all along.

Abraham’s response to Abimelech really demonstrates that it is only because

of God’s grace and mercy that Abraham, … or any of us, …

is chosen by God.

Abraham does confess his sin … but hardly in a forthcoming, whole hearted,

or repentant manner. … He basically justifies his sin by saying that Sarah

really is his sister (though be it a half-sister) … and that the situation of

"wandering" in a strange land demanded a "white lie."

These verses … and those that follow, … demonstrate the fact that God: …

“He has not dealt with us as our sins deserve or repaid us according to our

offenses” (Psalm 103: 10)

In fact God responds to our failures with great grace.

First: When we strikeout, … God still forgives us

Second: When we strikeout, … God still protects us

Third: When we strikeout, … God still blesses us

Fourth: When we strikeout, … God still uses us

We see this third principle at work in verses 14-16.

Vs. 14-16: …   Then Abimelech took sheep and cattle and male and female

slaves, gave them to Abraham, and returned his wife Sarah to him.

15  Abimelech said, “Look, my land is before you. Settle wherever you want.”

16  And he said to Sarah, “Look, I am giving your brother 1,000 pieces of

silver. It is a verification of your honor to all who are with you. You are fully

vindicated.”

Who sinned here? … Abraham, … right? … Yet it is Abraham who was

blessed by God through Abimelech with cattle, sheep, servants, open land,

and money.

This makes sense only in light of God’s grace and mercy.

God still blesses us despite our sins. … I can attest to this in my own life.

Even when I have failed and struggled, … God has still answered my

prayers … and more, … still provided for me financially, … healed my body

… and still blessed me with His presence!

7

I expected a dead, unrewarded life … because of my strikeouts (and mine

were more than just a strikeout; … I burned the stadium) … only to discover

that God is gracious beyond my comprehension.

I look at the blessings in my own life and can honestly say: …

"I’ve done nothing to deserve this … and everything not to deserve this."

I cannot understand it … but I can certainly praise God for it!

Third: When we strikeout, … God still blesses us

Vs. 17, 18: … Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech,

his wife, and his female slaves so that they could bear children, 18  for the

LORD had completely closed all the wombs in Abimelech’s household on

account of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.

Sometimes when I’ve really blown it; … when I have sinned, … I begin to

think; … "Well that’s it, … my ministry is over, … God would never use

someone like me." … I begin to think I’ll be like Samson and lose any

ministry empowerment that I have because of my disobedience …

but I have found that when we are truly repentant, … God is merciful, …

not only in forgiving us … but also in continuing to use us for His purposes.

We certainly see that principle at work in these last two verses.

Abraham, … the one who caused this mess to begin with, … prays and God

responds and heals Abimelech’s family.

God still used Abraham in his role as a prophet … and as a blessing to the

nations, … despite his faults.

Isn’t it good to know that God doesn’t pull us from the game … when we’re

in a slump and keep striking out. … He sticks with us, … not because He

has no choice … but because of his mercy and grace.

I hope you keep hitting many homeruns in your spiritual life … but if you

do find yourself in a spiritual slump, … you can keep your hopes up …

because when you strikeout, … God will still forgive, … still protect, …

still bless … and still use you and me.

In the name of the Father, the Son … and the Holy Spirit

AMEN

Gray, Black, or White - 2/5/17

GRAY, BLACK OR WHITE?

1 Corinthians 8: 1-13, Daniel 1: 8

Our scripture this morning is not the sole basis of the message.

However, … it does lay a good foundation to begin our look at dealing with

life’s gray areas.

Daniel determined that he would not defile himself with the king’s food

We must remember that Daniel was forced from his native land … and held

in captivity in Babylon. … One would think that being away from “home”,

… Daniel would be free to live anyway he chose. … Instead, … he purposed

in his heart to live a life that would not cause the other Jews in captivity with

him to stray from living the way God expected.

One quality that you will quickly find among Christians, … is … not

everyone agrees on everything.

I have actually heard about church splits because of the color of the carpet to

be purchased for the sanctuary. … Christians often disagree on what is right

… and what is wrong. … For one, … the matter may be black and white …

and to another, … it may be gray. … One may feel that a person should not

go to certain types of entertainment, … where another sees nothing wrong

with it. … One may feel that participating in certain activities is wrong, …

while another sees nothing wrong in doing it.

So what is right and wrong?

This morning I want to press on four questions that I hope will assist us in

making that determination for our self.

Activities, hobbies, habits and the like, … are this “gray area” we will be

looking at.

1. Does it promote edification (learning)?

Romans 14: 19: … So then, we must pursue what promotes peace and what

builds up one another

The word for edification in the Greek means “to build up … or …

the act of one who promotes another’s growth in Christian wisdom, piety,

happiness and holiness”

Within this scripture, … Paul is once again addressing the issue of “gray

areas”.

The Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink … but of living

a life of goodness, … peace … and joy in the Holy Spirit.

2

If we serve Christ with this viewpoint, … we will please God … and a bonus

is, … we will please other people, also.

Romans 14: 17-18: … for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking,

but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18  Whoever serves Christ

in this way is acceptable to God and approved by men.

Instead of getting wrapped up on the “gray area”, … ask, … is this building

… or burning … the Kingdom of God?

Is what we’re doing … contributing to unity among the saints … or is there a

possibility of division?

2. Can it lead to bondage (addiction)?

We might reason, … “I am allowed to do anything; … I’m an adult!”; …

but … not everything is good for us … and even though we’re allowed to do

anything within the bounds of the law, … we must not become a slave to

anything

1 Corinthians 6: 12: …   “Everything is permissible for me … but not

everything is helpful. Everything is permissible for me … but I will not be

brought under the control of anything”

Addiction … could be summed up in the statement; … “when you want to

say no … but can’t”.

I’ve had people tell me that they didn’t believe they could commit to Jesus

Christ because they would have to give up too much freedom.

I told them that if they were so free, … then they were free to give up the

activities that were out of God’s will.

They look at me like I have spinach hanging between my teeth … and reply:

… “I can’t do that!”

My response … “You’re not as free as you thought you where, … huh?”

Addiction is a physical and psychological dependence on a substance or

behavior. … It begins by using something (chemical or action) to feel good.

The substance or action seems to "help" the person to avoid whatever pain

they are experiencing.

We look to substances or behaviors to make us feel good.

This could be an emotional or physical need … but sadly, … whatever it is

that people turn to hoping to make them feel better … often turns into

bondage.

So if the “gray area” could possibly place hooks in us that will bind us to

itself … rather than allowing us to be bound to righteousness, …

Just maybe, … we should walk away from it.

3

3. Do it give us an uneasy conscience?; …

How about shame; … there’s a word that is not used much any more.

1 Timothy 1: 5: … “Now the goal of our instruction is love that comes from

a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith”

We need to understand that our conscience is not necessarily

the Holy Spirit. Paul really uses the concept of conscience in his

letters, beginning with the book of Corinthians. … If we study

the concept of conscience as outlined in the scriptures, … we

will find that it is a characteristic of self-awareness that

produces the pain … and-or … pleasure we “feel” as we reflect

on the norms and values we recognize and apply.

Instead, … it is an inward capacity humans possess to critique

themselves … because the Creator provided this process as a

means of moral restraint on His creation. (Baker’s Evangelical

Dictionary of Biblical Theology).

Everyone has a conscience … but not everyone has the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit lives in us when we come to Christ. … There are many

“good” non-Christian people who have a sense of morality.

As we look at 1 Timothy 1: 5, we see that there are three elements that are

necessary to have an “agape (God like - unconditional)” love, … and those

are a pure heart, … a clear conscience … and a sincere faith.

Even if we have a pure heart and a sincere faith … but an unclear conscience

because of baggage in our lives, … we will have extreme difficulty growing

into an unconditional love for one another. … Often we wonder why there is

so much conflict in the Church. … It may just be because there are

disruptions in our lives that we know we shouldn’t be involved in.

Another indicator that we have an unclear conscience about our gray area

… is that we try to hide it. … A good test to give our self is this: …

Whenever we are doing something, … from watching TV, surfing the

internet to eating, …

ask our self; … “If someone knocked on the door right now, could I open the

door without rushing around or glancing out the window?”

If we are afraid that someone, … whether inside the fellowship or even

outside, … were to find out our actions, … odds are, … it isn’t a right deed

for us to be participating in..

4

4. Can it cause someone else to stumble?

Now let’s talk about food that has been sacrificed to idols. … We think that

everyone should agree with our perfect knowledge. … While knowledge

may make us feel important, … it is love that really builds up the Church.

Anyone who claims to know all the answers, … doesn’t really know very

much … but the person who loves God, … is the one God knows and cares

for.

(I will be speaking metaphorically)

So, … what about it? … Should we eat meat that has been sacrificed to

idols?

Well, … we all know that an idol is not really a god and that there is only

one God and no other. … According to some people’s beliefs, … there are

many so-called … gods … and many lords, … both in heaven and on earth.

But we know that there is only one God, the Father, who created everything,

and we exist for Him! … There is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through

whom God made everything … and through whom we have been given life.

Conversely, … not all Christians realize this.

Some are accustomed to thinking of idols as being real, … so when they eat

food that has been offered to idols, … they think of it as the worship of real

gods … and their weak consciences are violated.

It’s true that we can’t win God’s approval by what we eat. … We don’t miss

out on anything if we don’t eat it … and we don’t gain anything if we do …

but we must be careful with this freedom of ours.

Do not cause a brother or sister with a weaker conscience to stumble.

You see, this is what can happen: … Weak Christians who think it is wrong

to eat this food will see us eating in the temple of an idol. … We know

there’s nothing wrong with it … but they will be encouraged to violate their

conscience by eating food that has been dedicated to the idol, … so because

of our superior knowledge, … a weak Christian, … for whom Christ died for

also, … will be destroyed!; … and we are sinning against Christ when we

sin against other Christians … by encouraging them to do something they

believe is wrong.

If what I eat is going to make another Christian sin, … I will never eat meat

again as long as I live, … because I don’t want to make another Christian

stumble! … 1 Corinthians 8: 8 … Food will not make us acceptable to God.

We are not inferior if we don’t eat, and we are not better if we do eat.

5

You probably guessed I’d get to this sooner or later … but this is perhaps the

truest test of the “gray area”.

Imagine that we had invited someone over to our home.

Let’s suppose there was a skunk outside and something scared it so that it

stunk up the place. … The smell begins to enter the home. …

We immediately reach for our favorite air freshener and start to spray the

room. … Our guest begins coughing and can barely breathe.

We recognize the person is having an allergic reaction and their airway is

quickly closing; … what would we do?

A. Keep spraying the house until the skunk sent is all gone.

B. Stop spraying the house with the freshener and help our friend, … with

whatever means necessary, … to get them to the hospital.

C. Look at our friend and wonder why he or she does not have enough faith

to overcome the air freshener: …

Or

D. Let our friend know we are sorry the air freshener offends them …

but we have every right to spray our house to make it smell good.

(Rick Gillespie-Mobley – contributor)

I believe that in this situation, prayerfully, … we would get our friend to the

hospital as soon as humanly possible … but, unfortunately, … this sort of

situation happens all the time, … because of a twisted perception of being

“free in Christ”.

Just because we are free in Christ, … doesn’t mean we can do whatever we

want.

For example, … I have the freedom and the right as an American to go out

on the street corner and burn the American flag. … While doing so, … I also

have the right, under the first Amendment, to shout obscenities and racial

slurs to every one of other ethnic groups … BUT, … just because I have the

right, … doesn’t make it right.

Paul instructs the saints of Corinth to: … be careful that this right of yours

in no way becomes a stumbling block to the weak (vs. 9) [UNDERLINE]

6

I, … WE, … have heard many people say: … “I am free to do whatever I

want to. If other people don’t like it, that’s their problem.”

I am here to inform you that is not a Biblical point-of- view to maintain in

your Christian walk.

We are to always be mindful of others. … If Jesus was self absorbed and

centered, … we’d be in bad shape.

Be very mindful, that our “freedom” … can cause someone else to sin

against Jesus Christ.

Our “freedom” could lead someone else to be bound by addiction and sin.

To close; …

Looking at these four questions, … if we can say yes to one … or all four of

them, … then we shouldn’t be involved … or partake in, … the “gray area”

of our desire.

After looking at all of this … and we realize that there are some areas in our

life that are not what they should be, … we need to pray that the Holy Spirit

will give us the strength to leave those valleys, … whatever they may be.

Remember, … the life that we lead, … may be the only Bible some people

ever read.

What version … or perversion of the scriptures … are they reading?

In the name of the Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit

AMEN

Governing Authority

We have a new government beginning to place its stamp on history. It would

serve us well to read and remember Romans 13: 1: … Everyone must submit

to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and

those that exist are instituted by God.

Once again, … God has looked down on us and put in place the authority

that, one-way- or-the- other, will serve His purpose and glory.

Who is the POWERFUL, here? Is it the US government … or is it God?

Scripture we turn to at this juncture is John 19: 11: … “You would have no

authority over Me at all,” Jesus answered him, “if it hadn’t been given you

from above.” This is where Jesus is informing Pilot that the only way he has

authority, is not from Rome … but by the God of Heaven, allowing it!

I sincerely believe we should all give the new Trump Administration a

chance to show its ability … but at the same time, quit looking to

Washington for all of our answers, like a small child looks to its mother.

God is the ultimate authority; … it is He that has the correct and true

answers; … it is only through Him that we will ever truly have peace in our

lives and the life of this Nation! The quicker we accept this, … the quicker

we can “Give peace a chance”!

Take care of the Lord’s business first

Take care of your family

Take care of yourself

Take your service and witness to others

Then:

Take care of you Country.

May the peace of God be with you.

Your servant in Christ,

Pastor Jim

What Happens Now? - 1/15/17

WHAT HAPPENS NOW?

Matthew 2: 13-23

01-15- 2017

Another year has drawn to a close. … The holiday season is over.

The rush of preparation has culminated in a few hours of quality time spent

with friends and family … but now that’s done.

The gifts have been opened, … the food has been devoured. … What now?

The hectic pace of the holiday season can leave us longing for a break. …

It can also leave us with a sense of melancholy; … even sadness.

The tinsel and the glitter, … the lights and the decorations, … the smells and

the sounds of Christmas; … everything is replaced now with the mundane

sameness of life.

Many people struggle with the post-holiday- blahs. … Karen would most

likely be one of those. … What now?

I wonder if Mary and Joseph felt some of those same emotions. …

The excitement of the Son of God being born that night, … the visit of the

shepherds, … some time after that, the visit of the Magi from the east, …

bringing gifts. … But what now?

It’s all done, … in the past, … distant memories for Mary and Joseph.

Now they set about the task of raising a family, … making a living; …

the excitement of the moment is gone.

Did they struggle with the post-holiday blahs?

God didn’t let them, did he? … He didn’t allow the holy family to live a

peaceful and quiet life in Bethlehem for very long. …

Life couldn’t be peaceful and quiet … because the baby they were raising

was the very Son of God, … the Savior of the world.

Satan would try to assassinate the Savior. … Mary and Joseph would have to

be placed into God’s witness protection program for a little while.

Eventually, … they would move back to their small hometown up north after

the turmoil and persecution settled down.

There was no time for Mary and Joseph to get comfortable in Bethlehem.

For you and I as Christians living in the 21st century, … the events we are

looking at today have a great deal of significance. … As we sit here, at the

beginning of the new year, … as all the holiday trappings have come to a

close; … we ask ourselves, … what now?

2

God answers that question this morning through His Word.

There is much ahead, … much to think about, … much to look forward to …

and He shows us what that is … as we focus on these early days in the life of

Jesus Christ.

It was the middle of the night …and Joseph was sleeping, …when an angel

of the Lord appeared to him in a dream: … “Get up! Take the child and His

mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. For Herod is about to

search for the child to destroy Him.”

The wise men from the east had just visited Jesus. … They had told King

Herod that they were on their way to visit the one who was born; …

King of the Jews … and this bothered Herod.

He was the King of the Jews, … or so he thought.

He wondered if this newborn child would be a threat to his throne.

The wise men didn’t return like he thought they would … and this upset

him.

Any threat to his position of power must be eliminated … and so very soon,

… maybe even the next day, … Herod would send his soldiers into

Bethlehem to massacre all boys under the age of two.

“Get up, Joseph,” the angel said. … “Get out of here as fast as you possibly

can.”

Satan was behind it all; … this was his first attempt to assassinate the

Messiah. … So Joseph got up in the middle of the night … and Mary, …

Jesus … and himself, … made their way to Egypt, … where they stayed

until the death of Herod.

Do you see what happen here? … Satan loses … and a prophecy is fulfilled.

so that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled:

Out of Egypt I called My Son

When the prophet Hosea wrote that, … he was referring to the nation of

Israel, … God’s Son, … being called out of the slavery of Egypt into the

promise land.

Yet the Holy Spirit teaches us in Matthew that this also applies to Jesus …

(Typological prophecy); … just as God called the nation of Israel out of

Egypt, … so also, … God called His Son Jesus out of Egypt.

What now?

3

Joseph, Jesus and Mary are living with a group of Jews in Egypt … but not

for very long. … Herod dies and an angel of the Lord appears in a dream to

Joseph again and tells him that it’s safe for him to go back to the land of

Israel.

So Joseph, Jesus and Mary return to Israel … but something is wrong; …

Herod’s son, Archelaus was in charge now … and he was just as bad as his

father.

What now? …

Once again, … Joseph was warned in a dream to leave the area.

He moves north, to the town of Nazareth in Galilee … and that’s where he

stayed.

Do you see the two events that happen here? … Once again, … Satan loses;

… the Messiah is safe … and a prophecy is fulfilled.

Then he went and settled in a town called Nazareth to fulfill what was

spoken through the prophets, that He will be called a Nazarene

One will not find this prophecy written in the Old Testament …

but it was understood that the Messiah would be called a Nazarene, …

a despised person from a small town in the middle of nowhere.

The Devil went to work right after Jesus was born … but his plans didn’t

work. … Instead, … he loses … and prophecies are fulfilled.

Satan is still at work today … and right after Christmas, … it seems that he

works extra hard, … especially on Christians.

He wants us to not only put our decorations away … but to put our joy away

… and our faith away.

“We can stop being Christian now,” says the Devil.

“We can stop being joyful now. … Christmas is over. … It’s time to get back

to the regular life, now”

Satan or his demons attack us with these thoughts … and unfortunately, …

we sometimes listen.

We become melancholy; … the birth of Jesus Christ fades into the past.

Our desire to worship comes down with the lights.

Our joy disappears with the wrapping paper.

Maybe our joy and desire disappear because we have bought into the

world’s thinking, … more than we realize.

Perhaps we believe the equation: … happiness = material positions, …

more than we think.

4

If lasting happiness could be found in having physical possessions …

and in being able to indulge ourselves in whatever we wanted, …

then most of us in America should be delirious with joy … and happy

beyond description, … all the time!

We should be producing books and poems that describe our state of

unparalleled bliss.

Our literature and art should rival that of the ancient Greeks, … Romans …

and Renaissance craftsmen.

Instead, … we find high rates of suicide, … depression, … child abuse …

and other personal and social problems beyond imagination, …

especially during … and following the holidays.

We find people … and sometimes ourselves, … struggling to stay joyful …

because deep down inside, … we have been let down by the lies of the

world; … that happiness is found having all we want … and being able to

get more.

The good news is; … It doesn’t have to be that way.

Today, … God’s Word teaches us two truths; …

Satan loses … and prophecies are fulfilled!

And YES, … this continues even after Christmas is over.

Throughout Jesus’ life, … Satan lost … and prophecies were fulfilled.

Think about what happened somewhere around 30 years after these events;

… really, the opposite of our story for today.

Instead of Jesus fleeing from harm, … Jesus would walk right into harm’s

way. … Instead of fleeing from Herod and the Roman government, …

Jesus would allow Himself to be executed by the Roman government. …

Instead of God the Father protecting Jesus, … God the Father would allow

punishment of Jesus; … Quite the opposite, …wouldn’t you agree?

Even with that being the case, … Satan still loses … and prophecies are

fulfilled.

The prophecies that foretold the Messiah would someday suffer and die to

take away the sins of the world; … all of our sins; … even those moments

when we buy into the lies of the Devil; … all of our sins have been washed

away by Jesus on the cross.

Satan loses … and prophecies are fulfilled.

That’s why Jesus was born … and that’s what brings us joy …

and keeps our joy alive, … even after Christmas is over.

5

These two victories of Jesus, … recorded in our verses for today, …

are just a taste of the big victory that Jesus would someday win for us

at the cross … and the empty tomb.

So, what now?

How do we respond to the grace of God? …

How do we say: … “thank you”?

How do we glorify the God who has done all this … for us?: …

We can live our life like Joseph lived.

What was the pattern of Joseph’s life?; … He listened … and he obeyed.

The angel told him to go to Egypt, … so he went to Egypt; …

Go to Israel, … so he went to Israel. … Watch out for Herod number two, …

so he moved to Nazareth.

Joseph listened … and obeyed.

He wasn’t a self-made man; … Mr. Independence; … I’ll-do- my-own- thing-

kind-of- guy.

He listened … and he obeyed.

That’s how he responded to the grace of God. … That’s how he glorified the

God who had sent the Savior into his very own family.

You and I can respond in kind, also. … Today, God reveals Himself to us,

… not in dreams as with Joseph … but through His written Word.

We can listen and obey. … We can be modern-day Joseph’s; … people who

do not rely on themselves … but listen closely to the Word of God …

and obey.

Throughout our lives, … Satan will continue to lose … and God will

continue to keep all the promises He has made to us! …

That pattern will never change.

The call of the cross … is right here contained in these pages, … waiting for

you to respond!

May God bless you with a joy and love for Him that lasts long after the

Christmas season is over.

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit

AMEN

More On Christmas - 1/8/17

MORE ON CHRISTMAS

Luke 2: 36-38

If I asked you to define Christmas with one word (apart from the words

Jesus and Christ), … what word would you choose?

Would you use peace, love, joy … or some other word?

There are a number of words we could use in describing Christmas … but

for this Sunday’s message, … I want to focus on the word hope.

Christmas is hope!

Hopelessness is such a dreadful situation. … In past years, … we have seen

events that seemed hopeless; the Sumatra, Indonesia tsunami in 2004, …

Hurricane Katrina and Rita, Mt St. Helens eruption. …. Such events breed a

hopeless feeling … and those were horrible events.

Prior to the time of Christopher Columbus, … many people still thought the

edge of the horizon was the end of the world. … They thought one would

drop off of the world as if they had arrived at a steep bluff.

Some people see life that way; … as if it chops off.

They think life, … as they see it, … is the end.

One of the major messages of Christmas is the hope found in Jesus Christ.

He is God’s hope.

There was also a prophetess, Anna, a daughter of Phanuel

In this passage, … we meet a senior adult lady by the name of Anna.

Anna age is confusing. … She was married seven years and the text claims

she was a widow 84 years. … Now that is 91 years and we have to assume

she was at least 12 when married, making her a minimum 103. … Not

impossible … but it makes me think something was lost in the Greek

translation … but we surely can say … Anna was very old!

She was living in hope, … even in these advanced years.

The word hope is not used in this reading … but the concept is present.

The highlight of Anna’s life was to meet Jesus, … who represented hope for

God’s people.

She was a senior adult in years … but a child at heart.

She teaches us the secret of growing older … without growing colder.

She had learned to see light in the midst of darkness.

She had seen the true message of Christmas. … Christmas, for her was the

hope of Jesus Christ.

2

I want to unpack this scripture by considering a definition of hope.

Then I want to consider the place of hope (where it fits in) … and conclude

by discussing the power of hope.

I. Defining Hope.

Webster’s dictionary does not distinguish the world’s translation of hope …

from the Biblical definition.

It is important that we distinguish the two.

Webster’s definition represents the world’s definition of hope.

Two of Webster’s definitions describe hope … as the world sees it.

The definitions state that hope is; … “a feeling that what is wanted will

happen; desire accompanied by expectation.”

There are two words that weaken the world’s definition.

One word is “feeling”. … If we base hope on a feeling, … our hope is

subject to disappointment. …

It will not take us much research to come up with the shallowness of

feelings.

*If as girl says: … “I hope my boy friend gives me a diamond ring for

Christmas.”; … does the feeling bring about the hope?

*If a man says: … “I hope my football team has a good year.”; …

Does the feeling guarantee a good football team?

The second of Webster’s definitions … is a … “desire accompanied by

expectation. ”

The shallowness of desires is they cannot give hope.

*If a girls says; … “I hope he will ask me out on a date.”; …

Does her desire guarantee the date?

*If an adult says; … “I hope my grandfather will get over his cancer.”; …

Does the desire guarantee the recovery?

*If a person wishes: … “I hope I get this job.”; … Does the desire guarantee

the job?

What is the Bible’s definition of hope?

Well, … the Bible does not share a concise definition of hope.

However, … the definition I will share … is the Bible’s basic philosophy of

hope.

3

Here’s how I would paraphrase of the Bible’s teaching: …

"Hope is an expectation based on the promises of God." … God’s hope is

not based on feelings, … desire … or positive thoughts. … It is based on a

promise from God.

Remember; … You can’t break God’s promises … by leaning on them!

The hymn; … “Standing On The Promises”, … is a good teacher: …

“standing on the promises that cannot fail, though the howling storms of

doubt and fear assail.”

God’s hope is enduring; … God’s hope cannot be frustrated; … God’s hope

will never end; … God’s hope is eternal. … We learn that by observing

Anna’s life.

Hebrews 6: 19: … We have this hope as an anchor for our lives, safe and

secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain

Where is your hope?... Is it in a relationship? … Is it in money? …

Is it in your job? … Is it in your health insurance? …

(or) Is it in the promises of God?

II. The Place of Hope

Hope is not to be found in religious practices or rituals.

Anna was a prophetess. … Anna spent her life serving the Lord in the

Temple. … Even so, … merely going to Church does not give hope.

Just quoting some simplistic prayer does not give hope.

Some people mistakenly think Church attendance is a cure-all for what ails

them.

Hope is not to be found in a relationship with another person. …

Anna’s husband had been dead for many years … yet her hope was not in

her husband.

Hope is found in the person of Jesus Christ. …

Why is Jesus Christ the fulfillment of hope?

He is the fulfillment of God’s promises. … All of God’s promises and all of

God’s earthly activity is centered in Jesus. … All of history, … as far as man

is concerned, … is built around Jesus.

History is even divided by His life.

We can understand the fulfillment of God’s promises by understanding

Jesus’ fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies.

4

In the book “The Case for Christmas” … Lee Strobel points out the

reliability of Old Testament prophecies. … Strobel says some people use the

coincidence argument to deny Jesus claims. … They say it was merely a

coincidence that Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecies.

Strobel had a mathematician, by the name of Peter W. Stoner, …

estimated the chances of Jesus fulfilling just 48 Old Testament prophecies;

… the conclusion; … one chance in 13 trillion.

Peter Stoner printed this in a book entitled “Science Speaks.”

Pretty convincing proof … that God’s promises can be trusted.

Jesus is the proof that God’s plans cannot be frustrated. … He was crucified

but He rose again after three days.

He could not be cut off. … Satan thought he had frustrated God’s plans, …

however, … Satan could not obstruct God’s plans.

The Christmas carol “O Little Town of Bethlehem”, … states Jesus purpose

in graphic terms which all can understand. … The later part of verse 1 states

“Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light; the hopes and fears of

all the years are met in thee tonight.”

Peter and Paul shared several verses that describe our hope in Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 1: 3: … Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope

through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead

2 Thessalonians 2: 16-17: … May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God

our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal encouragement and good

hope by grace, 17  encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good

work and word

Holy Scripture also explains that those without Christ have no eternal hope.

Ephesians 2: 12: … At that time you were without the Messiah, excluded

from the citizenship of Israel, and foreigners to the covenants of the promise,

without hope and without God in the world

III. In closing; … The Power of Hope … Vs 38: … At that very moment,

she came up and began to thank God and to speak about Him to all who

were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem

Hope does not disappear; … “Time is not a switch that dims the brightness

of hope.”; … Hope helps us look beyond our present difficulties.

5

In our reading, … Anna was an aged senior adult (not unlike some of us).

However, her hope kept her primed to look beyond the circumstances of life.

Many of us are familiar with the story of Anne Frank. … Anne was a Jewish

girl, that became the writer of one of the most famous diaries in history. …

She lived during the days of the Holocaust of WWII.

Anne and her family hid out during the German Jew hunting raids.

They feared for their lives for days. … The Jewish family tensed with terror

at each mysterious sound. … After days of hiding, … the Germans came for

Anne and her family.

The story closes with Anne’s father saying; … “For days we have lived in

fear, now we live in hope.”

Many times there are people who have nothing but hope to live for. …

Over the years I have observed many older adults who had experienced

much loss. … They have lost their mates; … They have lost their health; …

They have lost many of their friends.

The only strength that carried them was hope.

Hope never disappears.

Hope does not disappoint. … There are many disappointments in life.

People, friends and family … can let us down.

Life itself, … careers, … even our Church … sometimes lets us down.

In Romans 5: 5, … Paul writes of encouragement that undergirds the truth of

hope: … This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been

poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us

The words of an song go like this: …

He didn’t bring us this far to leave us.

He didn’t teach us to swim to let us drown.

He didn’t build His home in us to move away.

He didn’t lift us up to let us down

Hope gives us the reason for life, itself; … Hope motivates us to keep going;

… Without hope … we will … give up.

Lucy and Linus give us a light hearted illustration of this principle.

In one of the cartoons, … Lucy and Linus were sitting in front of the

television set when Lucy said to Linus, … "Go get me a glass of water."

6

Linus looked surprised; … "Why should I do anything for you? You never do

anything for me." … "On your 75th birthday," Lucy promised, "I’ll bake you

a cake."

Linus got up, … headed to the kitchen and said; … "Life is more pleasant

when you have something to look forward to."

In Luke 24, starting with verse 13, … we find the story of Emmaus.

In this story … two of Jesus’ followers are traveling from Jerusalem to

Emmaus, a distance of about 7 miles. … They had been in Jerusalem during

the crucifixion of Jesus. … As they journeyed, … Jesus joined them but

supernaturally, … His identity was hidden from them.

Jesus asked them what they were discussing. … Apparently He could see the

sad look on their faces. … As they answer His question, … they made a very

sad statement: … “But we were hoping”

They had expected that Jesus would bring hope into their lives …

but He died.

Jesus revealed His identity to the two travelers but before He did, …

they were a sad pair.

However, … after discovering that Jesus had been resurrected from the

tomb, … they received a new reason to live. … They were enthused ; …

They had a new tiger in their tank.

The question to you, today is; … Do you have hope? …

It is always about the cross … and Christ is the answer; … He is our HOPE!

In the name of the Father, … the Son, … and the Holy Spirit

AMEN
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