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Monthly Archives: August 2012

Friday’s Devotional – Your Children Are Not God

Friday’s Devotional – Your Children Are Not God

1 Samuel 2:29, “Why do you scorn my sacrifice and offering that I prescribed for my dwelling?  Why do you honor your sons more than me by fattening yourselves on the choice parts of every offering made by my people Israel?”

Eli is challenged by the Lord, because even in light of his son’s rebellion against God, Eli doesn’t do anything to stop or remove his sons.  God calls it right when He tells Eli, “You honor your sons more than me.”  We can love spouse, children, and people more than we love the Lord.  Sure we like to tell God that He means more to us than anything, but it is when God tells us to change that we proves it.  Abraham proves his love for God when he places His son Issac on the altar before God.  Eli needed to learn that lesson.  Eli put his sons in the place of God in his life.  He loved them with all his heart instead of loving God with all his heart.  To love those closest to us rightly, means that we must first love God rightly.  Our love for them should come from our love for Him.  If you refuse to do what God has told us to do in our relationships then that relationship has taken God’s place in your life.  You and I must wake up to the fact that we must not honor anything more than we honor God, not spouses, children, or people.  God must be first!

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2012 in Devotional

 

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Thursday’s Devotional – What You Don’t Know Might Hurt You

Thursday’s Devotional – What You Don’t Know Might Hurt You

Judges 16:20, “Then she called, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” He awoke from his sleep and thought, “I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.”  But he did not know that the Lord had left him.”  The phrase, “He did not know that the Lord had left him” is so challenging and convicting.  Literally it was what Samson didn’t know that destroyed his life.  Samson had walked in victory because the Lord had been with him.  His hair was only a symbol of the real source of power, God.  Once Samson’s hair was gone so was his power.  How did it happen?  It happened without him knowing it.  He played with sin, slept with sin, and finally trusted in sin.  Delilah represents sin.  Samson hung around her, slept with her, and trusted her.  It was in his slumber that his hair was removed.  Then when he finally awoke from his slumber, he is captured because he was defeated in his sleep.  Too many believers are playing with sin, sleeping with sin, and trusting in sin.  We have fallen asleep to the things of God and like Samson we will awake to the reality that it was while we were sleeping that we were defeated.  Wake up and live for God!

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2012 in Devotionals

 

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Wednesday Devotional – Hearing God’s Whisper

1 Kings 19:11-13, “The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”  Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind.  After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.  And after the fire came a gentle whisper.  When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.  Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”  God invites Elijah to experience his presence.  Then some amazing things happen.  There was a powerful wind that tore the mountains apart, an earthquake, and a fire.  Those were three amazing things to experience, but the most amazing thing was that God wasn’t in any of them.  After the fire came the gentle whisper of God’s voice to Elijah.  We expect to find God in the big things, but are we listening for God in the small things.  Maybe we are missing God because we expect Him to impress us with His power instead of comforting us with His presence.  Are you listening for the Whisper of God in the small things?

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2012 in Devotionals

 

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Tuesday’s Devotional – The Price of Pride

Tuesday’s Devotional – The Price of Pride

Judges 7:2, “The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands.  In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her.”  How often does our pride get in the way of how God wants to work in our lives?  Could God do more in your life, if you weren’t so prideful?  God won’t work in your life in a way that hurts you spiritually.  If He knows that something will increase your pride, he will move in a way that will keep you humble.  I was complaining several weeks ago about some stuff and God said, “D, I could do more but you would try to take the glory for it.”  I repented of my attitude.  I have been praying that no matter what God does in my life that He would get all the glory.

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2012 in Devotionals

 

Are Politics too Controversial for the Church?

A friend challenged me with the idea that politics are too controversial for the church and preachers should just stick with preaching Jesus.  Here is my response.

Christ Jesus is Lord of all and as such He seeks complete devotion and obedience in our heart and in our life.  Clearly if my heart isn’t committed completely to the Lord then nothing I do will please Him, but if my heart is committed completely to the Lord it will affect every aspect of my life.  This is why I speak about politics.  I don’t compartmentalize my life or the Christian life.  I believe Christ must be Lord of all of my life and the lives of every believer.  I know of Pastors who don’t speak about politics because it is too controversial, but these men also don’t preach on the home or how to make an impact for Christ in your place of business.  The reason they don’t get into the “issues” is because they want everyone to get along and build a big successful church.  I don’t think you can always measure success but the size of the gathering.

I know this should be clear with Jesus being crucified on the cross, but Jesus is controversial.  Jesus went from 5,000 followers at the feeding of the 5 thousand to 120 at Pentecost.  Why did Jesus lose so many followers?  He was controversial!  Our message of Christ Jesus and how He impacts the home is controversial.  Our message of Christ Jesus and how He impacts our place of employment is controversial.  Our message of Christ Jesus and how He impacts our country is controversial.  To be honest, our message of Christ Jesus and how He impacts our lives is controversial.  Don’t worry, I realized that being a Christ follower means carrying our own cross and crosses are always controversial.

You made a statement that, “politics in the church has done absolutely nothing but divide the house of God over the centuries.”  I would encourage you as you read your Bible to examine how many of God’s messages and prophesies were political.  How many times did God challenge government leaders and call them to repentance?  The majority of God’s messages where spoken with the intent of bringing political change.  I think the history of slavery in America is a perfect example of the need for the church to be involved in politics.  Slavery ended when believers in the church got involved with politics.  I can talk very personally about this issue; one of the things I hate is that the Southern Baptist Convention was founded because believers in the South held to slavery.  They believed that their relationship with Christ didn’t impact whether they were slave owners or not.   I have read sermons by our Southern Baptist father’s where their belief was that slavery was an issue that should stay out of the church.  Thankfully we don’t have slavery in America because Christians disagreed with those men.  Thankfully we have repented as a convention over the actions of those early Southern Baptist.

Now you may say, “That is slavery and clearly the church has a voice on that issue and should be involved politically, but we don’t have any issues that are that important now.”  I would respectfully disagree with you.  We are enslaving the next generation to trillions of dollars worth of debt, we are losing the Biblical meaning of marriage, and we are exalting homosexuals as freedom fighters instead of calling them to repentance.  We have no idea of the true meaning of what it means to be a Christian, when a Mormon can claim to be a believer and no one rejects it.  Our concept of, “Separation of Church and State” is that God should only be part of someone’s private life and never a part of his public life.  The blood of 60 million babies is on our hands because we would rather vote for someone who cares more about the pocket book than the womb.   Our society has become a madhouse and our hope is found in the church house.

Our only hope is for men and women is to turn to the Jesus Christ, but how will they know unless we preach the Word to them.  Yes, our hearts must be completely for Jesus, but so must our lives.  The world must know how Jesus can make a difference in the home, the work place, the church, and the country.   So don’t be silent for Christ in politics or any area, but allow Him to impact every area of your life.

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2012 in Political

 

Sermon Notes from 8-26-12

“Forgiveness”

A Study over Philemon

Introduction:

What is the key to forgiveness?  Have you ever been hurt by someone and then hear about something bad happening to that individual and feel vindicated by it?  Have you ever been mistreated by someone and then hear that something good has happened to that individual and it made you angry?  Is there a name that I could mention this morning that would bring back painful feelings and experiences that you would rather forget?  The reason is that you have unforgiveness in your heart.

I will never forget at one church where I served as pastor I had a constant struggle with the deacons and the members trying to get them to follow Jesus Christ.  If I challenged them to share their faith there was resistance, if I challenged them to pray there was resistance, and if I challenged them to get into the Word of God there was resistance.  I remember when my job was threatened there.  A member came and said, “I have heard that you are intent on reaching out to the blacks in our area.  I said absolutely, God loves everyone no matter the color of their skin and plus God has given us favor in sharing our faith with them.  He said, “If you do, then we will fire you.  We don’t marry them and we don’t worship with them.”  My deacons didn’t stand up for me and I was hurt.  I wasn’t going to buckle, but I was hurt.  I felt the pain emotional, mentally, and spiritually.  Soon God removed us from that situation.  I thought time away from the situation would bring healing, but it didn’t.  About two years later a person mentioned the name of one of those deacons and I couldn’t think of anything good to say.  All I did was complain about how lousy they were to me.  God spoke to me and said, “D, I brought that man’s name up so that you can see that you still haven’t really forgiven him.”  My response was, “he hasn’t repented and even more he isn’t sorry.”  My problem was that their actions two years previous where still effecting me.  I have since found the ability to forgive them.  I can say with Joseph, “What you meant for evil, God meant it for good.”

This morning I know that you have come here wanting to meet with God or you have come wondering why your relationship with God hasn’t been everything you wanted it to be.  The issue is forgiveness.  You need to experience it in the Lord and then practice it.  I do believe your heart can be healed today.

As we examine the letter of Paul to Philemon we find that the purpose of the letter is forgiveness.  Paul had been the one who led Philemon to Christ.  Philemon’s relationship with Christ was transformational.  In verse 4, Paul writes, “I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints.”  Paul tell Philemon that he is excited about how Philemon was been living for the Lord and loving the saints.  It is amazing that we can be caught up living for Jesus and still have an issue of forgiveness in our lives that needs to be address.  We can love everyone else, but if there is one person who has sinned against us then we need to address it.

Philemon is a wealthy believer who also owns slaves.  Philemon is a slave owner and a Christian.  We may wonder how he could be both.  In Paul’s time a person most commonly became a slave not through birth, but through debt.  Let’s say I take a loan from you for my business or my house and then I am unable to pay off my loan, I could become your slave, thereby paying off my debt.  It sounds weird in our culture to think that someone would enslave themselves for money, but we do it all the time in our jobs.  Now you could also be a slave if your people had been conquerored by another group of people.  The victors would take you and make you work for them as a sign that they had authority over you.  This was common in Rome.  So for whatever reason Philemon has slaves.

Onesimus was one of Philemon’s slaves.  He became frustrated with being a slave.  Now we don’t know if he owed a debt to Philemon and hadn’t been able to pay it or if somehow Philemon had Onesimus as a slave through a Roman victory, but what is clear is that Onesimus steals money from Philemon and runs away.  Onesimus ends up in the same town that Paul is in and hears the gospel and becomes a believer.  Onesimus commits himself to Paul’s ministry and starts working to help Paul spread the gospel.   When Paul learns that Onesimus is a runaway slave from his friend Philemon, Paul knows what needs to happen.

If you are like me at this point in the story I am shocked that Paul sends Onesimus back to Philemon to seek his forgiveness.  Slavery is wrong and going back to Philemon could mean death.  Shouldn’t Philemon have had to apologize to Onesimus for making him a slave?  I am amazed that Onesimus is the one going back to seek Philemon’s forgiveness.

There is an important lesson here.  God won’t let you and I do the right thing the wrong way.  I have heard people say the ends justify the means.  I want you to know that Onesimus wouldn’t have truly been free until he had been forgiven.  Onesimus heads back as a believer to face the person he has wronged and seek forgiveness.  Onesimus also brings a letter from Paul to Philemon.  This is what I want to focus on this morning.  We now know the situation.  Now the question is how will Philemon treat the slave who has stolen from him and abandoned him?

Paul starts his challenge of Philemon in verse 8-9, “Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I appeal to you on the basis of love.”  Paul could have commanded Philemon to forgive Onesimus, but Paul knows something about forgiveness that he is sharing with Philemon.  If I order you to do something I am engaging your mind, but if I make an appeal on the basis of love I am engaging your heart.  Paul knows that you can’t choose to forgive solely because it is the right thing to do, you must forgive because you are choosing to free your heart to love.  Forgiveness isn’t a mental decision alone, it is a heart decision.  You have struggled to really forgive because you thought you could just mentally say, “I forgive you.” and that would be enough.  My friends if love isn’t springing forth from your heart then you have only engaged the mind in forgiveness.  This morning I want to challenge you to move from the mental side of forgiveness to the heart side of it.

The reason that forgiveness must come from our heart is that it is in our heart that we feel the loss, we feel the pain of abuse, we replay the lies, and we hold on to the rejection.  We know that scripture says that for every sin committed there was a debt that was paid through the cross of Jesus Christ.  The issue is that for every sin committed against you there is a debt and your heart is keeping track.  You wonder if there a way for the debt of their sin against you to ever be repaid.  When someone doesn’t acknowledge their sin, we are left carrying the note waiting and wondering will the debt ever be paid.

Paul challenges Philemon to forgive Onesimus because Paul was going to pay Onesimus’ debt.  V. 18-19, “If he had done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me.  I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand.  I will pay it back – not to mention that you own me your very self.” Paul tells Philemon to add up all the debt that Onesimus has inflicted upon him and Paul will pay it.  Sure Onesimus is now a believer, but there was still a debt.  Philemon could now let go of the debt because someone was going to pay it back.  Paul tells Philemon, you owe your life to me so you know I am good for it.  If I tell you that I will pay you back for every sin that Onesimus has done, you can take it to the bank.  You owe your life to me, I wouldn’t lie to you.  Forgive Onesimus because I am paying off his debt.  Now don’t miss this, Philemon had to give the debt over to Paul so that Paul could pay it.  If Philemon wanted Onesimus to pay the debt instead of Paul it would never had been paid.  Philemon transfers the debt of Onesimus to Paul and Paul says he will pay it off when the meet face to face.

Now let’s see how this whole story impacts you and I in our ability to forgive.  Clearly we have to make a heart decision if we are going to truly forgive.  Here is something even more amazing.  Philemon owed Paul his life because Paul shared the good news with Him.  I want you to know that you and I owe someone also.  We don’t owe Paul, we owe the Savior Jesus Christ.  Before you can be a forgiver you must be forgiven.  You must come seeking forgiveness from Jesus Christ for you sin, rebellion, and resistance.  The great news is that He does forgive you and is the key to your forgiveness of others.

Let’s start with that idea.  Are you forgiven in Christ Jesus?  Until you are forgiven you can’t be a forgiver.  Now just like Paul tells Philemon to turn the debt over to himself so that Paul can pay it.  Jesus does the same thing.  You and I are to turn our debt over to Jesus Christ and expect Jesus Christ to pay the debt.  Catch this, Jesus can only pay the debt that has been turned over to Him.  Do you want reimbursement from the person who sinned against you or from the Lord Jesus Christ?  Jesus is going to pay every debt that is turned over to Him.  You might say how is that possible?  Didn’t Jesus pay for your every sin?  Then it isn’t a stretch to realize that every debt of yours will be reimbursed.

You may have been abused and you have been carrying around that debt for years and you can’t forgive because you know what has been taken from you.  Turn it over to Jesus, everything that has been taken He will repay to you.  Every mean word that broke you heart and every hurtful deed that was meant to break you will be repaid and rewarded.  Just turn it over to him.  If you try to get your reimbursement back from the person you will never find forgiveness.  Onesimus had nothing to pay Philemon back with, but Paul did.  The same is true for us. Jesus promises to repay the effects of the sins committed against us when we meet Him face to face.  We will be repaid when we see him face to face.  Can you trust Jesus to repay you?  Well he saved you right?  Well if you can trust Him to save you, can’t you trust Him to repay the debts of others in your life?  Of course you can, you can forgive because everything they have done is going to be made up for by Jesus.

You thought you missed out, you thought you were done away with, and you were abandoned.  My friend everything you have seen and faced when handed over to the Lord Jesus will be repaid.  You will miss nothing.  Matter of fact, Jesus repays with interest!  Now you can forgive because their sin debt has been paid by the same one who paid your sin debt.

How do you get on with your life?  Paul challenges Philemon to let Onesimus leave and return to Paul.  You live everyday with the assurance and joy that Jesus has paid your sins in full.  Take that same faith and know that the Lord Jesus will repay you those debts.  Let us say to those who have and will sin against us, “You thought you could take my future, my hope, my joy, and my life.  Wrong on all accounts!  I forgive you because Jesus has repaid everything you had taken.  I have been repaid because I turned those debts over to Jesus.  Let’s pray.

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2012 in Church Helps

 

Devotional – Without Conditions

Judges 4:6-8, “She sent for Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, ‘The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: “Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead the way to Mount Tabor.  I will lure Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.  Barak said to her, ‘If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.’” 

Deborah is telling Barak that God has given him victory over Sisera and to get his men together and go fight.  Barak tells Deborah he will only do what God has said if she goes with him.  Barak is setting conditions on his obedience to God.  How many times do we do the same thing?  We tell God I will obey “if” He does what I want.  Have you ever gotten mad at God because you felt like He wasn’t living up to His end of the bargain?  The reason is you had made conditions for your obedience.  God, if I do this then you must do that.  We have to stop setting conditions for obedience and telling God that He must line up with us before we will line up with Him.  Are you willing to follow God without any conditions?  Will you follow Him just because He is God?

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2012 in Devotional

 
 
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