WHAT’S IN A NAME? Part 1
       Q: How did you get your name?
Q:     How many have researched your family background?
       Q:     Any surprises?
 
Matthew 1 This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of
Abraham: 2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar, Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, 4 Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5 Salmon the father of Boaz,
whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of King David.
 
Then, because there were a lot Bills, Georges, Bobs Mary’s and Jerrys, they decided they need another identifier.
So, they began to give them other names attached to their first names.
 
If the father worked in a mill, they would call him “Miller”. And if your name was
James, you would come to be known then as Jim Miller. Same way if he were a
“Carpenter”, or perhaps a “Miner”, or a “Mason”. If you were a blacksmith, your
name would become “Smith”.
 
Irish and Scottish names might have an O’ preceding their name. Basically, the O’ means, “from” or “of”.
 
In the south, during the days of slavery, slaves often took their master’s last names.
 
Names were very important to the OT Jews. Many times, they would give their children names that they would grow into.
 
The Bible mentions more than 3,200 people by name. A number of those names are repeated throughout the book, and there are few names that are only used to refer to one individual.
 
There are no less than 31 Zechariahs in the Bible, but there is only one Solomon.
 
Though names are repeated, there are many biblical names that Christians only associate with one person. There are, for
example, a number of people named “Adam” in the Bible, but few people think of anyone besides the Adam of Eden when they hear that name.
 
There are 11 biblical names with symbolic meanings that perfectly fit the story in which they are found. We’ll look at four of them.
David is one of the most commonly used biblical names today. It’s based on the Hebrew root word meaning, “beloved” or “darling”.
 
The name Elizabeth:  Elizabeth means, “God’s oath” from the Hebrew word for God, El and Shava, meaning “oath”. Elizabeth or Elisheba is the wife of Aaron. She becomes the mother of the entire Levitical priesthood. The more commonly known version
of the name, Elizabeth, appears in the New Testament where Elizabeth is the mother of John the Baptist.
 
The name Mary:  Miriam is the original Hebrew form of the name Mary.  Mary is believed to mean “beloved”
or “loved”.
 
Abraham and Abram have very similar meanings. Abram and Abraham both come from the Hebrew hamon. Abram means “high father,” and Abraham means “father of many.” Both meanings are appropriate for the father of the entire Jewish people.
 
God also changed people’s names in the Bible, Abraham being one of them. He changed Abram’s name to Abraham, inserting
God’s own name in his name. The “ah” is another name for “yah” which means God. He changed Sari, his wife, to Sariah.
 
Jacob, which would be Abraham’s grandson, and one of the Patriarchs of the Bible had quite an incredible name change!
 
Jacob, means supplanter. A supplanter is one who replaces another in their position, usually by force or by deceit. That’s what Jacob did with his brother Esau.
 
Basically, he deceived his father, Isaac into giving him his brother Esau’s blessing by pretending to be Esau.
 
The Jewish custom is to give the blessing to the first born son, and Jacob was second born. After stealing the blessing and birthright,
he fled for his life and spent about 14 years in a distant land, hiding from his brother Esau who he thought wanted to kill him. That’s the back-story on Jacob.
 
So, here he is after all these years, on his way back home, hoping to make amends with Esau and he has this supernatural encounter with God. God promised Abraham that through him, all the nations of the earth would be blessed. That was to be through his son Isaac and grandson, Jacob.
 
God told Abraham: 17 blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. 18 In your seed all the nations of the
earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”
 
So, in order for Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, to carry out the promise of God, something had to change!
 
So now we read about this spectacular event recorded for us in the Book of Genesis where Jacob had not only his name changed, but ultimately, his character as well!
 
22 During the night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two servant wives, and his eleven sons and crossed the Jabbok River with them.23 After taking them to the other side, he sent over all his possessions. 24 This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break.25 When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket.26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!”  But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 “What is your name?” the man asked. He replied, “Jacob.” 28 “Your name will no longer be
Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.”
 
“Israel” means, “one who struggles with God”
 
I did some research on the internet and I want to read something to you
that puts Israel into the proper perspective:
 
“What made Israel unique is that God was using them to further his
plan of redemption for the human race. This plan started with an individual,
with Abraham. God did not call Abraham because he was stronger, or smarter, or
richer than other people in his world. What set Abraham apart from other people
was that he responded to God; he believed him and was faithful to obey.”
“God furthered his plan of redemption by calling a people, the descendants of
Abraham’s grandson, Jacob. When God called Israel, it was not because they were
a strong people, or a wealthy people, or even a people that worshipped him.
Israel was not even a nation. They were slaves in Egypt.
But God had a plan for Israel. He delivered them from Egyptian
slavery. He made a covenant with them at Mt Sinai. A covenant in which he
promised to be their God if they would only obey him.”  “God brought them into a land that was already
populated and enabled them to claim it as their own. God instructed them in how
to worship, how to live in community, how to be a holy people. And God did
this, not because they were in any way worthy of it. They were far from worthy,
as they proved time and time again. But because he had a plan.” And that plan included you and me!
 
Redemption! Listen to this!  God sent His son, His only son, Jesus, or Yeshua, as the Jews call Him.
In the Hebrew language He is referred to as “Yeshua Hamashiach” or Jesus, Messiah
 
Let’s take a look at God’s name, or perhaps I should say the names of God.
 
Perhaps you’re confused and you’re thinking “Well, the only names I ever heard for God are:
·Heavenly Father
·Father in heaven
·Jesus Christ
 
If we go back to the beginning, we said that names identify us, so we’re not confused with someone else. And also, many times our names tell others what we do, like Jim the Miller and John the Smith.
 
When I was barbering I was known by a lot of men as Dave the Barber, but I was more than that.
 
The Jews gave God different names as they encountered Him in different ways, as we just saw. I want to explore that a little further and we’ll see how we, too, can encounter Him in every one of our needs.
 
I know I’m bringing things to you from the Bible that for the most part, are new to you. Because it’s new; don’t reject it. As we grow in our Christian walk, we all need a deeper understanding of just who our God is and how He works in each of our lives.
 
Elohim means God Gen. 1:1:  - "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."
 
Speaks of God’s power and might. The only supreme-true God.  It means, “Supreme One” or “Mighty God”
 
Notice the prefix “El”. Later we’ll find it attached to other names of God, which are compound names. We have
compound names:  First, Middle and Last.
 
Examples which we’ll explore further:
El Elyon
El Roi
El Shaddai, and many more
 
We’ll see next week how God how works in us in different ways according to our needs.
 
For example, we God as Jehovah Jireh, the Lord our Provider.
 
 
 
 
 
UNSEEN
 
NT Reading for today is found in Hebrews 1:14   
“Therefore, angels are only servants—spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation.”
and Mark 16:15-18 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.17 And these signs will accompany those
who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues;18 they will pick up snakes with their
hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
 
I want to address something that we as Christians need to be aware of, that is The Spirit Realm.
 
What do I mean by the Spirit Realm?
 
       The realm of the unseen.
 
We live in the physical realm where we have our five senses to experience everything around us, in the environment we live in: Touch, taste, hearing smelling and seeing.
 
Even in this realm there are unseen things that we live among that we cannot see, but nonetheless,  they are very real:
·Electricity
·Wind
·The air we breathe among other things
 
Because we don’t see things, doesn’t mean they are not there, nor they not affect us in some way or another.
 
       It’s the same way with the Spirit Realm.  Whether we see them or not, we are surrounded by angels, both good and evil.
 
The Bible refers to angels quite often as the Heavenly Host and evil angels as demons.
 
Last December, I brought a lesson on angels that, at the time, many of you commented on how helpful that was to you to get a better understanding of our heavenly neighbors!
 
I want to do a little review of that and then we’ll talk about their counterpart, the demons.
 
This is the time of year, perhaps more than any other, when we hear about angels.
 
       Angels announced and attended the birth of  Christ.
 
They are mentioned several times throughout both the Old and New Testaments.  But, what I’ve discovered over the
years is that there are many erroneous teachings about angels.
 
I’ve researched this curious subject many times over the years.
 
       We’re going to see things, perhaps, that we    have never seen before!
 
Christianity is rife with many myths taught to us by the world, in books and movies, that we have come to
believe that are actually part of Holy Scripture.
 
       So the intent of my teaching is to not only see what the Bible has to say about angels from the aspect of learning about them, but also their ministry to us and how God has instructed us to interact with them!
 
Hebrews 12:22 - 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an       innumerable company of angels
 
One of our 1st line allies are the holy angels of God! Let me interject this, but for sake of time, I’ll not go into any detail.
 
       There are seven major groups of angels mentioned in the Bible:
Seraphim, Cherubim, Archangels, Princes, KingsRulers and powers, Fallen angels.
And 8 if we include the Heavenly host
 
Jesus said that there were 12  legions of angels ready to come to his rescue if he summoned them! 
       In Jesus’ day, a legion was 6,100 men and 726  horsemen.
 
Quick mathematics tells us that a legion consisted of 6,826 men and angels!
 
But Jesus said he could summon 12 legions of angels!
       Well, 6,826 x 12 = 81,912 angels!
 
So to my way of thinking, this means that at least 81,912 angels are available to assist us!
 
       And that’s only 12 legions!
 
The Scripture we just read said there were innumerable angels!
 
       In innumerable means “without number”,  "cannot be counted”, and so on. 
 
But this I know for sure:  We have a powerful force of allies that almost exceeds human comprehension!
 
I like Psalm 91, especially verses 11 and 12.
 
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; 12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
 
I personally can recall many times that I have been saved from impending injury or death that I have given credit to the angels for intervention.
 
By the way, in the Book of Hebrews 13:2, we read these words:  “Do not neglect to extend hospitality to strangers [especially among the family of believers—being friendly, cordial, and gracious, sharing the comforts of your home and doing your part generously], for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.”
 
Our first reading today was from the Book of Hebrews 1:14 where the writer is talking about angels and our relationship to them.
 
Let me read the whole passage:
Hebrews 1: select verses:  1 Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. 2 And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. 3 The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains
everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. 4 This shows that the Son is far greater than the angels, just as the name God gave him is greater than their names.  The Son Is Greater Than the Angels.  5 For God never said to any angel what he said to Jesus:
“You are my Son. Today I have become your Father.” God also said, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son.”
6 And when he brought his supreme Son into the world, God said, “Let all of God’s angels worship him.” 7 Regarding the angels,
he says, “He sends his angels like the winds, his servants like flames of fire.” 13 And God never said to any of the angels,
“Sit in the place of honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies, making them a footstool under your feet.”
14 Therefore, angels are only servants—spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation.
 
The Lord has sent His angels to care for us and to minister to us!
 
Why?
 
Let me tell you why I think that is:  God has a plan for our lives; every one of us!
       Believe this or not: so does our enemy Satan!
 
God’s plan supersedes Satan’s plan every time!
 
Now I to want to switch gears here and talk about the dark side, fallen angels or demons.
 
Most Christians will you that they believe in angels.
 
However, there are many believers who have a hard time in believing that there are demon forces at work in the world
today! Not only that, but even more appear to be ignorant of, or not know the biblical teaching that we have authority
over demons!
 
More on that shortly.
 
The Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:12, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the
spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places.
 
Many times in our life experiences with people or situations, we will see and sense that something is out of place.
 
There seems to be an overwhelming sense of evil in some people’s dealings with us as shown in anger or retribution or some other way.
       What we’re experiencing is demonic influence! 
 
I didn’t say demon possession!
 
When you disagree with your boss or your mother-in-law, don’t say that I said they were demon possessed!
 
I have seen and experienced real demon possession and it is not a pretty sight!
 
I’ve shared with you before my experience with a 14 year old boy in Malawi who terrified his family with his demonic activity.
I was at a church service on a Sunday morning and the pastor and I were praying for people after the service when the pastor called me over to help him with this boy.
       His parents were there and told how he would get down on his belly and sliver across the floor and through narrow openings that were inhumanly possible for a normal human being to get through.
 
They were beside themselves on what to do so they brought him to the church hoping we could do something for him.
 
Demon activity is very prevalent in under-developed countries.
 
       Why?
 
I believe the demonic forces hold the people in fear and captivity due to their belief in superstition and the occult.
 
Remember this:  Satan and his demons use the occult and superstition to influence people for evil.
 
They see it as an open door.
 
Anyway, we began to pray for this demon to release this young man.  The more intense our prayer, the more the demon began to take control of him.
 
It threw him on the floor and he began to sliver across the floor like he was a snake.
 
Some of you are doubting what I’m telling you, but these things are real!
 
After several minutes of prayer, he began to quiet down and just lay there limp and crying.
 
We sensed that, that demon had left him, due to our prayers of faith over him.
 
The family weeks later told the pastor that the boy was never troubled again.
 
Why don’t we see that here in America? Because we’re too sophisticated to believe these things!
 
Demons?  In America?  No way!
 
I have seen that same demon spirit in a woman in Brighton some years after my Africa experience.
 
In Africa, they call it a serpent spirit.
 
To be very frank with you, I hesitated to teach about this, this morning because I wasn’t quite sure how you would handle it, and if you would then think I was some kind of religious nut!
 
Paul tells the church in 2 Corinthians 2:11  “lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.
 
Satan wants us to believe that this demon stuff is just a bunch of baloney.
 
Maybe they had that back in Jesus’ day, but not today!
 
Let me step out on a limb (I can do that with a name like Branch!) much of what we saw with the extreme violence during the riots was the result of demonic influence!
 
I said much of the violence, not all.
 
       This serious stuff!
 
There are two spirit realms:   the angelic and the demonic.
 
We accept the one readily; but not quite sure about the other!
 
In of our first verse this morning, we read the words of Jesus: “And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons.”
 
       Who are they?  You.  Me.  Believers.
 
The day is coming and not too far off when these words will take on a new meaning.
 
       Nuff said!  Your thoughts?
 
       Talk to me.
 
Next week I want to talk to you about a subject that’s been
on my heart for years, although I’ve never taught it as a complete subject.
What I’m talking about is: “What should the church look like in the 21st century?”
 
Not what someone or some denomination thinks it should like, but what does God expect it to look like?
 
That’s a question that we need to find the answer to.
 
One thing has driven me since the day I dedicated my life to Christ, and it’s this:  I always want to do what is pleasing to God!
       I’m getting ahead of myself!
 
Looking forward to sharing some neat things with you next week.
 
       Invite a friend!
 
God bless you!
 
Benediction:
Go now, and embrace
the hope to which God has called us.
Recognize Christ in friend and stranger,
and as Christ has been gracious to you,
so be gracious to those in need.
And may God give you a place of rest on rich
pasture;
May Christ Jesus be the shepherd king who binds
your wounds;
And may the Holy Spirit give you wisdom
and reveal to you the fullness of the one who
fills all in all.
We go in peace to love and serve the Lord,
........In the name of Christ. Amen.
I‘ll up in front for
prayer for those who would like it   
 
 
 
 
 
THE HAND OF GOD
O. T. Reading for today:  So, I reflected on all this and concluded that the righteous and the wise and what
they do are in God’s hands. Eccl. 9:1
One of many things that I have concluded over these few years I’ve lived on this globe is that fear will either drive you TO something or FROM it.
 
My message this morning isn’t about fear, but what I want to say I hope will lead me into what I want to talk to you about this
morning. I want us to look at the Hand of God and how we are affected by everything God does in our lives.
 
If you wait to do anything when the fear leaves, you'll never do anything.
       Think for a minute: What is that one thing:  ·you’ve always wanted to do or try, 
 
·or that place you’ve always wanted to go to, but fear of some kind has held you back? Many times the excuses or reasons make sense:
·Not enough money
·Not enough time, or not the right time
·What if I fail?
·What will people think of me?
 
These are fears!
If you wait until "you're ready" to get married, you'll always be single. 
·What if he or she isn’t the right one?
·Mom and Dad were divorced, maybe that will happen to me too
 
If you wait until you have enough money to have a child, you'll always be
childless. 
 
In order to accomplish anything in our lives, we can't wait until the perfect moment arrives, the most comfortable situation is presented or the fear completely dissipates because that won't happen! 
 
Faith only grows when stretched and when we're made uncomfortable.
 
We act despite the fear and uncertainties. 
 
That's when faith grows and God kicks into action on your behalf.  Faith cannot expand under ease and comfort. 
 
Never has, never will.
 
Some of you this morning have been waiting for that pristine moment and that's why you're frustrated, sometimes angry and even empty.  You're waiting for the arrival of something that isn't on its way."
 
What we need to wait for and even pursue is the Hand of God in our lives!
 
(Many are fearful of the future because your candidate didn’t win the presidency.  It’s OK to be disappointed. But don’t be fearful!
 
We are Christians!
 
Paul said, “We walk by faith, not by sight”!
 
I want to quote the words of an old hymn to
you that really says it all:
 
I Know Who Holds Tomorrow!
I don't know about tomorrow
I just live for day to day
I don't borrow from the sunshine
For it's skies may turn to gray
I don't worry o'er the future
For I know what Jesus said
And today I'll walk beside Him
For He knows what lies ahead
 
Many things about tomorrow
I don't seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand
Ev'ry step is getting brighter
As the golden stairs I climb
Ev'ry burden's getting lighter
Ev'ry cloud is silver lined
There the sun is always shining
There no tear will dim the eye
At the ending of the rainbow
Where the mountains touch the sky
Many things about tomorrow
I don't seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand
Who holds YOUR hand? Think about that!)
 
We have one of the greatest tools that God gave to mankind.
 No, 
·it wasn’t fire
·It wasn’t electricity
·It wasn’t technology
 
It wasn’t any of these things!
 
He gave us the gift of prayer!
 
dare say, and I include myself in this:  We do not use this gift as we should!
No judgment, just fact!
 
We’re talking about the Hand of God in our lives!
 
Peter gave us good advice:  Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty
hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, (1 Peter 5:6)
 
When I hold a basketball in my
hands, it’s merely a basketball, but when you place that same basketball in the
hands of Michael Jordan, it turns into a winner of collegiate and professional
championships. 
Put a golf club in any of our hands, and it’s merely a golf club, but
when you place that same golf club in the hands of Tiger Woods, it turns him
into the best golfer in the world. 
A paintbrush in my hands might result in a pretty good picture if it’s paint by numbers, but when a paintbrush
was placed in the hands of Renoir, it turned into incredible works of art. 
A gun placed in the hands of a hunter is a tool used for sport or
obtaining food, but when placed in the hands of a terrorist, that same gun becomes
a weapon of destruction. 
 
How is it that the same instruments and the same tools can bring about such differing degrees of results? 
 
Quite simply, it depends upon who is holding them and how they’re being used.
 
But, we have this tool, this wonderful, awesome tool, called prayer.
 
This tool can move the Hand of God! And yet, there it sits, in our toolbox, so to speak, never utilized.
 
 And we wonder: ·Why did this happen or not happen
 
Did you try to do anything about it except grumble?
Did you pick up that prayer tool?
 
Probably not!
Why do we not pray as we ought to?
 
“Well, Pastor, I really don’t know how to pray!”
 
Just get alone someplace and begin to talk to God. Tell him you don’t know how to pray!  He knows it anyway!
It doesn’t matter to Him!
 
What matters is that you come to Him.  That you place your self in His Hands! 
 
God expects us to do that -  not to be the one who tries to control our own lives all the time!
 
How’s that working out for you??
 
Remember that old Greyhound advertisement:
“Leave the driving to us!”
 
God is saying that to us.
“Leave the driving to me.  Put your live in my hands and I can guarantee you’ll reach your destination!”
 
I have
a confession to make this morning. I am not a very good prayer.
What I mean is, I don’t spend hours on my knees perhaps some folks do.
 
But, I talk to God.
·When I’m driving
·Mowing my lawn
·Or raking leaves
·Or working in the garden
·Or sometimes, just sitting still
My son-in-law and I have this thing we talk about concerning prayer.
 
Tell about thought prayer . . .
That’s what Paul was talking about when he said,
“Pray without ceasing!”
 
Didn’t mean you crawled into your basement and stayed there all day praying.
I believe, although he never named it, he was talking about thought prayer.
A lot of my
 
prayers go unanswered, but a lot of my prayers are answered as well.
God seems to answer more of my prayers when I’m praying for someone else.
 
Every Sunday, I stand up here waiting and wanting to pray with you for whatever that need may be.
It’s taken a while for some of you to come up because it hasn’t been part of your tradition.
 
But one by one, you’re coming up.  
Several of you have told me that God has answered some of what we prayed for.
 
Let me conclude with this:  You are in the Hand of God and he will never let you go and no one can take you out of his hands!
 
John 10:   “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.28 I give them eternal life, and they
shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.29 My Father, who has given them to
me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.30 I and the Father are one.”
 
I want you to know this morning, that if you are a believer in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, your are in His hands!
 
Benediction:
Go now, proclaiming to all how much Jesus has done for you.
Be as one with each other in Christ.
Wait for the Lord, and be ready to hear God’s voice, even in the sounds of sheer silence.
And may God be your fortress; 
May Christ Jesus release you from all that torments you;
And may the Holy Spirit give you light and truth 
to sustain you day and night.
We go in peace to love and serve the Lord,
In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
WHAT’S GOIN’ ON?!
Sunday, November 1, 2020 
 
A little humor before I begin my message this morning, sarcastic though it may be.
How many are going out to dinner today or some time this week?
Then, this is for you!
 
Wear your mask! it has powers..
 
“Let's go out to eat, 2020 style...
 
1.Arrive at restaurant, fish three month old single-use surgical mask out of car's
filthy cupholder (still slightly sticky from this morning's 84oz diet Pepsi).

2.Strap up with three month old single-use surgical mask. *MAGICAL ANTI-GERM BARRIER
ENGAGE!!!*

3.Proceed into restaurant, opening door with same handle grabbed by 200 people so far today.
 
4. Hostess has immediate seating for your party of three. Walk past entire restaurant of unmasked people. It's ok, they're
sitting.

5.     Sit down. *SEATED ANTI-GERM FORCEFIELD ENGAGE!!!*

6.     Safely within your anti-germ forcefield, remove mask. Browse menu while  making relaxed inhales of
the same recirculated AC air previously inside the lungs of the 200 people that also grabbed the door handle.

7.     Waitress drops off drinks bare handed.

8.     Grab drink with your bare hand. Sip leisurely, secure in knowing you're within  your anti-germ forcefield of
seatedness.

9.     Too many drinks. Need to visit the restroom. Don the magical anti-germ barrier mask
as you leave your anti-germ forcefield of seatedness.

10.    Walk past 40 unmasked restaurant patrons. Open bathroom with same door knob grabbed by 100 other people so far today.

11.    Return to table past same 40 unmasked restaurant patrons.

12.    Remove mask. Once again safe in your anti-germ forcefield of seatedness. Waitress takes your sweaty drink glass with
her bare hand, refills, hands back to you. You accept with your bare hand. Grab some bread and eat it. Same hand. Yum Yum.

13.    Meal complete. Mask on. Walk past 40 unmasked patrons. Make full body contact with at least 4 people waiting at the
hostess stand as you squeeze your way back to the door - no matter, they're all also wearing their magical anti-germ barriers.

14.    Grab exit handle, which you are now the 220th person of the day to touch. Eating out successful.

15.    Breathe a sigh of relief knowing that even after leaving the protection of your home and venturing out into the scary
world of the public, you are essentially sterile thanks to your state approved methods of magical germ mitigation.”

OK . . . Let’s get serious!

NT reading for today is from John’s first letter to the churches, chapter 2, verses 18 and 19 – “Dear children, this is
the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it
is the last hour.19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have
remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.”

Last week I talked about wolves; both in the world and in the Church.

       I said that Adolph Hitler was called “The Wolf”. He was evil personified for all the horrible, unspeakable things he did in killing more than 6,000 Jews as well as several thousand Catholics and Evangelical Christians.

Back in the 40’s, many people believed him to be the Anti-Christ, the one referred to in the Books of Daniel, I Thessolonians, and
Revelation.

Then, a couple of decades later, Americans spread the rumor that communist leader Joseph Stalin was the true Anti-Christ and if not him, then surely Leonid Brezhnev or Lenin.

In more recent history many politicians, entrepreneurs and celebrities have been named.
Among them: ·Bill Gates, ·George Soros and even ·Dr.
Anthony Fauci (that’s a stretch!)

Almost every American president since Franklin D. Roosevelt has been accused of being the “devilish beast” described in the Book of Revelation.

We just read where the Apostle John wrote in his first letter
to the churches “Dear children,
this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is
coming, even now many antichrists have come.”
What John is saying, is that the spirit of antichrist has been working
in the world from the beginning, manifesting throughout the church age.
Throughout the Book of Revelation, we see
this Antichrist figure working in tandem with Satan and the false prophet to
wage war against God and His people, you and me.
The Antichrist is part of a demonic trinity
-  a counterfeit of the Father, Son
and Holy Spirit.

One thing we need to get a hold of, and understand, is that much of what we see going on
with the riots, the racism, the vendetta against the church and even God,
is strong evidence of the working of the spirit of antichrist.

I didn’t say the antichrist. I said the spirit of antichrist; just what the Apostle John was talking about.
Every prophet is saying, almost in unison, that God is about unleash a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit in these troubled times we
live in.

There was a huge gathering of Christians in Washington, DC on September 26 praying for America.
 
It was
called “The Return” They prayed over the verse that we used for four weeks  in a row a short time ago.

From 2 Chronicles 7:14 – God’s word to us: “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray
and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will
heal their land.”

Over 100,000 in attendance, plus millions more watching on
simulcasts or on-line and even on live TV!

A pastor from Nashville, Pastor Kent Christmas, (yes, that’s his real name!) prophesied a great revival coming in 2021, following this tumultuous year of pandemic, racial division and violence.

I want to read it you. (Read from Charisma, Nov. 2020.)

Will this really come to pass?
I believe it depends on the church, you and me to pray and seek God for America!
We shouldn’t focus our attention on the devil, but the Bible clearly says that we should
not be ignorant of his crafty schemes.
In 2  Cor. 2:11, Paul tells us: “we don’t want to unwittingly
give Satan an opening for yet more mischief—we’re not oblivious to his sly ways!”
So, how do we identify this antichrist spirit?
It’s vital to our well-being as Christians
that we can recognize his work among us.
I’ve listed 6 ways to identify this spirit in your handouts.

I’ll share these with you, one at a time.
1.The antichrist spirit hates God.
a.The devil wants the attention that only God deserves.
b.He hates everything that is good.
c.He wants evil to triumph over goodness.
d.That is why we are seeing in our educational system a systematic attempt to
replace Christian values with atheism.

2.The antichrist spirit hates life.
a.We read last week in John’s gospel, chapter 10 Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I
have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
b.The thief Jesus is talking about is the devil. c.No wonder the devil fuels racial hatred in people so they
will kill others.
1)I watched last week as rioters in Philadelphia were kicking and stomping on a
person laying there, helpless on the sidewalk!
2)Don’t
tell me that’s not devilish!
d.It’s obvious that only Satan can convince people that killing an unborn child,
even up to the moment of birth, is acceptable.
1)Sometimes during the process of abortion, the baby is actually born and they let it lie
there, unattended, until it dies!
2)That is the spirit of a life-hating antichrist spirit
3) 3.The antichrist spirit hates the family.
a.An ideal family consists of a mother and a father.
b.I know when we have divorce, things change and the family is really never the same.
1)Many times parents work it out and the kids have somewhat of a normal upbringing.
c.BUT . . . Two men or two women raising children is not family!
d.I have a niece who is in a partnership with another woman  (I guess they were
married), together they adopted a boy and a girl.  I can tell you that both of these children
are exhibiting homosexual tendencies .
1.That is not a normal family!
e.Hollywood and TV have changed the family, and not for good!
1.Look how fathers are portrayed in most sit-coms.
2.They are made to look like blithering idiots and the fall guy for everything!
4.     The antichrist spirit hates authority.
a.     When you see hordes of people marching through our streets and burning cars and
buildings and screaming curse words at police, you can be sure that the
spirit of antichrist is involved.
b.     There’s Human authority and Divine authority
1)     Human authority – there is a general disrespect for authority among many of our
young people today.  Q:  Why do you think that is?
a)     Parents cannot make children have character.  But we can model it!
b)     I believe that when we see a young person acting disrespectfully toward
authority, that in many cases, it wasn’t modeled for them!  Q:
What do you think?
c)     My parents modeled respect for civil authority and taught me the same.
d)     My father always told me to respect the police and my elders!
e)     Romans 13:1 and 4 - 1 Let everyone be subject to the
governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has
established. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if
you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are
God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.
f)      My father always warned me that if I ever got into trouble with the law – well . . . it wasn’t going to be a pretty
picture!
               2.     Divine or Spiritual Authority
a)     Col. 1:18 - And he (Jesus) is the
head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have
the supremacy.
b)     Just as our head controls the body, so Christ controls the church.
c)     The church is not a democracy but a Monarchy, Christ is the King.
d)     We see in the local church:
1)     Pastor is the shepherd
       2)     Deacons or elders  
3)     All are to be respected for their position in the church, because their position is not a civil position, but a spiritual position.
 
Just a reminder that we’re talking about the spirit of antichrist and how it hates authority.
 
4)     I’ve seen the spirit of antichrist rise up in churches where the authority of the leadership was challenged.
5)     Tell about FT and the attempted coup!
6)     The spirit of antichrist manifested in rebellion
5.     The antichrist spirit hates the Word of God, the Bible
a)     I’ve said more than once that I am not politically correct, but rather I choose to be Biblically correct.
b)     I will not fall into lockstep with those who tell me what I can or cannot say, whether in or out of church!
c)     If someone says something that contradicts the Bible and I am present, I will calmly and kindly correct them!
1)     Pat and I were at a family gathering this past week when one of those present said
a couple of things that were blatantly wrong. (A second cousin)
       Being among family I wanted to show some restraint and not disrespect them, but they
were dead wrong! 
She said that Jesus was married to Mary Magdelen and if not married to her was in a relationship with her!
I swallowed hard a couple of times and asked her where she got that opinion from.
She didn’t say but I know there was a movie out a couple of years ago depicting a romance
between Jesus and Mary Magdelen.

Another media attempt through the spirit of antichrist to besmirch the name of Jesus!
2)     Then she said the Bible really wasn’t to be depended upon and it wasn’t the Word of
God and had all kinds of errors, then my very diplomatic wife entered the conversation and set the record straight.
Kindly, I might add.
d)     The spirit of antichrist has sowed the seeds of doubt throughout the world concerning the authenticity of the Bible.
1)     When people say something like that I always ask them if they’ve read the Bible, and usual answer is “no” or just parts of it.  
 
6.     The spirit of antichrist hates the church.
a.     Americans have enjoyed over two centuries of religious freedom!  
b.     In other parts of the world, that is not the case.
1)     Christians are being martyred just for being Christians in many Middle Eastern countries.
       a)     I can’t get that picture out of my head of the men lined up with orange jump suits and their killers standing behind them,
soon to behead them, just because they were Christians!
2)     In  Sudan and parts of Kenya, Christians are dying every day, just because they are Christians!

We cannot let the spirit of antichrist gain ground.

We need to push back as much as possible and we do that through our prayers.
 
Please pray for the church and against this spirit of antichrist!

There’s another spirit that we need to be focused on:  the Holy Spirit.
He is the one that brings life and liberty, not death and destruction!
 
May the Holy Spirit not only bless you today, but fill you with Himself!
Pray for America!
 
Don’t forget to vote!

       God bless you!
 
Benediction:
We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of
his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,[e]10 so
that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every
way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,11 being strengthened with all
power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance
and patience,12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you[f] to share in the inheritance of his holy
people in the kingdom of light.13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness
of sins.
 
 
 
WOLVES
Sunday, October 25, 2020
Our NT reading for today is found in John’s gospel, chapter 10, verses 1-18:
“Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the
gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber.2 The one who enters by the gate is the
shepherd of the sheep.3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He
calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because
they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he
was telling them. 7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep.8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them.9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me
will be saved.[a] They will come in and go out, and find pasture.10 The thief comes
only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.12 The
hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the
wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it.13 The
man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—15 just as the Father
knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.16 I have other sheep that are not of
this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and
there shall be one flock and one shepherd.17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again.18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it
up again. This command I received from my Father.”
 
Before I comment on this passage of scripture, I want to address a couple of things.
A few weeks ago, I read about what Congregationalism is all about and what we as Congregationalists believe.
 
I want to look at one of those things I talked about again today.
 
The Congregational Church holds to what is known as Reformed theology, the theology of the Bible and of our founding fathers.
 
The three main tenants of Congregationalism are:
·The sovereignty of God
·The authority of the scriptures, the Bible
·Salvation by grace through faith in Christ
 
I want to take a close look at the Sovereignty of God and what it means to us.
 
     First of all, what does “sovereign” mean? ·one
that exercises supreme authority, ·having undisputed ascendancy ·relating to, characteristic of, or befitting a supreme ruler
 
There is no one of higher authority than our God

He is a God of order:  Paul says in 1 Cor. 14:40 “let all things be on decently and in order”
 
God is a God of design:  John 1:1-3 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.2 He was with God in the beginning.3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”
 
He is the God of time:  2 Peter 3:8 “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a
thousand years are like a day.”
 
He is a God
who protects us and covers us.

Way back when COVID19 first hit, I prayed a prayer of protection and covering over you that this virus would not touch this church.
 
It was Psalm 91.
 
God has been true to this church and to his word for us!
 
A couple of excerpts from Psalm 91:1-7
 
Whoever dwells in the
shelter of the Most High
will rest in the
shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord,
“He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly
pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings
you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will
be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that
flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks
in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten
thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
 
Notice the key words: “deadly pestilence, pestilence, and plague”
God is true to His word!

No one from this congregation has contracted the virus!
Praise be to God!
 
He is our great protector!
 
And that is my theme for this morning:  God’s protection over us!
 
Now, we’ll get back to our Bible reading for today, John 10:1-18
 
This is about Jesus, our Shepherd.
 
Remember, that’s what David called him when he wrote the 23rd Psalm.
 
He said, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want”
       
What else did he say?
 
 
How many can quote Psalm 23 by memory?  Probably most of us.
 
ten to all He does for us:
·He makes me lie down in green pastures,
(He provides for us)
·he leads me beside quiet waters, (He brings peace to us, and calms us)  
·he restores my soul.  (His great forgiveness is always there for us!)
·He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.  (He will never lead us astray, but always in
the paths of His righteousness!)
·Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil;
For You are with me; (He’s with us in our darkest hours)
·your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (He brings peace and correctness while He comforts us)
 
A typical shepherd wore a belt that carried weapons.
They were a rod about 18 inches long, probably a knife, and a bag, called a shepherd’s bag.
 
Remember that’s the bag that David put the five smooth stones in before he fought with Goliath.
       
And they carried a staff.  It was used to prod the sheep to keep
moving, but more importantly it was used to rescue sheep from the briar patches
they got themselves into quite often.
 
If you remember the story of David and Goliath, David was told by Saul that he was
just a kid, and that he couldn’t go up against this giant.
But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a
lamb out of the flock, 35 I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against
me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both lion and bear
 
Wolves were always a problem in Israel as well.
 
I’ve never seen a wolf, but I’ve seen coyotes and foxes. The closest wolves are to us are in the Adirondacks.
       
They are called timber wolves.
 
One of the characteristics of a wolf is: They prey on the weak and the young and those who can’t protect themselves.
Jesus said in Matthew 10:16 – “I am sending you out like
sheep with wolves all around you. Be wise like snakes and gentle like doves.”
 
Jesus wasn’t talking about the furry kind of wolves, but the evil people in the
world who want to do us harm!

The environment in which we find ourselves is a very hostile one.
The Bible does not use kind words to describe it.
The Bible talks about the environment being filled with serpents, scorpions, lions, foxes and all kinds of terrible creatures.
 
Jesus was speaking metaphorically.  He’s talking about people.  Evil people!
 
An editorial in this morning’s D&C talks about people of faith being discriminated against because of our being against abortion, rejecting the concept of gender other than male and female, and many other Christian-based beliefs!
 
What happens is:  there are businesses that give you this so-called litmus test to see where you stand on these hot-button
issues.
If you don’t agree with these wolves, they can boycott you and shut you down!
 
In our scripture reading today, verse 12, “the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it”.
The wolf gets in the middle of the flock.
 
There are wolves, serpents, scorpions, lions, foxes and all kinds of terrible creatures in our churches today!
       I know!  I’ve been in such churches!
 
Pastors and leaders all out for themselves, with selfish motives; all the while destroying the church and scattering the flock.
        
Thank God that here at this church, we have leadership of the highest integrity.
       That does not go unnoticed by God!
 
In the world we live in today, we are surrounded by wolves.
Not the fury kind, but just as vicious, mean and nasty as the real ones.
Their desire is to harm you in any way they can, and ultimately, to destroy you, and particularly those who seek to
destroy God’s people, both Christian and Jew!
 
Wolves in the Bible have always symbolized evil.
 
The ultimate wolf, the Predator of God’s people, is the devil.
 
However, if we were to name one person, who would be the ultimate enemy of God’s people, it would have to be Adolf Hitler!
The Nazi’s, just like wolves, hunted them down, herded them together, and led them as sheep to the slaughter!
How horrible is that!
 
Some interesting facts concerning Hitler and the Nazi’s that you may not have heard before.
·Hitler’s headquarters was named “Wolfsschlanze”.  It means the “wolf’s lair” or “den”.
·He named another Wolfsschluct, which means “wolf’s gorge.”
·And another he named “Werewolf.”
·His closest friends called Hitler “Wolf”
·Do you know what “Adolf” means?  It means “the wolf”!
 
The greatest enemy to God’s people, the Jews, was named
“The Wolf”!
       
That’s how real this is!
  
Now get this:
·If there’s a flock, and a wolf, there must be a shepherd!
 
·Jesus said, “I am the Good Shepherd, I lay down my life for the sheep!”
·For 2,000 years the Jews have been without their Shepherd, and the wolf has
devoured them!
·We too are His sheep!
·All the more we must walk as close to the Shepherd, and as far as possible from
the wolf!
 
Know this today:
There are wolves out there who want to destroy the Church, Christ’s church, the one He died for.
       
That’s you and me, we’re talking about!
 
Be aware of what’s going on in the world right now, and stay close to the Shepherd!
       Amen and God bless you!
Benediction:
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
“Because he[b] loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
 
 
 
 
 
 
IT’S GRANDPA’S FAULT!
Sunday, October 18, 2020 
I hope the itle of my message this morning somewhat piqued your interest!
I want to talk to you and teach you this morning a subject
that although, it isn’t talked about much, impacts everyone of us, some more
severely than others.
I’m talking about “iniquity”.
Not to be confused with “inequity”, two different words with two distinct and different meanings.
 
“Iniquity” comes from a root word that means "to be bent or twisted; to distort."
 
Let’s see how “iniquity” is used in the Bible.

In Exodus, the second book of the Bible, chapter 34 and verse 7, we read these words:  “Keeping mercy and loving-kindness for
thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but Who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.”
 
To get a better understanding of “iniquity”, we’re going to replace it with a phrase that more aptly describes what it is:  
“generational sin”.  
 
It’s when sin, or if you will, a predisposition to a sin, is passed on to their
children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
 
This is not be confused with genetics.
 
We know that
we have things passed down to us through our genes:
·Hair and eye color, ·Skin coloring
·Of course race and nationality (which isn’t really genetics!)
·Facial features (hair, eyes, nose, mouth, etc.)
(That’s why it
will be said “you look like your mother or father, etc.”)
Some other things passed down to us can be:
·Musical
talent
·Artistic
ability
·A love for animals 
·Even a dislike for animals, ·physical quirks and mannerisms can all be passed down.
 
Elements of our personality, disposition, and temperament come from our parents.
oSusceptibility or resistance to certain diseases such as cancer, heart disease, sickle-cell
anemia, diabetes, certain types of mental illness, etc., can be passed to our offspring.
Love for God and God's blessing on our life can be passed down through the generations.
 
So, there can be both positive and negative things passed down to us.
 
What am I talking about?
Other things passed down to us, not genetically.
 
It’s a fairly long list, but I’ll mention a few of the more common ones, and I’ll get more
specific in a few minutes:
·Alcoholism
·Drug addiction
·Obesity
·Negativity
·Sexual perversion
·Child abuse
Poor decision making
 
These people will follow in the footsteps of their forefathers.
 
The children are influenced by their parent's sin by becoming just like them, coming
under the same condemnation of sin.
 
So, how are these transferred to us?
 
A.They can be taught.
1.A  parent with a gentle temperament can teach a rowdy child to be kind and gentle.
2.A child who watches his mother worry over everything can learn to be a worrier.
3.Children watch their parent's every move.  If they hear their parents when they
lie to a friend on the phone, shoplift from the grocery store, use foul language, or engage in any other sinful behavior, they assume it is "OK" because mommy and daddy do it.
 
B.As I mentioned earlier, they can be inherited through the genes.
1.It is well known that our physical characteristics are written in our genetic code.  
 
2.It has been medically proven that some people have a gene that makes them
susceptible to alcoholism.  If they are exposed to alcohol, they are more likely to become alcoholic.
 
3.It is also noted that children inherit personality traits from one or both parents.
 
C.They can come through spirit sources.
 
1.A person can make a place for God in their heart and home.  
 
2.The presence of God will bless that home and even those who come to visit.
 
3.Likewise, a man or woman who allows an evil spirit of lust or anger to operate in their
life will bring that spirit into their home.

4.That evil spirit will influence everyone who lives in or visits that home.
 
How can I tell if my life is being affected by generational sin?
 
There’s a list in your handouts for you to go over on your own.
 
I’m not going to go over them all at this time, but I will mention a few:
 
If the items in the following check list have been present in your family for multiple
generations, you are struggling against the effects of generational sin.
 
The key phrase of what I just said is: “have been present in your family for multiple generations”
 
I’ve listed 24 things.  There may be more that I haven’t listed.
 
I want to briefly touch upon 12 of these 24 that I’ve listed because it’s been my experience that these are more common, at
least in my time as a pastor and my time in ministry.
 
I want to add this all-important caveat: What we’re talking about today is not a judgment on anyone!
 
If we’re really truthful with ourselves, we’ll most likely find something on this list that
we’ve been infected with or influenced by!
1.Cults, idolatry, or false religion.
 
2.Rebellion against authority.
a.Employer/employee
b.Pastor and people in a church setting
c.Military -  washouts
 
3.Resisting God through rebellion or unbelief.
a.Jews with Moses
 
4.Witchcraft, occult, casting of spells, wearing "good luck" charms for protection.
 
5.Alcoholism, drug use, addiction to nicotine, anorexia, bulimia.
a.When we owned the bar I witnessed this first hand
b.I remember a father and son in the N.Chili area
 
6.Anger and uncontrollable rage.
a.I have seen this in many families
b.Road rage:  Like father, like son
 
7.Bitterness or a mean streak.
a.Friends in our past:  her mother was miserable and so was she!
b.Boy we knew that would torture animals – his father’s side of the family were not nice people!
 
8.Pride and arrogance.
 
9.Physical, mental, emotional, verbal, or sexual abuse.
a.Hurting people hurt people!
b.Sexual abuse many times goes down family lines
 
10.A life style of exaggeration and lying.
 
11.Depression, mental or emotional breakdowns.
a.I’ve known people through the years who were just like one of their parents!
 
12.Cancer,
diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, stroke, repeated health problems (such as miscarriages) with no direct medical cause.
 
13.Divorce, generation to generation.
a.Pat saw this in her family.  We stopped it!

14.Adultery, immorality, repeated
affairs, prostitution.
a.My mother’s sister was quite a loose liver:  passed down from her father.  And her children followed suit in many cases!
 
15.Multiple sex partners, teen pregnancies and children out of wedlock.
a.We’re not talking about a one-time incident, but something that is repeated generation to generation.
 
16.Abortions,
murder, suicide.

17.Homosexuality, lesbianism.
 
18.Laziness.
 
19.The inability to get and keep a job.
 
20.Gambling, trying to get something for nothing.
 
21.Financial insufficiency, poverty reigning in the family.
a.This is often seen in lottery winners. Millions of dollars and broke in a year or
two, because this poverty mentality was passed on down to them from parents and grandparents.
b.I know people today, that we’ve helped at Faith Chapel with a substantial amount
of money, got them out of debt and within a short time, they’re up their
eyeballs in debt again!
 
22.Prejudice against others based on racial or religious grounds.
 
23.Worry and fretting.
 
24.Workaholic, perfectionism.
a.I come from a long line of hard workers and I have to guard myself that I don’toverdo things.  I like to work and see
things accomplished, but you have to draw a line in the sand and not cross it!  How many can identify with that?
 
Now to this point this message has
been somewhat negative and scary, but we are about to turn that on its head.
 
We reap much that we did not sow, that our forefathers sowed.
 
That is true negatively, but ore importantly it is true positively.
 
Our nations forefathers sowed a ountry that was founded on and dedicated to God, and the benefits have been
heaped up for us a nation for the last 300 plus years.
 
When the pilgrims landed on this soil, they thanked God they finally had a place to follow God after the
dictates of their conscience.  hat this land was originally dedicated to God, is a blessing that was sown by them in tears, and we
continue to reap it in joy.
 
Eternity will only tell the ewards this nation has, and will receive for the brave men and women who
fought and died to end slavery, (civil war), and Nazi tyranny (WWII).
 
We are the beneficiaries of the
good sowing of many.
 
Those generational sins or curses can be broken off of us through our coming to Christ for our
salvation and through prayer.
     
 In closing I want to offer this to you:
If you feel hat you have been suffering any one or more of these generational sins in your
life, I want to pray with you to break that off of you, once and for all!
       
 
You don’t have to live with that!
 
After ervice, I’ll be right up front.  If there are more than one, I ask that you wait in the back
of the church until I call you forward for the sake of privacy.
 
Perhaps you ant to stand in for someone else.
We can agree together in prayer for this thing to be broken
off them for good!
 
These things e’re praying against are serious and I might add, private.
       
 
It’s time to be set free!  Amen!

Benediction:
Go now in the righteousness of faith
and live by God’s just demands.
Let nothing claim your devotion above the Lord,
and count nothing of value above knowing Christ.
Press on towards the ultimate prize, of being
one with him.
And may God’s perfect word revive your soul;
May Christ Jesus be your savior and your rock;
And may the Holy Spirit strengthen you to press
ever onward.
We go in peace to love and serve the Lord,
........In the name of Christ. Amen.
 
 
 
THE REDEMPTION OF AMERICA!
Part 4
OT reading
for today is from 2 Chronicles 7:13, 14
13 “When I shut up the
heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or
send a plague among my people,14 if
my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray
and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will
hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will
heal their land.”
Fifth act of our 5 acts that lead a person and a nation
to return to God is REFORMATION.
       Let me remind you of the 5 things again:
Very simply,
they are:
1.Repentance
2.Reconciliation
3.Restoration
4.Revival
5.Reformation
Our premise is this:  America is in trouble and needs to return to God and that responsibility lies at the feet of the Church.
 
Last week we looked at the necessity of Revival, in the church and in America.
We said the breath of God is what brings us revival.
What is the breath of God? The very Word of God, written for us, the church, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit!
 
Today, we’re going to look at Reformation.

The very word “Reformation” brings to mind what Martin
Luther, the great reformer said:  “When by the Spirit of God, I understood these words—"The
just shall live by faith"—then I felt born again like a new man. I entered
through the open doors into the very paradise of God.”
Protestant Christians observe the
31st of October as Reformation Sunday.
Reformation Sunday commemorates that moment on the 31st of October in
1517, when a young German monk, Martin Luther, nailed to the door of the castle
church in Wittenberg, some 95 propositions, challenging the church of his day.
That bold act began to reshape and reform the church.

Let’s define Reformation:  “the act of reforming, the state of being reformed It can mean
“back” or “again”.
When I was growing up in Gates, I hung around with a couple
of kids of, you might say, questionable character, but overall they were good kids.
My parents would warn me about them and tell me if I wasn’t careful, I’d end up as a
Juvenile Delinquent and end up in Reform School!
 
Those are two phrases you don’t hear much about these days!
They claimed they knew someone who was sent to a Reform School, and “let me tell you,
you don’t want to end up there!”

I don’t think they really knew anyone who was ever sent to such a place, but it was a good threat!
 
In the Book of Revelation, Christ tells the Apostle John to write letters to the Seven
churches in what was known then as Asia Minor.
Jesus dictated to John what he wanted him to write.
We looked briefly at the letter to the Church at Ephesus last
week, but today I want us to look at the letter he wrote to the Church at Laodicea.

Why this church and not one of the other six?
Because most Bible scholars agree and I do too, that this
church closely resembles the present church to which we all belong, the
church representing the age and time we live in.
 
So, let’s look at Rev. 3:14-22.    “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of
God’s creation.15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I
wish you were either one or the other!16 So, because you are
lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.17 You say, ‘I am rich; I
have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that
you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.18 I counsel you to buy from
me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white
clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve
to put on your eyes, so you can see.
19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.20 Here I
am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the
door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
21 To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with
me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father
on his throne.22 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
 
I firmly believe this letter to the church at Laodicea is for the church today, and it is for us here at Riga Congregational Church!
 
But more than that, it has great personal meaning to me, because it was verses 15 and
16 that impacted my life in such a way that I would never be the same person again.
 
I believe I may have shared some of this with you a few
months back, but I must share the whole story with you this morning.
I need to
give you a little personal background first.
·Grew
up in the Catholic Church
·Walked
to church, etc.
·Always
had a God-sense; that God was real, etc.
·The
ritual of the Mass intrigued me
·Back
then it was done in Latin, etc.
·My
mother was a strong Catholic; father not so much
·Mid-night
Mass at St. Peter and Paul’s on Christmas Eve was great!  Choir was magnificent, etc.
·Met
Pat and she agreed to convert to Catholicism and raise our kids Catholic; we
took Catechism classes together.
·Around
1966-67 when we owned the bar in Bergen, we moved back to Spencerport.
·I
remember sitting on our bed holding this 40 lb. Bible and trying to make sense
out of it.
·We
were searching for more of God and didn’t know where to go or what to do
·Next
door neighbors were just entering into ministry
·Bible
Studies, etc.
·That
had a house church at 14 E. Buffalo St., right here in Churchville.  The house is no longer standing
·Sunday
morning we would go to the Catholic Church at St. Jude’s on Lyell Rd. and Stan
and Connie held evening services at 6:30 and we would go there.
·In
the meantime, we sold the bar and I went back to barbering.
·My
shop was 2 doors down from their house!
·God
does have a sense of humor!
·Barbers
and bartenders have always been the purveyors of jokes and humor.
·By
this time, Stan began to send men from his church to get their haircuts from
me.
·We
built our first house on Bromley Road and when that was ready to move into,
Stan, along with about 10 guys showed up at our house on Union St. in
Spencerport to help us move.
·That
was awesome and made a deep impression on me.
·Back
to the barber shop: I began to know who the Christian guys were and the rest of
my clientele who weren’t believers.
·So
I would tell the spicier jokes to some guys and the clean jokes to the church
guys!
·Not
cool!
·After
I closed up, some nights I would go over to the Johnson House and have a couple
of beers and head home, eat supper and go to a Bible Study at their church!
·I
started to feel that something wasn’t quite right!
·I
was straddling a fence; one foot here and another there
·I
felt like my life was a sham.
·One
Sunday night like we’ve been doing for about a year, we went to their evening
service.
·As
usual, we sang two or three songs and then Stan would preach his message.
·As
he began to preach, he stopped.  And he
said, “I don’t know what’s going on, but the Lord is strongly impressing me
that I’m supposed to read a passage of the Bible that I hadn’t planned on
reading and that has nothing to do with my sermon.”
·And
that is when he read verses 15 and 16 from Revelation, chapter 3.
·That’s
all I heard that night
·I
never heard another word that he said.
·When I went to bed that night, those words kept repeating themselves over
and over in my mind: “So, because you are
lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”
·I realized that
something had to change in my life!
·I was driving school
bus in the morning at that time, and my route took my all the way out Attridge
Road to Palmer Rd. and turning around  Jenkins Rd., the road that the Mayewski’s live
on and start picking up kids.
·During
that 7 or 8 minute ride, I came under such heavy conviction of my need for
Christ in my life, that while I was driving, I just uttered simple prayer and
asked the Lord to forgive me for all my wrong doings and to come into my life
and be my Savior!
·So
simple and yet so profound!
·And
my life has never been the same again!
·That’s
my story and I’m sticking to it!
I said all
that because we need to know that the Bible is a living document and it
changes lives!
So, let’s take a closer look at these verses and see how we
can apply to where we are today as the church, and for America!
I want to
begin with verse 22, the last verse.
At the close of each letter to all of the seven churches,
Jesus closes with this statement: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
So, what is the Spirit saying to today’s
church, our church or even other churches?
How is He speaking?
What is He saying?
He’s obviously speaking about something other than our physical ears.
He’s talking about our spiritual
ears: what we hear deep down in our inner person.
The Church at Laodicea, a church, it seems, with no
redeeming qualities.
Christ said they
were Luke warm.
Every church was commended for something, except the
Laodicean church.
In a capsule,
this is what Jesus said to the 6 churches mentioned previously to Laodicea:
1.     Ephesus-repent and
do the first works-get back to how it was
2.     Smyrna- Fear none of
those things which you shall suffer.
3.     Pergamos-come out from
among them and be ye separate
4.     Thyatira-Stay away from false doctrines
5.     Sardis-Come alive, speak the power of life
6.     Philadelphia-I’ve
given you an open door, now come on in. Gods favor is grace
These were all positive things!
But to Laodicea He had nothing
positive to say about it.
Remember
when Jesus said you are neither hot or cold?
To every church he says:
“I know your deeds or works”
There is
nothing hidden from God!
       Nothing!
Jesus
relates to every church and talks to them about the things they already
know.
It’s the same way he relates to you and me today!
He knows
where they live and He knows where we live!
Yikes!
He knows our name, where we live, where we work, our friends,
our every thought!
Wow!  Think about that for minute!!
Speaking of the Laodicean Church and
knowing where they lived, he was referring to the springs that were nearby.
On one end of the city were the
boiling hot springs of Hierapolis, and the cold springs of nearby Colasse.
Jesus says to them, “you are neither here nor there.”
You’re in the middle, making
them lukewarm!
Lukewarm indicates that you’re attempting to “play it safe”!
I don’t like food when it’s
supposed to be hot and it’s lukewarm!
       How
about you?
Jesus doesn’t want us to be
lukewarm either!
Undecided, being able to be swayed one way or the other!
Because you can’t make up your mind
if you are in or out, I will spue, literally vomit you out of my mouth.
God is saying You make me sick.
America; once the place of refuge
for those seeking religious freedom and independence, has now become
lukewarm toward the things of God.
Politicians, along with the Hollywood elite put down the church, and us
as believers, every chance they get!
Know this today:  The
reason they downplay the church and belief in God is because they fear the
power that they know we have if only we would step up and exercise our faith
the way they know we can and should be doing!
They know the power of God and fear it better than most Christians!
That’s why they put us down as
believers every chance they get!
Do we want our freedoms in America to be slowly eroded away until we are
like every of other totalitarian government in the world?
I’ve spent many weeks living under such a form of government in Africa!]
They lived that way for so many
years, without the freedoms that we have that they accepted that way of life
as the way it was supposed to be!
On my first trip to Malawi, on the four hour trip from the
airport to our destination of Mzuzu, we went through at least four
roadblocks!
Uniformed police and military personnel in fatigues and carry Uzi’s is how we were met at
each roadblock, and they quizzed us as to who we were, where did we come
from, where are we going and what are we going to do when we get there!
When I suggested to my friend Samuel that I didn’t know that
Malawi was a police state, he said, “Why do you say that?”
I said,
“because in free countries like America, we don’t have military roadblocks to
go through every 10-20 miles or so!”
He was quiet
for quite a while and I feared that I offended him.
When I started to apologize, he said, “No, you’re right!”
He had been
to Great Britain and saw the freedoms there.
A year later he came to America for the first time and was
overwhelmed with the freedoms that we take for granted!
What a great
country we live in!
       Back to Laodicea and the church there.
Let’s pick
it up in verse 17 – “17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a
thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind
and naked.”
       We measure success with wealth.
“If I have
money then I have everything!
Jesus is telling them that even with all their wealth and
belongings they are wretched, pitiful, blind and naked!”
How many
have ever had a dream where you’re some place in public and you’re naked?!
What’s that
all about?
Well, Jesus is saying that your nakedness without having what
really counts in your life, as in a relationship with the Lord, is like
being naked in public!
The old
saying is true:  “Money can’t buy
happiness!”
Material success can never bring true happiness.
Joy comes from God and God
alone.
Verse 18 – “I
counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become
rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful
nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
Gold tried in the fire represents
true and unadulterated faith.
Faith in Jesus Christ.
The only true riches come from him
alone.
White clothes represents the robe of righteousness that Jesus
gives us when we trust him as our savior.
The salve
for our eyes speaks of having our eyes opened by the Holy Spirit and the
Word of God, the Bible.
David said “Thy word O Lord is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my
path.”
By the way, that is the verse that
this church uses as our Mission Statement!
The founding fathers of America and the Church stood on that
verse!
Verse 19
0f Revelation 3:  19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and
repent.
We’ve all seen children whose
parents never disciplined them:  they run
roughshod over the parents and are brats!
Spanking never left long term damage to my psyche or whatever they
call that!
       I lived through it and
learned something from it!
I knew my Dad meant business!
       “Do that again and
you’ll regret it!”
My father was a man of his word, and so is our heavenly Father!
America:  We’ve been
disciplined, but have we learned anything?
Verse
20:  “Here I
am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the
door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
Jesus is always close at hand waiting for America waiting
for us, the church to turn back to Him, and when we do, He said, we’re
going to have a whale of a dinner together!
I’ll
bring this to a close with verses 21 and 22:
21 To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with
me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father
on his throne.22 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
       Jesus is looking for overcomers!
Some of us
sitting here this morning have overcome great difficulties of the most
unimaginable things and you survived!
Some folks think that Jesus has promised them a Rose Garden!
Ask Jesus
what happens in gardens!
That’s where he was betrayed!
But
overcomers can do anything!
America, as well as the Church, in the past, have been
overcomers!
We must
become overcomers again!
I firmly believe the judgment of God is upon America, and the
only hope for us is us, the Church!
Church:  We need to pray for America and our leaders
in both parties, like we’ve never prayed before
God has put this in our lap and we must be faithful or we
will all face terrible consequences!
I know this
was a serious message because we’re living in, I believe the most dangerous
and serious times we’ve ever known as a nation!
       Church:
It’s up to us!      
Benediction
Now may the God of
peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great
shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant,21 equip you
with everything good that you may do his will, working in us] that
which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory
forever and ever. Amen.
We will now proceed to
the side yard for our dedication ceremony of the trees for Stan and Clyde.
 
 
 
 
 
 
THE REDEMPTION OF AMERICA!
Part 3
OT reading
for today is from 2 Chronicles 7:13, 14
13 “When
I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to
devour the land or send a plague among my people,14 if my people, who are called by my name, will
humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their
wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their
sin and will heal their land.”
Fourth and Fifth act of our 5 acts that lead a person and a nation to return to God is REVIVAL
AND REFORMATION.
       Let me again remind you of
the 5 things again:
Very simply,
they are:
1.Repentance
2.Reconciliation
3.Restoration
4.Revival
5.Reformation
I want to do
a quick review of what we covered last week so we will stay on point.
We covered
Repentance, Reconciliation and Restoration.
Our premise is this:
America is in trouble and needs to return to God and that
responsibility lies at the feet of the Church.
I’ll get to
that in a minute.
       Today, I want to talk about Revival.
Revival,
like Repentance, has been joked about and laughed at by much of the world for
many years!
It congers up the image of a sign-carrying man with a long
beard and a white robe walking up and down the streets of a city.
That’s what
we often see!
But if Revival is needed in order for America to be redeemed
back to God, then perhaps we had better take second look at it.
What does
the Bible say about Revival?
Psalm 80:18Then will we not depart from
You; revive us (give us life) and we will call upon Your name.
In the Message Bible we read these words, referring to
Israel, but also to the church today:
Psalm
80:16-19God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
turn our way!
Take a good look at what’s happened
and attend to this vine.
Care for what you once tenderly planted—
the vine you raised from a shoot.
And those who dared to set it on fire—
give them a look that will kill!
Then take the hand of your once-favorite child,
the child you raised to adulthood.
We will never turn our back on you;
breathe life into our lungs so we can shout your name!
19 God,
God-of-the-Angel-Armies, come back!
Smile your blessing smile:
That will be our
salvation.
“Breathe life into our lungs!”
The
breath of God is what brings us revival.
What is the breath of God?
The very Word of God,
written for us, the church, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit!
I’m going to ask a hard question this morning:
       I ask it
first of all to me, then to you.
“Are you spiritually alive or dead?”
       This is
serious stuff!
If you say in your heart, “I know that I’m not where I
should be in my walk with the Lord!”, then that’s a start.
One of my daily
prayers is: “Lord, help me to walk in your ways and do the things you want
me to do.”
       Listen!
None of
us has it all together!
But, our goal, our desire, should be to get it together
with as much as lies within us!
We make a
choice every day:  Whether consciously or unconsciously,
we make a choice to walk in the ways of God or not.
Some hard questions that need to be asked:
·Do
I have prayer time with the Lord on a regular basis?
·Do
I take time to read God’s Word, the Bible, on a daily basis?
·Do
I ever think of the Lord throughout the day?
The whole
premise of my teaching for the last three weeks has been:  America is in trouble and the only
solution to that trouble is God’s people; the church!
Listen:  Washington is not going to fix America!
It can’t!
       Do you know why?
Because the
problem isn’t which party is in the White House, or the Senate or the House!
Because it isn’t about that at all!
Houston: We
have a problem!
It’s not a money problem!
You can’t
throw money at it to fix it!
It’s not
a political problem!
       You can’t vote it out or in!
Why????
Because it’s a spiritual problem!
It’s up to
us to fix America!
And Who is us?
The
Church!
And who is
the Church?
We are; here in Riga and Churchville, and Rochester and all of New York and all
of the world.
I think that
we miss the importance of who we are.
We are, according to Jesus and the Apostles, the Body of
Christ.
What is a
Body?
It is a living organism.
Our bodies
consist of cells and organs and blood which gives life to the whole body.
When cells begin to die, the whole body eventually dies!
Let’s think of the individual cells as the individual
churches that make up the whole body of Christ and all the cells
together make up the Universal Church.
Whether you
realize it or not, there are dead churches within the Body of Christ.
       How would we define a dead church?
A church
that does not preach, teach, or adhere to the Bible, the Word of God.
These are churches that are more likened to a club or party.
There is very
little holiness in them at all.
They may observe the Lord’s table and baptism, but its
meaning has become obscured over the years and is performed by rote rather than
with any passion whatsoever.
Let
this never be said of this church.
I don’t believe it will, but we must keep our guard up!
But we’re
only as strong as our weakest link!
Don’t be that weak link!
We can all
go through periods of dryness, where it seems that we have no spiritual
life in us at all.
I spent three years in such a place, and it was not fun!
I never
stopped believing in the Lord.
But I didn’t pray as I should have, nor did I read much of
the Bible.
But there
was never a time that I doubted my faith in the Lord.
But there was a deadness inside of me that I couldn’t
explain.
All through
this time, My prayers, as feeble and weak as they were, were “Lord, get me
through this!”
And “Let me learn what you want me to learn”
I knew that
God had a call on my life!
Oh, I went
to church.
       I engaged in all kinds of church activity.
No one knew
what I was going through on the inside.
Although I wasn’t pastoring at the time, I filled in at
churches from time to time.
I felt like
Jonah in the belly of the whale.
I wasn’t running FROM God but I wasn’t running TO him either!
Then, one
day, I was revived in my spirit; not by anything I did, but it was all from
the Lord.
I remember the day that I broke free from whatever is was
that held me captive.
It was like
I woke up from a bad dream!
God
revived me!
Shortly after that, Pat and I pioneered Faith Chapel.
And I wonder
today:  Is there someone here, perhaps
one or two, or more, who need reviving?
       Truth be told, there’s probably more!
There’s a dryness
in your spirit where you almost feel it in your physical body; in your
bones.
Do not leave here without fixing this today!
I’m reminded of the vision that the prophet Ezekiel had of
the Valley of Dry Bones.
Three thousand years ago, God gave
the prophet Ezekiel a vision.
Ezekiel says, “The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out
by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of
bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the
floor of the valley, bones that were very dry” (Ezekiel 37:1-2).
Imagine the scene.
Thousands of bones are spread out across the valley.
Here is a skull, there is a
thighbone, over there is a pile of finger bones.
The bones are in bad shape.
They are scattered, disordered, and
dry.
Not even the birds like dry bones, they are good for nothing.
These dry
bones represent our world, and for our purposes today, they represent America.
Look at the government, politics, and the news.
We see broken homes, divorce,
violence, poverty, and human trafficking.
·People are
scattered,
·disorganized,
and
·fighting with
one another.
·People value
reason over faith, tolerance over truth, and pleasure over purpose.
·The world is
in bad shape.
·People
celebrate what is evil and condemn what is good.
The prophet
Isaiah said this three thousand years ago in Isaiah 5:20: “Woe to those who call evil good and
good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put
bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”
Without Christ, people are dead.
See the world around you as dead.
We don’t need politicians that are
“good” politicians, we need politicians that are spiritual politicians.
We are surrounded by a valley of dead bones that need to be resurrected.
So, Ezekiel prophesied as he
was commanded.
As he was prophesying, there
was a noise; a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone.
Some of you are singing that
song right now in your mind: the song about the “ankle bone is connected to the
leg bone, the leg bone is connected to the knee bone?”
But there was still a problem.
Ezekiel says, “I looked, and
tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no
breath in them.” (Ezekiel 37:8).
The scattered bones came
together, flesh and skin covered the bones, but the bodies were not
breathing.
These bones without breath
represent dead churches and the death that is coming to America if we don’t
wake up!
These zombie bodies represent
churches that look organized, but are spiritually dead.
There are entire denominations
that are in shape organizationally, but the Holy Spirit is not moving.
Conventional success is not
good enough.
We need more then organization;
we also need life.
These bodies are like zombies,
they look alive but they are really dead.
Many Christians look spiritual,
but in reality, they are lifeless.
I want us to see 3 things
about these dead bodies:
1.Dead bodies
stink.
The Dead Sea
has water coming in but none going out.
The water
stagnates and begins to stink.
If a person
sits in church receiving all the time but never has an outlet to give to
others, he begins to stagnate.
These people
become critical and fault finding, they are always looking for something
that is not right.
2.Dead
bodies do not move.
These are people who are living in
a comfort zone.
They exist at a lower level
than God has called them to.
They do not use their gifts, talents, or abilities for God.
Some people think they already have
enough members in their church.
They have a lack of compassion for the lost.
3.Dead
bodies do not give birth.
Churches that are not saving the
lost are spiritually barren; they do not have any spiritual children.
There is no real productivity.
Again, God tells Ezekiel to
prophecy, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, 'This
is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and
breathe into these slain, that they may live” (Ezekiel 37:9).
So, Ezekiel prophesied as God commanded and suddenly breath entered the
dead bodies; they came to life and stood to their feet.
God wants to breathe life into
dead churches.
Throughout the Bible, breath
and wind represent the Holy Spirit.
When the Holy Spirit breathes
on you, suddenly you come alive.
The dry bones became a mighty
army.
The church is called be an
army!
We are called to be full of
life, full of the Holy Spirit, marching together for God’s kingdom.
God wants every dry bone to live.
If you feel spiritually lost or
spiritually dead, today is the day for you to come alive!
God says to you and me and to America, “Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I
open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you, and
you will live” (Ezekiel
37:13-14).
God is in the business of raising
the dead!
Pray for the Church in America!
Pray for America!
       We
need to be revived!
We need to have spiritual life
imparted to us!
       God
bless you, and God bless America!
Benediction:
May the God
of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one
another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice
glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Finally,
brothers and sisters, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree
with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with
you.  Amen
Prayer in
front of the church for those desiring it.
 
 
 
THE REDEMPTION OF AMERICA!
Part 2 
 
2 Chronicles 7:13, 14
13 “When
I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to
devour the land or send a plague among my people,14 if my people, who are called by my
name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and
turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will
forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
Third act of our 5 acts
that lead a person and a nation to return to God is RESTORATION.
         Let me again remind you
of the 5 things again:
1.Repentance
2.Reconciliation
3.Restoration
4.Revival
5.Reformation
So, last week we talked about Repentance and Reconciliation.
Today, we
will look at Restoration. Restoration was in the heart of David when he was
praying for restoration in his relationship with God.
He wrote Psalm
51, a model prayer to be restored back to God.
Before we look at that, consider what Jesus said to the
church at Ephesus, a huge and prospering church.       In the Book of Revelation, chapter 2, verses 3-5,
hear the words of Jesus for Ephesus, and you can see that they are words for
America today!
Let’s look
at verse three first:  3 You have persevered and have endured
hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.  Let’s read on: “4 Yet
I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.”
We see this many times, in marriage.
When folks are first married, well, you know, things are pretty hot! And over time, things
cool off and you can fall into a kind of a funk.
That’s why any good marriage is one that has been
worked on, on a daily basis!  It’s
the same with our relationship with the Lord, and this church and each
other!
Good marriages don’t just happen, neither does a good
relationship with God. It takes work.
Hard work. Every day. All the time!
         Then Jesus
gets in their face! ”5 Consider
how far you have fallen!”
The American church, for the most
part, is a far cry from what our forefathers fought and died for when they
fled Europe to come here for religious freedom.
I want to take few minutes and read
something to you that perhaps some of you don’t know. It’s the history of
the Congregational Church in America:
“Congregationalism in the United States consists
of Protestant churches in
the Reformed tradition that have a congregational form of church
government and trace their origins mainly to Puritan settlers of colonial New England.  (Did you know that?)Congregational churches in other parts of the world are often related to these in
the United States due
to American missionary activities.
Congregational churches have had an important
impact on the religious, political and cultural history of the United
States. (Again, I want to stress what churches should be doing in the
political arena!)  Congregational
practices concerning church governance influenced the early development of
democratic institutions in New England, and many of the nation's oldest educational
institutions, such as Harvard University and Yale University, were founded to train
Congregational clergy.
Congregational churches and ministers influenced
the First and Second Great Awakenings and were early promoters of the missionary movement of the 19th
century. The Congregational tradition has shaped both mainline and evangelical
Protestantism in the United States.
Another article relates that:
Congregationalism, is a Christian movement that arose in England in the late 16th and 17th
centuries. It occupies a theological position somewhere between Presbyterianism and the more radical Protestantism of the Baptists and Quakers. It emphasizes the
right and responsibility of each properly organized congregationto determine its own affairs,(not outside
organizations, such as the UCC) without having to submit these decisions to
the judgment of any higher human authority, and as such it eliminated bishops
and presbyteries. Each individual church is regarded as independent
and autonomous.”
         What
a heritage we have! Shouldn’t we be trying to somehow bring that back!
Let’s get back to Jesus talking to the church at Ephesus:
So we don’t lose our train of thought, Jesus said to the church:  ”5 Consider how far you have fallen!”
So what are we to do?
Jesus tells us: “Repent and do the things you did at first.”
Jesus said: 5 “If you do not repent, I
will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”
What’s
that all about?  We need to go back to chapter 1 of
Revelation and see.
John is
relating his encounter and vision of Jesus to us that he had while he was
exiled to the Isle of Patmos.
John goes on to write: 16 In
his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a
sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all
its brilliance.
17 When I saw him, I fell at his
feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and
said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and
the Last.18 I am the Living One;
I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold
the keys of death and Hades. 19 “Write, therefore, what you have
seen, what is now and what will take place later.
So, to get an understanding of what
John was to do, Jesus tells him to write of three things:
·The past
·The present
·The future, as Jesus reveals it to
him.
Remember this is called the Book of
the Revelation of Jesus Christ!
His revealing of what was, what is,
and what is to come!
So, Jesus continues to speak to John:  20 The mystery of the
seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden
lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven
churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
It would appear that each church that
serves Jesus Christ and reveres Him, has an Angel assigned to it!
So, if we go back to chapter 2 and verse 5, we get
a better understanding of what Jesus is saying to the church!
That’s a
pretty serious indictment on that church! I believe Jesus is saying that
to the present church as well, and perhaps in an even stronger voice!      
We need
restoration!  In the church, and in America!
Now it’s
time to look at David’s repentant Psalm, Psalm 51.
David was a man of God who fell. Everyone one of us is
capable of any sin you can think of. And because he was a man of God, he was
convicted in his heart of his sin and repented of it.
But
repentance by itself is not enough! He was out of fellowship with God and needed to be
restored to God!
America, as a nation, has backslid and is in need of
repentance and restoration, but repentance must come first!
The thing
that David did greatly displeased the Lord and David payed a price.  We read in 2 Samuel 11 these words: “This is what the Lord says:
‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on
you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who
is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight.12 You did it in secret, but I will do
this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’” 13 Then
David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan replied, “The Lord has
taken away your sin. You are not going to die.14 But because by doing this you have shown
utter contempt for the Lord, the
son born to you will die.”
David, deeply grieved by his sin, repented and in Psalm 51, asked
the Lord to restore Him to fellowship with God.
Psalm
51:1-12  Have
mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your
great compassion blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your
sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. 5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother
conceived me. 6 Yet
you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret
place.7 Cleanse me
with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed
rejoice. 9 Hide
your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. 10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit
within me. 11 Do not
cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing
spirit, to sustain me.
David, a
broken man, cries out to God for restoration, and we know by the rest of
David’s life, he is restored to fellowship with God.
Is there hope for America? Maybe.  Maybe, if we heed the words of our scripture
reading for today:
2 Chronicles
7:14 – “if my people, who are
called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my
face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from
heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
Here are the conditions for us, His people. And this falls
squarely on the backs of the church:
·We
must humble ourselves
That means get rid of all pride that tells us that we’re OK, it must
be the other guy, certainly not me!
·Pray
and seek the face of God
Not just a table grace or “now I lay me down to sleep” kind of prayer,
but gut-wrenching prayer that seeks God and begs for Him to hear our prayers
·Turn
from our wicked ways – Some perhaps are thinking, “I don’t have any wicked
ways!”  I refer back to our first
article, “humble ourselves”!
·“Then”
God says, “I will hear from heaven”
He’s listening and he’s waiting for these things to happen in America. When he hears, He
will answer!
HOW?
“I will forgive their sin and
will heal their land.” This is not complicated! Our God is not
complicated!
Repent,
Reconcile, and be Restored!
God bless
America!          
And God bless each and every one of you!
 
 
 
As of today, September 30, 2020, I will again be posting my Sunday sermons on this site.
I'll be completing a 4 part series this Sunday entitled "The Remdemption of America"  Today's post is the first of the series shared with the congregation on Septemeber 13, 2020 
 
 
THE REDEMPTION OF AMERICA!
Part 1
OT reading
for today is from 2 Chronicles 7:13, 14
13 “When
I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to
devour the land or send a plague among my people,14 if my people, who are called by my name, will
humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their
wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their
sin and will heal their land.
Once again,
I’m compelled to preach a different message than the one that I started out
with!
I was supposed to talk about Joseph and his dream
interpretation that made him second in command of all of Egypt.
I worked on
it Tuesday and several hours on Wednesday, when I told Pat, “I’ve got a good
message about dreams, but God wants me to put it aside and speak on something
else!”
I’ll be very honest with you -  I don’t like that when that happens!
In our
Scripture reading that I just read, King Solomon had just completed the Temple
and was dedicating it to the Lord.
God appeared to be pleased with Solomon, and we read in
verse 11 and 12:  11 When Solomon had
finished the temple of the Lord and
the royal palace, and had succeeded in carrying out all he had in mind to do in
the temple of the Lord and
in his own palace,12 the Lord appeared to
him at night and said:
“I have
heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple
for sacrifices.
America, my
beloved America, your America, is in trouble!
As you know, I like to watch the news, but I’m getting to not
liking to watch the news lately!
So, what’s
going on?
         Who do we put the blame on?
The list is
quite colorful:
·The
Democrats?
·The
Republicans?
·The
President?
·The
Marxists and Communists?
·The
Fake news media?
·All
of the above
How many
remember where you were, and what you were doing when you heard about
the attacks on the Twin Towers in NY?
         (Talk to me this morning)
Pat and I were at our dining room table with a lady from
Wegman’s setting up our corporate Shoppers Club Card for Faith Chapel.
The phone
rang.
         It was our daughter Jen.
She said,
“Dad, you need to turn on the TV.  A
plane just crashed into a building in New York City”
We immediately turned it on and sat, transfixed to the TV for
the rest of the day.
The lady
from Wegman’s said, “I’ve got to get home!”
And then you know the rest of the events of the day:
·The
second plane into the second tower
·The
crash of the plane in PA
·The
Pentagon being another target
Churches all across America had people coming in to pray and
just be together to try to make some sense out of what just happened.
Members of
Congress, Republican and Democrat, cast aside their differences and gathered
on the steps of the Capitol Building and sang together:  “God Bless America”!
The question
in everyone’s mind was: WHY?
Why did
this happen?
We still don’t have a clear answer that everyone can agree
on.
Many
believe, and I tend to agree with them, that this was a judgment on America.
And I believe that in many ways this judgment is still
ongoing.
Look at
the fires in California, Oregon and Washington State!
         Over a million acres burned this year
alone!
Could this
be the judgment of God on rebellious states that supports everything
contrary to what God and righteousness stand for?
I’ll let you be the judge of that, although it causes one to think,
doesn’t it?
I’m reminded
of one of the most impactful stories in the Bible that most of us are
familiar with, at least in part.
I’m talking about the Assyrian city of Nineveh as
found in the Book of Jonah.      
The city of
Nineveh was full of wickedness, and yet God chose a man, Jonah, to warn them
of coming judgment and destruction.
But Jonah resented what the Lord was asking him to do, and as
the Scripture accounts, after three days in the belly of a whale, he
cried out to God and repented against the calling of God and attempting to run
from Him.
The Lord
spared Jonah’s life, so Jonah obeyed and went to Nineveh and preached to
them to repent of their sin against the Lord.
The Bible tells us in Jonah 3:5, that the “Ninevites
believed God”.
There are
many national leaders that are saying that America is having its “Nineveh
moment.”
         But, how will we respond?
There is
actually a huge gathering in Washington, DC on September 26 that is expected to
hopefully take us from Rebellion to Redemption.
         We are in a critical time in America!
We have been
warned!
God in His mercy, has afforded us a time of reprieve to
turn and repent for our land to be spared from destruction:  It’s a Nineveh Moment!
At this
gathering I just mentioned, there will be a focus on five crucial acts that
lead to God’s redemption, knowing that it is only the Holy Spirit who can
lead a person to return to God!
         Very simply, they are:
1.Repentance
2.Reconciliation
3.Restoration
4.Revival
5.Reformation
I want to
look at them briefly, one at a time.
This will not be a long message, but one I hope will have
a positive impact on you!
We’ll be
looking at Repentance and Reconciliation today.
1.Repentance
In
the late 1800’s and early 1900’s the Salvation Army was a powerhouse of
evangelism. It’s founder and leader was William Booth. I want to begin this
morning by reading to you a warning handed down by him that will introduce the
message today.
“The chief danger that
confronts the coming century will be:
·Religion without the Holy
Ghost,
·Christianity without Christ,
·Forgiveness without repentance,

·Salvation without regeneration,

·Politics without God,
·Heaven without hell.”
What was
true then, is even truer today!
We’ve all seen people at ball games walking around with a
sign that read:  “Repent Now!”.
Or something
similar to that, and what happens, it is laughed at and mocked by much of
the world.
         And so it is downplayed.
But let me
tell you today in no uncertain terms, unless America as a nation repents of
its sins, we are doomed to suffer failure!      
The OT Book
of Ezra was written by Ezra recording a time when Israel returned from 70 years
of captivity by the Babylonians.
Long story short: They suffered the judgment of God and
He allowed them to be taken captive because of their turning away from Him and
everything holy.
Ezra is mourning
this fact and reflecting on this before the people.
It was a time that corruption was seen on all levels of
society.
I believe
America is at such a place today!
         Ezra mentions corruption on 5
levels:
1.Priests
2.Levites
3.People
4.Leaders
5.Rulers
Priests and Levites
were the Religious leaders of his day.
Many churches and their leadership have walked away from much
of what William Booth described earlier.
What were
they again?
·Religion without the Holy
Ghost,
·Christianity without Christ,
·Forgiveness without repentance,

·Salvation without regeneration,

·Politics without God,
·Heaven without hell.”
The Church,
at onetime in our history, led the people of this great land, even more so
than the government!
And we have pastors today, writing things like I’m about to
quote, to their people, telling them things that are totally contrary to the
Bible and they claim to be preachers of the Word of God?
“Some
pastors and Christian talking heads like to remind people, over and over, ad
infinitum it seems sometimes, that they are sinners who need saving.”
Now let me quote from a much more reliable source, the holy
Scriptures in Romans 3:23-25
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of
God,24 and all are
justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came
by Christ Jesus.25 God
presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement,[i] through
the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith.”
Preaching against this doctrine is one of the reasons
we’re in the trouble that we are!
Jesus said
several times:  “Repent, for the
kingdom of heaven has come near.”
3.The
third level of corruption lies right at the fight of the people:  Us’ns!
We have allowed such drivel to be preached and taught in our
churches and now we’ll all pay the price!
There is
always a payday, someday!
Life is always a lot easier when the pastors are playing down
sin.
We’re just
like the ostrich with our head in the sand.
If I can’t see it, it won’t bother me!
Really?  I don’t think so!
The Bible tells us we will all stand before the Judgment
Seat of Christ!
And as I
mentioned last week, it’s a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the
living God!
The fourth level of corruption is our Leaders.
As leaders I
take it mean those in local and state government.
Our elected officials from all political parties!
What’s
happening in Rochester right now, in my opinion, is a prime example!
         LaRon Singletary was an upstanding
Police Chief.
But I
understand why he is retiring!
The old saying that’s true today, “You can’t fight City
Hall!
He’s
protecting his reputation.
The corruption in the city government extends all the way to
the NY Secretary of State and the Governor.
The fifth
level of corruption is our rulers which would include both parties in
our House and Senate on the national level.
I personally do not think our President is corrupt, but he
certainly has a lot of faults!
God has put
in place in the White House several strong and powerful men and women of faith
who surround the president and cover him with prayer every day!
And believe me, without those folks there, he would be in
deep trouble!
America
needs to repent from the top on down!
         We are living in unprecedented times.
No one
before has ever witnessed the rebellion and turmoil that we’re seeing on a
daily basis!
         But God!
He is our
only answer and our only solution to save this country!
Next, I want to talk about Reconciliation which is
closely connected to Repentance.
2.Reconciliation
Reconciliation involves a change in the relationship
between God and man or man and man.
For true
reconciliation, both parties acknowledge a break or offense has occurred.
We must then forgive one another, release it to God through
Jesus Christ, who is ever interceding for us at the right hand of God.
So, let’s
take a closer look at reconciliation and see what the Bible has to say about
it.
         Do you know that everyone of us is a
Minister?
Well, that’s
what the Bible says!
In 2 Cor. 5, we read these words: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new
creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!18 All
this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and
gave us the ministry of reconciliation:”
Just a
little side thought here, and I don’t expect you to raise your hand, but I
wonder how many of us have had a falling out with someone and were never
reconciled to that person?        
It’s especially hard if the other party doesn’t want to be
reconciled to you!
So what do
you do?
It’s the same
with forgiveness.
You forgive them and make things right as far as you can.
If they
don’t receive it or acknowledge it, it’s on them, not you.
         You’ve been set free from that
situation.
But, how
does Reconciliation fit in as far as America is concerned?
First of all, reconciliation can be viewed two different ways        :        
1.Vertically
-  Between Man and God
2.Horizontally
-  Between people
If you’re
not reconciled Vertically, with God, it will be very difficult, if not
impossible to be reconciled Horizontally with man.
One of the greatest examples of Reconciliation can be found
in the story of Joseph.
As you know,
his brothers sold him into slavery, and then a series of God-driven events
led him to become second in command in Egypt.
The same brothers who sold him into slavery years earlier,
now appeared before him, not knowing that it was Joseph.
Joseph could
have said, “Aha, now I got them where I want them”, and could have done
any number of things to them.
But instead, we see Joseph weeping over his brothers as he
restored them to fellowship by his forgiveness of their great sin against him!
I wonder
this morning, if anyone of us here, are holding something so heavy, that’s
almost impossible to bear?
I‘m talking about a grudge against someone.            
Grudges get heavier the longer they
are carried.
         Be reconciled, whatever it takes!
Maybe its:
·A
former husband or wife – Forgive them and move on.
·A
parent
·A
child
·A
boss or co-worker
·Some
other relative or friend who hurt you deeply.
Forgive and move on.
And if you can’t do it in person, then do it in your inner
man, your spirit.
They may be
dead, or you don’t know where they are; forgive them.
It’s not about them, it’s about
YOU!
And I wonder
this morning, how many of us carry a grudge against God?
         Because of any number of things.
Something to
think about!
That’s a grudge you need to let go
of!
As for
America, we need to be reconciled to one another!
That doesn’t mean we agree with all the terrorists, Marxists
and Communists!
But, where
there are real wrongs, we need to make them right!
I’ll close
with this for today:  Whatever else you
do today, be reconciled to God and with God!
Next week I want to talk about the three remaining R’s:
Restoration
Revival
Reformation
Benediction:
May the God who gives endurance and
encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that
Christ Jesus had,6 so that with one mind
and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus
Christ.
7 Accept one another, then, just as
Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
May the Lord make your
love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else. 13 May
he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the
presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his
holy ones.
Amen
Prayer in front of
the church for those who desire it.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
THE HOLY SPIRIT
Born Again
Sermon preached on 3/8/20
 
We’ve been talking about The Third Person, The Holy Spirit, for the past three weeks.
 
You have your notes to refer to study and review on your own.

We said that Jesus is the Giver of gifts and he gives us these gifts
through and by The Third Person of the Trinity, The Holy Spirit.
 
We said that the Holy Spirit lives or resides in believers, those who
have received Christ into their lives and are born again according to the
scriptures.
The gifts that we’ve been looking at, and will look at in the next couple of weeks,
can only be given to those who have the Holy Spirit living inside of them!
And who is that?
 
Those who have received Christ as their Lord and Savior, or as is called in the
Bible, those who have been born again.
So, what is this, “born again” thing? That’s the exact question that was asked by a high-ranking Pharisee in
Jesus’ time.
 
His name was Nicodemus the Pharisee, and he came to Jesus when it was night
time so no one would see him come. He was a Pharisee, a ruler of the Jews. In other words, this man was on the Jewish
Sanhedrin, or the Jewish high court.

Rabbinical tradition makes Nicodemus one of the three richest men in Jerusalem in Jesus’ day.
 
So, we begin with John chapter 3: There was a man named Nicodemus, one
of the Pharisees. He was an important Jewish leader.2 One night he came to
Jesus and said, “Teacher, we know that you are a teacher sent from God. No one
can do these miraculous signs that you do unless they have God’s help.”
 
Even Nicodemus, at this point not a believer that Christ was the Messiah, recognizes that Jesus comes from God!
So as Jesus is listening to the
complements from Nicodemus, Jesus, before Nicodemus asks a single question of Him, goes right to the heart of why
Nicodemus is there.

Nicodemus, a man looking for the Messiah coming his entire life, wants to know about the kingdom of God and
how to get into it.
 
Jesus knew the mind of Nicodemus and cuts to the chase.
 
Now for context, you have to remember that the typical Jew thought since they were from the seed of Abraham,
that by default they were in.

Much like people who are raised in a Christian home today think:
·so long as they were baptized
or if their parents were Christians, then they were in, ·or if they went to Church enough. or the most popular view is
that if I am a good enough person, that is all I need to be, that God doesn’t really expect anything of me than to be a GOOD PERSON.
 
So, in truth, Nicodemus’s question is still one people ask today.
It’s interesting that Jesus didn’t acknowledge Nicodemus’s statement that Jesus was sent from God!
 
But rather, he goes on as if he didn’t even hear Nicodemus and says, Jesus
answered, “I assure you, everyone must be born again. Anyone who is not born
again cannot be in God’s kingdom.”
 
For the past several years this term “born again” has been mocked and misused
and abused time and time again!  People incorrectly use it when describing turning over a new leaf, or a big change in
their life.
 
But what Jesus said to Nicodemus was much more than that!  Not only was it radical, but it was life-changing!
Whatever Nicodemus wanted to know, Jesus drove home his great need for conversion.
Look at verse 4 Nicodemus
said, “How can a man who is already old be born again? Can he go back into his mother’s
womb and be born a second time?”
Logical question, if you’re not thinking of the spiritual application.
Jesus once again will not be detracted from answering Nicodemus’s questions from
a spiritual standpoint!

Jesus goes on to say in verse 5: “Believe me when I say that everyone must be born from water and the
Spirit. Anyone who is not born from water and the Spirit cannot enter God’s kingdom.”
 
So Jesus now is trying to get Nicodemus to realize that the Kingdom is not JUST about the PHYSICAL, it is a
convergence of the PHYSICAL and SPIRITUAL.

Jesus says one has to be born of water and the Spirit.  Physical water, a reference to baptism and the scriptures,
and the Holy Spirit; to the spiritual change of heart one has as a result of the working of the Holy Spirit in one’s life!
 
Nicodemus seems to understand being born of water, it is the Spirit that he does not understand.
 
The Jewish people seemed to place their focus on the PHYSICAL part of life, even something like circumcision
was a physical act in which they thought showed they belonged to God.
 
But now Jesus is taking Nicodemus to depths he had not known before.
 
Verse 6 “The only life people get from their human parents is physical. But the new life that the Spirit
gives a person is spiritual.”
 
Jesus is trying the get him to understand that the Kingdom is not JUST about the physical, there is a spiritual aspect involved. That’s
what we must realize as well!
 
Being part of a church is a great thing, but in itself does nothing for our salvation!
 
Today, we struggle with the same thought. WE think that IF we are good enough, whatever that means, that we
will be in.

We think somehow, we will EARN our ticket to heaven. Heaven is not something to be earned, it is a gift given
from God.  No matter how good one thinks they are, we get to go to heaven by the grace of God!
 
Verses 8, 9: The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or
where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
 
In trying to explain what He meant concerning being born of the spirit, He compares the Spirit to the wind, you cannot see it, you do not know from where it comes, yet here it is, we can feel the effect of it.
9 Nicodemus asked, “How is all this possible?” 10 Jesus said, “You are
an important teacher of Israel, and you still don’t understand these things?11 The truth is, we talk
about what we know. We tell about what we have seen. But you people don’t
accept what we tell you.12 I have told you about things here on earth, but you do
not believe me. So I’m sure you will not believe me if I tell you about
heavenly things!13 The only one who has ever gone up to heaven is the one
who came down from heaven—the Son of Man.
 
The only degrees that matter in the Kingdom of Heaven is 98.6!
Some denominations require a THD in theology.  All the college and seminary degrees in the world will not get you into Heaven.
 
What will get you into heaven is a relationship with Jesus Christ by being born again from the Spirit of God!
 
Jesus told Nicodemus that He (Jesus) is the authority concerning the Kingdom of God, since He is the only one to
come from heaven.  Then He references His coming crucifixion as the means to save people so they can go to heaven.
 
Then Jesus tells Nicodemus something that has been quoted by millions, and is just as true today is it was 2,000 years ago.
 
John 3:16  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have
everlasting life.”
 
I want to give you an opportunity to put your trust and your very life in the hands of Jesus this morning.
 
I’m not going to have an Altar Call which many Evangelical churches have. But rather, I’m going to do something different.
 
This will be the most serious message I will have preached in this church since my coming here in September.  For
me, and yes, for you!
 
I’m going to give everyone a chance to respond to the call of God on your life.
And yes, he is calling you!
 
Know this, this morning:  As long I am your pastor, I will never embarrass you or make you feel uneasy.
 
This is what we’re going to do:  I want every eye closed; every head bowed, every thought quieted.
 
I won’t prolong this.
 
Every eye closed; every head bowed.
 
If you want to be born again, that is between you and God.
 
Don’t worry!  I’m not going to call you forward or do anything else to make you feel uneasy.
 
Simply, as I said.  Eyes closed; Heads bowed.
 
If you want Christ to come into your life in a new and special way – if you want to be born again as Jesus showed us this morning –
 
Please simply raise your hand and put it back down again.
     
 I want to lead everyone in this prayer this morning.
 
A very simple, but meaningful and life-changing prayer.
 
Don’t worry about the one next to you, or in front or behind you.
 
You’re doing business with God this morning!
 
Your life will never be the same again!
 
Please pray this prayer aloud with me:
“Lord Jesus, I ask You to forgive my sins / and save me from eternal separation from God. / I know that I am a sinner/ and there is nothing that I can do to save myself./ By faith, I accept Your work and death on the cross / as sufficient payment for my
sins. / Thank You for providing the way for me to know You / and to have a relationship with my heavenly Father. / Through faith in You,  / I have eternal life. / Thank You also for hearing my prayers and loving me unconditionally.  /Please give me the strength, / wisdom, and determination  /to walk in the center of Your will. / Thank you for hearing this prayer. /
In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
 
If you prayed that prayer with a sincere heart I want to welcome you into the Kingdom of God!
 
 (Several hands were raised!  Praise be to God!!)
 
 
 
THE THIRD PERSON
Part 2
Sermon preached on 2/23/20
 
Welcome to Part 2 of our study on the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity.
         Just a little review for those who may not have been here last week, and then we’ll move on.
1.       The Father  
         a.       Many names, among them:  Father, Jehovah, Yaweh
2.       The Son (Jesus)  These two, the Father and Son, we talk a lot about)
3.       The Holy Spirit or the Holy Ghost 
a.       New teaching to some
         b.       The Father and Son are in Heaven; Holy Spirit lives inside believers

                  1)     Romans 8:11 - And if the Spirit of  ve, etc. (we can't do anything significant unless the
Holy Spirit is inside us. Just as the glove can do things with my hand inside
it that it cannot do by itself, so we need the Holy Spirit.)

I want to begin today with a simple, but profound question:  Who is the Holy Spirit?

·He is a Person, but He is not just an impersonal spiritual force.  He
teaches, reminds, witnesses, convicts, guides, speaks, declares, inspires, calls, forbids, and intercedes.

·He is fully God
We read in John 16: 7, 8

But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am
going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I
go, I will send him to you.When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong
about sin and righteousness and judgment

         The Holy Spirit is shown to us throughout the  Bible by different symbols used to describe Him and how he works in us and for us.
1.      Water 
         a.       This is necessary for life 
         b.       We drink it, wash ourselves and things with it, water crops, etc.
         c.       When Jesus talked with the woman at the well,  He used water as an illustration of the drinks this water will be thirsty again,but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.  Indeed the water  them will become in
them a spring of  water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14

On the last and greatest day of the festival Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, as                                               Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from were later to receive. John 7:37-39

Genesis 1:1,2
In the beginning, God created the heavens and
the earth. Now the earth was
formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and
the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
The Holy Spirit has been active since the beginning!
He is God’s hands here on earth!

2.      Fire 
         a.       The fire of the Holy Spirit is used to refine,  purge and purify us.

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all
together in one place.2 Suddenly a sound
like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house
where they were sitting.3 They saw what seemed
to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.4 All of them were
filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the
Spirit enabled them. Acts 2:1-4

         Can you imagine being there, etc.

John the Baptist
said:
“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is
more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit
and fire. Matt. 3:11

         Fire is both our friend and our foe!
It will bring comfort in the winter or it will burn you if you misuse it.

         Jesus speaks about a baptism of fire!
What is that?
         When Jesus is speaking
about a baptism of fire,    He’s talking
about what he was going to go through, meaning the cross.
It’s the same with us!

No one is ever going to go through life without a baptism of fire, which
will be different for each of us.
         To some, it could be:
·Financial loss
·Health crisis
·Relationship problems
·Death of a loved one
And the list goes on.

         But the difference
between the Christian and the unbeliever is this:
We have the Holy Spirit, whose name is The Comforter, to be with us
through our baptism of fire!

3.      Wind or breath
         a.       Both the Greek and Hebrew words for “spirit” means "wind or breath”

The words of Jesus:
“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot
tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of
the Spirit.”

         The wind is invisible but you see the effects of it!

The same
with the Holy Spirit!
         Sometimes you can’t tell if a person
is a Christian or not by outside appearances, but be sure that what they do will tell you one way or another.
Paul said, “They will tell we are Christians by our love”

4.      Oil is another symbol of the Holy Spirit
As I shared
last week, the church anoints with oil those who are sick and in need of healing.
We find that in James 5:15, 15

Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of
the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the
Lord. And the prayer
offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up.

         And we talking about the word anointing being used in a different sense:

We say someone is anointed to do such and such 
It means they have the means or the power to do something.
I’m anointed to be pastor.

         The Deacons are anointed to serve the Lord in the local church.
Cheryl and Tom and Maria are anointed as musicians to sing and play before the Lord.

5.      The next and fifth symbol of the Holy Spirit is the Dove

In Luke’s gospel, chapter 3 and verses 21 and 22 we read:

When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was
baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit
descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven:
“You are my Son, whom I love; with you, I am well pleased.”

6.      The sixth symbol is a Seal
Not the ones that perform in circuses.

I’m talking about a seal such as ones that are placed on documents to indicate ownership or official approval.

         God has placed His seal of approval on us.  We belong to Him!

Ephesians 1:13, 14
And you also were included in Christ when you heard
the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you
were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit
guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are
God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

         I bought a new car this week and had make a down payment on it.
The seal was my receipt.

         When the Israelites were about to harvest their crops, God required that they give Him the first fruits of their crops.
The first fruits were a down payment or a guarantee of the promised harvest.

The Holy Spirit in our lives is a guarantee of
all the promises God has made to us in His Word.
Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in
Christ. He anointed us,22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing
what is to come.2 Cor. 1:21, 22

So, what is the role of the Holy Spirit in the world?

         We saw earlier that the Holy Spirit was present at creation.

Look at Psalm 104: verses 24 and 30 How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures. When you send your Spirit,
they are created, and you renew the face of the ground.
         According to Jesus in John’s gospel,
listen to what He does.

John 6:7-11
But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am
going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate (Holy Spirit) will not come to
you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going
to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this
world (Satan) now stands condemned.

So, let me begin to wrap this up.

What is the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian? He gives new Birth

Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. John 6:63
says, “The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are
spirit and life.”

He indwells or lives within us.

But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by
the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that
those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him
at all.) Romans 8:9

         He is also known as the great Counselor

In John 14:16, 17 we read: And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to
help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The
world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But
you know him, for he lives with you and will be[c] in you.

He is the Spirit Baptizer
Acts 1:5 and Acts 2:4 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the
Holy Spirit.”  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

He is the Gift Giver

A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. To one person the
Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another, the same Spirit gives
a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit
gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift
of healing. He gives one person
the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy.
He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a
message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person
is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given
the ability to interpret what is being said. It is the one and
only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each
person should have.

I’ll teach on this at another time in detail.
In closing, just two more things he does for us.
1.       He prays for us

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know
what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings
that cannot be expressed in words.

         Isn’t that cool!

Finally, He is our teacher.

But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within
you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches
you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie.
So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.
         I know that I’ve given you a lot
today.
But, you can
handle it!  You’re intelligent and I sense
you want to know more about God!
 
 
 
 
 THE THIRD PERSON
Part 1
Sermon preached on 2/9/20
Intro:  A little history lesson and an Overview
1.     The Father  
       a.     Many names, among them:  Father, Jehovah, Yaweh
2.     The Son (Jesus)  (These two, the Father and Son, we talk a lot about)
3.     The Holy Spirit or the Holy Ghost  
   a.     New teaching to some 
   b.     The Father and Son are in Heaven; Holy Spirit is here, lives inside believers
 
Romans 8:11 - And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
 
4.     Today begins a study on The ThirdPerson, The Holy Spirit
 
       a.     His ministry to US
       b.     OUR ministry to the world, through Him
 
               1)     By the way, He is a person (and a spirit)!
 
       c.      We’ll be looking at the Fruit of the Spirit 
 
               1)     Those things exhibited within us because of His presence in us
 
      d.     We’ll discover the Gifts of the Holy Spirit and how we interact with them,  and hopefully find      out some of the supernatural gifts that you possess
 
      e.     We’ll see the Five Gifts that Christ gave to the church and to us that God uses
    to equip His church
 
               1)     These are the offices of Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and  Teacher
 
5.     Review: 2,000 years of history in 5 minutes       
       a.     Joseph and the Israelites
       b.     Captivity (slavery)
       c.      Moses the Deliverer
               1)     The 10 plagues
               2)     The Angel of Death 
               3)     Passover lamb 
               4)  Blood of the door posts    
               5)     The Feast of Passover established
 
5.     Fast forward to Acts 2, 2,000 years later        
       a.     50 days after Passover is the Feast of Pentecost
        b.     Pentecost is a Feast to celebrate the Harvest
        c.      To the Christian:
               1)     The Holy Spirit descended on man.  We read about it in Acts 2:1-4  This is after Jesus ascended                  into  Heaven
 
    When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.2 Suddenly a sound like the     blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were
    sitting.  3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of     them.  4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the     Spirit enabled them.
 
5.     Go back a little in time to when Jesus introduces us to the Holy Spirit.
 
       a.     John 14:15-17 “If you love me, keep my commands.16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you
     another advocate to help you and be with you forever—17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept      him, because it neither sees him nor knows him.   But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in      you.”
 
               1)     Jesus: Must go to the Father
                       a)     Sacrifice (cross)
                       b)     Promise to us
                       c)     God in us – Holy Spirit
 
       b.     John 16:5-7  “. . . but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you      going?’              
 
6 Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things.  7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.”
 
               1)     Advocate is also translated as Counselor
 
       c.      In John 16:13-15 He tells us what the Holy Spirit will do for us. 
               “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on
     his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.14 He will glorify me      because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs
     to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive what is coming! 
    
     Why?
                       a)     So we can prepare
 
6.     I want to go back a little to John’s gospel, chapter 14, and verse 12.
 
       a.     Listen carefully!
       b.     This verse is for every one of us who truly believe in the Lord Jesus Christ!
       c.      This is the power of the Holy Spirit resident in us and what Jesus expects us to do!
       d.     John 14:12
 
               Hang onto your seats!
 
               “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been  I say, can do, Jesus did while      he  was here on earth
 
               3)     How?
 
                       a)     Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in us!
                       b)     Come on! 
 
This has to get you excited! 
 
               4)     What were some of the works of Jesus?
 
                       a)     Raised the dead (several times)
 
                               1]     Matt. 11:5 lists a few of things he did:  “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those          who have leprosy, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.
 
                       b)     Walked on water
 
                               1]     Jesus sent his disciples ahead of him and told them he’d meet them on the other side of          the lake.
 
         Matt. 14:25-32 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, him walking on the
         lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.  o them: “Take                                           courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to          on the water.” 29 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down the wind, he was afraid and,          beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his          hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” 32 And when          they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.33 Then those who were in the boat          worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God."     
 
   What else did Jesus do that we are to do today?
                               1]     Fed 5,000 one time and 4,000 another   
                               2]     Cast out demons
                                       a]     Seen a lot in third world countries
                                       b]     Demons are here too! We’re too sophisticated to believe it!  Truth
       is:  they are worse here!
                               3]     Had control over nature
 
7.     So, we’ll pick it up with the Acts of the Apostles.
       a.     All they did, which included: all of the above!
       b.     I want to introduce to you a new word, perhaps new to you in this sense, in the spiritual
    sense.
       c.      “Anointing”
               1)     Literally means: to apply oil; to chose, or as if by divine election
               2)     Oil, in the OT, was representative of the Spirit of God, or the presence of God.
               3)     Many churches, including Faith Chapel among them, use anointing oil when we pray for the sick
                       a]     There’s no power in the oil, but rather in the person doing the anointing.
                       b]     I’ll speak more about that in a further lesson
               4)     We say someone is anointed to do such and such
                       a]     It means they have the means or the power to do something    
               5)     In the Acts of the Apostles, we see them and others, doing what Jesus said they would do, his    works and even greater works.
                       a)     Raised the dead, healed the sick, cast out demons.  You name they did it!
                       b)     Even Peter’s shadow as he walked past people would heal
                       c)     Paul’s handkerchief, when laid on someone would bring healing to them
 
8.     All that I’ve been talking about is the power of the Holy Spirit, resident in each and every believer!
       a.     There’s so much more to bring to you, but I’m going to stop here because I don’t want to overwhelm
    you.
       b.     You have your notes. Read them; review them.
       c.      I believe this study of the Holy Spirit to be of the utmost importance in our lives as Christians.
 
9.     Next week I want to look at the Fruit of the Spirit
 
Benediction:
The Apostle Paul
blessed the church at Philippi with these words, and I bless you today with
them as well:
And now, dear
brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and
honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things
that are excellent and worthy of praise.Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from
me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be
with you.
Amen
 
 
 
 
“The Times They Are A-Changing!”
2nd Coming
of Jesus Christ and The Last Days
Part 2
A sermon preached on 1/19/20
 
Jesus is coming back to earth!
 
I want to continue on with what we started last month:


We will be looking into what the Bible has to say about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and the Signs
that indicate it is getting closer each day.

I want to do a quick recap for those who might not have been here, or for those who might have forgotten some of what discussed.
       
Just as he came the first time as a babe in a   manger and grew to a man who became the sacrifice for our sins, He’s coming back again as He promised several times in the Bible!

We said that it will be an event of which everyone on earth will be abruptly aware, for it will mean the end of things as they are!

I, nor does anyone, have all the answers concerning this great event!

There are perhaps more questions than answers, but we will go forward, the best we can, with the answers we do have, as best we understand them.

         We concluded by saying:  the return of Christ is going to be:
·personal,
·visible, and
·sudden.
It is also a:
·promised,
·glorious, and
·troubling return.

So, today I want us to look at things and events that will usher in the soon return of Christ to earth.

We saw in the Bible what the Apostle Peter wrote:  “In the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation’” But Jesus explained what it will look like when He is about to come
back:

Luke 17:26-30 - “Just as it was in the days of  Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of  Man.   27 People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.
   28 “It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building.29 But the day Lot left  Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 “It will be just like this on the day the Son of    Man is revealed.

Matthew 24:42 “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. 44 For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.”

       As I will always do, I’m using scripture to explain what I’m trying to convey this morning. I am not here to scare you.  
       But I think we have to admit that many of the things happening today are what Jesus predicted.

In Matthew 24 Jesus said beginning in verse 3:
3 As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” 4 And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.

       We have witnessed this ourselves in our own lifetime.

Let me remind you:

·Jim Jones and the People’s Temple, 
908 people who followed Jim Jones, a cult leader, died after drinking Koolaid, laced with cyanide. Largest
mass suicide in history.

·David Koresh and the Branch
Davidians in Waco, Tx.,  Real name was Vernon Wayne Howell, who took over an already existing cult named the Branch Davidians, a group formed on the premise that they were the restorers of the King David’s Kingdom here on earth.

       A mark of most cults is their claim to have all the answers to life’s problems, and because of this, they draw in a lot of vulnerable, or should I say, ignorant people, to follow them.
Marshall Appelwhite with the Heaven’s Gate cult. A cult group formed around the belief that UFO’s were going to usher them into Heaven’s Gate. They apparently had participated in a mass suicide, 39 people, in order to reach what they believed was an extraterrestrial spacecraft following the Comet Hale-Bopp.

 “Many will come in my name saying I am the Christ and will mislead many.”

       So that has happened and is happening today.

Matthew 24:6 “You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must
take place, but that is not yet the end.”

       Turn on the news if you haven’t heard of any wars. You’ll get an ear full!
 
Matthew 24:7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be
famines and earthquakes. 8 But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.”

       Sometimes, things have gotten so bad that we said, “Wow!  This is bad! Maybe it’s the end of the world!”
No!  Just false labor!

       But even with false labor, we know that real labor is inevitable! That baby’s coming!

2 Timothy 4:3-4 says, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they
will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.”

       This is what happened with the three cults we just mentioned!

       Timothy is telling us there will come a time when people only want what makes them feel and look good.

The second coming of Christ will be swift and sudden.

       There won’t be any last-minute opportunity for repentance.

       There won’t be any last-minute bargaining.

Just like the example that Jesus gave when he talked about Noah and the ark.

Christ will come like a thief in the night. In other words, catching us totally unaware!

I want to read from a broadcast
by legendary ABC Radio commentator Paul Harvey on April 3, 1965: 54 years ago!

He repeated this a few times over the years, and I remember hearing
one of those times!   See if you don’t recognize any of these things he mentions.

"If I were the Devil . . . I mean, if I were the Prince of Darkness, I would, of course, want to engulf the whole earth in darkness.

-I would have a third of its real estate and four-fifths of its population, but I would not be happy until I had seized the ripest apple on the tree, so I should set about however necessary to take over the United States.

-I would begin with a campaign of whispers. With the wisdom of a serpent, I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve: “Do as you please.” “Do as you please.”

- To the young, I would whisper, “The Bible is a myth.” I would convince them that man created God instead of the other way around. I would confide that what is bad is good, and what is good is “square”.

- In the ears of the young marrieds, I would whisper that work is debasing, that cocktail parties are good for you. I would caution them not to be extreme in religion, in patriotism, in moral conduct.

- And the old, I would teach to pray. I would teach them to say after me: “Our Father, which art in Washington”
. . .
- If I were the devil, I’d educate authors in how to make lurid literature exciting so that anything else would appear dull and uninteresting.

- I’d threaten T.V. with dirtier movies and vice versa.

- And then, if I were the devil, I’d get organized. I’d infiltrate unions and urge more loafing and less work, because idle hands usually work for me.

- I’d peddle narcotics to whom I could.

- I’d sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction.

- And I’d tranquilize the rest with pills.

- If I were the devil, I would encourage schools to refine young intellects but neglect to discipline emotions . . . let those run wild.

- I would designate an atheist to front for me before the highest courts in the land and I would get preachers to say “she’s right.”

- With flattery and promises of power, I could get the courts to rule what I construe as against God and in
favor of pornography, and thus, I would evict God from the courthouse, and then from the school house, and then from the houses of Congress and then, in His own churches I would substitute psychology for religion, and I would deify science because that way men would become smart enough to create super weapons but not wise enough to control them.

- If I were Satan, I’d make the symbol of Easter an egg, and the symbol of Christmas, a bottle.

- If I were the devil, I would take from those who have and I would give to those who wanted, until I had killed
the incentive of the ambitious.

- And then, my police state would force everybody back to work. Then, I could separate families, putting children in uniform, women in coal mines, and objectors in slave camps.

- In other words, if I were Satan, I’d just keep on doing what he’s doing.

How accurate is that, written 54 years ago?!

       I want to read a portion of scripture from Paul’s letter to Timothy. He’s warning Timothy of things coming in the future.

2 Timothy 3:1-9

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of
money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without
self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. 6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires,7 always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected.9 But they will not
get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.

       Now obviously Paul isn’t talking about everyone in verses 2-5, but I think you would agree that this describes a great part of the society we live in today!

Very few think of what lies beyond tomorrow!

       None of us know what a day will bring!

Friday, November 14th, 2016 was a day like any other day for me. I did my routine things just like we all
do.

When I went for a stress test, I wasn’t concerned. After all, I was feeling pretty good. My doctor wanted to rule out any heart problems.

       I failed the test and had to have an angiogram.

Didn’t do well with that either!

       As I lay there on that table after the procedure,  the words the doctor said to me were not what I expected!

He said you’ve got severe blockage in three arteries and require bypass surgery.

       I almost fell off the table!

I never had a heart attack!

       The following Tuesday I had a 5 artery bypass performed on me.

Like I said, you never what a day will bring!

I’m sure many of you have a similar story!

We don’t know when Jesus will return, but we know some of the signs.
We were given by God to have free will.

       We make choices every day to do this, or do that; to believe something or not believe something.

The choice is always ours to make!
       But, always keep in mind that we are the product of all our choices:  good or bad!

In the final analysis:  things will happen whether we believe they will or not!

I know today’s message might be construed as a little heavy. I would agree.

       But when God called me into ministry in 1980 I knew that I had to preach and teach from the Bible, and not from the so-called wisdom of man.

So there you have it:  The Second Coming of Jesus Christ to a world almost completely devoid of anything holy, coming for His people as he said He would.

       And then the signs preceding that great event!

It’s almost
as if he is saying to us:  

“Here I come, Ready or not!”

       God bless you!

Benediction:
Go forth into the world in peace;
be of good courage;
hold fast that which is good;
render to no one evil for evil;
strengthen the fainthearted;
support the weak;
help the afflicted;
honor everyone;
love and serve the Lord,
rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

 
 
 
 
DO-OVERS, OR SECOND
CHANCES
Sermon preached on Sunday, January 5, 2020

Read John 21:1-14

(We have just for our reading this
morning where Jesus had been resurrected now for several days and he appeared
to many throughout this 50 day time
period.)

       He had gone to the Sea of Galilee where he knew he
would find his disciples.
After they had eaten is where we
pick up the rest of the story:

John 21:15-17
15 When they had finished
eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me
more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John,
do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17 The third time he said
to him, “Simon
son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord,
you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”

       I want to speak today regarding Second Chances,   or Do-Overs.
I’ve had a lot of second chances in
my life and many “do-overs”!

       A question for us this morning: “What do Noah, Moses,
Rahab, David, Solomon, Jonah, Peter & Paul
all have in common?”
More importantly, what do they have in common with you, and
you, and you . . .?
And me?

What they all have in common
with one another and with every other character in the Bible, and what they
have in common with you is that they all
blew it in a big way.
       They all messed up.

They all disappointed God.
       They all made bad
choices.
They all failed at life more than once.
I’m guilty as charged!

But what they also all have in
common is that God gave them a second
chance…in fact, God gave them many chances to get life right.
       He gave them lots of “Do
Overs” and lots of grace.

        No Body’s Perfect.
That’s not an excuse, but it IS a reality.

       The Bible says that “Everyone falls short of God’s perfect
plan for our lives.”
It says that we all mess up. We all make mistakes.
       We all blow it from time to time.
In other words, we are all sinners.

       That’s easy enough to see in everyone else…their imperfections…
their mistakes…their sin.
But we know in our hearts that
we’re not perfect either, but we sure
don’t want to admit it to anyone else, do we?
And when we DO recognize that WE aren’t perfect either, that we’ve blown it, that we are sinners just like everyone else . . .
We convince ourselves that other folks are worse sinners than we are OR we think
that no one is a bigger sinner than me.

We think that no one has screwed up and made bigger mistakes than I have.

I want to read to you a true story about Thomas  Edison.  I shared some of this with you a few weeks ago, but it bears repeating.

“I suppose one might regard Thomas Edison as one of the world’s greatest failures. This man tried
more than a thousand different light bulbs until he got it right. Have you ever
failed at something a thousand times before you got it right? If you had, your
name might be right up there with that of Thomas Edison.
Actually Edison didn’t think of these failed experiments as failures. He regarded them as steps in a
long process. But late in his life something happened to Thomas that would have defeated a lesser man.

Thomas Edison’s son Charles, a one-time governor of New Jersey, tells the story. On the night of
December 9, 1914, Edison Industries was virtually destroyed by fire. Edison
lost two million dollars that night and much of his life’s work went up in
flames. He was insured for only $238,000 because the buildings had been made
of concrete, at that time and were thought to be fireproof.

Charles was 24; Thomas was 67. The young man ran about frantically, trying to find his father. Finally,
he came upon him, standing near the fire, his face ruddy in the glow, his white hair blown by the December winds.

"My heart ached for him," Charles Edison said. "he was 67 - no longer a young man -
and everything was going up in flames. He spotted me. ’Charles,’ he shouted,
’where’s your mother?’ I don’t know, Dad,’ I said. ’Find her. Bring her here.
She will never see anything like this again as long as she lives.’"

The next morning, walking about the charred embers of all his hopes and dreams, Thomas Edison
said, "There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up.
Thank God we can start anew."
          
The Bible tells us that our God is a Second chance God.
And a Third, Fourth, Fifth and so on!

He took a murderer by the name of Moses, and turned him into a great
national and spiritual leader.

       He took a liar and deceiver by the name of Jacob, and made him the cornerstone
of a nation.

He took an adulterer and murderer like David, and used him to write many of
the Psalms to strengthen and encourage the people of God.

       He took a woman who had been married and divorced
five times and was now living with a sixth
man and turned her into the first evangelist to go into Samaria.
He took some of us, who know what we were, and turned us
into what we are becoming today.

God wants us to understand:
1. Failure is not final.
2. Bad results can be
redeemed.
3. The future is open.

       How many golfers do we have here?
It’s a game I love and hate all at the same time.

       In the movie, “Bagger Vance”, Bagger made a statement that I easily identify
with.  He said:    “Golf is game that can’t be won, only played!”

It’s a humbling game for everyone who plays!
       You hit some great shots, and you hit some really, really bad shots.

One of the great things about golf is something called a MULLIGAN.

       In essence, when you hit a really bad shot, you may say, “I’m taking a mulligan!”

If you’re with friends and you’re just having fun, nobody cares too much.    
       When you take a mulligan, it’s like getting a do-over.

And when you take that mulligan your first shot doesn’t count against you, you just pick up the ball, if you
can find it, and move on.

Have you ever been there? Have you ever wanted to take a mulligan in life?

Maybe it was something pretty simple like you made a wrong turn, or you weren’t paying attention and got a
speeding ticket or got into a car accident.

       It moves all the way to moments when we say something hurtful to someone else, you respond to an
email with a scathing email telling that
person what we really think of them,
and  we hit    send, or we become so angry - we say some things which are really mean.

We’ve all been there in one way or another.

       We’ve all wanted to do something over again . . .    we’ve all wanted a mulligan.

We wish we could turn back the clock and start over again, to take back our words and actions, but we can’t.

       And now we’re back to Peter. Poor, impetuous Peter. Always saying the
wrong thing at the wrong time!  At one time, he’s actually trying to correct Jesus!        
 
Another time, he’s talking while God is giving Moses, Elijah and Jesus instructions!
Then after the resurrection of Christ, Peter leads the other disciples to go fishing, rather than doing what Christ told them to do! 
 
How can we forget when Peter swore by everything within him that he would never deny Christ,
and then, of course, we know what happens next:  He denies him publically three times!
 
Can you imagine how crushing Jesus’ words to Peter must have been when he asked him:
“Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
And the second time and the third time.   One time for every time Peter denied knowing him!
 
Peter learned something that day that we all need to learn: Two things:
1.     God loves us no matter what!
2.     He is the God of second chances times 10!
 
        God knows where each one of us is today. He knows which of us really blew it this past week or past year.
 
He knows which of us has been pretending for a long time.
 
Today is the day to get rid of your little secret sin and humble yourself in the presence of God.        
 
God’s not going to be shocked by your confession.

He’s been waiting for a long time for you to get serious about your problem. 
 
He’s the Second Chance God, and He’s offering you a second chance to make things right in your life.

The thing that Noah, Moses, Rahab, David, Solomon, Peter, Paul, and John have in common is that they all
discovered that anyone, at any time is only one prayer away from changing the trajectory of their lives because God is quick to forgive and eager to give second chances.

Some of us will make resolutions that we really think we’ll keep! We really do!

The number 1 resolution in the country is guess what?
Loosing weight!

The fact is, that after you lose a few pounds, you actually put on a little weight, when you go back to eating normally!

       So, do what I do:  maintain what you’ve got! It’s really not that bad!

Let’s get serious.

I want to challenge you to make 4 new commitments for this New Year.

Here they are:
First
1.     COMMIT YOURSELF TO FORGET YOUR FAILURES
       Phil 3:13-14 - But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,14 I press on toward
the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

2.     COMMIT
YOURSELF TO GIVE UP YOUR GRUDGES
       Col 3:13 - 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

3.     COMMIT YOURSELF TO RESTORE YOUR RELATIONSHIPS
Romans 12:18 - 18 If it be possible, as much as lies within you, live peaceably with all men.

4: COMMIT YOURSELF TO TURN YOUR
BACK ON YOUR TRANSGRESSIONS/SINS.

I read about the American Civil War an interesting fact that after the war was over and the slaves had been set
free many slaves decided to stay with their former master and continue to do what they were told.
       
They were set free but they chose to live as slaves.

The New Testament says that is exactly how many Christians choose to live.  
     
Christ died to set us free, the Holy Spirit has given us the power to be free, but just like those former
slaves many Christians still choose to obey their old master, sin.

Hebrews 12:1  So then let’s also run the race that is laid out in front of us, since we have such a great cloud of
witnesses surrounding us. Let’s throw off any extra baggage, get rid of the sin that trips us up
       Sometimes, in every one of our lives, there appear to be sins that we’re prone to doing
time and time again.

For most of us when we are saved we give up certain sins easily but there are other things that we know
are wrong that we really battle with.

       Those are what the Bible calls our besetting sins.

May God give you more grace, more love, more understanding, and more knowledge of Him in the
New year!

Let's make 2020: The
year of fresh vision and focus!
This is our theme for the year! 

Amen!
 
 
Benediction
Prayer for the Road Ahead
I seek you, God, in the spaces of my life.
The spaces between what I’ve done
and what I’ve left undone.
The spaces between my convictions
and my actions,
the spaces between all that I hoped to do,
and what I’ve actually done.
I come with humility,
knowing that I can’t always see
the way I’ve disappointed you,
nor can I always see
the long-term effects of the good I’ve done.
This is a prayer for the road ahead,
which is an empty space stretching before me.
Fill me with a burning compassion
for my brothers and sisters,
a love that will not let me go.
Give me courage to give boldly,
love simply, hope deeply, 
risk greatly.
My light is small, my time is short,
but let it shine for you, always, ever, all for you.

Amen.
 
 
 
“Here I Come, Ready Or Not!”
Sermon from 12/15/19
2nd Coming
of Jesus Christ and The Last Days
 
This morning I want to do some teaching on not only a very interesting subject, but one of great importance!
       I don’t expect to cover this subject on one Sunday morning.
 
I’m talking about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ!
 
       I want to lay some very important groundwork on the Second Coming of  Christ before I can begin to address the times we live        in, and everything that leads up to the Second Coming.
 
How important is the subject of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ?
 
The Bible in the Old Testament foretold the first coming of Jesus Christ and it  was fulfilled, but the Bible also foretells the second coming of Jesus Christ. 
 
I want to look at the Second Coming of Christ and how it relates to the day and times we find ourselves living in.
 
       Some interesting facts:
·One scholar has estimated that there are 1,845 references to Christ’s second coming in the Old Testament, where 17
books give it prominence. 
 
·In the 260 chapters of the New Testament, there are 318 references to the second advent of Christ—an amazing 1 out of every 30
verses.
 
·Twenty-three of the 27 New Testament books refer to this great event.  ·For every prophecy in the Bible concerning Christ’s first advent, there are 8 which look forward to His second!
 
So, the question is asked:  Is this an important subject?  A resounding YES!
 
It will be an event of which everyone on earth will be abruptly aware, for it  will mean the end of things as they are and the universal recognition of the true identity of Jesus of Nazareth.
 
I, nor does anyone, have all the answers concerning this great event!
 
       There are perhaps more questions than answers, but we will go forward, the best we can, with the answers we do have, as best         we understand them.
 
For the believer and true disciple of Jesus, this is not an event to cause fear.  It will be a time of awe and wonder, but not fear!
 
1st coming of Jesus, the Savior, was in humiliation – As a SERVANT (in humility).
 
2nd coming of Jesus, the King, will be glorious – As a KING (in glory & majesty).
 
In his first coming, his birth, we look back from the perspective of the fulfillment of prophecy and can see that what was foretold of him, came to pass.
 
Concerning his second coming, we look forward with lenses not quite as clear in regards to his first coming.
 
       So, much of what is taught about this is based on what the Bible has to say about it, with some fill in the blanks as best
      we know how.
 
In theology, the study of the last things to happen to earth is called ESCATHOLOGY… Greek eschatos (last) and logos (study).
 
Right Now, Jesus Christ is in heaven, seated at the right hand of the Father, as our exalted PROPHET, PRIEST and
KING, waiting for the time appointed by the Father to return to earth.
 
       The Disciples of Jesus were always asking him when he would return to earth.
 
In John’s Gospel, chapter 14 and verses 28 and 29, we read these words of Jesus: 28 “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.29 I have told
you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.”
 
       In The Book of the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 1 we read the following: 
7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own
authority.8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.  10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in
white stood beside them.11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
 
       By coming back in the same way they saw him go, indicates that as he  ascended into the clouds upon leaving, he will descend
      in the clouds at his Second Coming!  
 
       Without a doubt the return of Christ is going to be an exciting event! 
 
However, throughout the years there’s been a lot of debate surrounding it.
 
       There’s been false Christ’s, false prophecies, false teachings, and false dates, and they’re all wrong!
 
Some people spend their entire lives trying to find out everything they can about the end times and the second coming of Christ. 
 
They’ve got charts and graphs. 
 
I enjoy reading and studying what the Scriptures say about the return of Christ.   
 
       So today, I’d like to stir up your anticipation at this most precious of promises, and hopefully get you excited about the second       coming.
 
There are a lot of places in the Bible that speaks about Jesus’ return, but I think Paul’s statement to the Thessalonian Church helps explain it the best. 
 
       Paul is saying that he wants us to understand the importance of this event. 
 
Actually, he says he doesn’t want us to be ignorant about it.
 
In this section Paul is responding to a misunderstanding that has caused a lot of grief to the church in Thessalonica. 
 
       Paul had taught that Jesus was coming again to gather His people, that is, the church, in order to be with Him forever. 
 
It is a wonderful promise that has brought comfort to these Christians who were living in a world that was hostile towards them. (Persecution)
 
       But after some time had passed, and Jesus not returning as soon as they hoped   He would, a few of them started to die. 
 
And so they mourned, wondering what was going to happen to their loved ones who had died.  Were they going to
miss the Second Coming?
 
It’s clear that they misunderstood what Paul taught, that they should be ready for the Lord’s return at any time, and because of this misunderstanding they worried themselves sick. 
 
       So you can imagine how Paul must have felt. 
 
He was heartbroken. Therefore, he wrote to them in order to bring comfort. 
 
       So let’s take a moment and read what the Apostle Paul wrote concerning Christ’s return.
 
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18  13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in
death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
 
       In verse 14 he says:  “We believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”
 
In other words, when Christ returns to earth, those who were believers when they died, would come with back Christ.
 
       They, of course, would have new, spiritual bodies.
 
The question that is begged to be asked is:  “What about us who are living when Christ returns; what’s going to happen to us?”
 
Verse 15:  “According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.”
 
Verse 16:  “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.”
 
       Verse 17 refers to what is called the Rapture, or “the catching away” as the Greek interprets it.
 
What does that look like?
 
       We, who are believers, and are still left on earth, will be somehow lifted up in the air to join the dead who have just been       resurrected!
 
Do I totally understand it?  NO!
 
       But I believe it because I believe the Written, Holy Spirit inspired, Word of the Living God!
 
Do I understand it completely?  NO!
 
       But I don’t understand electricity, but I believe that it will either serve me well if I don’t abuse it, or kill me on the spot if I do abuse       it!
Again, in verse 16 we read: “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God . . .”
 
       Jesus, in His resurrected body will descend from heaven, and it will be:  
·physical, 
·personal,    
·dramatic, 
·public, and 
·unmistakable.
 
His first coming was in humility to accomplish for us what we could never hope to accomplish for ourselves, and that is our salvation, and the forgiveness of our sins.
 
       This He accomplished when he died upon the cross, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven.

But His return will be full of glory, in might and in power, and everyone will not only hear about it, they will see it as well.
 
       But when will Jesus return? Only God the Father knows.
 
Later, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you
know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2). 
 
Paul was echoing the words of Jesus when He said that nobody knows the day or the hour of the Second Coming, not
even Jesus.
 
In Matthew 24:36 Jesus said, “No one knows the day or the hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.” 
 
       God’s timetable of events, which are hidden to us, reveals that the Return of Jesus will come as a surprise to an unbelieving and
      skeptical world.
 
But there are some things that we do know about His return. 
 
       There are three things that I would like to share with you this morning.
 
1.      A Promised Return
 
Peter in his second letter wrote, “In the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of
creation’” (2 Peter 3:4).
 
       This is almost literally what some have said to me. “Where is His coming that you keep talking about?”
 
But just because He hasn’t returned yet, doesn’t mean that he won’t. 
 
       In fact, the promise of His return goes all the way back to Job, the oldest book in the Bible.
He said, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God.” (Job 19:25-26 NKJV)
 
The Bible promises over and over the return of Christ. 
 
       The Bible actually speaks of the two comings of the Messiah. 
 
The first time will be as a suffering servant to die for the sins of the people (Isaiah 53).  As a baby in a manger.
 
       And then the Bible talks about the Messiah’s return to this earth in glory as that conquering king (Revelation 19:16). 
 
And so, the Bible over and over again promises that the return of Jesus Christ will be: 
 
·personal, 
·visible, and 
·sudden.
 
2.      A Glorious Return
 
Jesus speaking of His return said, “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things
which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken” (Luke 21:25-26). 
 
       He then said, “And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” (Luke 21:27 NKJV)
 
But besides Christ return being glorious, it is also going to be:
 
3.      A Troubling Return 
 
Many people scoff at the thought of Christ’s return as we saw earlier (2 Peter 3:4).
 
       And I understand what they are saying. 
 
Preachers have been talking about Jesus coming back for over 2000 years. 
 
And so: 
 
·some people deny the return, 
·others doubt it, 
·dismiss it, and even 
·debate it, 
 
But that doesn’t change the fact that He will return.
 
In Matthew 24, Jesus was talking about His return when He made a comparison.
 
“But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” (Matthew 24:37 NKJV)
 
think it must have been a sad day when God flooded the earth.  Noah had been warning people for years to no avail.
(120 years to be exact!) 
 
       Jesus said they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage   (Matthew 24:38).
 
In other words, they went on with life as though nothing was wrong, probably saying what many are saying today, “We don’t want to
hear all that doom and gloom stuff! There’s too much life to live.” 
 
But when the flood came it was too late! 
 
       They’d been given a chance, but when God shut that door to the Ark, it was shut.
 
And so, what we see about the return of Christ is that it is going to be: 
 
·personal, 
·visible, and 
·sudden. 
 
It is also a: 
·promised, 
·glorious, and 
·troubling return.
 
Next time I want to share with you some signs indicating that, although we don’t know when He is returning, there
are things going on that indicate it is getting closer!
 
Benediction
Heb 13 20 May the God of peace, who through the
blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that
great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything
good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through
Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
 
 
 
 
GIDEON’S “300  ARMY”
Sunday, December 8, 2019 
  
I love the account of Gideon in the book of Judges.
 
As is the pattern throughout the Book of Judges,  the Israelites again turned away from God after 40 years of peace brought by Deborah's victory   over Canaan, and the Midianites, and Amalekites. 
 
The last verse of chapter 5 tells, “Then the land had peace forty years.”
 
Then the Midianites came back and troubled Israel for 7 years.
 
The peace was gone; terrorism ruled in the land once again!  Why?  Verse 1 of chapter 8 tells us: “The Israelites did evil in the eyes of theLord” 
 
But what I like most about Gideon, is that he was just a regular guy. 
 
He didn’t have a seminary degree or a diploma from a Bible School.  He wasn’t a prophet or any kind of leader.
 
       He wasn’t a priest or had any known connection to the temple.
 
But here he was, doing the best that he knew how.  He was just trying to survive.  Pretty much like most of us!
 
       When you think about it, we’re not much different than Gideon was!
 
Gideon was hiding from the Midianites and some other “ites”!
 
       He was threshing wheat in a winepress!  You do not normally do that!  You thresh wheat on the ground, not below ground!
 
We know that he was hiding in fear of his life!
 
       Let’s look again at this familiar story:     
Judges 6:11-16
11 The angel of theLordcame and sat down
under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joashthe Abiezrite,where his son
Gideonwas threshingwheat in a winepressto keep it from the
Midianites.12 When the angel of theLordappeared to Gideon,
he said, “TheLord is with you, mighty warrior.”
13 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if theLordis with us, why has
all this happened to us? Where are all his wondersthat our ancestors
told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of
Egypt?’ But now theLordhas abandonedus and given us into the hand of Midian.”
14 TheLordturned to him and said, “Go in the strength you haveand saveIsrael out of
Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”
15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clanis the weakest in
Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”
16 TheLordanswered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”
 
       Some day I’m going to do a study on oak trees in the Bible.  A lot of things happened under and around oak trees.
 
We saw how God hand-picked Gideon.  While he was hiding, that’s when the Lord paid him a visit!
 
I want you to notice that Gideon wasn’t seeking God!  He wasn’t praying or worshiping!  He was just doing what needed
to be done.
 
Sometimes we’re too religious for our own good!
 
You know what?  Yes, walk with the Lord, but just be you!  God will meet you right where you’re at!
 
       And the Angel of the Lord called him a mighty man of valor!  Well, that was how God saw him.
 
       It wasn’t how Gideon saw himself!  And so it is with you and me.  Wouldn’t you like to know just how the Lord sees you?
 
       Well, it’s right here in the Bible!  You just have to believe it!
 
And just as the Lord had a job for Gideon to perform for Him and for His Kingdom, He also has a job for every one
of us!
       He has a place for us and He has gifted us and called us to be a Gideon for Him. . . . . Wherever He places us in the Kingdom.
 
       And then God said something to Gideon that He is saying to each and everyone of us today:
“14 Then theLordturned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the
Midianites. Have I not sent you?”
       Let me paraphrase that for you:  “Go in the power   of the Holy Spirit and you shall (fill in the blank). Have I not sent you?”
 
The answer is, Yes, He has sent us!
 
       There’s a key phrase in verse 34 of chapter 6 we need to zero in on.
“The Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon!”
 
We have that same Spirit!  The very same Holy Spirit that came into that tomb and breathed life back into the body of our Jesus, lives
in us today! 
 
I‘ve said this a hundred times!  But we don’t see ourselves as  God sees us!
 
       We have been baptized into, joined with, immersed in, if you will, this same Holy Spirit.
 
We’ve been empowered by Him to do great exploits for God.
 
       So the Lord gave Gideon his marching orders.
I want to read Judges 6:34-35: 34
But the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon; then he blew the trumpet, and the Abiezrites gathered behind him.35 And he sent messengers throughout all Manasseh, who also gathered behind him. He also sent messengers to Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali; and they came up to meet them.
 
       And so we go into chapter 7 seeing that Gideon has gathered to himself a vast army to defeat the enemy.
 
Now, let’s read Judges 7:1-8
Early in the morning, Jerub-Baal(that is, Gideon) and all his men camped at the spring of Harod.The camp of Midianwas north of them in the valley near the hill of Moreh.2 TheLordsaid to Gideon,  “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strengthhas saved me.’3 Now announce to the army, ‘Anyone who trembles with
fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’” So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained.
4 But theLordsaid to Gideon, “There are still too manymen. Take them down to the water, and I will thin them out for you there. If I say, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go; but if I say, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.”   5 So Gideon took the
men down to the water. There theLordtold him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues as a dog laps from those who kneel down to drink.”6 Three hundred of themdrank from cupped hands, lapping like dogs. All the rest got down on their knees to drink. 7 TheLordsaid to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands.Let all the others go home.”8 So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites home but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others. Now the camp of Midian lay below him in the valley.
Let’s do the math:
Began with:                32,000
Fearful:                     -22,000
Remaining:                10,000
Not discerning:           -9,700
Balance:                         300
Less than 1% was faithful to answer the call of God!   
 
       I want to talk about the Church this morning and how all this relates to it and to us.
 
Gideon experienced an awesome shift in the heavenlies that was manifested by the angel of the Lord
appearing to Gideon, but also equipping him to do great exploits for God!
 
We are at a place where the Lord is taking the Church to the refreshing river of testing and separation.
 
       You are without a full-time pastor.  You are in a hard place.  Why?
 
Because He wants to bring us to a greater responsibility of maturity and ministry.
 
       Drinking at this refreshing river is not an end in itself.
 
Gideon’s river was a place of testing one’s personal commitment, motive and character.
We’re being tested as to our: 
Personal commitment
Our motive
Our character
 
Church:  it cannot be the same old, same old anymore.  We need to break the moulds and throw off the old wineskins.
 
Have you ever thought that perhaps some changes are due here at Riga Congregational?
 
       This church, along with myriads of other churches, is suffering from graying out!
 
Young folks are not coming, and if they do come, they don’t stay!  Why?
 
Maybe you have to, God forbid, do some things differently!
 
       I know I’m stepping on toes this morning!
 
The reality is:  what happens to this church when you begin to die off, in say 5, 10 15, or 20 years?
 
       Change is in order, and I won’t go into that now, but I would gladly make suggestions if am asked.
 
OK. Enough said.
 
We church, (and I include both me and Pat as part of this church)must change from passivity to a warrior mentality.
 
       We cannot be complacent anymore!
 
This is a church on fire!  At least that’s how God sees it!  He’s just waiting for us to catch up to Him!
 
Can anyone smell the smell of smoke on you!
 
We need to be outside of these walls, taking action in whatever way the Lord shows us!
 
       One thing I’m learning: Being a presence in the world is powerful!
 
But it’s only powerful if we’re filled with the power of the Holy Ghost!
 
       Soon, the world will be knocking at our doors and looking to us for the answers they are seeking regarding this fallen world we            are living in.
 
They’re going to realize that the answer isn’t found anymore in humanism or liberal religion, but rather in a living relationship with the living God, the Lord Jesus Christ!
 
       The question is to us this morning, and to you individually, will you be found to be like one of Gideon’s faithful warriors, or will you be like one of the 32,000 who turned back because they were fearful and afraid?
 
And like Gideon, God will bring forth the Gideon’s 300 Army that He plans to use to put the enemy on the run.
 
       In closing, I want to go back to the river experience.
 
God used a very different way to chose just who would be selected to be in this army.
 
In 1984, my son and I along with about 10 others went on a three day backpacking trip in the mountain wilderness of northern PA.
 
       We found ourselves drinking from spring-fed streams.
 
I noticed some got down on their knees and sucked up the water that way.
 
       Myself and others did as Gideon’s 300 did.
 
We brought the water to our mouth with our hands.
 
       What does all this mean?
 
We discerned what was in the water by looking at it before we drank.
 
       The others could just as well have sucked up a water bug or pollywog because they were not discerning rightly.
 
And so it is today:  We must be discerning the times!
 
       God is looking for those who have the right spirit and the right attitude to be part of this end-time Gideon’s army.
 
We are being prepared for the great end-time battle of the Midianites who are encamped against the Church of Jesus Christ!
 
I’m not sure if all of you are aware or not, but Christianity is being put down more and more every day.
 
       Will you be part of that Army?  Will you be part of that less than 1%?  Will you make a difference?
 
Are you willing to have your commitment, your motives and your character tested?
 
       I just want to add this: I don’t know exactly what that Army is to look like!
 
       I’m not sure just how we are going to be organized, and organized we must be, to accomplish what the Lord has told us to do. 
 
We’re lacking something that every secular movement has:  A leader.
 
We must have a unified vision!  And right now the Church is lacking that!
 
       We need to pray like never before!  Things are accelerating so fast on the world scene.
 
       Things that affect us on every level.
 
There are a lot of ”pat” answers that sound good, but unless we act, and we act soon, the enemy will
have the upper hand.
 
       Oh, I know the end of the story:  We win!  But at what cost to the church?
 
       Jesus’ prayer for unity in John 17 must become a reality in the Church!
 
       And finally, pray, as though your life depended upon it,because it does!
 
We are on the right track if we’ll only realize it and act upon it.
 
       The Apostles and the Prophets are leading the way.  The question is: will we follow them?
 
       I speak this to this church, Faith Chapel and to the church at large:  We cannot afford to be complacent in light of the times we are in!
       Do we, like Gideon’s 300, discern the times?
 
The Midianites are still troubling us!
 
       Who are they? 
 
The extreme Left who wants nothing less than to destroy the church and life itself.
 
       As the case in many churches that I’ve preached in, many do not watch the news or stay informed.
 
You must be informed and stay informed as to what is happening all around us.
This isn’t a Republican thing or a Democrat thing.
 
It is a shift that has, and is taking place in America that is not good for you and me or this country!
 
I will lead you as best I know how, but I can’t go alone!
 
       Will you follow?
 
Notice that Gideon’s soldiers are not carrying any weapons; only a torch, a jar to cover it and a trumpet!
 
       Why?  Because they are going forward in the strength of God!
 
       That is how we are to fight as well!
 
God bless you my fellow warriors!
 
Benediction:
Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our
Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the
eternal covenant,equip you with everything good that you may do his
will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through
Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
ANGELS
Sermon preached on 12-1-19 
A Biblical Teaching
This is the time of year, perhaps more than any other, when we hear about angels.
 
           Angels announced and attended the birth of  Christ.
 
They are mentioned several times throughout both the Old and New Testaments.
 
But, what I’ve discovered over the years is that there are many erroneous teachings about angels.
 
I don’t claim to be an expert on this subject, but rather a very interested party.
I’ve researched this curious subject many times over the years.
 
           We’re going to see things, perhaps, that we have never seen before!
 
Christianity is rife with many myths taught to us by the world, in books and movies, that we have come to believe that are actually part of Holy Scripture.
 
           So the intent of my teaching is to not only see what the Bible has to say about angels from the aspect of learning about them,    but also their ministry to us and how God has instructed us to interact with them!
 
I want us to take a look at Hebrews 12:22-24.
22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels,23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits
of just men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that ofAbel.
 
           One of our 1st line allies are the holy angels of God!
 
Let me interject this, but for sake of time, I’ll not go into any detail.
 
           There are seven major groups of angels mentioned in the Bible:
Seraphim, Cherubim, Archangels. Princes, Kings, Rulers and powers, Fallen angels. And 8 if we include the Heavenly host
 
Jesus said that there were 12 legions of angels ready to come to his rescue if he summoned them!
           In Jesus’ day, a legion was 6,100 men and 726 horsemen.
 
Quick mathematics tells us that a legion consisted of 6,826 men!
 
But Jesus said he could summon 12 legions of angels!
 
           Well, 6,826 x 12 = 81,912 angels!
 
So to my way of thinking, this means that at least 81,912 angels are available to assist us!
 
           And that’s only 12 legions!
 
The Scripture we just read said there were innumerable angels!
 
           Innumerable means “without number”,  “cannot be counted”, and so on.   
 
Over the years I’ve heard people say that so and so dies and now they are an angel. No! Angels are specially created beings        created by God for specific purposes!
 
I want us to see Hebrews 12 in a couple of different versions to bring a little more clarity because some think that it’s talking about
angels in these verses.
The Amplified Bible: 
“Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth],
 
           The Voice says:  “So since we stand surrounded by all those who have gone before, an enormous cloud of witnesses”
 
(By the way, as a Bible Teacher, I research many versions of the Bible to get the right understanding of my subject matter)
 
           I personally believe that it is those who have gone before us that somehow are witnesses to some things that go on here on   earth.
 
Emphasis on “some things”!
 
There are many mysteries in the Bible that  we haven’t figured out yet!  But this I know for sure:  We have a powerful force of
allies that almost exceeds human comprehension!
 
           To see it in part we need to take a fresh look at Romans 8:28.
 
If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, you have learned this verse, and most likely you learned it in the King James Version.
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
 
It could read this way:  “We know that all things that God has ever spoken into place by his word, whether stars, earth, animals or stones - in fact, the entire cosmos - is interested in and cooperating together for the good of them that love God and  are
called according to his purpose.”
 
We usually think of “all things” meaning “circumstances.”
 
           There are several examples of created “things” assisting God’s people.      
In Judges 5:20 we read: 
“From the heavens the stars fought, from their courses they fought against Sisera.”
 
In numbers 22, we have the example of Balaam’s donkey actually talking to him and warning him of impending spiritual danger!
 
There are other accounts of “created” things assisting God’s people!
 
           Job 20:26-29 (fire, etc.)  Joshua 10:12, 13 (sun and moon)
 
So, as children of God, we have all these resources as our allies!
 
           But I want to focus on just one of these allies:   Angels.
 
I like Psalm 91, especially verses 11 and 12.
 
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; 12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
 
I personally can recall many times that I have been saved from impending injury or death that I have given credit to the angels for intervention.
 
           Let me tell you why I think that is:  God has a plan for our lives; every one of us!
 
           Believe this or not: so does our enemy Satan!
 
God’s plan supersedes Satan’s plan every time!
 
           Perhaps I’ll address that in more detail at a later date!
Throughout Scripture we read how God sends his Angels as messengers, as he did with Gabriel and He sends warrior angels like Michael, who are at war with principalities and powers of darkness.
 
           Elisha and his servant saw angels camped around the city ready to do battle on their behalf.
 
In fact let’s look at that in 2 Kings 6:13-18
The king of Aram wanted to kill Elisha and Elisha fled to Dothan.
13 “Go, find out where he is,” the king ordered, “so I can send men and capture him.” The report came back: “He is in Dothan.”14 Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city. 15 When the
servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.
16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
17 And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
 
Angels ministered to Jesus in the wilderness and they opened prison doors for the apostle Peter.
 
So what do Angels do on my behalf?
 
How can I understand their power and relationship to me?
 
Throughout Scripture, God’s people prayed and Angels were released:    
Abraham prayed and two Angels were loosed to go to Sodom and save Lot’s family. (Gen. 18-19)
 
Moses prayed and the angel of the Lord stood between the Israelites and the Army of Egypt and protected Israel. (Exodus 14:19)
 
Israel prayed and the angel came to defeat their enemies. (Judges 6:7-12)
 
Elisha prayed and the fiery host of the Lord surrounded the city, protected him and his servant and blinded the Syrians. (2 Kings 6:18)
 
Hezekiah prayed and the angel of the Lord killed 185,000 Assyrian enemy soldiers. (2 Kings 19:35)
 
And at the right hand of the Father, Jesus presents his petitions for you and me - our provision and our protection!
 
Think of it:  your every need  - physical, emotional, mental and spiritual, as being placed before God all of the time
by the One with the authority to meet those needs!
      
And how do many of these needs get met?
 
By ministering angels!
 
     They’re commanded by the Father and the Son to minister to you and me!
 
There’s a wonderful benediction, actually a prayer, and Ephesians 3:20, and 21.
 
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,  21 to
him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.
 
His desires for you and me far exceed anything we could ever imagine!
 
     Let me ask you this question: 
Who does God’s bidding? 
 
Whom does Jesus command?
 
     And since we are in Christ, whom does Jesus command for us?
 
The angels!
 
The church has always questioned Guardian Angels.
 
     Many people have struggled with this over the years.
 
I personally believe there are Guardian Angels!
 
The Bible seems to declares this in Psalm 91:
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
 
When a military commander issues ongoing orders for certain procedures, these orders are called standing orders.
God has already issued standing orders to his armies of Angels.
 
     Let’s look at Hebrews 1:14 – 
Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?
 
Who is being talked about here?
 
     Us!
 
We haven’t exhausted this subject by any means, but I have given you a brief overview that I hope brings some clarity regarding angels from a Biblical perspective.
 
I  want to leave you with 7 standing orders God commands Angels concerning you and me.
 
1.   To direct you into God’s plans for you God has a plan for you that includes:
                 Your Purpose and Your Destiny!
2.   To give you a special message from God
As you read the Bible, God may direct an angel to whisper something in your ear that he wants you to
understand. (We know the Holy Spirit does that too!)
3.   To bring you confidence and hope when you need it most 
4.   To protect you in a dangerous situation so fear is overcome
 
I believe that almost everyone here this morning can recall a time or two when your life could have had a different turn had there not
been divine intervention!
5.   To comfort you when surrounded by troubles
The angels brought Jesus comfort in the Garden when He was about to be arrested.
6.   To help sustain and facilitate your dream or vision
 
God has plan and purpose for your life that most assuredly requires angelic intervention at some point
7.To work a miracle
Yes, miracles still happen today, and I believe the Lord uses angels to bring them about in our lives!
 
           Although “It’s A Wonderful Life” is a great story;  it is just that: a story!
 
And unlike Clarence, angels don’t get their wings every time someone does a good deed!
 
One more verse of scripture:
           Hebrews 13:2  - Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.
 
There are many verses that tell us that angels have appeared in human form!
 
           My thought on this is:  Probably every one of us has encountered an angel at some time in our lives and we were, as the
  verse said, unaware.
 
Hey!  You never know!
 
I hope that what I shared with you this morning has brought you some clarification on our heavenly helpers!
 
God bless you!
 
Benediction:
I pray that He would grant you, according to the
riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit
in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in
your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in
love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the
saints what is the width and length and depth and
height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes
knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20 Now to Him who
is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or
think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to
Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations,
forever and ever. Amen.
 
 
 
THE LORD’S
PRAYER
Part 3
Sermon preached on 11/24/19 
For the last two weeks we’ve been looking at the Lord’s Prayer.
           We took it apart, so to speak, verse by verse, unearthing hidden treasures, much like that  archeological
dig we talked about.
 
I’ve found that prayer, the act of communicating with our Heavenly Father, is:
·Not fully understood
·Not practiced enough by believers as it should be
 
I like to study and find out all I can about a subject before I teach it. Very often that involves going back to the
original Hebrew or Greek translation to find out the deeper meaning of certain passages or words.
 
The OT was
written originally in Hebrew.
It consisted
of the first 5 books:
Genesis
Exodus
Leviticus 
Numbers
Deuteronomy
 
In later years these books were translated into Greek because Greek was the world-wide trade  language
used in those days.
 
There are 66
books in the Bible:
·39 in the Old Testament written in Hebrew
·27 in the New Testament written in Greek
 
Before we go on, let me share this:  This just a point of interest.
           Perhaps you’ve wondered what The Lord’s Prayer looked like in the original language of Greek.
Here’s a transliteration from Greek to English:
           “Father of us the (one) in the heavens:
           Let it be hallowed the name of thee,
           Let it come the kingdom of thee,
           Let it come about the will of thee,
           As in heaven also on earth;
           The bread of us daily give to us today;
           And forgive us the debts of us,
           As we indeed we forgive the debtors of us;
           And not bring us into temptation,
           But rescue us from evil.”
 
That would be a little cumbersome to pray I think!
 
Knowing how to pray is usually pretty important I would think!
 
Last week we ended by looking at, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”
 
And we saw that we owe a debt we could never repay!  For one thing, our very existence!
 
The most important:  The forgiveness of our sins!  Then, we in turn, are to forgive anything and everything owed to us by others!
 
           And most importantly, no matter how good we are, or how many good things we do, we cannot work our way into heaven!
 
Our eternal salvation depends upon one thing, and one thing only:  Our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and his sacrifice for our sins that he paid for on the cross!
 
           Our next verse we want to look at is:  
“And lead us not into temptation”
 
Someone asked me recently: “Why does it say, not to lead us into temptation?  God wouldn’t do that would he?” (I paraphrased that)
           That was a great question!
 
My first initial reaction was:  If I was a recovering alcoholic, God wouldn’t tempt me with communion wine, even though it would be fine for most people.
 
           (Many churches use real wine for communion)
 
But let’s take a deeper look into temptation.
 
James, the brother of Jesus, wrote
the Book of James and this is what he says about temptation:
 
13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” James 1:13-15
 
Paul alludes to tempting others in a couple of places in 1 Corinthians when he says we can sin against  our brother if I eat something in front of him that offends him.
 
If a brother or sister says, “I don’t eat pork” then don’t go chowing down on bacon and pork chops in from of them!  You’re
tempting them!
 
In 1 Corinthians 10:13 Paul says, “The only temptations that you have are the same temptations that all people have. But you can       trust God. He will not let you be tempted more than you can bear. But when you are tempted, God will also give you a way
to escape that temptation. Then you will be able to endure it.”
 
Just before Paul said this, listen to what he says in verse 12: 
“Therefore let the one who thinks he stands firm [immune to temptation, being overconfident and self-righteous], take care
that he does not fall [into sin and condemnation].”
 
Hardly a day goes by that we don’t read about a preacher, a politician, or some other well-known figure who has fallen into some sort
of scandal.
 
Our tendency as humans is to look down our noses at them, (I’m telling you the truth now) and whether we verbalize it or just think it, we condemn them in some way or another.
 
           We all do it, to some degree or another! It’s all around us!
 
Hardly a week goes by that I don’t hear that so and so left his wife and kids for another woman.  Or conversely, she left her husband and kids for another man!
 
And sometimes, it’s in our own families!
 
Nothing seems to shock us anymore!
 
Over the years I’ve seen people,
people that I knew well, do some crazy thing like that. It’s heartbreaking!
 
But here’s the rub!
 
Deep down, some of us think:  “That could never happen to me!  I would never do that!”
 
That’s what Paul was talking about!  Everyone is tempted with something, sometime, somewhere along the way, and we have to be on our guard!
 
Now, remember who he was writing to:  Believers!
 
Yes, the most stalwart, strong, spiritual people you could ever know can fall into temptation, and then into sin!
 
But, here’s the kicker, as they say:  
“But you can trust God. He will not let you be
tempted more than you can bear. But when you are tempted, God will also give
you a way to escape that temptation. Then you will be able to endure it.”
 
The first five words: “But you can trust God”
 
It’s when we are not walking close to Him that we can fall.
 
Temptation will come to everyone somewhere along the way.  Giving into it is something else!
 
If we’re walking close to Him, then he tells us: “I will not let you be tempted more than you can bear. But when you are tempted, I will also give you a way to escape that temptation. Then you will be able to endure it.”
 
I don’t have to tell you that it’s a rough world out there!
 
That’s why we need the Lord more and more every day in our lives, not just on Sunday!
 
OK, let’s move on.
“But deliver us from evil”
 
The Lord’s Prayer recognizes evil as a deadly fact.
 
According to a national survey conducted by the Barna Research Group, most Americans do not believe in Satan.
 
60 percent of American adults – six out of ten – believe that Satan “is not a living being but a symbol of evil.” 
 
Only 25 percent “believe strongly” that Satan is a real being. 
 
Only 45 percent of those who describe themselves as “born again”, Bible-believing Christians, deny Satan’s existence.
 
How can anyone deny the evil of all the wars over the centuries, many of which were only political in nature, and the millions of innocent lives lost!
 
Everything that God is, Satan is not!
 
Just as there is a Holy Trinity there is an unholy trinity!
 
We have the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
 
The dark side has Satan, the anti-Christ and the false prophet, who will someday be revealed.
 
This subject alone would take many, many hours to dig out and expound upon.
 
And lastly, we read:
“For Thine is the kingdom and the
power and the glory forever. Amen” 
 
I was brought up Catholic and was a practicing Catholic until 1970 when
I had a conversion experience.
 
We never prayed that ending phrase because it was a Protestant prayer, don’t you know!
 
Oh, I could tell you some stories about you Protestants!  Now I are one!
 
But, I think it is a wonderful ending and brings The Lord’s Prayer to a
beautiful conclusion!
 
I did some research on that phrase and found some interesting facts.  It was included in very early Catholic writings.
 
It was later removed.
The Early Church however, included it in their praying of The Lord’s Prayer.
 
I knew that I had encountered this phrase while reading the OT and after a lot of digging found it, or something very similar to it in 1
Chronicles 29:11
 
1 Chronicles 29:11
“11 Thine, O Lord is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all.”
 
The words are in that verse, just not in the order that we say them.
 
So, you can see where the First Believers, probably sometime after 70 AD, added this to the Lord’s Prayer.
 
In the context of what we just read
in 1 Chronicles, we see David at the end of his life, dedicating what would be millions of dollars in today’s money, to the
building of the Temple.
 
The Lord had told David that he would not build the Temple, but his son Solomon would, because David had blood on his hands,
after all the battles that he had fought.
 
But David prayed this prayer of dedication.
 
Well, I hope that you got something out of our archeological dig of The Lord’s Prayer.
 
This is just one of many, many prayers recorded for us in the Bible.
 
There are different kinds of prayer mentioned and modeled throughout the Bible.  They are discussed in different places in the Bible
and in different ways.
 
 All prayer is communication with God, but as with communication with people, there are many ways and methods of communicating.
 
Let’s do something different this morning.  Let’s stand together and pray the Lord’s Prayer together.
 
Let’s pray it!
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be
done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we
forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the
glory, for ever. Amen.
 
Benediction:
Loving God, we thank you for hearing our prayers, feeding us with your word,
and encouraging us in our meeting together.
Father, I pray this morning that as we prepare to leave this place, we
will realize that you have touched us, and help us to know that when you touch
us, something happens, something supernatural, and joy floods our soul and
because of your touch on us, we are made whole!
Take us and use us to love and serve you, and all people, in the power of your Spirit
and in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
 
 
 
THE
LORD’S PRAYER
Part 2
Sermon from 11/10/19

want to begin with something that is recited every Sunday morning in many
Christian churches throughout the world:
       It’s a Confession of Faith and it goes
like this:
   SLIDE
THIS IS MY BIBLE
This is my Bible. I
am what it says I am. I can do what it says I can do. Today, I will be taught
the Word of God. I boldly confess: My mind is alert, My heart is receptive. I
will never be the same. I am about to receive the incorruptible, indestructible,
Ever-living seed of the Word of God. I will never be the same . Never, never,
never. I will never be the same. In Jesus name. Amen.

       Whether it’s me who is preaching or Pat, the Bible is our basis for all that we teach or preach.
 
So, we’re continuing on with our closer look at the Lord’s Prayer.
 
Last week we looked at Our Father, Abba, which interpreted is “Daddy”.  We recognized that His abode is in Heaven, and that we have been adopted, by faith, as His sons and daughters.
 
SLIDE
Then we read:  “Hallowed by thy name”.
“To hallow the Name of the Lord is to sanctify or set apart, To honor and to revere, To recognize as High Holy and pure.”
 
SLIDE
In Rev. 4:11, we read these words: “Worthy are You, our Lord and God, to receive the glory and the
honor and dominion, for You created all things; by Your will they were [brought into being] and were created.” AMPC
 
Psalm 8:1, David declares, “O Lord, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth, Who have set Your glory above the heavens!”
 
SLIDE
Psalm 20:7, ”Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of
the Lord our God.”
 
       And of course, the 23rd Psalm, “He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness        For His name’s sake.”
 
The words of a chorus we sing occasionally at our church: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower. 
The righteous run into it, and they are saved!”
 
       Next, we read:
SLIDE
"Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." 
 
       We pray that the kingdom of God may be expanded from heaven to earth, that his will be done here just as it is done there.
 
In other words, our desire should be to have things on earth, right now, exactly as they are in Heaven!
 
By the mess I see this world in, I can see that that hasn’t happened yet!
 
But, the truth of the matter is, you and I have an assignment from God do all we can to bring heaven to earth.
 
We can’t do it in our strength alone, but only by faith, as we represent Christ here on earth.
And we do that by preaching, teaching and living the Kingdom of God here on earth!
 
To be all that He has called us to be; only then does the world see Christ in us, the hope of glory!
 
Jesus was always talking and teaching about the kingdom of God.  He did it mostly in parables.
 
A Kingdom calls for a King.
 
SLIDE        
Jesus Christ is King of all.  All, meaning everything that ever was, is, and will be! We don’t always
depict Jesus as a King, but a King he is; and not just A King, but The King!
 
"The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all"(Psalms 103:19).
 
         SLIDE
We need to understand that there are 2 kingdoms in the world!
 
Paul wrote, "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the
authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12).
 
Lucifer is said to be the ruler of this world. 
 
We are not saying that Christ is not King of kings and Lord of lords or that His sovereignty is in
any way diminished. 
 
We are only admitting that there is another kingdom.
 
This is something that many Christians miss!
 
There is a war going on right now in the heavenlies!  It is for the control of mankind; you and me!
 
SLIDE
Three heavens:
·First heaven is the sky, clouds, atmosphere.
·Second heaven is the home of Satan and his demon forces and fallen angels
·Third heaven is the home of God our Father and the holy angels, and of course, Jesus seated at the right hand of The Father.
 
SLIDE
Paul refers to Satan as the Prince of the power of the air.  You were following the ways of this world [influenced by this present age], in accordance with the prince of the power
of the air (Satan), the spirit who is now at work in the disobedient [the unbelieving, who fight against the purposes of God].   Eph. 2:2
 
(This is something that perhaps we can spend more time on at a later date.)
 
       And so when Jesus said to pray to the Father these words: ”Thy kingdom come”,
       he was talking about the Father’s Kingdom, the Kingdom of Heaven.   
 
You may have noticed this prayer, The Lord’s Prayer, is like an archaeological dig.
 
On the surface, it seems simple. Dig a little bit, and you find some new things. 
 
Dig deeper, and you discover even more.
 
SLIDE
The next phrase we look at this morning is "Give us this day our daily bread." Two simple words -- daily bread -- are actually not that simple. 
 
They are like that archaeological dig. The more you look at those simple words, the more
there is to discover.
 
SLIDE
When we pray for "daily bread" we pray for all that we need to: 
·sustain life, (food, clothing, shelter, finances)
·employment,
·safe and secure government, 
·faithful spouse and good kids, 
·good neighbors, etc. 
 
SLIDE        
It is a prayer of dependence, admitting that God is our provider.
 
Deuteronomy 8:17 challenges our self-sufficient culture with these words: 
“You may say to yourself, ‘my power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth and confirms his covenant.” 
 
In other words: you have the ability to provide for your family. Where does that ability come from?
God!
 
How do you pray “Give us this day our daily bread” in a land where you can walk or drive down to your local Wegmans, Walmart, BJ’s or anywhere else and be faced with a choice of fifty different types and sizes of bread to buy?
 
How
do you pray “Give us this day our daily bread” when you can go and buy enough bread for a month and put it in your freezer at home to defrost as and when
you need it?
 
Not everyone in the world is as blessed as we in America are!
 
In Malawi, Africa, I’ve seen the roadside lined with women selling produce from their gardens so they can get a few cents to pay their rent or buy medicine.
 
       It wasn’t much different in Jesus’ day!
 
Poverty was everywhere!
 
       And when you prayed for your daily bread, it was meaningful and heart-felt!
 
Some of you who have traveled to third world countries know what I’m talking about!
 
SLIDE       Next, Jesus said, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”
This is the King James Version.
 
Other translations, and I’ll read just a few, give us perhaps a little clearer meaning of this phrase.
 
SLIDE
·And forgive us our sins, just as we also have forgiven those
who sin against us. NIRV New International Readers Version
 
·Forgive us the wrongs we have done as we ourselves release forgiveness to those who have wronged
us. TPT The Passion Translation
 
·Forgive us what we owe to you, as we have also forgiven those
who owe anything to us. Phillips
 
The Phillips Translation is very interesting, as it talks about us owing God something.   
 
       What do we owe to God?
 
We owe a debt we could never repay! For one thing, our very existence!
 
The most important:  The forgiveness of our sins!
 
Then, we in turn, are to forgive anything and everything owed to us by others!
 
SLIDE
Jesus gave his disciples instructions as he prepared to send them out to preach the gospel.           Part of what he said was in Matt: 10:8, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.”
 
“You received without paying, now give without being paid.”
 
It’s a natural human instinct to think that we always have to pay for whatever we
receive.
 
In other words, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.
 
       That may be true with lunches, but not with our souls.
 
Many folks have a belief system based on the premise that if I do a lot of good in this world, it
surely counts toward my final reward, my eternal salvation!
 
In other words, “I can work my way to heaven if I just do enough good things!”
 
Actually, nothing could be further from the truth as far as God is concerned! 
 
(Hold up the Bible)
 
I need to really drive home a point:  This book, the Bible, is our history book.
 
Some have called it:  His Story!  True! This is the Word of God to us!
 
SLIDE
We read in Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus in chapter 2, verses 8-10:  “For it is by grace you
have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—9 not by
works, so that no one can boast.10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.
 
Of course, we of all people should do good works, but not as a means of obtaining our salvation which God prepared in advance for us to do.                                                                      
We do the good works because we are saved!
 
And over in Paul’s letter to Titus as he ministered on the island of Crete when the people there       were struggling with this idea of earning their salvation by doing good works: Titus 3:4-8
 
SLIDE
“4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared,5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those
who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.
 
I know I’ve given you a lot to chew on today.  You have your notes. Take them home and review them and pray over them.
 
We’ll conclude the Lord’s Prayer in two weeks.  
 
Thank you for your attention this morning.
 
God bless you!
 
Benediction:
For your goodness and generosity
in giving us all we need,
help us to praise you O God.
In every circumstance of life,
in good times and bad,
help us to trust you, O God.
In love and faithfulness,
with all that we have and all that we are,
help us to serve you, O God.
As we speak or write or listen
to those nearby or far away,
help us to share your love, O God.
In our plans and work
for ourselves and for others,
help us to glorify you, O God.
In every thought and word and deed,
by the power of your Holy Spirit,
this week, may we live for you, O God.
 
 
 
THE LORD'S PRAYER 
Part 1
Sermon from Sunday 11/3/19
 
Over the next couple of weeks, I want us to look at the subject of prayer.
 
       In particular, The Lord’s Prayer; but overall, prayer in general.
 
SLIDE
(Title)
 
I think we’re going to learn some interesting things together.
 
       As usual, you’ll have notes that you can take home and review at your leisure.
 
You’ve probably heard this before, but it’s worth repeating:
       A morning prayer:  So far today, God, I've done all right. I haven't
gossiped, haven't lost my temper, haven't been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish,
or over-indulgent. I'm really glad about that. 
       But in a few minutes, God, I'm going to get out of bed and from then on I'm
probably going to need a lot more help.     Thank you. In Jesus name. Amen
 
We just joined our voices together in The Lord’s Prayer.
 
SLIDE
       It’s an awesome prayer because it is authored by Jesus Himself!
It’s a complete prayer, in that it offers petitions to the Father on our behalf.
       The disciples came to Jesus asking Him to teach them to pray.
 
They were all schooled in Hebrew school as young men, but the prayers they learned there were recitations, not really from the
heart.
       They heard Jesus pray.
SLIDE
It was personal.
       It was heartfelt.
It was clear and concise.
       It was meaningful and it was powerful!
AND, it was short!
 
       They saw the results of what real prayer could  do!
 
I heard the other day that they have Dial-a-Prayer for atheists now. 
       You call up and it rings and rings but nobody answers.
 
SLIDE
We read in Matthew 6:9-13 - After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.  10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our  debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the
power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
 
       Our scripture reading this morning was from John 17, considered by many to be also the Lord’s Prayer, as He was
       praying to His heavenly Father.
1.      “Our Father”
Of all God’s names, “Father” is the favorite name that Jesus used to address God.
We know that because he used it most. Jesus calls him that over 200 times!
 
       His first recorded words refer to his Father’s house (Luke 2:49) 
 
In His final prayer, he says, Father I give you my life (Luke 23:46). 
 
       In John’s gospel alone, Jesus repeats this name 156 times. 
 
SLIDE        
And this is how he teaches us to pray:    Our Father.
 
It was revolutionary for Jesus to refer to God in this intimate way. 
 
       New Testament scholar, Joachim Jeremias,  describes how rarely this term was used.
“With the help of my assistants, I have examined the prayer literature of late Judaism... The result
of this examination was, that in no place in this immense literature is the invocation of God as “Abba, Father” to be found. 
 
SLIDE        
Abba was an everyday word. It was a homey family-word. No Jew would have dared to address God in this manner, yet Jesus did it always in all His prayers which were handed down to us, with one single exception: the cry from the cross, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” 
 
SLIDE
In the Lord’s prayer, Jesus authorizes the disciples to repeat the word “Abba"  He gives them a share in His sonship. 
 
He empowers His disciples to speak with their heavenly father in such a familiar and trusting way.”
(End quote)
 
       It would be like us calling our earthly father, Dad or Daddy.
 
Perhaps some would address their father with the name “Father”, but it would be very formal.
 
The Jews didn’t have that relationship with God the Father that we have today through Christ!
 
SLIDE
It’s interesting what the Apostle Paul says in Romans 8:15,16 – “God’s Spirit doesn’t make us slaves who are afraid of him. Instead, we become his children and call him our Father.” CEV   (Contemporary English Version)
 
Another version states:  “For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to bring you back again into fear; on the contrary, you received the Spirit, who makes us sons and by whose power we cry out, “Abba!” (that is, “Dear Father!”). CJB (Complete Jewish Bible)
 
       In the Bible, there is the Doctrine or Teaching on “Adoption”.
 
SLIDE
Galatians 4:4,5 - 4 But when the proper time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born subject to [the regulations of] the Law, 5 To purchase the freedom of (to ransom, to redeem, to atone for) those who were subject to the Law, that we might be
adopted and have sonship conferred upon us [and be recognized as God’s sons]. Amplified Classic Edition
 
SLIDE        
By faith in Christ, we become sons and daughters of God our Father.
 
We’re adopted!
 
       How many folks do we have here today who were either adopted themselves or have adopted children?
 
My daughter and son-in-law have natural born children, adopted children and foster children.
 
       And they love them all just as our Father loves all those he calls His children: 
       adopted everyone!
 
One mother said:  “They may not have my eyes, they may not have my smile, but they have all my heart.”
 
SLIDE        
So, the point that Jesus was trying to convey to His disciples was that they had the right to call God Dad or Daddy, because they were His children!
 
In my many years of ministry, I’ve discovered a common thread woven in the lives of people in the age range of 60’s, 70s and 80’s, and I’m sure even beyond that.
 
And that thread is this: most fathers were so busy earning a living and supporting their families that they didn’t have a lot of time to be a father to their children!
 
My Dad included.
 
         My Dad held down a fulltime job, which in those days the normal work week was 44 hours per week: Five 8 hour days and half a day on  Saturday.
 
How many remember that?
 
         Not only did he have a full-time job, but he also worked part-time job evenings, and some weekends.
 
I’m going someplace with this, so stay with me.
 
         With Dad not in our lives in our formative years, there was left a gap in our lives that is being felt well into our later years.
 
All human beings have four basic emotional needs.
 
         Psychologists tell us that we look to our parents to fulfill those needs.
 
And from 3 years of age and older, we especially look to our fathers to meet those needs for us.
 
When these four needs go unmet in childhood, it becomes very difficult for a person to develop healthy relationships with God or other people later in adulthood.
 
         These four Basic Needs are:
 
SLIDE
1.      The need for unconditional expressed love
 
         Not enough for fathers to provide shelter, food and clothing for his children.
 
Love from father to child must somehow be expressed.
 
         My family wasn’t very good in those areas.
 
Did they love me and my brothers? I believe so, but it wasn’t expressed very often in a physical way, such as hugs and kisses.
 
Although, my mother was more expressive than my father. However, later in my adulthood I learned more about her upbringing and could better understand.
 
Every night before we went upstairs to bed, my mother would bring us over to Dad, usually sitting in his favorite chair, either listening
to the radio or reading the paper.
 
         She’d say, “OK boys, say ‘goodnight’ to your father.”
 
I’ll never forget the night when I was about 4 or 5, when, as I approached his chair to give him the ritualistic kiss on the cheek, and he would kiss me as well, when he said something that has stayed with me all these years:  “You’re a big boy now.  We don’t have to do this anymore!”
 
I was shocked to my core!
 
         This also meant no more kisses from Dad!  I didn’t have a name for it at the time, but of course, it was received as rejection!
 
I have in ensuing years, overcome this and have forgiven my Dad.
 
(Tell about Pat’s family on her mother’s side)
 
The second basic emotional need is:
 
SLIDE
2.      The need to feel secure and comforted.
 
Every child, and every adult, for that matter, needs to feel safe, both physically and emotionally.
 
(When I counsel men and women whom I’m going to marry. I always tell the man that his fiancé is marrying him for his money!)
 
       Children are looking for that safe place in their father’s heart.
 
Explosive anger and rage are frightening experiences for children.
 
         My Dad was known to have times of extreme anger and rage and it often scared me and my brothers.
 
         Dad had a drinking problem that often lead to sudden outbursts.
 
The third basic emotional need is:
 
SLIDE
3.      The need for praise and affirmation
 
Everyone needs and wants affirmation; to hear people say good things about us!
 
         Children especially need this from their parents!
 
Many sons and daughters spend their lives trying to gain the approval of their fathers.
 
         Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, has said that it takes at least 40 words of praise to counteract just one word of criticism in a child’s heart!
 
In my many years of management, even when I had to bring correction for a wrong doing on the job, I tried to end the session with some kind of affirmation. 
 
The fourth and final basic emotional need:
 
SLIDE
4.      The need for a purpose in life
 
Fathers have a responsibility to cultivate their children’s talents and gifts.
 
Everyone needs a sense of value, a belief that their lives mean something and that they can make a difference.
 
Children need to be told that they are special, that they have something unique to offer the world, and that they are a gift of God’s love to their family and to the world.
 
       So children of God, I’m telling you that this morning!
 
You are special and you have something unique to offer this world, and that you are a gift of God’s
love to your family and to the world!
 
       As a disclaimer, no earthly father is perfect!
 
We have all failed our children, at one time or another.  We all have flaws that can affect our
kids; no exceptions! 
 
Let me bring this to a close with this:
 
SLIDE
Our heavenly Father, Abba, Daddy, is there for us when we need fathering!
 
·He is there as the answer to our uncertainty and questions
 
·He is there for us as our defender and deliverer when we feel attacked
 
·He is there as our faithful friend when we feel alone
 
·He is there as the God of love when we feel unloved and need a hug
 
He is there for us as mercy and grace when we are too hard on our self or others
 
·He is there for us with hope when we are discouraged and want to quit
 
·He is there for us; never-failing, always the same, even when we are fickle and faithless
 
·He is there as quieter of the storm for conflicts and fears within our soul
 
·He is there as true satisfaction when we’ve tried everything but Him
 
·He is there as true riches when we are tempted by the world’s allure
 
·He is there as way-maker when there seems to be no way out
 
We all need to grasp hold of the fact our Father is there for us every minute of every day 24/7/365.
 
       And
. . . as I said previously  -  
SLIDE
There’s nothing we can do to make Himlove us more, and nothing we can do to make Him love us less!
 
Our heavenly Father, Abba, Dad or
Daddy, will never leave us or forsake us!
 
SLIDE        
He tells us that in the Book of Hebrews, chapt. 13, verse 5 – “for He
[God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give
you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I
will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let
[you] down.”
 
       And you count on that!  Amen!
 
Benediction:
 
May God the Father
prepare your journey,
Jesus the Son
guide your footsteps,
The Spirit of Life
strengthen your body,
The Three in One
watch over you,
on every road 
that you may follow.
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
WOUNDS AND SCARS 
October 27, 2019
Zech 13:6
6          If someone asks, ‘What are these wounds on your body?’ they will answer, ‘The wounds I was given at the house of my   friends.’
Ps 147:3
3          He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. (NIV)
           I want to speak to you this morning about     . . .       Wounds and Scars.
The kinds of wounds and scars I want to talk to you about today, . . . are not the visible kind.
They are not like the many wounds and scars that . . . . you have on your body.
When we are wounded, . . . . (and we are wounded in many ways)  . . . . we become limited by our wound.
 
It could be surgery.  It could be an injury.
 
But, a wound, by its very nature, . . . is restricting.
 
Most wounds in time, . . . heal.  They go through a process. 
 
deep wound will need to drain.  It drains away infection.
Some wounds need stitching.  Others, just a band aid or a little ointment to protect from infection.
 
But the healing process sets it and in a period of time, . . . . the wound turns into a scar.
 
Before I go on, . . . let me ask you a question:
 
How many do not have any scars on your body? You’ve never had surgery, . . . or a cut or a bruise, . . .
or anything that would leave a scar?
 
That’s what I thought!  Everyone has scars, . .. the evidence of  wounds.
So I could say this then: . . . We’ve all been wounded!
 
Just as our fleshly wounds need to go through a process of healing, . . . so do our inner wounds, . . .  . . the
wounds that we have suffered in our inner person.
 
What am I talking about?  I’m talking about a Wounded Heart.
 
But there is a problem.  Some of our wounds which we have received years  and years ago, . . . . have never healed.
 
They are still open sores. Sores oozing and running.  Sores that incapacitate us and . . . keep us from
functioning . . . in a normal way.
 
These wounds or sores are . . . hindrances to our becoming and being . . . all that we are meant to be.
 
What are some of these wounds . . . and where did we get them?
 
I.    Let’s look at some of the sources of these  hurts:
a.         People say and do things to hurt us
 
We’ve all been hurt one time or another . . . by what someone has said . . . or done.
 Proverbs 18:8. 
 8          The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man's inmost parts. (NIV)
 
b.         Result from our own sinful behavior.       We shoot ourselves in the foot all the time!
 
We make some poor and even stupid choices . . . in life and we bear the brunt of those choices.
We have no one else to blame but ourselves.
 
c.         Results from drug and alcohol abuse.  Homeless and alcoholics and drug abusers.
 
d.Wrong thinking can wound us.
Tell about Ruth 
Job 3:25‑26
25        What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me.
26        I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil." (NIV)
 
The Bible says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7
 
d.    Result of the sins of the forefathers. 
Iniquitiy.  . . . Sins passed down from generation to generation.
 
Exod 34:6‑7
And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness,7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the
parents to the third and fourth generation.”
 
Some diseases we have we know are inherited.
 
It’s in our genes.
 
Cancer many times . . . . flows down through generations.
 
Type 1 diabetes, breast cancer and so many more are seemingly passed down from . . . generation  to
generation.
 
Alcoholism seems to be passed down through the generations.
 
Molested children often become .child molesters.
 
Temperament is often passed down through generations.
 
Hurting people hurt people!
 
e.         Result from occult involvement.
Lev 20:6
6          'As for the person who turns to mediums and to spiritists, to play the harlot after them, I will also set My face against that person and will cut him off from among his people. (NAS)
 
People mess around with oiuja boards and fortune tellers.
 
They read their astrology every day!
 
That is an abomination to God . . . and it also is a loaded gun waiting to go off!
 
The occult is real, . . . just as God is real.
 
Some people dismiss this as nonsense, . . . .       .
. . but I can tell you . . . that it’s real!
 
And
as God affects our souls and spirits for good, . . . . . . the Devil affects them for evil with all these things.
Stay away from them!
People
are wounded every day by these things . . . . . . . . and the cure is very hard
to achieve.
Be careful!
Hurts
never just go away! 
Time will not bring
complete healing to them.
Whenever you remember the
experience, . . . . . . . you feel the hurt. 
Some
people will even block out their memory so . . . . . . that they won't have to
face feeling the hurts, but they are still there.
Just as with a physical wound . . . there are symptoms, . .
. . there are symptoms of an inner hurt.
II.
SOME SYMPTOMS OF A WOUNDED HEART
a.         What affects us in our inner man, . . . affects
us very often in our physical bodies . . . as well.
Prov
17:22
22        A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. (NIV)
 
What happens on the inside, . . . . is reflected on the outside.
 
Many people are going to doctors today . . . that know exactly what I’m talking about!
 
Physical things happening in the body that are . . . . . . . directly related to a spiritual problem.
 
Nerve disorders (Nervousness, fears)
 
Allergies (Some people break out in hives or rashes)
 
Stomach problems (That’s a big one we can all relate to!)
 
Heart aches (Real aching of the heart!)
 
Insomnia (No peace in their lives)
 
b. Then there’s the Mental aspect of this:
Proverbs 18:14
 
The Amp. says: The strong spirit of a man will sustain him in bodily pain or trouble, but a weak and broken spirit who can raise up or bear?
Satan attacks the mind . . . more often than the body.

Don’t ever forget that!
 
We are affected in our mind  by the wounds of our inner man.
 
Depression (Very common in America today)
 
Fits of anger and rage Road rage . . . or an over reaction to a situation.
 
Confusion (Loss of focus, loss of concentration, a . . . . . general sense of “What am I doing?”)
 
Various fears and phobias (We could spend a month on this one!)
 
Dominance (a dominating spirit is a sign of an inner wound . . . where the person feels they have to control every situation
they are in.)
 
Why?  Because somewhere along the way, . . . they were wounded in their spirit and . . . someone took away their confidence and self-respect.
 
So now they feel . . . they will never allow anyone ever again to do that to them. So they control everything.  . . . Or at least
try to.
 
c.         Then there’s the Spiritual side of it:
 
Think about this for a minute: “We are not just       a body containing a spirit.   . .  We are a   spiritual being residing in a body!”
 
Wrap your mind around that for a while!
 
Nightmares
 
Dreams are one thing, . . .  but those who have been wounded in their inner man . . . cannot escape these memories . ..  even while the sleep!
 
What a horrible existence! 
 
Fearing to go to sleep, . . . because they know that there is no escape from their hurts and wounded spirits.
 
Hearing voices (many people are afflicted with this!  I don’t totally understand it, . . . but I do
believe it is a device of our enemy, Satan)
 
My problem is that I don’t hear my wife’s voice when I should be hearing it!
 
Deception.  Getting our minds off the problem and getting our focus on things . . . that take us further away from the solutions.
 
Lack of control of self
 
Can’t help themselves. They are compulsive buyers and eaters.  They are truly out of control.
 
They engage in this kind of activity . . . so they won’t have to think about their problems!
 
I certainly haven’t addressed all the problems attendant to a wounded heart, . . . but it’s a start!
 
How do we start the healing process? How do we get from the open, . . . oozing, hurting sore . .. to the scar.
 
What you need to hear this morning, is this: Some of us are like wounded soldiers in an army.
 
We have become a . . . casualty of war.
 
In a real physical war, . . . the wounded are sent back behind the lines to be healed.
 
The wounds, . . . in time become scars. Then they are returned once again to the battle. Some wounds take longer than others to heal.
 
Some wounds leave their victims . . . . incapacitated for life.
 
But here is where the analogy ends. Where the wounds to the body sometimes cannot be healed, . I want to tell you the wounds to the spirit and inner man, . . . can be!
 
Please understand that we only receive healing       . . . through the intervention of God.
 
III. God's has a Provision for us to be healed!
 
a.         God cares about your broken heart. 
Ps 34:18
18        The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (NIV)
 
b.         God healed David's heart . . . and He will also heal yours. 
 
I’ve got good news for you.  Listen to this!
 
Ps 147:3
3          He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. (NIV)
 
           c. Jesus was sent to heal the broken hearted.
Luke 4:18
18        The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me
to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the
brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of
sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, (KJV)
 
d. Jesus, Himself, suffered all the hurts that we could suffer. 
 
He was rejected
He was misunderstood
He was physically abused
You name it,
. . . He suffered it.
 
The Bible says he was touched
with the feeling of our infirmities.
 
e.         Through the suffering of Jesus, . . . God has provided healing for our hurts. 
 
Isa 53:5‑6
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
 
I want you to know today that it is God’s desire to heal your hurts, . . . to heal your wounds, . . . to finally make them scars.  
 
Scars that do not hinder.
1 Pet 5:7
casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries,
and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with
deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully].
 
f.          God must have control of your whole heart . . . before He can heal it. 
 
Jer 29:13
13        You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
 
How do we begin this healing process?   
 
How do we make a sore into a scar?
 
Remember, we said that you cannot function properly . . . if you are wounded and not healed.
 
a.         You must give your heart to Jesus letting Him become your Lord. Romans 10:9, Philippians 2:9-10 
 
b.         If you have offended or hurt, or wounded someone else, . . . then you must confess your offense and . . . ask them to forgive              you.
 
c.         You must forgive (release) the person who has hurt you. Matthew 6:12, 14-15 
 
You must put their judgment into God's hands . . . and then ask God to forgive them for their offense toward you. Luke 23:24, Acts 7:60        
          Ask God to cleanse your heart of all wrong attitudes. . . (anger, bitterness,        unforgiveness, hate, revenge).
          In faith ASK God to heal your heart . . . in the name of Jesus.
 
As God heals your hurts, . . . He will also give you a tender heart that . . . will be sensitive to the hurts of others. 
 
Finally, if you have wounds and not scars, you are not, . . . nor can you function normally in your life and in the church.
 
It cannot be.
 
Let me add one more thing to the mix:  The prayer of faith.
 
The Bible tells us in the Book of James that the prayer of faith will heal the sick.