Saturday, December 4, 2010


After an especially hard and hurtful day at the office, a worn out, discouraged business man wrote his letter of resignation.

He wrote, “I am hereby officially tendering my resignation as an adult. I have decided I would like to accept the responsibilities of an 8 year old again.

I want to go to McDonald's and think that it's a four star restaurant. I want to sail sticks across a fresh mud puddle and make a sidewalk with rocks.

I want to think M & M's are better than money because you can eat them. I want to lie under a big oak tree and run a lemonade stand with my friends on a hot summer day.

I want to return to a time when life was simple; when all you knew were colors, multiplication tables and nursery rhymes, but that didn't bother you, because you didn't know what you didn't know as you didn't care. All you knew was to be happy because you were blissfully unaware of all the things that should make you worried or upset.

I want to think the world is fair. That everyone is honest and good. I want to believe that anything is possible. I want to be oblivious to the complexities of life and be overly excited by the little things again.

I want to live simple again. I don't want my day to consist of computer crashes, mountains of paperwork, depressing news, how to survive more days in the month than there is money in the bank, doctor bills, gossip, illness and loss of loved ones. I want to believe in the power of smiles, hugs, a kind word, truth, justice, peace, dreams, the imagination, mankind, and making angels in the snow.

So, here's my checkbook and my car keys, my credit card bills and my 401k statements. I am officially resigning from adulthood.”

Have you ever felt like that business man?

Do you ever feel like hope is almost lost? That you are going to never see better days?

Christmas is supposed to be the most marvelous time of the year, but it can also be the most miserable time of the year for those who are hurting and just can’t find the strength to go on. God wants you to know that He is with you in the midst of your suffering. You are not alone.

God speaks to you today through the Prophet Isaiah and wants you to know He understands what you are going through. He promises that if you wait on Him and trust Him you will find your strength renewed.

Let’s look at what God has to say through His Word about how He comforts you in the midst of hurting.


No matter the problem, pain, pressure you are facing right now, God cares and is concerned with the things that concern you.

Being a child of God does not exempt you from hurting, difficult times.

Avery Willis who wrote Masterlife recently died and is with the Lord in heaven now after going through many months of suffering from cancer and Leukemia. He gave one of his greatest witness that God gives grace even in the midst of our most difficult times prior to his death. He was one of the Southern Baptists finest Christian leaders.

The people in Isaiah’s day were living as if God didn’t exist. They had strayed far from His will, His ways, His worship and they had paid a heavy price for it. They would end up being enslaved by their enemies, Babylon.

Israel’s rebellion and rejection of God had cost them deeply. It never pays to turn away from God.

The Preacher’s Outline and Sermon Bible states, “…in the distant future, Judah and its beloved capital, Jerusalem, would fall to Babylon. Tragically, the citizens would suffer the horrors of defeat and slavery. Most of the survivors would be deported and exiled, scattered throughout the Babylonian Empire.

The people of Judah would lose everything: their homes, property, wealth, communities, cities, nation, worship centers, and their beloved temple in Jerusalem. And they would be gripped by piercing grief, because many of their husbands would be slaughtered by the invading army. Everyone would be destitute, and a spirit of hopelessness and despair would continually flood their hearts.

But in the midst of the Jews hardship and sorrow, the Lord gave them a wonderful promise. The day was coming when they would be comforted and set free from their captivity to Babylon and from sin and death.

God had made a promise to save His people and He would keep it. Through His power and the promised Messiah, God’s prophecy of comfort and freedom would be fulfilled. His people would be set free from their captivity to Babylon and from their enslavement to sin and death.”
As you hurt today, always know God sees, knows, cares. Don’t turn FROM the Lord, to TOWARDS the Lord.


God declares, “Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” Says your God. “Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her, that her warfare is ended…” (Isaiah 40:1-2a)

God’s Word of comfort brings you peace, today.

Comfort does not necessarily mean that you will not have unpleasant times, but that you will have the Presence of the Lord with you.

One of my best pastoral friends has had the most difficult, demanding year of his life. The pain in his back has been excruciating. He has been countless times to the doctor for injections, counsel, relief, only to find little to no comfort.

I asked him what has been his comfort in the midst of his pain. He said, “My faith in God. God has never abandoned me. When I’m powerless to do anything for God, God has been powerful to be with me.”

The hurting that you are facing today, God is with you through it all.

Jesus spoke these comforting words, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.” (John 14:16)


One of the primary sins that had Israel in trouble was failure to obey God in His call to be a light to the surrounding Gentile nations.

Isaiah calls for obedience to the mission command of the Lord, “Go forth from Babylon! Flee from the Chaldeans! With a voice of singing, Declare, proclaim this, Utter it to the ends of the earth; Say, “The Lord has redeemed His servant Jacob!” (Isaiah 48:20).

God Himself declares, “Speak comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry to her, that her warfare has ended, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” (Isaiah 40:2)

Israel received the exact discipline she needed from the Lord. God does deal with His people who remain in sin.

A bulletin blooper stated, “The Senior Choir invites any member of the congregation who enjoys SINNING to join the choir.”

The reason you and I have full pardon from sins penalty, power, and one day presence is because of the price the Lord Jesus Christ paid on the cross of Calvary.

The Apostle Paul writes, “In Him (Jesus) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” (Ephesians 1:7)


Rev. Todd M. Kindle shares, “When a king was to visit a region or a city it would be announced well in advance so that the people could prepare the way for him, making the roads worthy of His presence.

The coming of the king was not a one day event. It was an extended season of time of unfolding revelation. Here, the way is made smooth, clear, level, and straight as is characteristic of God’s holiness, purity, and righteousness. When He comes, He will come in the fullness of His glory and nothing will get in His way.”

John the Baptist would come and prepare the way for the coming Messiah to enter the earth. John called people to turn away from their sins and be baptized.

Just as John preached faithfully the truth of God’s Word, calling people to turn away from their old life and exhorting people to new life, preparing people to know and walk with the Savior, God calls each of us as His people to prepare our lives for the coming again of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

You are not going to live forever on this earth. You are temporary, God is everlasting.

There was a tombstone on which was engraved: Pause now, stranger as you pass by; As you are now, so once was I. As I am now, so soon you’ll be. Prepare yourself to follow me! Someone had placed a piece of wood next to the tombstone. On it was written, To follow you I’m not content, Until I know Which way you went!


Our worship leader, Tim Chapman, shared with the choir this past week that we were hoping to have live lamb on our Christmas stage. However, the cost for the was too expensive.

Tim asked the owner about having just one lamb.
The owner replied, “You do not want to have just one lamb. It will cry and cry if it is all alone. It must have another close by to be comfortable.”

Isaiah writes of our Lord’s shepherding presence, “He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom. And gently lead those who are with young.” (Isaiah 40:11)

Micah brings these assuring words, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.” Therefore He shall give them up, Until the time that she who is in labor has given birth; Then the remnant of His brethren Shall return to the children of Israel. And He shall stand and feed His flock In the strength of the LORD, In the majesty of the name of the LORD His God; And they shall abide, For now He shall be great To the ends of the earth; And this One shall be peace.” (Micah 5:2-5)

What will a good shepherd do? Among other important duties, he will:

 Keep the Sheep Together
 Protect the Sheep from Potential Enemies
 Guide the Sheep to Green Pastures
 Comfort the Sheep with His Presence
 Guide the Sheep through Difficult Valleys

Jesus describes Himself as the Good Shepherd.

Jesus states, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)

Jesus declares, “As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.” (John 10:15)

A friend of mine struggled for years with alcohol, was a terrible father, example, husband, etc. Nevertheless, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, did not give up on him.

God continually showed his everlasting, shepherding love through faithful, loving Christians who lived out the comforting mission of their Shepherd.

Today, because of our Great Shepherd, this man’s life is totally changed. His marriage is restored and his life has meaning, purpose because of his relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ.

One of the greatest ministries God calls you to is the ministry of comforting, encouraging others. Who needs your comforting presence today?

The Apostle John shares of a future day, “And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:13-17)


To Israel, God seemed so small and her problems seemed so large.

To help His people with their perspective, God asks His downtrodden people.

“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand. Measured heaven with a span. And calculated the dust of the earth in a measure? Weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?” (Isaiah 40:12)

“Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, or as his counselor taught Him?” (Isaiah 40:13)

“With whom did He take counsel, and who instructed Him, and taught Him in the path of justice? Who taught Him knowledge, and showed Him the way of understanding?” (Isaiah 40:14)

“To whom will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare to Him?” (Isaiah 40:18)

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?” (Isaiah 40:21)

Speaking of the Lord, Isaiah says, “It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.” (Isaiah 40:22)

Two Harvard astronomers have discovered a “great wall” of galaxies that they estimate to be 500 million light-years long, 200 million light-years wide, and 15 million light-years thick. (One light-year is 5.88 trillion miles.)

God created all of those galaxies and sustains everything that exists by His powerful hands. Yet that same mighty God, the one and only God, uses those hands to gently touch the lives of suffering men and women.

The Psalmist describes our great God, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He counts the number of the stars. He calls them by name. GREAT is our Lord, and mighty in power. His understanding is infinite.” Psalm 147:3-4.

The God of the galaxies is the Great Physician who lovingly ministers to our needs.


Todd Linn explains, “The meaning of the word “wait” there is much like we use it today when in a restaurant. We come into the restaurant and we sit down. After a few moments, a “waiter” comes over to our table. He may even say, “My name is John and I will be ‘waiting’ on you.”

What he means is that he is going to be serving you, coming into the room periodically, looking at you expectantly, seeing if there is anything he can do.

That is why, in helping us understand the meaning of the phrase, “wait on the LORD,” the Amplified Bible offers the parenthetical words, “expect, look for, and hope in Him.”

To “wait on the LORD” means we do something. It is an active term. We turn to Him, we look up to Him, we place our faith in Him.

The word “renew” there is a word that is best translated here as “exchange.” Those who, when they become stressed, go to God, will “renew,” will “exchange” their dwindling strength which has become faint and weary with God’s strength, the God who never faints or becomes weary.

This is precisely why we must, we must, turn to God and be empowered by the God Who strengthens us. Exchange your strength for God’s.

And when you do, you will “mount up with wings like eagles, you will run and not be weary, you will walk and not faint.” Why? Because you will be flying, running, and walking in the strength of God rather than the strength of man.

Author Carl Sandberg shared honestly, “There is an eagle in me that wants to soar, and there is a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud.”

Practically, how can you “wait on the LORD?” Here are four ways:

The first way is through PRAYER. Spend time with Him with God in prayer.

The second way is through spending time in the WORD OF GOD. Open His love letter, the Bible, and let it speak to your heart. The Bible is not going to do much for your life if all it does is sit on your shelf and collect dust.

Isaiah declares the power of God’s Word, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)

The writer of Hebrews reminds us, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword…” (Hebrews 4:12)

Nothing feeds your soul more than finding time each day to let God’s Word speak to your heart.

The third way to wait on the Lord is through offering PRAISE TO THE LORD. God inhabits the praises of His people.

God said, “This people I have formed for Myself; They shall declare My praise.” (Isaiah 43:21)

The fourth way to wait on the Lord is to be led by the HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD.

The Apostle Paul writes, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” Romans 8:14

If you will “wait upon Him,” turning to Him, looking up to Him, expectantly and you feel the pressures of life crowding in around you, God will exchange your strength for His.

Pastor James Merritt gave this illustration, “In storms, most birds fly away. However, the eagle seems to long for the storm. The thermal under-drafts of the storm cause the eagle to soar higher and higher than it can under normal conditions.

The storm also compels the eagle to fly higher and faster. Normally an eagle can fly about 50 miles per hour. But when he is in the strong wind currents of a storm he can fly up to nearly 100 miles per hour. The eagle uses the turbulent winds to stay up longer because, rather than using his own strength, he uses the strength of the winds, and he glides through the air.”

George Dye shares his testimony of how God comforted his family through the hurting times, “My son Russell was downsized from FedEx after 24 1/2 years. He was out of work for a year. He lost his home through foreclosure. He and his wife Kathy came to live with us. Because of the distance of his work, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Alaska, we have had little meaningful time of fellowship. We were able to work through some of the past issues of his childhood, re-bond, and have our relationship strengthened. Russell and Kathy have found solid jobs and have recently been promoted to Jackson, Mississippi. After being out of church for several years, they are now back in church and are renewing their relationship with the Lord.”

God sometimes uses crisis to help us give our best testimony. Or a crisis may be used to bring us back closer to the Lord as in the case of my son.”

God is there for you in the midst of your hurting. He offers you His Sympathaizing, Shepherding, Sustaining, and Strengthening Presence.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd and He is calling your name today. Come and give your life to Him.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Five Truths About the Power of Sin

Joshua 7 & 8

Intro: It was only a little comma, but it cost the Lockheed corporation millions of dollars! An error was made in a contract with an international customer—a misplaced comma in a crucial number. The company insisted that the manufacturer honor the contract as written. Unfortunately for Lockheed, the error was made in an equation that adjusted the sales price, and it cost them $70 million. – Our Daily Bread; "People who say that small things don't bother them have never slept in a room with a mosquito." --Dennis Rainey;

God had given His people a miraculous victory at the mighty Jericho, but a much smaller city, Ai, brought tremendous defeat.

1. Sin Is Often Rooted In Your Overconfidence
A. It’s a good thing to be confident, if your confidence is found in the Lord. Israel had just experienced a miraculous victory at Jericho and thought a much smaller and weaker Ai would be no problem. Wrong!
B. Yesterday’s victory does not guarantee today’s victory. Ex. When I was at the height of my golf game, I was pretty good. Not great, but I could hold my own. In the City Championship I played a man by the name of Clayton Gibbons. One look at him and I thought – “I’ve got this guy easy.” He was very overweight, his clothes were out of date and wrinkled, his clubs and bag looked like they were from the 1940’s. After we reached the 13th hole, Clayton had won the match. I let his appearance fool me; deceived by outward appearances, too confident in myself.
C. After a major victory is won, look out that you remember the One who gave you the victory! 1 Corinthians 10:12, “…let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”
D. Overconfidence in self causes you to think you are the source of victory, when God is! Ex. “I can watch check out this site, it’s not that bad.” Ex. “I don’t have to file my taxes with integrity, the government won’t miss anything.” Ex. “That person that showers me with so much attention at work, it’s all right. We are just friends after all. I’m too faithful to the Lord to ever let something like an extra-marital affair take me down.” I heard a pastor declare that the sin that is tearing down the church of Jesus Christ faster than any other is…ALCOHOL? No. HOMESEXUALITY? No. ABORTION? No. He said, “It’s the sin of gossip.”
E. Remember, normally it’s not the big things that tear you down, but the small compromises that are outside of God’s will.
F. Look at Joshua and the Israelites. Before Jericho, Joshua had sought God’s plan and power through prayer. No mention of prayer here. Before they had waited on God’s Word to bring them victory. No word from the Lord here on how they could just walk in and defeat Ai. READ JOSHUA 7:3, “Don’t weary the people, for the people of Ai are few.”
G. You may look tall and mighty, but the small things want to take you down in a major way! Replace self confidence with God confidence. Begin to admit to God your need for Him first thing in the morning, not half-way through the day when the battle is raging! Shove aside thoughts that say, “You don’t need to study, prayer, seek godly counsel, etc.” Sometimes, Christians say, “The Devil can’t do anything to me.” 1 Peter 5:8
H. It’s not wrong to be confident in yourself as long as that confidence is rooted in God’s grace and mercy. The Apostle Paul said, “But by the grace of God I am what I am.”

2. Sin Damages Those Close to You
A. Ex. Darren Evans, the UGA Athletic Director, lost his integrity, $550,000 salary, family, shed bad light on the UGA Athletic program recently (DUI, driving with a lady not married to). Ex. Football season is coming up. When one player on that offensive line messes up and goes offside, it makes the whole team go backward.
B. A MLB baseball player this week from the FL Marlins went to throw a pie on his teammates face after the game; player throwing pie wound up tearing up his knee; that’s not going to help his team out any.
C. What do you do when someone falls into sin? Do you begin to think, “Boy, they sure deserved that.” Or do you think, “Lord, strengthen me to resist sin. Without your help and power, I’ll fall, too.”
D. Another fact of the power of sin is that it damages those close to you. 36 lives lost at Ai! Hearts once courageous, now cowards because the Presence and power of the Lord was no longer with them. Ai means “ruins.” Sin ruins everything in life. Relationships, Homes, Churches, Countries, etc.
D. Your sin doesn’t only impact your life, but those around you as well. Several years ago Pastor Ted Haggard was removed from his pulpit because he was living a lie. Being a pastor does not mean you are so holy, you are beyond temptation. Sin weakens you…weakens the church.
E. Instead of moving forward strong in God, strong in His will, Word, etc., sin weakens and takes the heart out of you. Read Joshua 7:5
F. Randy Alcorn, author of Heaven, made a long list of personalized consequences of immorality. A few items listed Randy shared: Grieving my Lord; displeasing the One whose opinion most matters; Having to one day look Jesus in the face at the judgment seat and give an account of why I did it. Suffering of innocent people around me who would get hit by my shrapnel (a la Achan). Untold hurt to Nanci, my best friend and loyal wife. Loss of Nanci’s respect and trust. Hurt to and loss of credibility with my beloved daughters, Karina and Angela; Disqualifying myself after having preached to others. Bringing great pleasure to Satan, the Enemy of God. Heaping judgment and endless problems on the person I would have committed adultery with.

3. Sin Causes You to Doubt God’s Goodness
A. God is always leading you in the very best direction, though you may not see it now in the physical realm.
B. Ex. Before attending NOBTS, I was not sure if that was where the Lord wanted me to go. I went to my room and begin searching Scripture. After a while the Lord led me to Psalm 32:8, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go.” That was God’s promise to me, “Go, I will be with you, teach you, instruct you.” It was really a matter of trust in the Lord. Had I not trusted God, would not have married Amy, had 3 tremendous children, been a part of this church, etc.
C. A hard lesson to learn is that of trusting God, especially when you are facing a major trial, test, temptation, etc. Ex. At a very weak point in my life, I backed out on God’s call, began to pursue “My will” over “His will.” That is why I thank God so much for faithful men of God who preach the uncompromised Gospel of Jesus Christ! At Alpine Baptist Church, God used the preaching of David Flemming and Stephen Trammell to get me back on track!
D. Perhaps you’ve gotten away from seeking the Lord in private, passionate daily prayer. The enemy has gotten in and said, “You are nothing but a failure! You’ll never have that walk with Jesus like you once had. You’ll never be able to overcome that sin, go ahead and give in again. Your marriage will never be what it should be, so live it up.” The enemy is a liar, but God never lies!
E. When Ai defeated the Israelites, Joshua began to doubt the goodness of God. He tore his clothes, put dirt on his head, got before the Ark, had a coming to Jesus meeting! You can just hear Joshua praying, “God, are You trying to destroy us? God, we should never have come across the Jordan! God, the enemy is taking us down! God, we are going to be toasted! God, what in the world are you going to do about this?”
F. Prayer should be your first resort not last! Ex. Stephen Olford, “Pray when you feel like it, pray when you don’t feel like it. If you don’t feel like it, pray until you do!”
G. You can find victory over sin when you go to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:14-15). It’s there where you find mercy, help in time of need!
H. Begin to go back to that daily devotion with the Lord. Ex. “So let us plan with prayerful care to always allocate a certain portion of each day to be still and meditate. For when everything is quite and we’re lost in meditation, our souls are then preparing for a deeper dedication; That will make it wholly possible to quietly endure the violent world around us, for in God we are secure.” – Helen S. Rice

4. Sid Cannot Be Hidden from the Lord
A. You may be able to hide your secret sin from friends, family, fellowship for a while, but you cannot hide from Omnipotence!
B. Don’t wait until you are caught for sin to confess it to the Lord, but do it today! Ecclesiastes 12:14, “For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”
C. Someone might say, “But why the punishment? Why so severe?” Achan had at least five opportunities to come forward and confess, but the only time he confessed was when he was caught red handed. Had Achan simply come forward and admitted his guilt, I believe he would have been pardoned. Yet, something kept him from doing this and it was probably the sin of covetousness in his heart. He had this feeling that it all belonged to him. And that’s one of the reasons today it’s hard to get 99% of people to tithe! They think it’s theirs, when it really belongs to the Lord. In Jericho, God said, Joshua 6:18-19, “And you, by all means abstain from the accursed things, lest you become accursed when you take of the accursed things, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. But all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are consecrated to the Lord; they shall come into the treasury of the Lord.” How would you feel if your children were caught stealing from your next door neighbor? How do you think God feels when His children rob what rightfully belongs to Him. Read Malachi 3:8-10. What is wrong with the church? We love our stuff more than we love our Savior. What’s one of the main problems in America? Love prosperity, possessions more than God.
D. Do you think stuff is going to satisfy your soul? Do you think buying the next I-Pod is going to fill the emptiness on the inside? Didn’t Jesus say in Luke 12:15, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." Ex. Money Talks. A recent book entitled The Day America Told the Truth reported on a survey asking adults what they would be willing to do for ten million dollars. One out of four respondents said they would abandon their entire family, and almost that many (23%) said they would become prostitutes for a week for that kind of pay off. About 16% said they would be willing to leave their husband or wife and 3% would put their children up for adoption. —Discipleship Journal
E. One of the truths of sin’s power is that it cannot be hidden from the Lord. What would have happened if Achan could have caught a glimpse of what God was about to do just around the corner? What if he would have felt more confident in God’s provision. What about you? God won’t withhold anything good from those that walk uprightly.
F. Note the progression of Achan’s sin – He saw, coveted, took. Same thing that happened with Eve in the Garden – saw, covet, took. David with Batsheba – saw, covet, took. Believer, what are you looking at today? Does the Word of God hold your attention or the things of this world? The world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” 1 John 2:17
F. Never forget, God does not take sin lightly. It cost Jesus His life blood to save sinners like you and me! Ex. He paid a debt, He did not owe. I owed a debt I could not pay. I needed someone to wash my sins away. Now I sing, a brand new song, Amazing Grace, all day long. Christ Jesus paid a debt, that I could never pay!”

5. Sin Brings Defeat, But God Is Eager to Bring You Victory

A. Joshua 8:1-2, “Now the LORD said to Joshua: “Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; take all the people of war with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land. 2 And you shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king. Only its spoil and its cattle you shall take as booty for yourselves. Lay an ambush for the city behind it.”
B. You have known some defeats in your life, and the devil would love nothing for you more than to wallow in those defeats. He wants you to stay discouraged and defeated. God’s people had made a tragic mistake of underestimating the enemy and presuming upon God’s favor.
C. Once sin had been dealt with, God’s people were in position to hear God’s Word and obey. God said (Dave paraphrase), “You are going to have victory, where you once had defeat!”
D. Failure is not final for the child of God! Like the Apostle Paul, you might be knocked down, but you are not knocked out!
E. Alexander Whytle, “No matter what mistake we make, the worst mistake of all is not to try again, for the victorious Christian life is a series of new beginnings.”
F. Today is the first Sunday in August and 8 in the Bible stands for new beginnings. Refuse to let the failure of yesterday keep you from following Jesus as Lord today!

Action Points: 1. What Ai has defeated you recently? Lying, Gossip, Stewardship (not honoring the Lord with tithes and offerings), prayerless days and nights, pride and presumption? Confess it today and let God give you a new beginning of victory in Him. 2. You may feel too defeated to even accept Christ as Savior. He came for the broken, calling sinners to repentance and faith. He will accept you if you come to Him. He loves you so much He accepts you just as you are; He loves you too much to let you stay that way!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

When You Face Tremendous Obstacles

Joshua 3 & 4

Intro: What tremendous obstacle are you facing this morning? Share telephone call from Wayne Patton about Luke having cancer; our kids were out in the yard running like crazy. We broke down in prayer over the phone. Praise the Lord, Luke Patton is cancer free today! You are going to face tremendous obstacles in life. The Bible teaches there is no obstacle to big for the Lord. What do you do when you face tremendous obstacles?


A. Joshua is about to lead the people out of their 40 years of wilderness wanderings into the Promised Land! You need to show that same spirit of devotion to the Lord if you are going to live the life of victory that awaits.
B. Devotion - World Cup Soccer, Lebron James, Tim Tebow, the Biggest Loser on TV
C. How do you know you are fully devoted to the Lord?
1. You are a devoted to prayer (Josh. 3:1) – Prayerful people have learned they cannot make it on their own. They need God. The number one priority in your life is your personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you have a daily time of prayer? Just tell God you love Him and thank Him for who He is and all He’s done. Ex. When you’re faced with a busy day, save precious time by skipping your devotions. Signed, Satan.
Quest: Who or what has your full devotion this morning? God desires and deserves to have your total devotion. Why? He’s Boss. Try going to your boss Monday morning and saying, “Here is your work for the day; assignments I want done by 4 PM!” In reality it’s the opposite. The Boss sets the agenda! You don’t tell Him what to do, He tells you! Many Christians believe they are supposed to tell God what they want to do and then ask Him to bless.
2. You are devoted to obedience to the Lord (Josh. 3:2-3). Obedience to the Lord is what brings the blessing of God. Obedience to the Lord is not always easy, but what’s the alternative? Death, Defeat, Discouragement. What kind of testimony do you want to leave behind? Millions of God’s people had died in the wilderness because they did not walk with God in obedient faith. Hebrews 3:15-19; What could be a sweeter gift to the Lord and to your family that you loved God with full devotion. Ex. Jen Patton, “I devote my whole life to the Lord daily.” Your devotion to the Lord can change your family, church, relationships, etc. Joshua 3:3, “go after it”; What did the Israelites crossing over the Jordan into Canaan represent? It represents victorious Christian living! Victory in the Christian life comes by surrender and obedience to the Lord. God has brought you out of a life of sin (wilderness) and into a life of devotion and service to the One who rescued you. He brings you out of a life of sin and into a life of worshipful service.
3. You are devoted to spiritual preparation. (Josh. 3:4-5). Do you prepare yourself for God’s best? When I think of devotion it’s similar to a strong marriage. Ex. Amy and I preparing for marriage (pastoral counseling, pure, prayed, sought parents blessing), etc. We did our best to prepare ourselves, yet still find that marriage is an adventure! The enemy will do all he can to make you angry, bitter, selfish, etc. The key to is stay totally devoted to one another under the Lordship of Jesus! No one else can have me, just Amy Cook. Just as I’m set apart for Amy alone, I am set apart to the Lord alone. “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” Set apart; “Refiner’s fire, my hearts one desire is to be holy, set apart for you, Lord, choose to be holy, set apart for You, My Master, ready to do Your will.”
4. You are devoted to His Lordship. (Josh. 3:3, 3:6). “Ark.” The Ark represented His Presence. When you face tremendous obstacles, remember His Presence is always with you. Three important items were inside the Ark of the Covenant. The Pentateuch (first 5 books of the Bible); You must remember God’s Word! The second item that was inside the Ark was a jar of manna – remind them of God’s provision. God will take care of you daily. God gave His people manna every day to eat. The third item in the Ark of Covenant was Aaron’s rod; You remember in the wilderness, God’s people began to rebel, each rod of the leader of 12 tribes were placed near the Holy of Holies; It was Aaron’s rod that flowered and had almonds on it; God declared loud and clear that Aaron was to be the priest in Israel. Pentateuch rep. His Principles, Manna rep. His provision, and the Rod represented His Power. Ark rep. His Presence.
D. When you face life’s tremendous obstacles, devote yourself fully to the Lord!


A. You are facing an obstacle this morning, you don’t know how to get to the other side, but God does! They had not gone this way before, but God had! Ex. This week I had to let God bring me through a tough situation; Nathan’s Soccer and Assistant soccer coach quit! Now I’m the head coach? I didn’t know the plan, but man I was depending on God!
B. God gave Joshua the instructions as to what they were to do (Joshua 3:8).
C. They had to trust God’s plan and not their own. So many times you miss out on God’s best b/c you try to get ahead of God instead of letting Him lead. Are you doing things your way or God’s way? God says, “Bring the tithe to me.” You say, “God, You just don’t understand!” God may say, “Step out and share your faith,” You say, “Don’t know what to say.” God may say, “Rejoice in Me today,” You say, “God, I don’t feel like it.”
D. Stick with God’s plan. Everything you are going through may say, “Your way is the best way.” You’ve got to be willing to let God lead you through!
E. When I was in college, my dad battled with prostate cancer. This was something we had never dealt with. God saw all of us through it. When we were shaky, God was the Rock!
F. God often requires you to step out in faith trusting Him! How many times do you want the Lord to do everything and you do nothing? Often He requires you to make a move based on what He’s already said! God, make me lose 10 pounds – “make the first step and walk every day.” God, make my marriage better! “OK, write wife love note.” God, I want a full Christian life.” OK, make that call, be baptized, forgive your enemy. God, make the church better. OK, train the people, go knock on a door, plan for revival.
G. What God says to you may not make sense to you, but He’s trying to bring you to the Promised land! Josh. 3:15, “Now it was harvest season,” Jordan’s banks were overflowing; God chose to lead them across when river was at it’s highest stage!
H. “Got any rivers you think are uncrossable? Got any mountains you cannot tunnel through? God specializes in things thought impossible; He can do what no other friend can do!”
H. “I don’t have the power!” Israel was powerless to cross the Jordan River. Are you more focused on your powerlessness or God’s power to bring you through? I didn’t have the power to heal my dad, but God did. I didn’t have the power to comfort my mom, but God did!
I. You can’t stop your obstacles in your own strength any more than Israel could make the Jordan stop – but God can!
J. Would there be obstacles in the Promised Land? Yes! Joshua 3:10, “Ites.” What are your “ites” - Family…Finances…Friendships…Fear of future – Cancer, America; Are you focused more on the power of God or the problems?
K. When you face tremendous obstacles, let God bring you through it.


A. Don’t forget all God has done for you.
B. Keep sharing who He is and what’s He’s done with others.
C. We are quick to forget all the great things God has done and long on remembering what hasn’t gone right!
D. The 12 stones would serve as a memorial to the power of God. It’s easy to get discouraged when you forget about God’s amazing grace!
E. Think of the day God saved you, made you new! Think of the day God answered a prayer! He made a way where there was no way!
F. Someone once said, “The greatest enemy of faith may be forgetfulness.” If we forget how God has worked in the past we may not trust Him in the present.
G. The greatest gift God has ever given is His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. He gives you life, forgiveness, strength, hope. He is the One who sees you through life’s tremendous obstacles. He died that you may live! Jesus, our Joshua has freed you from the bondage of sin. Have you let Him lead you into an overcoming Christian life?
H. Psalm 114:5-7, “What ails you, O sea, that you fled back? O Jordan, that you turned back? O mountains, that you skipped like rams? O little hills, like lambs? Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord.”
H. What tremendous obstacles are you facing today? Impossible for you, but possible with God! Sum. 3 points;

Prayer: Thank the Lord for His Leadership, Lordship. Thank Him for His faithfulness! Pray to always follow His Leadership. Lead in public dedication of life to Christ. John 14:6, Jesus, the way, the truth, the life!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

God Can Use You!

Text: Joshua 2:1-24

Intro: We are just beginning a new series in the book of Joshua. God wants you and I to posses the promised land and live the promised life. In the previous sermon, we saw how God helped Joshua overcome his fears. The good news today is that same God is alive and well and can help you and I overcome our fears. Remember he told Joshua (Focus on MY plan, Focus on MY Word, and Focus on MY Faithfulness). God calls us to be a church that majors on Him, majors on His Word, majors on what He wants to do now and in the future.

What the world desperately needs to see today is believers who are living out the promises of God, come what may. Everyone wants the world to straighten up and get better, but it’s going to take first of all, believers bowing before All-Mighty God, saying, “God, let the change begin first in me.” As each of us as a part of the body of Christ says, “God, you are in charge of my life, all that I am I give to everything You are,” that is when we begin to live the promised life.

Illus: When I played Little league baseball, we lost 99% of the games we played in for the first year and a half. The Bad News Bears was a popular movie around that time and people considered our team, the Bad News Realtors. As the second season begin to come to a close our team was beginning to get better. In the last game of the year, we beat the Yankees 18-6, which everyone considered highly unlikely because of our past and they had pummeled us earlier that year.

Prop. Sent: The Bible teaches that God is able to use people in His service most of us would never consider. If you say, “God, you could never use me that matters to anything,” be careful because He may have something mighty special for you!


A. Condition Josh. 2:1-7

1. Of all the people God chooses to work through in a mighty way to demonstrate an active faith, He chooses a prostitute by the name of Rahab.
2. All through the Bible God chooses the weak to shame the wise.
a. Noah – Ark
b. David – slingshot
c. 12 disciples – weak on their own, power through God
d. 120 disciples – all they had was one heart, one mind, one voice to glorify God – they turned the world upside down!
e. The Lord Jesus Christ – looked weak on the cross, yet through His death offers all eternal life!
3. Think for a moment of Rahab’s past.
a. Sinful life – probably full of guilt, shame, fear, etc. Why did I chose this way of life? No one loves me just for who I am.
b. Sinful city – Jericho – this is city that God’s judgment is soon to fall upon. Is the judgment of God about to fall upon America? Ps. 33:12
c. The only hope for a sinful person and a sinful nation is to repent before a Holy God, ask for cleansing, live a godly life, acknowledge the Lord!
4. 40 years God had given to Rahab, Jericho to turn to Him and turn away from sin. How long has God given you? Where would you be today without the love, mercy, forgiveness of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?
5. No matter your condition, the God of Heaven and Earth knows you, loves you, wants you to come to Him for life!
6. Refuse to let what people look on the outside determine whether they are going to follow the Lord or not.
a. On the outside, it appeared Rahab wanted nothing to do with God or God’s people, yet on the inside she had a hunger to know and worship the One True and Living God.
7. Think woman at the well – John 4. She’d had five husbands and was with another man at the time Jesus encountered her. She was thirsty for water which would quench her physical thirst, but also thirsty for the living water which would satisfy her spiritual thirst forever.
a. Remember, what God gives you is so much better than what the world gives!

B. Concealing Joshua 2:2-7
1. Much has been made about Rahab’s lie to protect the spies. Many commentators have shamed her for lying and reasoned God would have made a way for His men to be protected without Rahab’s lie.

ILLUS: Corrie Ten Boom’s family hid Jewish families in their home to protect them from being killed by German soldiers. The Egyptian midwives let the male babies live even after Pharoah ordered all male babies must die. Exodus 1:20, “Therefore God dealt well with the midwives, and the people multiplied and grew very mighty. And so it was because the midwives feared God, that He provided households for them.”

2. Rahab had a choice to make- she could (1) turn God’s men over to the king of Jericho or (2) seek to protect God’s men to honor the King of Heaven.
3. Hebrews 11:31, “By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.”
4. James 2:25, “Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?”
5. Those that posses the promised life are going to be those who choose to put God’s will above their own.
6. Had those spies found the Israelite spies, everyone, including Rahab would have lost their lives.
a. Rahab was determined that no matter happened, she would serve the Lord.

C. Confession Josh. 2:8-11
1. I love Rahab’s confession of faith because she is so focused on who God is and what He’s done.
a. She knew He was the God of Superiority, the God of Strength, the God of salvation.
2. Church, if we want to possess the promised land, never forget the God who is the Lord of heaven and earth is the One who worship and follow!
3. Rahab knew that if she did not believe God, she would come under His judgment.
4. God still has a message for the world today and that is the message of the gospel.
a. It is the message of the gospel that tells how God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son to die on the cross for our sins.
b. It is the message that Jesus saves sinners.
c. It is the message that the Lord who died on the cross rose again 3 days later to give life everlasting to those who trust in Him!
d. Perhaps you know the fear of unbelief, but the sweet joy of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior!

ILLUS: Pastor Jack Graham tells of a speaking engagement in Philadelphia he made recently and slipping downtown to Independence Hall to reflect on the founding of our nation. He said, “As you move around the historical sites of that city you see the Word of God everywhere. It’s etched on buildings and even on the Liberty Bell itself, which says, “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof,” (Leviticus 25:10). Scriptures are forever written into the history, the heart, and fabric of America. You see, the early Americans were patriots, but they were also believers. Those who settled this nation came here to advance the Christian faith and to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ. But we have to admit that America has strayed far from those years of patriotism and spiritual revolution. In fact, it’s time for a spiritual revolution, a new American revolution that would help transform our culture and our country.”


A. Concern Josh. 2:12-13
1. As soon as Rahab knows God is going to take care of her safety, she wants her family to be safe from the judgment of God as well.
2. One sign that you are saved is that you want others to know the God of salvation as well!

ILLUS: Christianity is unquestionably a personal experience. It is also unquestionably not a private experience. —William Barclay

3. Always remember, it’s not about what you’ve done for God, but it’s about what God’s done for you. You don’t have to try and clean up people’s lives, that’s His job, your job is to share.
4. All around us people are hurting, hopeless, and without Jesus they are on their way to hell.
a. Rahab didn’t say, “Thank you God for saving my life, let everyone else fall under your judgment.” She did say, “God, you’ve saved my life, use me to bring others to safety in You.”
5. You never know how (what you think) is a little witness for Jesus, might change someone’s life forever.
6. To posses the promised land means you allow God to make your life a living ministry to others.
a. Many of you recently allowed the Lord to make you a minister to the kids at VBS and there was great joy in that because it was all about sharing the love of Jesus Christ with kids.


A. Covenant Josh. 2:15-23
1. Never underestimate what faith in the Living God can do!
2. It was not Rahab’s faith in herself, but Rahab’s faith in a great God that made all the difference.
3. Knowing the city of Jericho would be demolished in the very near future, Rahab asks for mercy.
4. God’s men say, “…bind this line of scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down.”
5. What does that scarlet cord represent to you and I today? It represents the blood of Jesus Christ.
6. The blood of Jesus Christ delivers us today from the wrath of God just as the scarlet cord would signify Rahab’s deliverance.
a. What do you need today for deliverance and safety?
b. Some would say, “More money,” “More education,” “Better government.”
7. The greatest need in my life and in America today is to apply the blood of Jesus Christ to our sin stained lives.
8. Hebrews 9:22, "Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin."

ILLUS: I used to think it strange that the Bible keeps talking about the cleansing power of the blood (1 Peter 1:2). It seemed to me that blood was messy stuff. I needed to wash my white lab coats if they became stained with blood. Today, I love the analogy; it is so true of the body. The blood is constantly cleansing every cell, and washing away all the debris that accumulates all the time. I like Paul’s phrase in Hebrews 9:14 KJV, “How much more shall the blood of Christ purge your conscience from dead works?” —Dr. Paul Brand

9. If you and I are to be people who posses the promised life God has for us, there’s going to be trust in the power of the blood of Jesus Christ to both free us from the penalty of sin, the power of sin, and one day the very presence of sin!
10. The blood of Christ not only has the power to save you, but to sanctify you, make you holy day by day!

B. Confidence Josh. 2:22-24
1. The story of Rahab shows us that God can use anyone’s life that believes and trusts Him.
a. God includes people in His family we wouldn’t normally think would be there!
2. Eventually, Rahab would marry a believer named Salmon. Together, they have a son named Boaz, who is the grandfather of Jesse. Who was Jesse’s son? David, the greatest king over Israel.
3. Who was David’s great, great grandmother? A woman by the name of Rahab!

ILLUS: To this day, on Israel’s flag is the Star of David, who had the blood of
Rahab flowing through his veins.

4. What could be more impressive than being in King David’s line? In Matthew 1:5, we find Rahab in the genealogy of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!
5. On July 4th, 1776, our Founding Father’s signed a document declaring our independence from British rule. In declaring our independence, we declared our dependence upon Almighty God.
6. There is an enemy that would love to steal, kill, and destroy everything good and godly about your life. Yet, the Lord Jesus came declaring the good news, “I have come that you may have life and life to the full” (John 10:10).

Conclusion: God used Rahab, a former prostitute, to show us that He can bring anyone into His family and transform into His wonderful servants. Today is the day to declare, “I am trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for safety, salvation, and to make me His useful servant.”

Friday, July 2, 2010

Find Freedom From Your Fears

Joshua 1

INTRO: Top Fears People Face…1. Speaking in front of a group 2. Heights 3. Insects and bugs, financial problems and deep water 4. Sickness 5. Death 6. Flying 7. Loneliness 8. Dogs…Most of the fears we face every day are not based on facts, rather our own feelings. A popular University of Michigan study showed 60 percent of our fears are totally unwarranted; they never come to pass. 20 percent of our fears are focused on our past, which is completely out of our control. 10 percent of our fears are based on things so petty that they make no difference in our lives. Of the remaining 10 percent, only 4 to 5 percent could be considered justifiable. —Dennis Wattley, Seeds of Greatness, (Revell, 1983). Fear and unbelief kept God’s people out of the promised land and only Joshua and Caleb were able to enter because of their faith in God’s promises.


1. Just as God had a purpose and plan for Joshua and the people of God, God also has a plan for your life and this church. 2. It’s easy to look at powerful people like Josh and say, “God sure had a plan for him,” how can He have a plan for me? Jer. 29:11; I didn’t know that I marry Amy, have 3 awesome kids, be pastor of CWBC, but it was part of God’s plan. 3. God’s plan is for His people to move fwd with Him in faith. Are you growing as a believer? Do you know more of His leadership in your life today than you did a year ago? 4. This summer, God is leading us to refocus on what is truly important to Him. He’s calling us to move on up in our spiritual growth. That means learning to put the past in the past and preparing for the new. Read Joshua 1:1-2. God gives us time to mourn and weep, but not forever. I get the feeling the Lord had to put it like this because God’s people needed to wake up to reality. John B. “Life goes on. Face reality. The man is dead. The job is yours. Get on with it.” Too many churches wish for the past when God is up to something in the present! I’m amazed at how many homes, children, young families there are in this community. Many do not know X as Savior. Frustrated, Fearful, Failures, Fainting, etc. Just b/c people take vacation for the summer doesn’t mean we take a vacation from pointing people to Jesus Christ. 5. Let’s use this summer to prepare for promised land living! 6. Jsh was born into slavery in Egypt and his parents named him Hoshea, meaning, “salvation.” Moses changed his name to Joshua, “Jehovah is salvation.” Numbers 27:16-20 7. The Lord saves us to be a people who are followers of His plan. W.Wiersbe says, “The Book of Joshua is the book of new beginnings for the people of God and many believers today need a new beginning. After 40 yrs of wandering in the wilderness, Israel claimed their inheritance and enjoyed the blessings of the land God had prepared for them, “as the days of heaven upon the earth” (Dt. 11:21). That’s the kind of life God wants us to experience today. Jesus Christ, our Joshua, wants to lead us in conquest now and share with us all the treasures of His wonderful inheritance. He has blessed us with all spiritual blessings, but too often we live like defeated paupers.” 8. As a church family, we must focus more on God’s plan over our own. 9. Find freedom from you fear means you an obedient servant of the Lord like Joshua. 10. There was land to conquer, giants to face, new ground to gain as God’s people began to enter the promised land, they were entering where they’d never been before and this required they stayed focused on God’s leadership in their lives and putting God’s plan first. 11. Fear kept God’s people out of the promised land for 40 years (Numbers 13:30-14:2). The victorious Christian life is about learning to be a conqueror through Christ (Romans 8:35-39). God’s best is that you learn to overcome all the enemies this world has that would keep you from entering His rest! To find freedom from the fears that would keep you from God’s best means you focus on His plan.


How many hours per day do you watch TV, surf the net, text message, worry about the future? Do you spend the majority of your time filling your life with the bad news or the good news of God’s truth? Many people fear surrendering their lives to the Lord b/c they do not know His truth. They think He will destroy all their happiness, but He comes to give them fullness of joy (John 15:11). They think He wants to judge them, but He died on a cross to save them from judgment (John 3:17). They think that if they follow Christ, life will be miserable, but it will be abundant (John 10:10). To find freedom from your fears means you are going to focus on God’s truth, not your fears. It means you are going to be thinking of His Word more and your worries less! Read Josh 1:3 – God’s already been where you are going! John B. “The fear of tomorrow can be as crippling as slavery to the past, but God is already in your tomorrow.”
Josh. 1:8 2. How can I focus on God’s truth? Acts 17:11, 18:24. Make a commitment that you are going to be in God’s truth DAILY and you are going to become MIGHTY in the Word. Make a commitment today that you are going to read God’s Word cover to cover once/yr for the rest of your life. The more I study God’s Word, the more I realize this is an inexhaustible book! Josh 1:8; Psa 1:2. Recite them over & over. Pray about what they teach. Keep them in forefront of your mind throughout day. Like rolling hard candy around in mouth. Renewing your mind this way will transform you: Rom 12:2. 3. Please understand that your adversary the devil will do all he can to keep you from living a Word-filled life. The more you let God’s Word dwell in you, the more faith you have, the more strength you have to honor Jesus! 4. What would happen in our church if everyone had the opportunity to become stronger in God’s Word? If we come to God’s Word with an obedient heart first, we’d save ourselves from a lot of heartache. Can you imagine what our church might look like if…everyone obeyed God’s Word to rest and worship instead of continually overloading their schedule? Forgave one another as Christ forgave us? Gave to the Lord from a cheerful heart? Used their spiritual gift faithfully? Witnessed to the lost friends and family in the power of the Holy Spirit? Learned to have victory over enslaving habits through God’s Word? Had marriages and homes where Christ was honored? What has God promised? Forgiveness of sins, H.S. power, access, joy, strength, etc. FOCUS ON HIS TRUTH. Ex. Pete and I always try to put things together w/o reading the instruction manual. We get upset, angry, mad; Amy comes in and begins reading the manual. 15 minutes later we are ready to go! Focusing on God’s truth and following His will enables you to find freedom from your fears!


You will find freedom from you fears as you learn to focus on His faithfulness. Fear sets in when you leave God out of the picture. Faith comes when you remember it’s not about you, but Him working through you (2 Cor. 3). When fear threatens to take over, recall what God has done in your life. How could Joshua be confident? God would be with Him just as He was with Moses (Hebrews 13:5, Matthew 28:20). God is calling us to walk out of the wilderness of defeat and unbelief. The reason you can is b/c God has given you the same promise given to Joshua * Be strong and courageous (v.6) Obey all of God’s laws for living (v.7)*Think often about what God has said (v.8). * Remember that God is with you (v.9). Do you teach Sunday school? You’re a leader. Are you a parent? You’re a leader. Have a job? You’re a leader. Have friends? You’re a leader. No matter who you are, others are looking at you and being influenced by your example. As you think about this awesome responsibility, what should you do? Someone has said that a good leader is one who “knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”You might be fearful to witness - He will give you the words - give - He will provide - serve - He will empower you. I get fearful if I think it's up to me to "get results" in the Christian life, but He is the One who causes growth, saves, etc. I can do anything THROUGH CHRIST who strengthens me. Instead of letting fear keep you from God's best, remember God is the One who will enable you.

Today, you can find freedom from your fears as you focus on His plan, His truth, His faithfulness. All around us are people falling by the side and today is the day to begin the change with God’s help. With God’s help will you be strong and courageous to (1) Give your heart and life to Jesus who gave everything to you? (2) Obey God through baptism, church membership, ministry? The church must move from the wilderness of death to the promised land of faith. Today is the day to stand with the Lord, be brave and strong in this evil day.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

On the Road to Genuine Hope - Matthew 28:1-10

A. How much do you know about some of the events surrounding the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ?
1. At Christ's crucifixion what did the soldiers place on his head? Crown of Thorns
2. For what of Christ's did the soldiers cast lots? Clothes
3. For how many pieces of silver did Judas betray Christ? 30
4. When Jesus died, for how long was there darkness over the land? 3 hours
5. For how long did Jesus remain after his resurrection before he ascended into heaven? 40 days

B. Almost everyone knows Tiger Woods has been the top media story of 2010 – unfortunately not for his golf, but extra-marital affairs. FOX reporter Britt Hume shared on national TV if Tiger Woods truly wanted to start over again, He needed to turn to Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ offers forgiveness and redemption.

1. Forgiveness, redemption, genuine hope – that is what the empty tomb and the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ is all about!

2. With all the hope that is available in a personal relationship with the Risen Savior, sadly most believers and unbelievers do not know how to live a life of genuine hope.

C. For example, I let go of hope when…
1. I doubt my difficult situation will turn around for the better
2. My fear of tomorrow robs me of today’s strength
3. I believe God is out to get me rather than help me
4. My life seems to have no motivating purpose
5. I feel more burned, bummed out than rested, recharged up!
D. There are four choices I must make today to live a life of genuine hope. Because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ I can…


A. We are living in some pretty fearful times in America now – loss of jobs, struggling economy, terrorist threats, health, personal finances, etc.
1. Fear could easily win in our hearts and lives if we leave God of the equation.
2. If you are ever tempted to doubt God’s love, think of Calvary and the empty tomb!
3. Perhaps Jesus could love others who have their act together– but me? Sinful. Struggling. Selfish.

B. Jesus died willingly, sacrificially, lovingly, and triumphantly – through His death, you may live (John 11:15-26).
1. Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us…”
2. No one (on their own) is worthy of God’s unconditional love and acceptance, but Jesus wants a relationship with you not based on your goodness, but His grace!


A. All of the disciples forsook Jesus (Matthew 26:56)
1. They let pride, prayerlessness, people pleasing, etc. get in the way of true commitment to Jesus
2. Can you imagine the shame, disgrace they felt?

B. It’s easy to look back and see the failures of the disciples – how about your failures?
1. Because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ your life does not need to be defined by failures, rather through His complete forgiveness.
2. Ephesians 1:7, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”
3. It is very freeing to know that God is not looking down at your with a sin calculator today, but is longing to give you a fresh start.
4. A very famous sermon is called, “It’s Friday…but Sunday’s coming.”
On Friday, the forces of evil won over the forces of good, every friend and every disciple fled quaking in fear, the Son of God died on a cross. Yes it's Friday, but Sunday's comin'. The disciples who lived through both days, Friday and Sunday, never doubted God again. They had learned that even when God seems absent, he might be closer than ever; when God looks powerless, he might be more powerful than ever; when God looks dead, he might be coming back to life.
They learned that even when it's Friday, Sunday's comin!”
5. What seems hopeless and impossible in your life? Remember Sunday’s comin!’


A. The stone that had been placed over the door of Jesus’ tomb had been rolled away.

B. Why was the stone rolled away?
1. Not to let Jesus out of the tomb.
2. The stone was rolled away not to let Jesus out but to let others in!
a. The women, and later Peter and John, went inside the tomb to verify that it was empty.
b. The empty tomb is powerful proof of Jesus’ resurrection.
3. The stone was rolled away as proof that Jesus conquered death.
Acts 2:24, “…whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.”
A. Many believers live discouraged, dry, defeated lives because they fail to let go of their futile attempts to live victorious lives in their own strength and let the risen living Lord take over and live the victorious life through them by His resurrection power.
B. Galatians 2:20 "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."
C. It is the resurrected Christ living in us that gives us the strength to live victoriously.
D. Martin Luther once was so depressed over a prolonged period that one day his wife came downstairs wearing all black. Martin Luther said, "Who died?" She said, "God has." He said, "God hasn’t died." To which she replied, "Well, live like it and act like it."


A. Without the resurrection of Jesus Christ, there is no hope for everlasting life.
B. Because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we will be reunited with our loved ones in Christ, we will be rewarded for our faithfulness to the Lord, we will be released from all pain, suffering, sadness, sorrow.
C. What is Easter about? It’s about the hope we have in Christ!
D. Have fears replaced with His love, Overcome failures through His forgiveness, Plug into God’s Power for daily living, Envision your future with confidence in the Lord!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Found Faithful to Jesus In Our Waiting - 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11

There is an overwhelming sense of discouragement that is pervading in people’s lives today. Just this week, I met a check-out lady at CVS and asked her how things were going. “Awful,” was her reply. “My husband and I have one child, I’m pregnant with child # two, however, my husband just left me for another woman in Michigan. I don’t know what I’m going to do, $$$ is gone, I’m stressed out to the max.” How many of you know someone or feel that way today?

The Word of God gives great hope to those who are discouraged, disillusioned, downcast, etc. The Good News is that God is in control – Jesus is alive, risen, coming again and if you have Jesus as personal Lord and Savior, you can live in His peace today.

Reassurance (13) – One thing about these Thessalonian believers is that had put their faith in the Word of God. Now, because of the intense persecution that Paul faced as he brought them the Word of God, he was only able to stay with them a few short weeks. Paul taught them about worshipping and serving the One True and Living God, encouraging one another, spiritual warfare, witnessing, doing God’s will, etc. Paul also taught them to expect the Lord Jesus Christ could return at any moment. These new believers got so excited about the Lord’s return and began to prepare their lives to meet Him. However, while they waited for the Lord to return, some of their friends, families, loved ones died. This discouraged them b/c they felt their loved ones would miss out on the wonderful coming of our Lord. Paul encouraged them with the truth that when Jesus came back, their loved ones in Christ would be there, too! The world believes that death is the end of it all (sad). The follower of Christ knows the death is just the beginning to everlasting life in the Presence of the Lord!

Resurrection (14-15) – Why do believers in the Lord Jesus Christ have such hope? Our hope (confidence) is anchored in the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Because Jesus died and rose again, we will also. 2 Cor. 4:14 we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. Rom 8:11 …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 through his Spirit, who lives in you.” Where do you anchor your hope this morning? Is your hope in the AJC? Is your hope built on what is going on in the White House? Is your hope in your checkbook? If so, that is no hope. Real hope comes from building your life on the Word of God, what the Lord Jesus did for you on the innocent blood shed on the cross of Calvary, the empty tomb! Death, for the believer in Jesus, is not the end, but the beginning. According to Luke 16:22, an angel of the Lord will usher you into the very presence of the Lord. Think of the thief who was dying on the cross next to the Lord Jesus. Jesus did not say, “I hope you might someday be with me in paradise.” No, He said, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Because Jesus died, our sin debt is paid in full. Because Jesus is risen we will spend eternity with Him (John 11:25).

Return (16) – The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with and come for His own. The trumpet of God will sound. Trumpets in the Bible were used to sound war, gather people, in this case the trumpet of God is going to assemble all in Christ.

Reunion (17-18) – We’ll see our loved ones in the Lord Jesus Christ again. Some of you have had husbands, wives, children, grandchildren who have died…you’ll see them again! There is no separation for loved ones in Christ. I’ll see my grandfather again. I will hear him say, “Ol’ Davy boy!” again! That’s why Christians face funerals with a different perspective than unbelievers. WE know that not even death can eternally remove us from our loved ones or of the glory of the return of our Savior. Psalm 4:8: I will both lie down in peace and sleep; for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.”

Regret (5:1-3) – While we do not know when the Lord will return for His own at the rapture of the church, the world does not know that the day of the Lord’s judgment is coming upon them. A day of incredible, fearful judgment is coming upon those who reject the saving grace of the Lord Jesus. A man may reject God, curse God, live a life for self, sin, and it seems like God does nothing about it. However, there is coming a day in the future when God will deal with a Christ-rejecting world. This day will come like a thief in the night. No thief I’ve ever known calls up the family he’s about to rob and says, “Now, make sure you are up and alert at 1 AM, I’m going to rob you blind!” Luke 12:39-40, “But know this, that if the mater of the house would have known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” The world leaders may even be promising peace, safety…no worries. Jesus said when He returned the days would be like the days of Noah, people eating, marrying, drinking, selling, buying…all of a sudden, judgment comes upon them.

Ready (5:4-11) – Thinking about the return of Jesus Christ ought to make us live with godly character, spiritual motivation, peace with the Lord and others. 2 Peter 3:11-14, “11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. 14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” We ought to be leaving, close and clean to the Lord knowing He could return at any moment. We ought to be always looking for an opportunity to share the good news of Jesus Christ with lost friends, family, co-workers, etc. We need to be a part of building up the body of Christ with our time, talent, treasures. We ought to be walking in the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ, and have petty differences laid at the foot of the cross. We ought to be encouraging one another in the body of Christ, spurring one another on toward love and good works. We ought to be at church faithfully, praying, in Bible study, spending time with God’s people over the Word of God! Always living with the thought in mind of the day when we will give an account to the Lord of the lives we lived – for self or for the Savior.

How can we be faithful while we wait for the Lord’s return? First, Paul says, “Be sober.” He is talking here about being alive to God’s will and purpose for your life (like a soldier on guard, alert). Be sensitive to what is going on around you, not sleeping, not half-hearted in your walk with the Lord. Second, he says, “putting on the breastplate of faith and love.” A soldier with his armor on is ready for action. Faith means we are trusting in the Lord and love means our relationship with others is pure, we are expressing tangibly our love for others. Third, he says we are to put on as helmet the hope of salvation (5:8-10). That is, we ought to be constantly thinking about what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. This is not a hope so salvation. This is a know so salvation. I know Jesus died for my sins. I know He rose again. I know I have turned from sin and placed all my faith in what He did for me at the cross of Calvary. I know Jesus has forgiven me, I know His Holy Spirit is in control, I know nothing can separate me from the love of God in Jesus Christ (not death, angels, suffering, pain, sorrow). Church, that is the kind of Savior we have in Jesus Christ. Fourth, he tells us to encourage and edify one another. We live in such a time when criticism, cut downs, fault-finding, bitterness, can fill the church. Instead of wasting your time on that, how about working on building up believers. Understanding they are sinners saved by grace just as you are. Understanding your call in life is to build people up in the Lord not bring people down!

We are living in a day right now and we are to be faithful in our worship and service to the Lord. While we worship, witness, work, we are waiting for the blessed hope, the glorious appearing of our Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Our Response:
1. This morning, you may realize that you have never thought about this and you need to become a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. ABC - Admit to God you are a sinner, Ask for His forgiveness, Believe Jesus is God’s Son who died for your sins, was buried, rose again to give eternal life to you. Confess Him as Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9-10).
2. Is the Lord leading you to become part of the family of God here? If you have asked Christ into your heart, but never been baptized, then come today and join by baptism. If you have already been baptized and a member of another church and God is calling you here, then join this church family.
3. Maybe you know it is time the Lord receive glory from your life. Your walk with Him has grown cold, apathetic. There is much darkness in the world because believers are not being the light God called us to be. Would you come in repentance?
4. It’s time to begin sharing the comfort of the Gospel, build up fellow believers, growing stronger in faith, love, and hope. Come and bow before your Lord. Ask Him for the courage to live close, clean, courageously in these last days.