Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Preview of This Sunday's Message

What is our greatest need today? Is it finances? Is it strategies? Is it a plan or program?

Our greatest need today in the church is to be filled with His Spirit and grounded in God's Word. With that in place, anything can happen!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Driven By Envy


I Kings 21.1-19

You would think that envy would be the problem of the poor. Actually I found that to be partly true. I have found more contentment with the poor of the world than I have with the rich. Ahaz's behavior here would substantiate what I have found. That doesn't mean you can't be poor and miserable because of envy.

We are looking at a man driven by envy.
As king of Israel he had the best of everything. He lived in a palace. He had gardeners to tend his gardens.

He wanted Naboth's Vineyard for a vegetable garden. 

We see this morning how envy drove this man, Ahaz.

Sin grabs the heart and makes us do what it wants. Sin is a work of the devil, an act of the sinful nature. It drives. The Spirit leads, what comes out is fruit. Fruit is produced by abiding in the vine, not striving.

1. The Problem of Envy

The Jezreel Valley
Israel's bread basket In between Nazareth and Megiddo.
Beautiful earth, well watered Valley, the Valley of Armageddon.
News today.
Easy to grow, good weather year round.

Look what envy does.
* It makes a person miserable.
Envy in the Greek comes from the word that means to be destroyed, to perish
in an ethical sense, to corrupt, deprave
Living in a state of wanting what others have drives people to painful thoughts.
Envy is torture to the soul. It is a discontent and uneasiness in a person's heart. There is no peace in the envious heart, only discontent.
Psalm 85:8 I will listen to what God the LORD says; He promises peace to His people, His faithful servants—but let them not turn to folly. 

*It takes away the ability to enjoy the blessings of God.
If I want what someone else has I cannot enjoy what I have. I focus on what they have. Envy displaces the LORD from my life. I end up being unthankful and upset with God and others because I cannot get what I want.
James 4:1-2 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 
Proverbs 14:30 A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.  Envy actually causes physical problems. 
Ecclesiastes 4:4 And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. 

*It drives a person to horrible ends. 
In Ahab's case death. I have seen it split families and friends.
Envy is a green eyed monster.

*It is a work of the flesh ending in destruction.
In its root form it means to be destroyed.
Job 5:2 Resentment kills a fool, and envy slays the simple. 

Galatians 5:19-21 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 

2. The Cause of Envy
Looking at others
even the wicked
Proverbs 24:1 Do not envy the wicked, do not desire their company...

Not being thankful for what we have.
Wanting what someone else has... can be tangible or intangible (ex/ relationship)

James 3:13-16 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 
The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil/ Envy its sister brings about every evil practice along with confusion.

3.. The Cure for Envy.

 Put the Green Eyes monster to death.
1 Peter 2:1 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 

rid= depart, flee, separate where one is destroyed.

to self

to looking (Fix your eyes upon Jesus)

Learn the secret of contentment Philippians 4.12
Paul saw God' hand in everything he went through
*Pray 4.6-7
*Be thankful 4.6b
*Rely on God' strength 4.13
*Know He will meet your needs (Envy is often about what I want rather than what God gives me. 4.19

Remember Paul wrote this from a  prison. We see him, Joseph and Daniel at peace in prison. John Bunyan wrote Pilgrim's Progress from a  prison. Look at the things which came out of situations no one would envy because these men were content1

If you are battling envy today destroy it before it destroys you. It eats a person up. If not be on your guard against it. Luke 12:15 Then He said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” 
It is a flaming arrow of the evil one and we are more than conquerors through Christ1

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Call of God

So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother good-by,” he said, “and then I will come with you.”“Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?”So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his attendant.
I Kings 19.19-21

Abrupt, unsuspecting, in the middle of things. Sometimes God calls that way.
Others times He slowly works on hearts. My testimony. He may have been working on Elisha for a long time. Plowing the fields, like mowing grass, gives you time to think, time alone. I am sure Elisha was doing thinking, lamenting and praying.

God's call of Elisha came and  Elisha's response is wonderful. 
Much is wrapped up in this call of God. It is a mystical thing. Thank God we believe in pastors being called by the LORD. 

1. God calls people to special service but everyone is called to be a servant.

He choses them.
John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in My name the Father will give you. 

He anoints them.
1 John 2:27 As for you, the anointing you received from Him  remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as His anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in Him. 

The LORD calls them to a close relationship with His family.

Genesis 12:1 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you." The beginning of Israel.

Luke 11:27-28 As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the Word of God and obey it.” 

Matthew 12:48-50 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, He  said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” 

Followers of Jesus
Mark 10:28-30 Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!” “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for Me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 

We have a different relationship with believers.

To live above with saints we love, O that will be glory.
To live below with saints we know, well that's another story!

Getting used to the family I'll spend eternity with.

So God calls people to salvation and to service and special relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ. He works through our gatherings, through our caring for one another. We pray for one another. We help each other. We really do need each other.

In this call of God there is...
2. The Cost In Following Jesus

Luke 9:57-62 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” He said to another man, “Follow me.”But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” 

Elisha's desire to bid his family farewell was not the same as this man who wanted to bury his father. In fact it was quite opposite. The man Jesus spoke to wanted to wait around for his father to die, inherit some money then come after Jesus. It was a delay and  desire to get his inheritance.

Be careful if you are waiting for all your eggs to be in a row so you can serve the LORD. Do it now! If you wait you will never get to it. This man wanted financial security. Be careful of waiting until you can afford to give!

The people in Bible College who said they wanted to pay off their debts before going into the ministry are still out in Colorado Springs 35 years later.

Elisha was not looking for any of that. He burned his equipment. Like Jesus' disciples left their nets so Elisha killed the oxen and had a farewell feast.

Elisha wasn't going back to put his hand to the plow. He was going back to burn it.
It was a brave thing.
It was an appropriate thing.
It was a bold thing.
It was a statement of his faith and complete surrender to the call of God.
There is no turning back from following Jesus.

3. The call of God  is irrevocable.
Romans 11:29 for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. 

His gifts- once given  are not taken back.
Romans 11:29 God’s gifts and calling can’t be taken back. 
Romans 11:28 For once they are made, God does not withdraw his gifts of his calling. 

His spiritual gifts can still operate and do in those who are not walking with him. Very scary. 

His calling is for a lifetime. If He has called you to something or some place, you will never will be satisfied unless you are doing it.

What is God calling you to do? He has been calling me to speak to people about Him. He has been stirring my heart and letting it break over children in our community.

Passing the mantle/ receiving the mantle. The general superintendent who ordained me is in heaven, as are my first two District Superintendents and a number of pastors I knew and looked up to.  They are gone. I am here to continue.

All my pastors are either in heaven or are retired. The men who were there in my formative years have passed the mantle onto me.

We hand off mantles. 

We receive them.

God is calling people today. Primarily the youth but not exclusively. Dr. McCoy

Where is your heart today? Where is the tug? What stirs you? When the time comes who will you pass the mantle onto?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Giving to the LORD inTimes of Famine

1 Kings 17:7-16

1 Kings 17:13-16 Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD sends rain on the land.’” She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the LORD spoken by Elijah. 

In His Word, the LORD has directed us to be givers of what He has blessed us with.

Malachi 3.10

Matthew 6.33

God taking care of our needs if we give to Him, if we seek His Kingdom.

Oswald Smith and Faith Promise
"How God taught me to give" tract

Nana and the second part of the verse back in 1974. The promise.

It is noteworthy that times of abundance and times of scarcity are both fraught with temptations and challenges.

When we have much we can forget about where the blessings came from.

Grandfather at the pool with grandkids this week, "Trust me. I will not let you go. I will hold you. You will be safe in my arms."

So how about it? Does God exempt His people from giving when facing scarcity? Should our giving to the LORD be influenced by difficult economic times? What does His Word say?

1. Famines come to everyone.

There are times when through no fault of our own we find ourselves in want. I am not talking about irresponsible credit card use. If you have a problem you need to get help. I am not taking about the lack of planning. I am talking about when we live within a budget and have our finances in order and we find ourselves facing a famine. It happens.

Elijah was a man of God, yet the brook in the Kerith Ravine dried up. Sometimes the income sources dry up. Not from overspending but in our daily lives... Give us this day our daily bread...
Man's extremity is God's opportunity.

A widow in Biblical times was the epitome of destitution.  There were no life insurance policies, no pensions, no 401Ks, no Social Security. They were often at the mercy of people of compassion, particularly if they had  no extended family and young children of their own.

Zarephath means a smelting pot, a place of fiery trials.  2 Timothy 3:12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, It was a Baptism of Fire.

This was going to be baptism by fire for the widow. Elijah was being hunted and now the brook has dried up so it would be one for him as well. 

About this widow of Zarephath...
She was destitute.
God through Elijah asked her to give.
It was not so he could buy a Leer Jet or a vacation home in Palm Springs or so that he could dress in expensive clothes.  It wasn't so he could build a mansion.
It was for food and water.
She gave to this man of God, and this widow was used by the LORD to preserve the mouth piece of the LORD for that time in Israel. Incredible!

There are National Famines
Usually national famines are the result of the LORD getting the nations attention. This one if I Kings was.
In National famines there is also what Amos spoke about: 
Amos 8:11 “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign LORD, “when I will send a famine through the land—not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD. Not in it being spoken but in people hearing it.

Worldwide Joseph's time
This worldwide famine (Genesis 41) as a big part of God's plan for Joseph and Israel

2. Our Faith Is Tested During Famines

Sometimes severely. Been there.

Do we believe or not- that is the issue.  Are we trusting in the LORD and His Word or are we leaning on our own understanding.

Faith without works is dead.

This widow had faith in the power  and the Word of the LORD. This nameless lady, we know her only as the widow from Zarephath, had more faith than everyone in Israel, save 7,000 who not bowed the knee to Baal.

When the Elijah asked her for a meal her faith was on the line. She was nearly destitute. Sometimes our giving to God is like that.
Our money.
Our strength.
Our abilities.

Come back to the giving of our means. Hudson Taylor was tested like this.

The widow giving the temple offering.
Mark 12:41-44 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” 

Our giving to the LORD can take us there. What do you think happened to this widow? 
We know this:
She put in all she had to live on.
Jesus saw it.
Jesus knew it.
So it is with us. So often we look at the check book and say, "I can't give to God. I have no money left. Guess what if you don't give to Him first you never will.

3. The LORD Rewards Those Diligently Seek Him

Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. 

The meal was always at the bottom of the barrel but it was there!

Elijah was a man just like us! 

When Jesus fed the 5,000 He had them gather up the leftovers. Let nothing be wasted. Sometimes God overwhelms us in our need with blessings so there are leftovers. Even in abundance we are to be frugal. 

He had faith in the LORD during the time of national famine.

All the time

God Will Take Care of You