Sunday, April 26, 2015

Dedicating Our Successes To The LORD

I Chronicles 18.7-13 

When David received these spoils from battle from the nations he defeated he dedicated it all to the LORD. He knew that the praise and glory belonged to God, not himself. David could handle success. This is huge in living a life pleasing to God. How to respond when God gives you victory is what we are talking about today.

Mishandling success has been the downfall of many. More lives have been shipwrecked after the LORD has blessed them and they forgot where the blessings came from. This was Israel's problem. 

The thought that anything I have is due to my ingenuity, my efforts, my assets is ludicrous. God may use what little I have. The boy that Andrew bought to Jesus with the lunch that day is an example of this. He gave what little he had and God did amazing things, things no one dreamed of. For Andrew to brag he had something to do with the feeding of the 5,000 would have been laughable, if not so sad. So it is with any credit we take from the LORD.  At best we are carrying things or bringing things to Him. I always get a little nervous when I hear about talents or abilities someone has going into the ministry.

The boasting by a person of what they have and what they have done is so unseemly and sinful, the root of pride. John tells us that it does not come from the Father rather from the world. I John 2.16
Jesus made it clear that when Peter gave the great confession it was not flesh and blood that revealed it to him but His Father in Heaven.

I have written letters of protest about awards given to pastors. At the district assembly this year we will have an award given for The Pastor of The Year. It is sad. Pastor of the Year- when we have seen brothers in the Middle East die for their faith. When I think of Pastor Joes, who for 5 long years, has been leading his congregation in worship in the ruins of what was their church building... these are my heroes. As the pastors in Nepal minister today among the wreckage and heartbreak of an earthquake, they are the ones I admire. Those who serve in quiet obscurity...   

Taking glory away from the LORD, the failure to acknowledge the success I have as coming from Him, the boasting in what I have done is deadly.

As God works through us we must continually remind ourselves that to Him belongs all the glory, to Him belongs the praise! 

One tangible way to give Him praise and thank Him is to dedicate things which come our way to Him!  To dedicate means to set apart as holy, to consecrate

1. Acknowledging The LORD Gave Us Success.

Nehemiah "The God of Heaven will give us success." - Nehemiah 2.20

Proverbs 16.3 Commit whatever you do to the LORD and your plans will succeed. 

Joshua 1:8 Always remember what is written in the Book of the Law. Study it day and night to be sure to obey everything that is written there. If you do this, you will be wise and successful in everything. 

Isaiah 26:12 LORD, all our success is because of what you have done, so give us peace. 

Psalm 90:17 LORD, our God, treat us well. Give us success in what we do; yes, give us success in what we do. 

2. Humbling Ourselves Before Him.

This is often very difficult thing to do.
We need to do this  in reference to our church finances right now.

We need to do this in areas where our strengths lay. It is easier to do them in our weak areas but still often not confessed because of pride.

We need to do this in everything, every day! 

David was a man after God's heart. He knew how to humble himself, even in the face of victory.  We read in Philippians 2:5-8 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God,did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothingby taking the very nature of a servant,being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man,he humbled himselfby becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! 

I pray that our leaders will humble themselves so they do not need to be humbled.  While humbling ourselves is difficult it is much more difficult for us to when the LORD does it. 

Proverbs 15:33 Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the LORD, and humility comes before honor. 

3. Setting An Example.

David taught the people by his life, the lifestyle he maintained.

He dedicated his successes to the LORD!

He sang Psalms he wrote but they too were an overflow of his walk with the LORD.

When God told Nathan to tell David His plans for his descendants David went and sat before the LORD and poured out His heart in humility.

David started out with humble beginnings and in his heart he remained the shepherd boy of Bethlehem, even when he became the King of Israel in Jerusalem.

4. Loving God.
Our love for the LORD motivates us to dedicate our successes to Him.

No one loved the LORD more than David.
He kept the law of God.
He ruled with righteousness and justice.
He was concerned about God's glory.
He was a man after God's own heart.
He dedicated the spoils of battles to the LORD.

1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 

Pray before all endeavors.
Immediately acknowledge that the LORD is the One Who gave you success.
Dedicate your successes to Him.
Place the gifts you receive in His service.
Keep your eyes fixed upon Jesus.
Refuse to listen to your own press.
Serve Him with humility.
Seek first His Kingdom always.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Work of God Goes On

Acts 1.1-11

I love this chapter. It is one of my favorites. It is church history. Jesus has been raised from the dead and is making appearances to His followers. He is getting ready to go back to heaven. He is preparing the disciples for that time. He is building His church.

In this chapter are the doctrines for World Missions, baptism, discipleship, the Ascension of Jesus, His Return.
The scripture this morning covers the 40 days He appeared to His disciples after His Resurrection, reflecting back over His ministry here on earth.

He was preparing His followers for the time when He would be taken up back to heaven. We are in that time now. The words Jesus spoke 2,000 years ago are for us today.

We need a move of God's Spirit across America. Franklin Graham is organizing a prayer gathering for each state calling it Decision America Tour. We need an outbreak of prayer today.

Look at what those in the upstairs room were doing:
Acts 1:14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. What an example. In the each chapter of the Book of Acts they were either at a prayer meeting, on their way to a prayer meeting or coming from a prayer meeting!

We see here God's plan for the church before it was born.
1. Jesus Began It vs.1-2a

Matthew- Mark- Luke- John

Outline of Biblical Usage:
to be the first to do (anything)
to be chief, leader, ruler

Jesus came and did wonderful things.
His miracles.

He prayed.
He taught His disciples to pray.
He asked a piercing question about prayer.

We have been seeing the LORD answer prayer and supply all the needs in Haiti. We have been struggling financially as a church the past few months. We need to cry out to God for His church today.

He taught wonderful things.

He taught with authority. 

He made the Old Testament easy to understand. The law and the prophets
Luke 24:27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself. 

The Sermon on The Mount

He made it so children could come to Him. In fact He told us that unless we become like them we will not enter in. Childlike faith.

John 14:12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 

Teaching and ministering to children. I think of the shoeboxes that go out around the world, the schools where God's Word is taught around the world. I think of kids who have hot lunches and all. Amazing works!

I think of the many ways modern technology is getting the Word of God out. Places where we could never get in with the Gospel physically are now receiving it on iPhones, iPads and computers.

The focus of the Gospels is the work and teaching of Jesus. The focus of Acts is the continuing work of Jesus through the apostles by the Holy Spirit.

2. The Holy Spirit Working Through The Apostles continued it.  vs. 4-5

John 14-16 contains the most concentrated teaching on the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit in the Word of God. I encourage you to read it.

Why this urgency on Jesus's part of them remaining in Jerusalem?
The Feast of Pentecost was about to be fulfilled.
We cannot do it without His power.
A pattern was being set up for the church.

What was not for us to know- the date of His return.
The time of the restoration of the kingdom to Israel.
What was for us- the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

3. The World is Hearing It. v.8

John 17:20-21 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent Me.

Power to be His Witnesses.
How will the world hear- through us, His followers.

Jesus is saying in v.7 and 8 that is better to be a witness of His than to know the future.

We are not sent into the world to be prophets, in the sense of foretelling.
We are to be in perpetual expectation but as to the day and the hour we cannot know.

Spiritual power to wrestle in prayer. Weep over souls.

Power to tell of what Christ has done.
Power to give His Word.
Power to do greater things because He is going to the Father.
Greater in their extent- all around the world.

4. Christ Is Coming Back. vs.10-11

This wonderful promise has been embraced by each generation.
Mark 13:30 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 

It is not for you to know the time of Christ's Return.
It is for you to be baptized with His Spirit.
Acts 2:38-39 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” 

Walking in the Spirit, Being filled with His Spirit is the best preparation for His coming.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Making Our Faith Firm

Luke 24.13-49

As followers of Jesus we need tender hearts, tough minds, and a rock solid faith. It is that kind of faith we are going to look at this morning. 

Life is full of tests of our faith. I believe God allows them to come, even works things out in our lives so we will be tested, like Abraham. Tests of faith are for our benefit. They cause us to activate our faith. They are designed to show us our love for God. Even things the enemy brings to us, God can turn around for our good and work out His will in our lives through it. Joseph is one of many examples of that.

Good Friday through Easter Week was a time of testing for the followers of Jesus. Their loyalty, their love and their faith were all tested, severely tested.

That First Day of the Week was full of opportunities for faith to be expressed.
The women believed. The men struggled.
John 20:8-9 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead. 

Luke 24:22-24 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.” 

Luke 24:13-14 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened.  We see the difference here between talking about Jesus and talking to Jesus.

The Road to Emmaus...

1. Downcast is Not The Posture of Faith- v.17

We talked last week about the women on the way to the tomb and how they were downcast. Their hands contained the spices with which to anoint the body of Our LORD.

Now we see the men when Jesus is with them (they did not recognize Him- I think that happens often when we are downcast) and when what happened is brought up they stand downcast.

Downcast= a sad and gloomy countenance that is impossible to hide.
It is natural when we are grieving. But these men should not have been grieving. After the report of the women they should have been believing! This was a test of faith. They wondered about it but there is no evidence of them believing the report. They didn't look at the empty tomb at this point as evidence. Its different today- lady who needed help out of the tomb there in Jerusalem.

The LORD did not and does not cast us aside if we struggle in our faith. He comes to us again. He did this that first Easter for the disciples and for Thomas a week later.

Downcast is not the posture or mindset for faith.

What is the posture of faith?
Looking unto Jesus
Looking up to heaven
Seeing with the eyes of faith

If we look at circumstances without Christ we will be wiped out emotionally. Making our faith firm is realizing what the circumstances are but not focusing on them. Our focus is on Jesus- photography. Only one thing can be focused on for a sharp clear and true picture. 

There are times when we need to refocus on Him.

Maybe you are going through one of those times this very morning or as you read this on our Sunday Morning Message Blog. Look to Him this day. He is closer than you can imagine.

2. Knowing and Understanding God's Word is key to a strong faith.- vs.25-27

Spurgeon- The Bible in the memory is better than the Bible in a bookcase!

I don't believe I can emphasize this enough.
The dynamic of God's Word.
The timelessness of it.
The power of it.
Written into creation itself!

I love that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Even the way God speaks to us works to build up our faith.

As we get to know God's Word better, hide it in our hearts, meditate upon it, it has an effect on our spirits and minds.

John 15:3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 

Ephesians 5:25-26 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word...

1 Peter 1:23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 

Acts 20:32 “Now I commit you to God and to the word of His grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 

3. Recognizing/ Being Confident of the LORD's Presence is a big part of faith. vs. 30-35

Where is God in this?
Why and How are questions we often ask. They are not questions of faith.
Faith is trusting God without the answers to these questions.

Being Conscious of His Presence
Genesis 28:16-17 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.” 

Being Confident of His Presence.
2 Corinthians 1:8-11 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many. 

Being Confident In His Word and His Character
Habakkuk 2:2-4 Then the LORD answered me and said,“Record the vision
And inscribe it on tablets,
That the one who reads it may run. “For the vision is yet for the appointed time;
It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail.Though it tarries, wait for it;For it will certainly come, it will not delay. 
“Behold, as for the proud one, 
His soul is not right within him;
But the righteous will live by his faith. "

The just will live by his faith.

When we cannot trace His Hand We can trust His heart.- Spurgeon

Learning to walk by faith means not always understanding what is going on.
But when we do encounter those moments we look to Jesus for strength.