Sunday – April 23, 2017 Genesis 36:1-43 “A Successful Man Who Failed with God”

Sunday – April 23, 2017 – Read the Word on Worship

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Genesis 36:31
Now these are the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before any king reigned over the sons of Israel.”

While Esau was out conquering the land of Edom, founding a nation, fathering kings, and making a great worldly success of himself, Jacob was quietly living in a land he didn’t even own, the land where his fathers had sojourned. While Esau’s descendants were mighty chieftains, famous in their day, Jacob’s descendants were down in Egypt, enslaved to Pharaoh. By Moses’ day (over 400 years later), Israel was a fledgling nation of slaves, recently escaped from Egypt, owning no land of their own. Edom was an established kingdom that had the power to refuse Israel passage over their land. But this tour through Genesis 36 shows us that God, not man, writes the final chapter of history. These men, successful by the world’s measure, passed off the scene and were soon forgotten as others clamored to take their place. Fame is a fleeting thing.

What really matters is recognition by God, not by this world. We live in a culture that worships fame. If an athlete, a musician, or an actor or actress becomes a Christian, we rush his life story into print and hustle him onto the TV talk shows. The guy may be a babe in Christ, who doesn’t know anything about the Bible, but we listen to his every word as if he’s a spiritual authority. But the recognition that counts will come soon, when we stand before the Lord Jesus Christ and hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matt 25:21, 23). In that day, real success and failure will be unveiled. Until that time, we should be careful to not make a big deal about earthly success or failure. Only God knows who is truly successful and who is not.

That’s why it is so important to ask yourself the question, “What am I living for?” What a shame to live your life like Esau, wondering, “What if …?” While we still live, we all have a choice: to join Jacob and his descendants in waiting patiently for God to fulfill His covenant promises to us, as we labor for His coming kingdom, or to look over at Esau, prospering in the world, and join him in the pursuit of secular success. If we succeed by worldly standards but fail with God, we have failed where it really matters. Whether we fail or succeed by worldly standards, if we succeed with God, we will have true and lasting success.

You are writing history. Every day you live, the choices you make, the things you say, and the actions you take are becoming a part of history. You are influencing the eternal destiny of others (one way or the other). How you conduct yourself in your marriage, with your children, in your work, and in the community is incredibly important! You are leaving a legacy for those who will follow in your steps. I urge you, please live your life with eternity in mind.

Sunday – January 1, 2017 “God’s Inefficient Use of Time & People” Ecclesiastes 9:10-18

Sunday – January 1, 2017 – Read the Word on Worship

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Haggai 1:7-9
Thus says the Lord of hosts, Consider your ways! Go up to the mountains, bring wood and rebuild the temple, that I may be pleased with it and be glorified, says the Lord. You look for much, but behold, it comes to little; when you bring it home, I blow it away. Why? declares the Lord of hosts, because of My house which lies desolate, while each of you runs to his own house.”

Every day you exchange a day of your life for something. It’s as if at the start of life each of us were issued a certain number of coins. They’re hidden inside a large machine so that we don’t know how many we were issued or how many we have left. Each day, the machine issues us a new coin. It may be the last coin we get, or we may get many more. All we know is that the average person in America gets between 70 and 80 years’ worth, but some get far less; a few may get more.

You take each day’s coin and exchange it for something: a day at work or school, shopping, church, leisure, or whatever. Once spent, you can never get the coins back to spend them differently. The art of living wisely is largely a matter of spending your coins on the things that really matter in light of eternity and not frivolously wasting them. Living wisely is difficult because often the choice is not between the bad and the good, but between the good and the best.

Meanwhile, life continues to move forward. You started a career and a family. You had bills to pay and other demands on your time. Church and the Lord’s work drifted into the background. You still attend church as often as you can, but it has become a slice of life, not the center. You tell yourself that you just don’t have time to serve as you used to. Without deliberately rebelling against God, you have drifted into putting your house above God’s house. When your conscience nags, you have reasons to explain why things are this way.

Twice in Haggai 1 the Lord tells the people, “Consider your ways”. That means to stop long enough in your busy schedule to evaluate your life in the light of God’s Word and fearing Him. How are you spending your time? These people had plenty of time for themselves, but they didn’t have time for God. How are you spending your money, which is really God’s money? These folks claimed that they had to get their own houses built first, and then they could build God’s house. But that was backwards. What are your goals? What is it that you’re aiming at in life? If you live to an old age, what do you want to look back on as far as accomplishments? If God seems distant in your life, perhaps your priorities have gotten mixed up. When you put God truly in first place, you experience a new awareness of His presence. That is true blessing!

Sunday – July 24, 2016 Genesis 6:9-8:22 “It’s Raining, It’s Pouring, But God Is Not Snoring”

Sunday – July 24, 2016 – Read the Word on Worship

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Genesis 6:9
These are the records of the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God.”

To be faithful as a Christian in an evil day, you must learn to stand alone. You will repeatedly face pressure to violate your Christian standards and go along with the crowd. As a Christian teenager, you’re with some friends who are passing around a joint. What will you do when it comes to you? All the other kids are experimenting with sex and talking about their adventures. Will you go along with the crowd? Everyone has an illegal copy of an upcoming test. Will you join them in cheating?

Christian adults also face constant pressure to compromise their faith. At work, the boss expects you not to be totally honest in dealing with customers. On a business trip, your associates are all going to a porno movie and want you to join them. At family gatherings over the holidays, the rest of the family are gossiping about another family member. No one likes to be ridiculed or rejected. We all want to be liked and included. We don’t want others to think that Christians are a bunch of prudes who can’t enjoy life. So we’re easily tempted to go along with the crowd rather than to stand alone for Jesus Christ. But if we yield, we dishonor God and lose our distinctive witness for our Savior.

Let me put it plainly: If you don’t consistently spend time alone with God in His Word and in prayer, you don’t have a walk with God! If you don’t have a walk with God, you will not be able to stand alone as Noah did. You will be more conformed to this evil world than you are to Jesus Christ. Peter writes that just as the early world was destroyed by the flood, so “the present heavens and earth by [God’s] word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men” (2 Peter 3:7). His conclusion is, “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness” (3:11).

If you worked for a company that you knew was going to be dissolved by bankruptcy, your attitude toward that company would change. You wouldn’t put your future hopes in it, because it has no future. If you heard that the government was going to shut down a bank because of insolvency, you wouldn’t rush to invest your money in that bank. God has said that this evil world is doomed. He has promised “a new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). Like Noah, we must redirect everything in our lives – our time, our money, our goals – in light of God’s warning of judgment and His promise of deliverance in Christ. We must stand alone in this evil day by walking with God.

Sunday – June 19, 2016 Fathers Day Malachi 1:6-14

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1 John 2:13-14
I write to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, dear children, because you have known the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.”

Happy Father’s Day men! The problem with Father’s Day is that many of us wonder if we really should be celebrated. We know all that has transpired over the last 12 months as we come to this day and we wonder what Father’s Day is really about? When we have a good job and provide for a good home and a few nice things, we are told that men only focus on our jobs and do not provide that illusive term which magazines and television shows throw around as the new, yet undefined standard of quality time to their families. And then when we spend time with our families and build relationships with our children we are told that we have not provided for the financial needs of our family in the ways they have been accustomed too. Sometimes you just can’t win.

Men have been the butt of jokes in sitcoms, news stories, and time around the office water cooler. Many men come to Father’s Day and think that it is only a holiday invented by the greeting card and tie companies for getting excess merchandise out of their warehouse and into your house. The jokes which the world trumpets are not funny to men who take God’s call for their families seriously. Each joke is another jab against men who want to do what is right as they try to enrich the lives of their families and to encourage their children in the way they should go. Can we, who are in the Body of Christ, realize that the job of Father is more than just a title or an act of biology? That men, despite what the world tells them, know in their hearts that they have a duty to care for their household, and make sacrifices of what they could do in order to do what they should do?

I am not an apologist for men, for there are many that have refused to do what they should, failing to care for their wives in a way that is godly and their children in a way that encourages them to grow in the wisdom and the knowledge of the Lord. It is time for sincere thanks and appreciation for all that husbands, fathers and men in general do? Today is a day to say thank you, to appreciate all that our earthly fathers have done for us and given to us. Let us honor fathers for their sacrifice, and encourage them to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ so that the love they have shown us this year will abound more and more so we will have new things to praise God for next year. Let us thank them for their desire to follow the Lord and contribute to the needs of their families, and to pray that they will continue to grow and be conformed to the image of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who only did what He saw the Father doing.

Sunday–January 3, 2016 Rev 11:1-19 “The Rise and Fall of the Two Witnesses”

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Revelation 11:15-18
 “Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, “We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign.”

True worship results in action befitting the attitudes of the heart. So here, the 24 elders (the representatives of the church age saints who have already received their crowns and cast them before God) now recognize that it is time, or soon will be, for the reward of Old Testament and Tribulation saints. The coming of the kingdom will be connected with the giving of rewards to the faithful servants of God (Matt. 24:42-25:30). In recognition of God’s faithfulness to His people and the sovereign actions of God, they rise from their thrones (wherein they reign with Christ) and fall on their faces in deep respect and adoration of God. While they reign with Him they recognize that this is all because of who and what God is and what He has accomplished through the Lord Jesus.

In these verses thanksgiving is given for five things. Two are ascriptions of praise to God regarding His person and three are assignments to which God has committed Himself. First, continual thanks (present tense) for God’s person. Second, thanks are given because at this point in history God will be exercising His complete sovereignty. Then, thanks are given because now God truly, through the exercise of His great power, begins to reign. Fourth, thanks for the display of God’s wrath. And finally, thanks are given for the judgment and reward of Old Testament saints — including Tribulation saints.

The picture in 11:15-19 is panoramic of the rest of the tribulation. In these five verses the victory over God’s enemies and the establishment of His kingdom are announced. The record of this judgment appears in Chapter 16. The millennial reign of Christ will last for only 1,000 years, but the reign of Christ will continue on throughout all eternity in the new heavens and the new earth. So here we have the fulfillment of many Old Testament prophecies that look forward to the eternal rule of God when God’s purposes will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

In baseball, the home team bats in the bottom half of the inning. This allows the visiting team to bat first. It also gives the home team, the opportunity to either win or lose the game in the bottom of the ninth. Today, it is the top of the inning and people are at bat. However, there will be a day when that will cease and God will walk to the plate in the bottom of the ninth. Man’s day will come to an end and God’s day will begin. One day God’s forecasting clock will strike suddenly and surely. Only God knows the timing. I need to ask you today: Are you ready?

Sunday – November 22, 2015 Revelation 6:9-17 “Martyrdom & Doomsday”

Sunday – November 22, 2015 – Read the Word on Worship

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Revelation 6:9-10
When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; 10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”

My heart has been heavy as I read and hear news reports of IS (Islamic State) and their attacks in Paris. IS released a video, in which they announced a threat, “Our message to the entire world is that we are the soldiers of the Caliphate state and we are coming.” So much of what we are seeing unfold in the Middle East characterizes what has happened to Christians throughout history in that region as well as other restricted nations. Throughout church history, there are numerous examples of radical religious groups and political tyrants that have persecuted God’s people to the point of death.

During the fifth century, Christians in a city in present-day Iraq called Kirkuk came under severe persecution. (Kirkuk was a part of the Persian Empire at that time.) Influenced by Zoroastrian priests, the emperor, Yazdegerd II, didn’t think Christians were capable of being loyal subjects of his empire, so he ordered they be eliminated – murdered – in A.D. 448. History estimates 153,000 leaders, clergy and laypeople were rounded up, taken to a mount outside of Kirkuk and slaughtered. The chief prosecutor, Tamasgerd, was so moved by the Christians’ resolve that he, too, placed his faith in Christ and followed them in death.

As we read and hear reports of the brutality happening in Paris, pray for members of IS. Pray they come face to face with Jesus Christ and give their lives to Him. Pray they will be overcome with the courage and endurance of the believers they persecute and choose to place their faith in Christ – like the chief prosecutor Tamasgerd during the massacre of Christians in Kirkuk in the 5th century. Pray for those workers on the front lines who risk their lives to witness in hostile circumstances. Finally, reach out to Muslims in our community and show them the love of Christ with the intent of winning them for Him. So many have come to the U.S. in pursuit of a better life and more will be coming. They, too, need to hear about Jesus Christ.

We are studying the Book of Revelation and we know who will ultimately win the battle – the Lord Jesus Christ. Until that day, when Jesus makes His final return to take His rightful place, you must stand with our persecuted family by choosing to fellowship with them through your prayers and actions. One day we will be in the cross hairs of persecution and will need the prayers and support of the Body of Christ as we stand for Jesus Christ.

Sunday – November 30, 2014 1John 4:17-21 “Confidence on the Day of Judgment”

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1 John 4:16-18
“We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.”

John knows that in the matter of loving others, it’s easy to be hypocrites. It’s easy to sing, “Oh, how I love Jesus,” while at the same time our homes are a battle zone. We put on our spiritual masks at church, but in our hearts we harbor bitterness toward a fellow Christian who has wronged us. So John once more hits this vital matter of practical love for one another. John is saying, love that comes from God gives us confidence in the day of judgment and must be expressed in love for others in obedience to God’s commandment.

Of all of the important matters in life, none is more vital than the one that John mentions in verse 17—having confidence in the day of judgment. But we need to make sure that our confidence is based on biblical reasons, not on false hope. Polls show that at least 60 percent of Americans believe in hell, but only four percent think there’s a good chance that they will go there. Since we’re talking about eternity in the lake of fire, you need to be sure of where you stand! Since John tells us how to have confidence on that coming day, we all should pay close attention.

From beginning to end, the Bible is clear that there is a coming day of judgment. Jesus spoke often about the judgment to come. The apostle Paul, preaching to the philosophers in Athens, declared (Acts 17:31) that God “has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” When he talked with the Roman governor Felix, Paul discussed “righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come”.

Our source of confidence is that we have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ and His shed blood as the propitiation for our sins. It is only His blood, not our works, that atones for sins. But, how do we know that our faith in Christ is genuine, since it is easy to be deceived? One evidence of genuine faith is when we see God’s love flowing through us to others, especially to others that we would not naturally love. The more you see God’s love surfacing in your life, the more you will “have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming” (1st John 2:28).