Sunday – September 10, 2017 Genesis 49:29 to 50:26 “The End of an Era”

Sunday – September 10, 2017 – Read the Word on Worship

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Genesis 50:19-20
But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.”

The familiar saying, “Don’t get mad, just get even” sums up the world’s philosophy of how to deal with someone who wrongs you. But in contrast to the world’s way, God prescribes a radical approach when we are wronged: We are to be kind and tenderhearted, forgiving one another just as God in Christ has forgiven us. It’s easy to say that, but it’s tough to apply it. The difficulty increases in proportion to how badly you’ve been hurt. When you’ve been hurt badly, you don’t feel like forgiving the person, even if he repents, at least not until he’s suffered a while. You want him to know what it feels like. You want him to pay.

Many Christians, and probably some in our church, struggle with these feelings right now. Our pain may be from a recent situation, or it may go back for years. But if you’re bitter and unforgiving, you’re not obeying the two great commandments: to love God and to love others. Bitterness not only displeases God, it spreads to others. If we want to please God, we must ask: “How can we root out bitterness and truly forgive those who have wronged us?”

When someone wrongs us, we need to be on guard. Satan tempted Eve by getting her to doubt the goodness of God. He implied that God was withholding something good by keeping the forbidden fruit from her. The devil will tempt you by whispering, “If God really cared for you, He wouldn’t have let this happen.” No doubt Joseph often had to resist that temptation over the years. But in each case, Joseph affirmed by faith, “They meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”

There is a way you can tell whether you have taken your proper place before God or not: Do you grumble about your circumstances or about the people who have mistreated you? If you do, you aren’t in submission to the sovereign goodness of God. You may not think you’re grumbling against God. You’d say you’re angry with the person who did you in. But really, you’re angry at God, grumbling against Him for allowing it to happen. You’ve got to deal with your attitude before God or you’ll live and die a bitter, unforgiving person. You must come to the place where you can say, “That person meant it for evil, but God meant it for good, and I submit to and trust His purpose in it all.”

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 26, 2016 Genesis 3:1-24 “What a Difference a Day Makes”

Sunday – June 26, 2016 – Read the Word on Worship

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Genesis 3:2-5
The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.'” The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Satan’s promise had, in a backhanded way, come true. Adam and Eve had, in a sense, become like God in the knowing of good and evil (Verse 22). But there is a great difference as well as some similarity. Both man and God knew good and evil, but in a vastly different way. Perhaps the difference can best be illustrated in this way. A doctor can know of cancer by virtue of his education and experience as a doctor. That is, he has read of cancer, heard lectures on cancer, and seen it in his patients. A patient, also, can know of cancer, but as its victim. While both know of cancer, the patient would wish he had never heard of it. Such is the knowledge which Adam and Eve came to possess.

God had promised salvation to come in time through the birth of the Messiah, who would destroy Satan. Adam and Eve might be tempted to gain eternal life through the eating of the fruit of the tree of life. They chose knowledge over life. Now, as the Israelites too late tried to possess Canaan (Numbers 14:39-45), so fallen man might attempt to gain life through the tree of life in the garden.

It would seem that had Adam and Eve eaten of the tree of life they would have lived forever (Verse 22). This is the reason God sent them out of the garden (Verse 23). In Verse 24, the sending out of the two is more dramatically called driving out. Stationed at the entrance of the garden are the cherubim and the flaming sword. I cannot help but think of Paul’s words when I read this chapter, “Behold then the kindness and severity of God” (Romans 11:22).

“How cruel and severe,” some would be tempted to protest. In today’s legal jargon, it would probably be called cruel and unusual punishment. But think a moment, before you speak rashly. What would have happened had God not driven this couple from the garden and banned their return? I can answer it in one word – hell. Hell is giving men both what they want and what they deserve forever. Hell is spending eternity in sin, separate from God.

Sunday – October 25, 2015 Revelation 4:1-11 “The Throne of God Almighty”

Sunday – October 25, 2015 – Read the Word on Worship

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Rev 4:9-11
“And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.”

Those who gathered together had profound insight into God’s Word when they wrote the first question and answer to the Westminster Shorter Catechism: “What is the chief end of man?” Answer: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” If we could just get that fixed in our minds and live each day in line with it, God would use us to accomplish His purpose and we would be greatly blessed. It is a statement that should govern my thought life and all my behavior: Does this glorify God? In simple terms, to glorify God is to make Him look good, as He truly is. It is to display, as much as we are able, His perfect attributes, His moral excellence, and His infinite greatness and worth.

Think how much happier our marriages would be if we only stopped to think, “Will my words, attitudes, and actions toward my mate, glorify God?” If not, I shouldn’t do it, even though I might feel like doing it. The same applies to our relationships with our children and with all people. If I’m not demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit, then I’m not glorifying God and I shouldn’t act that way. If I’m disobeying God’s Word, then I’m sinning and not glorifying Him. It’s an overarching principle to govern all of life: Live so as to glorify God (1st Cor 10:31).

In Isaiah 46:9-10, God declares, “For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure.” This does not mean God does whatever He pleases because He is capricious or unpredictable. Rather, it means that He is able to accomplish whatever He purposes to do and He does it because it pleases Him to do it. While He is not the author of evil and evil greatly displeases Him, in another sense He is not frustrated by it and He uses evil to accomplish His sovereign purpose of glorifying Himself.

I find it ironic that some who are the most ardent proponents of biblical prophecy at the same time write books that deny God’s sovereignty over all things. The Book of Revelation clearly teaches that we can take comfort in the fact that God is in charge of history. He will use even the evil of the antichrist to accomplish His sovereign purpose. He has ordained the specific number of martyrs (Rev. 6:10-11). God didn’t just peer down through history and let us in on how, luckily, it all will turn out in His favor. Rather, He ordained the events of history to display His glory. He alone is to be glorified.

 

Sunday – June 28, 2015 “The Man Who Rejoiced in an Invasion” Habakkuk 1 to 3

Sunday – Sunday – June 28, 2015 – Read the Word on Worship

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Habakkuk 1:2-4
“How long, O Lord, will I call for help, and You will not hear? I cry out to You, “Violence!” Yet You do not save. Why do You make me see iniquity, and cause me to look on wickedness? Yes, destruction and violence are before me; strife exists and contention arises. Therefore the law is ignored and justice is never upheld. For the wicked surround the righteous; therefore justice comes out perverted. “

Every Christian wrestles with two problems: Why doesn’t God answer my prayers sometimes? And, why does God allow the evil to prosper while the righteous suffer? What is the purpose of God when sin is celebrated by a nation and yet, from our position, it seems God sits in the distance not hearing the cries of the righteous? We especially wrestle with these two questions when they converge on us personally. When an evil person is harming us or someone we love, and we pray, but God does not answer, it is especially tough.

The prophet Habakkuk wrestled with these sorts of questions. He is unique among the prophets in that he did not, in his written message, speak for God to the people, but rather spoke to God about his struggles over these basic human questions. Why does God allow evil to go unchecked, especially when the righteous cry out to Him for justice?

Habakkuk took his questions and complaints to the Lord and worked through them in prayer, waiting on God for answers. When you wrestle with doubts on difficult issues like the problem of evil, you must proceed with caution. Some wrongly withdraw from God and His people into their own world of depression and pouting. Others angrily pull the plug on God entirely and go their own way into the world, convincing themselves that God must not exist or He wouldn’t allow the terrible things that go on every day in this evil world. Still others hang on to their faith, but it becomes a mindless, anti-intellectual, subjective experience where they just don’t think about disturbing questions.

That’s what Habakkuk did. He kept crying out to God for an answer, and when God’s even more difficult answer came, he stationed himself at his guard post to keep watch until the Lord would speak and reprove him (2:1). God’s second answer to Habakkuk included the great verse, “The righteous will live by his faith” (2:4b). When Habakkuk comes to his final prayer in chapter 3:1-19 he doesn’t have all the answers, just as you and I often do not have all the answers to why issues of pain and suffering have come upon us. We cannot fully understand the ways of the sovereign God, just as Habakkuk did not understand God’s ways. But he had grown in understanding and he could by faith pray with joy, knowing that God was his salvation and strength.