Advent 2017 Week 2 PEACE
Emily: Today is the second week of Advent, and we have already lit the first purple candle. That candle represents Hope.
Lance: We can have Hope because God is faithful and will keep the promises he made to us. Our Hope comes from God.
Emily: Today we light the 2nd candle. The candle of Peace.
Lance: This candle of Peace is lit in remembrance of that night when the angels brought good news to shepherds. As the shepherds stood in fear, the angels spoke these words to them, “Fear not, and Peace be with you.”
Emily: Peace is not something that comes easy. Imagine the fear that the shepherds felt when the angels stood before them. As they shook and trembled they received the Peace of God on that first Christmas morning.
Lance: Peace comes from the Lord, even when we are afraid. Peace is what we receive when we walk through the valley of death. We may still be scared and afraid, but we know ultimately know that even in tough times God is by our side and our protector, and that is our peace.
Prayer: Cast all of your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1st Peter 5:7 Lord give to us all the Peace that you offered to those shepherds this Christmas season. And let us remember the words the angels spoke that morning, “Glory to God in the Highest heaven, and Peace on earth to those whom God is well pleased.”
MESSAGE Was a Play by MYF Sunday, December 10, 2017
Satan’s Hate Letter
You may not know me or believe in me, but that’s fine it’s better that way.
If you would believe in me and Evil then you would have to believe in God.
Because everyone agrees there is Evil in the world and not good.
As long as I can get you to believe that God is the cause of Evil, not me,
then I will keep you from seeing all the good that God does to you.
What good has God done for you, you might ask?
Well how about his son and what he did?
You know his brutal death on the cross?
The death that I orchestrated as I twisted scripture for Caiaphas to make him blind to the truth.
I lead Pontius Pilate to crucify that man even though Pilate knew he was innocent.
How about Judas! The disciple who followed for years, saw him perform miracles and raise Lazarus, yet still I convinced Judas sell out his teacher for only 30 pieces of silver!
I even persuaded Peter deny his Lord 3 times!
Then, I filled the Roman soldiers with hate and anger as they whipped and beat him until he bled everywhere
And it was awesome how I influenced one soldier make a crown of thorns and place it on his head, thinking that it was the right thing to do!
That crucifixion was great! His suffering was breathtaking and slow!
Too bad it didn’t work out the way I planned; I thought if I killed him he would be done!
But who would have known his brutal death, beautifully orchestrated by me,
would destroy me and rip the keys of hell out of my hands!
God outsmarted me then! And his son took away death’s sting
Because now, death is not the end, but I cannot let the people know this!
Since I cannot defeat God, thanks to his son dying on that cross.
Then I have to trick and deceive all the people that his son never really lived
That God’s son was nothing more than a good person, not really their savior!
If I can make enough of his followers fall away and fill them with false scripture that only fits their needs and wants,
Then Christians will look just like everyone else; like all of my people.
And if no one can tell the difference between my people and his, then they won’t see that I lead them all to death and he leads them to life!
If I can make them think that God is distant and angry
That God does not love them, because they are worthless
That God can’t forgive them, because of what they have done in the past
That God never has loved them, and he never will
Yes, if I can make them believe this then their souls will be mine forever!
But how will I do this?
The same way I always have.
I will keep them so busy that they do not have time for God. They will work so hard all week that sleeping in on Sunday morning is more inviting than going to church and surrounding themselves with others who love and know God too.
I will charm the people to believe that they can do it on their own, and they do not need God’s help in their lives.
I will continue telling lies and making the lies look better than the truth,
I’ll stop people from reading God’s love letter, and most importantly make it hard for them to believe it.
I’ll do what I did to Eve, Lie and twist the truth.
Then, those who believe in my lies, will live with me forever.
And for all those who believe in my lies and die believing in me, I will give to them the hottest fire, the most immense pain and misery possible…for eternity!
Because I don’t love them, I never have, and I never will.
I have always hated them and always will hate them.
I hate them so much that I want them all to burn forever!
And I cannot wait to spend eternity in misery with them!
With Extreme Hate,
God’s Love Letter
You may not know me, but I know everything about you. Psalm 139:1
I know when you sit down and when you rise up. Psalm 139:2
I am familiar with all your ways. Psalm 139:3
Even the very hairs on your head are numbered. Matthew 10:29-31
For you were made in my image. Genesis 1:27
In me you live and move and have your being. Acts 17:28
For you are my offspring. Acts 17:28
I knew you even before you were conceived. Jeremiah 1:4-5
I chose you when I planned creation. Ephesians 1:11-12
You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book. Psalm 139:15-16
I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live. Acts 17:26
You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14 (IMAGE NIGHT)
I knit you together in your mother's womb. Psalm 139:13
And brought you forth on the day you were born. Psalm 71:6
I have been misrepresented by those who don't know me. John 8:41-44
I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love. 1 John 4:16
And it is my desire to lavish my love on you. 1 John 3:1
Simply because you are my child and I am your Father. 1 John 3:1
I offer you more than your earthly father ever could. Matthew 7:11
For I am the perfect father. Matthew 5:48
Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand. James 1:17
For I am your provider and I meet all your needs. Matthew 6:31-33
My plan for your future has always been filled with hope. Jeremiah 29:11
Because I love you with an everlasting love. Jeremiah 31:3
My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore. Psalm 139:17-18
And I rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17
I will never stop doing good to you. Jeremiah 32:40
For you are my treasured possession. Exodus 19:5
I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul. Jeremiah 32:41
And I want to show you great and marvelous things. Jeremiah 33:3
If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me. Deuteronomy 4:29
Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
For it is I who gave you those desires. Philippians 2:13
I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine. Ephesians 3:20
For I am your greatest encourager. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you. Psalm 34:18
As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart. Isaiah 40:11
One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes. Revelation 21:3-4
And I'll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth. Revelation 21:3-4
I am your Father, and I love you even as I love my son, Jesus. John 17:23
For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed. John 17:26
He is the exact representation of my being. Hebrews 1:3
He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you. Romans 8:31
And to tell you that I am not counting your sins. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you. 1 John 4:10
I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love. Romans 8:31-32
If you receive the gift of my son Jesus, you receive me. 1 John 2:23
And nothing will ever separate you from my love again. Romans 8:38-39
Come home and I'll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen. Luke 15:7
I have always been Father, and will always be Father. Ephesians 3:14-15
I am waiting for you. Luke 15:11-32
Love, Your Dad.
Advent 2017 Week 1 Hope
Marlys: Today is the beginning of Advent, and we light the first purple candle. This candle represents Hope.
Lance: We can have Hope because God is faithful and will keep the promises he made to us. Our Hope comes from God.
Marlys: God offers us all Hope, both to Jews and to Gentiles. God’s Hope is offered to everyone, no exclusions!
Lance: Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles. Praise him, all you people of the earth.
Prayer: I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Anticipation SUNDAY, December 3, 3017
Intro: Today is the start of advent and the lighting of the candles. But what is advent and what does today’s candle have to do with Christmas.
Scripture: Luke 1:5-25
5 When Herod was king of Judea, there was a Jewish priest named Zechariah. He was a member of the priestly order of Abijah, and his wife, Elizabeth, was also from the priestly line of Aaron. 6 Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations. 7 They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive, and they were both very old.
8 One day Zechariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week. 9 As was the custom of the priests, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. 10 While the incense was being burned, a great crowd stood outside, praying.
11 While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar. 12 Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him. 13 But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. 14 You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. 16 And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. 17 He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.”
18 Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.”
19 Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news! 20 But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly be fulfilled at the proper time.”
21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah to come out of the sanctuary, wondering why he was taking so long. 22 When he finally did come out, he couldn’t speak to them. Then they realized from his gestures and his silence that he must have seen a vision in the sanctuary.
23 When Zechariah’s week of service in the Temple was over, he returned home. 24 Soon afterward his wife, Elizabeth, became pregnant and went into seclusion for five months. 25 “How kind the Lord is!” she exclaimed. “He has taken away my disgrace of having no children.”
Here is the rundown of this scripture. We have Zechariah and Elizabeth, two old godly people who are now about to have a child. Zechariah was in the temple worshipping God in the Holy of Holies, the most inner place of the temple where the ark of the covenant was kept. This was an area that only certain high priest could go during certain times and I believe only alone. This is where Gabriel, God’s angel meets Zechariah. Zechariah is told that God is going to give him and his wife a son. That son will be John the Baptist and will be full of the Holy Spirit and lead many back to God. But, Zechariah does not believe the angel because his wife is really old and so is he. So, Gabriel says, since you spoke to me and refused to believe in the power of God, I will now take away your ability to speak until the birth of your Son John. When, Zechariah exits the Temple his is unable to speak, and shortly after his wife conceives John. When Elizabeth becomes pregnant she says, “How kind is the Lord!” “He has taken away my disgrace of having no children.” Such Joy and anticipation this old expecting mother must have had.
I want you to understand the context and the culture of the time to make this story have a little bit more impact. As a woman, Elizabeth’s value was based on how many son’s she could have for her husband. Also, a son took care of their mother in her old age. An elderly woman if she became a widow with no children would end living in poverty and as a beggar most likely. Elizabeth also would have been shamed for not being able to have children. Her not being “blessed” by God to have children it others eyes, meant that she was disgraced and not worthy of the honor of being a mother. Let’s just say that it would not have been easy for Elizabeth to have been woman without children, specifically a son, at this time in her culture.
Now understanding this about her life and culture could you possibly imagine her excitement and anticipation when she became pregnant? I would assume that many of you women in here could relate to the excitement of being pregnant for the first time. For those of you who many not have been able to have children you can feel Elizabeth’s disappointment for years. But, all of her disappointment, and heartbreak is about to turn into Joy. The excitement of the arrival of her child and her eager anticipation to hold him must have been awesome. The hope of what is to come.
That is advent. Advent comes from the Latin word adventus meaning arrival. This is what we celebrate each December. The joy and celebration of what is to come. Now we pick December 25th as our day to celebrate Jesus Christ Birthday. There are lots of reasons why we pick that day, but know that it is not the exact day of Jesus Christ birthday. But no matter what day we pick, we know that the celebration is in the anticipation of the wait. Just like a woman who is pregnant for the first time. The joy of what is too come and the eagerness to hold her new child. The Hope of Christmas can be summed up in Elizabeth’s words in verse 25.
“How kind the Lord is!” she exclaimed. “He has taken away my disgrace of having no children.” I am not going to change scripture, but for the sake of this sermon and the beginning of advent, I want you to look at verse 25, with only the words “He has taken away my disgrace.” Christmas is the time that we celebrate the start of God’s plan for redemption of the entire world. When the Father sends down his Son to redeem us all and save us all from sin. Jesus gave up his heavenly privileges and came to this earth in the form of a baby. The Messiah was born. The Jewish peoples wait for their Savior was no more. Their long-awaited King, who was sent to Redeem them was born in a barn. And the reason for his birth was to show us how to live, and to die on a cross for our sins. His life’s purpose was to show us Grace by forgiving our sins and nailing our sins to cross. This is Grace. Jesus who was sinless and perfect took our sins on his back and Redeemed us all from Satan.
Now look at verse 25 again. “How kind is the Lord. He has taken away my disgrace!” This is the meaning of Advent. The excitement and the build up to Christmas Day. It is a time to remember how Kind God really is. How great he is! How forgiving he is! How full of Grace he is. Christmas no matter what the date we celebrate it, is a time to be reminded of how kind God is to us, and how he takes away our disgrace of being sinful people not worthy to enter into God’s eternal kingdom and redeems us to be called Children of God.
You see that is our Hope. That is why we light the first advent candle today, to signify this Hope that God has given us. The Hope of Elizabeth who was pregnant in her old age, the Hope of being redeemed, the Hope of being a sinful person not worthy to be in God’s presence, to being made righteous in God’s sight by the Grace of Jesus Christ. Christmas starts with the Hope of what is to come.
So, I challenge you today with this. Put the Hope back in this Christmas season. Eagerly anticipate December 25th not resent it because we have so much to do. Look at this advent season, like a pregnancy. Yes, there will be some rough days, and some tough ones that might even scare you. Think about Elizabeth who in her old age was filled with the joy of being pregnant, who probably wondered why she was so excited for being pregnant when was delivering John in her old age naturally with no pain meds! We might wonder why we allow the Christmas season to be so stressful and even painful, yet just like labor, the joy of holding the newborn far outweighs the pain. So, this advent season eagerly anticipate Christmas because you know what Hope December 25th brings to world.
Last Night Sunday, November 26, 2017
Intro: Thanksgiving has left us all feeling more stuffed than the turkey. And I hope that Lance’s sermon isn’t as stuffed as the turkey was!
By now many of us have celebrated our thanksgiving. A time for us to spend with family completely surrounded by food. Typically, before everyone starts their feast a prayer is said, and then everyone eats until they are uncomfortably full. In my case, I then head to the couch and take a nap. I am sure I’m not the only one who passes out in a mild food coma after a huge thanksgiving feast. I have always enjoyed Thanksgiving, but as I age I am really starting to enjoy this holiday much more.
I am enjoying it not because I now have more to be thankful for, but because I am realizing how much I truly have to be thankful for. I am thankful for my wife, my children, my family, even my in-laws too! I am thankful for this Body of Christ that I am leading. And I could go on and on, about all that I have to be thankful for, and I would hope that you could as well. If you are not sure that you have much to be thankful for, I want to move to the scripture that I have chosen for you today and explain how yes, you really do have something to be thankful for.
This is King David praising God, but I would hope that you would read this and allow for it to be your prayer of praise as well. David starts out with, let me praise the Lord with my whole heart!” Praising God with all that you have and nothing in reserve. “May I never forget the good things he does for me.” I want to repeat thins line, because this may hang a few of us up. “May I never forget the good things he has done for me.” I say this may hang a few of us up, because I am quite sure that some of us out there are not to thankful for what God has done for them.
I would imagine some of you may feel like God has not handed you the greatest gifts lately. You may feel like God has ripped a piece of your heart out, so how can you possibly praise him with your whole heart. You may feel like your life has very little to be thankful for. Now with the aid of scripture I want to show you how you have everything to be grateful in this life. Verse 3 and 4 says “He forgives all my sins, and redeems me from death.”
God has forgiven you of all of your sins, and has given you the opportunity to enjoy eternal life with him. In a sermon not too long ago, I explained how if you were a millionaire and you had to give up a penny in order to keep you million; you gladly would. The penny would be insignificant compared to the return of a million dollars. That penny is this life and the million dollars is the eternity that God has offered us, when he removed our sins with his Son’s blood on the cross.
When we start to live a life that is focused on the million dollars, not the penny our attitude changes. We realize as we look around us at how much God has blessed us with. We do not focus on what we do not have, but rather revel in what we do have. I want to explain this by doing this little exercise.
Question, I want you to think about all that you have right now that is not going the way you want. The bad in your life that you wish could be changed. Think about that for a quick second………………………………………………………………
Ok, now I want you to think about this. If you woke up this morning and you only had what you thanked God for last night, how many of you would have had to walk to church this morning? How many of you would have had a roof over your head? How many of you would have had clothes? How many of you would have had breakfast to eat? How many of you would have had an empty wallet? How many of you would still have your family around you? What about your friends? Who would you call, oh yeah, that is if you thanked God for your phone, then you could call them.
Now I asked you about the bad in your life, then I asked you about the good in your life, just in a different way. You may have been able to focus on one or two things that you would label as bad in your life. But when I asked you what would you have if you only received what you thanked God for last night, a lot of good things came into mind. Family, friends, a house, food, a phone, clothes, a vehicle, and money all came to mind. Now I know that you might not have all of these, but you did have a lot of these. You see God has surrounded us so much goodness, but we overlook it.
When we live our lives out of gratitude for God forgiving our sins and giving us eternal life, then we will see how much he has blessed us with. That is why in David’s psalm he praises God with his whole heart, and says may I never forget all the good he has done for me, he forgives my sins, redeems me from death, and he fills my life with good things! And we are to live our lives in the same way.
So, how do we do this? Well I am going to challenge you this week to pray before bed every night. And in your prayer, I want you to focus on thanking God for everything you have that you want to have when you wake up. I bet some of you will spend some serious time in prayer. If you take your time and carefully think about all that you need each day, and realize how God has already provided it for you, you will see how much God cares for you.
The Wait Will Be Worth It, Sunday, November 19, 2017
Intro: Yesterday was the slowest opening day of deer season Lance has ever had and today we have to hear about it. I hope it’s not too long and boring like his day in the woods was yesterday.
Yesterday was Job’s first day as a deer hunter. Sure, he has gone with me several times over the years, but now thanks to the new law Job can buy his own license and hunt with me. Job of course was very excited to go and shoot a deer. On Friday morning, I made the wrong assumption and on Saturday morning Job reminded me of this. I told him at 7:45 as I took the kids to school on Friday, that by this time tomorrow he should have at least got to shoot at a deer and probably will have one down. Saturday morning Job asked me what time it was, I told him it was 8:02 and he responded with, “you said we would have shot a deer by now.” In the morning all we saw was squirrels. I told Job not to worry about it we should see something in the evening. Once again, I was wrong, no deer just lots of squirrels.
But while we were sitting in the stand last night we discussed not seeing anything. Job really did a great job of sitting for most of the day, but as the night got later he started to lose it. I told him not to worry about it, when he did finally see a deer and he does get to harvest one; all this waiting and seeing nothing will be worth it. I told him about the first deer I shot, and how I couldn’t even remember which day it was or how long I sat waiting to see something. All I could remember was how it happened, and that everything else was forgotten. I told him the joy of a successful hunt will far outweigh all this wasted time in a tree. The joy far outweighs the pain and suffering of the cold. He seemed to understand this as he did continue to sit and was eager to go again this morning.
But as I thought about the hunt today and the most boring opening day of deer season that I have ever witnessed, it gave me a thought for my sermon. Sitting in the cold eagerly waiting for a deer to come over the hill reminded me of a certain scripture. Can any of you guess what it is? You can read all about it in Scripture: Luke 15:11-32.
Parable of the Lost Son
11 To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. 12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.
13 “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. 14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. 15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. 16 The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.
17 “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’
20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’
22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.
25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, 26 and he asked one of the servants what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’
28 “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, 29 but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. 30 Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’
31 “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. 32 We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”
When I was trying to explain to Job about patiently waiting; this story was running through my mind. I cannot wait to see Job shoot a deer and to take his picture with it. The look on his face, the excitement and the joy will far surpass the look of disappointment on his face when we saw nothing yesterday. Think about this story of the Father patiently waiting for his son to come over that hill and return home. Is this not one of the best parables of God’s love for us? God is patiently waiting and longing for the day that his lost son will return to him. When the son finally comes over the hill, the Father runs out to meet him and embraces him. All the disappointment that the Father felt when his son left and squandered all of his inheritance, is now replaced with immense joy!
The pain, sorrow, and the wait are over, and the joy of the son’s return replaces the disappointment of the wait. Like Job when he finally shoots a deer, he will forget all the time we sat in a tree staring at squirrels. The love of the Father in this story is truly revealed to both sons. Did you get that? I said both sons. Some people read this scripture and they think that the oldest son really got the short end of the stick. Most people see think the youngest son got off to easy. I want to break down the Father’s immense love for both sons.
We have the youngest son who the story is mostly about. We will call him a punk because were in church and we need to keep this G rated. The youngest son if there were only two sons would only get 1\3 of the estate. Sometimes if the Father wanted to retire he could sell his estate and give out his inheritance while he is still alive, this was not that uncommon. What is uncommon is that the youngest son approached his Father and demanded that he receive his inheritance now. This showed arrogance and complete disregard for his Father’s authority as head of the household. This son is a punk from the start of the story. Then as you know he runs off and waste it all. He lived with pigs. This is also important in the scripture because pigs were unclean animals. If a Jew touched a pig or was in close contact with the animal either dead or alive, then they would be unclean and not worthy to partake in any religious ceremony. Because of them being near an unclean animal, they were unclean to be in God’s presence at worship. This son not only feeds the pigs, but actually lives among them and eats with them. This son was so unclean that he would not be allowed back around Jews for a long time without a lot of purification.
Then the younger son realizes how broken and lost he is. He is no longer worthy to be in his Father’s presence or even under the same roof as the Father. His association with the pigs has made him unclean and he has hurt his Father greatly by disrespecting his authority and embarrassing him. Just like sin in our lives we are unclean to be in God’s presence. Yet the son realizes that only his Father’s love is great enough to forgive him and he returns to the Father. The parable shows how excited the Father was when the son returns. The Father gives the younger son his ring, a fine robe, then he slaughters the fattened calf and throws a huge celebration. That’s Redemption. Forgiveness and Grace at is best. The Father forgets the wait and rejoices in the return.
Now this Redemption, Forgiveness and Grace upsets the oldest son. And I feel that I assimilate with the oldest son. That is not because I still live on the farm and never left my parents, but rather because I feel like I have tried to do right for a long time. I’m not perfect, but I never had a rebel side like this punk youngest son. The oldest son does everything the Father wants. He works for him, obeys him, and feels that the Father is mistreating him because never once has the Father thrown a party for him with even a goat. This son feels the Father has forgotten about him and not given him anything. Yet, the Father’s love for this oldest son is then revealed when he says to the oldest, “‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours.”
This part is missed. Everything the Father has now belongs to the oldest. I think if we could paraphrase what the Father is saying to the oldest it would say something like this, “Son, you have always stayed by me and obeyed me and because of that you have all that you’ll ever need because I’ll give you everything!”
Now do you see how the Father’s great love is expressed to both sons? The youngest was given Redemption, Forgiveness, and Grace and the oldest already had Redemption, Forgiveness, and Grace and he didn’t realize it!
So, my question for you this morning is which son are you? Are you the youngest who has squandered away this life and need to return to the Father and accept his Redemption, Forgiveness, and Grace? Or are you the oldest son, who has been living a life serving God and trying to do everything the way the Father wants, yet miss the great gift God has already given you?
I want to challenge you this week as you see all the dead deer hanging in trees, strapped to the roof of a cars, or in the bed of a truck to think about this Parable of the Prodigal Son. Think about your life and which son you are. Then think about the Father’s patience as he waits for you. And know that no matter how long God has to wait for you; that the joy the Father feels when his sons understand his immense love for them, that the wait was worth it.
Let every deer you see this week remind you of some hunter’s successful wait, and think of the joy that you could bring to the Father who patiently waits for you!
Surrender Your Will Sunday, November 12, 2017
John 16:16-33 John 16:16-33 New Living Translation (NLT)
Sadness Will Be Turned to Joy
16 “In a little while you won’t see me anymore. But a little while after that, you will see me again.”
17 Some of the disciples asked each other, “What does he mean when he says, ‘In a little while you won’t see me, but then you will see me,’ and ‘I am going to the Father’? 18 And what does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand.”
19 Jesus realized they wanted to ask him about it, so he said, “Are you asking yourselves what I meant? I said in a little while you won’t see me, but a little while after that you will see me again. 20 I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy. 21 It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world. 22 So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy. 23 At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. 24 You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.
25 “I have spoken of these matters in figures of speech, but soon I will stop speaking figuratively and will tell you plainly all about the Father. 26 Then you will ask in my name. I’m not saying I will ask the Father on your behalf, 27 for the Father himself loves you dearly because you love me and believe that I came from God. 28 Yes, I came from the Father into the world, and now I will leave the world and return to the Father.”
29 Then his disciples said, “At last you are speaking plainly and not figuratively. 30 Now we understand that you know everything, and there’s no need to question you. From this we believe that you came from God.”
31 Jesus asked, “Do you finally believe? 32 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. 33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
Every time I think of you I give thanks to God.
1st Thessalonians 4:13-14 The Hope of the Resurrection
13 And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.
Today we are remembering those who we have lost this last year. Many of you knew Alice, Marian, and Diane very well. They were near and dear to you and have a special place in your heart. You lived a life with them and now you hold onto the memory of time with them. Philippians 1:3 Every time I think of you I give thanks to God. I want to ask you this question. How many of you have lost someone that you miss very badly? Ok, now how many of you would give anything to just spend one more day with them? Good remember that you said yes to this, because I will be coming back to this.
I want to move into our main scripture for this morning. I am going to be reading out of John 16, verse 16-33 so if you have your Bibles and you want to follow along please feel free to do so. This I Jesus explaining a few things to his disciples shortly before he is crucified. Read John 16.
Many people today still do not understand death, or in my opinion don’t want to understand death. Death is just the next step in life. Because of Adam and in the garden, we all have to die. But as it says in Corinthians, just as one man brought death to all of us through Adam, Jesus Christ brings life to all who believe in him. Jesus is trying to explain to his disciples, that he is soon going to be crucified. He lets them know that they will be heartbroken and sad. They will desert him and be scared. Yet Jesus says my death will be just like a woman’s labor pains. The pain will be intense for a while, but the joy of the new child makes all that pain seem worth it.
Jesus broke all the molds, when he died. Before his death Jesus appeared as just another prophet. In the Roman’s eyes, he was just another rebel leader. The Sanhedrin, religious leaders thought that his death would be the end of him. Yet 3 days after Jesus’ death something happened. What was that? That’s right he came back to life. Jesus rose from the grave. He did not raise only in spirit but his physically came back to life. He broke all the molds and no longer death had it victory. That is why at funerals at least at the ones I officiate you will hear me say at the committal service quote scripture, “Where of death is your victory, where of death is your sting.” The end of this life is only temporary.
So where does that leave us as those who have lost loved ones. How do we go on without them? Well let me read to you out of Thessalonians. 1st Thessalonians 4:13-14 The Hope of the Resurrection
13 And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.
Now I want to tell you a secret, well it is not really a secret, but I want to inform you of something. It is often at funerals that we assume that everyone goes directly to heaven after they die. It is in reference to Jesus hanging on the cross, with two thieves on either side of him. One thief decides to follow Jesus Christ and accept Jesus as the Son of God. To that thief Jesus says, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” But the other thief rejects Jesus Christ and mocks him. The thief who accepted Christ defends Jesus, while the other thief mocks Jesus. Now, Jesus does not tell the thief who is mocking him that he will spend eternity in Hell, in fact he says nothing. Jesus only gives the promise to the thief who acknowledges Jesus before others.
That is why our scripture out of Thessalonians reminds us to not grieve for those who we have lost loved ones who have acknowledged Jesus Christ. Because we have Hope for them. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died. If Alice, Marian, and Diane had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ then for certain we can see them again!
Remember I asked you earlier in my opener, if you would do anything to just spend one more day with your lost loved one? Some of you answered Yes. Well, Jesus Christ has given us the chance to spend an eternity with them, not just one day. You said that you would do anything to be with them again, well all you have to do is acknowledge who Jesus Christ is before other men. Put your complete trust in Jesus as the Son of God, and give your life to him. I asked if you would do anything to be with them. I assume you are willing to do anything because you have such great love for that person.
Well know that God our Heavenly Father, did everything possible to be with you for eternity. God sent his Son down to this world, and sent him to the cross in our place. Jesus was the perfect lamb that was sacrificed and made as atonement for our sins. The Father sacrificed his son, and the Son willingly gave up his life so that you could have victory over death. The Father felt that your life and eternity was worthy of love and gave everything he had to be with you. And you said that you would give up anything to be with your loved one for a day, then let me tell you what you have to do.
If you have accepted Jesus Christ, then surrender your will to him. Trust that no matter what you go through in this life as Jesus says in John, I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” Jesus overcome this world and overcame death. Because he did this we have been given eternity is we accept him.
I am willing to surrender my will and this life to Jesus, in exchange for an eternity in paradise. So, here is my challenge for you. Will you? Are you willing to surrender all your wants, your feelings, your desires to Jesus Christ for an exchange for eternity? Sure this life will be tough and trials will feel overwhelming, but it is only temporary in the scope of eternity. So, is your word really good? Will you truly give anything for another day with your loved one? The Father and the Son did for a chance to spend eternity with you. Surrender your will to God and put your trust in the Son. Let’s Pray
DEDICATION Sunday, November 5, 2017
Today we are going to be talking about being dedicated Christians. We have just finished our dedication of Mya to the church. Last night at Date Night we talked about marriage and the commitment of for better or worse. Each time I spoke about dedication in a different way for different reasons, and now today we are going to speak about being dedicated in our actions as Christians.
I googled the definition of the word dedication and these are the 5 different meanings of the word.
1 an act or rite of dedicating (see 2dedicate 1) to a divine being or to a sacred use the dedication of the temple
2: a devoting or setting aside for a particular purpose the dedication of funds raised from the bake sale to the class trip
3: a name and often a message prefixed to a literary, musical, or artistic production in tribute to a person or cause mentioned his family in a brief dedication in his novel
4: self-sacrificing devotion and loyalty her dedication to the cause required hard work and dedication
5: a ceremony to mark the official completion or opening of something (such as a building) attended the building's dedication nearly fifty years ago
Now for my sermon today we are going to be using number 5 because I feel it best explains the word dedication from a Christian perspective. 4: self-sacrificing devotion and loyalty. her dedication to the cause required hard work and dedication. Our lives as representatives of Christ have to be different from the lives of those who do not live as representatives of Christ. Every aspect of our life needs to be touched and influenced by the scriptures, which leads to me the scripture that I have chosen for today.
Colossians 3:12-17New Living Translation (NLT)
12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.
How many of you know someone who is extremely dedicated to their physical fitness? How many of you know my friend Bobby Vale? I never asked him but I hope I have his permission to use him in this sermon. I doubt he will care, but anyway Bobby is a huge fitness nut. But he hasn’t always been. Bobby until his junior year in high school was a short and I’ll use the word soft young man. But something switched and Bobby got tired of that body and he worked extremely hard to change it, and if any of you have known Bobby for the last 15 years you have never known him as anything less than a solid piece of muscle.
But Bobby does not just live in the gym, well kind of he works at the gym, but his physical fitness is not only because of his hard work ethic in the gym. Bobby is very dedicated to what he puts in his body. I don’t know the last time that Bobby has had a pop or a beer for that matter. I’m not sure when he has had fast food besides maybe Subway, and even that is a maybe. Bobby pre-cooks his meals for the week and they are protein based and mostly chicken for what I see on snapchat. Now Bobby knows that what he puts into his body is equally if not more important that the hard work that he puts in the gym. If Bobby puts junk food in his body his performance and work out will suffer. And the hard work will not be spent wisely a lot will be wasted because of the extra sugar and junk he has to burn off. Also, is Bobby only eats health food, but never strengthen his body all the protein he eats will turn him soft once again. What Bobby puts into his body represents what he does with it and puts out. Bobby is very dedicated to his physical fitness. Bobby fills his body with good food.
Now back to our scripture. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. How many of us really train to be a Christian like Bobby does about his physical fitness? Have you fed your spiritual body with scripture for breakfast today? Have you daily fed your body with devotions? Have you daily spent time working out with God in your prayer time? You see life as a Christian is not too much different than life as Fitness guy. If your good about putting scripture in your life, meaning you read it each day, but then you never allow it to work through your body and change you; you will become soft once again. If you’re really good at standing up on for Christian beliefs and values and work then out by standing your ground and fighting for Christian rights and beliefs, but you haven’t opened your own Bible in the last year, you’re not going to be very fit either.
You need to be dedicated in every aspect of your life. We just dedicated Mya to the church. Congregation do you want Mya to grow up to follow Jesus Christ? Then work hard and dedicate your time to be a church congregation that allows for Mya to grow up in a church. Sponsors do you want Mya to become a young beautiful Christian woman? Then you have to work hard to point her in that direction and do what you tell her to do. Brent and Amber, do you want Mya to grow up to be a respectful, kind, and loving woman? The work hard to be one yourself and lead her by example.
Couples do you want to want to have a rock solid relationship with your partner? Then look at what you put in your relationship. If it is not filled with scripture and love why would you expect your marriage to be filled with love? Christians do you wan to have a faith and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? Well you cant have a relationship with someone you don’t know. Dig deep into the word. Feed your body well. Then work it out. Live out what you have read. 12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. If you are mean and bitter to those around you and arraogant and proud but try to live a Christian life, your going to be like the Gym junkie who eats donuts and monster energy drinks. You put crap in your gonna put crap out.
Then here is the really tough part. This is the part that hangs up most want to be Christians. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. I think the Christian who refuses to forgive is like the person who gets a gym membership but never works out and lives on pizza, donuts, cookies, and pop then wonders why they are not fit.
Living a dedicated life means that we live a self-sacrificing devotion and loyalty to Jesus Christ. And if he forgave us then we must forgive others. Bobby was not given a body that was built for fitness, he had to work very hard at it and he changed every aspect of his life. If you tell me that you just cannot forgive that person, then I challenge you with this. Change your diet. Read about what Jesus Christ has done for us, and for you. See how Jesus lived, loved, and forgave and he was nailed to the cross. Fill your insides with scripture about the Father and the Sons ultimate love for you. It will change you. You will see that there is nothing that you can do to lose his love and make him not forgive you. When you understand that, you will be allowed to forgive those who have hurt you.
When you become a Christian, you must change your whole lifestyle in the same way, that Bobby changed his body over 15 years ago. Hard work and dedication is just that hard, but the benefits of the hard work are worth it. The same goes for the dedicated Christian. What we put into our spiritual bodies is what we will get out. A dedicated life shows dedicated results.
So, my challenge for you all today is to start dedicating some time to prayer and reading. This week I want to all to read one verse or more of scripture and then spend 5 minutes in prayer each day. Start by dedicating 5 minutes of your time to prayer and watch your relationship with God grow.
Wear the Shoe Sunday, October 29, 2017
Last week in my absence I sent my son to deliver the word to you all on Sunday. Job’s sermon was entitled “fill my shoe.” For those of you who did not hear his sermon, it was all about the Father sending his Son to give you a message. God had sent his Son Jesus Christ down here on earth to live and walk among us. Jesus’ job was to speak the Father’s words and od the Father’s will. Just like Job last week. Job was asked by me to do the sermon. I prepared the words that he spoke. I put my words in his mouth and he spoke them all to you. I sent Job as a visual representation of the Father sending his Son so that you might understand what God did. Now today I will build off of Job’s sermon.
Scripture: James 1:22-25
Last week Job challenged you in his sermon with these words; you are the church, and if we are filled with the Holy Spirit we will represent the Father and the Son in their absence with the help of the Holy Spirit. You were challenged to represent the Father and the Son. How have you done this last week? What did you do with the scripture that Job spoke to you last week? Did you only listen to it and forget it? Or did you intensively listen to it and do something with it? How many times have you heard a great sermon on a Sunday morning, but by Tuesday afternoon you couldn’t even remember the title? I know I have. I’ll admit it.
It is James scripture that warns us of doing this. “Don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise you are only fooling yourselves.” Many of you know that Job is deaf right? Well, at home we will tell him to do something. And he pretends he doesn’t hear us. We can tell when he hears our words, and knows what he is told to do, yet uses his ears as an excuse to not do it. I’ll say, “Job would you go water the pigs.” Then I’ll catch him off shooting birds. “I’ll ask him Job what did I tell you to do?” “I don’t know I didn’t hear you dad.” Really, then why did you get the buckets and put your boots on? Or I will quietly tell him we will go squirrel hunting tonight, and he never once misses hearing that.
James warns us of listening to God’s word and call, but not doing. James uses a great analogy of the man who sees his reflection in the mirror. I just picture some guy waking up who is in I hurry looks in the mirror to brush his teeth looks at himself says yup that’s good enough and flies out the door with toothpaste still on his cheek and stubble all over his face. Maybe a better picture is a young boy who is covered in mud from head to toe his mother tells him to go get washed up and he runs in and out of the shower and when he gets out he is still covered in mud. Mother ask are you clean, yup he says.
We use a mirror so that we can see areas in our appearance that need to be cleaned up. That is exactly what the word of God is. It shows us areas in our life that are dirty and need to be cleaned up. But if we only listen to the word and do not obey it, we are no different than the boy who is still covered in mud after his shower. God has given us such a precious gift by giving us his Word in book form. This is our mirror. When we forget or can’t remember what or how God feels about this topic or this situation we can open the pages and find the answer.
You will see as James says as you look at the perfect law it will set you free. That is a very hard concept for many to comprehend. That a law can set you free. Think about that. Can a law set you free? Let me try to explain how a law can set you free, by telling you about a game I played with the Wednesday Kids. I took the 2-6th graders and we played a game called Subjective Tag. Subjective tag is where everyone gets to make up their own rules to game as it is played. No set rules anything goes, everyone gets to do as they please and have a blast doing it.
The kids did exactly as I expected. Some broke off and played together in rules they made. Others played with the basic rules they have heard growing up in a normal game of tag. Other made up their own crazy rules like Job and Joe Childs who decided you had to tackle and wrestle each other to the ground. Becca thought you had to climb a tree.
We stopped the game and went in and had our lesson. We asked them if they had fun, and they mostly said yes, but they were very confused. They kept asking what is the point of the game? After our lesson about the importance of reading God’s word and doing what it tells us, we went back outside and played a game called friendship tag. It had a lot of rules and got a little confusing but when they got the hang of it they loved it. They had a blast because they were all playing by the same rules. They had a definitive understanding of the rules and the reasoning behind it. The game had a point and that game them understanding. Watching we could tell that they all had way more fun. We asked them which game was better, and they said both games were fun, but the second one was better because everyone had the same rules.
James says “Don’t just listen to God’s words. You must do what it says. Otherwise you are only fooling yourselves.” You see the world is full of Christians who have heard the Word of God, yet not all of them have obeyed it. We get subjective ideas and theologies when this happens. The game fits the individual, not the individual fits the game.
My sermon today is entitled “Where the Shoe.” This of course is a spin-off of Job’s sermon Fill my Shoe. Job’s sermon was about you hearing the Son speaking the Father’s words. My sermon is about you not just hearing the words, but putting them into action and obeying them. Being a Christian is not Subjective, and following the perfect law and obeying it will set you free.
So, I challenge you today with this. Listen to God’s Word, read it, and now obey it. Wear the shoe, even if it doesn’t fit you, change your actions until your foot fits God’s Word.
Fill My Shoe Sunday, October 22, 2017
Today my father is gone. He is at a retreat to see if he can become a pastor. In my father’s absence, he sent me, his son, to preach in his place.
Dad sent me in his place just like God sent Jesus, his Son, in his place to teach us. So today, I am here to teach.
I will be reading scripture because that is where all knowledge and understanding come from. So please do not think I am young, because if I’m reading God’s words, then I speak the truth, no matter how young I am.
The first scripture today is from John Chapter 3 Verse 35, “The Father loves his Son and has put everything into his hands.” My dad loves me had has put the responsibility of preaching in my hands.
Just like God who sent his Son Jesus to hold the nails while they were pounded in his hands.
Jesus’ hands were nailed to the cross so that he could carry the weight of our sins on his back.
God gave Jesus the choice to do die on the cross, and my dad gave me
the choice if I wanted to preach for him. Jesus gladly died for you and me.
Dad did not leave me alone to figure this out. He helped me and prepared me for this responsibility. Just like our Heavenly Father did to Jesus like it says in John Chapter 5 Verse 19.
So Jesus explained, “ I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does on what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.”
I have watched my dad preach, and I know I can do this thanks to his
help and guidance. Jesus watched his dad too, Jesus did whatever his Father did. I’ve watched my dad preach since I was a tiny baby. Although I may not be quite as funny as him, and I do dress a little better than he does it I may say so myself, but I will try to preach like him.
Even though I chose to preach for dad, it was his idea and I am trying to
follow my dad’s will. Jesus did this too in John Chapter 6 Verse 38, when he said
“For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will.”
I preach in my dad’s absence today because he sent me so that you can
hear God’s words. Jesus also came to do his Father’s will so that you can get to know God the Father better.
I am trying to act like my dad, to fill his shoe, not shoes because he only has one foot! Jesus came to show the world what God was like. Jesus showed love to the unlovable and forgiveness to everyone.
Jesus even forgave the men who pounded the nails in his hads and feet. Jesus showed everyone that he loves and forgives everyone just like his Father in Heaven does. I preach in my dad’s place because I love God too, just like my dad.
Now I hope you know and understand why my dad chose me to preach in his absence today. He did it to give you a picture of the Father, sending the Son, to do his work. Dad gave me the words to say today and showed me how to preach this sermon. Dad sent me in his place to let you know that the Father loves you so much that he would send his Son here for you.
But soon it will be time for me to leave, just like Jesus had to leave. But Jesus did not leave us alone, instead he sent us a helper,Jesus explains this in John Chapter 14 Versus 15-17
“ If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father,
and he will give you another helper who will never leave you.”
He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.
That scripture says that the Holy Spirit lives in you, then your life should show it.
Dad sent me here this morning in his place. God sent Jesus in his place.
Jesus took our place on the cross. I’m almost done and going to leave.
When Jesus was done he left us with the Holy Sprint to help us.
Dad sent me to challenge you with this. You are the church, and if we are we are filled with the Holy Spirit we will represent the Father and the Son in their absence with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that everyone here today comes to know the Father, through the Son with the help of Holy Spirit. Amen.
Lord’s Acre Hangover, SUNDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2017
Is everyone pretty tired and exhausted this morning? It was a long night last night but a lot of fun. It seemed to me and pretty much everyone I spoke to, that last night’s Lord’s Acre Auction was quite a success. The bids went like crazy and people were quite generous with their gifts. And today I think that it is important to talk about generosity. As many of you know I do not enjoy talking about money or giving in the church, but I feel today in light of the Lord’s Acre Hangover it is an appropriate time. Now I am not going to stand up here and tell you to give and give more, and then say it is your duty and responsibility to give a specific amount as a member. Instead, I want to stand up here and explain why Christians are generous. And in order for me to do that, I must use scripture as that is a Christians ultimate authority. The first scripture comes from 2nd Corinthians.
2 Corinthians 9:6–8
The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
I like how direct Paul is. Listen up here is the point. If you plant 10 seeds you will have a small harvest. If you plant 100,000 seeds you will be busy in the fall. Each person must decide in their heart to give. And we are not to do this reluctantly or out of a sense of duty. I know some churches do this and I have a very hard time with it. When the church sends out a letter to it’s members and tells them exactly how much their portion is. It’s very similar to me as apportionments and taxes. How many of you are eager to write out a tax check at the end of the year? We know as citizens of our township or town, county, state, and nation that we have a duty to fulfill our part of the responsibility of taxes, but it still is hard to write out another check to pay them!
I will be the first to admit I do not send in my property taxes with a cheerful heart. I am proud to be an American and ok with fulfilling my civic duty, but I am not excited to pay taxes. That is why Paul does not say we are required to give a certain amount. We are to give to the best of our ability and decide on our own what that amount shall be. I know Emily and I set aside a certain amount each month that goes to the church, and at the Lord’s Acre we come with a dollar amount in our mind that we are going to give. We chose to give the amount that we do and we are very happy to give that amount.
God has set it up this way so that those who give with a cheerful heart reap what they sow. I know that several times Emily and I have been financially strapped and it is tempting to not give the church the money that we have set aside and use it for our bills. Yet because of our faithfulness several times God has either given us a raise, bonus, or allowed me to sell something just in the nick of time. Because of our faithfulness God has granted us sufficiency. A grateful and faithful giver never has needs that God cannot meet.
The second scripture is found in 1st John.
1 John 3:16–18
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
Why do we give? Because God was willing to give to us his ultimate gift. His own son. Jesus the Son was willing to follow his Father’s plan and freely chose to lay down his own life for us. It is that type of generosity that the father and son set up as an example for us of how to give, that allows us to freely give in return. I want to share a little secret with you, that is kind of hard for me to admit, but I need to give credit, where credit is due. When I was preaching at Bloomington when the church was still in the Faith Alive Charge, after church one day an elderly gentleman spoke to me. He asked me about my schooling and student loan debt. I had never met this man. A few weeks later, I was contacted by him and he felt like he was led to pay of my student loans to help ease Emily and I’s financial burden. I still do not even know this man’s last name. He paid of a $40,000 dollar debt for a complete stranger. I barely knew him. He died shortly after he made the payment, and I didn’t even know about it until 6 months after he passed. I never personally got to shake his hand or say thank you to his face. Do you know how grateful I am to this man? I think about his generosity to me every time we pay Emily’s loans. Do you know how much I wish I could tell him thank you? His generosity has tremendously impacted my life, and I would love to show him some gratitude for it.
Yet, God gave us something much more than money. He took away our sins when his son was nailed to the cross. I could have and eventually would have found a way to pay off my student loans. But I never would be able to earn my own salvation. My sin separates me from God. But Jesus Christ’s blood atoned for my sin and by his Grace I have received salvation. God’s ultimate gift of generosity was sending his son to die in my place, and that leads us to our last scripture.
John 3:16, Love gives. Period.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
You see it is quite simple. Love gives. As Christians we do not give to earn grace, but rather we give to say thank you for grace. Generosity and giving is not mandatory but a choice. So was your salvation, it was a choice you have to make. I know what salvation means to me. I will continue to live a life of generosity out of gratitude for the generous gift the Father has bestowed upon me. What about you?
Raining Down Hell Sunday, October 8, 2017
Intro: This week Las Vegas had a horrible incident happen. Many people lost their lives and hundreds were injured. Everyone wants to know how this could have been prevented, and today Lance is going to try to explain how this could have been prevented.
Scripture: Genesis 2:15 and John 1:1
I am sure all of you in here are well aware of the horrendous activity that took place last week in Las Vegas. 59 people lost their lives and several hundred where injured. Mr. Paddock completely shocked the nation in one of the greatest acts of evil that we have seen in some time. The news exploded looking for a motive for such evil, and to my knowledge one has not yet been found and maybe we will never truly know what went through this man’s mind. When instances of evil occur; the question of Evil and the mystery of why it Evil exist surfaces. People want an answer as to why someone could do something so horrid. Why could someone conceive such an evil plan in their mind and then execute it literally raining hell down on all of the people at that concert. Well it is my intention to try to tackle a piece of this question this morning.
The Mystery of Evil. Listening to Ravi, he asks the question, “do you know what the main question being asked on college campuses is right now?” Questions concerning Evil. Evil’s origin, meaning, reasoning, ect. Do you want to know why our college students need this question answered?
The mystery of evil? What does evil really mean? Why does it happen? Science cannot explain it. The bible is very clear. When God created man, he spoke to Adam and Eve. God places Adam in the garden and tells him to tend to it. Then he says, “you may freely eat of any tree in the garden – except for the tree of knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.” God speaks to Adam and sets the ground work. Gods words set reality. Then God gives Adam a task and tells him to name all the animals. 2:19 Adam speaks here and he names the animals. God gives man a suitable helpmate, not another man, but a woman and then also has Adam name her. Gods words are given to define reality and man’s words are spoken in order to affirm God’s reality.
Then the fall comes in to play. Satan comes to Eve and twist and perverts God’s words. Satan says did God really say, that you may not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil? God is afraid that you will be like him and that your eyes will be open. Satan says surely you will not die. Then what does Eve do? That’s right she takes the fruit and she gives it to her husband. This is when Hell first rains down on all those present. Evil now has its grasp on our World. But how? How did Evil enter.
God had spoken. Adam has spoken. Satan has spoken. Eve has acted. Do this don’t touch that tree. Believe me, God has defined reality, but Adam chose not to and they called God a liar. Adams reality defined God as a liar. Satan is saying you can define good and evil as god. Are you following me? Did you hear what I said. God defined reality, by saying Adam trust me, do not touch this tree if you do bad things will happen. Adam twisted reality by acting out and presuming God was a liar and eating the fruit. Adam took reality into his own hands when he made reality fit his needs and wants. That fruit looks good, it tastes so sweet, God made me this way, I want it, it’s ok, I’ll disobey God and do what I want.
This is the foundation of Evil. God defines reality with “don’t touch!” Man redefines reality when we allow for God’s words to be twisted. John 1:1, “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” We could restate that statement in more understanding terms. In the beginning was the definition and the definition was God. When we switch the definition of reality and leave God out there is no foundation for reality and reality becomes each individual’s idea of reality. And when one individual’s idea of reality collides with another’s idea of reality, evil prevails.
Now back the Las Vegas massacre. So many questions are arising about how it could have been prevented. Do you want to know how this could have been prevented? Eve could have listened to God instead of the snake. Then Cane could have learned from his parent’s mistakes when they disobeyed God, and Abel would still be alive. Then at the Tower of Babel when everyone got together and said “let us make a name for ourselves and build a tower to the heavens”, maybe one person would have said no, because they would have learned what pride did to Adam and Eve, and I could keep going on and on. You see God set reality when he created us, when we ignore his reality and create our own, we fall and hell rains down when we believe a lie. “God did not really say you will die.”
The Las Vegas Massacre all started with Adam and Eve believing in a lie and calling God a liar. In the beginning was the definition and he definition was God switch the definition and evil has its roots. If God if called a liar, the Satan is the definition, and Evil is planted in mankind. Do you know what the natural outcome of believing a lie is? Wickedness. Do you know what the natural outcome of believing the truth is? Goodness. It seems like a pretty simple foundation that God set up at creation, doesn’t it? God stated, “don’t touch!” believe me and you will live. Satan says, “touch, and you won’t die!” 59 died last week thanks to Satan’s lie and Adam and Eve believing it.
So, where does that leave us? What do we do with this bit of information. I think we can do everything or nothing with it. If you accept that God is the definition of reality and that the Holy Bible is his words, then we need to live by this book. We cannot pick and choose pieces of this book to fit our lives, because that would be choosing our own reality and what happened to Adam and Eve when they did that. I guess I could simply leave you with this thought today. When you read God’s word, are you calling God a liar or are you calling him the truth? Your actions either wickedness or goodness will answer the question.
House of My Soul, Sunday, October 1, 2017
Intro: Today we are going to be talking about our houses, and the terrible mess and shape that they are all in. It is time to get some serious cleaning done.
Yesterday, I went to another WCA meeting. The Wesleyan Covenant Association is a national council of which I have been asked to be on the Wisconsin Conference Council. This was only our second meeting, and we discussed the future of the United Methodist Church. Our chairman gave us his thoughts about how he is feeling about the UMC. In our devotional he gave to us a prayer written by Augustine back in the 4th century. I will get to that prayer in a little bit, but first let’s talk about the scriptures that I have chosen for today.
The first scripture that I have chosen for today comes from Matthew. This is Jesus speaking to his disciples. Matthew 16:26
“What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”
Seems like a pretty straight forward question to me; doesn’t it? What can anyone gain from their soul? Gain the whole world and lose your soul. Trading your soul which is eternal for something non-eternal doesn’t seem like a good idea. This world will come and go, but your soul never dies. God has given us a mortal body, but filled it with an immortal soul. What a gift to protect and treasure and to ensure it reaches it proper destination. I chose this scripture first because to some in the UMC right now we may be wondering what is being comprised for the cost of some souls right now? As we try to comprise to appease everyone, what is being gained and what is being lost? Are we gaining the world at the cost of souls?
It doesn’t leave you with much of a positive feel towards the future of the church and makes you feel down right downcast. Which leads to my second scripture.
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
Why, my soul are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? It’s simple! Because men have tried to rewrite scripture to make it fit their wants and lifestyle. That is why I am downcast. Because men have failed God! I guess it is a good thing that Psalm 42:11 has an uplifting message at the end of it. Put your Hope in God. Not put your Hope in men, because if you do they will fail you, because their overpowering sinful nature will lead to corruption of God’s Word. We are called to put our Hope in God and as we do that we see the future starts to look brighter.
“Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.” My soul finds rest in God because my salvation comes from him. No more downcast soul. No more trading your soul for possessions. Nothing lost and everything gained. Your soul has a place in paradise for eternity.
Now what does this little mini sermon and three scriptures have to do with my WCA meeting yesterday? Well, we spent some time praying for ourselves, each other, for our individual churches, and for the whole UMC. And we did all four of those prayers by simply repeating a prayer written over 1600 years ago by a man named Augustine. This man was a remarkably intelligent man and theologian. I will not go into much detail about him, but his work and thought is still being used today. This man was utterly brilliant when it came to theology. But anyway, enough about him and onto his prayer.
This prayer is commonly referred to as the “house of my soul” prayer and here is how it goes in two different versions new and old.
O Lord, the house of my soul is narrow; enlarge it that you may enter in. It is ruinous, O repair it! It displeases Your sight. I confess it, I know. But who shall cleanse it, to whom shall I cry but to you? Cleanse me from my secret faults, O Lord, and spare Your servant from secret sins.
What a beautiful picture Augustine paints of our life. The house of my Soul. The house of my soul is too narrow. My mind is to simple Lord, I can’t understand your ways. Lord I know that on my own I cannot fathom your ways but with your help and you alone I can. So, I ask you to come into my life and enlarge this house of my soul so that you may enter. This house of my Soul is ruined and a terrible mess, Lord please fix it. I know my house of my soul displeases you to see it, I confess I’m a mess. But Lord who can cleanse my life, only you so therefore it is you who I cry out to! Lord you even know the secret sins that my house of my soul hides, come and cleanse me of those too and never let them have power over me!
Now that prayer was meant to be a personal prayer. A prayer of a messed-up sinner just like you and me who was in constant need to help cleanse and purge his sinful nature. But this prayer is also very powerful when applied to the body of a church, or in the entire UMC right now. Oh, Lord the house of my soul is far too narrow for you to enter. For years we have said in the United Methodist Church, “open hearts, open minds, open doors,” but it doesn’t matter how open the door is if the doorway is too narrow for God to enter. Lord we need you to enlarge the doorway so that you may come in. Then when you enter Lord, shed light onto our mess and ruins, and then restore and cleanse us. Lord we confess that we have made a mess of your church and ourselves, but now we know that it is only you who can help us. And we know that you Lord would much rather enter through a narrow doorway into a ruin and mess then to never be asked to enter.
I want to give you this challenge this morning. You all have a copy of a piece of the House of My Soul Prayer from Augustine. I want you all to take it home this week and pray it. I would like you to pray it 3 times each day. Preferably at three different times but all together is better than not at all. Repeat the same prayer 3 times. The first time you recite it I want it to be for you. It is about you and your life. It is a conversation that you are having with God, where you confess your sins and ask him to cleanse them and then come into your life.
The second time I want you to recite it for our church, here at Mount Hope. Think about areas that we have kept people out and how with God’s help we can bring them back in. Confess the sins of Mount Hope and ask God to shed his light on our pews and for God to cleanse us in Mount Hope and enter to enter with us each Sunday.
The third and final time you say this prayer each day, let it be for our whole United Methodist Church. We have failed terribly as a denomination and we are an enormous mess, only God can rebuild us and cleanse us like the pure spotless bride that we were meant to be. If you want to see change in the church, first start with you then move to your church then onto the denomination and pray hard and diligently.
April 17th Sunday, September 24, 2017
Intro: Well congratulations we all made it here? Do any of you know what todays date is? September 24th. You know why this date is important? Because on Friday the 22nd the 24th wasn’t gonna happen. The world was supposed to end yesterday, but it didn’t.
Did any of you know this? Did any of you believe this? Yeah, well apparently David Meade an extreme Christian and doomsday guy predicted that it was going to happen yesterday, but big surprise by late Friday he was already changing his mind. The end will start now on October 21st, so I guess we get to get one more Lord’s Acre in before the end of the world. This Meade guy’s prediction has been overwhelmingly rejected by every Christian denomination, even the Catholics agreed with the protestants on this one, so then again since the two of them agreed maybe the end of the world really is coming! But anyway, the exact date of the end of the world has not been accurately predicted again.
This has happened a few times now, and unfortunately it will continue to happen until the Rapture really does happen. Yesterday was a fake, and I want to give you a little heads up about October 21st it too will be a fake, the 22nd will follow. Well it should, the Rapture could possibly happen before this sermon is over today, and if it gets too long some of you might hope that it does. Do any of you wonder where all these doomsday, and “end times” prophets get their info from? They get it from scripture, and probably the internet too, but they typically quote the book of Revelations, Matthew, or several others. These doomsday guys read extensively into Revelations and do mathematical equations and find secret hidden knowledge in the scriptures. They believe that with their knowledge of the Word they can accurately pinpoint the exact date and time when the End of World will happen.
They are reading the Word of God and using scripture, so it has to be right, doesn’t it? That is kind of a trick question, because if it was right then we wouldn’t be here today since it’s the 24th! Rightly dividing the Word is critical. Reading the whole story not just the verse. Because of the recent eclipse these verses in Matthew have been quoted a lot about the signs of the end times, “The sun will be darkened, the moon will give no light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will%