Sermon 15 Oct 2017 Receive the Peace

 

Scripture

Philippians 4:4-9

John 20:19-26

 

Core Idea and purpose

Core
Idea: God's peace drives out anxiety, fear & hatred. This enables us to make good choices so we can take the right & loving course of action.

Purpose: To encourage people to receive God's peace.

The Sermon

  1. High levels of anxiety make it difficult to make good, rational decisions.
    1. When worry, fear, jealousy or hatred snatches control of our hearts, we become selfish and do whatever we feel like doing at the moment.
  • The idea of taking the right & loving course of action is washed away by dark & sinister forces.
  • For example, when we constantly worry about money, we're much more likely to cheat & steal and less likely to be generous.
  • Decisions made out of fear & anxieties are almost always bad.
  1. Most of us intuitively know this but a bunch of highly skilled scientist from UC Berkley and University of Oxford decided to conduct an experiment to prove it.
  • They asked 31 young & middle-aged adults to take a survey to determine their base line anxiety level.
  • Then they had them pick between two shapes.
    • One shape had a high probability of delivering an electrical shock if chosen
    • The other shape had a lower probability of delivering an electrical shock if chosen.
    • After a while, they would change the probability of delivering an electrical shock for each shape.
    • The participants were graded on how quickly they figured out which shape they should choose to lessen their probability of receiving an electrical shock.
  • Not surprisingly, they found that the ones with a high base line anxiety level had a very hard time figuring out which shape to choose and the ones with a low base line anxiety level quickly figured out what shape to choose.
  1. I love and admire scientists. They discover fascinating wonders all the time. However, in this case, these scientists didn't discover anything new but confirmed what our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, taught us over 2,000 years ago.
  • Jesus knew that we cannot allow anxiety, fear, anger & hatred to rule our hearts if we are to make righteous and loving decisions.
  • So, He offered and still offers us peace so that these dark forces will not dominate our hearts.
  1. Jesus' promises us peace
    1. In John 14:27, Jesus promised, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
    2. Then, in John 16:33, Jesus reiterated His promise and said, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
    3. Near the end of the Gospel of John, the resurrected Jesus approached His disciples and stated, "Peace be with you". Then He breathed on them the Holy Spirit (John 20:19-26).
  2. What this peace does for us – the benefits of this peace
    1. This peace, promised by Jesus, drives out anxiety, fear, anger & hatred.
  • Without these dark forces dominating our hearts, we can calmly and rationally think and pray about what we should do in any given situation.
  • In this way, we can take the right & loving course of action, no matter how desperate the situation.
  1. Stacey Davis' sister, Rhonda, exhibited peace as she faced cancer. The following is the testimony she texted to various people:
  • This has been on my heart to do the past several days. I feel the need to give my testimony because GOD has done so much for me & my life the past 2 years & thru certain trials the devil has tried to throw at me GOD continues to see me through & bless my life. GOD has blessed me with the love a wonderful & loving caring partner, when I felt for years I was never worthy of love or would be blessed to find it or have it in my life. GOD blessed me with a wonderful new job when I walked away from a job that the devil had made a living hell for me! And because I stepped out on faith & trusted & believed in my GOD, HE blessed me & delivered me & gave me a better & less stressful job with incredibly wonderful people to work with! And the devil has continued to attack my body. First with a horrible rash that covered my body that itched like mad covered me in blisters for months & GOD said no more & healed me! PRAISE GOD!! And recently the devil attacked my body again with cancer & GOD said NO!! And because of GOD the cancer was revealed in my body with pain one morning that caused me to go to the ER. And with help of my wonderful surgeon & my wonderful OB doctor, GOD gave them wisdom. Surgery was recently done & PRAISE & GLORY be to GOD malignancy was only found in 1 part of my body no other!! All other areas!! I'm facing chemo now as a precaution but I know GOD will see me through the next 18 weeks of treatment as HE seen me through everything else! HIS word is true & if we have faith of a mustard seed HE will never leave nor forsake us! I'm truly blessed & thankful! My GOD is awesome! And I'm thankful for my fiancé & his love, my family & my dear friends & all my prayer warriors!! I'm looking to come out of all this stronger then ever! I will never allow the devil a foot hold in my life or my plant seeds of doubt in my head. GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST, I GIVE HIM ALL PRAISE!!! IN JESUS NAME!!! Never forget we serve a mighty GOD & by HIS stripes we are healed! AMEN!!! Please pass this onto to your church families whom have prayed for me & lifted me up, I truly appreciate it! Love you
  • Rhonda was able to rationally think and pray about her cancer treatment because she has the peace promised by Jesus.
  1. Acquiring this peace
    1. We all need this peace but how do we acquire it?
  • Do we have to earn enough brownie points with Jesus to get it? No, none of us could ever earn enough brownie points.
  • Do we have to get close enough to perfection? (Refer to last week's sermon) No, we don't have to be good enough.
  • Just like forgiveness, we simply receive God's peace through faith in Jesus. We simply receive it.
  1. Consider Philippians 4:6-9: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God, And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. "
  • We receive God's peace by going to God in prayer, giving thanks to God and presenting God with whatever is causing our anxiety.
  • We receive peace through thankful prayer!
  1. Such a prayer may go something like this:
  • Dear Lord, my heavenly Father, Creator of all that is seen and unseen. You are the ruler of all creation. There is none like you.

    I must say, I'm really worried about my money situation. I have bills coming up and these aren't bills for luxuries. They're light bills, mortgage bills, a car paymenmt and insurance payments. I have to pay these bills but my son
    needs tutition. I need help.

    Lord, I know you've come through for me in the past. You never let me down. I thank you for my job. I thank you for my income. You've provioded me with a superb family. You've given me life and slvation. I thank you for all this but please Lord, help me one more time.

    In Jesus' name, Amen.

  • Just prior to saying a prayer like this, you could try some centering prayer.
    • Get comfortable, close your eyes and take in deep, slow breaths.
    • Take about 20 deep, slow breaths.
    • Then start saying, 'Thank you Jesus' as you exhale. Say, "Thank you Jesus" about twenty times.
    • By doing this, you will be totally focused on Jesus and ready to pray. (This is also very helpful to do right before reading Scripture or doing a devotional.)
  1. The more we focus on Jesus, the more we become receptive to God's peace.
  1. What keeps you from taking the right & loving course of action?
    1. Is it excessive worry or anxiety? Is it bitterness, unresolved anger, hatred or jealousy?
    2. Whatever it is, God's peace can drive it out. Then you can prayerfully and rationally discern the right & loving course of action.
    3. Go to God in prayer, give Him thanks, present your problem to Him and receive peace.
Posted in Pastor's Thoughts | Leave a comment

Sermon 15 Oct 2017 Receive the Peace

 

Scripture

Philippians 4:4-9

John 20:19-26

 

Core Idea and purpose

Core
Idea: God's peace drives out anxiety, fear & hatred. This enables us to make good choices so we can take the right & loving course of action.

Purpose: To encourage people to receive God's peace.

The Sermon

  1. High levels of anxiety make it difficult to make good, rational decisions.
    1. When worry, fear, jealousy or hatred snatches control of our hearts, we become selfish and do whatever we feel like doing at the moment.
  • The idea of taking the right & loving course of action is washed away by dark & sinister forces.
  • For example, when we constantly worry about money, we're much more likely to cheat & steal and less likely to be generous.
  • Decisions made out of fear & anxieties are almost always bad.
  1. Most of us intuitively know this but a bunch of highly skilled scientist from UC Berkley and University of Oxford decided to conduct an experiment to prove it.
  • They asked 31 young & middle-aged adults to take a survey to determine their base line anxiety level.
  • Then they had them pick between two shapes.
    • One shape had a high probability of delivering an electrical shock if chosen
    • The other shape had a lower probability of delivering an electrical shock if chosen.
    • After a while, they would change the probability of delivering an electrical shock for each shape.
    • The participants were graded on how quickly they figured out which shape they should choose to lessen their probability of receiving an electrical shock.
  • Not surprisingly, they found that the ones with a high base line anxiety level had a very hard time figuring out which shape to choose and the ones with a low base line anxiety level quickly figured out what shape to choose.
  1. I love and admire scientists. They discover fascinating wonders all the time. However, in this case, these scientists didn't discover anything new but confirmed what our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, taught us over 2,000 years ago.
  • Jesus knew that we cannot allow anxiety, fear, anger & hatred to rule our hearts if we are to make righteous and loving decisions.
  • So, He offered and still offers us peace so that these dark forces will not dominate our hearts.
  1. Jesus' promises us peace
    1. In John 14:27, Jesus promised, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
    2. Then, in John 16:33, Jesus reiterated His promise and said, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
    3. Near the end of the Gospel of John, the resurrected Jesus approached His disciples and stated, "Peace be with you". Then He breathed on them the Holy Spirit (John 20:19-26).
  2. What this peace does for us – the benefits of this peace
    1. This peace, promised by Jesus, drives out anxiety, fear, anger & hatred.
  • Without these dark forces dominating our hearts, we can calmly and rationally think and pray about what we should do in any given situation.
  • In this way, we can take the right & loving course of action, no matter how desperate the situation.
  1. Stacey Davis' sister, Rhonda, exhibited peace as she faced cancer. The following is the testimony she texted to various people:
  • This has been on my heart to do the past several days. I feel the need to give my testimony because GOD has done so much for me & my life the past 2 years & thru certain trials the devil has tried to throw at me GOD continues to see me through & bless my life. GOD has blessed me with the love a wonderful & loving caring partner, when I felt for years I was never worthy of love or would be blessed to find it or have it in my life. GOD blessed me with a wonderful new job when I walked away from a job that the devil had made a living hell for me! And because I stepped out on faith & trusted & believed in my GOD, HE blessed me & delivered me & gave me a better & less stressful job with incredibly wonderful people to work with! And the devil has continued to attack my body. First with a horrible rash that covered my body that itched like mad covered me in blisters for months & GOD said no more & healed me! PRAISE GOD!! And recently the devil attacked my body again with cancer & GOD said NO!! And because of GOD the cancer was revealed in my body with pain one morning that caused me to go to the ER. And with help of my wonderful surgeon & my wonderful OB doctor, GOD gave them wisdom. Surgery was recently done & PRAISE & GLORY be to GOD malignancy was only found in 1 part of my body no other!! All other areas!! I'm facing chemo now as a precaution but I know GOD will see me through the next 18 weeks of treatment as HE seen me through everything else! HIS word is true & if we have faith of a mustard seed HE will never leave nor forsake us! I'm truly blessed & thankful! My GOD is awesome! And I'm thankful for my fiancé & his love, my family & my dear friends & all my prayer warriors!! I'm looking to come out of all this stronger then ever! I will never allow the devil a foot hold in my life or my plant seeds of doubt in my head. GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST, I GIVE HIM ALL PRAISE!!! IN JESUS NAME!!! Never forget we serve a mighty GOD & by HIS stripes we are healed! AMEN!!! Please pass this onto to your church families whom have prayed for me & lifted me up, I truly appreciate it! Love you
  • Rhonda was able to rationally think and pray about her cancer treatment because she has the peace promised by Jesus.
  1. Acquiring this peace
    1. We all need this peace but how do we acquire it?
  • Do we have to earn enough brownie points with Jesus to get it? No, none of us could ever earn enough brownie points.
  • Do we have to get close enough to perfection? (Refer to last week's sermon) No, we don't have to be good enough.
  • Just like forgiveness, we simply receive God's peace through faith in Jesus. We simply receive it.
  1. Consider Philippians 4:6-9: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God, And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. "
  • We receive God's peace by going to God in prayer, giving thanks to God and presenting God with whatever is causing our anxiety.
  • We receive peace through thankful prayer!
  1. Such a prayer may go something like this:
  • Dear Lord, my heavenly Father, Creator of all that is seen and unseen. You are the ruler of all creation. There is none like you.

    I must say, I'm really worried about my money situation. I have bills coming up and these aren't bills for luxuries. They're light bills, mortgage bills, a car paymenmt and insurance payments. I have to pay these bills but my son
    needs tutition. I need help.

    Lord, I know you've come through for me in the past. You never let me down. I thank you for my job. I thank you for my income. You've provioded me with a superb family. You've given me life and slvation. I thank you for all this but please Lord, help me one more time.

    In Jesus' name, Amen.

  • Just prior to saying a prayer like this, you could try some centering prayer.
    • Get comfortable, close your eyes and take in deep, slow breaths.
    • Take about 20 deep, slow breaths.
    • Then start saying, 'Thank you Jesus' as you exhale. Say, "Thank you Jesus" about twenty times.
    • By doing this, you will be totally focused on Jesus and ready to pray. (This is also very helpful to do right before reading Scripture or doing a devotional.)
  1. The more we focus on Jesus, the more we become receptive to God's peace.
  1. What keeps you from taking the right & loving course of action?
    1. Is it excessive worry or anxiety? Is it bitterness, unresolved anger, hatred or jealousy?
    2. Whatever it is, God's peace can drive it out. Then you can prayerfully and rationally discern the right & loving course of action.
    3. Go to God in prayer, give Him thanks, present your problem to Him and receive peace.
Posted in Pastor's Thoughts | Leave a comment

Sermon 08 Oct 2017 (Be perfect)

 

Scripture

 

Philippians 2:12-13 & 3:12-14

Matthew 5:43-48

Core Idea and purpose

 

Core
Idea: Jesus commands perfection. We are perfect when we are solely motivated by God's type of unconditional holy love. Perfection is love.

Purpose: To encourage Christians to strive for perfection.

The Sermon

  1. "You must be perfect" as a motivational speech
    1. In the movie, "Remember the Titans", there's a scene where Coach Boone, played by Denzel Washington, gives a motivational speech to the high school football team known as the Titans.
  • In this scene, Coach Boone declares, "We will be perfect in every aspect of the game…"

He then goes on to describe all the ways in which they are to be perfect. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4f4pNwg_K9Q )

  1. Many people have a negative reaction to this type of motivational speech.
  • They think, "This coach is ridiculous!!! No one is perfect. We all make mistakes. I bet this coach has made mistakes!!! I'm not even going to try because none of what I do will be good enough."
  • Yes, it's true; we all make mistakes from time to time.
    • In that sense, no one is perfect and no one can be perfect.
    • However, before we dismiss the idea of being perfect we must consider that God, like Coach Boone, demands perfection.
  1. Yes, that's right. God demands perfection!!
    1. Look at Philippians 3:12, "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
  • The goal we are supposed to press on towards is perfection.
  1. Our Savior & Lord, Jesus Christ, makes it even more explicit. He states, "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48)
  2. Does this make you nervous?
  • It sure makes me nervous. The perfect God demanding perfection from us? Yikes!!
  • Well, before we start to panic, let's consider two things.
    • The first thing to consider is how God wants us to be perfect.
    • The second thing to consider is that it is God who actually makes us perfect.
    • By doing this, we'll discover that it is possible for us to be perfect in God's eyes.
  1. How does God want us to be perfect?
    1. To be perfect in God's eyes doesn't mean we never make mistakes.
  • None of us have complete wisdom or perfect intelligence.
  • Sometimes, our hearts are right but we still make bad decisions.
  • God's demand for perfection doesn't mean that we are to never screw-up.
  1. To be perfect in God's eyes is to have the right motivation for everything we do. We are perfect when we are solely motivated by God's type of unconditional & holy love. Perfection is love.
  2. Let's go over what Jesus said right before He told us to be perfect.
  • Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?" (Matthew 5:43-47)
  • According to this, we are to love all people the way God loves people.
  • Perfection is loving people with God's type of unconditional & holy love.
  1. When I flunked out of the U.S. Marine Corp Officer Candidate School, I didn't want to face my dad.
  • He was a retired First Sargent from the U.S. Army. I was afraid of what he might think of me.
  • But, when I came home, all defeated and depressed, my dad stated, "You're my son. You'll be ok. Besides, the Marines are stupid."
  • My dad loved me unconditionally. At that moment, my dad was perfect in God's eyes.
  1. We must also remember that it is God who makes us perfect.
    1. We can try as hard as we can to always love every person but, at some point, our sinful nature will raise its ugly head and lead us down the slippery slope of selfishness, arrogance, jealousy and hatred.
    2. We must cooperate with God so that He can change our hearts and enable us to be perfect.
    3. We cooperate with God by using the 'means of grace'. They are:
  • praying
  • studying Scripture
  • worshipping
  • fasting
  • seeking ways to serve others.
  1. The Holy Spirit uses these 'means of grace' to change our hearts so we can be solely motivated by God's type of unconditional & holy love.
  1. It is possible to be perfect

    An example from the movie "The War" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNG_ZjJsN9g )

  • There's a scene where Stephen, a shell-shocked Vietnam War veteran, gives some cotton candy to two kids who had recently beaten up his own son, Stu.
  • When Stu asked his dad why he gave cotton candy to the bullies who beat him up, Stephen replied, "Because they look like they haven't been given anything in a long time."
  • At that moment, Stephen was perfect in God's eyes.
  1. IT IS POSSIBLE TO BE PERFECT IN GOD'S EYES BUT ONLY WITH GOD'S GRACE.
  • Think back to a time when you did something for another person and your only motivation was God's unconditional & holy love.
    • At that moment, you were perfect.
    • The more we experience this perfection, the more it will become a natural part of our character. Eventually, we'll find ourselves loving even the most reprehensible people without even trying.
  • Yes, there are times when we'll take our eyes off Jesus and allow our sinful natures to take control.
    • However, when this happens, we don't have to worry about God striking us with lightning.
    • We go to God in prayer, admit what we did or admit our true motivation
      and receive God's forgiveness.
    • When this happens, we can imagine Jesus sitting next to us and putting his arm around our shoulders.
    • He then looks at us with caring, compassionate eyes and explains, "Ok, you messed up. I'll work with you. I'll change your heart so you can do better. Together we'll reach perfection."
  1. Yes, with God's help, perfection is possible. So, I leave you with the words of Jesus, "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
Posted in Pastor's Thoughts | Leave a comment

Sermon 08 Oct 2017 (Be perfect)

 

Scripture

 

Philippians 2:12-13 & 3:12-14

Matthew 5:43-48

Core Idea and purpose

 

Core
Idea: Jesus commands perfection. We are perfect when we are solely motivated by God's type of unconditional holy love. Perfection is love.

Purpose: To encourage Christians to strive for perfection.

The Sermon

  1. "You must be perfect" as a motivational speech
    1. In the movie, "Remember the Titans", there's a scene where Coach Boone, played by Denzel Washington, gives a motivational speech to the high school football team known as the Titans.
  • In this scene, Coach Boone declares, "We will be perfect in every aspect of the game…"

He then goes on to describe all the ways in which they are to be perfect. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4f4pNwg_K9Q )

  1. Many people have a negative reaction to this type of motivational speech.
  • They think, "This coach is ridiculous!!! No one is perfect. We all make mistakes. I bet this coach has made mistakes!!! I'm not even going to try because none of what I do will be good enough."
  • Yes, it's true; we all make mistakes from time to time.
    • In that sense, no one is perfect and no one can be perfect.
    • However, before we dismiss the idea of being perfect we must consider that God, like Coach Boone, demands perfection.
  1. Yes, that's right. God demands perfection!!
    1. Look at Philippians 3:12, "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
  • The goal we are supposed to press on towards is perfection.
  1. Our Savior & Lord, Jesus Christ, makes it even more explicit. He states, "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48)
  2. Does this make you nervous?
  • It sure makes me nervous. The perfect God demanding perfection from us? Yikes!!
  • Well, before we start to panic, let's consider two things.
    • The first thing to consider is how God wants us to be perfect.
    • The second thing to consider is that it is God who actually makes us perfect.
    • By doing this, we'll discover that it is possible for us to be perfect in God's eyes.
  1. How does God want us to be perfect?
    1. To be perfect in God's eyes doesn't mean we never make mistakes.
  • None of us have complete wisdom or perfect intelligence.
  • Sometimes, our hearts are right but we still make bad decisions.
  • God's demand for perfection doesn't mean that we are to never screw-up.
  1. To be perfect in God's eyes is to have the right motivation for everything we do. We are perfect when we are solely motivated by God's type of unconditional & holy love. Perfection is love.
  2. Let's go over what Jesus said right before He told us to be perfect.
  • Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?" (Matthew 5:43-47)
  • According to this, we are to love all people the way God loves people.
  • Perfection is loving people with God's type of unconditional & holy love.
  1. When I flunked out of the U.S. Marine Corp Officer Candidate School, I didn't want to face my dad.
  • He was a retired First Sargent from the U.S. Army. I was afraid of what he might think of me.
  • But, when I came home, all defeated and depressed, my dad stated, "You're my son. You'll be ok. Besides, the Marines are stupid."
  • My dad loved me unconditionally. At that moment, my dad was perfect in God's eyes.
  1. We must also remember that it is God who makes us perfect.
    1. We can try as hard as we can to always love every person but, at some point, our sinful nature will raise its ugly head and lead us down the slippery slope of selfishness, arrogance, jealousy and hatred.
    2. We must cooperate with God so that He can change our hearts and enable us to be perfect.
    3. We cooperate with God by using the 'means of grace'. They are:
  • praying
  • studying Scripture
  • worshipping
  • fasting
  • seeking ways to serve others.
  1. The Holy Spirit uses these 'means of grace' to change our hearts so we can be solely motivated by God's type of unconditional & holy love.
  1. It is possible to be perfect

    An example from the movie "The War" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNG_ZjJsN9g )

  • There's a scene where Stephen, a shell-shocked Vietnam War veteran, gives some cotton candy to two kids who had recently beaten up his own son, Stu.
  • When Stu asked his dad why he gave cotton candy to the bullies who beat him up, Stephen replied, "Because they look like they haven't been given anything in a long time."
  • At that moment, Stephen was perfect in God's eyes.
  1. IT IS POSSIBLE TO BE PERFECT IN GOD'S EYES BUT ONLY WITH GOD'S GRACE.
  • Think back to a time when you did something for another person and your only motivation was God's unconditional & holy love.
    • At that moment, you were perfect.
    • The more we experience this perfection, the more it will become a natural part of our character. Eventually, we'll find ourselves loving even the most reprehensible people without even trying.
  • Yes, there are times when we'll take our eyes off Jesus and allow our sinful natures to take control.
    • However, when this happens, we don't have to worry about God striking us with lightning.
    • We go to God in prayer, admit what we did or admit our true motivation
      and receive God's forgiveness.
    • When this happens, we can imagine Jesus sitting next to us and putting his arm around our shoulders.
    • He then looks at us with caring, compassionate eyes and explains, "Ok, you messed up. I'll work with you. I'll change your heart so you can do better. Together we'll reach perfection."
  1. Yes, with God's help, perfection is possible. So, I leave you with the words of Jesus, "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
Posted in Pastor's Thoughts | Leave a comment

Sermon 01 October 2017

Scripture

Exodus 16:11-20

Matthew 6:11

Core Idea and purpose

 

Core
Idea: God provides all we need to do His loving will

Purpose: To help Christians experience peace knowing that God provides.

The Sermon

  1. One of the biggest fears in all of human history is the fear of not having enough.
    1. We've all asked ourselves at some point in our lives……
  • Am I smart enough to take this class?
  • Do I have enough skills or experience to take on this responsibility?
  • Will I have enough money to pay rent?
  • Will I have enough food to feed my family?
  • Do I have enough of this or enough of that?
  1. This fear is very real and it can paralyze our actions, cause us to make bad choices and keep us from greatness.
  2. There's good reason for this fear. Just look around the world.
  • According to the U.N., war and economic depression has placed Yemen on the brink of famine. Over 17 million Yemenis are considered to be food insecure and 14.4 million Yemenis are without safe drinking water. This is out of a population of 27 million.
  • In North Korea, the government is spending millions on defense while much of its population is starving. According to the BBC, over 2 million North Koreans have died because of acute food shortages since the mid-1990s.
  • Even here, in the U.S. there are children going to bed without dinner and not knowing if they'll have breakfast. According to the U.S. Census bureau, 40.6 million Americans live in poverty.
  • Our 32 President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, understood the reality of the fear of not having enough.
    • In his 1941 State of the Union address, he described the four freedoms every person in the world should experience.
    • One of those freedoms was the freedom from want.
    • He stated, "The third freedom is freedom from want – which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants – everywhere in the world"
  1. In response to this fear of not having enough, we, as followers of Christ, need to let the world know that God provides all we need to do His loving will.
    1. Now, you may be thinking, "Wait a minute. You just described how people are starving in Yemen, North Korea and even the U.S. How can you say God provides all our needs?"
  • The answer is that the earth, which God created, provides enough food and resources to feed everyone.
  • The problem is that sinful humanity can't get its act together to ensure that food gets to where it needs to go.
  • We keep fighting instead of cooperating with each other.
  • The problem is us, not God.
  • The Lord provides all we need to do His loving will.
  1. The ancient Israelites learned this in the desert.
  • During the second month after leaving Egyptian slavery, the Israelites began to run out of food.
  • They complained to Moses, questioned God's faithfulness and even contemplated returning to Egypt & slavery.
  • God, of course, proved His faithfulness.
    • That night, quail miraculously appeared and the Israelites had meat to eat at night.
    • Then, the next morning, manna appeared as the morning dew melted away. .
    • Each day, the Israelites would gather enough food for one day.
      • If they gathered more, the excess would be moldy and full of worms the next morning.
      • In this way, the Israelites learned to trust God day by day.
  1. God doesn't necessarily give us more than we need at the present moment.
  • He often gives us just enough to do His loving will at that moment.
  • So, the very next day or moment we must learn anew how to trust God.
  • This becomes a continuous exercise to develop our faith.
  1. We pray for this every Sunday when we pray the Lord's prayer.
  • First we pray, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:10)
  • Then we pray, "Give us this day our daily bread." (Matthew 6:11)
    • Back in Jesus' day, bread, not meat, was the main course.
    • In this prayer, bread represents our basic necessities
  • In the Lord's prayer, we are asking for basic necessities and we are doing this right after telling God that we want to do His loving will.
    • So, when Jesus taught this prayer, He was teaching us to always seek to do God's will and to ask God to give us what we need to do that will.
  • We should also note that when we ask for our basic necessities (bread), we are not asking for an excess but just enough for the moment (Give us this day…)
    • God may not always provide our wants but He will always provide us with enough of whatever we need to do His loving will at the moment.
  1. Let me share with you a dream of mine.
    1. I walk into the church office and Wendy, our Office Secretary, hands me my mail.
  • One envelope has no return address. I open the envelope and discover a cashier's check.
  • I see that it's written to the church but I stand there speechless when I realize it is worth $50,000,000.00.
  • Oh, what this church could do with that money!
    • We could hire fulltime youth & children's ministry directors
    • Build a homeless shelter
    • Establish a crisis pregnancy center in Port St. John
    • Send missionaries all over the world.
  • There is, however, a serious danger that accompanies such a huge windfall.
    • We would start to trust the money rather than God.
    • So, God normally provides what we need for the moment.
  1. One time, I tried to make this dream of sudden riches for the church come true by buying a lottery ticket.
  • Over 5 years ago, while serving another church, I was driving home along I 95
  • I was thinking about the church's finances and thought, "What if I won the lottery? I'd give it to the church. Oh, what good the church would do with that money."
  • Then I prayed, "God, if I ever win the lottery, I'd give it to the church."
    • Well, it then occurred to me that if I don't buy a lottery ticket, I wouldn't be giving God a chance to make me a winner.
    • So, I bought a lottery ticket.
    • There was a problem with me buying a lottery ticket.
      • The problem was that I don't agree with the lottery.
      • I was thus being unethical when I bought a lottery ticket.
      • I wasn't thinking straight.
    • I won exactly $0.00
      • God told me NO!
      • I realized that I needed to trust God enough to provide what the church needed to accomplish His will
      • By trusting God, I will never have to do something that runs counter to my beliefs in order to have enough money.
  1. When it comes to us, the First United Methodist Church of Port St. John, God will always provide.
    1. A little over a month ago, I received a cashiers' check in the mail.
  • It was written out to FUMC PSJ.
  • No, it wasn't worth $20,000,000.00 but it was worth $10,000.00.
  • The anonymous note explained that the donor recently sold some property and wanted to donate his/her prophets to area churches.
  • At the September finance meeting we were going to discuss how we should use this money but we never had the September finance meeting because hurricane Irma decided to visit us.
  • We incurred some expenses because of hurricane Irma.
  • So, at the October finance meeting we will be…
    • Assessing the hurricane expenses
    • The amount of money we have in the bank
    • How to use the $10,000.00.
  1. Yes, we have extra expenses from the hurricane but we also have a little extra money.
  2. God provides for our needs so we can do His loving will.
  1. We need to remember this as we prayerfully contemplate how much we will commit to give to the church.
    1. God will always provide for our needs and, in response, we ought to give back to God.
  • This, of course, is called tithing.
  • We tithe when we pledge to give a percentage of our income to the church on a regular basis.
  • The exact amount you pledge to give is between you and God.
    • Pledge enough so that it is a sacrifice on your part but not so much that you can't properly support your family.
    • Pledge enough so that you have to give up…
      • That extra weekly coffee
      • A more expensive package deal on cable
      • Going out to eat several times a week.
      • Seeing a movie every week
  • How often you give is also between you and God. It doesn't matter if you give…
    • Weekly
    • monthly
    • yearly.
  1. I have chosen not to know who tithes and how much each person tithes
  • Pastors often discuss if they should know who does and does not tithe
  • There are great arguments on both sides of the discussion
  • I have chosen not to know who does and does not tithe
    • I don't want the temptation of treating some church members better than others because they tithe
    • Neither do I want the temptation to neglect some church members because they don't tithe.
  • I do, however, insist that you need to tithe
    • Tithe something, even if it's just $1.00/week.
    • We tithe because it will bring us into a closer relationship with God
  1. When you pledge enough so that it is a sacrifice on your part, you are doing two things.
  • First, you're giving thanks to God for providing us with life, salvation, love, joy and peace.
  • Second, you are demonstrating your faith in God.
    • You are demonstrating that you believe God will always provide for your needs so you can do His loving will.


 

Posted in Pastor's Thoughts | Comments Off on Sermon 01 October 2017