Sermon 03 Dec 2017 “Christmas is answered prayer”

Scripture

Isaiah 64:1-9

Psalm 144:5

Core Idea and purpose

Core
Idea: Christmas is answered prayer and, as such, demonstrates that God always answers sincere prayers.

Purpose: To help people pray with confidence, knowing that God hears our prayers.

The Sermon

  1. I love the Garth Brook's song, "Unanswered Prayers".

     

    1. It illustrates some great truths about God's wisdom and love.

       

    2. When we pray, we must remember that God loves us, wants what's best for all of us and, therefore, doesn't always answer our prayers in accordance with our wishes.

       

    3. There is, however, something technically wrong about this song.
  • God never leaves a sincere prayer unanswered.
  • Yes, God sometimes says 'no' but he will never ignore us.
  • So, the song should say, "Sometimes I thank God for saying no" instead of, "Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayer".
  • It may not sound as good, but it would be more theologically accurate.

 

  1. Sometimes, God says 'NO!'

     

    1. It's wonderful when God gives us an immediate 'YES!" and grants our requests right away.
  • I believe God loves to do that, just as good parents love to say 'yes' to their children.
  • But, God must sometimes say, 'NO!!".

 

  1. There are three reasons why God may tell us 'NO'.
  • First: We may ask for something with the wrong motivation.
    • If our motivation is thoroughly selfish, God may say "NO".
    • James 4:3 says, "When you ask [God], you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."
    • If a young man prays for a corvette so he can impress the ladies, God just may say, 'NO!'
  • Second: What we want is not always in our best interest.
    • God loves us and has our best interests at heart.
    • God knows what is best for us while our knowledge & wisdom often falls short.
  • Third: God is looking at the 'big picture' and doing what is best for all people involved in any given situation.
    • Saying 'yes' to one person may not be what's best for another person.
    • The organizer of a church event prays for it not to rain while a farmer just 1 mile away prays for rain because his crops are failing. God may say 'NO' to the organizer and yes to the farmer.

       

  1. Another answer to prayer may be, "Not yet".

     

    1. God may want to teach us something or help us mature before granting our request.

       

    2. Another reason for a 'not yet' is that our timing may not sync with God's timetable for the continuing work of worldwide salvation.

       

    3. The prophet, Isaiah, was told, 'not yet' when he boldly prayed for the exiled Jews.
  • He prayed, "Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you!" (Isaiah 64:1)
    • God waited over 700 years to grant this request but grant it He did!!
    • On that first Christmas, God tore open the heavens and came down to this earth as a little baby named Jesus.
    • This was the beginning of a radical revolution of love to spread God's kingdom throughout the earth.
  • Later on in this prayer, Isaiah asked, "How then can we be saved?"(Isaiah 64:5) Then he made the ultimate request, "Oh, don't be so angry with us, LORD. Please don't remember our sins forever. Look at us, we pray, and see that we are all your people." (Isaiah 64:9)
    • Again, God said, "Not yet" and waited 700 years before answering this prayer with Jesus.
    • It is only through faith in Jesus that our sins are forgiven.
    • Jesus atoned (took away) the guilt & power of sin so that we can receive God's forgiveness and enjoy a loving relationship with God.

       

  1. Christmas is answered prayer.
  • Jesus is the ultimate answer to all our prayers.
  • Through faith in Him we receive eternal life and entry into the Kingdom of Heaven.
  • We also receive the love, joy & peace that comes with the Kingdom of Heaven.
  • So, when we receive a 'not yet' from God, we simply look to Jesus and know that God will answer our prayers at the right time.

     

  1. I received a 'not yet' from God about a year after my first wife, Jackie, died.
  • I was lonely, missed being married and my 1 year old son, Joshua, needed a mother.
  • So, I decided it was time to start dating and search for a wife.
  • I prayed to God and asked Him to provide me with a wife.
    • God told me 'not yet'.
    • Then, about a year later, friends from my old church set me up with my current wife, Donna.
    • After our first date, I knew God finally said "Yes, here is your new wife."
    • For that reason, I often refer to Donna as 'My Blessing'.

 

  1. Prayer is simply trusting God to take care of us so that we can focus on doing the right thing.

     

    1. It's saying, "Lord, you took on my problems and I know you have my back. Therefore, I can stop worrying and simply take the right & loving course of action in this situation. Thank you Lord God."

       

    2. As we partake in Holy Communion, we remember the life, death and resurrection of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.
  • Since today also happens to be the First Sunday of Advent, it should also remind us that Christmas is answered prayer.
  • Therefore, we can know with certainty that God hears and answers all our prayers.
    • Not only that, God answers all our prayers in accordance with His perfect love, wisdom and timing.
    • So, we can pray to God in any given situation and then take the right & loving course of action, knowing that He has our back.

    

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Sermon 22 OCT 2017 “Hallow God’s name”

Scripture

 

Psalm 99:1-9

Matthew 6:9

 

Core Idea and purpose

Core
Idea: Yes, God wants to be our friend but we must not forget that He remains our Lord

Purpose: To encourage people to hallow God's name.

The Sermon

 

  1. Maintaining right relationships is extremely important.
    1. The military understands this.
  • Officers are not allowed to date enlisted personnel.
  • An intimate relationship between an officer and enlisted person would interfere with the officer's ability to command.
  1. The same is also true when it comes to college professors and students.
  • Unbiased treatment of all students goes out the window when a professor is intimate with one of the students.
  1. Parents must also maintain a proper relationship with their children.
  • It's hard for parents to discipline their children when they stop being parents and become their friends.
  1. We demonstrate love when we maintain proper relationships.
  1. The same is true when it comes to our relationship with God.
    1. Yes, God wants to be our friend.
  • He wants to be intimate with us and wants us to go to Him with our needs, desires and heart-felt concerns.
  • The depth of God's unconditional love for us is beyond our comprehension
  1. All this is absolutely true, but we must not forget that God will always remain our LORD!
  1. In our United Methodist tradition, we tend to emphasize God's love and mercy.
  • We constantly tell people that God wants an intimate personal relationship with us and that God will always offer us forgiveness.
  • This is great!! It's one of the things I love about our tradition!
  • But, we sometimes emphasize these truths so much that we forget about the holiness, majesty, power and greatness of God.
    • This is a great mistake.
    • An accurate understanding of God incorporates His holiness and greatness with his merciful desire for a loving relationship.
  • When my first wife, Jackie, was a new Christian, the church constantly told her about God's love and mercy but said almost nothing about God's holiness and judgment.
    • She pictured God as a tender hearted person who didn't really mind if people sinned.
    • She thought, "Well, if I sin it's not that big of a deal because God has to forgive me."
    • Do you see the problem with this inaccurate view of God?
      • Is this really the proper relationship for any of us to have with God?
      • Jackie's desires and attitudes changed very little while she maintained this improper relationship with God.
      • Her spiritual growth was severely stunted.
  1. Scripture reminds us to appreciate the holiness & greatness of God
  • The 99th Psalm reminds us to appreciate the holiness and greatness of God.
    • It starts off by saying, "The Lord is king; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!"
    • It ends by saying, "Extol the Lord our God, and worship at His holy mountain; for the Lord our God is holy."
  • Our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ also reminds us to remember God's holiness and greatness.
    • In the model prayer, given to us by Jesus, we state, "Hallowed be thy name".
      • The word 'hallow' means to honor.
      • We are praying for God's name to be honored, respected and adored throughout the world.
      • We do this because we acknowledge the holiness, majesty and greatness of the Creator of all that is seen and unseen.
      • Naturally, right after we acknowledge God's holiness, majesty and greatness, we pray, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven".
  1. The only proper response to God's holiness, majesty and greatness is complete obedience – all our desires, attitudes, thoughts, words and actions must be surrendered to the loving authority of the one and only all-powerful God.
  • Once we begin to truly realize this, our lives will change.
  1. When it comes to our relationship with God, we often make the mistake of going from one extreme to the other.
  • On one extreme, we view God as the nice person who wants to be our friend and looks the other way at our sins – no real repentance required.
  • On the other extreme, we look at God as the stern, wrathful person who is ready to strike us down whenever we commit the tiniest of sins.
  • Both extremes cause us to have an unhealthy relationship with God.
  • A healthy relationship with God falls somewhere in the middle of these two extremes.
  1. As a new Christian, my first wife, Jackie, had an extreme view of God.
    1. As previously stated, she used to think, "Well, if I sin it's not that big of a deal because God has to forgive me."
    2. However, as she delved into Scripture, developed a prayer life, attended worship and sought ways to serve others, she developed a more accurate view of God and found herself somewhere in between the two extremes.
    3. She started to think, "God is so mighty and loving, I never want to sin. I want to be the loving and holy person God created me to be." She then started to pray, "Dear Lord, I receive your forgiveness. I thank you for being my friend. Now, change me from the inside. Change my desires and attitudes so that I can obey you and be the holy & loving person you created me to be. Make me more like Christ."
  2. Conclusion: What about you? How do you view God? What is your relationship with God like?
    1. Yes, God offers forgiveness and wants to be your friend but He never stops being Lord.
    2. As Lord, God deserves the total surrender of our desires, attitudes, thoughts, words and actions to His loving authority.
    3. We must never forget this
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Sermon 22 OCT 2017 “Hallow God’s name”

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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.
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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.
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