30 December 2010

Great Spoil 2

Psalm 119:162 I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil.

Lauren, Riley, and I were visiting my family in AL over the weekend.  We almost got snowed in, but we were (barely) able to make it to church on Sunday (Sweet Springs Baptist Church in Ardmore, AL – Pastor Joel Logan).  And I’m sure glad we did. 

The service was unique.  Instead of giving a sermon, Brother Joel emphasized the importance and the blessing of daily Bible reading, then had different men volunteer to come to the pulpit and give us something God had given them from their Bible reading. 

It was a good thing we had made it to church that morning because I needed to hear what the Lord had given them, and it was really a help and a blessing to me.

So let me pass along some of those notes:

Daniel Elwood read from 2 Thessalonians 1:10-12 and Galatians 1:22-24 and talked about the importance of glorifying God by your testimony – not just what you say, but how you live.

Spencer Hardiman read from 1 Peter 1:18-22 and brought out (1) the PRICE of redemption – the precious blood of Christ (2) the PLAN of redemption – foreordained before the foundation of the world and manifest in these last times for us, and (3) the PROOFS of redemption – obeying the truth and loving the brethren. 

Kyle Shell read from Numbers 13:23 and noted the importance of laboring together for the Lord (it took 2 men to carry the cluster of grapes) and the result thereof – the two were “bearing” fruit. 

Brent Logan read from Exodus 32:9-14, 25 and brought out the contrast between Moses and Aaron.  Moses was a man who was so close to God he could talk to him the way he did (God told Moses to let him alone and instead Moses told God to repent – read it).  God listened, and Moses STAYED the judgment of God on the people.  On the other hand, the Bible says that Aaron made the people naked unto their shame.  Most of us would refer to Aaron as a passive or reluctant or neutral or hesitant participant, but the Bible says it was his fault – because of his place and position of responsibility.  So in contrast to Moses, Aaron’s failure to take decisive action in the right direction BROUGHT the judgment of God on his people.

Daniel Elwood and Kyle Shell leave this week on a survey trip to the field of Papua New Guinea.  Spencer Hardiman ministers full-time in our nation’s prisons.  Brent Logan is a missionary to Eastern Europe.  These men could use your prayers.

29 December 2010

Great Spoil

Psalm 119:162 I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil.

Now think about that statement.  Which is more exciting to you?  Getting in the word of God, or striking it rich?  Reading your Bible, or hitting the jackpot?  Gaining wisdom from the scriptures, or winning the lottery?  The Psalmist said he rejoiced at God’s word the same way another man would rejoice at finding great spoil. 

There have been times in my life when I’ve felt that way about my Bible reading.  What about you?  If not now, why not now? 

We’re coming up on a new year.  It’s a time when many people make resolutions, set goals, determine to do better at this thing or that (most of which is praiseworthy and hardly of any which actually comes to pass).

If you need to lose some weight (like the majority of us do), go ahead and lose some weight.  If you feel like you need to tone up, go ahead and set up that exercise routine.  If you need to do better with your finances, go ahead and rework that budget.  If you feel like you’re lacking in marketable skills, go ahead and sign up for that class. 

All of that’s great.  But even more importantly, why not determine to read through God’s word in the coming year?  Why not purpose to put time with the Lord at the top of your list?  Why not determine to start the day by feeding your soul with God’s truth?

It would be difficult to overemphasize the importance of daily Bible reading.  So whatever you do in the coming year, make sure you read God’s word. 

There are all kinds of Bible reading plans out there.  Click here for a quick Google search or download one of the 2 charts we made available at our church. 

52 week topical BR plan (here’s a cover to print on the reverse side of this plan if you’d like)

17 December 2010

Fearing God's Goodness

Hosea 3:4-5 For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days.

The above passage is one of great doctrinal and prophetic import.  And I’ve read it and heard it many, many times without ever paying attention to something peculiar about that last phrase, where it is prophesied that the children of Israel will fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days. 

When I think about the fear of the LORD, I think of a proper recognition of and respect for God’s justice, God’s judgment, and God’s holiness.  God’s goodness, in my mind, has never really entered the equation. 

But there it is in the scripture.  And if it’s something Israel is going to do, and it’s a good thing, perhaps we ought to get in on it. 

One of the Webster’s 1828 Dictionary definitions for fear is “reverence; respect; due regard.”  Perhaps we can take from this another reminder of our need to be more mindful, more appreciative, more grateful for the undeserved blessings God pours out upon us daily. 

Any other ideas on what it means to fear the Lord’s goodness?

Some cross references to the goodness of God:

Exodus 34:6 …The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,
2 Chronicles 6:41 …Let thy priests, O LORD God, be clothed with salvation, and let thy saints rejoice in goodness.
Psalm 16:2 …Thou art my Lord: my goodness extendeth not to thee;
Psalm 21:3 For thou preventest him with the blessings of goodness:
Psalm 23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
Psalm 25:7 …According to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness' sake, O LORD.
Psalm 27:13 I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
Psalm 31:19 Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee;
Psalm 33:5 The earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.
Psalm 52:1 …The goodness of God endureth continually.
Psalm 107:8 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness
Proverbs 20:6 Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?
Jeremiah 31:14 …And my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith the LORD.
Zechariah 9:17 For how great is his goodness, and how great is his beauty!
Romans 2:4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
Romans 11:22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

15 December 2010

Loving Life

1 Peter 3:10-11 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.

Came across this passage recently. Here the Lord reminds us one more time that the way to be genuinely happy and the way to really enjoy life is far different than we’re tempted to think.

It’s not to do whatever you want. It’s not to get whatever you want. It’s not to do your own thing or go your own way. It’s not to set out and achieve your goals and your ambitions. It’s not to stockpile massive quantities of stuff. It’s not shopping trips. It’s not vacations. It’s not going to the latest movie or playing the latest video game. It’s not watching your team win the championship.

It’s to obey God and live for others. That simple, if you really believe God’s word. Brethren, when will we allow our faith to take us to that point?

Leonard Ravenhill said, “One of these days some simple soul will pick up the Book of God, read it, and believe it. Then the rest of us will be embarrassed.” God help me be that simple soul! Amen.

The N Word Sermon

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13 December 2010

Full of Joy

1 John 1:4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.

If joy is an inner condition that is not dependent on outward circumstances, I cannot think of a better example of true, full joy than a brother by the name of Milton.

We met Milton several years ago on the streets of downtown Orlando. Most Saturday nights he’s around the corner where we set up for our regular public outreach.

He has cerebral palsy. He’s confined to a wheelchair. He can barely move enough to control the lever. He sits with a cup between his knees. I’ve never actually seen him actually verbally ask for money. Every now and he’ll call one of us over to transfer the money from his cup to his fanny pack.

Last time I was down for public ministry in Orlando, I was able to talk to him for a little while and hear some of his testimony. He was a Jehovah’s Witness. When I asked him what made him leave, he said it was too oppressive. No liberty. Now he’s free in Christ. He quoted 2 Corinthians 3:17. Then broke out in song.

He’s always singing. Always praising God. Always happy. Always smiling. Always talking about how good Jesus is. As I was talking to him, another man who recognized him stopped by to talk. Milton told the man about Jesus. If I had been the one speaking, I doubt the man would have given me the time of day. He couldn’t help but listen politely to Milton.

He has nothing as far as this world is concerned. No health. No money. No comfort.

But he has Jesus Christ. He has eternal life. He has spiritual riches. And to him, that’s enough. He has joy.

I’m not sure what happened. Why he’s in the shape he is. But I was talking to him about his daughter. He wanted me to pray for her. He said she was saved. But he said she’s had it harder than he has. Which is hard to imagine. And I don’t know his daughter, but I would doubt that anybody but Milton would see it that way.

But he does. He has Jesus. He has eternal life. He has joy. He’ll get a new body one day. And he’s praising God in the meantime.

Talking to Milton is always a blessing. And it’s always convicting. I don’t know about you, but I have Jesus Christ. I have eternal life. And I have health. And I have some money in my pocket. And I have a nice house to live in. And I have a wonderful family. And I have a great church. And a lot more.

But I’m not sure I have the joy Milton has. At least not in the way that he has it. The only explanation is that even though I have the same spiritual blessings he has, I don’t focus on them as much as he does.

I guess I could blame that on the physical blessings. But I don’t think that’d be right. God wrote a Bible so my joy could be full. God wrote a Bible so your joy could be full. Lord help us be more like Milton. Amen.

09 December 2010

Willing & Able

Want to tell you about a brother that’s been coming to our church for some time now. We’ll call him Brother B. He lives at the local Missionary Alliance retirement community. He was a missionary in South Korea for 35 years.

Age has taken its toll on his body. He can hardly speak due to the effects of a stroke. Pen and pad are needed for most any communication. His breathing seems to be indicative of congestive heart failure. He just had to give up his car (which was a good thing).

But he loves being at church. Every Sunday. Every Thursday. Down on the front row with a smile on his face. Hands raised at different points throughout the sermon. Even came fairly regularly to some Bible school classes this past semester. Up until he gave up his car, he was always on the go.

About a month ago, we took a crew to a football game at the University of Central Florida (largest school in the state) to do some public evangelism. I pulled up to the parking lot about 15 minutes prior to leaving time, Brother B – and his girlfriend (wife passed away several years ago) – were in the parking lot.

Now, Brother B can still get around on his feet at a decent pace for his age – for short distances. Sister D can still walk, but she’d barely beat a snail in a race. So I had the unpleasant task of telling them that the closest point to drop them off was at least a mile from where the crowds file in. They might have been able to make it there by the time that we were leaving. Sister D understands. Brother B still wants to believe his body is 35.

You see, he’s willing. He’s just not able. Not that he’s unable to serve the Lord. Just unable to do some of the things he’d like to do for the Lord. There are others like him in our church, as I’m sure there are in yours.

What’s so sad is that our churches are full of dads and moms and young people much unlike Brother B. They’re perfectly able, they’re just not willing. There’s plenty they could do for the Lord, if only they had the interest.

Right now, by the grace of God, I’m willing, and I’m able. God help me “work – for the night is coming, when man’s work is o’er.” And God grant that when I’m no longer able, someone will have to remind me, because in my heart, I’m still willing. Amen.