Be Not Weary in Well-Doing

Be Not Weary In Well Doing

– Jay Hunemuller

Galatians 6:9
  1. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

Who knows the difference between being weary and being lazy?

  • Being lazy means you have the ability but not the desire. Weary means you have the desire and you’re doing it, but it’s wearing you down.

  • Being lazy is an attitude. You can’t be weary if you haven’t done anything, but you can be lazy and not do anything.

weary:
to be (bad or) weak, i.e. (by implication) to fail (in heart) – faint, be weary.

The scripture tells us to not be weary in well doing, for in due season, after having passed through this life, we shall reap

lazy:
disinclined to activity or exertion, not energetic or vigorous.

moving slowly or sluggish, not rigorous or strict.

Laziness likes company. There’s nothing really wrong with taking rest, but we’re going to talk about some of the reasons we become weary.

Proverbs 21:25-26
  1. The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour.
  2. He coveteth greedily all the day long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not.

So the desire of the slothful killeth him. He has a desire, but no motivation behind it to get that desire. It’s not necessarily talking about coveting money; the scripture goes on to say that he won’t get up to eat because there may be a lion in the streets.

Name some things that can cause you to become weary:

  • I’m the only one doing it.
  • Rejection
  • Overburdened
  • Eyes on yourself
  • Continuing in the same thing, day after day.
  • Not being focused.
  • Much study is a weariness to the flesh.
  • Lack of progress.
  • Expectations too high.
  • Didn’t count the cost; bit off more than you could chew.
  • Burnout
  • Frustration
  • Sin, weights, cares of this life
  • Loss of purpose, relationship
  • Lack of faith, discipline
  • Distress, grief

The Bible says that Satan would try to wear out the patience of the saints. But it also says that we are not ignorant of Satan’s devices.

Burnout

Let’s talk about burnout. That’s what would have happened to Moses, but fortunately he was able to overcome it through a scriptural remedy.

Exodus 18:13-18
  1. And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening.
  2. And when Moses’ father in law saw all that he did to the people, he said, What is this thing that thou doest to the people? why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand by thee from morning unto even?
  3. And Moses said unto his father in law, Because the people come unto me to enquire of God:
  4. When they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between one and another, and I do make them know the statutes of God, and his laws.
  5. And Moses’ father in law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good.
  6. Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone.

How many people, at a minimum estimate, was Moses trying to judge?

> Over a million people.

That’s a lot of people to be trying to handle their problems, every day. Jethro was Moses’ father-in-law. He said, “You’re going to get burned out fast. You can’t do it alone. You’ve got to build a team.” We mentioned biting off more than you could chew. Got gave him this responsibility, but if he would have tried to do it all by himself, he would have bitten off more than he could chew. So Jethro gave Moses a good plan. He said to build a team and a hierarchy, so that the smaller matters could be handled at the lower levels, and the big things, they’ll bring to Moses.

Ecclesiastes 10:10
  1. If the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength: but wisdom is profitable to direct.

Jethro gave Moses some wisdom, and it’s like giving him an axe. The sharper it is, the better. He gave Moses a plan, and Moses implemented that plan. It came through his father-in-law, but it was from God, because it was wisdom.

Lack of Discipline

Who knows the story of Samson? It’s in Judges, from the end of chapter 13 through chapter 16. Samson was someone of whom it was prophesied that he would deliver Israel. The one thing that God told him never to do was, he was not supposed to cut his hair. But the problem is, he kind-of did whatever he wanted to. He fell into sin, and gave up his secret to the enemy, so they cut his hair, captured him, and put out his eyes. He was made weak through sin and lack of discipline in his spiritual life.

Proverbs 25:28
  1. He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.
Proverbs 29:18
  1. Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

Loss of Focus

Let’s look at another example, involving Peter:

Matthew 14:29-31
  1. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
  2. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
  3. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

So we see that first he lost his focus, then he became afraid. When he began to sink, that’s when he began his recovery. That was a pretty quick thing, but we can do the same. If we lose our focus, and cry out to God, he’ll put us right back on track. The sooner we do that, the sooner we’ll be all right. We don’t have to sink and blubber and hold our breath and so on.

Sins and Weights

Another story is about David and Bathsheba. Is there anybody who is not familiar with that story? It begins with 2 Samuel chapter 11. He saw this beautiful woman, Bathsheba, and he sent for her and had sex with her. When he found out she was with child, he called in the husband and told him to go to his wife. But the man had so much integrity, that … He was the king of Israel, so God had a big problem with that, and he had to suffer the consequences for the rest of his life. The consequences were the wars that he fought, and then his son Absalom who tried to take the kingdom away from him. David repented, and God saw fit to forgive him. We can read in Psalms 51 where he sought restoration and renewal.

So if you find yourself in sin, whether big or small, you can repent and seek restoration.

Psalms 51:10-13
  1. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
  2. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
  3. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
  4. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

If that worked for David, most of us aren’t dealing with adultery and murder, but even if you are, God has restoration for you.

Absalom died in battle, because he was going to take over the kingdom, and that wasn’t part of God’s plan, and David was struck with grief. His grief caused him to lose sight of the kingdom. His captain, Joab said, “Hey, do you love your enemies and hate your friends? All Israel will leave you if you don’t speak comfortably to them.” Joab reminded David of his purpose. Sometimes we need to be reminded of our purpose, too.

Proverbs 20:18
  1. Every purpose is established by counsel: and with good advice make war.

So if you’re losing sight of your purpose, if you start wondering why you’re doing what you’re doing, then get counsel. That’s what Moses got from Jethro. Every purpose is established by counsel.

Loss of Love

Revelation 2:3-5
  1. And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
  2. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
  3. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

The love and the works kind-of go together. When you love someone, you do something about it, and when you love God, you do something about it. Love is an action verb.

How to Overcome Weariness

  • Get counsel; get wisdom
  • Build a team

    Even the strong are sometimes weak. So even if you’re not going to lead a team, be on a team.

  • Renewal, restoration, re-energize

  • Have a clear vision and purpose
  • Put legs on our faith

    We didn’t have time to cover this, but James chapter 2 covers it, as well as Proverbs 16:3

Ecclesiastes 9:10
  1. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

This talks about overcoming weariness through faith and a relationship with God:

Psalms 91:1-8
  1. He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
  2. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
  3. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
  4. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
  5. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
  6. Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
  7. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
  8. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.

So stay in that dwelling-place, that habitation with God. Keep a close relationship with him, because you’ll be delivered. Things will happen to other people, but not to you. You want to be that example. How else will people know to come under the shadow of God’s wing?

Fighting the Good Fight of Faith

Endurance is important. Sometimes we just need to be able to see beyond the current circumstances of our existence.

1 Timothy 6:11-12
  1. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
  2. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

So basically, it’s saying to flee from the works of the flesh and fight the good fight of faith.

Hebrews 12:1-2
  1. Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
  2. Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Edification

Sunday Morning Service, 3/21/11

Songs

Message: Edification

– Pastor Thomas

We could take this time to say how much we hate the weather and the winter season, but hate is very powerful. It’s very negative. You don’t hate hate something and go back to it. If we complain; if we grumble; if we’re always telling somebody what we don’t like, we’ll never bless anyone. They will want to get as far away from us complainers as they can be.

1 Thessalonians 5:11
  1. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.
1 Corinthians 14:12
  1. Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.

A lot of people want these really powerful, spiritual gifts, yet they can’t edify the person sitting beside them. The Bible says to seek these gifts, but it’s more important to be able to edify the church. Our mission statement is:

  • Evangelize
  • Educate
  • Equip

Our number one purpose is to evangelize. The most important thing we do is to get the word out.

After that comes educate. If we’re going to teach and educate people, knowledge alone doesn’t do the trick. You can have lots of knowledge and zero understanding, no practical application. Therefore it is our duty not only to educate the church with knowledge, but to build them up with understanding.

1 Thessalonians 5:11
  1. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

Edify. Comfort yourselves individually: over the phone, in emails, in all your communications. Nothing replaces a handshake, an embrace, a hug. It can’t. It says, “wherefore comfort yourselves together.”

I started a Bible study one time with a thousand and three scriptures, but I only had thirty minutes to give it, so it took me a week to narrow it down. Today, I thought it was important to cover all the aspects of edification.

To Edify means To Build Up.

How do we build up the family of God? We need to see people get saved, and help them learn about God, who he is, and how to please him. IF they do that, they’ll naturally go out and evangelize; take it to the next step.

Have you ever ate at a bad restaurant? I had a dream about that. There was a real fancy restaurant that opened up with a maitre d’ and everything. But a lot of people going to that restaurant got food poisoning.

In the church, the poisoning comes in through bickering, through having cliques that make people feel unwelcome. It can come in many forms.

Channel 10 went out and covered the world’s worst restaurants. They showed how some restaurants actually poison people through improper food handling. The thing that bothers me is I used to eat at one of those restaurants, and enjoyed it. But most of those restaurants are closed today.

People should know that they can come to this church and know they’re not going to get poisoned; they’re going to get edified.

Hebrews 10:22
  1. Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

What are we supposed to draw near to? To God. Paul said that the first thing a believer should do is draw near to God.

James 4:8
  1. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
Hebrews 10:23
  1. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)

The hardest part of the driving test is parallel parking. When we first flew an airplane, the hardest thing to do was to taxi. My first taxiing was all over the place. My second wasn’t much better. But after a while, I was able to go straight down the center of that runway. How many of you (don’t raise your hands) drive while texting, combing your hair, touching up your lipstick, or setting your GPS, yet you complain when you see someone else on their cellphone.

Clarence Willis isn’t spending his summer vacation doing nothing. He’s studying his material, preparing his notes, and getting ready to edify the children when school starts. Some people wait until they get to church to start edifying. Should I expect to draw people to church because of the life that I live, or because I bribed them?

> Oh, we’ve got a great choir; we’ve got a great band; we’ve got coffee and refreshments.

Hebrews 10:24
  1. And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

Some people don’t need encouragement so much as a poke in the right direction. Have you ever gotten a pebble in your shoe? While you’re walking, it feels like a boulder. But when you stop and take off your shoe, you only find a tiny pebble. That was enough to cause the irritation and make you do something about it.

We’ve got to provoke each other to love and good works, not irritation and frustration.

You can’t edify one another unless you yourself are in the body of Christ.

Sometimes we get the cart in front of the horse. Sometimes we get the “meet” backwards. We don’t come here to serve God; we come here to get encouraged and to be an encouragement to someone else. We don’t have to be here; your Mom isn’t not here to pull you by the ear and bring you to church.

We don’t come to church to meet people we like, or stop coming to avoid people we don’t like. But if Bill Blackwell frustrates the fire out of me (he d

To Edify means To Encourage One Another

Last week we learned about a “Paraclete”, who is someone who is called to be alongside another. That’s what we’ve got to do as a church. We all must be this Paraclete.

How many of you know that you’re called?

> (Lots of hands)

You are called to encourage one another, to bring courage and counsel to each other. How do you counsel one another? Through the gospel of Christ.

Have you ever come back from somewhere and nobody noticed? It makes you feel pretty lousy, doesn’t it? Edifying one another means getting involved in each others’ lives. We’ve got to become family to each other.

Some families just don’t hug. You come up to hug them and they go stiff as a board; they don’t know how to react. My family is the most hugging family. We may not see cousins for years, but the first thing we do is go up and embrace them. There was never enough chairs, so we were “chair-sharing”. You had two butts in one chair. We didn’t mind sharing. Is that the way we are as a church?

There are specific ways you can go about edifying:

Acts 2:42
  1. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

What did the early church do? They continued steadfastly teaching what Jesus Christ said to teach. They did things together; they ate together; they had all things common. I hear some people say, “I don’t see why I have to come to church.” It’s not the building; it’s coming together with your brothers and sisters. Bible studies and outings and grass cutting and music practice and all these other activities are vitally important, not for their own sakes, but to promote fellowship in God’s church. Too often we’re just here to grab a meal.

Prayer is vital to the church.

We need to pray for one another. We need to pray that God would bless each other; bless Pastor Ulysse as he goes to Haiti; bless our brothers and sisters as they go out on deployment; pray for me as your pastor; pray for Pastor Paine as the leader of our international ministry. You’re to pray for every aspect of our ministry. We’ve got to pray for each other. If not, how can we expect to work with each other?

So the early church was consistent in their continuing in the apostle’s doctrine, in their gathering together, and in their edifying one another.

Ephesians 4:16
  1. From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

God has put us here with our varying ideas and talents and gifts and abilities. He wants us compacted together, not separate. And while we’re compacted together, he wants us to edify one another.

How many have seen the movie “300” about the Spartans at Thermopylae? They were mean people. They were brought up to be mean, the elite of the elite of fighters. And those 300 held off the enemy long enough to allow the rest of the army to do what they needed to do.

So this guy was visiting Sparta, and he heard someone boasting about “the wall of Sparta: nobody can penetrate our wall.” The guy said, I don’t see any wall. Show me. The king pointed down to his soldiers and said, “That’s our wall. Their dedication is the impregnable wall of Sparta, that no enemy can penetrate.”

It takes devotion and discipline to be that kind of a brick in a wall. We together make up the church, and God is building up his church, one Christian at a time. Have you ever played with blocks as a kid? If you stack them straight up, they fall down. But if you layer them so that no brick is directly above another, so they overlap seam by seam, they make a strong wall. God builds his church that way.

Ephesians 2:20-22
  1. And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
  2. In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
  3. In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

So God is using all of us to build a church together, and he is also using you as an individual to house his spirit within that building. God wants you to be a temple of the Holy Ghost, and he wants all us temples to come together and build one big temple.

Have you seen one of those pictures that look good from a distance, but when you get close, you see that it’s made up of a bunch of little pictures? That’s what the church is supposed to be like. Each of us make up a part of the big picture.

1 Peter 2:5
  1. Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

Can you say that while we are here, what you are thinking about is offering to God something that he will accept? We’ve got to be doing things while we are here that build up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God. I’m asking here in the church, but you’ve got to be the same way at home and at work.

To build up an acceptable sacrifice takes relationships. God put Pam and me together to accomplish something, and God added to that, Pat Mahoney, Jeff Wiedenhoeft, Bruce Wilson, Alan Jepsen, Carol Mahoney. God brought us together to build a ministry. You can’t say that any one person did it, because one person can’t. If you’re a leader and nobody is behind you, then you’re not a leader.

I heard a story about a guy named Bill who inherited a hundred million dollars, and his aunt only got fifty million. Their bickering was famous in New York. He had a huge house, but his aunt had a bigger one. So Bill tore down his house and built a hotel. His aunt said, “He is not getting away wit that,” so she tore down her house and built a bigger hotel. Bill was going to do the same, but his building manager said, “Both of you are wasting money. Why don’t we join the two properties together? You’ll both make money instead of spending it, and you can split the profits down the middle.” That building is known as the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York.

When Jesus Christ was taken away, he said “I am going to prepare a place for you.” The Bible says that in that place, the masses will be gathered together around the throne. How can we look forward to that if we can’t get along with each other down here? How can we look forward together if we’re always complaining about what we don’t like about each other? How can we worship in eternity if we don’t get in practice down here? This is like practicing for the Olympics. Are you prepared to worship the King forever?

> (Silence, with Pastor holding his cupped hand around his ear.)

Are you prepared to worship the King forever?

> Amen!

God knew how important his relationship with Adam, so therefore he made Eve. How important is our relationship with God? So important that he died on Calvary to make it possible. Our relationships with each other should also be important.

Fellowship is relationship-building. Fellowship is building a relationship with each other. I need to know how Todd is doing so I’ll know how to pray for him. I need to know how Deborah Epps is doing so that she knows she can call me. We need to build relationships with everybody in this room. (Guys, I’m not specifically talking about the girls.)

Has anyone ever participated in the Boston Marathon? There are a lot of hills in the last part of the race. The last hill is only 0.4 miles from the end. By the time you hit that hill, you are running on pure will-power. During one of these runs, a young man was having a lot of difficulty. He looked like he was going to quit. An older gentleman slowed down beside him. paced him, and helped him finish the race.

Church, we have a lot of “heartbreak hills” (that’s the name of the place) as Christians. The Bible says to not be weary in our well-doing. How can we do that? We are using everything we’ve got, and we reach the point where it’s a struggle to continue. That’s where someone else comes in and edifies. That’s what the church is supposed to do: work together to accomplish what God wants. God wants a unified church that people can look at and know: “That’s God’s church.”

We can look at what builds up a church, but we also know what tears down a church, and that’s gossip. There’s a story of a church in Tennessee, called “The Left Foot Baptist Church.” This guy was curious about it, so he asked, “Why is it called that?” They used to be a foot-washing church. Every service, they used to wash each other’s feet. There arose an argument about which foot you should start with, the left foot or the right church. And the argument grew so heated that they separated, and that’s the “Left Foot” church.

Sometimes the arguments within the church get so heated that the people lose focus on what God has for them, because they’re too worried about what they don’t like about each other. We don’t need any more “Left Foot Baptist” churches. In every church there is always someone who is a know-it-all. When my grandkids start arguing, I ask them, “Are you the mommy now?” They say, “No…” So I say, “Then quit arguing with each other.”

It was sin that stopped the relationship between God and Adam, and it will be sin that will stop the relationships within the church. We need to put sin behind us.

Romans 14:19
  1. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

Peace and edification go with each other. We are to have love, edification, and peace in the house of God. We are to have peace when we gather together. It’s not easy, but this isn’t a suggestion from God; it’s a commandment. We need to pursue peace. Paul included himself in that; he said “let us.” When we came to God, we found peace from our sin; we found peace in ourselves in our relationship with God. And now the Bible says we should have peace in our relationships with each other.

Nobody pursues the Boston Marathon with the intention of quitting. The point is to finish the race. But the phrase in Romans is present tense; peace isn’t something we do once and then it’s over.

Matthew 5:9
  1. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

Notice that he doesn’t say “blessed are the peacekeepers.” God didn’t put you here to enforce something.

Ephesians 4:3
  1. Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Romans 12:18
  1. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
Proverbs 27:17
  1. Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

If our iron isn’t sharpened, then we can’t sharpen each other. All we’re doing is beating each over the head.

Psalms 34:14
  1. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.

We can’t be passive about peace.

The picture on the screen is form America’s Redwood Forest. Some of those trees are as much as two million pounds. That’s two million pounds, pressing two hundred feet down into their root systems. Have you ever pulled a stump? Man, that’s hard work. Most trees have a tap-root that goes straight down. But the biggest root is only one foot in diameter, and they spread out as much as eighty feet in diameter. Now, how can that one tree have roots that spread out eighty feet when there’s another tree right beside it? Their root systems work together; they’re intertwined. So when the wind comes, their root systems all work together, to hold each other up.

That’s what God wants the church to do. When Satan comes to tempt us, God expects us to all work together to reach out and encourage and build up and pray for one another. We stand together in doctrine; we stand together in fellowship as a team against all that Satan can throw at us. If you fall in sin, you weaken the brothers and sisters around you. You weaken the church because your interlocking faith is now a void. Just like the Spartans, God is going to put someone in your place when you fall, but you don’t have to fall. God wants us to work together to keep that from happening.

Ephesians 4:29
  1. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
Romans 14:12
  1. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

Church, we’re going to have a tough time in this world, but you don’t have to answer to God for failure to reach out to one another. Your roots of faith can help each other to stand. That’s what God wants us to do. God wants us to edify one another.

Why Should I Get Married?

Practical Application Study, 3/23/11

Songs

Intro

– Jonathan Santiago

Our goal is not to win the argument, but to win the soul. There are people walking around who know the word of God, but all they want to do is argue with Christians. No matter how well you argue the scripture, you won’t win with these people. But we can hold up the word of God while we reach out to their soul. When we talk to those people, we shouldn’t just answer them out of a knowledge of the scripture, but out of a concern for their soul.

Why Should I Get Married?

– Mike Jackson

You’re going to hear that question in many forms. “Why should I get married?” “What’s the big deal with marriage?” We’re going to answer these questions from the word of God. If we were going to answer outside the word of God, the answer is simple: “Do whatever you want.”

Why is marriage a big deal to God?

Marriage was instituted by God. It’s not an invention of man.

Genesis 2:18
  1. And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
Genesis 2:21-24
  1. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
  2. And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
  3. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
  4. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

I look at this like God performed the first marriage. He made Eve, his daughter. We are all the children of God; Eve was his daughter. And as a father would give his daughter’s hand in marriage, God did so to Eve. So God didn’t just say to Adam and Eve, “You guys can hang out; it’s all good.”

Hebrews 13:4
  1. Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.

I want you to hold onto this part, because I’m going to come back to it. “Marriage is honorable in all.”

1 Corinthians 7:8-9
  1. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.
  2. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.

Marriage was sanctioned by God. It’s not just something that man made up. You hear people talking about the different marriage traditions and customs, but it’s not about that.

The very first miracle that Jesus performed; do you remember where it was?

> It was at a marriage.

That may just have been a coincidence, but there’s not many coincidences in the Bible. I don’t know if that has any significance, but I just thought it was kind of cool. If you want to read about it, look at John chapter 2.

What is marriage?

First and foremost, marriage is a ministry. Within that ministry, God has ordained companionship.

Malachi 2:14
  1. Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant.

It’s not necessarily the ceremony that is important when it comes to marriage. What’s important is the covenant of commitment to God. Don’t misunderstand me; I’m not saying that the marriage ceremony isn’t important. A lot of people say, “It’s not for me; it’s for everybody else. I don’t need to prove my love and devotion to this person. God already knows.” This is the stuff that some people truly believe. But the Bible has an answer for everything.

At my job, I’m a tester. I test things to see if they meet the requirements. As I’m doing that, I say, “These are the things that it’s supposed to do, without fail.” But then I find that there are other requirements that should also meet. We tend to call those “derived requirements.” It’s the same thing with the Bible. There are some things that aren’t there as far as the letter goes. The Bible doesn’t exactly say, “Don’t smoke.” But there are some things that you can derive that message from.

Romans 12:17
  1. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.

Remember that we said the marriage bed is honorable. Have you ever heard it said, “I’m going to make an honest woman out of her.” Maybe not; you don’t hear it much anymore. They used to say that because, maybe some things were going on that weren’t supposed to be going on, so to make those things legitimate, they’ll get married.

2 Corinthians 8:21
  1. Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.

Some people say, “My testimony is between me and God. That’s it. But is it? Is it just you and God? Your testimony is not only seen by God, but it’s seen by every person you meet, every day.

1 Timothy 5:14-15
  1. I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.
  2. For some are already turned aside after Satan.

Here’s the question that I pose. If you’re so against getting married, ask yourself “Why?” Some people just want to be rebels. They don’t like to conform. But the question is, what’s the problem with it? What is keeping you from it? If that significant other that you have is the person that you want to spend the rest of your life with, and you say, “Living with that person is showing my dedication; it’s fulfilling the scripture that says two shall become one flesh, so it’s like being married.” People who say that are kind-of tripping over their own words. If it’s like being married, then it’s not the same as being married. So why not just get married? Go to the justice of the peace and stand there before men and God. Just do it. Why not?

People say, “God knows my heart.” God does know our heart. People try to dance around God, but God isn’t fooled.

Romans 13:1-2
  1. Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
  2. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

You live in this world; there’s no denying that. There are laws and ordinances that we have to live with, whether we agree with them or not. Some people don’t think there should be a speed limit. Go ahead and tell that to the nice guys who wait by the side of the road and always want to talk to you when you’re in a hurry. You know, the guyss with the lights on the top of their cars? Go ahead and tell one of those guys that the speed limit doesn’t apply to you. Keep that same story as you go before the judge and see how that goes for you. So it doesn’t matter whether you agree with it or not. It’s not about customs; it’s not about a show. It’s about doing what God said.

Romans 7:6
  1. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

Some people point to the Old Testament and say, “There’s a lot of people in the Old Testament who didn’t get married.” They probably can’t show you very many examples, but guess what? There are a lot of things in the Old Testament that don’t apply to us today. And there are a lot of things that do. All those things were done for our example.

Living together without beiing married

The main reason that marriage exists is simply to encourage us, to prevent us from committing the sin of fornication. That word “fornication” is an ugly word. I don’t even like saying it.

Fornication:
Sexual immorality, or illicit sexual intercourse.

We know and understand that any sex outside of marriage is fornication. In the Old Testament, the penalty for that sin was death. If you got caught, I’m sorry. I hope that for you, it was working out.

Let’s go back to our key scripture:

Hebrews 13:4
  1. Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.

If you’re unmarried, and you’re living together with someone, can you really have a ministry? What type of ministry can you have? People who are single focus solely on the things of God. People who are married also focus on the things of God, ministering to their families and other married families.

So, you’re in a relationship, and you’re not married, but you’re living together, so it’s kind-of more than dating. If you’re in-between, what type of ministry do you have? What is your focus in ministry?

1 Corinthians 7:32-35
  1. But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord:
  2. But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.
  3. There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.
  4. And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction.

There’s something that I really like in verse 34: “There is a difference also between a wife and a virgin.” You’re either married, or you’re not. There’s no in-between.

If you go on a date with somebody, and you find that you’re not compatible, do you go out on a second date?

> No.

So you find that person who is compatible, and you go out on a second date. You don’t date that person year after year after year after year. You don’t keep stringing them along. Usually one or both parties are looking to move on to the next phase.

So if you’re single, and you’re dating, and living together, but you’re not really dating, because you’ve moved beyond that, because you’re living together, but you’re not really married, but sort-of like married, …

Am I confusing anybody? If it’s confusing, is it of God?

There is a part of the law that’s there for a reason. It’s called “common-law marriage”. Even the law recognizes that, if you’re going to hang together that long, (I think in most states it’s seven years), then you’ve got to be committed.

Some

In the next portion, I’m going to read a lot of scriptures, and there’s not going to be a lot of commentary, because these things are kind-of cut-and-dried.

1 Corinthians 7:2
  1. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.

“To avoid fornication.” I mentioned that marriage is for that. Some people think that just sharing themselves with one another makes them marriage. If that’s true, then there are a lot of people practicing polygamy. If that’s the case, how can it be considered immoral by God? The scripture says to avoid this, let every man have his own wife. There is absolutely no Biblical support for polygamy.

Let’s look down at verses 8 and 9:

1 Corinthians 7:8-9
  1. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.
  2. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.

If having sex means you should get married, because it’s better to marry than to burn, then obviously there’s something wrong with sex outside of marriage.

Acts 15:20
  1. But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.
1 Corinthians 5:1
  1. It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.

Some people say, “I don’t understand what the big deal is. We can live together and not do anything.”

My answer to that is: “Right. Sure.” But let’s go with that for a minute. What does the Bible say about appearance? It says to avoid the appearance of evil.

Galatians 5:19-21
  1. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
  2. Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
  3. Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Ephesians 5:3
  1. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;

I just read where it says “abstain from every appearance of evil.” And here it says, “Let it not be named once among you,” if you are saints.

1 Corinthians 7:1
  1. Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.

You don’t have to get married. I didn’t read any scriptures that say you have to get married. But here’s the caveat: as long as you are willing to be celibate. A lot of people aren’t willing to live with that caveat. So guess what? It’s time for those people to move on to the next phase of their ministry, the next phase of their life.

Q&A

– Jonathan Santiago

You are doing people a disservice and a discredit to God if you are lenient with people, as far as what the word of God says. We want to be as approachable as possible, but if you alter what the word of God says, you aren’t helping that person at all.

Question
Why do I need to get married? I don’t understand what the big deal is.
Answer
Technically, you don’t. The Bible doesn’t say every man and woman need to get married. Why do you ask? Do you have a girlfriend or something?
Question
Yeah, I’m in a relationship, and we’re committed to each other. But I don’t see what’s the big deal with getting married.
Answer
Do you see this relationship as being romantic, and are you guys doing what comes naturally?
Question
Well, yeah, of course.
Answer
The Bible says that fornication, which is sex without marriage, is sin. God has given us fornication to avoid this sin. I assume that you want to have sex, and I can understand how having sex with only one woman would seem like a sacrifice, but the Bible says that whoever finds a wife finds a good thing and favor from the Lord. So yes, it’s a sacrifice, but it’s also a huge blessing.

Question
So me and my girlfriend, we love each other. I’ve told her I love her and she’s told me she loves me. Does getting a piece of paper in front of a judge and witnesses really matter?
Answer
I look at it this way. We’re subject to the laws we live under. God says that he has given authority, and we need to submit to that authority. The law even has something called common-law marriage. If you want to stand against all that, can you really say that you are following God? So the
Question
So the Bible says that you shouldn’t have sex outside of marriage, and I’m okay with that. But couldn’t me and my Christian girlfriend live together and just not have sex until we decide to get married?
Answer
The Bible says that you should avoid the very appearance of evil. Do you really want to fight the battle of defending your relationship and testimony against the assumption that you’re doing what comes naturally behind closed doors? You could very well be living together and respecting each other, but what does it look like from the outside? And do you really want to expose yourself to that kind of temptation? Unless you have some kind of super-human super-Christian strength I wouldn’t if I were you.
Question
Me and my girlfriend really, truly love each other. And eventually, we’re going to get married. We’re committed to each other, and we’re living with each other, but we’re not doing anything. What’s so wrong with that?
Answer
I admire you for knowing the word of God and that it forbids sex outside of marriage. For me, if I saw a guy and a girl going into the same apartment at night, and leaving in the morning, you kind-of know what happened, right? I keep some scriptures on the wall to motivate me, and one of them just says, “Don’t be an idiot.”
Question
Is that really a scripture?
Answer
If it isn’t, it should be. So even though my flesh would like to snuggle on the couch with Holly all night, I respect Holly and I respect God too much to do that. I know it’s wrong, and even if I didn’t, the spirit of God says to me, “Don’t be an idiot.”

Question
My girlfriend and I love each other and everything, but I just don’t understand what’s so important about getting married?
Answer
Before I answer your question, I need to ask you something, just to establish where you’re coming from. Are you looking to make it into the kingdom of God?
Question
Yeah, sure.
Answer
Awesome! So now I know that I can share with you about the word of God. Because the wold can do whatever they want to do, but we are held to a higher standard. The Bible says very clearly, (Genesis 2:18) I can show you a lot more when we have time, but the scripture is very clear. If you want to avoid fornication, then marriage is the way to avoid fornication. It isn’t just something you do in front of a justice of the peace and other people, it’s an adherence to the word of God.

Question
My girlfriend and I really love each other, and we’ve talked to each other about getting married. But I don’t see what’s the big deal about having a piece of paper to prove that you’re married. What is the difference between a spiritual marriage and having a piece of paper to prove it?
Answer
Are you interested in having a spiritual marriage? Do you want to know what the word of God says about it?
Question
That’s kind of why I asked.
Answer
One of the things I’ve learned is that God judges us by our actions, and not only our thoughts. If God judged me by every time I had an angry thought, I’d be in trouble. The Bible says in Corinthians that marriage is honorable in all, and to provide things honest in the sight of all men. So God is a judger not just of what you think, but of what you do.

Question
My girlfriend and I have been living together for a while, and we’re pretty committed. We’re eventually going to get married. What’s the problem with living together if we’re going to get married anyway? I want to let you know, that we’re not doing anything. So what’s the big deal? what’s the Bible say about it?
Answer
It’s a good thing that you’re looking to find answers from the Bible, because God and his word is very clear about marriage. God instituted the first marriage between Adam and Eve, and it’s really a commitment between two people. The Bible talks about having a testimony before God and man. So when you get married, you’re taking those vows before God and man, and you’re not leaving yourself an “out”, so to speak. The Bible says that marriage is also a way to avoid fornication.
Question
But we’re not doing anything.
Answer
And I admire you for that. You’re a very strong person. But what does it look like to other people? The Bible says to avoid the very appearance of evil. And temptation works both ways, for yourself and your girlfriend. So the Bible gives us a way to avoid those things.

Encouragement

Sunday Morning Service, 3/20/11

Songs

Message: Encouragement

– Pastor Thomas

You know what the difference between encouragement and truth is? Where was a woman who had a baby with no ears. Nobody wanted to hurt her feelings, so everyone came to her and told her how beautiful the baby was. Then one day, a woman came to visit with her little boy, and she said, “Doesn’t he have beautiful eyes!” And the little boy said, “He’d better, because he ain’t gonna wear no glasses!”

Did that little boy lie?

> No.

Did he help the situation?

> No.

We’re going to study the difference between telling the truth and helping the situation.

1 Thessalonians 5:11
  1. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

A lot of people, the only feedback they give is negativity. They tell us when we’re wrong; they tell us when we fail. But God doesn’t want us to have negativity in our relationships. God wants us to have encouraging, uplifting relationships.

If we break down the word “encourage”, the prefix “en-” means to put into. So “encouragement” means to “put courage into” someone. To “discourage” means to take courage out of someone. When you encourage someone, you give that person courage to be better than they are. When you discourage someone, you literally take courage out of them.

The most common word for encouragement in the Bible is parakaleo. Para means near, from beside, or alongside with.” Kaleo means to call forth, to urge on, to incite by word, order, or command.

John 14:18
  1. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

Jesus says, “I would not leave you courage-less; I will bring courage to you.”

2 Corinthians 1:4
  1. Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

God has called and encouraged us through his word to do great things. We are supposed to be that same encourager to the church. We are supposed to go out and encourage people to live for God. A paraclete or encourager helps us when we’re in trouble, when we’re having trouble coping with a a situation.

Sometimes people need more than comfort; sometimes they need a challenge.

1 Thessalonians 5:14
  1. Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.

Exhort one another daily – to do what? We’re challenging them to obey God’s word, to make a difference in their home, in their community, and at work. But we must be the example, to each other and to the world outside.

These Practical Application studies we’re going through are great, aren’t they? You can go online on MyChristianFellowship.org and listen to these studies. You can also download them into your Ipod or Walkman or whatever in MP3 format.

These are good lessons, but you can’t teach what you don’t know. For you to step out in faith, sometimes the person beside you needs to challenge and encourage you.

You ever see those documentaries about birds? What do the little birds in the nest do? They’re not playing craps or video games. They’re looking up with mouths open expecting to be fed. And the mama bird comes and stuffs that worm down their throats. Sometimes we come to church expecting the pastor to force-feed us. But as we grow up and mature, we’ve got to become the challenger and the encourager.

Examples of Encouragement

Nehemiah 2:17-19
  1. Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach.
  2. Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king’s words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work.
  3. But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king?

So we’ve got Nehemiah encouraging, and these others discouraging. They don’t know the full story. They don’t know that Nehemiah already has the “OK” from the king.

Are you discouraging people because you don’t know you have the “OK” from God?

Nehemiah 2:20
  1. Then answered I them, and said unto them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.

We see where David was being sought by Saul, and Jonathan comes out and says, “Don’t worry about my father. I will be by your side and serve you when you are king.” What a word of encouragement!

In the New Testament, I find the story of Jesus sending his disciples out in a boat. The people wanted to make Jesus king then and there, but he dispersed them and went into a mountain to pray. Then he noticed that the disciples were really having a problem in the boat. So Jesus came out walking on the water.

Jesus can walk on problems. There were twelve people in that boat, but how many people got out? Only one. What does that tell you about the other people in that boat? They were afraid. They had no courage. Do you think they were en-couraging, or dis-couraging Peter from getting out of the boat? I think they were discouraging him, else they would have said, “Let us walk out of the boat.”

Paul started his letters with encouragement to the church and ended them with encouragement to special people who were doing something for God.

For an example of discouragement, we can look at the twelve who were sent to spy out the promised land. Two were encouragers, but the ten who were discouragers drowned them out, and the people suffered for forty years because of it.

Is your ministry one of encouragement or of discouragement? Everybody is supposed to have the ministry of encouragement. Paul provided us with practical guidelines to help us function as a church that builds up Christians and helps them edify one another.

Ephesians 4:15-16
  1. But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
  2. From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

The word “edify” means “to build up, or construct.” So God wants us to construct the church. I remember when they built a skyscraper in Chicago. They stuck shovels into the dirt, and for three years you couldn’t see anything. And three years later, they had built the foundation up to the level of the street. We’ve got to lay a foundation in Christ, by speaking the word in truth and making increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

I don’t care what your background is; we’ve got to love one another. I’m looking for a church where the homeless and the wealthy come to worship beside one another, and the only one who thinks it strange is the visitor.

Paul commended the Thessalonians for their encouragement and comfort to one another. And the primary means for accomplishing this task is to know God’s word. To help someone who is having a heart attack, you have to know CPR. And if you’re going to help someone in spiritual trouble, you’ve got to have spiritual knowledge. Someone around you is in cardiac arrest, but it isn’t the thumper in their chest – their spiritual heart has stopped. Are you prepared to help?

Ephesians 4:15
  1. But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
Titus 1:9
  1. Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.

Is God’s word not faithful, church? I’ve been doing this for a long while, and I’ve never found God’s word to be anything but faithful.

2 Timothy 4:2
  1. Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

Where does doctrine come from? The word of God. We just went over several weeks of Ephesians 6, verses 1-2. If you haven’t heard that series,

The Thessalonians were encouraged, comforted, and urged to walk worthy of their calling.

When you speak to people, you’ve got to have that confidence, so that when people hear your words, they will know it as God’s word, not your interpretation.

1 Thessalonians 2:11-13
  1. As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,
  2. That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.
  3. For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

We are really challenged, are we not? Being a Christian is not for wimps. Christ is not a crutch. We don’t go to church because we can’t handle things. You know the line in the movie that says, “You can’t handle the truth!” In reality, they can’t handle the truth.

Ephesians 4:14-15
  1. That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
  2. But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

When you look at the scriptures in total, it’s amazing what you’ll find. But you’ll never know the treasures until you look for them.

How many have ever bought something from the store, and spread it out, and took the instructions out of the box and set them aside? Then we try to put this thing together. I think one of the funniest things I ever saw was to see Pastor Paine, Dan Lantis, and Pastor Wilson standing over a grill discussing how it should be put together. Finally, Bruce Wilson picked up the instructions and said, “Oh! It says right here…”

Church, we can’t spend our lives with the instructions off to the side. The B.I.B.L.E. is our Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.

Since God’s word is our primary means of encouragement, you must study. The more you study and go over things, the easier it will be to learn them. The Bible says that God will give you the words to speak in that hour, but if those words aren’t in you, he can’t bring them out. Sure, God can make a jackass speak, but do you want to be used as a dumb animal or as a prophet?

We as a church have to provide the structure, the opportunity, for you to be encouraged. This isn’t just a pastor thing; it’s a body thing, from the youngest in the faith to the eldest. If you’re young in the faith, talk about what you’re learning and how it inspired you. Those of us who are older, if they don’t hear us share, they never will.

Colossians 3:16
  1. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

That means not only singing, but bringing joy, bringing emotions of passion and conviction. God expects every one of us to contribute.

Are you an encourager or a discourager? Are you an implanter of courage or a stealer of courage? Do you spread negativity, or do you give it to God?

There was a truthful story about a man who was hired by a church to be the music directory. He got involved and started listening to some people speak about all the things they didn’t like about the pastor. These two people were married, but not to each other, and they ran away with each other and left the church. So this music minister realized that he had been poisoned by these people, so he repented and went to the pastor and asked forgiveness.

Proverbs 6:16-19
  1. These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
  2. A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
  3. An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
  4. A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

What’s an abomination? It’s like you asked someone for a drink of water, and they went into the bathroom and got the toilet plunger, filled it up with water and brought it to you. I don’t care if he just took it out of the wrapper; to drink from that would be an abomination.

We need to do the opposite of gossip; we need to spread encouragement. It’s important to let people know they have value. It’s important to let them know that what they do matters. We’ve also go to tell others about the value of these people. I’ve got to tell Josh the value of Omar. That’s what we’ve got to be talking about.

When you know something good, you spread it around. And when you know something bad, you give it to God. And if you do take it to that person,

Galatians 6:1
  1. Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

Make sure you’ve cleaned up your own mud before you point out someone else’s.

Every time we interact with other people, we have a chance to encourage others, strengthen others, and draw them closer to Christ. Or, we have the chance to do the exact opposite. Every single time we communicate, we have a chance to build up or to tear down.

What does your Facebook page look like? What does it have to say about your walk with Christ?

Matthew 25:40
  1. And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

We have the wonderful opportunity to impact people’s lives, to see them changed and matured into what God wants them to be. That is a great and awesome responsibility.

When David was already anointed king, he was running from Saul who was trying to kill him. And while he was away in battle, the enemy came and stole all that they had, and took away their wives and children. The soldiers saw that and blamed David. So David is hearing all these people saying negative and hurtful things, but the Bible says he encouraged himself in the Lord. The key words are in the Lord. He didn’t encourage himself in his past or his own abilities. There is always a realistic reason to be encouraged, in the Lord.

How important is a ministry of encouragement? John Maxwell put it this way.

> Encouragement is oxygen for the soul. If you deprive the soul of encouragement, it will draw back into its shell. It will be a negative force in the church, in the home, and in the environment.

We always hear about kids doing badly at school because they have low self-esteem. Why do they have low self-esteem? Because they hear nothing but negativity. At home, their parents call them stupid; their friends say bad things about them, and they grow up with nothing but discouragement.

What environments do you live and socialize in, where you know that people need encouragement? Do you provide it? Or do you steal it back.

Conclusion

> In short, we are exhorted to honor, live in harmony with, stop passing judgement on, love, accept, greet, respect, submit to, forbear, forgive, teach, admonish, and encourage one another.

Let’s become the church whose ministry of encouragement speaks volumes to a world desperately in need of hope.

Does God Hate Gay People?

Practical Applications Study, 3/16/11

Songs

Intro

  • Mike Jackson

We’re going to be going over a topic that has a lot of emotion attached to it. One of the things we’ll be doing is to look at the topic and what God has to say about it. There are a lot of radicals who are excited, to say the least, to get out what they have to say about this topic. And the reason is, they have a hard time separating the sin from the sinner.

Does God Hate Gay People?

  • Scott Shepherd

There are two sides to this issue that really get put out a lot. There’s the side of the gay movement people who march and have parades and get their lifestyle out front and center. The other side is people who go to funerals and wave picket signs that say “God hates gay people.” It is unfortunate that these appear to be the only two sides, because neither one is really Christ-like.

2 Timothy 3:16
  1. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

I can say with great that God does not hate gay people. God does not hate anyone. Let’s look at the example of the woman that the well to illustrate how God deals with this topic.

John 4:1-6
  1. When therefore the LORD knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,
  2. (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)
  3. He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee.
  4. And he must needs go through Samaria.
  5. Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.
  6. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.

The shortest route from Jerusalem to Galilee was through Samaria. But the Jews did whatever they could to avoid the area, because they considered the Samaritans to be unclean. They had a history of intermarrying, and the blood line wasn’t pure anymore. The religious people of that time didn’t want to interfere with what was going on in Samaria, and the religious people of today don’t wan to have anything to do with the homosexual movement, unless they’re picketing funerals or something.

[John 8;48]

It’s like in today’s society when we say, “That’s gay!” But Jesus ignored the prejudice, and he walked right up to the woman at the well.

The reason is this:

Luke 19:10
  1. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

In another scripture it says, they that are whole need not a physician. God came for those who are sinners, and by the way, that includes all of us.

John 3:16-17
  1. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
  2. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

The word “world” is not exclusionary. There is nobody who is left out by that. God loves everybody. He loves me; he loves you; he loves all of the idiosyncrasies about us. When people are dealing with something, they need to know that God loves them, first. Jesus even taught us to love our enemies. We were all once enemies of God when we were sinners, but he still died for us, because he loves us.

John 4:7-9
  1. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.
  2. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)
  3. Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.

Paul writes about this, and Jesus extends himself to this woman. Before he says anything else, he engages the woman to find out more about her.

1 Timothy 2:3-5
  1. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
  2. Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
  3. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

Christ came to save everyone, and he is the one we should direct people to. We should teach people, “You need to know the love of Christ.” Jesus did that to the woman at the well.

John 4:10-14
  1. Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.
  2. The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?
  3. Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?
  4. Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:
  5. But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

So it was about the sixth hour, or about noon. This was the heat of the day. This isn’t when most people came to the well; most of them came in the morning. But this woman, aware of the sin in her life, avoided the other people and their snide comments. People who are dealing with the sin of homosexuality don’t need a diagnosis of their lifestyle; they need the cure. If you would ask a homosexual, “What do Christians think about your lifestyle,” most of them would say “They think I’m going to hell.”

Romans 5:6-8
  1. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
  2. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
  3. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Jesus came and died for each and every one of us. No one sin is greater than another sin. God came to save all the sinners, not “all sinners except for the homosexuals” or “all sinners except you crazy drunks.”

Continuing with the story, we find that the woman responds to the love that Jesus showed her:

John 4:15-19
  1. The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.
  2. Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.
  3. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband:
  4. For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.
  5. The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.

Jesus already knew the sin that was in her life, so he gently coaxed it out of her. Not only was she living with a man outside of marriage, but she had had five husbands, so she was technically living in adultery. So Jesus, upholding the Biblical principle of marriage, let her know that she wasn’t doing right.

There is another scripture that really highlights this topic and what we should do about it:

Matthew 19:4-8
  1. And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
  2. And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
  3. Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
  4. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?
  5. He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

What Jesus was referencing was:

Genesis 2:24
  1. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

The Bible gives one man one woman, and makes a distinction between male and female. There is a Biblical standard that we as Christians should uphold, and we can’t shrink away from it. It doesn’t matter if you’re a consenting adult or not. If you’re a Christian, anything outside of heterosexual marriage is sin. So God specifically chose to do things a certain way, and because of the sin in our life, it got perverted.

1 Corinthians 6:15-20
  1. Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid.
  2. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.
  3. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.
  4. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.
  5. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
  6. For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

God came as the man Jesus Christ, and died and was crucified for our sins. Yet somehow we have the audacity to say, “Oh, no. I know better.” Sin has a way of puffing us up with our own ideas. But the fact is, our bodies are no longer our own; we’re bought with a price. We have to bring every thought into captivity. Every thought that is not of God, we must cast out into the depths of hell.

Continuing the story:

John 4:20-26
  1. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.
  2. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.
  3. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
  4. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
  5. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
  6. The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.
  7. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.

This is one of the few times that Jesus revealed himself as messiah to anyone beside the disciples. But Jesus wants to reveal himself as messiah to everyone. When we go out and witness to people, we need to represent Christ, and not our own prejudices and ideologies. Some people say, “I’ll try anything once.” And what happens is, people identify themselves by their sexuality. But we need to identify ourselves not as gay or straight or bi or any other orientation. We need to identify ourselves by Christ.

Jesus didn’t condemn the woman at the well, but neither did he justify her:

John 8:10-11
  1. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
  2. She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

It’s not our job as Christians to excuse the sin in anyone’s life. It is our job as Christians to hold up the mirror, show them the sin in their lives, and teach them how to sin no more. Jesus seeks people who will worship him in spirit and in truth. We have to abandon the fleshly desires, and seek the desires of God.

We all struggle with sexual temptation in our life. We need to not excuse sin, but call it for what it is.

Romans 7:18
  1. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

We have a sinful nature. We of ourselves are not good. There are people who will try to tell you that “people are basically good.” That’s not true. If we would do things of ourselves, we would destroy ourselves. We have to accept that.

There are specific scriptures that talk about homosexuality. We’re not going to go into all of them, but we’re going to look at these four:

Leviticus 8:22
  1. And he brought the other ram, the ram of consecration: and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the ram.
Leviticus 20:13
  1. If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
  1. Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
  2. Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
  3. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
1 Timothy 1:8-11
  1. But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;
  2. Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
  3. For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;
  4. According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.

The gospel is committed to our trust, and we have to call sin what it is. But we have to be careful not to say, “Oh, I just read that homosexuality is an abomination.” It says in Proverbs 6 that seven other things are also abominations:

Proverbs 6:17-19
  1. A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
  2. An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
  3. A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.
1 John 3:15
  1. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

We shed innocent blood when we spew hatred to other people. Yes, homosexuality is an abomination, but so are lying and a proud look. If you say to someone, “I’m better than you, because at least I’m not a homosexual,” that’s a proud look, which is an abomoniation.

Paul said,

1 Corinthians 6:11
  1. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

He went on and listed all these things: fornicators, idolators, adulterers, abusers of themselves with mankind (which is homosexuality, by the way). These are people who were living that life, and now they are washed in the blood of Christ. There is hope for these people; through Christ we can be changed. Through Christ, I don’t have to give in to my desire to go out and have sex with every beautiful woman I see.

We need to approach people on an equal playing field, knowing that the only thing that separates us is that I have the love of Jesus Christ in my life. Some people say, “There are only seven scriptures in the Bible about homosexuality.” So? How many do you need, thirty? Some

The four scriptures I listed are probably not the best place to start when you’re dealing with someone who has sin in their life. We need to show them Jesus Christ and him crucified. When they acept that, then we share with them about letting go of their old life and becoming a new creature in Christ.

Some Christians say of those who are gay, that they chose to be gay. Someone who is dealing with the temptation of homosexuality in their life didn’t chose that temptation. So a better thing to say is, “I know that you didn’t chose that temptation, but there is a way out of it.” We all have temptations, but none of us went to the supermarket and went down the aisle tossing temptation into our shopping basket. Satan chooses our temptations based on our weaknesses. Whether we choose to act on that temptation is another story. We need to run from sin as fast as we can. I heard one preacher say, “You need to have your own track shoes, because temptation is coming.”

1 Corinthians 10:13
  1. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

We need to run as fast as we can from sin, especially sexual sin, because it is a part of our biology. Sex feels good, so people are going to want to do it. You need to flee from sexual sin.

We all deal with different types of temptation. For me, life is like a “Where’s Waldo?” book. Only for me, it’s “Where’s the hot girl?” If “Where’s Waldo?” was “Where’s the hot girl?” then I would have a gold medal. I would be the world champion.

There is sin in our life, and we have to run from it. We have to understand that we are not good in and of ourselves.

We’ll finish up the story of the woman at the well, then we’ll move on to practical applications.

John 4:27-39
  1. And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?
  2. The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men,
  3. Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?
  4. Then they went out of the city, and came unto him.
  5. In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat.
  6. But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.
  7. Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat?
  8. Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.
  9. Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.
  10. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.
  11. And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth.
  12. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.
  13. And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.

It’s not our job to clean people up and bring them to Jesus. It’s our job to bring people to Jesus and let him clean them up.

2 Corinthians 5:17
  1. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

We’re supposed to go out and sow, and reap, and bring people to Christ. It’s not our job to judge other people’s life. Some people will bring up the question of whether some people are “born gay.” I would avoid the subject altogether, because it really doesn’t matter one way or another. The Bible is very clear on what must be done.

Practical Application (Q&A)

– Mike Jackson

Question
Scott, if someone is gay, are you saying they can’t get into heaven?
Answer
What do you mean by “gay?” Is that someone who is attracted to the same sex, or someone who is actively engaged in homosexual activity?
Question
Either one. Okay, if someone is attracted to the same sex.
Answer
For someone who is attracted to the same sex, I’m not saying that at all. That’s no more sin than my own attraction to women. But for someone who is actively engaged in homosexual activity, the Bible says they shall not inherit eternal life. It’s the same as any other sin that God came to separate us from.
Question
Mike, why do Christians seem to hate gay people so much?
Answer
First of all, I don’t think they do. The God I serve teaches us to have compassion, so someone who truly serves God won’t hate anyone. If someone says that they hate gay people, then the true question is whether that person is a Christian. A lot of people have trouble separating the sin from the sinner. But if a Christian is truly being Christ-like, they won’t have that hate in their life.
Question
I’m gay. That’s me. Are you telling me that I can’t be saved?
Answer
I understand that you feel like being gay defines who you are. But that doesn’t mean that God hates you. It just means that you have to give that struggle over to a God who loves you. He loves you so much that he who was perfect died for you. So no, God doesn’t hate you, but he does want something better for you. He wants you to have a life that is eternal, not temporary. When we live in our own bodily desires, we live a life of corruption. But when we turn our desires over to Christ, we learn that he truly loves us and wants the best for us.
Question
Why is being gay a sin?
Answer
It’s one of those things where we have to examine the scriptures and line up ourselves with the word of God. You see the plan of God, how that he made woman for man, and man for woman. In the context of the scriptures, there were those who were married, and those who stayed single. Both could be effective in ministry.
Question
Why does the church tolerate other sins, like prostitution in Nevada, and bars open on every street-corner, but condemns homosexuality?
Answer
The Bible also says that drunkenness is a sin, even though many churchgoers get drunk all the time. You can’t lump all those people together and call them “the church.” You were talking about things that the government has done. But if you’re talking about the church of God, that’s entirely different. We have to look at the gospel of Christ and let that judge our lives, not what other people do.

Walking Worthy Of Our Vocation

Sunday Morning Service, 3/13/11

Songs

Children’s Choir Songs

Welcome and Prayer

– Pastor Thomas

We really need to keep Japan in prayer. I spoke with Pat and Meena Tamakloe, and they’re doing fine. There is a lot of damage, but their major worry is if those nuclear plants actually melt down. The Bible says that in the last days there will be earthquakes in diverse place. No, I’m not predicting anything, but there definitely is a need for prayer.

> (Prayer for Japan, the church, and each individual’s relationship with God)

Walking Worthy Of Our Vocation

– Pastor Ulysse

We have been called by God, and he has given us gifts. We ought to walk worthy of our vocation. We are living in a world that emphasizes individualism, like personal success. We definitely need that; we definitely need to work hard and be somebody for ourselves. But what I want to talk about this morning is, we have the whole world, but what about the individual that makes up the world? What if you gain the whole world and you lose yourself in it? So don’t see yourself as an individual only; see yourself as an individual part of a larger picture. Then it makes sense.

The first time my eyes were opened to this, I was on the Nassau with John Jeffries and some other brothers. They called “man overboard” in the middle of the night. I’m sure that my brothers were wondering where I was, but I was running around, finding my brothers. Once I was sure that my brothers were okay, I was at peace. But they were still looking for who was overboard. Then I saw that I was not right. We worry so much about ourselves that we don’t think about the big picture.

The Bible says that Christ died for our salvation, to save us. Of course, he saved me and you, but he put us together. We are the body of Christ, the branches of the tree. The branches are wonderful; that’s where the fruit hangs. But what if you have the branch by itself? You can water it and everything, but it will not bear fruit. It must be connected to the tree to bear fruit.

Jesus died to save me and you, but he doesn’t necessarily see you and me; he sees us together.

Ephesians 5:25
  1. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

Christ gave himself for the church, meaning you and me. But he gave his life not for just you and me; he gave his life for the church.

Matthew 16:18
  1. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

I want to keep in mind that we’re not talking about Christian Fellowship church; we’re talking about the body of Christ, about everyone who has accepted Jesus as their lord and savior.

1 Peter 2:5
  1. Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

Here again, it’s the larger picture. All of us are single stones, but coming together, we are built up into a spiritual house, to offer spiritual sacrifices.

1 Peter 2:9
  1. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

A generation is not just one person. A priesthood is not just one person.

2 Corinthians 12:14
  1. Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.

I am a member; you are a member in the body of Christ.

2 Corinthians 12:20
  1. For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults:

I wanted for you to see the picture that we are saved to be part of the body. It’s not, once we are saved, “I’m glad I’m saved. I don’t know about him or her, but I’m glad I’m saved.”

In 1 Corinthians chapter 13, Paul talks about love and charity, but in the last verse, he concluded:

1 Corinthians 13:13
  1. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

He continues in chapter 14, talking about love:

1 Corinthians 14:1
  1. Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.

> I want you to follow after charity; this is a great gift. You can desire spiritual gifts. But rather that ye may prophesy.

Why did he say that?

1 Corinthians 14:2-3
  1. For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.
  2. But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.

He says that speaking in tongues is not bad; it is good, actually. But I want you to understand that when you are speaking in tongues, you are not speaking to man; you are speaking to God. It is not a problem to be speaking to God. But I want you to follow after the gift of prophesy, because that is speaking to man. Everybody benefits, not just the individual.

1 Corinthians 14:4
  1. He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.

Is that a bad thing? No. But he wanted people to get the larger picture. He wanted everyone to benefit. But it is natural for us to only look after ourselves. It is good to succeed; it is good to excel. But if you have a narrow mind so that you are willing to kill everybody to glorify yourself, then it is not good. The Bible says to seek not your own interest only, but also the interests of others.

Paul speaking to the church of Ephesus from prison, was really the prison of Nero, the emperor of Rome. But he writes:

Ephesians 4:1
  1. I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,

Sometimes the feet takes the hand where the hand would not like to go, but the hand is the prisoner of the body. So Paul says, “I am in prison, but I am the prisoner of Christ. I am in prison for the gospel’s sake.” All he had to do was deny the gospel, and he would be free. I’m sure Paul thought, “Why am I in here, Lord? I could be doing so much out there!” But did you know that it was in prison that Paul wrote most of his books? Sure, he could have traveled to more places, but do you know that our lives our limited? There is only so much you can do in your life, but his letters are still with us today. If you have this mindset, that we are the prisoners of Christ, that what happens to us is part of the big picture, you will be surprised at what can happen.

Paul wrote to the church, but he didn’t want to command them.

2 Corinthians 1:24
  1. Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.

We don’t want to have control over you. So he wrote, “I beg you.” Paul begged them, because you cannot command someone to do something like that. It has to be voluntary.

Ephesians 4:1
  1. I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,

And he continued to explain how:

Ephesians 4:2
  1. With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;

When you read this, don’t just skip over it. Take your time reading these words. You know, Jesus never spoke of himself as great. In one place he spoke of himself,

Matthew 11:29
  1. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

I think that Jesus and Moses were the only two of whom the Bible refers to as “meek”. Jesus was meek. He says, “See how I reacted when I was on the cross. See how I reacted when my enemies came for me. Learn of me.”

Ephesians 4:3
  1. Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Keep in mind we’re talking about walking worthy of our vocation. We are called as members of the body, as lively stones, to keep that unity.

Ephesians 4:4-7
  1. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
  2. One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
  3. One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
  4. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.

Now there is that unity, but there is also diversity. We have all the gifts; every one of us has a special talent. And when we put them together, the hands have a talent that the feet don’t have. They can hold things; they can grab things. Your feet may train really hard, but they cannot hold things the way the hands can hold things. People act differently in every situation. If I were to drink this water and drop the glass, somebody would stay and pray; somebody else would run to see if my hand was okay, somebody would get a mop to clean up the water, and somebody would say, “You should not do that!” We all have different personalities. But instead of putting them all together, we say “I don’t know what is wrong with so-and-so. He or she does not see things the way they are supposed to.”

In Haiti we have the members come to share things a lot. This brother, whenever he comes forward, the people laugh, because he talks funny. Even when he is being serious, you have to laugh. I don’t know how to explain it; you have to see for yourself. But instead of laughing, I always try to understand what he is saying. And every time this guy spoke, he said something important, and everybody would miss it. One day, he shared something about Noah’s ark. He said, when Noah had to gather the animals, could you imagine what a mess there was? The dogs wanted to play with the cats and the chickens, and they could not eat each other. They all had to be saved.

So if we are called to come together, we cannot be eating each other, or we will all die as individuals. If the lion would keep on eating the other flesh, finally when the flood was over, nobody would be alive.

Ephesians 4:8-11
  1. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
  2. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
  3. He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
  4. And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

Everybody, he gives. You have the apostles, those who started the whole thing. You have the prophets. I’m talking about the gift of prophecy. You don’t have to foretell what will happen; it’s the gift of speaking the word of God. You have evangelists. I knew this guy who was an evangelist. He would preach the same message that the pastor would preach, and thousands would come to hear it. But if the pastor would preach the same message, nobody would come.

It says, pastors and teachers. You can have the heart of a pastor, and not be able to teach. Or you can be a good teacher, but not have the heart of a pastor. But God gave both.

Ephesians 4:12
  1. For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

He gave that for the perfecting, which means the equipping, of the saints. I want you to see in this scripture, that these are given for the edification of the body, not for those outside. The edification is for those inside.

You know that when Christ came, he went all over. The church cannot be the place to evangelize. It should be the place to receive edification, to set things in order, and then we go out and share the word with other people, and bring them in to the body. In the church, the preaching, the sharing should be for our edification.

Ephesians 4:13
  1. Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

Then we will all come together in unity.

Ephesians 4:14-16
  1. That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
  2. But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
  3. From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

I’d like you to look at this scripture with me. I’d like to go a little bit deeper.

> From whom the body fitly joined together …

Every member is very well connected.

> … and compacted …

They are connected tightly.

> … by that which every joint supplieth …

They are connected to each other.

> … according to the effectual working in the measure of every part …

This is why we are together. If you can do your part, then the whole body will be alive.

> … maketh increase of the body …

If you have everything in your body working fine, if you have a child and everybody is working together fine, then this child will grow.

> … unto the edifying of itself in love.

Everything in life will grow. And if you have a child, you should be concerned with feeding the child, not with how tall the child is. Of course, if after nine months, the child is still the same size, then you need to see a doctor. But while the child is growing, your focus is on feeding the child. We are not called to multiply the flock. The job of the pastor is not to multiply the flock. But the flock will multiply, if you feed them well. If you feed them well, then automatically, babies will come, and the flock will multiply. If you do not like grandchildren, then don’t have children. Don’t even get married. But if you get married and have children, then the rest will follow automatically.

If we feed the church, then the church will grow. That’s why Christ came. But you have to do your part, just as the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers do their part. You have your own talent.

As kids, we planted tomatoes or watermelons, and we wanted to watch them grow, but we could not see it. But if we put a stick by it, and went to bed, then in the morning we could see where it had grown.

If we do our part, then the body of Christ will be edified, and we will grow. I want to do my part, so the whole body will grow, and then God will be glorified in the body. God bless you.

Why Do I Need To Go To Church?

Practical Applications Bible Study, 3/9/11

Songs

Introduction

– Scott Shepherd

We wanted to reiterate the purpose of this series. It is not to give you a set response to every question. I want to remind you of what Jesus said to the disciples:

Matthew 10:16-20
  1. Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
  2. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;
  3. And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.
  4. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.
  5. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.

The disciples walked, talked, and had a relationship with Christ. If we seek out that same relationship, that same communion with God, we won’t have to seek out the words to speak; we’ll have the words to answer. So this series is not to give you the words, but to give you the concepts and the confidence you need.

Why Bother Going To Church?

– Adam Paine

> I’m a Christian. Why should I have to go to church?

A co-worker of mine came to me and said, “I used to go to church when I was a little kid. But now I pray; I study my Bible, and I’m okay with that.” I don’t doubt it. I said, “That’s great. But is God okay with that?” We have to let that be our focus. It’s not about what we want, but about what God wants.

People who ask this question believe they have a relationship with God. You don’t hear people say, “I don’t believe in God. Why should I have to go to church?”

Hebrews 10:24-25
  1. And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
  2. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

What is “going to church”? Obviously, we’re here on Wednesday because we have so much fun on Sunday that we said, “Let’s do it on Wednesday, too.” But the main church day for most people is Sunday. The word “sabbath” is referenced in the ten commandments. One of the ten things written in stone was to observe the sabbath.

Exodus 20:8-10
  1. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
  2. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
  3. But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

The sabbath is observed on the seventh day, in remembrance of God resting on the seventh day from all his work.

Genesis 2:2-3
  1. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
  2. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

When you look at the sabbath, you think “Okay, it’s a celebration of God resting.” But did God rest? No. The sabbath is a gift from God. Creating the world in seven days did not wear God out. He didn’t say “I want to sit back and watch football.”

Exodus 31:13
  1. Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you.

So it’s for everybody in the “children of Israel”. We know that Jesus came, and now we are counted among the “children of Israel”.

The Jews have 89 rules about what you can and cannot do on the sabbath, but these are rules created by man. This gets into what we call “legalism”. But God just said to observe the sabbath.

Here in Mark it says that Jesus and the disciples were working through the fields and began to pluck the corn; in Matthew it says they rubbed the kernels between their hands.

Mark 2:23-28
  1. And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn.
  2. And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful?
  3. And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him?
  4. How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him?
  5. And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:
  6. Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.

So this is Jesus making reference to something that David did. The story is, David and his men were hungry, so they went to the high priest. The high priest said, “All I have is the shewbread.” Now the shewbread, according to one of those 89 rules, was something you couldn’t eat. Nobody could eat it but the high priest. But David said, “We’re all sanctified; feed us,” and he did. If you want to read more, it’s in 1 Samuel chapter 21.

Saturday or Sunday?

Some Christians observe the sabbath on Saturday; some observe it on Sunday. That’s kind of why we have a five-day work-week and a two-day weekend, because we didn’t know which day to observe the sabbath on, so we get both. You gotta love the American way.

Colossians 2:16-19
  1. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
  2. Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
  3. Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
  4. And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.

It’s about having a good conscience toward God.

There are many reasons people give about not wanting to go to church on the sabbath, but when you get down to the heart of the issue, it’s a Lordship problem. We are bought with a price. That means we are owned by God. A lot of people say, “Well, this works for me.” You hear about people “church-shopping” like we shop for shoes.

James 4:7-8
  1. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
  2. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

When we talk about the fact that we’re sinners, I’m not going into it in depth; Jonathan did a very good job of that in week one.

Romans 13:1-2
  1. Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
  2. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

We’re all members of the body of Christ, and the body has a diversity of gifts. I think there are many people we will meet in heaven who have never been to church in their life. But if you’re in a place that God has provided to you, to grow in the truth, and you are forsaking that, that’s what we’re talking about tonight. So if you are forsaking all that, you are forsaking the gifts that God has for you. And if you say that you don’t need those gifts, then the gift you lack is the gift of self-awareness.

1 Corinthians 12:4-31
  1. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
  2. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
  3. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
  4. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
  5. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
  6. To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
  7. To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
  8. But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
  9. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
  10. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
  11. For the body is not one member, but many.
  12. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
  13. And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
  14. If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?
  15. But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
  16. And if they were all one member, where were the body?
  17. But now are they many members, yet but one body.
  18. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
  19. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:
  20. And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.
  21. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked:
  22. That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
  23. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
  24. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
  25. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
  26. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
  27. Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
  28. But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

So this is a recapping of, “Here are gifts; here is how they are placed in the church. Nobody has them all; the body of Christ has them all.” Saying that we don’t have to go to church is like saying that I’ll do all my lifting with my right hand. God gave me two hands.

That’s a brief outline. Now let’s cover some of the excuses that people use for not going to church:

I get all my spiritual needs at home

Some people say that they don’t need to go to church because they get all their spiritual needs at home. I can respect that viewpoint, but it is self-centered. Number one, those people are thinking about nobody but themselves. Number two, we will never get all we need in Christ without the teachers that God has provided for us.

Jeremiah 3:15
  1. And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.
1 Peter 5:5-10
  1. Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
  2. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
  3. Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
  4. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
  5. Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
  6. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

Let’s talk about Philip and the eunuch. God calls Philip, and he goes to the eunuch. The eunuch was reading Isaiah. He didn’t have the New Testament yet, so he was reading the most up-to-date stuff there was. …

Acts 8:30-31
  1. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?
  2. And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.

The New Testament is filled with stuff we’re supposed to do for one another. We’re supposed to comfort one another, confess our faults one to another, pray for one another. How can we do those things if we forsake the gathering of ourselves together.

1 Thessalonians 4:18
  1. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:5-11
  1. Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:
  2. That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.
  3. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.
  4. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.
  5. But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.
  6. And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more;
  7. And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;
James 5:16
  1. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

There are 52 Sunday mornings in a year. If you come to every one, there’s a chance that you’ll get your cup filled 26 times. There are some days when you get exactly what you needed. On other days, you might help minister to someone else. You can get-get-get on your own, but you can’t give-give-give on your own. It’s kind-of like basketball. Everybody wants to play offense, but you’ve got to play defense half the time. That’s just how it worked.

> I said I’d never tell it to a living soul, > How he wrought salvation and made me whole. > But I found I couldn’t hide this love, > That Jesus did impart.

If you’re living your life as a Christian, then it’s going to shine through you. We see that example in Paul. New Testament, he’s basically the Starbucks of Christianity. Everywhere he went, he built churches. So we have an example of what to do.

Mark 16:15
  1. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

It’s boring and predictable.

> It’s boring. I went there last week. I don’t want to go this week, because I know what’s going to happen.

I feel that way about work sometimes. Everything we do in life, we have routinely. We eat routinely. We sleep routinely. We even have fun routinely. What’s the expression? “I need a little ‘me’ time.” If I slept once a month (because I slept last night – I don’t need to do it again), it wouldn’t be healthy.

If you don’t go to a church that preaches the true Christian gospel, you’re living on junk-food. It’s like three meals a day of Snickers and ice-cream: “It tastes great! I love it! But I feel awful all the time.”

1 Corinthians 7:24
  1. Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.

The keyword there is “abide”. So we’re talking about doing something with consistency.

I had a bad experience.

I was hurt. I was betrayed. Somebody did something that hurt me.

I don’t know what that feels like. A lot of us don’t. But it is important to never minimize people’s pain. We act as an ambassador for God, laying ourselves naked before God, and somebody betrays that trust. How do you get over that? A lot of people don’t.

Here’s what we have to remember. One, God is a god of reconciliation. Another thing is, whatever was done to them was done by man. They may have done it in the name of God, and that’s a shame. But God gave himself for us, the ultimate sacrifice, so we wouldn’t have to suffer. Don’t let a man come between you and God. If somebody does something bad to you, and you let that come between you and God, then you have put that man before God. I don’t mean to minimize the pain, but we have to go to God for reconciliation. When you’re in trials., in pain, that’s when you need him the most.

2 Corinthians 5:19-20
  1. To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
  2. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

We’ve got to remember, we’re always pushing God, not our church social club. I like church. All my friends go there; I spend a lot of time there. But we’ve got to keep our focus. Why do we go to church? Because God wants us to learn there.

Practical application (mock Q&A)

Question
So Adam, I know you go to church, but I don’t know if I should. The last time I went, they seemed more worried about how I look than if I needed God.
Answer
I’m sorry you had a bad experience. The reason I go to church is that I’m always looking to strengthen my relationship with God. The church is the family that God has called me to.
Question
I have a lot of bad memories associated with church. My mom used to force me to go. I feel like I was treated poorly, and it’s too painful for me to go. It just brings back bad memories.
Answer
I’m not hearing you say that you’re against God; you just have a problem with church. If you want to have a relationship with God, what do you think the best way to go about that?

That’s good. I like to follow up these questions with more questions. And I ask not because I’m trying to say the right thing, like I’m selling them a car or whatever. I ask because I genuinely want to know.

Question
I grew up in a church that says you have to go church on Saturday. Your church goes on Sunday. How do I know I’m not breaking God’s commandment by going on Sunday instead of Saturday.
Answer
Jesus said that the sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath. I don’t think it matters when we observe the sabbath; only that we do observe it.
Question
I know you go to church, but I pray on my own; I read the Bible, and I don’t feel like I need to go to church.
Answer
In your daily life, do you ever come across things you don’t have answers for? I find that when I go to church, if I don’t understand something, I usually find someone who has an answer. There are a lot of people who have experience and answers that I don’t have.

I like that, because Pat based his answer on personal experience. He shared about why he goes. If you can’t tell someone about why you go, you can’t expect them to want to go.

Question
I’m not a big church guy. It seems like the “same-old, same-old.”
Answer
I can’t tell you why you should go, but I can tell you why I go. I enjoy meeting and having fellowship with other people. I’m blessed by the music and the message, and it gives me the fuel I need to continue throughout the week. I couldn’t imagine not going.
Question
I used to love church, but I had a bad experience, and I just don’t see myself going back.
Answer
I’m sorry that you had a bad experience. You had a real hurt in your life, and I think you should ask God about what kind of church you should go to. Maybe you can even ask your dad to go along.

This is about God’s church. I want to be clear on that. I love Christian Fellowship, but this not a commercial for Christian Fellowship. This is about being a member of God’s church.

Question
I like taking care of my spiritual needs in the middle of the week, so my weekends are free for competitive bowling. What do you think about that?
Answer
I can read the word and pray, but there are a lot of things in the Bible that I don’t understand. There are people who are called to teach and preach the word a lot better than I can. So I go to church, and God speaks through his people. For me, I go to church because there are a lot of souls out there who don’t understand the word, and I want to be able to share with them.

Vision

Sunday Morning Service, 3/6/11

Songs

Vision

– Pastor Paine

It’s great to be here today. As Pastor Thomas mentioned, we said goodbye to our friend Frank Williams yesterday, but he’s in our hearts. Kathy, thank you for letting us be a part of the celebration of Frank’s life yesterday. He lived a great life, and he was ready for the next.

We’ve been in a series about vision. Pastor Thomas will bring one more message in this series next Sunday, and then the next topic will be “Edification.”

I want to tell you what God’s laid on my heart for the message today. First, I’d like you to share with me some clear examples in scripture where someone had an absolute change of vision. Someone was looking at things one way, and then however it happened, they began to see things a totally different way.

> (Calls on some volunteers to share.)

After that, I’d like to share from the 51st Psalm where David had a complete change of vision, then from the sermon on the mount. If you don’t think your vision needs changing, I’d ask you to remember that David thought the same thing until the prophet Nathan came to him.

– Pat Mahoney

I had a difficult tossup between Peter and Paul. Peter actually stood before the Lord himself. He had his own vision, but it just seemed like he didn’t quite get it. That probably speaks to a lot of our lives; I know it speaks to mine. It really took some quiet time before the Lord for him to really show me where my life is going.

So Peter stood before the Lord, and the Lord said, “Peter, lovest thou me?” I look at my life and my testimony, and I have to say, “God, do I really love you?” We know that Peter said, “Lord, thou knowest that I love you.” A lot of people think that when Peter stood up on the day of Pentecost and talked about baptism in Jesus’ name, he didn’t know what he was talking about. But I believe that he did, because by then, he had been converted.

– Holly Santiago

Naomi and Ruth were on their way back to Bethlehem from the land of Moab. Naomi has her two daughters-in-law, all three of them widows. So Naomi makes this passionate plea to them, saying “Turn around and go back to your father’s household, because if we continue on, we’re committing to a life of poverty.” Orpah kissed her and turned back, but Ruth gave her the famous speech, saying “Where you go I’ll go, and I will die with you. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” That’s when Naomi had her change. It says she left off speaking to Ruth. That’s when she let her guard down.

– Paul VonFange

This is the story in 2 Kings about the man of God praying that God would open his servant’s eyes.

2 Kings 6:15-17
  1. And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?
  2. And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.
  3. And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

Sometimes we can have the victory all around us, and not even know it.

– Richard Brand

I guess I’ve got to pick on Peter, too. He saw a vision of a great sheet being brought down, and the voice of the Lord saying “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” Then God told him to go into a Gentile’s house, which is something that was contrary to Peter’s vision. Later in that chapter, even those who were with Peter were astonished at the vision change, because even on the Gentiles was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. Then Peter solidified the vision change when he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. You can read about it in Acts chapter ten.

– Okiema Perry

That put me on the spot, because that was the one I was thinking of.

> What about Paul?

Yeah. What can you say about Paul? The man consented to the death of one of the disciples. He was hard-core about getting a job done. If you got a letter and Paul was at your door, you were done! But he got knocked off his high-horse on the way to Damascus. And when you do things ignorantly, you may have a right heart and a right intention, but if you don’t have an understanding, it makes things hard. Paul said later, ‘I will pray with my understanding, and I will sing with my understanding.” So that was the turning point that changed his life totally. Even though he suffered many things for the Gospel’s sake, I don’t think he ever regretted that turning-point.

– Pastor Paine

So we talk about this idea of seeing things God’s way. We have this young David, anointed. He sees things God’s way, and God loves him. Then somehow, someway, his vision became clouded. He looked in the mirror and saw only himself there. Somehow, this great warrior lost the vision. He know that God wanted to bless him; he knew that God wanted good things for him. But somehow, on the journey of life, he somehow got it out-of-focus. And if you know the story, when he saw Bathsheba on the rooftop, and he brought her to himself, he brought sin to himself. When Bathsheba told him she was pregnant, he had her husband killed, thinking only of himself. When the prophet came to him and asked, “What should be done to such a man?”, David saw that he had done wrong, and he sought to make it right.

Psalms 51:1
  1. Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving-kindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.

David always knew the God was good, and powerful. But because David had been given many victories, David saw himself in center stage. And if that ever happens to you, I hope someone like Nathan comes to you and lets you know you’re wrong. And if I represent Nathan to you, I hope you get it right.

Maybe you’ve never had a relationship with God. You’ve heard of God, and maybe even believe in God, but you’ve never accepted him into your heart. This is your invitation today, to accept God in this matter of life and death.

Psalms 51:10
  1. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

He didn’t say “renew.” I think the word “create” is interesting here. “Create” means you start with nothing. God didn’t create the world out of molecules; he created the molecules! David remembers that there was a time when he had the right spirit, when he gave God glory. He said to Goliath, “You come to me with a sword, but I come to you with the glory of God.” But he forgot that somewhere in his journey. So now has he says,

Psalms 51:10-11
  1. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
  2. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.

He remembers the joy that he once had, and the free spirit that God gave him, so he says:

Psalms 51:12
  1. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

When I think of this passage, I think of the boxer on the mat, perhaps face-down, and he hears the counting of the referee. And he’s thinking, I either lay here and let him count me out, and be defeated, or I get up and complete the task that I came here to complete. Right there, he’s got to have one of two pictures in the center of his mind. It’s either a picture of him laying there and being counted out and defeated, or a picture of him getting up and doing what he came to do and being victorious.

Psalms 51:13
  1. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

Let me ask you: what possible right does David have to think, in that moment of his life right there, to be victorious anything? David has just been painfully reminded of his sin. But David knew that God is the God of second chances. And for my sake, I’m glad he is also the God of third and fourth and fifth chances.

Let’s go to Matthew and the sermon on the mount. The Lord was talking to people about seeing it through his eyes, not their own eyes. Have you ever had to realize that the way you’ve been looking at something is completely wrong? It’s hard to admit you’ve been wrong, and self-centered, and arrogant. It’s hard to admit that when you said, “I’m right, and that’s the end of it,” you were wrong. Let’s turn that over and look at the other side. Isn’t it a wonderful gift, to be able to look back and say, “I’ve been wrong, but it doesn’t have to be that way anymore.”

I was on a journey one day, and I knew what highway I wanted to get on, and I took what I thought was the on-ramp. It wasn’t too long before I saw some headlights coming toward me, and a sign that said, “Wrong Way: Do Not Enter”, and I quickly got the car turned around. I could have said, “You can’t tell me I’m going the wrong way! I’ll go where I want to!” But I learned my lesson. And I am fortunate in that I learned my lesson without the help of one of Virginia’s Finest. I’m one of those drivers who likes to tell other drivers about how they’re driving. (looking up) I’m still working on that one, Lord. My wife tells me that the other drivers can’t hear me when I say,

> Where did you get your license from, K-Mart?

I think that the other drivers can hear me…

It’s a blessing when you find that you’re going the wrong way, and you still have time to correct it.

Matthew 7:1-20
  1. Judge not, that ye be not judged.
  2. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
  3. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
  4. Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
  5. Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
  6. Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
  7. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
  8. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
  9. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
  10. Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
  11. If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
  12. Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
  13. Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
  14. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
  15. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
  16. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
  17. Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
  18. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
  19. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
  20. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

In verse 21, Jesus says, “It doesn’t matter how it looks to others; it matters how it looks to you and me.”

Matthew 7:21-24
  1. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
  2. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
  3. And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
  4. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

As I read the next verse, this is going to sound familiar to some of you, where you are at now.

Matthew 7:25-26
  1. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
  2. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:

It rains on the just and the unjust; we will have times of plenty and times of famine. But he says to the unjust in verse twenty-seven:

Matthew 7:27
  1. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

As we close, I’d like each of you to ask yourself:

> God, are you speaking to me? Are you telling me to change? Have I heard from you, God? And if I have, am I willing to change? Am I willing to say, as you taught in the Lord’s prayer, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Don’t leave here frustrated. The day is not over; God’s book is not closed. His ear is not heavy that it cannot hear, and his hand is not shortened that it cannot save.

Frank Williams memorial service.

I asked Pastor Paine afterwards, "If I said we should have funerals like this more often, would I be wrong?"

Pastor Thomas said a few quick words, then people came up and shared about the good times they had with the man while he was alive.

Afterward, we sang a few songs and everybody stood in line to exchange hugs with Mrs. Williams and her family.

Finally, we all gathered in the Fellowship Hall for a potluck family-dinner get-together.

If (God forbid) anyone should mourn my passing, I hope they do it in a similar fashion.

Sharpening Your Vision

Men’s Fellowship Bible Study, 3/4/11

Testimony

– Ken Portal

I’m going on deployment tomorrow night. All week, I’ve been packing and repacking. This morning, our Base Commander gave us the day off to spend with friends and loved ones. I was so tired, I just wanted to sleep in. But at seven o’clock this morning, the spirit moved me to put together a Bible study. I sat down and the spirit just dictated scripture after scripture about water baptism. Then God told me to share with my co-worker, and this afternoon she got baptized in the name of Jesus.

Study: Sharpening Your Vision

– Jay Ugali

I used to work at LensCrafters in Waukegan. I think I pre-tested some people here, teaching them how to wear contact lenses. If you’re around 40 or 45, you tend to lose your vision. You tend to find yourself doing this.

> (holding Bible at arm’s length and trying to read it)

That’s natural. I learned that it’s because of a muscle in your eye that is no longer able to flex the way that it used to.

A lot of things have been going on in our ministry. Satan is really trying to tear us up. We are the men, and we are the backbone, and God has chosen us.

John 20:22-31
  1. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:
  2. Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.
  3. But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.
  4. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the LORD. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.
  5. And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.
  6. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.
  7. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God.
  8. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
  9. And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:
  10. But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

When we first get saved, we get a lot of things thrown at us. How many of you remember hearing the message when you first got saved, and saying, “Wow! I never heard this before!”

I remember thinking that if there was a Buddhist God, then I wouldn’t be able to understand him unless I was born in India. I didn’t know who God was; I didn’t know what to believe. I remember the teachers sharing with me that there’s not a Catholic heaven or a Buddhist heaven – it’s all the same God for everyone.

John 21:1-3
  1. After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself.
  2. There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples.
  3. Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.

How many times do we do that? Sometimes things cloud our vision, and we allow them to blind us.

1 Samuel 2:27-28
  1. And there came a man of God unto Eli, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Did I plainly appear unto the house of thy father, when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh’s house?
  2. And did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to offer upon mine altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? and did I give unto the house of thy father all the offerings made by fire of the children of Israel?

So who was this man of God? Who was supposed to be the chief priest? Who was supposed to know it all? Eli.

1 Samuel 2:29
  1. Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people?

Here’s one thing we know about Eli. He put his sons above God. We are a royal priesthood. What are we putting above God? What examples do we see in the Bible of men of God putting God above their own family? How about Abraham? Things of this world will cloud our vision. That’s why we should set our affections on things above. (Colossians 3:2) The Bible says that sins are pleasurable for a season. (Hebrews 11:25) All things are lawful, but all things are not expedient. (1 Corinthians 6:12) The Bible says to lay aside every weight and sin that besets us. (Hebrews 12:1)

I drive a schoolbus, and I find myself saying to the kids, “Hey! Stop doing that!” They keep doing it. And guess what can happen while I’m paying attention to those kids? I could get in an accident. So I’ve got to focus. I hear them saying, “Mister Jay, are we there yet?” And I’ve got to say, “Not now; I’m driving!”

1 Samuel 2:30-32
  1. Wherefore the LORD God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the LORD saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.
  2. Behold, the days come, that I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father’s house, that there shall not be an old man in thine house.
  3. And thou shalt see an enemy in my habitation, in all the wealth which God shall give Israel: and there shall not be an old man in thine house for ever.

So the rest of it is about Eli losing the priesthood. And in the next chapter:

1 Samuel 3:1
  1. And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision.

It says that Samuel ministered to the Lord, but what was he doing? The Bible says that in those days there was no open vision. So did God speak to Eli, or did he speak to Samuel?

1 Samuel 3:2-6
  1. And it came to pass at that time, when Eli was laid down in his place, and his eyes began to wax dim, that he could not see;
  2. And ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was, and Samuel was laid down to sleep;
  3. That the LORD called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I.
  4. And he ran unto Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou calledst me. And he said, I called not; lie down again. And he went and lay down.
  5. And the LORD called yet again, Samuel. And Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And he answered, I called not, my son; lie down again.

So right now, Eli is catching a clue, but Samuel, oh my gosh, he is getting it.

1 Samuel 3:7-9
  1. Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, neither was the word of the LORD yet revealed unto him.
  2. And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And Eli perceived that the LORD had called the child.
  3. Therefore Eli said unto Samuel, Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, LORD; for thy servant heareth. So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

A lot of us are just starting to get to know Jesus. God loves you. God wants to work with you. Samuel was just a little child. You’re going to see a lot of “old-heads” who don’t want to do anything for Jesus. But don’t allow anybody to cloud your vision. People will mess up and offend you, but you focus on your walk and don’t let them get in your way.

1 Samuel 3:10-14
  1. And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.
  2. And the LORD said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle.
  3. In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house: when I begin, I will also make an end.
  4. For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.
  5. And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever.

So how do you think Samuel is feeling, hearing this? We can look in our lives right now and think of the people who taught and shared with us. A lot of them are not around anymore. But what is more important? The word of the Lord, or people’s feelings? So God called Samuel, and he paid attention. And God said, “All right!” and he told him what was going on.

1 Samuel 3:15-18
  1. And Samuel lay until the morning, and opened the doors of the house of the LORD. And Samuel feared to shew Eli the vision.
  2. Then Eli called Samuel, and said, Samuel, my son. And he answered, Here am I.
  3. And he said, What is the thing that the LORD hath said unto thee? I pray thee hide it not from me: God do so to thee, and more also, if thou hide any thing from me of all the things that he said unto thee.
  4. And Samuel told him every whit, and hid nothing from him. And he said, It is the LORD: let him do what seemeth him good.

I read that and I think, “C’mon, Eli! No repentance? What are you going to do about it? Come on, set your house in order!”

1 Samuel 3:19-20
  1. And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground.
  2. And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the LORD.

Stay faithful, all you young people who are just getting started. You never know what God has for you. The answers are right in front of you. Do any of you wear progressive bifocals? How many of you know that the prescription is inscribed right there at the bottom of the lens? Can you read it? Why not? It’s right in front of your face. I used to make glasses, and I used to tell people their prescription, and they’d have to take my word for it. Sad but true.

The Bible says in Romans 10 that people had a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. (Romans 10:2) So have a zeal of God, but continue to get knowledge. Look to your own personal ministry.

1 Samuel 4:1-10
  1. And the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out against the Philistines to battle, and pitched beside Ebenezer: and the Philistines pitched in Aphek.
  2. And the Philistines put themselves in array against Israel: and when they joined battle, Israel was smitten before the Philistines: and they slew of the army in the field about four thousand men.
  3. And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the LORD smitten us to day before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.
  4. So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from thence the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth between the cherubims: and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.
  5. And when the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang again.
  6. And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, What meaneth the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews? And they understood that the ark of the LORD was come into the camp.
  7. And the Philistines were afraid, for they said, God is come into the camp. And they said, Woe unto us! for there hath not been such a thing heretofore.
  8. Woe unto us! who shall deliver us out of the hand of these mighty Gods? these are the Gods that smote the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness.
  9. Be strong, and quit yourselves like men, O ye Philistines, that ye be not servants unto the Hebrews, as they have been to you: quit yourselves like men, and fight.
  10. And the Philistines fought, and Israel was smitten, and they fled every man into his tent: and there was a very great slaughter; for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen.

Oh. My. Goodness. A lot of talk doesn’t mean anything. We tend to hold onto the old ways, but God wants you to be on fire. Don’t depend on what you did last week or last year. Be on fire for God now. You’re on the plow, looking forward. What does the Bible say happens if you look back? You’re not fit for the kingdom. (Luke 9:62) What happened to Lot’s wife? So keep looking forward.

We know the story of God telling Moses to send out spies to spy out the promised land. So they went out, and they said, “Yeah, this is the promised land.”

Numbers 13:21-25
  1. So they went up, and searched the land from the wilderness of Zin unto Rehob, as men come to Hamath.
  2. And they ascended by the south, and came unto Hebron; where Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the children of Anak, were. (Now Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.)
  3. And they came unto the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare it between two upon a staff; and they brought of the pomegranates, and of the figs.
  4. The place was called the brook Eshcol, because of the cluster of grapes which the children of Israel cut down from thence.
  5. And they returned from searching of the land after forty days.

So how many people think they believed that this was the land of promise? Oh, yeah. They wanted to show it off.

Numbers 13:26-27
  1. And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh; and brought back word unto them, and unto all the congregation, and shewed them the fruit of the land.
  2. And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it.

So they were already convinced. They saw it with their own eyes, and the witness came out of their own mouth. But what happened? They started looking around and saw the enemies that were all around. It’s like Peter walking on the water. He took his eyes off Jesus and saw the waves, and started to sink.

Numbers 13:28-30
  1. Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there.
  2. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan.
  3. And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.

That’s the attitude we’ve got to get. “Hey, we can do this!” God blesses us with a great opportunity. He touches us in some way; he does a miracle in our life. We look at it and say, “Wow!” But is that the end of it? It shouldn’t be. It’s like Peter. He saw Jesus, and he saw the miracles, and he said, “Wow!” Then … “Hey, guys, you wanna go fishing?” And you read in Acts chapter one, they’re still doing it. Jesus went up, and they stood there staring, and finally God had to send an angel to say, “What are you guys doing! Get to work!” And what about the transfiguration? They saw Jesus and Moses and Elijah and they got all excited. It’s like they saw some celebrities, and they said, “Hey; let’s build three altars. We’ll build one for Moses, and one for Elijah, and one for you. What do you think, Jesus?”

Numbers 13:31-33
  1. But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.
  2. And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature.
  3. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.

I believe that David knew about this story when he went to slay his giant. So he heard this guy blaspheming God, and he said, “Who does this joker think he is? C’mon, guys, we can do it!”

Numbers 14:1
  1. And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night.

My goodness, they didn’t even go into battle yet! You’re going to get a lot of crybabies in church. This is proof. “Oh, I get persecuted so hard! Oh!” I just wanna slap people, sometimes.

Numbers 14:2-4
  1. And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!
  2. And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt?
  3. And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.

Where is your focus? Where is your vision? They were looking back, and saying “It was better in Egypt. And they wanted to make a captain. They wanted to stone Moses and Aaron.” So all you young ones, don’t let the nay-sayers bug you. They’re like black holes; they just suck.

Numbers 14:5-10
  1. Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel.
  2. And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes:
  3. And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land.
  4. If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey.
  5. Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not.
  6. But all the congregation bade stone them with stones. And the glory of the LORD appeared in the tabernacle of the congregation before all the children of Israel.

Who? Who? All the congregation.

Numbers 14:11-13
  1. And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them?
  2. I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they.
  3. And Moses said unto the LORD, Then the Egyptians shall hear it, (for thou broughtest up this people in thy might from among them;)

This is what I love about Moses, man.

Numbers 14:14-21
  1. And they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land: for they have heard that thou LORD art among this people, that thou LORD art seen face to face, and that thy cloud standeth over them, and that thou goest before them, by day time in a pillar of a cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night.
  2. Now if thou shalt kill all this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of thee will speak, saying,
  3. Because the LORD was not able to bring this people into the land which he sware unto them, therefore he hath slain them in the wilderness.
  4. And now, I beseech thee, let the power of my LORD be great, according as thou hast spoken, saying,
  5. The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.
  6. Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.
  7. And the LORD said, I have pardoned according to thy word:
  8. But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.

So where was Moses’ focus in this situation? He was taking care of the children of Israel. God was even bargaining with him. God said, “Separate yourself from these people, and I’ll make of you a greater and mightier nation than they.” But Moses argued with God. Isn’t it awesome to have such a relationship with God that you can convince him to change his mind?

What does the Bible say about love? You’ve got to love your neighbor as yourself. That’s the hard part: you’ve got to love the naysayers, too. You’ve even got to love your enemies.

I was thinking about Job, also. A lot of bad things happened to Job. He lost everything; his money, his children, his servants. And the one who was supposed to be closest to him, his wife, said “Curse God and die.”

We read about the children of Israel looking at all their enemies and not wanting to fight. But without a battle, there can be no victory.

2 Corinthians 4:1-4
  1. Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;
  2. But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
  3. But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
  4. In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

There are people around us that are lost. Our focus has got to be about sharing with them. Some of you don’t know this, but I had a bus assistant, and we were always talking about the word of God. And just before the holidays, she was shot and killed. When I think of all the times I shared with her, it’s kind of sad. But we’ve got to keep focused.

2 Corinthians 4:5-7
  1. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.
  2. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
  3. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

See, here’s the problem. We’re going to go through battles.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9
  1. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
  2. Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;

Why do we go through all that? Let’s not focus on those things we’re going through. Let’s focus on heaven. Hey, those who live godly in Christ Jesus what? Shall suffer persecution. (2 Timothy 3:12)

2 Corinthians 4:10
  1. Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

Manifest where? In our body. People who want to know Jesus need to see how we live. Let your light so shine before men. (Matthew 5:16]

2 Corinthians 4:11-12
  1. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.
  2. So then death worketh in us, but life in you.

That’s Paul taking charge, and talking to the church. Hey, we know that not everyone who comes to church will be the same mind as Christ. But you’ve got to keep a right attitude.

2 Corinthians 4:13-15
  1. We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak;
  2. Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.
  3. For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.

It’s a lot of work, sharing with people. Think about the people who used to look you up and make sure you get invited out to church. I used to think it was the most annoying thing in the world. This one brother used to come into my barber shop to invite me out to church. I used to be a runner and a dodger. I used to see Bill Griffith and just cringe inside. I knew he’d have something encouraging to say, like “Praise the Lord” or something. But now I look back and I think, “Those guys were really looking out for me. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here.”

God has called us to work together, so we can go out there and be a testimony. The world teaches you to hang out with your own.

2 Corinthians 4:15-17
  1. For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.
  2. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
  3. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;

I hear that and think, “How dare you call my affliction ‘light’?” You should say, “our heavy affliction.”

2 Corinthians 4:18
  1. While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Romans 8:18
  1. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

So all those trials and tribulations, don’t even put them on the same level. Imagine experiencing heaven for just five seconds. Snap! And you’re in heaven. “Wow! Look at all this stuff!” and Snap! You’re back here. Then imagine experiencing five seconds of hell. Snap! “Oh, the pain!!!!” Snap! How much different would we be?

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