Service Notes

Notes from Sunday Worship Services

Freedom in Christ

Sunday Morning Service, 7/3/11

Songs

Message

– Pastor Thomas

Fourth of July is a lot of fun. It’s probably one of the most enjoyed holidays of our season. I think more money is spent on Halloween and Christmas, but the one that gathers more families together is the Fourth of July.

Jeff Lynch, when he was in the Navy and stationed in Camp LeJeune, would drive here on the weekends to spend time with the church. He always brought a carload of guys up with him. My most memorable visit was when his windshield wipers broke, and he tied dental floss to his wipers, and pulled alternately with the passenger to keep the windshield clean.

– Jeff Lynch

It’s good to be here. Yeah, we go back, Pastor Thomas. I just want to thank everyone who has been there for me. It’s been thirty years. Congratulations to the most recent guy to get baptized; Chris, was it? It will be a great journey.

– Pastor Thomas

I’d like to talk just a little bit about our freedom here in America and the freedom we have in Christ. I’d like to talk about the price that has been paid for it.

During the revolutionary war, about 1% of the population in the United States died for our freedom. That was around 25 thousand people, just on our side of the war.

1812 20,000 civil 625,000

I’m picking these out of all the wars simply because these are the ones where freedom was involved.

334,511 on Union side, and 260,000 on the Confederate side.

Mexican Revolution, 70 people. WW1 116,516 ww2 405,399 korean 53,686 vietnam 58,209 gulf 258 operation “provide comfort” 19 war on terror 5796 afghanistan 1413 iraq 4430

We can go down in the population list and it was less than 1% of the population civil war 2% ww2 .3% terror: Both sides

I knew my great-grandfather. He was the son of a Civil War veteran. Does anybody know someone who was involved in World War 1?

  • My Great Grandfather was in the mechanized light infantry. He rode a motorcycle with a machine gun in the sidecar.

I’ve seen those motorcycle combat things. The guy with the machine gun was behind armor plate, but the motorcycle rider

  • My grandmother’s brother.
  • My grandfather was in the Navy and served in the NOB Supply depot.
  • My great-grandfather fought in the war.

How about World War II?

> (lots of hands)

Wow. A lot of us know someone who was involved in that war.

1/6/1941 FDR speech

This speech was made eleven months before they bombed Pearl Harbor. But he knew that inevitably, we were going to be involved. There are some paintings that Norman Rockwell drew based on this speech, and we’ll display them as I read from the speech.

> In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

> The first is freedom of speech and expression – everywhere in the world.

> The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way – everywhere in the world.

> The third is freedom from want, which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants – everywhere in the world.

> The fourth is freedom from fear, which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor – anywhere in the world.

> That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called “new order” of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.

> To that new order we oppose the greater conception – the moral order. A good society is able to face schemes of world domination and foreign revolutions alike without fear.

> Since the beginning of our American history we have been engaged in change, in a perpetual, peaceful revolution, a revolution which goes on steadily, quietly, adjusting itself to changing conditions without the concentration camp or the quicklime in the ditch. The world order which we seek is the cooperation of free countries, working together in a friendly, civilized society.

> This nation has placed its destiny in the hands and heads and hearts of its millions of free men and women, and its faith in freedom under the guidance of God. Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights and keep them. Our strength is our unity of purpose.

> To that high concept there can be no end save victory.

It’s amazing to realize that at that time in the world, there was already a tremendous war going on. The Battle of Britain was going on. The Japanese had invaded China and Indochina and were killing people in great numbers. Some of you remember Nan, who stayed with us for a year. Her grandmother was involved in that war, and to this day she cannot tolerate Japanese people. We have people today who experience traumatic stress syndrome from the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But the war I want to talk about today is the spiritual warfare. Many people think that we have a democracy in the United States. We don’t. We have a republic. The difference between a democracy and a republic is pretty stark. In a democracy, the majority rules. In a democracy, if you’ve got twenty-six people who hunt a horse-thief down, and the majority votes to hang him, then he hangs. But in a republic based on laws, twenty-six people can say to hang him, and one sheriff can say “No, bring him back to be tried before a jury of his peers, and then we’ll hang him.”

The principles on which are nations are based are republican. We are a country ruled by law. The laws don’t let the majority step or walk on the minority. In a democracy, the majority of people can destroy the rights of individuals. In a republic, even though the majority of people might say, “We’re going to do this,” the law forbids certain forms of activity from going on.

I’m not talking about political parties. The Romans read the writings of the people from Greece and said, “We need a republic.” At first, it was great. But then the people became complacent in whom they elected. And then it becampe nepotism and decayed to a dictatorship.

In America, we have a responsibility to be careful in whom we elect. When we elect somebody to represent us, and they don’t represent us, then we should get them out of office. If they’re spending money and taxing and imposing things upon us, we should get them out of office. But if we become complacent and don’t oppose these things, then our nation will decay into nepotism and eventually into a dictatorship.

Do you realize that there are all kinds of different styles of worship going on today? There is everything from quiet Catholics to pew-jumping Pentacostals. You have the right to worship where you want. You have the right to work where you want, if they’ll hire you. You have the right to serve in the military, or not. We don’t think about these liberties. We don’t think about the price that is paid. We have people fighting in Afghanistan, trying to establish a right for the people there to vote, a liberty they have not enjoyed since the country was established.

If it wasn’t for France coming to help us in the revolutionary war, we would still be in bondange to England. I don’t think we should send our servicemen where they aren’t wanted, but if people want our assistance in gaining their freedoms, I think we should help them.

What price are you willing to pay for your spiritual freedom? You say, “Pastor, I thought it was free.” No, it isn’t.

A little over two thousand years ago, there was a man named Jesus. He said he was the Christ. He said, “If you destroy this temple, I’ll rebuild it in three days.” They didn’t understand that he was talking about the price that must be paid.

Our spiritual freedom has not only cost the blood of Jesus Christ, but it also costs you and me.

1 Timothy 6:12
  1. 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.

Lay hold on eternal life. God has offered it to you. I could offer you a hundred dollars and lay it right here on this table. You could say, “Wow! I’ve got an extra hundred dollars!” No, you don’t. You’ve got to get up out of your seat and come over to this table, and find out whether it’s really a hundred dollar bill or whether it’s…

We’ve got to sacrifice our ways and our lives and become something that even our own family might not recognize when we gather together for Fourth of July picnics. Are you willing to pay that kind of price for your salvation? We talked last Sunday about Paul’s message, where he said “Save yourself from this untoward generation.” Do something about your situation. If you’re not happy with a life of sorrow and pain and guilt, then do something about it. If you don’t know what will happen when you die and cross that threshold, then do something about it.

Galatians 5:1
  1. Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

There is liberty to those who are in Christ Jesus. Sometimes we confuse liberty, just like we do democracy and a republic. I have liberty, but my liberty stops at the point I swing my arm before it touches your nose. Our liberty does not give us the right to hurt someone else in Christ Jesus.

2 Corinthians 3:17
  1. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

There isn’t anything constraining you to live Godly in Christ Jesus. There is no special police force, as they have in Muslim countries, enforcing the spiritual law upon you. There is no religious police that, if you go against the things in the Bible, will throw you in a religious prison. It’s your choice.

It’s your choice to live in America. If you don’t like it here, go to China. Go to North Korea and see what it’s like. I guarantee you won’t like it.

But the price that was paid for this liberty is truly a tremendous price.

1 Corinthians 6:20
  1. For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

I have never heard in the Bible, “You are bought with a price, therefore render unto God lip-service.” I don’t find in the Bible, “You are bougt with a price, therefore you can do what you want to.” There’s a saying, “If any old way at all would do, then Jesus wouldn’t have gone to Calvary for us.” If any old way would do, then why would God require the sacrifice of Jesus’ blood on Calvary? God accepts his way, and his way only. We surrender our rights and freedoms to God for the benefit of guaranteeing our liberty in heaven forever.

1 Peter 1:18
  1. Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;

Just because you belong to a church organization and follow their traditions, doesn’t mean that you surrendered yourself to Christ. You just joined a club. But God doesn’t have clubs. What God has are people. God owns us as individuals, and collectively we gather together to worship.

We are not redeemed with corruptible things. If we were, we could take out a loan and redeem ourselves with gold or goats or whatever God requires. But we are not redeemed from damnation by those corruptible things that we can buy.

1 Peter 1:19
  1. But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

We are paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ. We can’t imagine what Jesus went through so that we could say “Thank you, God, for my salvation.” Just like we are separated from all the past wars. I have over two pages listing the wars that we have fought in our nation, some that I’ve never even heard of. But men were willing to pay the price, because our nation felt the need to call them into war. We don’t think about those costs, except maybe once in a while when we visit a cemetary and plant a flag. I’ve seen a man with a World War II ballcap on, and told the waitress, “Would you separate that man’s check and give it to me?” I didn’t let her tell him who it was, because I didn’t want to be recognized. I just wanted him to be recognized.

Do we really recognize the price that Jesus paid for us? If you want to have an idea, watch the movie “The Passion of the Christ.” We don’t think about that. All we want to do is complain about the price that we pay. I don’t in the Bible that to live for Christ is fair. But I do see that to live for Christ is worth it.

Matthew 13:46
  1. Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.

Can you imagine a man who has a wife and kids, and took all their belongings, all they had, and sold it, and brought back just one pearl. Can you imagine what his family would say? Yet he recognized the value, that it would be worth more than all he had. What price are we willing to pay for our liberty in Christ Jesus? What cost are we willing to endure?

John 8:32
  1. And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

You need to understand the price that God wants us to pay. What makes us free about knowing the truth? It makes us willing to pay the price. Why would this guy be willing to sell all he has to buy a pearl, unless he knew pearls? Another story tells of a man who found a treasure buried in a field and he bought the whole field so that he could own that treasure.

Do you see treasure in heaven for your life, church? Do you see yourself in the streets of gold? Heaven is worth whatever price God requires of us. Do you know that God doesn’t negotiate? Parents, have you ever had your child negotiate something with you? You say “no”, and … some of you are still young enough to try and negotiate things with them. There are people who make big money as negotiators for corporations and things. But you’re not going to get to heaven and sit down with God at the negotiating table. But God doesn’t negotiate.

God wants you to change. God doesn’t want your own mother to recognize you once he’s done with you. He doesn’t care what you look like, as long as you look like him.

Ephesians 3:1
  1. For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,

Paul wrote that he had chosen to become a prisoner of God, because he knew that was worth more than all his freedoms. Paul was born a Roman citizen, but he was willing to live under whatever restrictions were imposed, in order to hear “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Ephesians 4:1
  1. I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
1 Corinthians 9:27
  1. But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

Wow. “That I myself should be a castaway” should give us pause. Here is Paul who did all that he did, yet he knew that only by God’s grace could he take up his cross and follow.

Matthew 10:38
  1. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

You’ve got to take up your cross and follow Jesus. It’s hard to place a face on a soldier, a sailor, a marine, a guard who died twenty, thirty, forty years ago. But to somebody that was their son, their daughter. What price are we willing to pay for our freedom and for the freedom of those who are still in bondage?

2 Timothy 4:7
  1. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

Can we stand up today and say, “God, I’ve fought a good fight.” If today was going to be the last day before God would take you, and somebody would ask, “Have you fought a good fight?” How would you answer?

I don’t have to be the pastor here. Pastor Paine doesn’t have to be the general pastor. I don’t have to be faithful to my wife. I could cheat on her and leave her. But I want to stay faithful.

You don’t have to live a dedicated and faithful life. But do you want to? Do you count the blessings of God in your life? Life, health, peace. Peace alone is a great blessing. Let us this Fourth of July not only contemplate the nation’s birthday in fireworks and picnics, but take time to thank God for your freedom. Christ has paid for you. Thank God. What he asks from us as soldiers is not to go out and die for him, but to live for him.

Forgiveness

Sunday Morning Service, 6/26/11

Songs

Forgiveness

– Pastor Thomas

I heard a story on a talk show some time back. It featured the parents and the killer of a young college student. The killer was the college student’s best friend, and the weapon was alcohol and a high-speed car accident. What made this story compelling was that the parents had forgiven their son’s killer, and it that wasn’t enough, they took him into their home as their own. He slept in the bed formerly occupied by their only son. He sat at their dinner table; he worked with the father, teaching seminars on safety. He shared their fortune and supported their causes. He spoke about the one he had slain in ways that only someone who was intimate with him could have. Why did these parents do such a thing? How could they have accomplished that? They said that it was it had given them peace.

A lot of us wonder how could a parent do that? What would enable them to overcome their grief and accomplish that? But we’re looking at it from the wrong perspective. In this life, we’re the murderer; we’re the killer.

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.

We need to understand those three words: “might be saved.”

John 3:18-19
  1. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
  2. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

They loved the world more than Jesus Christ.

John 3:20-21
  1. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
  2. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

For us to understand the message today, I want you to think about the fact that God does not record professions in the kingdom of heaven. There is no book of words; there is no book of intents. There are two books with many volumes. There is the book of life, and in order to be written in that book, we must love Jesus Christ more than anything in this life. And then there is the book of works, and all of us are written in that book.

We don’t get into heaven by legalism. Even in the Old Testament, the fulfillment of all the law, the fulfillment of all those “do-lists” is Jesus Christ. Now we keep his commandments because we love him. If you’re married, and you know your life doesn’t want your stinky, raunchy old underwear in the middle of the floor, she’ll have words. I used to share a room with 78 other guys in an aircraft carrier, and if you didn’t keep up standards, the consequences were terrible. But if you’re married, why is it that you pick up those things and put them in the hamper? It’s because you love her. Why do we keep God’s commandments? Because we love him, and because we choose to.

Today, I want to concentrate on the Day of Pentecost in the book of acts. I don’t want to focus on the those who spake in tongues. I think that’s fabulous, but that wasn’t the real miracle. The real miracle was that thousands of people heard the message of Jesus Christ. For the first time, they felt the weight and the guild and the shame of sin, personally. They cried out, “Men and brethren, what must I do?” They cried out, “What can I do to get rid of this shame of sin that is upon me?” When Jesus wept on the cross, he wept not because of sins that he had done, but because of the sins of the world. It wasn’t the beating that killed him; it wasn’t because his lungs were filled with fluid and he couldn’t breathe any more. It was our sins that killed him. The Bible says that the weight was so great that he gave up the ghost, because he could not bear the sin that was laid upon him. Today, we can still feel the sting and the pain and the sorrow and the grief and the weight of sin.

Acts 2:37-38
  1. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
  2. Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

It didn’t say to kneel down, or take up a cross and bear it for so much distance. It said to repent. That means to make a complete course-change.

Acts 2:39-43
  1. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.
  2. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
  3. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
  4. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
  5. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.

Think of that. They continued in the doctrine and fellowship of the apostles. Church, we have all sinned, every single one of us. We have all come short of the glory of God. There is not one of us who can claim to be worthy of salvation. But if we confess our sins unto God, the Bible says he is faithful to forgive us. But we must first consciously admit that we are sinful. Sometimes we are so anxious to see someone baptized that we neglect to see them acknowledge the sin that is in their life. And without that, there can be no repentance. Everything else follows repentance. You don’t put repentance somewhere down the line. Inviting people to church doesn’t save a soul. I have given out hundreds of thousands of invite cards in my thirty-two years of ministry. I’d love for every one of them to find salvation, but instead, they find a pocket to put it in. One person took four years to come out to church. She said, “every time I cleaned out my pocket, I found this card.” But she didn’t throw it away. And she finally came out to church and got saved, when she was willing to admit the sin that was in her life, and to repent from it.

1 Peter 4:18
  1. And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?

How many shades of white are there? If you go to the paint wall at Home Depot and say, “I want white,” they’ll give you a stack of color chips and say, “Which white do you want?” But God’s not going to give you a palette of choices and ask you how white you want your garments to be. The Bible said he has given us pure white garments, and we should hate the garments that are stained by sin. And if the righteous scarcely be saved, what color is your garment today? If you were to stand up before God, what shade of white would we be wearing? I put myself in that same place. I’ve had to deal with this message all week. Paul said that after he preached to others, he himself feared that he would be a castaway. So we cannot stand in self-righteousness and say, “I got baptized; I play in the band; I teach the kids; I clean up the church.” God doesn’t look at our list of deeds and credit them as so much toward our whiteness.

Zechariah 3:1-2
  1. And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.
  2. And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?

Satan was going to accuse him of every single thing that he had done or thought of doing, and God rebuked him.

Zechariah 3:3-4
  1. Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel.
  2. And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.

In the book of Revelation, we can read about the purity of the raiment that God is going to give the church. But here we see a high priest that God took away his filthy garments and gave him clean garments in exchange.

Ezekiel 33:10-11
  1. Therefore, O thou son of man, speak unto the house of Israel; Thus ye speak, saying, If our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live?
  2. Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
2 Peter 3:9
  1. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
Ezekiel 33:12-20
  1. Therefore, thou son of man, say unto the children of thy people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression: as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turneth from his wickedness; neither shall the righteous be able to live for his righteousness in the day that he sinneth.
  2. When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it.
  3. Again, when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right;
  4. If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die.
  5. None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live.
  6. Yet the children of thy people say, The way of the Lord is not equal: but as for them, their way is not equal.
  7. When the righteous turneth from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, he shall even die thereby.
  8. But if the wicked turn from his wickedness, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall live thereby.
  9. Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. O ye house of Israel, I will judge you every one after his ways.

Think about that. You can get baptized at ten years old, and live Godly until you’re ninety, and at ninety get so mad at your great-great-grand-kids that you strangle them and commit murder. Those last eighty years are forfeit because you got angry in a minute and committed murder.

You take pleasure in sinful activities; you take joy in hanging out with sinful people, and you are not saving yourself. Therefore, when the Lord returns, when you are about your sinful pleasure, you are not saved. You are not “once saved always saved.” God’s word says that if we repent and then live Godly in Christ Jesus, then we’ll be saved. You see God saying to those on his right hand and to his left, “When I was hungry, when I was sick, when I was in prison,” and to the one he said, “You came and visited me,” and to the other, “You did it not unto me.”

You see the words written not in stone, but in love written in our hearts. When I see Jim, I don’t see a red Harley-Davidson; I see a sinner saved by Christ. When I look in the mirror I don’t see a pastor; I see someone who’s making it by the skin on his teeth.

I saw Pastor Davis walk into that restaurant at two-thirty in the morning, trailing Pete Paine and Jim Ottoson and whoever else was with him, and I was stoned out of my mind. And I said, “Whatever those guys are on, I want some.” Then Pastor Davis said, “Son, it’s not drugs; it’s a different way of life.” He knew I wouldn’t be able to focus while I was on drugs, so he promised to meet with me the next day. And I heard the message of Jesus Christ, and I cried out, “God, how could you love somebody like me?” And Jim Ottoson showed me the scriptures that say none are righteous; none are worthy of being saved. But God’s grace gives us forgiveness us through Jesus Christ.

Church, it’s not old-fashioned; it’s not antiquated to live holy in Jesus Christ. It’s not “un-cool” to love God. God said to the church, “I have somewhat against thee, because you have lost your first love.” It says, “I know thy works.” What else would be included in that chapter about our church? David was in that predicament, wasn’t he?

Psalms 51:1-6
  1. Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving-kindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
  2. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
  3. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
  4. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
  5. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
  6. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.

God’s wisdom doesn’t come from a book. It’s exposed to you when God puts in your eyes, your ears, your heart. It’s not because of external pressure; it’s because of an internal understand of the word of God saying, “This is what I want,” and we respond as his children, “That’s what I’ll give you.”

Psalms 51:7-10
  1. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
  2. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
  3. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.
  4. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

Create. Create. It might not be in you right now, but let God create in you a clean heart, and renew a right spirit in you, just as David pleaded for his life.

Psalms 51:11-13
  1. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
  2. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
  3. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

How are you going to convince sinners that there is a better way if you don’t look any different, talk any different, dress any different, or behave any different. When those guys walked into that room at two-thirty in the morning, I knew something was different. What do you bring into the room when you enter the presence of others? Are you a channel for the Holy Ghost? Are you one of those who said, “Forgive me, Lord!” The writer said,

Micah 6:8
  1. He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

What does it mean to walk humbly? What would it look like? If you go up before a judge in court in Norfolk, and you stand proudly before the bench and look that judge in the eye, is that humbleness? Does that show a contrite spirit? Do you want him to throw your butt in jail? That’s the way to get it done.

I love the ones who walk in and say, “Oh, your honor, I’m so sorry. I’ve just been so humbled by God’s word. I promise I won’t speed down that street any more.” That judge is no fool!

I walked into a courtroom once so arrogantly once.

Do you walk humbly before God? Or do you walk in deliberate compromise, and expect God to accept it, because you’ve taken the liberty to adjust his word.

> Oh, I don’t think that God will be that strict…

John 14:15
  1. If ye love me, keep my commandments.

There’s a story in 1 Samuel 15:1-23. It’s the story of Saul, who was the king of Israel, who was given the talk of going to kill the people whom the Lord hates.

1 Samuel 15:1-5
  1. Samuel also said unto Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD.
  2. Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt.
  3. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.
  4. And Saul gathered the people together, and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand footmen, and ten thousand men of Judah.
  5. And Saul came to a city of Amalek, and laid wait in the valley.
1 Samuel 15:7-9
  1. And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah until thou comest to Shur, that is over against Egypt.
  2. And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.
  3. But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.

Then Samuel rebuked Saul:

1 Samuel 15:10-13
  1. Then came the word of the LORD unto Samuel, saying,
  2. It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night.
  3. And when Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning, it was told Samuel, saying, Saul came to Carmel, and, behold, he set him up a place, and is gone about, and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal.
  4. And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the LORD: I have performed the commandment of the LORD.

To the man of God, he said, “I have done what the Lord said.”

1 Samuel 15:14-16
  1. And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?
  2. And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.
  3. Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell thee what the LORD hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on.

He was proud! He was, “Look what I did! I have obeyed the Lord!”

1 Samuel 15:17-20
  1. And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel?
  2. And the LORD sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed.
  3. Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the LORD, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the LORD?
  4. And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and have gone the way which the LORD sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.

Excuse:

1 Samuel 15:21-23
  1. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God in Gilgal.
  2. And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
  3. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.
Romans 6:23
  1. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

It is not up to you to mix around and mingle and change and compromise the word of God to make it the way you think it should be. That’s what Achan did when the took of the spoil of the battle, and the next time they went out to battle, they lost. And God said, “There is sin in the camp.”

I know this is going to irritate some people, but I don’t want to stand before God and hear him say that I was partial in his word. Church, you can’t go piercing your body, and tattooing it, and dressing ungodly, and expect God to accept you into into his kingdom. I’ve been a sinner; I’m the first to admit it. I might have done all manner of evil, but when I got saved, I became a new creature. And church, it’s time we stopped making excuses for our behavior, and said, “Forgive me God, and let me live uprightly before you.” Joshua asked the people, “Which is better? Shall we live like the people whose land we escaped, whose God could not save them? But as for me and my family, we choose to be saved.”

Deuteronomy 30:19-20
  1. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:
  2. That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.

Again, this is the crux of the whole matter. On the day of Pentecost, it wasn’t about speaking in tongues; it was about the power of God to make us realize that we’re a sinner. Guilt and shame weigh heavy on those who don’t listen to God. But if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. Church, I’m not preaching as one who is better than you; I’m preaching as one who has gone through it and is still going through it, who prays to God every day, “Lord, forgive my sins and help me to be more like you.” If there is any in this room who perish in rebellion, I don’t want to stand before God and say, “I loved them too much to tell them.” I tell you because I love you too much not to.

God doesn’t change his standards if you go to Japan or Baghdad or Afghanistan. When the flag goes down in battle, men put down their weapon and pick up the flag. And when that man gets shot, someone else runs to pick up that standard. Why? Because that standard means more than a life. We carry the standard of Jesus Christ. And that makes us a target, but if we wear the armor of God, we will not be defeated. Satan cannot win unless we turn our back, because that’s the only part that armor does not cover. God wants us to face the enemy and know that he is our God.

Acts 2:40
  1. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.

Make that personal. God wants you to what?

> Save myself

How can I save myself? But does not the Bible say to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling?

Philippians 2:12
  1. Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

God doesn’t use border-collies to keep everyone moving in the right direction.

John 10:1-7
  1. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.
  2. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
  3. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
  4. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
  5. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.
  6. This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them.
  7. Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.
John 10:14
  1. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
John 10:25-28
  1. Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.
  2. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.
  3. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
  4. And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

Jesus leads. If you choose to follow him, then you are going to be right behind him. He’s not got some dog, like a pastor running beside you, biting your ankles, saying “You’re too far to the left! You’re too far to the right!” You want to compromise the gospel, that’s your choice. You want to walk on the fringes of sin, that’s your choice. But do not be surprised if you hear God’s voice saying on the day of Judgment, “Go away; I never knew you.”

Don’t try to walk the broadest path you can. Walk humbly with God, down the center of that yellow line. Do not pass. Stay in line, and let Jesus say to you, “Well done, my faithful follower.”

God is our leader; he is our shepherd; he is our leader; he is our forgiver.

2 Thessalonians 3:6
  1. Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.
2 Thessalonians 3:14-15
  1. And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.
  2. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
2 Thessalonians 3:11
  1. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.
2 Corinthians 6:14
  1. Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

I want you to read today all of Psalms 119. There are 176 verses, broken into segments of eight.

[Psalms 119;1-3]

This whole psalm is about the meditations and prayers related to the word of God. It the most powerful section of a man’s humble heart crying out about the word of God.

Church, please know the joys of having your sins forgiven, of keeping your garments white and without stain before the Lord. Don’t try to define what is white; just do what’s right in God’s eyes.

Church, God loves us. We are here today because we love him. We are here in our flesh and inadequacies, in all the pettiness of our fleshly life, to say “God, forgive me and let me a better testimony. Let me be a better Christian, so that when I walk into a room, others will say ‘I want what they’ve got.’”

What Held Them Back?

Sunday Morning Service, 6/12/11

Songs

The Day of Pentecost: What Held Them Back

– Pastor Paine

The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth about charity and how important it is. Without charity, we can accomplish nothing. It’s just going through the emotions. Then he poured his heart about about prophecy and tongues. he says that this is something that a body must have to be health, and these gifts belong in the body. If the body is going to be fitly joined and have the power that God intends, it can’t be complete without these things.

In the book of Acts we read that they came together in one place with one mind and in one accord. Then in chapter two we read:

Acts 2:1-4
  1. And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
  2. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
  3. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
  4. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Saints, we need to cry out to God for this unity, for the Holy Spirit to fill us to overflowing, for us to be the individuals that God has called us to be and the body of believers that God has called us to be. Let us seek to bring to the body what God has for us, and be willing to receive what others bring, that we may be complete, in one mind, in one accord, seeking the will of God.

– Pastor Thomas

Pentecost: fifty days after Easter. It was the celebration of the harvest, of the first-fruits. The Christian church celebrates the indwelling of the Holy Spirit by the manifestation in the upper room. By Jewish tradition, it was also the celebration of the day that Moses gave the law. We see how these things all fit together in the new Testament, not as a covenant of law, but of grace.

Have you ever found out, after the fact, that an event happened and you were left out? How did you feel? “What happened? How come I wasn’t invited?” Then you realize that you were, but the invitation was buried in a stack of bills, or lost in your junk email folder. Did that ever happen to you?

Church, on the day of Pentetcost, there was a hundred and twenty. We find in the book of Acts:

Acts 1:9-11
  1. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
  2. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;
  3. Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

Now Jesus had already told them to go into Jerusalem and to tarry, to wait. This was weeks after the resurrection.

Acts 1:12-15
  1. Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey.
  2. And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James.
  3. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.
  4. And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)
Acts 2:1
  1. And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

From the time that they gathered in that house until the day that Pentecost was fully come, there was a waiting period. What did they do? Did they sit around and play cards? No, the Bible says that they tarried; they prayed; they made supplication unto what God had promised. I think that is what separated the hundred and twenty from all the others that Jesus met and taught. They were

Miracles of Jesus

Turning water to wine healing the nobleman’s son demonic healed peter’s mother-in-law healed leper healed withered hand centurion’s servant

There were twenty-three healings, two raised from the dead, nine thousand fed. Once he turned water into wine; once he walked on the water; once he calmed the sea.

What did it take for somebody to get the message that this guy is not just some prophet? This guy has got something! This guy has done miracles! We’ve seen it; we’ve watched it. Church, what has God done in your life, and why aren’t we more steadfast in our seeking and ministering to God and in our waiting and serving? Why aren’t we more of the hundred and twenty and less of the multitudes.

Pastor Paine quoted something to me that I thought was scripture: “Little is much, if God is in it.” But truly, it doesn’t take a great number of people to accomplish God’s will, because it was never their numbers or their talents; it was the Lord who made these things happen.

What happened when the laws were given? The people had already been delivered out of Egypt; they had seen the miracles of the frogs, the locusts, the water turned blood, the firstborn killed. They saw the waters part. Man! Wouldn’t you say, “I wish I could have been there.” After that, Moses went up the mount and received the law.

Exodus 31:18
  1. And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.

God gave Moses the law.

Exodus 32:1
  1. And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.

Jim, you were telling me that a dog has the memory of a three, three-and-a-half year-old child. About three and a half seconds. Here were men and women who had seen the miracles that God (not Moses) had performed. And in the short period of time that Moses was up on the mountain, they lost sight of what they had seen, and said “Make us Gods.”

God said,

Exodus 32:7
  1. And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves:

It was a choice that they made, to go another direction other then where God had brought them. What was the reason that Moses gave to Pharaoh for the people to go out into the wilderness? They were to go out and worship God. And the poeple forgot; they allowed themselves to be corrupted.

Exodus 32:8
  1. They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

These things are more important than the God who had performed miracles.

When we studied not too long ago about sexual sin, the thing that got me the most was that people put things (in that case, sex) and said, “God, you can’t meet this need that I have,” so they put that in front of their relationship with God. That’s what happened to the Children of Israel. They thought they needed an image to put in front of themselves so they could see a god.

What is it today that we allow to corrupt ourselves? Sports? Job? Family? Wealth? Could we go on with this list? Things get in the way of our relationship with God, and we allow our spiritual self to be corrupted. We don’t hear the coming of the Lord like a rushing mighty wind because we are too preoccupied doing something else.

Moses went down from the mountain, broke up the golden calf and crushed it into a powder, scattered it on the water and made them drink it, then killed three thousand of them.

How is it that we allow ourselves to be taken away from a place where we see the miracles of God, where we have a powerful prayer life, where we see people healed by the power of God? What causes that separation to take place?

Joshua 24:14-16
  1. Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD.
  2. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
  3. And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods;

Here’s a generation that has seen these miracles. Here are the people who fought in the valley with Joshua while Moses kept his hands raised.

We find in Judges:

Judges 2:6-7
  1. And when Joshua had let the people go, the children of Israel went every man unto his inheritance to possess the land.
  2. And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD, that he did for Israel.

Now Joshua was a young man when he served under Moses. And if these were the elders who outlived Joshua, then they were not participants in the miracles; they were observers. But they saw what took place.

Judges 2:8-13
  1. And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old.
  2. And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathheres, in the mount of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill Gaash.
  3. And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.
  4. And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim:
  5. And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger.
  6. And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth.

They didn’t know these things; they hadn’t been there to see them. So therefore, they were corrupted, because of their lack of experience, their lack of seeing. And right here in this generation, in this congregation, there are those who have experienced first-hand the miracles of God. I remember when this gentleman walked up to us when we had been singing in St. Louis, and Pastor Davis put his hand on the man’s shoulder and said, “Sir, you’re the pastor of a church, and you’re here with a woman other than your wife.” Some of us where there when those kinds of miracles took place. Others have watched them, but some of us have never heard of them. And the farther away we get from those experiences, the more likely that we will not be numbered among the hundred and twenty. Paul said,

1 Corinthians 9:27
  1. But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

If that’s what the apostle wrote, how much more should we be careful of those things! When was the last time that you sought God for the gift of the Holy Ghost? When was the last time you sought God for the Holy Ghost to move through you and touch other people? It’s easy to let yourself be corrupted; it’s easy to let yourself off the hook. It’s harder to be in that upper room while people outside are ridiculing you. If we are the people of God, what have we got? A church? A religion? A choir? A pastor? They’re a dime a dozen. The phone book is thick with churches. We should never be a church; we should always be a ministry. This isn’t a church; this a gymnasium. We are the church, the indwelling place of the Holy Ghost. The woman with the issue of blood said, “All I have to do is touch the hem of his garment.”

Church, there are people who are seeking for miracles, and where are they going to go? We can be the hem of Jesus’ garment. It wasn’t the garment that was special; it was the connection to the virtue of Jesus. I want that virtue to flow through this congregation, just as it did on the day of Pentecost.

Acts 2:37-38
  1. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
  2. Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Repent. Turn your life around. Stop being involved with religion and start being involved with Jesus Christ. That is not optional. Peter didn’t say “Go and enroll in a church”, or give alternative options. He said, “Go and be baptized.” You’ve got to accept Jesus Christ and make that declaration. That’s what the people in the upper room had done.

When Elijah and Elisha first met, there he was plowing the field with his yoke of oxen. And when we were in the Midwest farm belt, I saw these huge tractors. I mean, huge. Those aren’t cheap, are they? They cost $250,000 to half a million for just one tractor. Elisha was plowing the fields with the equivalent of a half million dollar tractor. And he went and sacrificed them all. Do you think his father was pleased? He was burning his bridges to make sure that he couldn’t go back on his commitment.

I once bought a 1964 Corvette that was buried up to its doors in mud. I worked on it for quite a while and got it running nice. One day I found myself underneath that car, working on the main bearings, and God said “When was the last time you …” And I just cried. I knew that God wasn’t happy. Pastor Paine preached a powerful sermon about doing something just to make God happy. What are we doing that is so important that it comes between us and our relationship with God? What are we doing that prevents our source of power, the Holy Ghost, from flowing through us and performing miracles?

In Mark, it says that these things might happen, does it not? May happen? Should happen? What does it say?

Mark 16:17
  1. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

Einstein had only one color of pants, one kind of shirt, one kind of sports coat. he didn’t want to waste his mental energy on wondering what to wear. Yet we spend our time staring at a full closet and saying, “I don’t have anything to wear!” We must reverse those things. We must be that church that is waiting in the upper room, of one mind and one accord. And it’s not because we’re dressed the same way or saying the right things, but because we’ve connected to our source of power.

It says that the people had come from all around the world, and each heard them speak in their own language. I learned in Sri Lanka how difficult that can be. When I was preaching a sermon, sometimes I said a few words and the translator said a long sentence, and sometimes I said a lot of words and the translator only said a few. When I asked why this happened, the translator explained that sometimes the concepts can be translated easily, and other times they take a little finessing so that the poeple get the understanding, not just the words.

If we are not of that one mind and one accord, church, then what are we? We are no more than a gathering of diverse people for entertainment. That doesn’t sound very promising to me. But how far separated are you? Are you like Joshua, saying “I have seen those things. As for me and my house; we shall serve the Lord.” Or are you like those who said, “I have heard bout those things,” or are you like the ones who

Give me a miracle that you have experienced:

  • Praying for someone who was healed on the spot.
  • A man who was waiting for a heart transplant gave his life to Jesus. Afterwards the doctor told him, “You don’t need a transplant; your heart is just fine.”
  • A man who couldn’t walk was healed.
  • God saved me.

Pastor Paine and I were involved in a traffic accident, and I had a couple of vertebraes in my back just crushed. It was agonizingly painful. I was lying on my back on a piece of wood because I couldn’t stand to lay on the bed, and decided that I couldn’t live this way any longer. So I called up Pastor Paine and Pastor Wilson and a few other people and asked for prayer. Then I woke up the next morning feeling pretty good, and I went to the doctor, and he took some X-rays. He couldn’t explain what happened, but the damage was gone, so he said “You don’t need to see me any more.” And I never went back.

Let us pray and fast about things that matter; things that last for eternity.

Living To Please God

Sunday Morning Service, 6/5/11

Songs

Intro

– Scott Shepherd

> (Big “YOU ARE HERE” sign on the overhead display)

Many of you are thinking, “I know where I am; I don’t need a sign to tell me.” But I want you fully present in the moment. Your bills, your worries will be there for you when the service is over. But if we spend this day not in worship, and thinking about all the other things, and miss the blessings that God has for us, then what will we be able to give the people we meet throughout the week?

My hope is that you take this opportunity to fill the emptiness in your soul with God, so that you’ll have something to give when people ask you about the hope of your calling.

Living To Please God

– Pastor Paine

Sister Edna Taylor, I think you said, introducing that song, that you were heading home; you didn’t plan to go McDonald’s, you wound up at McDonald’s, and you were convinced it was God. A similar thing happened to me. I was heading home; I didn’t plan to go to McDonald’s, wound up at McDonald’s, and I’m convinced it was Satan.

> (scattered laughter)

A church sign says, “If you love Jesus, honk. If you want to meet him, text.”

If you’ve got your Bibles today, I’m going to ask you to help me. Let’s first start by thinking of some examples of where god expressed that he was pleased.

  • Creation.
  • Matthew 3:17
Matthew 3:17
  1. And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

So Jesus was baptized of John, and a voice came from heaven, saying “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Hebrews 11:6
  1. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

We please God by faith.

  • Jacob have I loved, and Esau have I hated.

  • Cain and Abel

  • The Centurion soldier “I have not seen so great a faith.”

  • David when he repented and had a contrite heart.

1 Kings 21:29
  1. Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his son’s days will I bring the evil upon his house.
Hebrews 11:5
  1. By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

We’re talking about living a life that pleases God. The challenge today is, “What are we doing that displeases God, and how do we eliminate it, and what can we do that pleases God?”

Isaiah 66:1-2
  1. Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?
  2. For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.
  • The scripture that says “Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet believed.”

  • God boasted about Job before the sons of God.

It was obvious that Job’s life, his testimony pleased God.

  • God was pleased with Solomon request because he didn’t ask for things for himself, but for wisdom to lead the church.

  • What pleases God may not be what we expect.

Matthew 20:1-13
  1. For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.
  2. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
  3. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
  4. And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.
  5. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.
  6. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?
  7. They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.
  8. So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.
  9. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.
  10. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.
  11. And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house,
  12. Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.
  13. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?

Psalms says something about the Law of God.

Psalms 1:1-2
  1. Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
  2. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

But then the Bible says that the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. We lives by “do’s” and “don’ts” sometimes that are not pleasing to God.

Paul was writing to the church in Thessalonica, and I’m going to ask you to listen to this letter, that you can understand how God speaks to us through his word: “Live a life that pleases me; live a life that I can celebrate.”

Let me shift a little bit; I think we’re not quite ready to jump in. Can you give me an example of something you do to please someone you love, with no selfish motive?

  • Travel to Wisconsin to see my mother.

And your mother doesn’t know when you’re there.

  • An unexpected gift at an unexpected time.

  • Watch a “chick-flick” with my wife.

  • Make sweets and keep them in the house.

  • Just buy a card and write something in it.

  • Take out the trash.

I was at a marriage seminar one weekend, and the speaker said that taking out the trash was foreplay. If you don’t understand that, you haven’t been married long enough.

  • Visiting the sick in the hospital.

  • Playing CandyLand for the tenth time.

  • Putting aside my own agenda, to put the family agenda first.

Do you get the idea that sometimes you do things just to please others? When was the last time that you said, “I’m going to do this just to please God; just to put a smile on God’s face.” When was the last time you said, “I’m going to do this just to please my savior, just to let God know that I love him.”

1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
  1. Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.
  2. For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus.
  3. For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:
  4. That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;
  5. Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:
  6. 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.
  7. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.
  8. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.

Hello? Does it please God when we despise a brother or a sister?

> “I don’t despise them; I just despise what they do.”

Did you fall on your head?

> “I don’t hate the sinner; I just hate the sin.”

I know God is able to do that somehow; we’re less able to separate. I heard about a mother who visited her son in prison. Another person asked her, “Why do you go and visit him? Don’t you know he committed murder?” She said, “I only know what’s in my heart. He’s my son.” Well, that’s your sister. That’s your brother. Yeah, they might even be wrong right now. Does not the scripture say:

> If you see your brother or sister overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, hit them while you have a chance. Kick them while they’re down. Get in quick while they’re weak; you can take them out now!

Or did it say,

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.

Some of you remember me telling the story of when I was perhaps six years old, and our mother tucked us in and said, “say your prayers.” My twin brother and I shared a room at the time, and while I was praying diligently, my brother was throwing things from from across the room. This continued until I went to my mother’s room and knocked at the door.

> (Knock-knock) Mother, this is Peter, your good son. I’m trying to pray, but Paul, (your bad son), is distracting me and keeping me from praying. I was sure that my mother would come back to my room and set things straight. Instead, she simply said, “Peter, you’re not praying.” Thinking she misunderstood me, I repeated my case, and she said again, “Peter, you’re not praying.” I went back to my room, and Paul noticed that I was alone when I arrived. And again, foreign objects began to fly across the room. I went back back to my mother thinking, “This time she will hear my case, becasue he is a repeat offender.” She simply said, “Peter, you’re not praying.” She saw the puzzled look on my face, and said “If you were really praying, you wouldn’t notice what Paul was doing.”

Now I’m mad at her and Paul.

If you see your brother overtaken in a fault … hello? That’s not the only time that foreign objects flew across the room. But at that time, I was right and he was wrong. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

But what about when we’re wrong? What about when we could use some forgiveness? Oh, then we want some grace. But someone else is wrong, we love the law.

This morning I got up early, as is my habit on a Sunday. Debbie usually makes me coffee in the morning; I’m very appreciative of that; she is good to me. But this time, I made it to the coffee pot first. And I was just about to enjoy my first cup of coffee when it occurred to me that my wife was still upstairs and would appreciate it if I brought her a fresh cup of coffee, piping hot, with just a little creamer, the way she likes it. So I brought her that cup of coffee, and she said, “Aw, Pete. That was so sweet of you.” And it was. And I’ll remind her of that as long as I’m able.

7-10

Do you ever feel like, “That’s good enough.” I think God is saying, “It’s good to increase, more and more.” Let’s just keep loving God in a way that he’s able to use. Now, I know that some of you Bible scholars are thinking, “I don’t want to please God so much that he thinks of me like Job.” Job loved God. There are people throughout history who pleased God, but Job loved God so much that God said to the devil, “Watch this. Job loves me so much that he’ll continue to love me and please me, even when circumstances go bad.” I hope that we’re able to love God even when our circumstances go bad. I hope that we’re able to please God so much that he says in our hearts, “It matters to me that you please me.”

Do you love God? Say it together.

> I love God.

Sometimes I just stand in the middle of a room and call out,

> God loves me!

Jim likes Corvettes. And there is a kind of canonical Corvette; is a 1967 convertible big-block. And I asked him, “How do you feel when you go into the garage and start up that car?” He said, “God likes me.”

Do you know that God likes you? And if you don’t get anything that makes you smile when you look at it, you just know that you know that you know.

What did Jesus say just before he ascended? He said, he went away to prepare a place for us. And if Jesus has been preparing a place for two thousand years, how awesome is it going to be? I know that some of you get a little nervous about this concept of pleasing God. It almost sounds like “works”. But not if it’s done out of a loving heart.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
  1. But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
  2. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
  3. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
  4. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
  5. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
  6. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

Read chapter five if you would. Take this message with you and study it. But I challenge you today to look for things in your life that displease God, and commit to elimating them. Look for things in your life that cause God to look the other way and say, “I wish they wouldn’t do that.” And commit to say, “God, show me how to eliminate those things from my life.”

I’m talking soft, from a preaching heart.

And then look for those things that you know makes God smile and say, “This is my son, my daughter, in whom I am well pleased.” And look to multiply them. And if we do that, we will become more like God. Because at the end of the day, we want people to notice us because of the light of God that shines through us.

Matthew 5:16
  1. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Memorial Day

Sunday Morning Service, 5/29/11

Songs

Intro

– Pastor Taylor

Memorial Day weekend is upon us. It’s time to reflect on those who came before us, and fought for our freedoms. Many of our loved ones are fighting today. Many have given their lives, and many are risking their lives still. This weekend, think about the sacrifices they made. We are fighting a battle today, spiritually. It’s a fight for our lives, to make it to heaven. I think about the song, “I’m on the battlefield.”

Memorial Day

– Eric Turner

Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. Southern states continued to honor their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war). It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971 to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays). Abraham Lincoln, in the Gettysburg Address, said it best: > The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain - that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

If there are any Vietnam War veterans here today, would you please stand?

> (Several men stand)

Now, if there are any veterans from Desert Storm, would you please stand?

> (Several more stand)

If there are any veterans of the Iraqi and Afghanistan war, would you pleasse stand?

> (A few more stand)

These veterans have gained as much honor as any of their fallen comrades.

Would any other active duty service members also stand?

> (Over half the congregation is standing, now.)

These people risk their lives so that we may have the freedoms that we all enjoy. Now would everyone please stand?

I’d like to call for a moment of silence to remember all our nation’s veterans.

Never Forget

– Pastor Ulysse

We have young and old (well, not too many old; mostly young) here. I used to think and hear and believe that the older you get, the first thing you lose is your memory. I found out that’s not true. You only forget what you don’t give imporance to. Unless you are sick, you always remember what is important. That’s why we have long-term memory and short-term memory. Things that are important to us, we safe it in long-term memory and we never forget. Things that are not important, we save in short-term memory, and we forget it hours or days later. I know that because I was young and now I am old. I went back to school and took a test, and I did good on the things that I used to give importance to, like math. I remembered every formula. But other things, like biology, I couldn’t remember anything.

A memorial is something designed to keep in remembrance a person or an event. If you do not want to forget something, there are many ways to remember. For instance, if I have my car key with me, and there is something that I want to remember, I put my car key by it. I know I cannot leave without my car keys, so I will remember it.

We put aside a memorial day to remember those who have paid the price for our freedom. Of course, we know we should make that remembrance a daily thing.

We are not where we are by accident or some miracle. But what happened in the past has a perfect link with where we are now. Everything is connected perfectly. If we are where we are day, it is because of something that happened before. So we cannot forget that.

In 1865, that’s when they first started to decorate the graves of the soldiers from the Civil War. But of course, by may of 1868, that’s when the official declaration came. It wasn’t called Memorial Day then; it was called Decoration Day. After World War II, that’s when they decided it should not be just for Civil War veterans, but for those who died in any war.

It started as a remembrance, but when Congress passed a law that there would be a long weekend, you saw things start to change. It became not just a memorial of fallen soldiers, but a memorial of any relatives who have died. It became a day of fireworks, picnics, and celebration. Now it is just the beginning of summer vacation. You look around and see that not too many people are in church; I bet they are not commemorating the dead. They are having parties and visiting family; that’s what it has become.

There was a church in Lousiana which was going through some financial difficulty. So they decided that every Sunday after church, they would have grilled chicken to raise some money. This went so well that they decided to do it twice a week. Many people came not for church, but for the chicken. Now it is a grilled-chicken restaurant. They forgot why they were doing it; they just were focused on the money. Some day, I want to visit there and find out what’s so great about their grilled chicken.

Now I would like to read a story about three of the captains of David.

1 Chronicles 11:15-18
  1. Now three of the thirty captains went down to the rock to David, into the cave of Adullam; and the host of the Philistines encamped in the valley of Rephaim.
  2. And David was then in the hold, and the Philistines’ garrison was then at Bethlehem.
  3. And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, that is at the gate!
  4. And the three brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: but David would not drink of it, but poured it out to the LORD,

It was the act of bravery. Those men just went through and they took the water to David, and when it finally came, David said “I cannot drink it. That is your blood. You went through danger.”

1 Chronicles 11:19
  1. And said, My God forbid it me, that I should do this thing: shall I drink the blood of these men that have put their lives in jeopardy? for with the jeopardy of their lives they brought it. Therefore he would not drink it. These things did these three mightiest.

That was so precious. I love mangos, but when I go to the market, I cannot buy mangoes. They cost two dollars each, and I think of how many cinder blocks two dollars would buy, and it’s almost half of a wall of a house, and I cannot buy them.

So this is what David was thinking about. He could not drink of the water, so he decided to do something more important, and he poured it out unto the Lord.

In World War II, 116,708 soldiers were killed, and 204,201 wounded. In the Korean war there were 33,876 killed, 103,224 wounded. In Vietnam, 58212 killed, 153,452 wounded. On top of that, you have 71 missing in action, buried somewhere with no name. And we have people still dying in Iraq and Afghanistan. Can you just live your life without thinking about that? If you do, then you just don’t care. That’s the only way you can forget that, if you don’t think it is important for you.

Whatever is important, you think seriously about every day. It’s like, I cannot buy a mango. And if I do buy a mango, I guarantee you, I eat it well. I will enjoy that mango.

So if you remember these things and count them important, that should affect your life.

If I go around and ask, “Why do you eat?” A lot of you would not be able to answer. Or you would say, “I don’t understand. The food is good, so I eat.” For some of us, we don’t know whether we eat to live or we live to eat. In everything you do, you should considered the main reason why we have this freedom.

I grew up under a dictatorship, so I knew what it is to taste of freedom. When people around me on the ship were complaining, I asked them, “Why did you join the Navy?” They would say, “Well, I needed a secure job.” or “I needed to get out of the house.” or “I wanted to travel.” or “I needed a career.” Then I understand, because they joined for the wrong reason. And it is the same in church. If they say, “I’m here because I like the pastor,” or “I like the people,” then these people will not last long. They are here for the wrong reason.

So if you join the military, you should join because of all those people. Then you wouldnot worry about your paycheck, because that’s not why you are there. That’s why it is called “service.” If you are serving your country, then you would serve whether you get a paycheck or not.

The first memorial in the Bible is found in Genesis. This is when God said that he would never again destroy the earth, like he did in the days of Noah.

Genesis 9:6-17
  1. Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.
  2. And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.
  3. And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying,
  4. And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you;
  5. And with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth.
  6. And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.
  7. And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:
  8. I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.
  9. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:
  10. And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.
  11. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.
  12. And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.

When God sees the bow, he will remember. But as you know, the greatest bow was the cross. The cross is the greatest bow that we have; the greatest memorial that we have. Everything else is just symbols. We may forget everything else, but we cannot forget the cross.

I tend to believe that if you forget the soldiers, if you forget your country to serve it, then it is almost certain that you may forget the cross, and you may forget the life that you must live because of the cross. It’s like

1 John 4:20
  1. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

To me, it’s a perfect match. This is your training, to remember what happened to give you what you have today.

I’d like you to remember three things:

1. You have to remember what and where you were.

Ephesians 2:11-12
  1. Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;
  2. That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

That’s where we were. And I think we cannot even appreciate what is said here. We get saved in a time of grace, after Christ was born and died and resurrected. But these Gentiles were treated like strangers and aliens by the Jews. If you have never been poor before; if you have never been in a bad position, you need to find out how life is like out there.

Everyone wants to be an American. Even those who don’t like America; they are just jealous. They would like to be us. Trust me; if they don’t like us, it’s just because they wish they were Americans.

Spiritually, you are saved now, but remember your old life. Remember where you were and where you came from.

2. Remember who delivered you.

Ephesians 2:13
  1. But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

If we can be something today, it is because blood was shed for us.

Ephesians 2:8-9
  1. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
  2. Not of works, lest any man should boast.

It’s not even from us. We don’t save ourselves; we are saved by Christ. The Bible says our righteousness is as filthy rags. So the more you try to do good, the more filthy rags you are putting in your house. You cannot do anything; you just need to accept God’s grace.

3. You have to remember why you are living.

Those who gave their lives forsaw a greater America. They decided to give their lives so that their Childreen could live better lives.

Ephesians 2:10
  1. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

They did not die so that we could just have fun. They didn’t die so we could forget about them, and forget about the future. They died so we could have freedom, and keep that freedom for other generations to use.

it is the same thing for Christians. Liberty is not free. Somebody paid for it.

Galatians 5:1
  1. Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

The same way they paid for our freedom is the same way that Christ also paid for our freedom. But now it says, “Be not entangled again in the yoke of bondage.” But every time I travel, I have to take off my shoes and get inspected. Is that why they gave their lives? Every small noise, we feel like we have to make the restrictions tighter. Is that what it feels to be free? It’s the same way in the church. You should feel free. Liberty is like electricity; it must be generated. We were in slavery; we were in bondage. We should not return back to that.

Galatians 5:2-12
  1. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.
  2. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.
  3. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
  4. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
  5. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
  6. Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?
  7. This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you.
  8. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.
  9. I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be.
  10. And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.
  11. I would they were even cut off which trouble you.

Now, all these scriptures are talking about legalism. Legalism is applying too much law. Everything is regulated by law, by rules. Everything must be exactly this way or that way. This is the enemy of liberty. How can we be free, if we must ask for permission to put one step forward? I read books that say we should not have driver’s licenses or insurance, and I will get to that in the next verse. But in church, it is applied. Legalism is losing that freedom that Christ died for.

You can hire consultants to come into your church and tell you what is wrong. One of them came out with a report, after so many churches they went to, that there is so much legalism in church, that even if the Holy Ghost were taken from the earth ,ninety-five percent of churches wouldn’t even notice. So only five percent of churches really go by the spirit of the Holy Ghost.

And if you live in a country where there is no room for freedom, then you might as well go back to the old times, before they died to give you freedom.

Galatians 5:13
  1. For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

Now there is a difference between Legalism and Liberalism. Liberalism is taking the law out completely. They want complete freedom. “Don’t tell me anything; let me do it the way I want.” But my liberty stops where my finger touches your nose. Anything that I do that would hurt your liberty, that’s not freedom any more. But anything that I would do that would not harm your liberty, that’s my freedom.

Galatians 5:14-15
  1. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
  2. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.

Make this parallel with Memorial Day. Is this just a long weekend to you? Of course, we take some time and say a little prayer for those who died; just do a little thing. But this Memorial day should be a great day. And every day should be lived as we remember what they went through. You know that I’m preaching; you know it’s hard to do. But don’t you think it would be nice that from now on, you would take a little more time to think about things like that? If you would do that, you would find it easer to do as Jesus said, “Remember me. Do this in remembrance of me.” As Jesus went to the cross, he said for us to remember him. But now, as we drink of the cup and take the bread, we don’t even remember why we are doing it. It’s just a church custom.

And it’s the same for Memorial day. Before, you would have official parades and speeches and people remembering, but now we are too preoccupied. If we mess this up, we will mess up the future. But if we get this right, we will get the future right. I hope for your soul that you get it. Because the results will last for eternity.

Testimonies from Haiti

Wednesday Evening Service, 5/25/11

Songs

Testimonies From Haiti

– Pastor Wilson

Well, a group of us just came back from Haiti, and we’re all blessed. Will the crew that came with us please stand? We’re missing Eric. He had to work today.

I was there just before the earthquake, now I’m back less than a year and a half later. You look around, and in some ways, it looks like nothing happened. The folks in Haiti are resilient. They are patient and practical. They are painfully, severely practical, because they have to be. They don’t have the distractions that clutter our lives every day. Yes, there are side-effects, after-effects of the earthquake. You see three or four hillsides around Port-au-Prince that used to be left to the sheep and the goats, and now they’re “Tent City”. There are lots of buildings that are no more. We drove by the presidential palace and waved, but I don’t think he saw us.

I talked to several folks who knew English, and they’re on the cusp of a really encouraging, promising move across the nation. They have a new president who “gets it”, or so they hope. This new president has captured the hearts and minds of the people; now lets hope he surrounds himself with good people. They talk in a positive way that hasn’t happened in a long time. So we’re going to have an opportunity to be a part of that. Lots of things are happened, and a lot of it can be helped by plain-old-fashioned support: money. We’re going to help by showing ways that the money can best be used. The money and resources we took with us will be scattered across the whole community, and it was a blessing to be part of it.

– Jack Rohrer

Bon Soir! That means “Good afternoon”, or “Good evening.” As Pastor Wilson said, the brothers and sisters there are resilient. They have a love for God; they’re on fire. You fall in love with the people there. They have gone through a lot, and bounced back. They’re doing what they have to do to take care of things. They’re not just sitting around saying “Help me!” They don’t have the distractions that we have, and in some ways that’s nice. We had some nice relaxing evenings. They don’t have to worry about what’s on TV, or making a last-minute run to Seven-Eleven. They can sit around and talk about good things.

When a storm was coming, it might get dark by 5pm, so we had many early nights. Except that Pastor Ulysse went to bed at midnight, if at all. And right in the middle of Port-au-Prince, you felt like you were out in the country. It was a good place to be. I’m ready to go back.

The services we had! The music! They rock. They have a fantastic choir, and they put it out there, believe me.

– Bonnie Rohrer

As I sat in service on Sunday morning, I couldn’t understand most of the words being said, but I could feel the spirit that was present. And God spoke to you through that spirit, and it was so awesome for me. When we went to the school, I was just amazed. I expected children dragging their way into school, but these kids were different. They came running into school, laughing and joking. When they rang the bell to go to lunch, the children didn’t want to go to lunch; they wanted to stay. Then when the bell rang for them to leave, they didn’t want to go home. They stayed, playing games with the guys and having such a good time.

Then we went on a road trip into the mountains, and there were schools all over. Every little village had two or three schools. But for every child you saw in a uniform, going to school, you saw four or five sitting in their yards, not able to go to school. It really touched me that, even with the things they don’t have, they’re excited for the things they do.

If you go to visit them, they will give you anything they have. They will go without to make sure that you have. They really taught me the meaning of hospitality, and I’m already looking forward to next year’s trip.

Closing

– Pastor Taylor

I pray that you took the opportunity tonight to really worship, sing, and give God the praise. If you don’t know yet, Pastor Thomas, Pastor Paine and their families are up North for a few days. Monday is Memorial Day. Do any of you know what we’ll be doing?

> Duty.

Duty!! (Jon, make sure she gets a plate saved.) Bring your meat; bring some sides, enough to share. And bring a friend. If you have some grills, bring them too. If you need a truck, we’ll work it out.

Lord, in every word we speak, we give glory for you. Jesus, we thank you for what you’ve brought us through, and for taking us to places where we can be a testimony for your name’s sake.

God bless you.

The Man With The Golden Head

Sunday Morning Service, 5/22/11

Songs

The Man With The Golden Head

– Pastor Thomas

Last week we had one of those community yard sales. We would up not selling a whole lot; we all sat around and visited with each others.

We’ve had a lot of people out to sea this week. We have our group in Haiti. They have their Internet telephone hooked up, and I got a call from Pastor Wilson this week. We see that country struggle, and now they have an Internet struggle. I don’t have that in my house.

Pastor Paine is visiting our congregation in Waukegan. He went there to perform a wedding.

I’ve enjoyed our messages about speaking in tongues. I want to encourage you, that if you haven’t developed a prayer life, you need to develop one.

Pastor Ulysse preached a message on communication, and I want to continue with the topic of speaking to yourself. What kind of communication do you have with yourself? How many of you have communication with yourself, and it’s all negative? You walk into a situation and all you think of is everything that can go wrong.

We’re going to read from the book of Daniel, and I want you to realize how what Daniel saw wasn’t the majestic vision of Rome; it was personal.

Daniel 2:31-35
  1. Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible.
  2. This image’s head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass,
  3. His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.
  4. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces.
  5. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.

When we read that, we know that the stone cut without hands is Jesus Christ, the chief cornerstone. When we examine the image and we see that it starts with gold, and goes down from there to silver and brass. Everything is a little less precious, a little less useful, until we get to the feet. It was there, at the weakest point, that Jesus Christ struck.

Daniel 2:37-45
  1. Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.
  2. And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold.
  3. And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.
  4. And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.
  5. And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters’ clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay.
  6. And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken.
  7. And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.
  8. And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
  9. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.

A lot of times, things start off with the purest of intent. They start off with pure theory, and when that theory becomes structure, and people start using it, that theory becomes impure. Atomic energy is a pure theory, but people use it for weapons.

Cornelius Vanderbilt came from a family of farmers. Cornelius borrowed a hundred dollars from his mother, and bought a ferry. He went into business to run a ferry, then went into partnership to run steamboat. Later on, he started buying into railroads. By the time of his death in 1877, he had made one hundred million dollars.

Cornelius had a son William, and he was very hard on him. So William took his father’s railroads and focused on operating that service at a profit. He lived nine years after receiving his inheritance, and in that time he doubled the inheritance to two hundred million dollars. He became the world’s richest man.

This is a very unusual case, where a millionaire’s son does better than his father. William’s sons inherited his money, but never contributed to the family wealth.

George Washington Vanderbilt received a million dollars from his grandfather and five million from his father. He took over the Biltmore estate, and bought over 228 square miles around it. The house he built has 175,000 square feet of space. But he didn’t make any money. He spent it on poor investments. The grandfather and the father were business-gold, but their sons went from brass to clay.

Jesus Christ has invested in you his blood, his life, his ministry. He has given to us the very, very best. When we come to Christ, we can’t have anything better than what we’ve got. What are we doing with the investment that God has made in us? Are we building upon it? Are we giving more back than we’re spending out? Are we leaving a legacy behind us?

You know what a legacy is. That’s what you leave behind when you die. What legacy does Jesus Christ want us to leave behind? He wants souls; he wants to see people saved. But here’s the problem. Out of that golden head, that pure gift of gracious salvation, it says in Matthew:

Matthew 15:19
  1. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:

From the mind comes all of these unhealthy, unprofitable, ungodly thoughts. They come because we are flesh. When we got saved, there was no reset button that cleared away all of our past, all of our wrong thinking. But what happens, as it says in Romans, is that we must rejuvenate our minds.

Romans 12:2
  1. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

We saw that our Seal team has taken down Osama Bin Laden. As much as I hate to see someone killed, there wasn’t a whole lot of options available. But now we see all kinds of programs on the Seals and the BUD team. We’ll probably see five or six movies made on it. But most people don’t see what the Seals have to go through before they even start their training. They go through something called “Hell Week”, designed to break them down physically, emotionally, and mentally, so they’ll be ready for the training that follows.

1 Corinthians 10:15
  1. I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.

That is a self-disciplining scenario. Nobody else can bring your thoughts into captivity. If you start dwelling on the wrong things, you can easily justify them. How many of you have walked into a new car dealership and wound up justifying the purchase of a new car? You get done with that test drive, and go back to your old car, and the justification process starts. You see all of the things wrong with your old car, and you think, “That new car is so much better, and my old car is on its last legs.” Then a year later you see somebody happily driving your old car, and you’re still stuck with those new-car payments.

Flesh and blood won’t inherit eternal life; the spiritual man does. But the irony is that the fleshly man does what it does, yet never suffers the eternal consequences. Our spiritual man does. How fair is that? But you decide who will be in control now. You’ve heard the story; would you rather work for $1,000 a day or a penny a day with compound interest? The penny a day is the much better deal. And your benefits in God will likewise compound if you

Hebrews 4:12
  1. For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

God’s word, rightly and purely used for instruction and guidance, will show you what is right and what is wrong. The problem is, we don’t want to go there. Many people know they have some decisions coming up, and they should seek spiritual counsel for it. But they don’t want to hear that counsel, because they know they won’t want to go along with what they’ll be told to do. I’ve been there, as a new Christian.

But what is the pastor’s goal in this whole scenario? He looks after your soul. As a pastor, I can deal with the fact that you don’t like what I say. But I don’t want to stand before God in heaven and explain why I didn’t tell you what you needed to hear.

Justification pollutes the body. It pollutes what God has given us. Remember that in the feet of the statue, there was both good and bad in that mixture. None of us are completely good or completely bad, but God is the only good in our mixture. We all have faults, but faults are never an excuse for ungodly behavior. Faults are never an excuse for division.

In David’s vision, the feet are what was grounded in the earth. Where does diabetes attack the body? The feet. If you have diabetes, you have to be careful how you cut your toenails, because the slightest infection can spread and cause you to lose your feet.

When I’ve been working in the garage, I start to come in, and Pam gives me this “look”. I know what that look means. It means I’d better not be tracking garbage and grease all over our carpet.

When we first got our apartment on Hillside Avenue, it had white carpet. So we asked the guys to take off their shoes. And there were some guys whose feet were so bad that you could see the haze rising off their footprints.

We’ve got to watch where our feet take us. We’ve got to watch how our feet are kept, so they can hold us up. Spiritually, if we let our body become polluted by wrong thoughts and wrong actions, we’ll get to the point where our feet can no longer support us. We may think we’re all right, because we hide behind our clothing, but God sees through all that.

God uses the things in this life to help us think things through, so that we can be purified.

Malachi 3:2-3
  1. But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap:
  2. And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.

I saw a documentary where dug this rock out of the ground, and to me all it looked like was a real heavy rock. But then they showed the process of heating it up in the fire, and skimming off impurities, and they did this process over and over and over, until they had these gold bars. Malachi says that this is the same process that God uses to make us pure. He lets the trials of life make us sort things out. He puts us in situations where we have choices to make, and those choices either purify us, or they pollute us.

Ephesians 5:26-27
  1. That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
  2. That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

This chapter is talking about us. Water has always been a purifying essence in the Bible. The congregation had to wash before entering the tabernacle. The priests had to wash lest they die before entering the holiest of holies.

I know that everybody took a shower or a bath this morning. But you don’t go outside and wash with dirt. But how do we think that we can come before God without washing away our impurities?

I was at the elementary where Christy and Kathy used to go, and they had this wonderful secretary. I used to volunteer a lot at this school, and one day I went in and heard her slam something on her desk and say, “Damn it! Damn it! Damn it!” I went into her office and asked what was the matter. She pulled a rag doll out of her desk and said me, “Sometimes they just get to me so much that I’ve got to take it out on something.” She slammed that rag doll into the desk and said, “Damn it! Damn it! Damn it!” And then she said, “You know, I feel better.” And she put the doll back in the desk drawer. How do you deal with your trials and tribulations?

It says in Titus:

Titus 2:14
  1. Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

What does it mean, “to redeem”? It means “to buy back”. God want to buy us back from iniquity. And he won’t pay for our garments to be washed so that we can go back and roll around in the pig pen. And then we come before God in church and sing and say, “God, you are so awesome.” I imagine God saying, “Why weren’t you saying that last night?”

1 Peter 1:7
  1. That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

God pays the price so that when we stand before him in heaven, we’ll have value. We want to receive that golden reward, not wood, hay, or stubble.

Daniel’s vision says that the stone will strike at the weakest point. I imagine that Jesus will come back on New Year’s day, when everyone is living it up, and partying, and justifying themselves.

Mrs Davis, I remember that one doctor whom your father was seeing. He called up Pastor Davis at the Karcher Hotel, and he said, “People don’t die from heart attacks or strokes. They die from sin.” And no sooner did he hang up then he died, right there. And they found out afterward that he had been living a double life, with gambling debts and mistresses.

2 Corinthians 5:1
  1. For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

This life that we have, though it may want to control every aspect of our existence, won’t last for eternity. We need to be praising God in the midst of the day, when it is not convenient. Even though we live in the flesh, we must have our spiritual man in control. Then we’ll be as the silver neck that follows the head.

There was a story of a beautiful vase in the artisan’s workshop. The vase said, I wasn’t always this beautiful.:

> One day I was just a lump of clay and one day some man with dirty, wet hands threw me onto a wheel, and then he started turning me around and round and I was getting dizzy and I said,”Stop! Stop!” But the man with the wet hands said, “Not yet.” Then he started to poke me and punch me and pound on me until I was hurting all over and I said, “Stop! Stop!” And he said, “Not yet.” Finally he did stop, but then he did something much worse. He put me into a furnace, and it got hotter and hotter until I couldn’t stand it. “Stop! Stop!” I cried. But the man said, “Not yet.” Finally, when I thought I was going to burn up the man took me out of the furnace and then gave me to a lady, and she started painting some paint on me, and the fumes were getting terrible and I was coughing and choking and I said, “Stop! Stop!” And the lady said, “Not yet.” And finally she finished painting me and gave me back to the man and the man again put me back into the awful furnace. And this time it was hotter than before, and I said, “Stop! Stop!” But the man said, “Not yet.” Finally he took me out of the furnace and let me cool down. And when I was completely cool a pretty lady put me on this shelf here by this mirror. And now I can look at myself, and I realize how beautiful I am compared to what I was. The Potter made me beautiful. I was amazed. I was no longer ugly, and dirty. I was beautiful and firm and clean and I cried for joy and then it’s when I realized all the pain was for my benefit. All the problems of my life made me beautiful. They all took on special meaning for me. And now I’m beautiful, because of the Potter.

The vase’s story was that becoming something beautiful was a process of being molded and shaped by God. We need to be those molded vessels, without spot, wrinkle, or blemish.

When the stone hit that statue, it was all broken up. The gold was not saved; the silver was not saved; the brass was not saved. It was all broken up, because the feet were unstable.

Church, you need to make up your mind that you are going to live this life for the glory of God, that you are going to seek him in prayer and listen to his guidance.

Pastor Ulysse says that sometimes we’re always praying and never listening. We need to stop and listen to that still small voice and do what it tells us to do.

It’s real easy to not listen, isn’t it? It’s real easy to not balance your checkbook. It’s real easy to keep writing checks and spending money that you don’t have. Let’s not do that to God. Unlike the children of the Vanderbilt’s that didn’t add anything to the family fortune, we need to add to God’s kingdom, so that we’ll be able to hear “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

The Sacrifice Of Fools

Sunday Morning Service, 5/15/11

Songs

Message: The Sacrifice of Fools

– Pastor Ulysse

This morning, we’re going to talk about the sacrifice of fools. Though I know we all know what sacrifice is, I went to the dictionary anyway.

sacrifice
The act of making an offering unto God.
A giving up of something cherished or desired.
A loss that is incurred or suffered for a greater reward.

In baseball, it is a hit by which the batter is put out, but the base runner is advanced.

We are instructed by the Bible to present our bodies a living sacrifice.

Romans 12:1
  1. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Sacrifice is reasonable; it is honorable. Everything in life requires sacrifice. But this morning I want to point out to you that there are sacrifices of fools. It depends on whether the person doing the sacrifice is wise or foolish. The Bible says that it is better to obey than to sacrifice. If we sacrifice without obeying, then it is a sacrifice of fools.

Hosea 6:6
  1. For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.

You have to know God to please God. For that matter, you have to know anybody to please them. If you don’t know them, you may think that you are helping and pleasing that person, when actually you are doing the opposite. It is better to know God than to offer a burnt offering.

I don’t think there are fools in this room, but we must be careful that we don’t offer a sacrifice in vain.

Hopefully, there isn’t any fool in here, but how much time do we spend on knowing God? I told you that we should balance the time we pray, and the time we read. You can be spending time fasting and praying, but if praying is talking to God, do you ever take the time for God to talk to you? If you spend all your time talking to God, but no time letting God talk to you, then it’s a one-way communication. Actually, God has more things to tell you than you have to tell God. So we must balance our communication. It is the will of God that we do things in their proper time and place.

The sacrifice of fools is marked by formalism and ritual. It is something that you do over and over, so that you think you are sacrificing when actually you are not. It is something that is done outwardly, but not inwardly. God is pleased by our inward zeal, not by our outward form or appearance.

When Saul went to war, he was not supposed to bring back anything, but he brought back animals to offer sacrifices to God. And he made excuse, saying “They aren’t for me, God; they’re for you.” We should not think that God would be pleased by offering a million unspotted lambs, when he only wanted one.

The sons of Eli offered sacrifices to God, and they got burned. The Bible teaches that man would come to God with their lips, while their hearts are far from him. Their worship is in vain.

[…]

I read about a police officer who was chasing after someone, and the person decided to stop and be nice and stop at red lights, and yield to pedestrians. But that didn’t help his case. If we don’t obey the first time, then regardless of what we sacrifice, it is the sacrifice of fools. We only have one lifetime to make it right. After death, there is judgment. We only have one shot at it.

There are some warnings we can take from Colossians chapter two:

Colossians 2:13-23
  1. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
  2. Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
  3. And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
  4. 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:
  5. Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
  6. 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,
  7. 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.
  8. Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,
  9. (Touch not; taste not; handle not;
  10. Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?
  11. Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.

It’s not saying that what we do is not good, that there isn’t any good in it. It’s just that, before God, it doesn’t make any difference. We should spend our energy on the things that really matter.

Our main scripture comes from the book of Ecclesiastes. As you know, this book was written by the wisest man. Not only that, but this book was written after he ran away from God, and then came back. After all the pleasures of life, he concluded, “All is vanity.” I think we can trust him, because he did it all. He experienced all of life, even backsliding, and he concluded that it is all vanity.

Ecclesiastes 5:1
  1. Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil.

“Keep thy foot” means “be careful.” The problem with the sacrifice of fools is that fools don’t know that they are doing it wrong. So he is saying, “Be careful; watch your step. Be more ready to hear.”

Ecclesiastes 5:2
  1. Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.

While I’m talking, I want to be careful; I want to keep my words short. I want to watch my mouth. Last Sunday I got in a little trouble because I said some things about the ladies, so I want to watch my mouth.

Ecclesiastes 5:3-4
  1. For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool’s voice is known by multitude of words.
  2. When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed.

This is a powerful scripture. If you didn’t think you could offer the sacrifice of fools, I want you to think twice. The sacrifice of fools has a lot to do with using our tongue in the house of God. He advises not to be quick to say anything before God. It’s like Jesus said to the disciples, “If any man will follow after me, let him deny himself.”

Luke 9:23
  1. And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

It’s strictly voluntary. No pressure. But if any man will follow, let him deny himself.

Paul wrote in a letter that he had the power to compel, but he did not use it. He didn’t force it. Like Jesus, he wanted people to follow voluntarily.

When the young man said, “I will follow you, but first let me bury my father,” and Jesus said, “Let the dead bury their dead.”

Matthew 8:21-22
  1. And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.
  2. But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.

I made a vow one day to God, and I regretted it. That was the first big vow that I made. I almost signed up for twenty years in the Navy at once. Fortunately, they did not have a twenty-year contract. Then after I got saved, I said “God, you know what? I am glad that I did not sign up for twenty years. I am going to serve you and preach your word and do whatever it takes to share the gospel.” And when the time came for me to go back home, God would not let me forget the vow I made. And I said, “Come on, God.” Because I wanted to stay now. Sometimes you don’t know what to read, so my habit is to open the Bible with my eyes closed and put my finger down.” And the scripture that my finger fell on was about sacrifice. So I said, “Thank you, God.”

Peter was quicker than anyone. He said, “Lord, I will never deny you.” And he meant that. But when the time came, he said, “I don’t know him.” He let his mouth cause him to sin.

James 5:12
  1. But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.

Don’t put your signature under anything that has to do with God, since you don’t have to. You say, then you sign it again, and then you pay.

Deuteronomy 23:21-23
  1. When thou shalt vow a vow unto the LORD thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the LORD thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee.
  2. But if thou shalt forbear to vow, it shall be no sin in thee.
  3. That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt keep and perform; even a freewill offering, according as thou hast vowed unto the LORD thy God, which thou hast promised with thy mouth.

You don’t have to, but once you do, you don’t have a choice. Anything that has to do with God, and it should be in anything you say. Some of you say, “What about marriage vows.” If you say, “Yes, I do” then I guess you are bound for life. That’s why it is so important to make sure that you do it right the first time. Being a pastor, you hear people say “Pastor, I think I married the wrong person.” So I say to them, “Bring me the contract.” And when they bring me the contract, I ask, “Is the name here the name of the person you married?” And when they say “Yes,” I say, “Then you didn’t marry the wrong person.”

In Acts 5, this couple say everybody giving things, so they felt they had to promise “We will do this also.”

Acts 5:1-4
  1. But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,
  2. And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
  3. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
  4. Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.

Before you sold it, it was yours. After you sold it, the money was still yours. And we just read that it would not be sin if you decide not to. Don’t offer the sacrifice of fools. Just do what you possibly can. God desires loyalty.

There many, many examples of fools, but I am just using a few so that we can look at ourselves and decide whether there any fools among us. I know that you promise things, just because you believe that things will work out a certain way, and then you feel like a liar when they don’t.

This fellow in Judges chapter 11 went to war. God is not doing something just because we made a promise. God won’t bless us because we make a promise. Actually, God is laughing at us, because we’re lying when we say we’ll do this or that. Peter said, “I will die for you,” and Jesus was saying, “Yeah, sure. You’ll die for me.”

Judges 11:30-31
  1. And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands,
  2. Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.

What a fool! And I say that looking at myself, because I have made so many promises like that.

Judges 11:32
  1. So Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon to fight against them; and the LORD delivered them into his hands.

Hey, God did his part.

Judges 11:33-34
  1. And he smote them from Aroer, even till thou come to Minnith, even twenty cities, and unto the plain of the vineyards, with a very great slaughter. Thus the children of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel.
  2. And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter.

When the fools make vows, or say stuff like that, they don’t think anything. They bypasses the brain and go directly to the mouth, to the tongue.

Judges 11:35
  1. And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth unto the LORD, and I cannot go back.

I don’t mean that if you vow such a vow, you should kill whoever comes out of your door. I don’t want you to take it this far. I think he was foolish twice, here. He said it, and he did it, too.

It’s not the same for the son of Saul. Saul made a crazy vow, but the people stood up to him and said, “He’s not going to die.” But Jephthah’s daughter just said, “Give me a month more of my life, and then I’ll die.”

No one has to vow. I would day, “Don’t vow.” Don’t. Just say, “Lord, you know what I can do. Help me to do your work.” And then keep your words.

Ecclesiastes 5:5-7
  1. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.
  2. Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands?
  3. For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities: but fear thou God.

Now, people make honest mistakes. Maybe we say things that we didn’t really evaluate; we didn’t study; we didn’t know all the pieces; we didn’t know the whole thing. But you say it. It says,”Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin.” You can not say to the angel, the messenger of God, “I made a mistake. I know that I said I would offer so many sheep and goats, but I did not know that my wife, my daughter, my son, …” No. You opened up your mouth and you said it.

When I vowed to make a career in the Navy, I didn’t understand what I was saying. But by the time my enlistment was over, I felt more mature in God. I couldn’t say, “But God, I didn’t know what I was saying; you didn’t take it seriously, did you?” I was married at sixteen years of age.

I used to be a fool, and I am trying my best not to multiply my foolishness. But you need prayer. You need to be careful when you come to the house of God. Every New Year, we make big promises to ourselves, right? Don’t do it. Just set every project before the Lord and say, “I place this before you. I am going to do my best to do this project, but I need your help. I am going to take it one day at a time until I get to heaven.”

I think that’s what we need. But don’t offer the sacrifice of fools.

Listen To Your Mother

Sunday Morning Service, 5/8/11

Songs

Intro

Good morning everyone! To all the mothers in the house, we’d like to wish a happy Mother’s Day to you. Maybe your mother is not here to celebrate with you, or maybe she’s passed on. Or maybe you’re a new mother, and this is a new experience for you. So we all come here with different attitudes and emotions, but I’d like to ask all of you to strip away all of the distractions and lay them at the feet of Jesus. We have an audience of one this morning, and that audience is God. If we sing badly, God still loves it, so we can sing out loudly. We need to offer all we have this morning.

Mother’s Day Song

– Holly Santiago

As we looked for a long to accurately reflect God’s spirit on this mother’s day, we looked at Proverbs 31, which talks about a virtuous woman. Nowhere in that scripture does it talk about her outward appearance. It talks about how her husband treats her, and how she treats her husband. It talks about her worth, and her clothing choice, and many other things. If you struggle with your self-esteem, I pray that you hear the words of this song, and know that God made you beautiful.

Message: Listen To Your Mother

– Pastor Paine

I’ve got to speak to some of you who have mothers who you haven’t spoken to. Call her. Write her. Don’t put it off. And if that relationship is broken, then take that step.

I’d like to ask a couple of people to come up and share a testimony.

– Jeremy Thompson

As some of you may not know, I was adopted when I was two. My mother and I have always had a great relationship. I’ve been able to talk to her freely and openly, and we love each other. In case you were wondering, I am going to call her later.

– Ricardo McPherson

There’s a lot of things I can share about my mom. One of the things is the manners and respect she taught to me when I was growing up. She taught me to say “excuse me” and “thank you” and “please” and things like that. Another thing she taught me was communication. If you don’t call your mom, you what’s going to happen, don’t you? She’ll say “Why didn’t you call me?” and make you feel like a little kid again. I’m not telling you what to do, but if you don’t call her, you’ll get it. So call her.

– Jhana Phillips

As you get older, you realize just how fragile any adult can be. My mother went through a lot of hard things when I was younger, but she never showed it, and she always had a smile on her face. As I get older, I realize how much she did for me.

– Pastor Ulysse

Good morning. The team for Hope4Haiti is organizing a trip. This will be a regular once-a-year trip. They will be leaving on the eighteenth. They have a translator, Bill Presher. It will be a good, exciting trip, and I’m glad to be a part of that.

It is said that we should never forget the first drop of rain that caused the crop to grow. When you drink a glass of water, you should stop and think of where it came from. Maybe you think it came from a gallon. But if you go a little deeper, it came from the market, and the market got it from somewhere, and it came from a spring.

Standing here so looking so handsome, we sometimes forget where we come from. But your mother carried you for nine months, and she raised you. I definitely appreciate my own mother. You know what? I am the baby of eight, and she has been with me for quite some time now. She will be going back with us on the eighteenth to stay.

(Speaking in French to his mother)

I appreciate you all, and I want to say that I love you, and all mom’s here.

(Pastor Ulysse’s mother speaking…)

She says she wants to sing for you.

(Pastor Ulysse and his mother sing together in French.)

The title of the message today is, “Listen to your Mother.” I was praying about this message, and I found a story on the Internet, and it’s from an article that Erma Bombeck wrote. She tells the story of when God was creating mother. On the day that he was doing that, he had worked overhead. It was a long, hard day.

And the angel said to him, “Lord, you sure are spending a lot of time on this thing.”

And the Lord said, “Have you read the specs on this order?

  • She has to be completely washable, but not plastic;
  • Have 180 movable parts… all replaceable;
  • Run on black coffee and leftovers;
  • Have a lap that disappears when she stands up;
  • A kiss that can cure anything from a broken leg to a disappointed love affair;
  • And six pairs of hands.”

The angel shook her head slowly and said, “Six pairs of hands… no way.”

“It’s not the hands that are causing me problems,” said the Lord. “It’s the three pairs of eyes that mothers have to have.”

“That’s on the standard model?” asked the angel.

The Lord nodded. “One pair that sees through closed doors when she asks, ‘What are you kids doing in there?’ when she already knows. Another here in the back of her head that sees what she shouldn’t but what she has to know, and of course the ones here in front that can look at a child when he goofs up and say, ‘I understand and I love you’ without so much as uttering a word.”

“Lord,” said the angel, touching His sleeve gently, “Go to bed. Tomorrow…”

“I can’t,” said the Lord, “I’m so close to creating something so close to myself. Already I have one who heals herself when she is sick… can feed a family of six on one pound of hamburger… and can get a nine-year-old to stand under a shower.”

The angel circled the model of a mother very slowly. “It’s too soft,” she sighed.

“But she’s tough!” said the Lord excitedly. “You cannot imagine what this mother can do or endure.”

“Can it think?”

“Not only can it think, but it can reason and compromise,” said the Creator.

Finally, the angel bent over and ran her finger across the cheek. ‘There’s a leak,” she pronounced. “I told You You were trying to push too much into this model.”

“It’s not a leak,” said the Lord. “It’s a tear.”

“What’s it for?”

“It’s for joy, sadness, disappointment, pain, loneliness, and pride.”

Some of you are celebrating your very first Happy Mother’s Day. Some of you have grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and maybe great-great-grandchildren. Some of you have recently lost a mother, and you’re experiencing your first Mother’s day without her. Maybe some of you have never had a good relationship with a mother. I’ve heard some pretty sad stories about mothers; stories that could break your heart; mothers that didn’t seem to want their children. Maybe that’s your story today.

Well, you’re surrounded by mothers who can love you. My wife Debbie and I got a call from a lady in Illinois who was a teenager when she moved into our house for a few days that turned into a month. She called to say, “Thank you, and happy Mother’s Day.” Debbie was a little upset because she had just put her makeup on, and she said “Now I’ve got to start over.”

Let’s look in Matthew 20 at the mother of Zebedee’s children. She had an audience with Christ, and in essence, she said “I want you to do something for my sons.” Imagine a woman having an audience with Christ, and that’s all she asked for. Maybe you would think, “That’s not really the right request.” Look at it from her perspective. She knew who she was talking to. And the only thing she asked was, “Bless my sons. Let them have a walk that you would bless; a life that you could use.” Many of us have mothers who would have prayed that prayer. Maybe that’s why you are here today.

This is the setting of the first public miracle that Jesus would do. Perhaps you’ve heard this story. They were at a wedding, and they had a need. They ran out of wine. So how does this need get met? There is a mother in this story; she’s the mother of Jesus. And she said:

John 2:5
  1. His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.

If you’ve read this story, you might know that Jesus had just said something to his mother that you might take exception to. In fact, if Joseph were there, he might have said, “Don’t talk to your mother that way.” But his mother’s wisdom was fully displayed when she chose not to make an issue of it. She just turned to the servants and said, “Whatever he says, do it.”

A mother’s love is great; a mother’s love is pure.

Proverbs 31:28
  1. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.

This mother is blessed and praised. And God has blessed us with examples of his love and wisdom and priorities in mothers. Some of us here today; we’re still looking for how that relationship would unfold in our lives.

When I was a young boy, something happened in our home. I like this story particularly, because I’m the hero in this story. My brother and I were fighting about who would get the glass of water that was on the counter. So while they were fighting, I just climbed up on the counter and got another glass and filled it with water and ended the argument. My mother came in and said

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

She said, “Peter, you are a peacemaker.” And she gave me a hug, and an identity that day.

When I was nineteen I bought a Bible and started reading in the gospel of Matthew and found that scripture and thought, “Wow! That is so cool! Jesus is quoting my mother!”

In this next scripture, Easter has taken place; Christ is risen. The disciples aren’t sure exactly what to do. Christ had told them that they couldn’t understand, not in the context of the day. They were scattered and doubting. They knew they had a calling on their life, but it wasn’t crystal-clear.

Matthew 28:1-4
  1. In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
  2. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
  3. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:
  4. And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.

Do you have the picture? Here’s the grave where they laid Christ, and it wasn’t a grave like we have today; it was a cave. And the stone that they used to seal it was like a large wheel. It was the door, and had been rolled away, and the angels sat at the door. And those who had been set there to keep watch were frightened.

Matthew 28:5
  1. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

He didn’t say “fear not” to the keepers; he knew they would be afraid anyway.

Matthew 28:6-7
  1. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
  2. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

And these women do exactly what they were told to do. And it wasn’t just for them; it was for us. The angels said, “Go quickly and tell everyone that the Lord is coming with a great commission.”

Matthew 28:8
  1. And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.

Fear and great joy. If that’s all we knew about these women, we might think they were weak. But what were they doing? Exactly what they were told. What were they doing? Going to tell the disciples. What were they feeling? Fear and great joy. I think these women were very brave; braver than the soldiers.

Matthew 28:9-10
  1. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.
  2. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.

Mary and Mary were with the other women, but here we find them at the sepulcher of the tomb, perhaps without sleep. And Jesus meets them and tells them to tell the brethren what to do. Women, mothers, don’t take it so personally when men doubt you. They doubted Jesus, too.

Matthew 28:16-17
  1. Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.
  2. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.

These ladies had an incredible mission, and they carried it out perfectly. Mothers have been blessed and they have been blessings throughout the ages. But every day is God’s day. Today we stop and acknowledge mothers. One day out of three hundred and sixty-five. Is that too much? I think not.

But this is the day that the Lord hath made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

I want to ask you some questions:

  • What are you doing with the message that Christ gave you?

Maybe you’re here today with a lifelong experience with Jesus. Today the message for you is, “Stay strong; stay the course; don’t give up.”

Maybe some of you, like me, didn’t grow up in church. You’re just now starting to understand who Christ is. Maybe this is your first understanding that you can have a personal relationship with this risen savior. Maybe you had a mother who prayed for you, and maybe you didn’t. But we all have to do what these women did. When he speaks; when he tells you what to do, do it.

Let us take this Mother’s Day and say, “I am going to hear the message and draw close to the one who breathed into me the breath of life.”

I am coming to you with the message that these women brought: “Listen to Jesus. Do what he tells you to do.”

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