Service Notes

Notes from Sunday Worship Services

Principles of the Doctrine of Christ: Resurrection of the Dead

Resurrection of the Dead

> Pastor Thomas

There are a lot of misconceptions of where you go when you die. Some people think they’re going to heaven. I like the story of the rich guy who dies and goes to heaven and stands in judgment, then gets granted permission to enter. The angel was showing him around, and they said, “See that big mansion over there? That belongs to your gardener.” “See that one over there? That belongs to your chauffeur.” The woman who cleans your house? That’s her mansion over there. Then they pull up to this old shack with no windows, no doors; just curtains blowing in the wind. And when he says, “How come?” the angel says, “We can only work with what you send us.” So if you don’t give God much, you won’t get much.

When we talk about the resurrection of the dead, we’re talking about all three resurrections, because there are three resurrections.

Is there a resurrection?

In Jesus’ day, there were people who believed in the resurrection, and people who didn’t. The same holds true today.

Luke 20:27-33
  1. Then came to him certain of the Sadducees, which deny that there is any resurrection; and they asked him,
  2. Saying, Master, Moses wrote unto us, If any man’s brother die, having a wife, and he die without children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.
  3. There were therefore seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and died without children.
  4. And the second took her to wife, and he died childless.
  5. And the third took her; and in like manner the seven also: and they left no children, and died.
  6. Last of all the woman died also.
  7. Therefore in the resurrection whose wife of them is she? for seven had her to wife.

Jesus’ answer tell them without a doubt that there is a resurrection.

Luke 20:34-36
  1. And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage:
  2. But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage:
  3. Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.

So he says two important things here.

  1. There will be a resurrection
  2. When it happens life as we know it will change.

We’ll be like the angels, both in nature and in makeup. (I’m not talking about Revlon.) So Jesus told us some very important things that we need to study.

What does the Old Testament say on this subject?

Daniel 12:2-3
  1. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
  2. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.

I think Daniel pretty-much said it right there.

Isaiah 26:19
  1. Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.

Again, the Old Testament definitely speaks of a resurrection.

Job 19:25-27
  1. For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:
  2. And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:
  3. Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.

So here we see that we will have a new body, and there is going to be a resurrection of the dead.

Where do you go when you die?

Do saints go straight to heaven, and sinners to hell and the lake of fire?

You know the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man, from Luke 16:19-31. Abraham died and was carried to Abraham’s bosom, and the rich man also died and it says:

Luke 16:23
  1. And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

The important thing for us to visualize is this:

Luke 16:26
  1. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.

In other words, if you’re in hell, you got there; you’ll stay there. If you’re in Abraham’s bosom, you’ll stay there. The people in heaven, by their nature, would want to comfort those in hell, but they can’t. So we see there is a place of rest, called Abraham’s bosom, and a place of torment, called hell. That’s different from the lake of fire; we’ll talk about that later.

Hebrews 3:11
  1. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)

God was talking about the disobedient. There is a rest that belongs to the people of God.

Hebrews 3:18-19
  1. And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?
  2. So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
Mark 16:16
  1. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

We’re talking about making a conscious choice to believe God, and to enter into the rest that he has for us.

Hebrews 4:1
  1. Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.
Hebrews 4:5
  1. And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.
Hebrews 4:9-11
  1. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
  2. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.
  3. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

God has a place of rest. Church, that’s got to be Abraham’s bosom. It doesn’t describe heaven. He doesn’t call it a place of glory; he doesn’t call it a paradise; he just calls it a place of rest. So the waiting place for the faithful, for the believers, that resting place, Jesus referred to it as Abraham’s bosom.

Isaiah says this about hell:

Isaiah 5:13-14
  1. Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst.
  2. Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it.

So sin is so rampant, that hell is like an expanding place. It is getting larger and larger and larger, and people don’t know where they’re going. Don’t you think Satan is planning something spectacular for those who are going to hell? I do. Remember the story of the lady who died prematurely in a car accident, and the angel said, “You’ll be revived pretty shortly; you’re on the right track; just hang on.” So she asked for a tour of heaven, and they gave her one. Then she asked for a tour of hell, and the angel said, “Yeah, go ahead. Nobody’s ever requested one, but it’s just down that path.” She goes down the path and there’s Satan with a cheese-eating grin, leaning on the door. She said, “I’m just here to get the door.” So he kicked in the door, and there was a big beach party with blankets and fires and surfing and music and dancing. She said, “This is hell?” He said, “You’re looking at it.” So she gets revived and goes back, and lives wrong, and she dies and the angel says, “I don’t know what happened to you. You were on the right track, but now you’re going to hell.” She says, “Great.” She grabs her picnic basket and throws her blanket over her shoulder and walks down to the path to Satan. He kicks the door open, and there’s flames and agony and all kinds of torture. She says, “This isn’t what you showed me!” And Satan shrugs, “I lied…”

Satan wants us to think that hell is going to be something that it really isn’t. Hell is truly going to be truly far worse than we can imagine.

John 5:28-29
  1. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
  2. And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

And Paul, when he was before Felix, brought to be tried and accused, and Felix told him to answer for himself, said:

Acts 24:14-15
  1. But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:
  2. And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.

So in his argument and defense of himself, he talks about his belief in two resurrections, of the just and the unjust.

Order of Resurrections

1 Corinthians 15:20-23
  1. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
  2. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
  3. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
  4. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.

The first is Christ the first-fruits,

Acts 26:23
  1. That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.

So Christ will rise first, then the saints will rise, then:

1 Corinthians 15:24-26
  1. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
  2. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.
  3. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

So if we’re not around when Christ returns, we’ll go to the grave. But the essence of what God breathed into us will go back to God, and that staging place is known as Abraham’s bosom. They who died outside of Christ, their resting place is called hell. It doesn’t sound very restful, does it? Death will either be restful and enjoyable, or miserable and dreadful. For those in hell, there is something worse coming. And for those in Abraham’s bosom, there is something better coming.

1 Corinthians 15:35-39
  1. But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?
  2. Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:
  3. And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:
  4. But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.
  5. All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.
1 Corinthians 15:42-49
  1. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
  2. It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
  3. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
  4. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
  5. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
  6. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.
  7. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.
  8. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.

We know that the step-by-step process is:

  1. We have this body
  2. We live this life
  3. We commit our lives to God
  4. This bag of bones goes to dust
  5. Our spirit goes to God

So we sow this body. Too many people are too worried about what it’s going to be like. People put too much energy into understanding angels, when they haven’t even got the earthly on track. Don’t worry about what heaven’s going to be like; just be ready for it so you can enjoy it when it comes.

1 Corinthians 15:50-51
  1. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
  2. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

So he’s saying that some of us will be alive when Christ returns and the resurrection takes place. The disciples lived like they would see the coming of Christ. They lived like they might not see their next moment. They expected Christ to come back any moment. If you don’t have that attitude, church, you can be caught unaware. And the consequences are just not worth it. So you have got to be focused on the eternal.

I remember when one of the girls looked up and said, “Is Jesus coming? Look, the clouds are parting!” I’m sure that there were children in Bethlehem who said, “What’s that star mean?”

If we don’t expect Christ to come, we too will miss the signs. We’re all going to be changed, but you might not like what you get changed into. Don’t put on your next body and not like what you have. There’s no return policy.

Ecclesiastes 9:10
  1. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.
Ecclesiastes 9:4
  1. For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion.

So think about it. Are you prepared for what’s coming next?

1 Corinthians 15:52
  1. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

That’s just talking about the saints. But the dead which are not saints are going to have a new body, too. The difference between Satan’s demons and God’s angels isn’t the substance they are made of. They both came from God in heaven. So marvel not that they appear as angels of light. Marvel not that they look great.

1 Corinthians 15:53-58
  1. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
  2. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
  3. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
  4. The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
  5. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
  6. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

It’s not in vain in God.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14
  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.

Again, if you don’t put it all together, you’ll miss the fine points. God is going to pass through those resting places and bring us with him.

1 Thessalonians 4:15-18
  1. 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.
  2. 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:
  3. 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.
  4. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

I can’t tell you how many funerals I’ve read this at, and the sad thing is that a lot of them will not be in that first resurrection.

Revelation 20:5-6
  1. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
  2. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

So it talks about the millennium, and we’re not going to get into it. But when Christ returns and the trumpet sounds, that begins the millennium.

Revelation 20:13-14
  1. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
  2. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

So it talks about two deaths for these guys. We’re going to have three births. We’re born from our mothers; we’re born into Christ, and then we’re born into this new life. But those who are only born once will die twice.

Revelation 21:8
  1. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

So we’ve got three resurrections:

  1. The resurrection of Jesus Christ
  2. The resurrection when Christ returns, of the just
    There are two schools of thought about when a saint dies and when a sinner dies. Some say that you go to the grave and that’s all there is. Once you die, you’re in the grave until the return of Christ, then you’ll either go to be with Christ or go to hell. I prefer the other one, where you’ll either go to Abraham’s bosom or hell. Does it have anything to do with salvation?
  3. (The millennium reign, then) The second resurrection, of the unjust.

Then death and hell will be cast into the lake of fire, which is the second death.

It doesn’t imagine what you imagine that intermediate stop-over to be like, just be prepared. Because when the trumpet sounds, if you’re not in the right departure line, you’ll miss your flight. And that call could come at any time. You could have an accident at work; you could be driving down the highway. You can’t say, “Hold on, God; I’ve got to clean up something!” Don’t be taken unawares.

Principles of the Doctrine of Christ: Laying On of Hands

Laying On of Hands

Did you all have a good Thanksgiving? I sure did. I probably ate way too much, but that turkey sure was good.

We’re going to be taking today to go through the fourth part of Hebrews 6:2. We’ll be concentrating today on the laying on of hands. For those of you who are visiting with us today, we’ve already covered:

  • Repentance from Dead Works
  • Faith Toward God
  • Physical Baptism
  • Spiritual Baptism

Today, we’re going over the Laying On of Hands. In the Old Testament, this was done to convey the transfer of blessings from father to son. It was used to bestow the gifts and rights of office to the high priests. It was also to substitute an animal to receive the guilt of a person or a nation. It was used in the New Testament to transfer the power of the Holy Ghost to someone, and also as a contact point for healing.

Acts 1:8
  1. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

You, as a Christian, have the responsibility to stand, at time, as the only light, the only connection that people have at times with God. You have a testimony to the people around us in so many ways. Your Facebook page is a testimony. Do people look at your Facebook page and see a testimony? Or do they see someone who says, “Look at me and all this stuff I know! Isn’t that nice?”

“Letter from Hell” video

As Christians, we have a responsibility. But all too often, we go to church as a ritual, but we don’t share our faith.

You share your faith (you’re supposed to share your faith) every single day, wherever you are. Now, I don’t mean you should be like this guy in a stocking cap I saw at a Shoney’s Restaurant. He had letters on his stocking cap that said “PTL” for “Praise The Lord”. And he looked across the restaurant and saw someone he knew and said in a voice loud enough for everyone in the restaurant to hear, “Hello brother so-and-so! Praise The Lord!”. And the person he was talking to just slid down in his seat and pretended not to know him. The Bible doesn’t ask us to be ridiculous. We are ambassadors. How would you feel if your ambassador to Great Britain acted like an idiot before the Queen and Parliament going to convey the business of our nation, dressed in some weird outfit and goofing off. You wouldn’t want you to represent you as a person or us as a nation. Yet we are the ambassadors of Christ. We are supposed to be endowed with power from on high to be his witness.

That letter from hell really affected me. I’ve gotta ask myself, “How many people will be there because I, Ed Thomas, didn’t share with them?” You’ve got to ask yourself the same thing. The Bible says that after you get the power, you shall be witnesses.

Acts 1:8
  1. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

As Christians, as having that power and being that witness, we read:

Mark 16:16-18
  1. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
  2. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
  3. They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

As a testimony of Jesus Christ – he has given us the ability to be a connection between a third party and God. I remember a Bible study where the teacher said afterwards, “That was a great study; you need to use me more; I need to teach more!” Well, that shut that down, right there. If it really was a good Bible study, it was because God was the one that spoke through them.

I use the example of the colt that Jesus rode down from the Mount of Olives into Jerusalem. What do you suppose the colt thought as he walked into Jerusalem? Did he think, “Oh, these people must really like me! They’re laying down palm branches and coats on the ground for me to walk upon!” Well, it wasn’t for the colt that they were laying down anything; it was for the one who rode upon him. You’ve got to realize that we’re just the dumb jackass that God uses to ride on. We are to carry Christ wherever we go, and if any praise is given because of what we do, it’s all got to be directed back at God.

The first time we read about the disciples laying hands on people was in Acts 6:

Acts 6:6
  1. Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.

And again in Acts chapter 8, one of the guys who was waiting on tables in Samaria was preaching to people.

Acts 8:16
  1. (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)

It also says in the nineteenth chapter that this gift was imparted to an individual. Saul was blinded, and was told to go to a street called “Straight” and it would be told him what to do. Ananias laid on hands; Saul received his sight, and Ananias commanded him to get baptized.

We read where Paul later wrote to Timothy:

1 Timothy 4:14
  1. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.

He was given spiritual gifts not for his own benefit, but for the body of Christ.

You grow and learn and reach a certain point, and then someone says, “You’re ready to go out on your own.” They lay hands on you and you are given certain gifts for your ministry. Have you asked for this laying on of hands? Have you asked that you would be blessed to expand the kingdom of God?

2 Timothy 1:6
  1. Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.

It isn’t a light thing to pray for somebody; to put your hands on them, and to ask that God would impart unto them gifts of spiritual power. Because we are standing in the gap between God and them. The Bible says that God is unseen, like the wind. You can’t see the wind in a wind tunnel unless you add something, like smoke or flags, to it. Church, nobody sees God, but they see Him by what we do. I’ve tried Facebook, but it’s not my gift. It used to be said that some people were born with a silver spoon in their mouth; now it’s a computer chip in their ear. But a lot of you are active on Facebook. Are you talking about getting together for a Bible study? You have no idea who sees those pages. They might be seeking God and going through Facebook, and they see your page, and it draws them. That’s what it’s all about: drawing others to Christ, using every tool available to accomplish that task.

I often use the example of the woman with the issue of blood. She didn’t know God. She’s spent all her money on doctors, and now she’s not only sick; she’s also broke. (Sounds like a lot of people in America). A lot of people have heard of Jesus, but don’t know him. This woman had heard of Jesus.

We see the same example in Barnabas. He sat outside the gates, day after day, and heard the conversations of the people. But one day, the conversation was so different that he knew Jesus was there. He cried out, “Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me.”

The woman finally had an opportunity to meet Jesus, and she was determined to ask for a healing. But when she saw the crowd and realized that there was no way she could get close enough, so she changed her strategy.

Matthew 9:20-22
  1. And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment:
  2. For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.
  3. But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.

There are people who are desperate to find Jesus as their savior, and they don’t know how to do it. I’ve talked to so many people who have cried out, “God, if only you would show me the way!” And God puts you there, somehow. How is it? You as a leader, on your jobs, in the military: they see you love God, not out of religiousness, but being real.

When I led a drug and alcohol rehab program in the Navy, people came from as far away as Bosnia to go through my program. But I wasn’t the one they came to see. I was only the hem of the garment. You want people to see that in you. You want them to come to you, because something you did, something you posted, something you said drew them. People should see something different about you and wanted to know more. it’s that aura of the Holy Ghost that’s making a difference, is it not?

We read no more about the woman with the issue of blood, but I’d like to think she was one of the hundred and twenty in the upper room, because that one experience changed her life forever.

We read another example in John:

John 4:5-6
  1. Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.
  2. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.

And Jesus said some things to her that left her wondering about who he is.

John 4:28-30
  1. The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men,
  2. Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?
  3. Then they went out of the city, and came unto him.
John 4:39-42
  1. And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.
  2. So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days.
  3. And many more believed because of his own word;
  4. And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.

Many more believed because of the teaching of Jesus Christ, but they wouldn’t have gone there if they hadn’t heard this woman say, “You’ve got to hear about this Jesus!” Some believed right away, and others went to hear for themselves, but many got saved. Are you having that same testimony?

There’s another example in John 9, that is a character study of a bold young man:

John 9:1-3
  1. And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.
  2. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
  3. Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

Pastor Paine just preached a powerful message on this. I encourage you to go to the web, find that message, and listen to it. You’ll get a greater understanding of why God does miracles.

John 9:4-7
  1. I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
  2. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
  3. When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay,
  4. And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.

Now, this really ticked off a lot of people. There was all the religious people of the day, questioning him.

John 9:10-15
  1. Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened?
  2. He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight.
  3. Then said they unto him, Where is he? He said, I know not.
  4. They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind.
  5. And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes.
  6. Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see.

Again, they’re arguing with this kid.

John 9:24-25
  1. Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner.
  2. He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.

What a testimony! You don’t have to understand all the philosophy of Jesus to be a testimony for him. If God has changed your life, just stand there and say so! You don’t have to take a college course in testimony; all you need is a course in knee-ology.

John 9:26
  1. Then said they to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes?

Oh, I love this next verse:

John 9:27
  1. He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples?

I don’t think so! Something about their attitude tells me that they weren’t ready to follow Jesus yet. Church, not everybody is going to receive your testimony, but when they ask you, you’ve got to be ready to stand up and give an answer. It’s not difficult; it’s simply, “Jesus.”

If you don’t have that kind of testimony, God is not going to lay on you, through you, the power to change people’s lives.

Let me ask you something. If you got in a suit and went to Wall Street and talked to people, and then went to Merril Lynch and said, “I’m ready for my paycheck,” what would he say?

Matthew 7:23
  1. And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Hanging around doesn’t count. You can hang around in a garage, but you’ll never be a car. You won’t become a Christian because you come to church, because you took a course, because you prayed once and said “God, use me.” You’ve got a double mind. You pray in here, but when you’re out there with your friends, the other side shows up.

People out there are crying out to know Jesus. And the key point of laying on of hands is this: you’ve got to have a right heart and a right attitude for that power to flow through you. This electric guitar looks good, but if it’s not plugged in, you can play all you want and nobody will hear you unless they’re right next to you. But when you plug it in, the sound fills the room. We can’t do anything by ourselves, but if two or three are gathered together, we have great power. Yet I don’t see anywhere in the Bible where it says that if you don’t see anyone around you, then you don’t have to do anything. I see Phillip; I see Peter; I see Paul; I see individuals making a difference. I remember meeting Pastor Davis at two-thirty in the morning. He sat down with me and said, “Son, there’s a better way to live.” He made me promise to meet him the next day, and I woke up really early and at first I didn’t know why. Then a still, small voice reminded me: I’d promised that old guy I would meet him. (I’m a lot older than he was when I met him, but when you’re twenty-three, anybody older than thirty is old.)

Pastor Davis preached in some rough places, but he walked that street every day telling people about Jesus. God doesn’t need to send you a rough place; you’re already there. It’s called work; it’s called school. Don’t go backwards when it comes time for your testimony. Stand up and be that testimony that God has called you to be.

Thanksgiving

Wednesday Evening Service, 11/24/10

Songs

Intro

> Scott Shepherd

Tomorrow we’ll all gather in various ways to celebrate Thanksgiving, but it’s important to be aware and be thankful for where God has taken us spiritually. God has brought us through a lot, and given us strength to come through those times. That’s what I’m going to be thinking about tomorrow.

Message: Thanksgiving

> Pastor Thomas

Wow. Thanksgiving is tomorrow. The one thing I’ve heard, if you’re planning on deep-frying your turkey this year, is to make sure it’s thawed out first.

I wanted to cover just a little bit about Thanksgiving and its history, and then to look at why we choose to celebrate Thanksgiving. It is a choice, and I want you to make that choice, whether it’s based on our traditions or whether you change your philosophy on Thanksgiving and turn it around.

The very first day dedicated and named as “Thanksgiving” was held on September 8th, 1565, by the Spanish in Florida. So it’s not just pilgrims. The pilgrims who had their feast in 1621 had a three-day feast. They joined with the Indians and celebrated the harvest they had. It was never repeated again. The pilgrims were so religious, that if they had declared a day of thanksgiving to God, they would have spent it in church, fasting and praying. My, how Thanksgiving has changed!

The Spanish claim that in 1541, they first held a Thanksgiving mass. Virginia claims their first thanksgiving in 1619. In 1767, the Continental congress declared a day of Thanksgiving. In 1782, the Continental congress declared another day of thanksgiving. They didn’t declare a feast of thanksgiving; they declared a day of thanksgiving unto God for giving them the victory over the British and allowing them to preserve the independence of their colonies.

The very first declared day of Thanksgiving in the United States was by George Washington. I’d like to ask Chris Labissiere to come up and read it.

> George Washington, 1789

> Thanksgiving Day Declaration

> Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to “recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

> Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

> And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Now, you can see that George Washington made no hesitation in proclaiming that God was the author of all those things they had to be thankful for. The people came to America for freedom. They had just spent eight years of war in constructing their nation. And George Washington said, “Let us ask God to bless our nation, … and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions.” These were things that were important to early American history.

This declaration was lost until 1921. When they moved the headquarters to Washington, DC, it was stuck in a drawer somewhere, and a guy bought it for two hundred bucks. Could you imagine what it’s worth today?

Sarah — was the first woman publisher of a news-magazine. She wanted to declare a national day of Thank September 28, 1963, she finally got through to President Lincoln, to ask him to proclaim an annual day of Thanksgiving, to ask for unity as a nation. So Abraham Lincoln wrote the declaration of Thanksgiving that is truly the root of how we celebrate Thanksgiving today.

I’d like Mike Jackson to come up and read it.

> The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

Wow. What a declaration. He really poured out his heart about this civil war that was going on. And in spite of the civil war, he really thanked God for the mines, for the production, for the many blessings. And he also said,

> I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience

He wasn’t proclaiming a day of feasting and celebration, but one of fasting and prayer. Wow, has Thanksgiving changed! In 1921, the National Football Association was formed. That year, they had the first football game that was announced over the whole nation’s radio system. How many of you know who’s playing tomorrow?

In 1924, another big tradition started: the Macy’s Day Parade. Macy’s was trying to find a way to get more people into their stores. And this tradition has continued every year since then, without a break.

In 1939 president Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving back a week. There were five Thursdays in that Thanksgiving. It was the middle of the depression, and you weren’t allowed to advertise for Christmas before Thanksgiving. So he figured, “Let’s move it back a week, and give the Christmas Shoppers an extra week to spend their money, and help us out of the depression.

Don’t you think that now would be a good time to ask God for forgiveness? Don’t you think that now would be a good time for God’s people to come together?

2 Chronicles 7:14
  1. If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Now we’ve got a day in which to do that, but we don’t have the kind of proclamations which cause our nation to pause, and give thanks, and wonder, and ask forgiveness of our God who has given us all these things.

All the presidents, with the exception of Thomas Jefferson, made proclamations during their presidency. In 1969, Nixon did not mention God. In 1975, Ford did not mention God, and in 1978, Carter did not mention God. But in every other year, every president mentioned God in their Thanksgiving Day proclamation.

I think the two that have mentioned God the most were Ronald Reagan and the first George Bush.

Today, tradition has changed in our Thanksgiving day celebration. The focus is on family food, fun, and football. Satan has worked so hard to refocus a day given to God and turn it into a day of man. He has worked it so well that hardly ever do you hear people say “Let’s take Thanksgiving and pray.”

I’m not saying you should throw your turkeys away. I’m not saying, “Don’t eat.” I’m not saying “Don’t watch football.” But I’m saying we should take time in earnest prayer, to thank God for his goodness, and to ask forgiveness, and to pray for our country.

Church, if we are not at war in Korea in the next year, I will be suprised. We have declared our allegiance to South Korea, and China has declared their allegiance to North Korea, and they’re shelling each other. Today!

Psalms 26:7
  1. That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.

This is about how you should make your offerings to God.

Psalms 69:30
  1. I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.

What does “thanksgiving” mean? What does it mean to give thanks? Scott, what does it mean?

> To give thanks means that you’re thankful.

And what does that mean? Pastor Paine?

> To acknowledge the source.

We give thanks to God who alone deserves honor, and glory, and thanksgiving. I can say, “Thanks, Jeff; I appreciate what you did. You helped me and I appreciate the heart with which it was given.” We can make a long list of fancy words. But we can sum it all up by saying “Thank you.”

David wrote:

Psalms 100:4
  1. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
Psalms 107:21-22
  1. Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
  2. And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.

Church, we don’t do that on Thanksgiving anymore. Tradition has held that we have a prayer of thanks, but we’ve got to go back to dedicating ourselves to thanksgiving and praise.

2 Corinthians 9:11
  1. Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.

We consider the bountifulness, and that causes us, through us, to give thanksgiving.

Church, we had two baptisms yesterday, because men sat down and shared the gospel with somebody else. That’s what we give thanks for. And it’s vital for us to know the God to whom we give thanks. It’s our responsibility to give thanks through us, that they may know the God of our salvation, that they may come to appreciate even more this God that they’ve heard of.

It’s like Paul preaching to the Athenians about this “unknown god” that they’ve heard of.

Philippians 4:6
  1. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

So here we have an opportunity to have a proper attitude in our worship to make requests unto God. It’s like somebody who always comes up to me asking for favors. Pretty soon, if I see him coming, I’ll walk the other way. But if they come with thankfulness and appreciation, we don’t mind, do we?

On Thanksgiving day, we should make a big deal out of thanking God. Not just “God, thank you for all this food and Lord, bless my team.” But we should go to God and thank him for the blessings that he has bountifully provided us, and ask God for forgivenss, and ask him to protect our military.

We’ve heard it said, concerning the full-body-scanners at the airports, that we’ve given up our freedoms for security. If we let that security go too far, we’ll be a country with security and no freedom. We should pray for all nations so that we can have security at our borders.

You can go to the Thanksgiving Proclamations website and read about every Thanksgiving proclamation by every president. But you need to write your own proclamation. You need to personally thank God for your blessings. You need to be like Barnabas and tell Jesus what you want.

Church, what do you want from God? You’ve got to make your requests known. But you’ve got to be honest. Don’t you think that Jesus knew what Barnabas wanted healed? Don’t you think that Jesus knew exactly what Barnabas needed? We need to tell Jesus what we want. But before we ask, we need to praise. Before we ask, we need to give thanks. Before we ask, we need to ask forgivness. And then we can ask for what we need.

Remember the five fingers that Pastor Ulysse shared about?

  1. God
  2. People who lead us
  3. People close to us
  4. People far from us
  5. Ourselves

Church, we don’t have a recipe for thankfulness, but we can use the proclamations of our early presidents as an outline. We can choose to pig out; we can choose to watch the boob tube and not even know what we’re eating. We can choose to have a prayer of thanks. Or we can choose to have a day of thankfulness. I pray that we choose wisely.

Guard Your Mind

Sunday Plus, 11/21/10

Songs

Message: Guard Your Mind

> Mike Jackson

Last week, Scott was talking about matters of the heart. I want to build on that a little tonight on something God has been dealing with me about. I’m talking about guarding your mind tonight. If you think about it, your mind is connected to the heart.

The mind is a powerful instrument. You can do mighty things if you prepare your mind. Of course, if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.

When we talk about serving God, every single day that we open our eyes and breathe the breath of life, there is an enemy we face that is looking to destroy you, every minute of every day. That’s our old buddy, Lucifer. That’s the enemy we fight against.

2 Thessalonians 2:1-2
  1. Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
  2. That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.

Verse two says, “that ye be not soon shaken in mind.” Our thoughts lead, guide, and move all of our actions. Every action that we take begins in our minds. Every action that we take, every move that we make, it’s going to take place in our mind. So we’ve got to guard our mind, because your adversary is there. Satan is so patient; patent and persistent. I can be patient and persistent; any of us can. But we know when to stop; he doesn’t.

It says “be not soon shaken in mind,” because the minute we say, “Lord, I will”, Satan is there to say, “No, you can’t.”

2 Corinthians 10:2-4
  1. But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh.
  2. For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
  3. (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

This warfare we fight is not carnal; it’s spiritual. It’s right up here, in our mind. That’s why I want to encourage us to guard our mind, by guarding our thoughts. Because it says in verse five:

2 Corinthians 10:5
  1. Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

That’s where the battle is. When it talks about put on the armor of God, none of us step out of our house with this big, one-ton armor suit every day. It’s all spiritual. How many have had somebody do something that really angered you this week? Did you every have somebody cut you off? What happens to your facial expression? What happens to your emotions? All because of the thought.

Our mind is powerful; our thoughts are powerful. They can get you spun up all over again, just by thinking about it. Now trust me, I know. Every single thought that you have will not be Godly and spiritual. But we’ve got to guard our thoughts, (number one), and number two, we’ve got to capture them before they go and run amuck.

How many have heard the expression, “Don’t pay it any mind.” But because the thought starts in our head, we dwell on it, and it’s always in our head, and the thought ends up in here,

> (pointing to heart)

And then the body follows

> (walking with chest out-thrust in an exaggerated manner)

The more you dwell on a thought, the more power you give it. And when you give more and more power to something, eventually it becomes powerful. Eventually, these thoughts become so powerful that, like a power transformer, if you just go and disconnect them, there will be consequences.

Romans 8:4-7
  1. That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
  2. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
  3. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
  4. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

There’s a lot of meat there.

Romans 8:5
  1. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.

Makes sense. How many of you know Adam Paine?

> (A lot of hands)

How many know that Adam likes sports? What’s his favorite sport?

> Football!

You know, because that’s what he talks about. People like certain things, they dwell on those things, their heart goes after those things. (In Adam’s defense, he’s not one of those “football junkies.” It’s not like he has nothing but a big-screen TV and a pocket-full of Superbowl passes.)

Romans 8:6
  1. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

So if we allow our minds to dwell on worldly things, it’s pretty much a death sentence. Now like I said, I know that not every thought that goes through our minds is spiritual. But as Pastor Paine said, what is it that you do when you don’t have to do anything? What’s on your heart?

Romans 8:7
  1. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

It can’t be. Can… Not! Those sinful thoughts are gonna come in. Trust me. But it’s about capturing them, putting them into captivity, so they don’t run amuck. Now, this is not scripture. “An idle mind is the devil’s playground.” It’s not scripture. But there’s a lot of truth in it. We’ve got to keep our minds and heart driven toward the things of God, so we can dwell on them, and turn toward them, and do the things that please God.

Luke 5:20-22
  1. And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.
  2. And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?
  3. But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts?

So they looked at him, saying all these things. And it says that when he perceived their thoughts, he asked, “What reason ye in your …” what? Your hearts. They began to reason in their minds, but these two are connected.

You know what? If you want to do the right thing most of the time, just think about it. Because if you think about it, even for a split second, you start to reason with yourself. We have to be careful what we entertain in our minds. When the Bible talks about Judas Iscariot, that horrible guy who betrayed Jesus, it says that he did so because the devil put it into his heart. He wasn’t just sitting at the table and “Whoa!” he thought to betray Jesus. He’d been thinking about it for a while.

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.

So if you want to know if a thought is of God or not, here’s how you know. Test it according to the word of God. If you’ve ever had a thought and wondered, “Did God tell me that, or was it just me?” Here’s your answer. I don’t know about you, but if I have a thought to get up and read my Bible, it probably wasn’t of me. If you have spiritual thoughts, they’re probably not of you.

Psalms 10:1-7
  1. Why standest thou afar off, O LORD? why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble?
  2. The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor: let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined.
  3. For the wicked boasteth of his heart’s desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the LORD abhorreth.
  4. The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.
  5. His ways are always grievous; thy judgments are far above out of his sight: as for all his enemies, he puffeth at them.
  6. He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved: for I shall never be in adversity.
  7. His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud: under his tongue is mischief and vanity.

I like how it says, “He said in his heart, I shall not be moved.” He’s stubborn, because of pride. All of these thoughts that come to him, God says he’ll be taken by them. Because no matter who you are, the end is death. Your thoughts are really going to move you toward where you’ll end up.

You’ve got to guard your mind, because that’s the first place Satan is going to attack. “You can’t live for God, because… look at all those things you did!” Yup. “Did” is a past-tense word. You’ve got to be careful, because the Devil will attack your mind in a split-second.

Proverbs 12:5
  1. The thoughts of the righteous are right: but the counsels of the wicked are deceit.
Proverbs 15:26
  1. The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD: but the words of the pure are pleasant words.
Proverbs 16:3
  1. Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.

You want to have your thoughts right? You want to please God? Commit your works unto the Lord, and your thoughts will be established. God will be right there. And at the end, the best we can say to God is, “I did my best. I did my best to keep my thoughts turned on you.”

We’ve got to spend time just meditating and keeping our thoughts on God. To our demise, we live in the flesh; we’ve got to tend to the things of the flesh at times. But we’ve also got to be mindful, to guard our minds.

International Sunday

Sunday Morning Service, 11/21/10

Songs

Intro

> Pastor Thomas

We’re going to have a very special service this morning. We’re talking about our International Ministry. Sometimes we come here and we think this is all there is, but we want you to get a bigger picture of what’s going on around the world. So don’t come with a preconceived idea of what we’re going to do.

Lord, we call upon you not to bless what we want to do, but we call you to bless us to do what you would have us to do. You have called us to a very specific work, and we thank you to continue in it day after day, year after year.

Jacksonville, Florida

(via video-conference)

> Pat Taylor

I’m here with Cedric and Leonard Gage. We thank you, Pastor Paine and Pastor Thomas, for your dedication. I was saved in 1983, and I never would have imagined doing what I’m doing today. I want to thank you all for your faithfulness; for everything you’re doing. It’s an honor to serve with you.

> Pastor Paine

I think this is an exciting time. We’ve chosen this Sunday to share with you what our ministry is all about. Every ministry has something that they’re called by God to do. Our ministry started right near the Great Lakes Naval Base.

I see this ministry blessed in many, many ways. Our very name, Christian Fellowship, helps us to understand that our ministry really believes in this family, this getting together. One of the many facets of our ministry is that we love to get together and eat. You can look at me and tell that I’ve not missed very many meals in the thirty-five years I’ve been in this fellowship.

The focal point this morning is about what God is doing right now in this ministry. One of the things I did before service today is, I spoke with a few of the people who are here today and talked a little about what they’re doing. If it hasn’t been made clear until now, here is what is u

We are uniquely positioned to live our mission statement, which is ten words long:

> Evangelize, Educate, Equip: Providing Christian Fellowship and Spiritual Support Worldwide.

Every one of our fellowships and churches started in places where the United States Navy goes. Sometimes we’re misunderstood as a ministry exclusively to the military. How many of you here today are here today; you’re part of Christian Fellowship Ministries, and you’ve never been in the military?

> (Some hands go up, all around the sanctuary)

Sister Davis, how long did you serve in the Marine Corps? Sister Maria, how long did you serve in the Army? Alanna, how long were you in the military? Not at all? I’m using a little humor here to make a point. Civilians, this is your ministry.

If you’re in the active-duty military, or if you’re a veteran, would you please stand?

We feel like this ministry has a unique opportunity to minister through the military. Pastor Thomas, the senior pastor of our congregation, joined the Navy in 1969. He went to Great Lakes for A-School, then got stationed in San Diego and in Japan. Then he got stationed in 9th Naval Security Group, as a U.S. Federal Marshall. It was in 1974 at Great Lakes that he met Pastor Davis and became a part of our ministry. In 1978, Pastor Thomas left the Navy, having used his salvation to help others in overcoming. In 1979, Pastor Thomas came to Norfolk, Virginia with his wife to start a ministry here. Tony Bushlow met the ministry in 1980. Matt Selby met the ministry in 1988. Brad Logan was baptized in 1993. He’s got about nineteen Master’s degrees; he was in the Navy as an officer, and now he works with the Navy as a civilian. Dwight Hoenes met the ministry in 1993. He shared with me this morning that it was a Tuesday evening at 9pm, and Dwight saw the lights on in the church, and he walked in and some brothers were having a Bible study. Then Dwight met Sepie. You were never in the Navy, Dwight, but you’re very much a part of this ministry. Jonathan Santiago met the ministry in 2000, and was baptized in Bahrain. He was part of this ministry for a year and a half before he was able to come to church with us here in Norfolk.

This message is about what it is that God has called us to do.

Mary Walther, in 1991, looking for a church, opened the Yellow Pages. She was praying, “God, show me where to go.” And she saw the name Christian Fellowship and said, “That’s where I’m going.” Jeff Linger joined the Navy while stationed on board the USS Eisenhower. In 2002, he moved to Waukegan to help start the minister’s college, and in 2008 he joined us here in Norfolk.

A man named Tony came out to the campfire at Men’s Fellowship on Friday night. He was saying, “Yeah, I met the ministry in Waukegan. I’m glad I found it again.”

Scott, how old were you when we met you?

> I was four.

Four years old, but his Dad was in the Navy. He was good brothers with Adam and John. He ate a lot of peanut-butter sandwiches over at our house. He grew up with this ministry, and Scott, I’m glad to know you.

Emmanuel, how long did you serve in the United States Navy? No? Tell us a little about how you met this ministry.

> E-Man

Well, my cousin invited my Mom out to church, and my Mom wanted me to go. I didn’t want to, but I was ten; I didn’t have a choice. My Mom didn’t stick with it, but I kind of fell in love with God. I kept saying, “You’re giving me a ride to church, right?” So instead of her dragging me out, I started dragging her out.

> Pastor Paine

I’ve heard some incredible stories of worship services and prayer meetings. Pat Taylor, I’m thinking of a story you told me about a prayer service at 30,000 feet in an airplane. I have many more stories, but I’ll share just one more. Jay Ugali was stationed on board the USS Stennis, and got baptized in 1995. He worked with the ministry in San Diego, and we invited him to move to Florida in 2000, and to Norfolk in 2008. Jay said, “You just don’t want me to unpack, do you?”

God has given us a great ministry. Have I ever been frustrated? Yes, just like you. If you’re a visitor today, stick around; you’ll get frustrated, too. We have come through a very challenging and difficult move. We’re a relatively young ministry, and it hasn’t been easy. People have sacrificed and given up much so that we could do more. But I want you to know that I’m proud to be here with you. Whether you’re in San Diego, California, or Seattle, Washington, or Great Lakes, Illinois, I’m proud to be with you.

God is good to us. Jesus said these words:

Matthew 5:14-16
  1. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
  2. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
  3. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

That’s our job, to let our light so shine before men. We all do different things, but if we do it right, it’s all for the glory of God.

> Todd Morgan

I remember meeting this ministry. Pastor Davis was preaching on charity, and I told him that I was already stationed in Japan. He knew that God was going to do something in Japan. I didn’t know, but God knew. I got baptized in San Diego before I left for Japan, and this is a ministry that really works with you. When I got to Japan, I knew I was called to this ministry, so I didn’t have to go looking for another ministry. God doesn’t bounce you around from church to church. So the next thing you know, I found some guys who wanted to get baptized. So I called Pastor Davis, and he said, “Well, son, baptize them.” I said, “What?” I had only just been baptized myself. So I asked how to teach a Bible study, and I remember him saying, “Just write down some scriptures, and talk about them.” So that’s how I started teaching Bible studies. It was an exciting time. We had a lot of Bible studies, a lot of outings, a lot of fellowship. I remember Pastor Thomas coming to see us. There was a lot of people thinking that we didn’t come away with a lot from Japan. We didn’t come back with a lot of expensive electronics, but we came back with a lot of experiences. And if you have a humble heart, and you’re willing to be taught, God will raise you up.

Waukegan Fellowship

> Ken Ray

Good morning, everyone! It’s a privilege and honor to be with you this morning. God is doing great things in Great Lakes, Illinois. You might not recognize it as the same place if you come to visit, but I guarantee you’ll be happy with what God is doing.

> Pastor Paine

It’s good to have you join in service with us this morning. Mary Ogden, would you greet and share with us today?

> Mary Ogden

Good morning, Norfolk! I was very blessed when Mike and I first moved here to find fellowship with the people here.

> Mike Ogden

They told me about this ministry right down the block, and I checked it out. I really like the doughnuts. Things have changed over the years, but the message is still the same. It’s going on very close to thirty years. I’m very blessed to be part of the prayer meetings, and I’ve been blessed to be a Children’s Church teacher for very many years, and I’m blessed every time I enter the classroom.

> Mary Ogden

I’ve been blessed to visit every part of the ministry throughout my career. Everywhere I went, there was someone to give me an encouraging word, to be there for me, and let me know that I had someone to count on. It was wonderful. I didn’t expect anything, but the leadership kept in touch with us, to let us know that we are loved. They, with God, have been our rock.

> Parrish Lee

I can’t tell you how awesome God is. We have moves of God in every area here. In our youth ministry, our military ministry, men and women are stepping up. Before long, we’re going to need two headquarters. The other day, in ladies ministry, there was a woman who said, “I’ve got to get saved right now.”

Haiti School and Churches

> Charlene Turner

I’m here to introduce you the video that we are about to see. We have a school in Haiti, headed up by Pastor Ulysse. We’re thankful to have Pastor Ulysse and Pastor Wilson do a little interview. We tried to make it better than CNN. This is to give you a little history about our school and its needs.

> (Video: Hope for Haiti)

We are a family; we are a body of Christ. And it’s important that we understand that we have a part in helping our brothers and sisters in Haiti. Pastor Ulysse, talk to us about the work in Haiti.

> Pastor Ulysse

I thank you, Pastor for this opportunity. And I thank you all for your concern. I’ve been in Haiti for close to twenty years. My family and I, and the ministry, and the whole work. The things that we built, the earthquake took everything with it. I’ve had the privilege to go back a few times after the earthquake, and the only thing I saw there was hope. But with that, I think we have a good foundation to start all over again. But in the beginning, it felt like the blood in your body was drawn away. But there is hope.

(Tell me, how many students do you have in the school?)

At this time, we have two hundred and thirty five students in school.

> Pastor Paine

In Haiti, if you don’t go to private school, you don’t go to school. And one of the things I want to share is that our dollars that go to help children go to school in Port-au-Prince stay in the community.

> Pastor Ulysse

We have the headquarters in Port-au-Prince. We also have churches and schools in five other areas in Haiti. But the school in Port-au-Prince is the main one.

(How has the earthquake and Hurricane Tomas’ affected enrollment?)

In our school, we have space. Many other schools did not have space, so their entire grounds were covered by debris. So after the earthquake, they could not reopen. So now, we have one half more students than we had before the earthquake.

(Tell me a little about the atmosphere in the school.)

It’s like they don’t even see the place where they are studying. If you go to Haiti sad, you will come back with joy.

(would it help to provide building materials and construction equipment? How can we help?)

If these materials can be delivered to the home, that would be the best thing. But we cannot get them from out of Haiti, because it is difficult and costly to get them through customs.

(so the blunt thing is, the best way to help is to send money. Could you comment on the timing of the rebuilding? What is the deadline?)

The time, it is due. Really, we should not reopen the school without proper inspections. But right now, we have until the second week in January to get the school ready for inspections. And the worst thing that could happen is that we would lose our accreditation.

> Pastor Paine

Ladies and gentlemen, we are asking you for help. Our brothers and sisters in Haiti are beautiful people; they have a beautiful spirit; they have hope, but they need our help. And because we provide all the infrastructure, all of the money you send will go to help the children.

> Pastor Ulysse

Because we do not rent the building, as humble as it is, we own the building, so all of the money can go toward the rebuilding. You are probably wondering what can you do? You can do a lot more than you think. In Haiti, a little can do a lot. So don’t think you can’t do anything; you can do a lot, and God will bless you.

> Pastor Paine

I’m reminded of a story in the sixth chapter of Matthew, where a great multitude followed Jesus. Jesus questioned those who were with him, “What do we have to feed this multitude?” And they said, “Not much, but a lad here has a few fishes, and two barley loaves.” And Jesus said, “Bring them,” and he blessed them. And not only did they feed that great multitude, but Jesus told the disciples to take baskets and gather up of what was left.

> Pastor Taylor

About thirty years ago, I was about sixteen years old, by myself, serving the unknown God. I knew of him, but I did not know him. One day I was praying, “God save me. I want to make it to heaven.” I did all the things that church would tell you to do, but I did not feel that I was going to heaven.

About five years later, after joining the Navy, I was sailing around the Indian Ocean doing nothing. And one of the guys on the ship shared the gospel with me. Being raised religious, I found myself in the valley of decision. This wasn’t what I was taught as a kid, but there was scripture after scripture after scripture saying the same thing about salvation. I decided that I had prayed for salvation, I was going to do it. Naturally, out in the Indian Ocean, there was nowhere to get baptized. But the Captain came over the intercom and announced that we were going to pull into the little island nation of Sri Lanka. And the brother came to me and said, “We have a church in Sri Lanka.” So we went ashore, and people shared about the miracles that God had done for them, and I got baptized.

From that point, a weird thing happened: my life changed. The things that I had desired doing that were of the world, (my wife and I planned to go out and party after my six-month deployment), all that changed. I listened to a lot of worldly music. I had a briefcase full of cassettes, but I threw them overboard. I felt that, if I were going to listen to worldly music, why did I come to Christ? I threw that stuff away, and my life changed. I started desiring more and more of God’s word. My wife accepted the gospel quicker than I did.

My point is, God has some priorities. If you seek God with your whole heart, you’ll find him, as the Bible says. You can go from church to church to church, and not find Christ.

This morning, I have the great privilege of introducing the San Diego Fellowship.

San Diego Fellowship

(via video-conference)

> Jeff Gill

We’re doing great here. We’ve made some changes here recently, and now we’ve got military visitors coming here every Sunday.

> Sam Adam

I got to pick up two people from my ship, the USS Carl Vinson. There was a guy who spoke to me about conversion; he wants to be converted to Christian. So I was glad to pick him up and bring him to service.

> Rose Moseley

I just want to say that I’m thankful to be here in military fellowship and support in anything that needs doing. As long as I’m doing what God has for me, that’s all that matters.

Message: This Thing Called Fellowship

> Pastor Wilson

Wow! It’s been like a seven-course Thanksgiving meal already today. We did try to put inserts in the bulletins. If anyone would like the insert, it’s just a little cheat-sheet to help you to go along with us and maybe to help you share with a few people during the week.

So what in the world is all this about? How does it all tie together? I want to start this today by helping you think what it would be like if some of the disciples were popped through time-travel and were with us today.

> Hey, Pete? Do you see anything you recognize? I don’t know, John.

We’ve got mega-churches, TV evangelists, and so forth. Is there anything that the disciples would see and recognize? Maybe in your own life, if they happened to go with you to the mall, or sit at your dining-room table, or travel in your car. Is there any connection with the early church? We open our Bible and we see things from a long time ago. How does that connect with us today? What kinds of things are just going to have to change over time? We can’t be exactly as things were back then; the world is different today, okay? I’m not trying to be fanatical, walking around with robes and sandals. But aren’t there things that should be the same today? Things that people throughout the centuries would recognize and say, “Ah, this is Christianity.” Isn’t there something that would connect us in a timeless way? Certainly we have the scriptures themselves, and that is the skeleton that will keep us on track. But I want to talk to you today about this thing called “fellowship.”

The people around you are hungry for something called Christianity. For better or worse, good or bad, it’s not what it should be. It’s not what would meet the needs of the hungry soul. And you look around you and say, “How can I take this with me, if I’m going to be stationed in Guam?” The music, the classes: is that really what all this about?

I think not. You know that. There is something that can be exactly as the disciples experienced it. There is something that will last, and it is this thing called “fellowship.”

I want to focus on a few things, a few aspects of how you can impact the people around you.

What happened when the disciples gathered? It seemed like a miracle happened every time, something sensational. Is that really what we’re talking about?

If we go to our first fill-in-the-blank:

> Fellowship is an incubator, a place of nurturing for growth

An incubator is a protected environment for a young creature to grow. They control everything around that young being, giving that young being every chance to grow strong and healthy. That is what true fellowship is all about. It gives that new Christian, that newborn, newly-baptized person the opportunity, the potential to grow. Protecting the environment, protecting what they are fed. True fellowship gives you a protected place to grow.

Now who is at the point that they don’t need to grow anymore? Not me. I’ve got a long way to go to be like the Lord. The more I know, the more I know I need to work on, amen? It’s a good thing to never think you’ve arrived, that you know it all. So that incubator of fellowship is something that all of us need. All that worldly stuff that tries to distract us, to turn us into selfish people – we weren’t born that way. Certainly, we weren’t re-born that way. Fellowship protects us from that.

Some of you are thinking, “Even if I get together with a few brothers in the church, that’s not what it’s like.” Then it’s not fellowship.

This thing called fellowship is an incubator; it’s there to give us a place of nurturing and growth. It’s there to protect us from the things of the world, so we can find our “true north.” When we can share that with someone, and we’re traveling together, we find that we can grow.

Fellowship provides a way for us to jostle one another in a protected way, to challenge one another. In a protected fellowship, a spiritual environment:

Proverbs 27:17
  1. Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

Like substance, of the same mind. The Bible talks about us being perfectly joined together in the same mind and judgment. (1 Corinthians 1:10) We are able to sharpen each other, and help each other to come to the right conclusions.

You see in Matthew 13 all kinds of parables. You see where Jesus would share these parables in public, and then when he was alone with the disciples, they said, “Now that it’s just us, Jesus, tell us what you really meant.” See, the first part was evangelism, but the second part is fellowship. In fellowship, you work together, you learn together, you share together about life. In this protected environment, you’re all on the same team. You don’t have to worry about adversity; you can just strive together to be the best man, the best woman you can be. There are no “lone rangers” in the Bible. I’m sort of a loner. That’s the way I was made; the pattern. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy fellowship. I may stand a little aside, but that doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying the interaction, the fellowship. The Bible says that we’re all different, but all part of the body. Fellowship is the way to come together and find out what part we are, to find out what those parables mean to you. To find out what it means to me. You hear the story and you think, “That’s wonderful, but what does it have to do with me on Monday morning?” That’s what fellowship is all about. When you get together with like-minded people, you figure it out. And the point is, you won’t figure it out on your own. You won’t get to sit and hear what this parable meant, and what this scripture and this theme really means unless you get into fellowship. God didn’t mean for us to sit alone and figure it out. If he had meant it that way, he would have just printed books instead of sending out disciples. He says,

(way, truth, life)

The second fill-in-the-blank.

  1. Fellowship is a Green_Card: a path to legitimate citizenship.

How many people have been through that process?

> (About eight people standing)

I congratulate you. You had to work for something I was born to. I salute you for that.

So are you going to bear fruit? Are you going to be the good ground? Fellowship is the way.

The Bible doesn’t say, “Blessed are the smart, for they will figure it out.” It doesn’t say, “Blessed are the clever, for they will sneak in.” The only true legitimate way to find your way into your calling and purpose of life is this thing called fellowship.

Some of us are good at studying, and some of us are not. it’s not the academics among us who find the right path; it’s those who gather in fellowship.

Psalms 133:1
  1. Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!

Not just to be together; not just to show up in a building once or twice a week, but to dwell together in real unity.

The next verse describes something that was very real to them at the time; a person was anointed with oil, to show that they were chosen specifically for a task.

Psalms 133:2
  1. It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;

Fellowship is where you find your calling. Fellowship is where you figure out what your job is in God. Is your job to get dressed up and go to church? I think that misses the point.

> Yeah, I got saved, and I got my Bible here. I’m afraid to open it and wrinkle the pages, but I’m excited!

Is that your job? You have a different job in God than I do, but you have a job. You have a specific thing that God has made you for. All the things in your past, God is going to use to teach you about how you have a calling and purpose in God. Every one of us has something amazing to do in God, if only we would seek it out. Only a few of us are called to be pastors; the rest of us are called in various other ways to be those ministers, to show the world the truth of the gospel. There are as many different ways to share the gospel as there are people. How are you supposed to know what you are made and born to do? It comes from this thing called fellowship.

Psalms 133:3
  1. As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.

God has a commanded way to go; a commanded path. Physically, it’s called “Zion.” But spiritually, you will figure it out through this thing called fellowship. That’s what this “green card” gives you access to. Thats what makes you realize where you fit into the body: “Hey, I’m a big toe. It’s not the most impressive thing, but I know who I am!”

I have two scriptures to give you a litmus test to find out whether it’s true fellowship, when you gather together with your brothers and sisters:

John 13:34-35
  1. A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
  2. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

Now, it’s not just being nice; it’s having love one to another. How do you understand that? How do you know that? By studying. See, the word of God is just the starting point. How does that love grow and become alive? It comes through fellowship. It comes through having questions and finding answers. He said, “A new commandment I give unto you.” This is the way people will know and understand what this “Christianity” is, by this thing called fellowship.

Matthew 18:20
  1. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

That really is an amazing scripture, if you think about its potential. Are we really ready to hear God in this matter? Are we really gathered in his name? If so, where two or three are gathered, he is in the midst. He will teach; he will lead and direct. That’s an amazing thing.

  1. True fellowship puts Christ’s love on display.

So I’ve got to ask you, how often is true fellowship happening? If you think this thing is common, that it just happens without you noticing, you’ve missed the whole point. We’ve got to strive; we’ve got to make an effort to get together with people we don’t necessarily even like

The Bible says “whosever will, let him come.” It’s not the outward idea of, “I like to hand with them. I always feel good when I hang together with them.” No, that’s not what it is. This thing called fellowship puts God’s love on display. You need to strive for that, because it’s possible. It’s possible with your family.

Let me just paint a picture about the difference I’m trying to help you with. The family cruises in with their minivan. They bust through the doors of the mall. But what did they do to share Christ’s love? What did they do to put Christ’s love on display?

> C’mon, pastor, they’re shopping!

But what if that family had an understanding before they ever got out of their minivan? “We’ve got a responsibility in Christ. We’ve got to encourage people to do the right thing and not do the wrong thing, by putting Christ’s love on display.” We have a little effect when we’re by ourselves, but we have a greater effect when we’re together. And we see that same family having a prayer together. “God, help me to realize that the most important thing is not the shopping today, but to show Christ’s love. And God, I can’t do that by myself, but help us to do it together.”

I want to challenge you today: that’s the timeless thing that God has to offer. That’s the thing that the time-traveling disciples would recognize if they were with us today.

> Hey, Andrew! That’s what we used to do. That’s called “fellowship”, what we used to do.

One last verse I’ll give us today. When we really understand what Biblical fellowship is, there really is no confusion. We have to be like-minded; we have to have common purpose and understanding to have fellowship. We have to all be willing to come together and contribute. Oh, I love potlucks, don’t you? Fellowship is like spiritual potlucks. I enjoy potlucks, and I enjoy fellowship.

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?

If you begin to understand the things I’ve laid out for you today, this verse is no mystery. God has given us a great way to find out what our calling is, to find out where our place is. But we have to seek it out, this thing called fellowship. You have to seek out those who are ready for fellowship, who want to do it and can do it with us. You’re not alone, but you have to seek out the right people, all the time.

Closing

> Pastor Paine

We have a place where we all can have fellowship. We have a place where we can all grow, share, bless others, and be blessed. In this ministry, where our mission statement really matters: to Evangelize, Educate, and Equip, Providing Christian Fellowship and Spiritual Support Worldwide. This is the gift that God has given us.

Handout

Story to Share

> Time-traveling Disciples

Message Points

  1. Fellowship is an ____ : a place of ____ for ____ .
  2. Fellowship is a ____ : a path to legitimate ____ .
  3. ____ fellowship puts Christ’s ____ on ____ .

Discussion Questions

(to help you share the message):

  1. In what way is today’s Christianity different from the Bible?
  2. What are the first things you think of when I say “fellowship”?
  3. What is the main reason Christians get together?

Scriptures:

  • Psalms 133
  • Matthew 18:20
  • Proverbs 27:17
  • 2 Corinthians 6:14
  • John 13:34-35

Picture of Message:

Personal Insight from Message:

A Matter Of The Heart

Sunday Plus, 11/14/10

Songs

Introduction

> Mike Jackson

Pastor preached about miracles today. And the thing is that different people can get totally different things out of the message. You can be sharing with someone and they’ll say “Were you in the same service that I was in?”

So Pastor Paine shared his story of forgiveness, and I heard something about forgiveness that I thought was so profound that I’m going to try to live every day of my life by this example:

> Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been different.

If we just do that, then we can move on. God has forgiven us of things that we would never ever forgive, if a person had done it to us. So keep that on your mind as you worship.

Message: A Matter Of The Heart

> Scott Shepherd

I’ve been pondering this subject for about two weeks. I gathered so many notes that I had to cut it as much as I could. So as I read, if I confuse you, I’m sorry. There is so much in this material that it’s not possible to cover it all in the time available.

Matthew 22:37
  1. Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
Matthew 5:8
  1. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Therein lies the problem, right? We don’t have a pure heart. We are, by nature, sinful.

Proverbs 20:9
  1. Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?

So Jesus wants us to have love in our hearts, and to be pure of heart. That love should not only extend to him, but to everyone around us. And neither one of these are of ourselves, but of him. So if we’re not pure of heart, and if we don’t have love in our hearts, what should we do?

If you were to take Psychology in college, Freud would teach you that our desires come from animal urges. Karl Jung would say that it comes from our culture and background. Carl Rogers says that we tend to overlook our goodness, and our culture inspires that.

The Bible says something very different. It says that our sinful nature comes from Adam.

Romans 5:12
  1. Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
Romans 5:19
  1. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

So we inherit this sinful nature from Adam. That is the way we are what we are. But it also says that we have a hope, for “by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”

Romans 5:17
  1. For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)

It’s not just Adam. We also affect those around us. It is a problem that is rooted deeply in the heart. The Bible mentions the heart over nine hundred times, but it’s not talking about the physical organ; it’s talking about the nature of our inner being.

Proverbs 4:23
  1. Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

Everything that we could think about or possibly imagine stems from the heart.

Generally speaking, when we are talking about our sinful nature, we want to address the behavior rather than the underlying problem. “You eat too much? Go on a diet.” “You drink too much? Go to A.A.” I’m not saying these are bad things, but they don’t address the root of the problem.

Matthew 5:28
  1. But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Is this a lust problem, or is it a heart problem? Is it that he’s going out and committing fornication? Or is it that something is wrong with his heart?

Matthew 6:21
  1. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

A lot of us struggle with this one in various wages. A lot of people say, “I have problems budgeting.” No, you have a problem in your heart.

Luke 6:45
  1. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

Some of you are thinking, “I can’t seem to stop saying mean things about people.” There’s a problem in your heart. If you just hold your tongue, you haven’t solved the problem. Jesus said, if it’s in your heart, it’s like you’ve done the deed already. So to fix the problem, you need to fix your heart.

Mark 7:20-23
  1. And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.
  2. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,
  3. Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:
  4. All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

So the religious people were saying, “Your disciples just ate with unwashen hands.” They thought that everything out there was sinful, and “I” am righteous, so if I don’t take in any of the things out there, I’ll stay righteous. But Jesus said, “You’re sinful already.” He said that every evil thing in the world comes from us, from our heart. It’s within us.

So here is the solution:

Ezekiel 36:26-27
  1. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
  2. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

You’ve got to basically say, “God, I’m worthless, and I need you.”

Philippians 4:13
  1. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Whatever we accomplish in life, we’ll never be able to get rid of the sin in our heart. We have to ask God to take care of it. We receive a new heart, a new Lord, and new desires, when we ask God to come into our lives through baptism.

By ourselves, all we can do is a diet, a twelve-step diet, a clinic.

But once we do receive that new heart, there will always be a conflict. And the resolution to that conflict is found in Hebrews:

Hebrews 10:22-25
  1. Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
  2. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
  3. And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
  4. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

We are responsible for each other. We have to look after each others’ lives, not out of self-righteousness, but out of a care for each other. We also need to be able to accept correction from other people. We need to live under the spirit of God, and not under our own spirit.

I want to encourage us all to spend time in fellowship, telling each other what God is doing in our lives, and provoking one another to love and good works. If we do that, we won’t have room in our lives for sin. As C.S. Lewis said, it’s not that we have too strong a passion for the world; it’s that we have too weak a passion for the things of God.

I’d like you to ponder the following four questions:

  1. How do you know if you have a new heart?
    If you can’t answer that question, seek it out. Find a teacher.
  2. What is God showing you about your heart?
    What are the issues you are dealing with?
  3. What can you do to nourish the Godly desires of your heart?
    How do you feed the good things in your life? There is an Indian proverb about a brave who came to the chief and said, “I have conflicting desires in my heart, and I don’t know what to do.” The chief said, “You have two wolves in your life, a wolf of light and a wolf of darkness. And they fight with one another for control of your life.” The brave asked, “Which wolf will win?” The chief said, “Whichever one you feed.”
  4. What desires are deeper than your desires for sin?
    What is the legacy that you will leave with the people around you in your life? That is more important than any temptation that Satan can set before you.

Let’s not be focused on Christian Fellowship. Let’s focus on God and building his kingdom.

The First Miracle

Sunday Morning Service, 11/14/10

Songs

Intro

> Pastor Wilson

I am a Christian today, and I cannot begin to describe what an awesome privilege that is. Being a Christian doesn’t make us perfect; far from it. But we find as we serve our heavenly Father the ability to become the best man or woman we can be, and to help other people around us. We have the privilege of helping to spread the message of the gospel around the world.

The American Veteran has a privilege to be part of a force that goes throughout the world, setting order to chaos, giving freedom to the oppressed, and even spreading humanitarian aid to the needy.

What The Military Ministry Has Done For Me

> Jaucelin Fenelus

When I stand up against the world, I want to be right: not because my church told me so, but because of my faith in God. I may have obstacles in my life, but whatever I have to overcome, I remember this: The past is not equal to the present. Stop focusing on the past (Jaucelin Fenelus), and start moving forward. Love other people. Have patience with them. It’s tough when you work with people and you don’t have anything in common. But we all have Jesus Christ, and through him, we can accomplish anything.

> John Connor

I think you all have seen me grow in the ministry. My whole life changed. It’s not because of the military; it’s because of my life in God. I hang out with brothers, and most of the time it’s not who I’d want to hang out with, but I always learn something. The other day, I my mom left me a message. She said, “Your little brother is going crazy.” (He’s eighteen) “He thinks that nobody is there for him.” We all go through those things. But I’m here because God planted me, and I thank you all for being a part of that.

> Jack Rohrer

I have the privilege and honor to recognize our veterans today:

  • If you served during the Vietnam war, please stand.

> (Three standing)

  • If you served during Desert Shield or Desert Storm, please stand.

> (Several more standing)

  • If you served during Iraqi Freedom or in the present war against terror, or the war in Afghanistan, please stand.

> (Many more standing)

  • If you are presently serving as active duty, please stand.

> (Almost as many)

  • Would all those whom I have already recognized please stand. And if you served during peacetime, please stand.

> (Nearly everyone standing)

Message: The First Miracle

> Pastor Paine

Wednesday, we looked at Matthew chapter six in the words of Christ where he said:

Matthew 6:33
  1. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Today, I’d like to look in John chapter two, and talk about the first miracle that Jesus did when he walked the face of the earth. My prayer is that as we look at this today, we’d really be able to talk about what miracles are.

I’d like to see, by a show of hands, how many believe in miracles?

> (Nearly every hand raised)

How many of you believe that you’ve seen a miracle?

> (Just as many hands raised)

How many of you have seen a miracle that’s been documented, that God intervened, that there is no other way it could have happened?

> (About half as many hands)

I’d like to tell you a story about my mother, who had a cerebral hemhorrage, and for the first seven years of her life after that event, she was totally blind. My Dad used to go to the nursing home every day to feed her. He said, “I know the nurses are busy, but I just want to spend time eating lunch with my Betty.” So he’d sit there by her side, spoon-feeding her each bite. And after the meal, it was the same story every time. He’d say, “Are you ready for dessert?” And my mother would say, “Oh, yes.” And because she was partly paralyzed, my mother couldn’t make expressions like the rest of us, but she kind of smooshed her lips together the best she could, and my father would lean over and kiss her, and she would say, “That was the best dessert!”

One day, my father was standing at my mother’s bedside, and the sun was shining through the window. As my father moved, his shadow fell across my mother’s face, and she moved her face. He looked at me and motioned with his hand for me to be still and quiet. Then he took his hand and moved it so the shadow would move across her face, and she moved again. He said, “Betty, why did you move?” She said, “I don’t know,” with uncertainty in her voice.

A few days later, she received her sight, enough so that she could read. The doctors wrote “Betty Paine received her sight. G.O.K.” (God only knows.) That’s a miracle.

As we study today, my prayer is that you would think, “Maybe God can perform a miracle in my life.” And maybe you’re so tough that you think, “I don’t need to believe in miracles.” Yeah, you do, if you want to get one.

And as we study today, I also want you to consider four questions.

  • What is a miracle?
  • Why does a miracle happen?
  • When will my miracle appear?
  • What will my miracle look like?

Maybe you’re thinking, “God’s not doing any miracles for me.” Maybe you’re thinking of your past; that you’re just not good enough for God to do a miracle for you. I hope that God will be able to pry you away from that excuse

John 2:1-4
  1. And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there:
  2. And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.
  3. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.
  4. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.

We’ll unpack that in a few moments, but think about Jesus’ response to Mary, his mother, when she’s telling him, “You’ve got to do something about this.”

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

It sounds to me like Mary wasn’t deterred by Jesus’ response.

John 2:6
  1. And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.

A firkin is not a measure that we use in today’s economy. In my research, it was a little vague as to exactly what a firkin was, but the best I can tell, it was about nine gallons. So if it’s two or three firkins apiece, it’s eighteen to twenty-seven gallons. That’s a lot of wine.

John 2:7-8
  1. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.
  2. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.

Because the vernacular is a little different, I want to explain that the governor of the feast isn’t like the governor of a state; he’s the banquet manager. It’s interesting when you understand the purifying of the water. That water is going to be there awhile. There is a process; there’s some time involved. But what did we just read? He said, “Fill the pots,” and they filled it to the brim. He said, “Draw it out and bear to the governor of the feast,” and they did. They didn’t sample it. Now, I might have been tempted to sample it, for more than one reason. But I might have been nervous about taking it to the governor of the feast.

John 2:9
  1. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,

Now, imagine being one of the disciples. You’re not sure why he called the bridegroom. You just took this water to the governor of the feast, and he tasted it, and he said “Bring me the bridegroom.” You’re thinking, “Bring me a lawyer.”

John 2:10
  1. And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.

What happened? Well, I’m sure that they did have good wine at the beginning, but this is better.

John 2:11
  1. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.

Why did the disciples believe? Because they witnessed a miracle. This is going to help us understand miracles in their proper context.

I suspect that in a congregation this size, some people are thinking, “I’m happy for those people who get miracles, but miracles are things that happen to other people, not me.” What if it’s not about you? When the disciples asked why the man was born blind, what did Jesus say? He said, “He wasn’t born blind because of his sins or because of his parents’; he was born blind because I wanted him to be born blind. And I wanted to give him sight.”

In the example we just read, the result of that miracle was that the disciples believed. I find that exciting. Why do we stand on the sidelines and not expect the miracle that God wants to deliver to us? Sometimes we resist the idea of God doing miracles because we’re arrogant.

I saw a bumper-sticker: “I hope to become the man my dog already thinks I am.” Debbie and I have a new puppy. She calls her “Daisy”. But I can’t walk this dog around on a leash and say, “C’mon, Daisy,” so I call her “Dozer.” I used to call her “Daisy”, and my next-door neighbor, who is retired from the U.S. Marine Corps, heard me saying, “C’mon, Daisy! You can do it, Daisy!” and he leaned over the fence and said, “Sounds real tough, Pete.” So I call her “Dozer.”

I want to tell you, this first miracle is about conversion. It’s about changing one thing into another. When we accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, that was a miracle of conversion.

Miracles create an eternal difference.

Hebrews 11:1
  1. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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.

When we believe in a God who can make a change in our life, and we diligently seek him, the miracles begin in our life.

Another point is that Jesus always improves the situation with a miracle. He didn’t make wine as good as what they started with; he made better. Sometimes we’re afraid to let go of what we have because we don’t trust God to replace it with something better.

There’s a story about a man who fell off a cliff, and partway down, he latched onto a tree that was growing from the side of the cliff. He looked down, and it was a long way down. He looked up, and it was too far to climb back up. So he cried out, “Help! Somebody, save me!” He heard a voice saying, “Yes.” He said, “Is that you, God?” God said, “Yes.” He said, “Save me, God!” God said, “I will. But you have to do exactly as I tell you.” He said, “Okay.” God said, “Let go of the tree.” There was a long pause, then the man asked “Anyone else out there?”

If we want to receive miracles, we’ve got to believe that God is a rewarder. We read in verse five:

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

And we read that they did exactly what Jesus told them to do. So maybe we’ve got to do the same. You say, “That sounds a lot like legalism.” But maybe, it sounds a lot like doing what Jesus wants us to do. Maybe, it sounds a lot like letting go of your own ways and trusting God.

When the woman accused of adultery was brought before Jesus, he said “Let he that is without sin cast the first stone. And one by one, they left, until it was just the woman and Jesus there. Jesus said, “Woman, where are thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?” I find it interesting that she said, “No man, Lord.” She could have said, “Just one,” if she believed that Jesus was a man, and that he was condemning her. But she said, “No man, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” A change happened in the hearts and lives of the people that day. That’s a miracle.

Miracles change lives. God wants to perform miracles to change our lives, but we have to be ready to accept that change. Let God change your life. Maybe you have something you need to let go of. Maybe you have some hate to let go of. That’s a tough one. I have heard people tell me that they have been abused and hurt, and somehow the act of forgiveness sounds too much like condoning. But it’s not. And forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting. And it doesn’t mean letting that person off the hook. Here’s a trick that I learned over the years. When somebody does something that I find hard to forgive, I say, “I’m going to turn that over to a higher court.” What’s the higher court in this case? God. “You know, God, I’m going to let you deal with it. Because if I don’t accept the miracle of letting you replace a hard heart with a tender heart…”

Years ago, there was a man who had treated me in a way that I found just unacceptable. And I had a recurring dream about him. Has anyone else ever had that, where you dream the same dream over and over?

> (Some hands)

In my dream, I went to this man’s house and knocked on the door, and killed him. And the police came, and I just stood there waiting for them. And in the next scene, I’m standing in court, and the public defender tried to say “not guilty,” and I said, “No, I’m guilty, your honor. And if he comes back to life, I’ll kill him again.” And in the next scene, (I know that it doesn’t work this way), I’m on death row, and just before being executed, a reporter asks me if I have any regrets. And I said, “No. He needed killing, and I did it. I’m glad nobody got to him before I did.”

I believe that this was God’s way of telling me that by not forgiving this man, I was just as guilty as if I had killed him. And I believe that God was telling me that if I didn’t forgive him, then God would kill me. So after I forgave him, I walked up to this man and shook his hand and said, “I forgive you.” He looked at me in puzzlement and said, “Okay…” Smiling, I continued, “And you need to pray for me.” He looked even more puzzled, and asked, “Why?” I said, “Because if I ever backslide, I’ll kill you.”

The forgiveness was real, and God did change my heart. No fooling. God did change my heart, honest. And God could change yours, too.

In Acts chapter three, we find a lame man laying outside the temple. He’s laying there because that’s how he made a living: by laying outside the temple, and asking for money. Peter and John walk up and say, “Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee thee,” and the man “leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple.”

What are some of the reasons that God did that miracle?

  • So that the people in the temple could believe.

How about Peter and John? Do you suppose they needed a confirmation of their ministry? Hello? Why the miracle? Yes, for the lame man. Yes, for the people in the temple. Yes, for Peter and John. All of the above. I’m hitting hard on this point because maybe you’ll begin to think, “Maybe God does have a miracle for me.” If by chance you’re hearing this message today and you’re thinking, “God doesn’t want to do anything for me,” okay. Until you get over that, would you be willing to say, “God, if you want to perform a miracle to help someone else, I’m here for you.”

Maybe the miracle you’re waiting for, it’s just been too long.

I couldn’t get the mower started one day. For two hours, I was spraying stuff in the carburator and pulling the rope. It was hot and I was sweating and I lost twenty pounds. For two hours! I was ready to die. I finally came inside for a drink of water. Debbie went outside, and then came in and said, “By the way, our neighbor says you can come over and borrow her mower.” If I had any sense, I would have said, “Yeah!” But I said, “She saw me TWO HOURS AGO pulling on that rope! She can KEEP her STUPID MOWER!!!” I think the neighbor lady must have heard me answer Debbie. I’m still embarrassed about that. Maybe you’re thinking, “I’ve waited TWENTY EIGHT YEARS for my miracle, and it’s TOO LATE!!!”

Maybe you should change your prayer. Maybe you should pray, “If you can’t change my circumstances, God, change my heart. Change something!

So whether it’s for salvation, or whether it’s for a miracle in your life, quit running from God today, and start running to him. Let that miracle be alive in your life. So let’s revisit those four questions:

  1. What’s a miracle?
    It’s a God-sized change.
  2. Why is a miracle?
    Because it causes us to focus on God and not on ourselves.
  3. When does a miracle appear?
    When God can tell that it will be received.
  4. What will my miracle look like?
    That’s between you and God.

Exploring Joseph's Story, part 11

Sunday Morning Service, 11/7/10

Songs

Message: Exploring Joseph’s Story

Part 11

> Pastor Ulysse

We are continuing the exploration of the story of Joseph. Last time we saw Jacob needed confirmation, and he got it from the Lord. He’s happy and ready to go. Now we’re going to read the rest of the story from Genesis 46:

Genesis 46:5-34
  1. And Jacob rose up from Beersheba: and the sons of Israel carried Jacob their father, and their little ones, and their wives, in the wagons which Pharaoh had sent to carry him.
  2. And they took their cattle, and their goods, which they had gotten in the land of Canaan, and came into Egypt, Jacob, and all his seed with him:
  3. His sons, and his sons’ sons with him, his daughters, and his sons’ daughters, and all his seed brought he with him into Egypt.
  4. And these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt, Jacob and his sons: Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn.
  5. And the sons of Reuben; Hanoch, and Phallu, and Hezron, and Carmi.
  6. And the sons of Simeon; Jemuel, and Jamin, and Ohad, and Jachin, and Zohar, and Shaul the son of a Canaanitish woman.
  7. And the sons of Levi; Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.
  8. And the sons of Judah; Er, and Onan, and Shelah, and Pharez, and Zarah: but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan. And the sons of Pharez were Hezron and Hamul.
  9. And the sons of Issachar; Tola, and Phuvah, and Job, and Shimron.
  10. And the sons of Zebulun; Sered, and Elon, and Jahleel.
  11. These be the sons of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob in Padanaram, with his daughter Dinah: all the souls of his sons and his daughters were thirty and three.
  12. And the sons of Gad; Ziphion, and Haggi, Shuni, and Ezbon, Eri, and Arodi, and Areli.
  13. And the sons of Asher; Jimnah, and Ishuah, and Isui, and Beriah, and Serah their sister: and the sons of Beriah; Heber, and Malchiel.
  14. These are the sons of Zilpah, whom Laban gave to Leah his daughter, and these she bare unto Jacob, even sixteen souls.
  15. The sons of Rachel Jacob’s wife; Joseph, and Benjamin.
  16. And unto Joseph in the land of Egypt were born Manasseh and Ephraim, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him.
  17. And the sons of Benjamin were Belah, and Becher, and Ashbel, Gera, and Naaman, Ehi, and Rosh, Muppim, and Huppim, and Ard.
  18. These are the sons of Rachel, which were born to Jacob: all the souls were fourteen.
  19. And the sons of Dan; Hushim.
  20. And the sons of Naphtali; Jahzeel, and Guni, and Jezer, and Shillem.
  21. These are the sons of Bilhah, which Laban gave unto Rachel his daughter, and she bare these unto Jacob: all the souls were seven.
  22. All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt, which came out of his loins, besides Jacob’s sons’ wives, all the souls were threescore and six;
  23. And the sons of Joseph, which were born him in Egypt, were two souls: all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were threescore and ten.
  24. And he sent Judah before him unto Joseph, to direct his face unto Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen.
  25. And Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up to meet Israel his father, to Goshen, and presented himself unto him; and he fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while.
  26. And Israel said unto Joseph, Now let me die, since I have seen thy face, because thou art yet alive.
  27. And Joseph said unto his brethren, and unto his father’s house, I will go up, and shew Pharaoh, and say unto him, My brethren, and my father’s house, which were in the land of Canaan, are come unto me;
  28. And the men are shepherds, for their trade hath been to feed cattle; and they have brought their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have.
  29. And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall say, What is your occupation?
  30. That ye shall say, Thy servants’ trade hath been about cattle from our youth even until now, both we, and also our fathers: that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians.

This marks a turning point in Joseph’s story. From now on we are going to see less Joseph and more of the children of Israel. For most of us, when we see all these names, we just jump ahead. But you don’t know the importance of these names until you need to know where Jesus came from. It’s all about the root of Christ, so it is important. Also, if you want to go deeper, you probably would have a hard time to find how many people actually went. In verse 27_ it says that seventy went, but if you add up all the people, but if you add up all the people …

In verse 21 it says the sons of Benjamin. He was the youngest and the last one, but he had ten sons. If you want to go deeper, this number is more symbolic, if anything. We find many places in the Bible where they round to seventy. We find it in Genesis 10, Exodus 24, Luke 10. Seventy is the number of completion.

In verse 28, Judah was sent before Joseph to direct his face unto Goshen. it’s interesting; Judah now is the leader. Remember that he was the one to initiate the selling of Joseph? But now he is the leader. Remember, he was the one who said to his father, that he would be surety for Joseph, and to Joseph, that he would take place of Benjamin.

Genesis 46:31-32
  1. And Joseph said unto his brethren, and unto his father’s house, I will go up, and shew Pharaoh, and say unto him, My brethren, and my father’s house, which were in the land of Canaan, are come unto me;
  2. And the men are shepherds, for their trade hath been to feed cattle; and they have brought their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have.

This is an interesting lesson that I would like you to see with me. The Bible says to not render evil for evil. You remember that twenty-two, twenty-three years ago, the brothers were plotting to kill him, and now he is putting things together for their good. Not only is he saving the family, but he is negotiating where they would be living, so they would get the best.

Romans 12:14-21
  1. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.
  2. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
  3. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.
  4. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
  5. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
  6. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
  7. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
  8. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

It says “Recompense to no man evil for evil.” So it’s not just your brothers, your friend. And it says, if it lies within you, live peaceably with all men. He understands that it is not possible to live peaceably with all men, because sometimes it’s not up to you. But if it is up to you, live peaceably with all men. The difficulty is in determining whether it lies within you or within that other man, to live peaceably. We are not good at finding fault with ourselves. Someone asked me to find three things bad about myself, and I had difficulty. I know that I am bad, but I had difficulty finding three things negative about myself.

You know that when you have a fault in your own life, you see that fault more clearly in others. So if someone bothers you, maybe it is because that person is too much like you.

I heard a story about a man who went to the doctor and said, “My wife does not hear as clearly as she did in the past.” So the doctor told him to make a test. He said, “Stay five feet away from your wife, and ask a question. Then if she doesn’t answer, stand one foot closer and ask again, until she does answer.” So he went home and stood five feet away from his wife and asked, “What’s for dinner?” But she didn’t hear him. So he stood four feet away and asked again. But she didn’t hear him. So he stood three feet away and asked, then two feet away, and finally he stood one foot away from his wife and asked, “What’s for dinner.” Finally, she heard him. She said, “Chicken, I told you five times already. Quit asking.”

I think you get the point of the story.

Romans 12:21
  1. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

That’s exactly what Joseph did. This is a great example for us. And the best way to do this is to follow the example that Paul said,

2 Corinthians 5:16
  1. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.

If you look at someone according to the flesh, there is no way you can be at peace. But if you look closer, to know that there is a soul there. Abraham Lincoln said,

> The best way to destroy your enemy is to make him your friend.

The Bible says that it used to be one eye for one eye, one tooth for one tooth. But we need to look more like our father on heaven. He lets it rain on the good and the bad. But for us, we are struggling with that, even though we are Christians. Some people, we don’t feel like we can forgive them at all. And if we do, we feel like we are forced to.

In our church in Haiti, there is a man who tried to put into practice what Jesus says, if you get hit on one cheek, turn the other one. So he got hit on one cheek, and he turned the other one. And when he got hit again, he rolled up his sleeve and punched back and beat up the one who hit him. When the pastor asked why he did that, he said “Jesus said one and two, but he did not say what to do after that.” Sometimes we do it that way. Sometimes we neglect to seek the best for our brother who has hated us in the past.

Genesis 46:33
  1. And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall say, What is your occupation?

You know, Joseph lived with Pharaoh. He knew what would happen. And he is trying to put words in their mouths. Joseph knew that he had a responsibility here. Remember he was sent to save the people? And he is trying to make sure that he is doing it right. I can’t explain about leaders, fathers, pastors, the amount of responsibility we have to raise our children, to live an example. It is a great responsibility. And Joseph is trying to live up to this responsibility. So he is telling his brothers, “I know you would love to not be identified as a shepherd. I know you would love to be something else. But say that you are a shepherd.” I know that sometimes we are ashamed of who we are. I remember when I used to go to school, I was afraid to let my friends know that I am a Christian. When I was with my friends, I messed up my clothes, because I did not want them to think I was wearing church clothes. But when I got closer to church, I fixed them up.

Matthew 10:28-30
  1. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
  2. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
  3. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

When I read this scripture, I think about some brothers, their hair makes the counting so easy for God.

Matthew 10:31
  1. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.

I searched a little about sparrows. These things, five of them you could buy for less than a penny. That’s cheap! But these things, God knew how many there were. If one fell, God counted it. And it says how much more God cares for us.

Matthew 10:32-33
  1. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
  2. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

I don’t know if one of us is like this now, but you know some place you are, you don’t really want to identify yourself. You don’t really want to wear anything like a cross or a logo that says you are a Christian. I heard about a lady who was listening to a message about a bumper sticker you have on your car, if you have a fish, it makes people think you are a Christian. But she says, “I drive bad, so I can not do that.” But I think you need to do that. I drive a car that has a number on it, and I drive so much better, because I know that someone can call. I drive so much better now! And I think about… Do you know that if a lady dresses right and has a Bible and so forth, she is looked at differently? Do you know that if you openly say who you are, they may not like how you present yourself, but trust me, inside, you make an impact. Identify yourself. Just say who you are. This way, the world will not change you. Maybe you will not change the world, but at least the world will not change you, either.

Genesis 46:34
  1. That ye shall say, Thy servants’ trade hath been about cattle from our youth even until now, both we, and also our fathers: that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians.

Now shepherds are an abomination in the eyes of the Egyptians, and his brothers are thinking, “you are asking me to identify myself as a shepherd?” Do you know what “abomination” means? It’s a heavy word. You have to be separate, to be apart. Now Joseph was the second-in-command of Egypt. I would think that his brothers could be in the army. That’s a very good position. They could be governors of provinces; they could be anything he would like them to be. But you know, Joseph understood his responsibility. He was sent to save the people, and he wanted to make sure he accomplished his message. So in doing so, he separated the Egyptians from the Jews. He put them apart so they would not go into their culture and just be one. Remember also, where they also were living in Canaan, the people were very wicked. God is doing something special: he is taking them away from the wickedness of Canaan, and putting them in a separate place. If they lived in Goshen, no Egyptian would go there. They would be able to grow into the people of God and have their own identity. And they would be able to grow in such a way that when they got out, they would be able to conquer their own land. Joseph was wise. He separated them; there would be no marriage, no mixing with the Egyptians. I’m sure that many of them would like to go into Egypt, but Joseph made sure. He said not only to tell them you are shepherds, but “from our youth, and also our fathers, we are shepherds.”

Paul talked about this separateness:

2 Corinthians 6:14-17
  1. Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
  2. And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
  3. And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
  4. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,

This scripture has been abused, but it is so simple. Matching unbeliever and a believer, they are unequal. There is no equality. You are trying to put them two together; it will just not work. They are not equal. And yoke, when I teach this in Haiti, it’s so easy, because if you take a donkey and put it and an ox together, the donkey will not go, and the ox will go, so you have a problem right there. It is not only for marriage and dating unbelievers, it is for different things. But unfortunately, for marrying and dating unbelievers, this is key. If you get into a relationship with an unbeliever, you are calling for trouble. And most of the time, you will say, “Well, I will get him or her saved.” Why don’t you get him or her saved first? The Bible says that the man is the head of the family. But if we are head, the woman is the neck.

> (Demonstrates how the neck moves the head back and forth)

If you are unequally yoked together, being the head doesn’t mean much.

I will close with this. It’s great that we listen to messages. It’s great that we have the word of God and sound doctrine. But remember what Isaiah said. Who is listening? I am like an artist, with a good voice. But who hears? Nobody. Because after a while, the word of God has been preached now for so long. But it seems like for some reason, iniquity abounds. And not even looking at the whole world, say, this congregation for example, this community. We have been talking about not rendering evil for evil for a long time. We have been talking about separation for a long time. But don’t you think that we are still struggling? Don’t you think that it will be a long time before we reach the goal?

I remember one time I said to my brother John Jeffries, “We will do something new today. We will try to spend the whole day, every moment, with Christ in our minds.” And it was a great day. But you know the next day you wake up and if you don’t pay attention, before long you are looking at the wrong thing, and somebody is asking “What are you looking at?”

Let’s try something. We are going to look at everyone not according to the flesh, but to see the soul. We are going to not render evil for evil. We are going to forgive. Can you imagine what it would be like if two hundred of us did this thing? Can you imagine how it would affect the community? We would change ourselves. We would have a church where everybody would want to come. We would have families where kids would learn from the very beginning to forgive, to love. Is that not what we want, what you would like? So are we going to just listen to messages and say, “That’s nice” or are we going to put into action what we have learned? What strategy, what plan do we have? Are we serious about doing the word of God, the application of it?

In the same manner I said in Haiti after the message was preached, and for the whole week, the whole month, whatever, we are flesh, and Satan doesn’t like the message. God said, “Go forth and multiply,” and Satan didn’t like it. He said, “If they go forth and multiply, they will worship God. I am in trouble. I have to come and mess them up.” Shouldn’t we fight against that? It’s like we hear the message and we go our way; it seems like we don’t even digest the message within us. We say, “That’s nice.” But where is the application of it?

Joseph did not render evil for evil. That’s a great lesson for us to learn and apply. He was responsible. I don’t know how many of you are fathers, or mothers, or have a position of responsibility. But you need to see farther than just your daily food. You need to see much farther than that. Joseph saw much farther; he prepared the way for the people to serve God. We need to be like that. We need to concentrate on what will enable us to go forth and fight the battle for Christ.

I am glad that you all have paid attention. But that’s not enough, if after having paid attention, you don’t do anything about it. Joseph did something about it. And that’s what we need to do.

Exploring Joseph's story, part 10

Sunday Morning Service, 10/31/10

Songs

Reflections on Wednesday Service

> Jonathan Santiago

I’ve been practicing the … five … finger-thing. (I’m sure there’s a better word for it.) It helps me because it gives us some structure on the important things that God wants us to pray about. We have structure in religion for a purpose; it helps us do things in decency and in order. But the spirit of God is not structured. If we haven’t been woken up at three in the morning to pray for somebody, we’re not in tune with the spirit of God.

> Chantalle Fenelus

Often we sing praise and worship songs, but it’s good to have a structure in what we’re singing. Wednesday was more than just singing songs; our songs were a direct prayer unto God.

> Kyle Harmon

I needed Wednesday to give me strength for what I’ve been going through. There was meaning in every song we sang.

> Larry Glander

In my personality, I use those fingers right there.

> (holding up a hand, all extended but the pinky-finger)

But Wednesday reminded me that there’s a pinky finger to pray for, too. I know I’m the only one going through battles… But we need to remember to pray for ourselves, and that’s what Wednesday helped me remember.

> Heather Paine

For those who weren’t here on Wednesday, Pastor Ulysse had a prayer with us and briefly went over all we’ve learned so far in the Joseph series. Then he held up his hand and explained how he uses it to pray. The thumb is the strongest and fattest; it’s the biggest around. That’s for God. It reminds us to praise him in our prayers. The pointer-finger is for direction; it reminds us to pray for our leaders. The middle finger is the longest; it reaches furthest out. It reminds us to pray for those who are far away, people we might not even know. The ring-finger is for those closest to us; it reminds us to pray for our friends and family. And finally, the pinky finger is the one that Larry was talking about; it reminds us to pray for ourselves.

Exploring Joseph’s Story

Part 10

> Pastor Ulysse

We are continuing this morning with the story of Joseph. We left last time where Joseph finally revealed himself to his brethren, and he sent them back home and told them to bring Dad and everybody back from Egypt.

Genesis 45:25-28
  1. And they went up out of Egypt, and came into the land of Canaan unto Jacob their father,
  2. And told him, saying, Joseph is yet alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt. And Jacob’s heart fainted, for he believed them not.
  3. And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them: and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived:
  4. And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die.

He is convinced after he heard the words and after he saw the wagons. He matched them together and said, “I am convinced; I will go and I will see him before I die.”

There is a point that I want to make before we move on. Israel is not a regular man. He is a man of God. You and I know how important it is for him to see Joseph. He finally said, “It is enough. I will go.” For me, that is the most important thing in my life, to say “I will go.” I’m not talking about going to get the groceries or something. A husband cannot go on a trip without discussing it with his wife. It is a partnership.

Genesis 46:1
  1. And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac.

Many times, we say we will do something, but if you are a Christian, you have the spirit of God in you, and you are free to make any decision you like without any hesitation, I don’t know what’s wrong with you. Here we see that Israel stopped. I will tell you why he stopped. It wasn’t to say, “Thank you, God.” He stopped because he had so many concerns on his mind. You will say, “Well, pastor, I think you are reading too much into that one scripture.” This wasn’t just going anywhere; this was leaving the promised land. Isaac was a hundred and thirty years old. His grandfather Abraham went to Egypt when he should not go. Pharaoh rebuked his grandpa, badly. Jacob knew these stories. He also knew that Hagar went down to Egypt, and he knew that Hagar was trouble. Now we see that Jacob is going to this foreign land, and the main thing on his mind is that his father, Isaac, was instructed by God not to go into Egypt. There was a famine in the land, and it was in Isaac’s mind to go, and God told him “Do not go into Egypt.” I’m glad I was not there; I would have told Jacob not to go. I’m glad I was not in Jacob’s shoes. It would be a hard thing. So Jacob went into Beersheba and offered sacrifices.

I want to say to you one thing: don’t make spiritual decisions based on material evidence. Just because it’s your heart’s desire, and everything looks okay, that doesn’t mean that you should just jump into it.

One day, my brother and I were on a business trip in the south, and he got a message saying “Come home, quick!” So he called the office and said that he had an emergency, and the boss said “Go ahead; take the company car. You can use our car and our gas. Take as much time as you need.” So we turned around and we were on our way. We stopped in Gonaives for food and gas. That was the last place that had paved roads; after that they were all dirt roads. Then before we left, it rained just enough to make everything fresh; not enough to make it muddy. And my brother, who had actually been called to do service to his Voodoo gods, said “Hubert, when the gods want their service, they make everything perfect. I didn’t ask for the company car; I didn’t ask for money for gas. The gods even sent just enough rain.” Of course, I was the little brother, so I didn’t say anything but “Yeah, yeah.” Then as we looked ahead, we saw smoke coming from the hood of the car. By the time we stopped, it was too hot to open, so we had to watch as the car burned; I mean smoke and flame. We were out in the middle of nowhere, with no light except for that fire. The point I want to make is that my brother judged by material evidence that everything was perfect.

Isaiah 11:1-4
  1. And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
  2. And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;
  3. And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:
  4. But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.

Jesus would not judge after the sight of his eyes because he had the spirit of God in him. And he would not reprove after the hearing of his ears. Remember, we also have the spirit of God in us. What you see and what you hear can be very deceiving. So don’t base your spiritual decisions on what you see and what you hear.

When it comes to leaving the promised land, that’s a very big decision. Losing your son should not enter into it. Of course seeing your son would be a blessing. So Jacob stopped to ask, “God is this the right decision? You know my heart, God. But is this the right thing?”

Actually, Jacob received his blessing because Isaac did not remember the right way to bless. He came and Isaac said, “Who are you?” He said, “I am your son Esau.” Isaac said, “Come and let me touch you.” He judged by material evidence. He said, “Hmm, the voice is wrong, but this is the skin of my son Esau.” So he blessed him.

This scripture I really love. Paul was being sent to Rome.

Acts 27:9-10
  1. Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them,
  2. And said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives.

They had a rough time; it was a very slow sail. And Paul perceived that the voyage would be very hurtful, not only to the ship and the cargo, but to their lives also.

Acts 27:11-12
  1. Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul.
  2. And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west.

What happens is that winter was coming, and they wanted to spend the winter in another port. Probably there was more fun there, and they would be more comfortable.

Acts 27:13
  1. And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete.

They wanted to go. So when a nice, soft wind started blowing, they said, “This Paul doesn’t know what he’s talking about. We need to go over there where it is nice enough to spend the winter.” So they started to go.

Acts 27:14
  1. But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon.

The next point I want to make is, don’t be quick to jump into an opportunity. Even if it is of God, there is no need to hurry. There is an example of David that I really know. We all know the story. David was hated by Saul because he was blessed by God. Saul wanted to kill him, and David had to flee. Saul heard where David was hiding, so he took three thousand chosen men to go after David.

1 Samuel 24:3
  1. And he came to the sheepcotes by the way, where was a cave; and Saul went in to cover his feet: and David and his men remained in the sides of the cave.

This is an opportunity. The enemy is looking to kill you, and God brought the enemy to you.

1 Samuel 24:4
  1. And the men of David said unto him, Behold the day of which the LORD said unto thee, Behold, I will deliver thine enemy into thine hand, that thou mayest do to him as it shall seem good unto thee. Then David arose, and cut off the skirt of Saul’s robe privily.

Actually, it was God giving David the opportunity, and David would not sin if he killed him.

1 Samuel 24:6
  1. And he said unto his men, The LORD forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the LORD’s anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the LORD.

And afterward, he said to Saul:

1 Samuel 24:10
  1. Behold, this day thine eyes have seen how that the LORD had delivered thee to day into mine hand in the cave: and some bade me kill thee: but mine eye spared thee; and I said, I will not put forth mine hand against my lord; for he is the LORD’s anointed.

Not only should we be careful of our decision, but even if some opportunity comes, we still have to take the opportunity to make the right decision.

Remember when God told to Moses, “Stand aside, and I will smite these people, and make of you a great nation.” (Exodus 32:10-12,30-32) And Moses said, “No thanks, God. Remember your testimony. People will see this and say that you started something you could not finish.” Moses’ heart was for God’s glory, not his own.

I will tell you a secret that you and I will know, and nobody else. We love to spiritualize our decisions. We love to say that what we are doing is spiritual, but really we are saying, “God, are you coming with us, or not?” Think carefully. Don’t just jump and say, “Well, God opened the door.” Especially in marriage. People say, “Well, if it doesn’t work out, we can always get divorced.” But marriage is for life. Wherever you go, it follows you.

If God really opened the door, then there is no need to hurry. God isn’t going anywhere.

But more often than feeling an opportunity is God’s will, we have the feeling that it’s not. Sometimes we say, “God, I hope you are with me, but I’ll do it.” You know that God is not with you when you’re doing it. The feeling is terrible. It’s like you say, “God, if you will stay here for a while, I’ll finish this business, and we can meet again.”

Another feeling is not knowing whether God is in it or not. You see the opportunity, and you don’t know whether God approves it or not. And that’s the position that Jacob was in. He is proceeding with caution. He is going slowly. When he stopped at Beersheba, he didn’t want to make that last move without hearing from God.

Another feeling that unfortunately we don’t have too often is this. Sometimes God lets us make decisions, and he trusts us to make the right one because we have the mind of Christ. And we have the feeling that God is with us. You just know that God is in it, just as if God spoke. When God’s spirit is with you, you know it, because he calls you by name. You may not be able to explain it to anyone, but you know, because God spoke it.

Genesis 46:2
  1. And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I.

Jacob is about to have peace. And I tell you what, he was willing. He wanted to go, but if God spoke it, he was willing to stay, too. But instead of telling him to stay, God gave him two assurances:

Genesis 46:3
  1. And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation:

God said, “I am God.” And in case there should be any doubt, because there are many gods, he said “I am the God of thy father.” And he gave him two promises: “I will make of thee a great nation.” And “I will go down with you into Egypt.”

Genesis 46:4
  1. I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again: and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes.

This was very comforting to Jacob. And we should be comforted, knowing that God will go with us. If he is going with you, then no matter where it is, you can be there. A very great spiritual man said.

> Those who go wherever God sends them will always have God with them.

And God made a third promise: “Surely I will bring the up again from Egypt.”

We know that Jacob died in Egypt, but we also know how he was brought back. But really it was his posterity that was brought back.

Jesus said, “They shall deliver you up; they shall afflict you; they shall kill you.” But he also said, “The very hairs of your head are numbered, and no one can hurt you.” God has a a way of bringing us back out.

Also God said, “Joseph shall put his hands upon thine eyes.” He was saying that Joseph would be there for him when he died. This is a small thing, but God knew how much it would mean to Jacob to know that Joseph himself would be there by his bedside to close his eyes. Who cares who closes his eyes? Nobody but Jacob himself. For Jacob, that was a great thing, and God knew. God knows every single desire of our hearts. You know what God is looking for? He’s looking for whether our own desires are pulling us away, not caring what his desires are. But if we’re truly seeking, not faking it, God knows that. He knows when we are sincere. And when we are truly sincere, he gives us everything. Because what is the big deal? He owns everything anyways.

So even if God opens the door, even if God spoke it, step carefully. And when you stop at Beersheba to make sure, God will call you by name and say, “I want you to be sure. I want you to make it. Go.”

And so Jacob made a great entry into Egypt, knowing that God was there also.

Pray Ye Therefore

Sunday Morning Service, 10/24/10

Songs

  • [ At The Cross]
  • [ Holy Is The Lord]
  • [ Because Of Your Love]
  • [ This Little Light Of Mine]
  • [ He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands]
  • [ Praise Him / Advance (?)]
  • [ Gloria]
  • [ I Exalt Thee]
  • [ You Are Welcome In This Place]
  • [ Better Is One Day]
  • [ Lord I Lift Your Name On High]
  • [ How He Loves]
  • [ Send Me]

Message: Pray Ye Therefore

> Pastor Paine

This is a message that you probably won’t need to take notes for; it will be

If God provided this ministry with all the resources we desire: all the money, all the manpower, all the facilities, are we ready? Are we ready to use them to their fullest potential for building the kingdom of God? If all of you who work with equipment got your entire wish-list, if those who work in Children’s Church got a whole new wing of classrooms, and the list goes on. We get all new furniture in our offices, and a whole new boardroom to sit and be bored in. If God gave us everything we’ve ever asked for, would it change our ministry? Or is it a matter of the heart?

I confess to you that there are a whole list of things that I’ve prayed for. Some of them I just mentioned. I look forward to the day when we can let this room just be a gymnasium, instead of doubling as a sanctuary.

I’ll go the other direction. What if every measurable monetary resource we have goes away tomorrow? We don’t have a building; we don’t have a paid staff; we just have each other and the gospel.

If you looked at your bulletins, you know that the message today is “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest.” There’s a story of a man who is walking down the street and sees some homeless people. He prays, “Lord, send someone to meet them.” And the Lord said, “I just did.”

As I prepared the message, I couldn’t help but think, “Lord, am I doing everything I can do to receive your blessings?” Today’s message is found in Luke 10:2. I want you to think about what it means to have a harvest that you’re responsible for. Jesus taught in the parable of the talents that each who received something had to give account for what he did with it. I hope we’ve all been blessed with talents. Who of you have been blessed by the music this morning? Scott Shepherd, how long ago did you start playing guitar? Seven years ago. You know, seven years ago, I said, “I wish I could play guitar.” And today I say, “I wish I could play guitar.” Let’s see, who taught a recent Bible Study on the base? Juan Torres; I’ll pick on you. How long ago did you teach your first Bible Study? About a year ago. Just tell us briefly about the study you taught recently. What was the topic?

> It was about salvation. Some of the brothers started telling me that we should look into salvation more. So I started looking into it and learning more about it. It opened my eyes more to be able to share with my family back home, and my brothers on base.

Two years ago, we couldn’t have asked you to teach a Bible Study, but we can today. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into the harvest.

Who here has done something in the last six months, that six months prior to that, you weren’t in a position to do? How is it that we prepare for this blessing that God wants to pour out on us? We prepare. Jesus, speaking said:

Luke 10:2
  1. Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.

As I prepared for this message, the Lord said to me: “Pete, I can send you more laborers, but you’ve got to do more yourself. You have to be better at doing what I’ve laid on your heart to do.”

All of us need to step up higher, amen? What is it that enabled Juan to teach that study that he wasn’t able to teach a year ago? Others taught him. Then they called on him saying, “Juan, we want you to teach the study on Base next time we meet.”

What’s the harvest?

> Souls

Souls. that’s the harvest, isn’t it? Do you think we’ll get to judgment and hear God say, “Wow, that building on Azalea Garden Road; that’s some kind of building, isn’t it?” No, we’ll be walking streets of gold. There’s a story about a man who took some gold to heaven with him, because he didn’t want to be without resources when he got there. So he was walking along with his gold in his pocket, and somebody asked him, “What are you doing with all that road gravel?”

In the last few years, we have been struggling financial. We probably need to just about double our offerings to go, “Whew!” Many of you look around the building and ask, “Why haven’t they fixed that yet?” The answer is money. And manpower. But that’s not the harvest. And we’re not passing the plate around again, but I would ask you to pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth more laborers into his harvest.

If the harvest is souls, what’s a laborer?

> Somebody who works.

It’s great that we come together to worship, but what is our labor for the Lord? Is it sawing wood? It’s a lot of things. It’s how we react to our neighbors.

When we lived in Illinois, I waved to people who lived on the street that we lived on. This one guy who sat on his porch a lot (I think he was retired.) I waved at him a lot. One day I waved at him, and he looked at me the same way he did most times. Then I drove past and pulled into my driveway, and he came up behind me and said, “Do I know you?” I said, “Not yet.” He said, “Then why do you wave to me?” I said, “Because we’re neighbors. You live right over there, don’t you?” He said, “Yeah.” I said, “So I thought it would be good to wave to my neighbors until I get a chance to meet them. My name is Pete. I’m so glad we’ve had this chance to meet each other.” He said, “Oh,” and we became friends.

Christine, how many hours a week do you think you put into music ministry, outside of worship time?

> About ten.

And we pay you with what, a salary?

> Love.

Mark, give her a hug.

What’s a laborer for the Lord? It’s what we do here in church, but it’s what we do outside, twenty-four-seven.

Who owns the harvest? One of the reasons I think that when we pray to the Lord of the harvest to send forth more laborers, and we don’t get them, it’s because we want them to be our laborers. We need to seek the Lord for brothers and sisters who can work beside us to help build up his kingdom, not ours.

As the general pastor for our international ministry, I look at budget, and facilities, and all those things. Sometimes I look at concepts. In church growth, there’s a concept of expensive growth, and inexpensive growth. Right now, our ministry is in a phase of expensive growth. We bought this facility and land about two years ago, for a little over two million dollars. And if you look around, you can see that we could have twice as many people in the sanctuary as we have right now. We’ve paid off about half of it, and I’d like to see us pay off the other half.

Here’s the interesting part. This is expensive growth, because we bought a facility that we’ll grow into. Does that seem foolish? Well, maybe, but I believe that God closed several other doors that we were looking into, and I believe that God opened this one. Some of you don’t know that we have a lot of land out there that we aren’t using. Can you imagine the usefulness of this facility when this is just a gymnasium? How many would like the young guys to play the old guys, so we could show you young guys how to do it?

What really is the harvest? Yeah, we need facilities. Yeah, we need resources. But what we really need is for the Lord to pour out his spirit in a way that would see people saved.

Proverbs 11:30
  1. The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.

Are you part of a team that is winning souls? If not, here’s your challenge today. I’m offering a challenge to each and every one of us to really be accountable for being part of a team that is winning souls. All of us, each and every one of us. You can be a part of that team. I will meet people that you won’t meet, and you will meet people that I won’t meet. If somebody doesn’t give their heart and soul to Jesus Christ, where will they spend eternity?

> Hell, and the lake of fire.

Where will they spend eternity if they have?

> Heaven.

Hell is real. And without Jesus…

John 14:6
  1. Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Heaven isn’t just a great place to spend a night; it’s a great place to spend eternity. And Hell isn’t even a close second. Hell is a place that if you really knew about it, you’d give anything to avoid it. But the good news is that the price has been paid.

The best way for our prayers to have an impact is to live a life that impacts those around us. That’s true for each and every one of us, saints.

Some of us have things in our life that we know we ought to let go of.

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

We’ve got to lay aside the weight and the sin that besets us.

Romans 6:1-2
  1. What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
  2. God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

We can be forgiven, but we won’t be effective in our prayer to the Lord of the harvest to send forth more laborers, if we’re living a life that’s a contradiction? Somebody say you’re getting it. I’m reaching for you to have some real, powerful, personal time with God here on earth. Are you with me, saints? How many of you are letting the Holy Spirit speak to you? Did I make it plain enough, saints, that as I was praying about this message, there are some things in my life that need to change? I’m not the only one. The Bible talks about the battle that we fight, we’ll fight the rest of our lives. Is that fair for a pastor to say to the congregation, pray and ask “How can I be more effective in my ministry?”

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.

I love that verse, because I don’t have to know how to do anything but love God transparently, so I’ll be light a city set on a hill which cannot be hid.

Psalms 121:1-2
  1. I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
  2. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.

So here’s the deal, saints. The harvest is great. The laborers are few. The harvest is the Lord’s. Here’s the question: Do we want to do this thing? Do we want the Lord to bless us with growth? Or do we want to sit back and be comfortable? If we don’t grow, we won’t have to buy new chairs. If we don’t grow, we won’t have to build a new building out there on the baseball field. If we don’t grow, we won’t have to pave the parking lot, and we can keep on parking on the gravel.

Our mission is to Evangelize, Educate and Equip. God has made us a different kind of ministry. And because our ministry is different, because one of the things that we believe God has called us to do is to provide Christian Fellowship and Spiritual Ministry worldwide, often that isn’t the best economic plan. In other words, we’re servicing people who aren’t here. But God will make it up.

How many of you have been amazed, when you have gone through financially difficult times, how God has met your needs? Look around you. God is meeting our needs. But listen to me. We need to pray to God to send forth more laborers. For the harvest truly is great, and the laborers are few. So I want you to pray with me tonight:

God, I want you to hear my prayer to you, to send forth more laborers into the harvest. And I want to live my life in such a way that it is a catalyst for you to answer this prayer.

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