Service Notes

Notes from Sunday Worship Services

The Great Commission

Conference 2010, Day 1 of 3

Songs

  • [ Our God]
  • [ Let God Arise]
  • [ That’s Why We Praise Him]
  • [ Lord, I Lift Your Name On High]
  • [ All To You]
  • [ What A Friend We Have In Jesus]
  • [ Majestic]
  • [ All The Earth Will Sing Your Praises]
  • [ How Can I Keep From Singing]
  • [ Holy Is The Lord]
  • [ You Are Worthy Of My Praise]
  • [ When The Praises Go Up]
  • [ Power Of Praise]

Welcome

> Pastor Thomas

Welcome to Christian Fellowship Church Ministries International Conference for 2010. We’re going to have an awesome time of worship and testimonies.

We’re going to have a workshop tomorrow at 9am. It’s not just for fellowship leaders; it’s for everybody. Then at 12 o’clock, we’re going to have a picnic, and at 7 o’clock a worship service.

How many have come from our Waukegan congregation?

> (Lots of hands)

How many from our San Diego fellowship?

> (A couple of hands)

From our Bremerton, Washington fellowship?

> (Josh Knights)

We also have the Lynch’s from North Carolina, and Ms. Connie Chavez has a whole lot of people from New Mexico. We have somebody from Texas, and the Bryce’s from Kentucky. We have representation from across the nation, and it’s what makes our ministry unique.

We are not a ministry built on tradition and ritual; we’re about seeing souls saved. This weekend is for thinking about our ministry in total. I pray that as we worship, don’t get wrapped up in what’s going on. I want you to get wrapped up in Jesus.

Some of you have been worshiping with me for as much as thirty years. I’ve often said that the Mississippi river is so wide that even though it moves a lot of water, there’s hardly a ripple in the water. … My point is that it isn’t the volume of your worship that makes you spiritual; it’s your relationship with God. I want you to worship with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, because that’s what makes worship special.

God is blessing and moving all over our nation.

Revelation 3:6
  1. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

You’re going to hear some things this week that will challenge you. But they should never be a roadblock.

1 Corinthians 2:14
  1. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

So as we hear what’s going on this week, let’s not worry about the details. As I take a trip on my motorcycle, I’ve got to consider carefully what to take, because not everything will fit. Yet I can’t remember how many times I’ve looked through my bags and wondered, “Why did I ever bring that?” or “Why didn’t I bring that raincoat…” But this week, let God worry about the details.

When the spies were sent to spy out the land in Numbers 13, eight of the spies came back and talked about all the obstacles set before them. But Joshua said, “If God gave it to us, let’s not stand back and do nothing.” As you go back to your respective fellowships, realize that Waukegan has no obstacles. San Diego has no obstacles. Bremerton has no obstacles. Challenge yourselves to think spiritually, not physically. Don’t look around and say, “This is all we’ve got for an international conference? We must not have much of a ministry.” God never did anything with great numbers. But we are that light set on a hill, and God is going to do more great things with Christian Fellowship.

So get lost in the worship. This is a spiritual weekend. How many got in late last night? How many got in at midnight? I know some of us are tired, but we can put all our tiredness and business and plans aside. This is a spiritual weekend. Nothing is more important to us as leaders in the ministry than your spiritual growth. So have a wonderful time, but let God have all the praise.

When Pastor Davis sent Pam and me here almost thirty years ago, the ministry was growing. As I started to preach, I was always excited, but very, very embarrassed. My first sermon lasted about twenty minutes, all of it. The ironing board was the altar, and we didn’t have any furniture; we were all sitting down on the floor. Pastor Davis has gone on to be with the Lord, but we have with us today the mother of our ministry, and I want you to stand and welcome with me Mrs. Hazel Davis.

> Mrs. Davis

That’s what our ministry is all about. Whoever it is that needs help from God, he is always there. I’m so thankful for his blessings, and I’m thankful for all of you.

> Pastor Thomas

It’s awesome having Mrs. Davis here in Norfolk. When we did this “Coming Together, Moving Up”, it’s awesome to have family. Jeff, it’s awesome, isn’t it, bringing your sister? I remember when Matt told me, “My mom is moving down here!” We have Bill Griffith’s mother with us, Connie Chavez’s father and family. Today we have spiritual family here with us that we might not get much time to spend with, any other time. I’ve been after Mary Ogden for years to spend time with us. Just think what it will be like when that trumpet sounds, and the whole family gathers together. It’s going to be awesome! But don’t wait til you get there to start your celebration. If we don’t appreciate what we’ve got right now, God’s not going to give us anything greater.

If we find more joy with lost people than with saved people, then we’ve got to examine our priorities. It shouldn’t be, “I can’t wait for next tomorrow.” It should be “I can’t wait for tomorrow.” I’m not going to spend eternity with lost people. I’m going to spend eternity wity you.

We have here with us a man who started a ministry in Haiti, and today hundreds and thousands of people know Jesus through Pastor Hubert Ulysse.

> Pastor Ulysse

Everyone should have something in your life that motivates you to live, that makes you want to live for tomorrow. I don’t know what motivates you, but most people are motivated by money. If you know that you are going to be paid tomorrow, you cannot wait for tomorrow. We come here, and I know for sure that we were waiting for that day. Some of us came because we wanted to meet with a friend we haven’t seen for a while, but I know that some of us came for the fellowship. If you didn’t come for the fellowship, then I say that something is wrong.

Imagine if for every person you brought to church, you would get a thousand dollars. If we had a thousand dollars for every soul, I tell you we would be motivated. But do you know how much a soul costs? It’s priceless. You should be excited because one day you are going to heaven. Tonight, we should take this weekend as practice. We are going to forget the world, forget everything, and live as if we were in heaven. If you are not excited about going to heaven, then you have missed the whole point of life.

I am excited tonight, because this gathering makes me excited about heaven. I love the words in the Bible, “It came to pass.” Everything we see coming will come to pass, but heaven will also come to pass. Keep looking up toward heaven as you wait for that day.

> Pastor Thomas

We came together for a reason. And as we first came together, Pastor Paine said, “We’re going to have a conference in 2010. And I though, “Yeah, right.” We had no heat, no water, no floors. But it has come to pass. Our faith has come to pass. I hope you’re ready, because Pastor Paine has brought a message today that will challenge you in your life and in your ministry.

Message: The Great Commission

> Pastor Paine

These are the words that Jesus spoke to his disciples after his death, burial, and resurrection. Those of us who have been coming to church are very familiar with the scene.

Matthew 28:19
  1. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

We’re going to talk about that tonight, and it’s my prayer that each of us will find ourselves in this message. We might find ourselves hearing a familiar message but saying, “Oh yeah. I knew that. I remember when I was doing that, very well.” And you might find yourself saying, “It’s time to get back to that.” Or maybe you’re here and you’ve never received the great commission; you’ve never been the recipient of this gospel message, and it’s your day to be baptized, to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior. Or maybe you’re here saying “This message is for others. I’ll come to church and even sing the songs, but this great commission is for someone else.” Wherever you’re at, I pray that you take this message and say “I’m here to do more than I ever did before in Jesus Christ.”

Before we start, I need two ushers and two cordless microphones up front, please. What you’re going to do is take the microphone to people who raise their hands. If the person who shared with you the gospel message is here, I want you to raise your hand.

  • It was Mike Alford.

Mike Alford, would you stand?

  • It was Josh Fenelus.

Josh Fenelus, would you stand?

  • Rick Hahn
  • Vince Stepchuck
  • It was my Dad, Pete Shepherd
  • It was Jeff Lynch
  • It was Todd Morgan
  • it was my husband, Dwight Hoenes
  • My brother, John Connor
  • My husband, Bill Adams
  • It was Dick Brand, for me
  • It was Will Spells
  • It was brother Jeff Lynch
  • Pastor Taylor, my husband
  • It was my Mom, Tisha Jeffries
  • It was my friend, Jeff Interiano
  • It was my husband, Jeff Lynch
  • It was my brother, Jeff Lynch
  • Kirk Orelup
  • Rod Williams
  • My husband, Terry Jones
  • John Hoffman, twenty years ago
  • Bill Presher
  • My son, Bob Vincent
  • William Spells
  • My brother, Jim Martin
  • Jeff Lynch and Parrish Lee
  • Rich Brand
  • Rod Williams
  • My husband, Pat Mahoney
  • Pastor Lantis

(He’s not here right now; he’s in San Diego for his mother’s surgery. Michael Jed, would you stand and represent your Dad?)

  • Mr. Clarence Willis
  • Bob Vincent
  • Todd Morgan and Odell Boggan
  • Rick Hahn and a host of others
  • Josh Fenelus, my husband
  • I was first shared with by John Connors in the bathroom at the Naval Base
  • My Dad, Jimmy Martin (He’s awesome!)
  • Jeff Gill and Ben Schoch looked me up every day
  • My parents, Pete and Debbie Paine
  • My parents, Pastor Davis and my mom Hazel Davis
  • My parents, John and .. Rice

Are there any here who sought out salvation because of something you read?

> (Three hands)

There were people who came to Jesus, who came to John the baptist. As we read in Acts about Philip and the eunuch, the eunuch was already studying. And still it takes someone to obey the great commission, to teach all nations, baptizing them.

But why? If we don’t have a clear picture of the “why”, then the “what” won’t be very important. I ask all of you who have jobs, Monday morning, why will you go to work? (I’m hearing people scream, “I love my boss!” – “I love what I do!”) But seriously, how many of you, if they quit paying you, Monday morning you wouldn’t go to work?

> (Almost every hand went up)

We need a “why”, don’t we? Heaven is the “why” of the great commission. Because heaven is real, and it’s not popular to say in churches, but hell is real. I heard someone say, “I don’t believe in hell.” I understand, but you can still go there. He said, “No, you don’t understand. I don’t believe in hell.” And that means you can’t go there? He said, “Yeah!” Wow! That’s some strong belief, friend!

Back when I was young and could still anything, I got in my car to go to Waukegan, and I missed the turn-off on I-95, and before I knew it I saw signs that said “Detroit”. If you don’t know what that means, let me tell you that I was unhappy. I’m not saying that Detroit is hell, but ….

How many of you are going to heaven?

> (Lots of hands)

How many want to take someone with you?

> (Lots of hands)

When I was young, my house caught on fire. The whole house was engulfed in flames. I’m told that my mother got all six of her children around her, and when people from the neighborhood came running up saying “Mrs. Paine, is there anything we can do?” she said, “They’re all out. Let it go.” But I guarantee you that if one of here children were in that house, you couldn’t keep her out.

That’s what hell is like. We started this message saying, “How did you hear the gospel message?” and many in this room could turn to somebody and say, “That’s how I heard the gospel message.” That’s the great commission. When Jesus first gave the great commission, he was talking to eleven guys. Eleven guys! And they didn’t have internet. They couldn’t text someone. They didn’t have facebook. I know some young people are saying, “What did they do?”

So it’s 2010. Does the great commission have anything to do with you and me? Of course it does. Because he says “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded with you.”

I read an illustration written by Christi Harken, and I’d like to share it with you:

> Birds of all kinds can see where they are going. They pick and choose their direction and path. As birds fly by instinct they head where they are directed. But they can only see what is in front of them. Eagles are known to have vision. An eagle can see up to five miles and often times is able to see well beyond normal sight. The eagle knows where it is going and determines how it is going to get there. While other birds migrate by instinct the eagle stays in its territory throughout the year, season after season. The eagle is dependable and will hold its place in its territory. When a storm approaches, other birds fly in fear while the eagle is energized by the challenge of the storm. The eagle catches the wind and rises above the storm. The eagle glides through its territory during the storm and will only leave its post if it is badly hurt and must leave to repair its injuries. God is looking for men and women of vision “who can see” with their spiritual eyes and catch the wind of God’s Spirit. These men and women like the eagle are dependable, focused and fearless when it comes to their God given assignments.

So I ask you, are you dependable? Do you have that kind of vision? When the storms of life come, do you stay on task? Or do you abandon the great commission while you tend to your wounds? I’m not against recovery. There are more than a few times in my life that I’ve recharged my life with quiet time and solitude. There are some indicators in my life when my battery is low. One of them is when The phone rings and I cringe before I even know who it is.

Some of you are saying, “That’s a pretty lousy attitude, pastor.” But if you’ve been in Christian ministry, you know that there are times when you’ve given all you have to give. Sonia, I believe it was Desi who looked at you when she was perhaps three years old and said, “Mom, am I on your very last nerve?”

Sometimes you get weary in well-doing. But we’re talking about the great commission and what it is we have to to to accomplish sharing this great message. This is the most important thing we will ever do. What will matter in the end is not how fancy your clothes are, but where you are going.

In the great commission, Jesus said “All power is given to me in heaven and in earth.” That’s his assurance that he has the power needed to accomplish what he has for us to do. God has all the power needed. Maybe some of you can relate to this. There are times when I’ve been so tired that I’ve pulled into my driveway at night and just sat in the car. I had to make a determined effort to get out of the car. I said to Debbie one time, “I wonder how many of our neighbors think I have a drinking problem?”

Matthew 28:19-20
  1. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
  2. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

We know that Peter in the book of Acts carried out that commission. When people asked him what they had to do, he said, “Repent.”

Acts 2:38
  1. Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

That’s the great commission. These are trying times. We live in a recession economy. People have lost jobs; people are living in fear. But this is not the time to retreat; this is the time to advance. There is no limit to what we can do if we make up our minds to go forth and do it.

When I asked earlier how many of you were studying and searching to find salvation, some of you raised your hands. I was on that list. I had bought a Bible and was studying it. And a lot of times as I read a scripture, I thought “What does that mean?” Some of you have heard my testimony. I had a friend named Ray who had gotten himself into trouble and wound up in the brig (that’s the Navy term for prison.) I would say to him, “Ray, there’s a better way to live.” He’d say, “Tell me about it, Pete.” I said, “I don’t know; maybe it’s in the next chapter, but I know there’s a better way to live.” Then one day as we were working in the Galley (That’s the Navy term for kitchen, or restaurant), he said to me “Pete, I threw away all my drugs last night.” I wanted to say, “I don’t know you.” I was thinking “He must be high.” But he invited me to come with him to a Bible study, and I went. I don’t know what I expected to hear, but the guy said, “Jesus loves you.” He told me that Jesus was still alive. We know because we just read in the scriptures that Jesus came back after his death, burial, and resurrection. He said, “And lo, I am with you alway.” We serve a risen saviour, saints, and we need to tell people about it.

2 Timothy 1:7
  1. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

As I read, “God hath not given us the spirit of fear,” some of you are thinking, “But he gave it to me.” If you have that spirit, God didn’t give it to you. Then as I read, “but of power,” some of you are thinking, “He didn’t give it to me.” Maybe he gave it to you but you didn’t open it. Have you ever gotten a gift that you didn’t open? God has given you the spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

2 Timothy 1:8
  1. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;

Paul was writing this to Timothy, but he writes it to you and me. That’s a nice invitation.

> Ladies and Gentlemen, I’d like to invite you tonight to be a partaker of the afflictions of the gospel. If you have not been afflicted yet, please stand, and the ushers will guide you …

No, that’s not my message tonight.

As a pastor, I really had this happen. The groom and the bride were at the altar, and I said “… for richer or for poorer,” and she said “For richer.” I had to stop and say, “Ma’am, this isn’t multiple-choice.” Those of you who have been married know that every day is not perfect. There was that time that Debbie burnt my toast…

2 Timothy 1:9
  1. Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

This is a timeless thing. This great commission is awesome. And my prayer tonight is that we will buy into it afresh, that we will be renewed, that we will realize that it is the most important thing we could commit our lives to. Some of you are saying, “If being a Christian means being like you, I dunno. You’re a clown.” I remember one service when I stood in the hallway and asked a young man how he liked the service, and he said, “I hated it. I hated everything about it. In fact, I think the thing I hated most was you. You’re not very smart.” And then he got revved up. And I prayed. I did exactly what you would do. I prayed, “God, what would you have me to share? My concern is that he is going to tie this to how he feels about Christ, and he shouldn’t. Whatever happens here today, he needs to accept Christ as his Lord and savior.” And God reminded me of something I had read a few weeks earlier. So I said, “If you could, imagine me as a mailman delivering the most important message of your life, and I did everything I could do wrong. I walked through your flowers, and checked my shoes for mud, and then wiped them off on your carpet. I did everything I could do wrong. Would you rip up the letter?” He said, “No.” “Then I know you’re leaving very unhappy, but don’t rip up the message.”

2 Timothy 1:10-12
  1. But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:
  2. Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.
  3. For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

I’m going to ask you if you feel compelled to, would you say the last part with me? I am persuaded. I am persuaded that God is able to keep me. God has fully prepared and qualified me. I don’t need a title of pastor or teacher to do it; I just have to be willing for God to use me.

I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

If you become persuaded like Paul that he is able to keep you and use you and bless you, on your worst day, when you make a mistake and do something wrong, then you can keep going. Sometimes God allows us to fall on our face so that he can be glorified. Even in our failures, God can be glorified, amen? You don’t have to do it perfect; you just have to be willing to do it.

Peter and John – remember some folks looked at him and said, “Wow, these are Christians!” Do you know that the reason some of them said that is because they were ignorant and unlearned men? Sign me up for that course!

So we’re called with a great calling to accomplish a great commission. And to do that, we must get strong and stay strong. I’m talking to some people tonight who have been in this race a long time. And maybe some of you have become weary. Maybe you’ve heard about the Tournament of Roses parade where this was this great float. And the problem was that it had run out of gas. Then someone went and got some gas, and it was able to start back up again and continue. But for a time, the whole parade came to a screeching halt. And the interesting thing is that the float represented the Standard Oil corporation. Now consider that we represent Jesus Christ.

Luke 24:49
  1. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.

Jesus knew when we receive the great commission we will need power. What is that power?

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.

How many of you want more power? Give the Lord a praise. You don’t have to beg God to fill you up; he wants to fill you up. The trials and tribulations of life shouldn’t wear us out; they should point us to the cross. They should remind us that without God we can do nothing, but with God we can do everything. They should remind us that all things work together to good.

Romans 8:28
  1. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:35
  1. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

I don’t know that I want to have all those things tested that way. But it’s not up to us. Debbie and I were watching something together; it was a couple who had been together for twenty-five years. How many in this room have been married twenty-five years or more?

> (A few hands)

The lady said, “Irreconcilable differences? We’ve had those lots of times.” (Some of you single people are wondering what that is.) Yeah, but wasn’t grounds for divorce. Why do we divorce ourselves from the gospel? Let’s read that verse again.

Romans 8:35-39
  1. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
  2. As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
  3. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
  4. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
  5. Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The writer wasn’t just saying, “me.” Peter said that, but then he went out in the town square and denied Jesus three times. But here the writer said, “us.”

The Marine drill instructor said to his men, “Why is it, men, that every time the United States needs brave men to go into foreign soil, to run into harm’s way, they call on the Marines? Why is it, men, because every time the Navy, the Army, or the Air force have an impossible situation, they call on the Marines?” And a guy in the back raised his hand and said, “That’s what I’d like to know, sir!”

So as I read these verses, I say “Why do we have to endure all that?” But we signed up for the whole package. Some days, we’ll have to reach up just to touch bottom. But if we are persuaded that we have a calling on our life, and he who calls us has a power over our life, then we’ll really dig in. We’ll say, “God, I haven’t lived up to your calling, but I’d like to re-enlist. I’d like to sign up again, God.” Recently we watched a movie called “Flywheel”, and the guy really messed up. And at one time he looked at his wife and said, “I haven’t been a very good husband. But I’d like to start over.” And she wept. He walked into his son’s bedroom and kneeled by his son’s bed and said, “I haven’t been a very good father. But I’d like to try again.” And his son accepted his offer.

In Luke 15 we read about the prodigal son who had wasted his inheritance with riotous living which he had asked for out of season. And he said, “I will return to my father.” And his father looked for him. He didn’t say, “What have you got to say for yourself!” He said, “Kill the fatted calf. Bring the robe and sandals. Put the ring on his finger.” That’s your heavenly father when you have messed up. If you blew it, that’s your qualification. God wants to sign you up. He specialized in those of us who have tried and failed. He specializes in picking us up and dusting us off and saying, “I want to us you for my glory.”

Somebody tonight is hearing this message and saying “You know what? I’ve fallen down, but it’s time for me to get back up on this horse and ride it.” This is the most important thing we will ever do. And I’m here to say, “Let’s do it together.”

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

Paul said,

Philippians 4:12
  1. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

Some of you have been offended by me. I pretty much have offended everybody at one time or another. You might want to look up that guy who met me in the hallway and say “Let’s start a club together, you and me.” But I’ve got to get up and dust myself off and try again.

I was preaching one Sunday morning to the congregation that I was senior pastor of. I was going to ask a question and I anticipated, with a crowd of thee hundred people, maybe two or three hands going up. I asked, “How many of you have I offended to the point that you were going to leave the church because of me?” I think maybe one hand didn’t go up. And then he woke up.

God has called us to do this together, saints.

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

God has told me something here, saints. How about you?

Saints, let me say this. It’s not supposed to be easy. It’s just supposed to matter.

John 16:33
  1. These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

Jesus said that.

Before Pastor Thomas comes to dismiss us, I hope you all will accept this invitation. Because hell is real. Because heaven is real. Because we have been given this great commission. Because of the person who will someday come up to you and say, “I remember when you shared with me the gospel.” Maybe for some of you it will be, “Thanks for living a faithful life. Thanks for living a consistent example.” Maybe it will be “I saw you fall down and get up over and over again.”

God, I’m asking you to let me be part of this team. For the people I know in this life, and the people I won’t get to know this side of heaven, let me a part of this team.

> Pastor Thomas

There was a scientist who spent years and years building an apparatus to translate into human speech the barking of dogs. So he finally turned it on and went out into the neighbor’s yard where all the dogs were barking, and he heard “Hey! Hey! Hey-hey!”

If all you heard tonight was “Hey! Hey!” then seek ye first the kingdom of God, and even this will make sense to you. We’re here to deliver a message. Everything we do is to accomplish that one thing. We could go without music, without microphones, even without a building, but we’d still be doing the same thing.

The high priest had twelve stones on his breastplate one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. And he had twelve stones on his shoulders, six on each side. He carried on his shoulders the burden of the people of Israel, and he carried their cares on his heart.

People are dying out in the world for lack of hearing.

Romans 10:17
  1. So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Bruce Wilson preached one of the most powerful messages I ever heard. He imagined a line in front of the judgement seat of heaven, and one who had just been condemned walking up to you and saying, “You knew! Why didn’t you tell me?”

What Must I Do To Be Saved?

Sunday Morning Service, 8/15/2010

Songs

  • [ Come, Now Is The Time To Worship]
  • [ I Have A Hope]
  • [ More Than Conquerors]
  • [ Unto Him That Is Able]
  • [ Let Us Adore]
  • [ From The Inside Out]
  • [ Great In Power]
  • [ Today Could Be The Day]
  • [ This Is How We Overcome]
  • [ God Is Alive]

Testimonies

> Jesse Rairdon

It’s good to be back in Norfolk, the place of my spiritual birth. I call this home. But Jesus said we didn’t have a home. I was baptized on February 1st, 1986. Will Spells invited me out, and here I am. Praise the Lord.

> Christopher Labissiere

I just want to say I’m happy to be here. I was listening to the radio this morning, and thinking about

Hebrews 13:8
  1. Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

I was thinking as we were singing and praying, we as people change every day, but things are always the same with God. He’s always there with what you need, not what you want.

> Charlene Turner

Hello, family. I was listening to a song this morning about “It feels good to be born again.” Then my gas light came on. I thought, “I’ve still got twenty miles; I can make it.” But my car beeps constantly when the gas is low, so I was nervous. Then the oil light came on. God is like that; he reminds us when we’re low on need spiritual fuel. But don’t get panic-stricken. Don’t try to get too close to empty; fill up constantly, and God will be right there for you.

Message: What Must I Do To Be Saved?

> Pastor Thomas

I heard some things in the news this week that delighted, amazed, and saddened me. First, there is a program in Norfolk where you can become a citizen-sheriff. In Norfolk, we now have the oldest, probably there will ever be, sheriff in the city of Norfolk. She is 101 years old and passed the course. I was talking to my Mom yesterday. Yesterday was her birthday; she turned eighty-one. She just bought a new refrigerator, and she said, “All I want is a five year warranty.” She thinks that’s how long she’s going to last. So I told her about the lady sheriff and said, “Mom, you’ve got twenty years yet.”

Did you hear about the shooting the other day? We have children who get killed every day. I remember when Tony Bushlow got out of the Navy and started job-hunting. I asked him how it was going, and he said “Great! I applied at the Post Office and told him I was eminently qualified for the job.” I said, “Tony, you were a Gunner’s Mate. How does that make you qualified?” He said, “That’s it.”

Parents, when you send your children off to school, do you send them with the confidence that you’ve prayed with them? If something happens to them, do your children know that they have a life of Jesus Christ? If you have a life of Jesus Christ, you’re prepared for anything that happens.

Have you ever rushed off to work without saying anything to your spouse except “I’m late”? You didn’t take any time for prayer. Have you prayed with your spouse? Does your spouse know that you love them? Do you take time to have Bible studies with your family? If you’re single, do you take time for that for yourself? Are you making sure that your spiritual man is ready for the day? Are you absolutely prepared for all the things that God has for you?

We don’t understand sometimes, until it’s too late. When I was in the Navy, we were caught in a typhoon. (That’s the same thing as the Navy here on the Right Coast.) I happened to be the ship’s photographer, so they tied a rope around me and sent me out on the side of the ship. We were taking water on the bridge, and that’s pretty high up. So I’ve got this rope tied around me and the other end was fastened to the ship, and I had another rope tied around me, and the chief was hanging on to give me a little extra security. I looked out and saw a ship with a guy tied to the mast of the ship. Another guy was tied to the wheel, and the bow of the ship was busted open and it was going down. We used those shotguns to shoot lines over with life vests. Somehow, two of the lines got tangled, so one life vest went over with no line attached. We tried to keep this kid from putting on the other life jacket, but he put it on anyway. He and the other guy jumped into the water, and we were pulling one of them on the line but the other guy was just floating free. We tried to throw him another line, but one of the boat timbers hit him on the head, and he just floated away and drowned.

When we were taught swimming in school, they taught you to put your hands over your head, make a “vee” with your hands and dive into the water like a torpedo. But when you’re rescuing somebody, they teach you to go into the water feet-first, and keep your eyes on the person you’re rescuing. You don’t approach them from the front, because they’re likely to panic and pull you under. Instead, you grab them from behind, preferably by the hair. Mike Jackson, you’d be out of luck. They’d have to grab you by the ears or something. There’s a technique in rescuing. And if you’ve ever done it, you know the victory of saving someone and bringing them back to safety and saying, “Thank God!”

But what if you’re in need of a rescue and there’s nobody there? One of the horrible thoughts I have is of these young girls who were brutally raped and murdered. What must their last moments have been like? There was nobody there to help them.

I had a friend who flew in helicopters in Vietnam. He was nonchalant about sitting in the open doorway. Sometimes he clipped on a safety tether and sometimes he didn’t. But one day he took some shrapnel in his vest and woke up swinging by his tether just outside the door. After that, the first thing he did when he got on was to attach that safety tether. The memory stuck with him.

None of us have an expiration date stamped on our foot. None of us know how long we have left. My cousin’s son is twenty-one years old, and he’s dying of cancer. All the doctors said, “There’s nothing else we can do.” So in desperation, they took him to a special hospital in Texas. And they said, “There is a special series of chemotherapy that we’re going to make just for you.” You don’t know what will happen in that situation. You have an idea, but you don’t know. One day, no matter who we are, we’re going to die. One of the things I like to do is to talk to someone who has just been to the doctor and say, “Well, did the doctor say that you’re gonna die?” When they look at me in shock and say no, I say “Well, he lied to you.”

There are scriptures in the Bible that talk about cleaving unto the Lord.

Deuteronomy 4:4
  1. But ye that did cleave unto the LORD your God are alive every one of you this day.

By “cleave” it means you adhered to the Lord; you stuck to him. I like that game show where they go through this silly obstacle course, and one of the events have these people who swing across a mud pond and they have velcro all over them and they stick “Splat!” into the middle of a bullseye. Some of them slide right down, and others just stick there. One guy needed his whole team to get him down; he hit that velcro just right.

Deuteronomy 30:20
  1. That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.

Here, to “cleave” means “to catch by pursuit.” Do you run after the Lord? God’s not going to chase us down; we have to adhere to the Lord.

Acts 11:23
  1. Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.

How many have heard the saying, “I am rubber; you are glue; what bounces off me sticks to you.” Does the word of God bounce off you? How important is worship and studying the word to you? You’ve got to cleave to the Lord. It has to be the most important thing ever to you. Those of you who are married, you went after; you chased that woman you loved. And ladies, you ran just slow enough to be caught.

Eternal salvation is what we’re about in this ministry. We’re not about Children’s church and programs; we are about eternal life. Knowing what you believe in will grant eternal life. You can listen to all the TV and radio evangelists you want to and not gain eternal life.

Luke 10:25
  1. And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

Church, you’ve got to believe on Jesus.

John 3:15-16
  1. That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
  2. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

It isn’t your pastor that does the trick for you. If you have “pastor-itis”, it’s a fatal disease. Your pastor is not going to be standing before God telling him about all the things you’ve accomplished. God is going to push him aside and ask you what you’ve done for him. But you’re not even going to get there for him to ask that question unless you have eternal life. You say, “I’m saved. I’ve gone to church all my life!” But can you teach someone about the plan of salvation? Can you go show them the scriptures without hesitation or reservation? When Pastor Paine first shared with someone, he only knew one scripture verse, but he was so persuasive that the other guy wanted to be saved after hearing that one scripture verse.

Some of you are in your thirties, forties, and fifties, but in Christ you’re still sucking on the bottle. There’s a steak house called Ruth Chris where it costs at least a hundred dollars per person to eat there. I’ve had the privilege to eat there twice, when somebody who loved me gave me a gift certificate. I don’t go there and say “just throw it all in a blender and I’ll drink it.” I want to savor every bite.

One day we will eat of that tree that is in the midst of the garden, next to the river that flows with the water of life. But we’ll never get there until we get involved with Jesus Christ and understand that we need him. Do you know that you need Christ? I watched a show where one guy said, “I can’t believe in God. Unless I see something tangible, I don’t believe in it.” And I was thinking, “Since I can’t see your brain, you don’t have one.” Church, isn’t everything around you the evidence of God?

John 3:7-8
  1. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
  2. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

We see the evidence of God in the world around us. But we have more than that. If we have the spirit of God poured out on us, then we have the evidence in our lives? If I walk into a building with air-conditioning, do I have to wonder whether it’s there? Or do I just enjoy the cool air? When somebody walks into your presence, do they enjoy the cool spirit of the Holy Ghost? Is it tangible and present in your life?

There was a church member who went to work on Monday. His co-worker talked about the party he’d been to that weekend, and then asked, “How was your weekend?” So this guy talked about the worship service, and what he’d learned, and how he was applying it, and the co-worker said, “My weekend is over, but you’re still enjoying yours.”

We need to do as it says in the scripture:

1 Timothy 6:12
  1. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

You’ve got to lay hold on eternal life.

[Romans 10;17]

You’re going to hell if you starve your spiritual man. Lay hold on eternal life, and let eternal life lay hold on you, so when you walk into a place, they will know you have what they need to be saved. So adhere; stick to; run down and catch, and lay hold on the things of God. Because everything else is temporary. Boy, I’ve had some nice new cars. Some of them were fast; some were really fast. Some had two doors, some had four. When I got those cars, I showed them off. I let people drive them (but not like I do). But they’re gone. Somebody else is driving them now. Everything that we’ve ever had, whether it be a nice suit of clothes or an antique you cherished… I’ve got a four-dollar bill from 1776. That bill could have been in Benjamin Franklin’s pocket. I’d like to think so, but the odds are against it. People held that bill, as it was spent and changed, and now I’ve got it in a nice plastic sleeve. But when I go, someone else will have it. It’s not mine; it’s temporary. But what I have in Jesus Christ is mine. It’s in spiritual growth and study and fellowship. One day, you’re either going to have it and hear “well done”, or you’re not, and be told “go away”.

I was going to come early today and tape five envelopes underneath the chairs. Four would have nothing in them, and one would have a twenty-dollar bill. Then I was going to say “Underneath some of the chairs are envelopes, and one of them has something special in it.” I guarantee nobody would be sitting in their chairs. You’d all be on your hands and knees checking out your chair and the empty chair next to you if there is one. Church, if an envelope means that much to you, how do you treat your salvation?

Do you know how I got that four dollar bill? I bought a book at a yard sale for fifty cents. People go out and check the yard sales every Saturday morning looking for bargains. I remember one yard sale we had to raise money for the church. I went down into the basement and gathered up some old stuff and donated it. After the sale, Pam came to me and said, “Look at this neat old table I bought!” And we bought my own table back.

Have you seen how precious eternal life is, when someone else loses it? Poeple are laying in the woods, shot and wounded. Or you hear of some accident that happens. There is a term they use in Afghanistan: “river city”. They shut down all communications so that the family gets officially notified before the news gets the word out. I remember hearing about a mother who heard on television that her son had died, before she got the official word. Maybe you’ve come close to death at one time or another, and you get up in the morning and the first thing you do is make sure that tether to Jesus is secure. “God bless this day and bless my children as I help them prepare for the day.” We do things differently as Christians, because our life in Jesus Christ is precious.

Acts 17:28
  1. For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

John, I remember you telling me about the kid who died on a tugboat. He slipped and fell in the water and tried to get out of the way, but the tugboat slammed against the ship and killed him. And John had just gotten done sharing with him, but he said, “I’ve got plenty of time.”

Church, don’t take life for granted. We here at Christian Fellowship Church care about your eternity. I know who the president his, but he’s not going to invite me to my house. But I know Jesus, and he’s invited me to spend eternity with him. So if you don’t know Jesus Christ in that measure, now is the time. Find forgiveness. Find eternal life through Jesus.

Turning Vision Into Victory

Sunday Morning Service, 8/8/10

Songs

  • [ One Day]
  • [ Love The Lord]
  • [ One Less Stone]
  • [ Awakening]
  • [ Send Me]
  • [ You Gave Your Life Away]
  • [ Blessed Be Your Name]
  • [ How Can I Keep From Singing]

Testimonies

> Ricardo McPherson

I’m glad to be back in the house of God. I was thinking about being connected with God. If you don’t watch out, you get caught up in the daily routine. The other day on base, a guy was talking to me, and I wasn’t listening. I had in my mind what I wanted to say to him, but I wasn’t listening. Then I decided that I’d better listen to what he has to say.

As you’re worshipping here today, you don’t need to sing louder than the person next to you, just to prove a

> Mylene Lantis

When I was twelve years old, a Jehovah’s Witness came to our house and tried to share with me. I said no, but one day two ladies came and shared with me about salvation. I had seen a movie about salvation that portrayed heaven and hell. I decided that I didn’t want to go to hell. I started going to Bible studies and asked God to show me the way and the truth. I took the scripture:

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

I just sought God, and God gave me the truth. No matter where you are, you don’t have to be a Bible scholar to share the truth. When somebody asks you why the way you are, just tell them it’s the spirit of God in you that makes a difference.

Financial Report

> Dan Lantis

Next Saturday, at 9am, when you walk into the church, the financial ministry is inviting you to review our books and find out what we’re doing with our money, where it goes and what it does. Please come and be a part. God bless you.

Turning Vision Into Victory

> Pastor Paine

I’ll start with a joke:

> Attending church in Kentucky, we watched an especially verbal and boisterous child being hurried out, slung under his irate father’s arm. No one in the congregation so much as raised an eyebrow – until the child captured everyone’s attention by crying out in a charming Southern accent, “Ya’ll pray for me now!”

Acts 15:40
  1. And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God.

Paul the apostle chose Silas to be his partner in ministry.

Acts 16:6
  1. Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia,

Not long after this ministry journey begins, something interesting happened.

Acts 16:7
  1. After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.

Today we’re going to talk about what it’s like when you’re supposed to do something for the Lord, and an obstacle comes up; a door is closed. You say, “God, you tell me what to do and that’s what I’ll do.” Amen? We’ve all prayed that prayer, haven’t we. That’s an easy prayer to pray, but it’s hard to be responsive to the leading of the Holy Spirit in every minute of every day. God doesn’t give us a “Plan of the Day” like they do in the Navy.

Matthew 6:10
  1. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

That’s our prayer, amen? Do you feel fee to say “Amen” in the chapel here today?

So Paul had a vision to go east, and where do they go? West, to the Agaean sea, and there they awaited further instruction for the Lord.

Psalms 37:23-24
  1. The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.
  2. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.

That can and should apply to us personally. It should apply to our family life, our finances, our business, our decision-making, our day-to-day living. In all these things, our steps should be ordered. We should ask God to order our steps.

But also, saints, the “stops” of a good man are ordered by the Lord. Sometimes, God closes doors. Sometimes, God puts up roadblacks. Maybe we’re going the wrong way, or maybe it’s just not the season for harvest. A roadblock doesn’t always mean “go the other day.” You’re following someone who is going slower than you like, and you’re feeling frustrated, but then a moment later you pass an intersection where somebody had a horrible accident and you say “Thank God for that slow person.” Did you hever have a similar experience?

Have you ever waited on God? Just waited. How many of you are good at waiting?

> (A few hands)

How many are bad at waiting?

> (More hands)

Let me tell you how bad I’m waiting. If I’m at my house and expecting your visit, and you say that you’ll be there between two and three, at a quarter to two, I’ll open the door so it’s just the glass door there. At two, I’ll start pacing. At two fifteen, I’m thinking about calling you and asking what timezone you were referring to. If you say you’ll be here between two and three and you show up at three, you just killed an hour of my time. I’m not good at waiting.

Isaiah 40:31
  1. But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Do you want your strength renewed? Somebody came today saying “I want my strength renewed.” This waiting on the Lord isn’t easy. Sometimes we’re waiting on that still, small voice: that confirmation of inner peace. Sometimes God uses circumstances to close the door. The worst thing we can do when God closes the door is to kick it open. We’ve got our mind made up; that’s our door. But maybe it’s not the right time to open it.

I have this gift. Not everybody has this spiritual gift. I don’t know if it’s exactly discernment. But when you look at me like this,

> (Sits down with folded arms and a glaring scowl)

… I can tell we’re not connecting.

Sometimes, saints, we need to wait on the Lord. But if we persist in trying to open the door that God has closed, he may just give us something we won’t like in the end. He may open that door.

We need to have the spiritual discernment to tell the difference between Satan’s hindrances and God’s roadblocks. Sometimes God is just saying to us that it’s time to wait. We need to learn to wait on God and have his wisdom to know the difference.

I’m painfully aware that we’re in a recession economy, and some of you are waiting on a promotion, just as soon as the recession passes. “Well thank you very much! How do I pay my bills until then?” Some of you have patience that’s growing thin.

Man’s disappointments are often God’s appointments. When God closes one door, look around for another one that God has opened.

Acts 16:9
  1. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.

Paul heard the Macedonian call, and they headed that way. Many souls have been affected by that call, that vision, that response. God wants to give you:

  • fathers, as the head of your house,
  • mothers as you raise up your children,
  • leaders as you work with the military,

the vision of what he wants you to do. This vision of the Macedonian call continues today. We’re that song, “Send that blessed gospel light”. We’re that light. In verse 9, “Come help us”, that’s a real call. People are calling out with shattered homes, with wasted dreams, and we have the answer.

I believe we all have a God-shaped void inside us. People try to fill that void with pleasure, achievements, relationships, even good works and social involvements. But the only thing that will fill a God-shaped void is … God. All those other things are good, but they don’t replace God.

Have you ever seen a drowning person being rescued? Sometimes they push away the person who is trying to rescue them. That’s what people do to you. They’re drowning in debt, in sin, but they push you away. People aren’t knocking down the doors of the church any more than they’re knocking down the doors of Noah’s ark.

Matthew 28:19
  1. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

That’s the commission that Jesus gave to the church, and Peter carried it out in Acts chapter two.

Every time you share the gospel with somebody, something is birthed. Old things are made new.

People are crying out, and some of us have gotten weary in our well-doing. You say, “Pastor, are you telling us that something is wrong?” That’s exactly what I’m telling you; thanks for noticing.

Paul and Silas got in a boat and crossed the Agean sea. Doors were closed and other doors were opened, so they went and established a church in Philippi. Will you be like Paul and Silas? By the way, if you read in the scriptures, it says that it ook them one day to get there, but later in the scriptures it says their return voyage took five days.

Acts 16:12-13
  1. And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days.
  2. And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.

Just a little prayer meeting; just a small group of women. Just a Bible study on a Navy base or on a ship at sea. Just a little Bible study somewhere. Just a little Bible study saying, “All the doors are closed to me; somebody show me a way.” It’s possible that the reason Paul received the message is because of the prayers of this small group of women. Lydia was the first convert.

God has given us a vision. God has closed some doors, and God has opened some doors. God has made us wait on him, and as I’ve told you before, I’m not a very good waiter. Some of us have been frustrated by that, and I put myself at the head of that. For those of us who are living in tough times, it’s frustrating, and it seems like a perfect excuse to give up, but I say, it’s a perfect excuse to say, “Thank you, Jesus” and get in a boat to cross the sea. God has given us boats to cross the sea: big gray ones with white letters on them. Paul and Silas went, and Lydia was saved. Then a possessed woman was saved. Then the jailer was saved. Paul and Silas had to go there when a door was closed so God could open another one. God is closing doors in our lives every day, and he’s opened other ones. It’s up to us to recognize which doors are closed and which doors are opened. It’s up to us to share this gospel message or people are going to hell without it.

God has called us to be a light, a city that is set on a hill. Where are you shining your light? We’re called to continue until the end of time. We’re called to to take the gospel into a dying world, and turn that vision into victory.

Confronting Casual Christians

Sunday PM Service, 8/1/10

Songs

  • [ Great In Power]
  • [ How Great Is Our God]
  • [ God Is Alive]
  • [ How He Loves]
  • [ Because Of Your Love]

Sunday Plus

> Pastor Thomas

Welcome to the first “Sunday Plus” ! I think that Sunday Plus can be a time when we see more new people coming. I want to report that Kenneth Arbuster got baptized in Jesus Name just before church started. He had to go back to base, but I’m thankful we had an opportunity to minister to him today.

Confronting Casual Christians

“Casual Christians” devastate the kingdom of God. They hurt far more than they help. There were “secret followers” during the time of Jesus’ ministry, but not afterward. After his death and resurrection, you had to proclaim it openly. I’m not talking about being a “jesus Freak”. We need to have a life that is powerful, so others can see Jesus through us.

Luke 14:16-24
  1. Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:
  2. And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.
  3. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.
  4. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.
  5. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.
  6. So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.
  7. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.
  8. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.
  9. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

Jesus used this parable of the feast as an example of salvation. God called to the church for redemption and salvation, first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles. You’ve got to ask yourself: was it the message that was wrong? “Dinner is ready; my daughter is ready to be married; would you come?” How do you feel when there is a party and you aren’t invited? It feels pretty bad. But that wasn’t the case here. The invitations went out to everyone. But how many of you have organized a party for someone and they don’t show up? That’s even worse. How many of you have heard about a party, and then got a personal invitation? That makes you feel pretty good. Josh got invited to lunch the other day, which was pretty nice, but it was with the Chief of Naval Operations and a select few other people. Josh, how did that make you feel?

  • Great!

I bet you were really watching your “P’s and Q’s”, weren’t you? We have been invited to the wedding of Christ. We are going to be the bride. We have to prepare ourselves to go.

I’ve been invited to many weddings; some I could go to and some I couldn’t. But I told people about the wedding, regardless.

How many of you have heard of “Peter Island”? They have ten servants for each guest on that island. Twenty-four hours a day, your every wish is granted. If you want Oysters Rockefeller served at the beach at 10am, it’s no problem. If you want fresh-baked cookies at two in the morning, all you have to do is call. Now, if you were invited, and you could find a way to be there, how many of you would show up at the airport? Think about it.

We have something better than that: the ticket is paid for; our bags are already packed. But the casual Christian doesn’t even consider the value.

As a Christian, have you lost your edge, your excitement about Christ and salvation? Are you having just another Sunday, or are you excited about it? I remember when we would get off work and Pastor Davis would have us working the streets until two or three in the morning. One day he was just standing in the shower, sound asleep. We had a message to get out: “You Need To Be Saved!” And you couldn’t keep it quiet. We used to go to this place with greasy pizza called “Tasty Lane” and just share with people all night long. We never took a day off; we even turned doing laundry into a ministry. Two or three of us would take everybody’s laundry to the laundromat, and anybody who walked in got shared with.

Christian * People believing in Jesus as the Messiah, and the teachings of this religion. * Having or displaying the qualities that Jesus displayed during his ministry.

That’s what the casual Christian leaves out. We need to not only believe, but also display the teachings of Christ.

How did we get to the point in our society that we have sliding values on abortion and other moral issues? When we go to church it’s one way, but when we’re with friends it’s another. The hand wrote on the wall of Belshazzar, “You are weighed in the balance, and found wanting.” We are weighed in the balance, too. To the Casual Christian, it’s like “Jesus Light”. I don’t like “light.” I don’t like “light” bread; I like that good heavy Italian bread. That’s what I’m talking about.

The church is moving to “teaching light” and “worship light”. They’re packed with thousands of people who are not getting fed. We’ve got to change all that. We’ve been trained to be passive, but the Bible says:

Matthew 11:12
  1. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.

There is no description of our entering into heaven that is passive. It says press, strive to enter. If it was impossible to be perfect, why would Jesus say to the woman caught in adultery, “Go and sin no more”?

Matthew 5:48
  1. Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

There’s a solution to the casual Christian issue: we’ve got to know who we are in Christ. Some of you need to go find the “Who am I” list. You need to know that you’re a child of God, and our heavenly Father is the most influential, most wealthy, most feared in all the earth. I know who my heavenly Father is; I know what God has prepared for me. I am a joint-heir with Jesus Christ. Who are you?

Those of us who grew up in the fifties and sixties saw our fathes come back from fighting in the war and doing horrible things. These men had a different work ethic. I don’t think my Dad stayed home a day from work unless he was in the hospital. Yet some of you get the sniffles and say, “I’m too sick…”

I know who my Dad is. And I’d like my children to say “I know who Edward Thomas is; that’s my Dad.” I want you to be able to say that about your heavenly Father. And if I find an orphan starving by the side of the road, I know that my Father has a place for them.

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

We have power; we have assurance, and most of all, we can have confidence.

Some of you can look me in the eye and say, “I know I’ve been a casual Christian.” Here’s how we can turn it around. God has given us some weapons in this battle. First of all, we are mighty through God.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5
  1. (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
  2. 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;

Jim, if I send my dog to your obedience school, what can I expect?

  • That he’ll obey you.

Most of us have dogs that obey us for about three seconds. But…

Second, we have the power of prayer. We can say in the name of Jesus, be healed. A word rightly spoken, God’s word rightly spoken can heal a broken heart. It is so powerful.

Secondly, we’ve got the word of God.

Revelation 12:11
  1. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

Christians are the only hope that some people have to be saved. They aren’t going to be in church; they are going to be in the bars and nightclubs or staying home. When you go to work, you need to share with them. I remember being picked on in the Navy for being a Christian. That’s just life. They used to leave Hustler and Penthouse on my rack, and wait for me to get there, and then run and open it up and say “what do you think of that?” This one guy was worse than all the rest. He used every chance he got to make my life miserable. Then one night when we pulled into port to use the telephones, he called home and heard a man say “Your wife doesn’t want to talk to you right now.” Then he came and looked me up, and he was crying.

You may never know on this earth how many people you touch, but we’ll know in heaven. Because of the testimony we’ve chosen, they will walk up and say “Because of you, I’m in heaven.”

We have got to confront casual Christians by our testimony. Don’t beat them up; just share with them about the worship service, and what you got out of the message, and then ask “What did you get out of your weekend?”

More sin is committed by neglect and lack of action than by willful action. Indifference to the salvation of the world is more hindering to the cause of Christ than all of Satan’s tools. If we don’t care about souls, about somebody’s judgment, then it’s just like we agreed with Satan to do something sinful. Indifference makes it happen. The worst things that Christians can do is when they just don’t talk; they just don’t care. They think, “Somebody else” will” make sure that things get done. “

We’ve got to confront the sin of casual Christians. There’s nothing wrong with buying a house, or getting married, or working in the fields, but there’s a sin in letting it come between you and God. Let’s not hinder Christ’s work any more; let us be vocal, and let us be involved.

Can You Lose Your Salvation?

Sunday Morning Service, 8/1/10

Songs

  • [ Great In Power]
  • [ How Great Is Our God]
  • [ Enough]
  • [ How He Loves]
  • [ God Is Alive]
  • [ Because Of Your Love]

Can You Lose Your Salvation?

> Pastor Thomas

I think the more relevant question isn’t, “Can you lose your salvation.” I think the more pertinent question is, “Are you saved?”

Ephesians 2:8
  1. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Salvation is a gift. You can’t earn it; you can’t deserve it. It is a gift given to us by God through Jesus Christ. And the only way you can get it is by surrendering to Jesus Christ, repenting of your sins, and asking God to be saved.

Romans 8:38-39
  1. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
  2. Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

When we take those scriptures, we have an understanding that God loves us, wants us to be saved, and has the gift of salvation for each and every one of us. This next question needs to come from self-examination: What does it mean to be “pursuaded”?

  • Convinced

There are a lot of times that I go into a conversation with a preconceived idea, but through the conversation with that other person, I become persuaded of their idea. God wants us to be persuaded: he wants to convince us of our sins.

Now, I’m not talking about being persuaded like some people are persuaded to ride girlie-bikes like a Honda while others ride a manly bike like a Harley. I am persuaded that Mrs. Davis makes the absolute best rhubarb pie in the world. I could be in the future persuaded that somebody else’s pie is better; I’m willing to be open-minded and try other things. That’s one kind of “I am persuaded.” But Paul’s “I am persuaded” is different. He’s saying, “Life and death issues will not change my persuatsion. Angels and principalities will not change my persuasion.”

So the question, “Can you lose your salvation” comes right down to, “Were you ever really persuaded?” if you say to God, “I can’t keep your joy right now, so I’m going to turn to the pleasures of this life,” then you weren’t really persuaded in God. You were persuaded by all those commercial messages saying, “You will be satisfied if…” Satan wants you to get the message that you can not and will not ever be satisified with what God has for you. God has a message that “I am all.” You can say, “In the name of Jesus” and move mountains. You can say “In the name of Jesus” and cast out Satan. But if you’re not fully persuaded, Satan will say “Jesus I know, but who are you?” You know the story; the devil jumped on those men and tore then up, because they were not persuaded of the power of their words. They were not persuaded of what God could do.

Matthew 10:22
  1. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

Our salvation is a gift from God, but if you take that gift and then don’t hold on to it, persuaded of its value, then God will come and separate the sheep from the goats.

2 Corinthians 13:5
  1. Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

You’re here, and God’s got an answer for you. Will you examine your life? Have you ever watched the movie Avatar? There’s one thing in that movie I like. Those blue people greet each other with the phrase “I see you.” And it means more than just “I’m looking at you.” It means “I see everything about you.” God sees us. He sees right through us. He cannot ignore our daily sins; our daily activities. I can’t see you the way God sees you; I can’t even see you the way you see yourself. But if you’re honest with God and yourself, you can look in the mirror and say, “I see you.”

Romans 8:1
  1. There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Do you know how many Bibles put a period after “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” But it goes on. Are you walking after the spirit? What about the ungodly conversations that go on in your head? You come into church and say “God, you are my all-in-all”. Then you leave and it’s a whole other atmosphere, a whole other attitude. It’s like leaving the dinner table and forgetting all about the meal you just had. We leave the church building and after an hour or a day, our memory of that service starts to fade.

In Italy, the Holocaust Museum is cut into the side of a mountain. The first thing you see when you walk in is a movie about what life was like for the Jews before the Holocaust. There are two long hallways that go in from there on either side. As you walk along, you can look back and see the wall where the movie is playing, but the further you go, the harder it is to focus on that image. By the time you get to the end, it’s almost impossible to see the entrance, way off in the distance. That’s the way it is with God. If you don’t continue to focus and reinforce the word of God in your life, you’ll lose sight of the message.

Romans 8:4
  1. That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

What do you mind every day? What do you care about? Do you care about the spiritual things of God? Or are the sports scores more important to you? How much time do we spend in front of the TV or our computers versus spending time in the word of God? I’ve got to ask myself that same question. Am I rehearsing past messages? If we don’t rehearse those things, then we will care more about the things of the world than the things of God.

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

Again, the real question isn’t “Can I lose my salvation.” The real question is “Am I really saved?” If you’re carnally minded, kyou are God’s enemy.

Romans 8:7-10
  1. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
  2. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
  3. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
  4. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

God didn’t come to give us “Do’s” and “Don’t” rules. God came so that we could be saved, and have dominion over all that he created, and enjoy it with the understanding of the price that was paid, and of Jesus Christ our savior. Sin brings death, but the gift of God is eternal life. Some of you don’t look at your daily life as real life. You say, “I can’t do that; my church doesn’t like it. The pastor doesn’t like that.” If that’s what you’re saying, you’ve got “church-itis.” You’ve got the wrong message. It’s like Mom and Dad saying to the kid, “Don’t touch that; it’s hot!” “If you’re going to go out and ride your bike, be careful; it’s dangerous out there.” We warn ‘em. That’s all a pastor does. He’s not going to strike you dead. If God striked dead everyone who had an evil thought, there’d be nobody in church this morning.

God wants you to be happy. But your happiness isn’t based on your life in this world; your happiness is based on your life in God. Your happiness is based on your persuasion.

John and Holly got married recently. John, have you seen other women since you got married?

  • Yes.

Have you noticed that some of them are beautiful?

  • Yes.

But are you sorry that you married Holly?

  • No.

Why?

  • Because I love her.

That’s the way it’s got to be with God.

[Romans 8: 14-16]

There it is: “I see you.” We look at the things by the spirit of God. Again, when God said, “If your hand offend you, then cut it off”, he wasn’t saying it lightly. It’s better that you maim yourself than to go to hell.

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.

Doesn’t the Bible say that perfect love casts out all fear? Yet it says, “let us therefore fear.” The Bible says:

Proverbs 9:10
  1. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.

God wants us to fear him. I’m not afraid of God, but I fear God. If he says “One day I’m goinig to judge you, and you’ll have to answer to me for the life that you live,” and I’ve not been living right, then I’ve got something to fear. But if he says that he loves me, and I’ve been living right, then I’ve got nothing to fear.

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.

The key word is “labor”. He’s talking about the Hebrew children in the wilderness, wandering around, and there were only two who left Egypt and entered into the promised land. The spies that were sent out said, “Oh, there are giants in the land, and we cannot conquer it.” But the true men of God said, “Let us go and take it, becaue God is with us.” If you don’t think that God will hold your belief accountable, then what are you doing here? God will hold us accountable for what we believe. Do I love him enough to stay faithful on a daily basis? That’s what counts. God says, “I see you. I see you when you’re all alone. I see you when nobody else does.” How do you think God sees you?

James 4:17
  1. Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
Romans 11:19-22
  1. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.
  2. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:
  3. For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.
  4. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

“If”, the biggest little word in the Bible. “If thou continue in his goodness.” We could go through many, many more scriptures, but I want to end with this one:

Revelation 2:1-4
  1. Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
  2. I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
  3. And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
  4. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

Because you have lost your first love… Jonathan, I can guarantee you one thing. If God tarries his coming and you live, in thirty years you will not look at Holly the same way. I still love Pam very, very much, but I don’t look at her and get weak-kneed the way I used to. I still love God after thirty-seven years. I have been to the mountain-top, and I am persuaded.

Revelation 2:5
  1. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

Church, we’ve got to live a repented life, every day that we live. Unfortunately, we live every day draped in this flesh, and every day we will have struggles, because we are in this imperfect flesh.

I want you to look in the mirror and ask yourself four questions:

1. How do you feel when you sin?

Does it bother you? I used to drive around in a big Navy van, picking up deserters and patrolling. There was a little ring on the dashboard to hold your drinks. When I drove over the railroad tracks, that cup levitated, moved over, and dumped in my lap. The first thing I did was, I swore. Then I pulled the van over, and I cried, because I knew that I had just broken God’s heart with my language.

How do you feel when you sin? Does it bother you, or do you just shrug it off?

2. How important is worship and fellowship?

Is it real easy for you to just “blow off” fellowship? If it’s easy for you to avoid the presence of God in fellowship, then something is not right.

3. What is more important to you: What people think about you, or their salvation?

I care what people think about me, but I care a lot more about the choices that affect my salvation. I will see somebody wearing a big belt-buckle and start a conversation. I will use those things, because I care about that person’s salvation.

As an E-5 in the Navy, I was asked by a full Captain (not the Captain of the ship) to personally work for him. I said, “As long as you understand that I’m going to put God first.” That was a good job, and I wanted it a lot, but I was not going to take that position without putting God first.

4. How much time do you invest in your spiritual development?

How much time do you spend watching TV? There are lot of good self-help books out there, but none of them are more important than the Bible. My God loves me, and he’s given me everything I need to be saved.

In Matthew 25 starting at verse 33, Jesus talks about the great white throne of judgment, where God will separate the sheep from the goats. Both sides said, “When did we see you a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and minister or not minister?” The one side was doing it so often that they didn’t know when it was, and the other was doing it so seldom that it didn’t even matter.

Which side are you on? Are you living your life so the the most natural thing is to pray with people and see the sick healed? Or are you just playing “church”? If you are fully persuaded, then there’s nothing that can separate you from God. And it’s my prayer that you will be fully persuaded.

Exploring Joseph's Story, part 3

We have been exploring the story of Joseph. Before, we estimated that it was important enough for God to have a quareter of Genesis, fourteen chapters, dedicated to this story. I would encourage you to read the story as we are exploring it. There are at least one hundred and eight ways you can see Joseph as a type of Christ. As we continue, I would have you to keep in mind three things:

  1. The work of a soldier is never known in time of peace.
  2. God gives his grace on the cross.
  3. Singing before the fact

I have been exploring the book of Exodus, and I came to the psalm of Moses after they crossed the red sea. That song was so beautiful, but what if they started singing before they crossed? Anyone can sing when the sun is shining bright. Paul and Silas sang songs while they were still in prison. It’s good to sing, but let’s try to sing before things happen.

Joseph didn’t know exactly what was behind everything he had to do, but he kept on singing and trusting God.

In Gideon’s story, God told him that he had too much army. God wanted the glory. If I had to fight Pastor Taylor and I knock him out, what glory is there? But if I fight Jay Ugali and knock him out, there is glory.

Let’s try and start singing before anything happens. I’m going to call Pat Taylor to read the story:

Genesis 39:1-23
  1. And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither.
  2. And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.
  3. And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand.
  4. And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand.
  5. And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the LORD was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field.
  6. And he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured.
  7. And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me.
  8. But he refused, and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand;
  9. There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?
  10. And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her.
  11. And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within.
  12. And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out.
  13. And it came to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and was fled forth,
  14. That she called unto the men of her house, and spake unto them, saying, See, he hath brought in an Hebrew unto us to mock us; he came in unto me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice:
  15. And it came to pass, when he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled, and got him out.
  16. And she laid up his garment by her, until his lord came home.
  17. And she spake unto him according to these words, saying, The Hebrew servant, which thou hast brought unto us, came in unto me to mock me:
  18. And it came to pass, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled out.
  19. And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spake unto him, saying, After this manner did thy servant to me; that his wrath was kindled.
  20. And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison.
  21. But the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.
  22. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it.
  23. The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the LORD was with him, and that which he did, the LORD made it to prosper.

I want you to see with me from the beginning; I want you to see the providence of God. Joseph was seventeen years old when he was sold. He was a teenager away from his family, his country. He did not know if he would face his family ever again. So at seventeen years old, he was free to do whatever he wanted. That’s the age you want to go out and be free and do whatever. Especially with God, we tend to be so nice and living and spiritual in church, but we cannot wait to be out on our own and do our own stuff. Joseph had the perfect opportunity to just live in whatever style he wanted. But he didn’t. You see the providence of the Lord by him being sold to the captain of the guard. If I had to be a slave, I would probably want to be a slave of that part of the kingdom. The captain of the guard was like the chief of the secret service. God doesn’t do anything by chance; he planned your life and my life whether we know it or not. Everything that you see happen in my life, God is in control; It’s not an accident.

Sometimes we find ourselves in the middle of worrying. I’ve lived forty-five years, and God has been leading me and taking care of me. You and I just have to do what we can do. God has allowed us, just make sure our hearts and mind are in him. You don’t have to worry; you cannot do anything about it anyway. You cannot turn one hear black or white, or add anything to your life.

The Bible says the Lord was with Joseph. I met someone who was going through some hard times, and he prayed to God, “Thank you Lord for being with me. Would you mind being with someone else for a while?” But however you feel about it, the Lord was with him. His brothers could take his coat, his clothes, maybe even his life, but they could never take his Lord out. That’s why it says “one thing is needful.” Anything when you die you can’t take with you, it wasn’t that needful.

Do you know there isn’t any recorded place to find where the Lord appeared to Joseph and said “I am with you.” Wouldn’t it be nice at least to give a sign? He did that for Gideon, right? He did that for so many others. But for Joseph he did not. And I truly believe he did not because he trusted Joseph and he knew that Joseph had faith. Obviously, Joseph was taught by his Dad how God parted the Red Sea, and he’s saying “That’s the same God I have.” So he had the experience, and he had the knowledge. Of course, once in a while we all need encouragement, but you should be self-supporting enought to encourage others.

Joseph didn’t need anyone else to tell him to be faithful; at seventeen he was ready to go. But the Lord being with him didn’t keep him from being falsely accused and put in prison.

1 Peter 4:12
  1. Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:

But the Bible says that Joseph was a prosperous and successful man. That should make you think about what success is really about. This is a man who had no house of his own.

Romans 8:28
  1. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
1 Timothy 6:6-10
  1. But godliness with contentment is great gain.
  2. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
  3. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
  4. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
  5. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

This is a subject that I personally spend a long time in. If Joseph had a little love of money, a little love of power somewhere, he would have failed. Think about it – having the wife of your master approaching you would have been very tempting. But it says the love of money is the root of all evil.

As I read this scripture, I realize that I have a problem with money. I have troubles managing it. But Joesph had godliness with contentment, and that was great gain for him.

If someone starts being nice to me, I feel like asking how much I owe, because money gets into everything. Look into your life and see what kind of success you are after. Money should not be part of it.

I used to teach in my church in Haiti If we need shoes, we don’t need money; we need shoes. If we need transportation, we don’t need money; money doesn’t enter into it.

Genesis 39:3
  1. And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand.

The Bible doesn’t tell us how much Potiphar paid for Joseph. We know that he was sold for twenty-five, I think it was, pieces of silver. He must have made a profit. But Potiphar saw that the Lord was with Joseph. How did he see this? I would say, by his attitude. Being content, he was doing what he was supposed to do with all his heart. He had to be mad, he would be mad at his brothers who sold him, right? But he had a good attitude. He was honest, I think.

Are you honest at work? Because of you, would your boss want to hire more Christians? You may not be a slave like Joseph, bu t you have somebody you work for, and you are a slave to that person. So if you refer people, hopefully it will be more Josephs, right?

Genesis 39:6
  1. And he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured.

We see here that Joseph once more was wearing a coat with sleeves. He was in charge. He was handsome. And he was well-favored. When you have an attitude that is right, that’s what happens to you.

In life, you lose something to gain something. The Bible says that to have peace in God, we have to rejoice in tribulation.

John 16:33
  1. These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

I spent a little time on this scripture, and I found something truly amazing. I looked for tribulation, and found that it means “pressure”. Do you know what pressure is? When I looked for pressure, I thought of oil. To have that peace in God, you have to rejoice in tribulation, but you need to be pressed so that oil can come out. We are capable of doing great things, but we need that oil in us. Joseph had a lot of oil.

Genesis 39:9
  1. There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?

By this time, Joseph was eighteen or nineteen years old. He had never been married, but he knew the importance of marriage. I’m not even excited anymore when I see kids getting married. I just pray to God it comes out well. I don’t believe that someone who is seventeen or eighteen knows what it’s all about. It’s like signing up for the military. They talk about a paycheck, but when you sign, you sign your life for your country. If you die, you die for your country. At least when you sign for the military, you can retire, but when you get married, you sign your life. There’s no getting out of it.

When I was growing up, before you got married you had to have your own house. Now you just get a couple of hundred bucks and rent some place and … how are you going to make it? I’d better stop; I don’t want to make enemies. It should be one wedding, two funerals. That’s the way it used to be. But now…

Back to the scripture. Joseph said, “How can I sin against God?” So it wasn’t about Potiphar. This is contrary to David, if you know the story. He sinned, and when the prophet Nathan came to him and told the story, he said “That man must die.” And then Nathan told him “Thou art the man,” and he said “I have sinned.” Then God said, “How could you sin so against me? I have you money and power and a kingdom, and if that were not enough, I would have given you more.” But Joseph resisted.

Today, when we sin against Christ, can you imagine somebody who came and died for you? Whenever we sin, we should think abou tthat. Joseph was a great man in that sense.

And then day by day, even though he was so clear, she came back and said, “Lie with me.”

Genesis 39:10
  1. And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her.

One verse that I like is when Satan tempted Christ, and then left him for a moment. I was hoping that Christ would just kill him, but Satan only left for a moment. that lady kept on coming, and coming, and coming. Temptation is like that. Being tempted at seventeen by a woman, that is hard. It’s very hard.

I heard a story about a man who told his man not to go swimming, and his son said, “Yes.” Then he was coming home from work and he saw his son in a swimsuit, and he said “Didn’t I tell you not to go swimming?” And his son said, “Yes.” He asked “Then why are you in your swimsuit?” And his son said, “Well, I know you told me not to go swimming, but it’s a hot day, so I decided that just in case I got tempted, I would wear my swimsuit.”

That’s what we do. We make ourselves ready to be tempted. We should flee temptation. This fleeing of Joseph was a sign of great bravery, not of cowardice. Sometimes it can be a greater sign of courage to run than to stay. Running might be the bravest thing you can do in a situation.

Sometimes you can look at a situation and look left and right. That’s one thing I learned from the story of Moses with the Egyptian. He looked left and right, but he didn’t look up.

I like verse 14 where the lady says, “See, he hath brought in an Hebrew unto us to mock us.” Obviously this shows that something was not right between Potiphar and his wife, and the servants used to talk about them behind their backs. It says that Potiphar’s wrath was kindled. There could be many reasons that his wrath was kindled; he was not necessarily angry with Joseph. He may not have trusted his wife, but because she brought up this thing, he had to put Joseph in prison. And from what I read about it, these prisons were even worse than the ones in Tijuana. But we see that the Lord was with Joseph even in prison, and brought him to the attention of the keeper of the prison.

Genesis 39:23
  1. The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the LORD was with him, and that which he did, the LORD made it to prosper.

We see that God was with Joesph, even while things were going from bad to worse. How are things going with you? If you say, “Great!” it doesn’t prove that the Lord is with you. Is God the engine of your progress in everything you do in life? Or are you the one who is pushing your plans and making them work?

I have a very good friend who I knew in High School. He knew me when I left Haiti to join the Navy. I kept in touch with him, but after a while, he said that he could not be my friend until he could come up to my level. I told him that he was in vain, because I didn’t seek for anything that had happened to me. For a long time it looked like I wouldn’t even finish school. But my sister made a way. I didn’t look to join the military; I just met some guys who talked about adventure and showed some interesting pictures. I went to see them and they gave me a pre-test and signed me up. They did everything; I didn’t have to do anything. Then I got to boot camp and found out I was in the military. It was a big surprise. I had to explain to my sister, because she thought I had gone away to college. I was miserable until I got saved. But now God is with me.

Making Better Decisions - part 3 of 3

Wednesday Evening Service

Songs

  • [ Lord, I Lift Your Name On High]
  • [ One Day]

Making Better Decisions – Part 3 of 3

> Bruce Wilson

Decisions, decisions…

  • Week One: CARE - Pay attention to decisions
  • Week Two: BEWARE - Notice the influences on decisions
  • Week Three: COMPARE - Discover and commit to the BEST decision

What makes the difference between a good decision and the best decision? How does it feel?

  • The right decision feels like victory
  • Your best decision leaves you with peace. You don’t have to second-guess it.
  • A good decision is one that God blesses “in spite of”
  • It blesses both yourself and everyone else
  • Sometimes the best decision doesn’t “feel” better for the moment
  • Every decision comes with emotion, strong or weak. The best decision is a “high”.
  • The best decision feels honest.
  • With the best decision, there are no regrets.
  • In family decisions, sometimes everyone doesn’t feel the same way, and you have to pray until God removes that doubt and replaces it with confidence.
  • The best decision doesn’t always feel good, but it feels right.
  • The best decision isn’t always popular, either during or afterwards

Was it worth the effort?

  • It depends on the time-frame. Joseph might not have felt that way, when he made the right decision and got thrown into slavery.
  • It’s always worth it, if only for the learning experience.
  • Decisions based on faith are always worth it.
  • If you’re keeping the long-term in mind, then it will be worth it in the long-term.
  • That’s one of the determining factors of the best decision: The best decision does take effort, usually more effort than a “good” decision.

Is there always a Best decision?

  • When it’s something that God has for you to do, there definitely is.
  • Sometimes the best decision is a timely one.
  • If you can get all the facts, then yes.

Q: If you really don’t understand the subject matter, what kind of test would you want? True/False, Multiple-choice, or Essay? Why?

  • It’s easier to choose from a limited number of options
  • Essay questions force you to back up your decision; to explain why your answer is correct

It would be great if there were always an absolute best option, but life doesn’t always work that way.

  • There is always a best decision, but sometimes we don’t find it.

A: YES! From a God’s-Eye View

Q: How can I see it like God does?

How do we begin to get to that place?

Discovering the Best Decision

It is out there. (Unless you’re talking about a menu from McDonald’s.) In life, there is a best decision, but we don’t always pursue it like we should.

Wait for more …

Sometimes God wants us to slow down and wait for more instruction. This is a picture of Jesus feeding the five thousand.

Matthew 14:14-21
  1. And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.
  2. And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals.
  3. But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat.
  4. And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes.
  5. He said, Bring them hither to me.
  6. And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.
  7. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.
  8. And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.

So the disciples have an agenda. They’re out there with Jesus, and they’re managing this campaign. They’re out there and they say, “Doggone it, Jesus is always drawing a crowd, and now it’s getting dark, and they haven’t had anything to eat, so it’s time to make a decision.” But wait! Jesus is able to answer in a way you haven’t even thought of. There are times that you need to wait, because God will meet that need. I’m kind-of thankful that this is an answer we didn’t have to wait very long for, because our stomachs are kind-of impatient.

Wait for more…

> (Picture of Peter pulling the piece of money out of the fish’s mouth)

Matthew 17:27
  1. Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.

Jesus gave him just enough. Aren’t there times when God gives you just enough, not more or less? God’s answers are always on time, but his time is not always our time.

Focus on something else

The prophet has a weight on his shoulders. There is a drout throughout the whole country, and he’s got to figure out how to feed himself.

1 Kings 17:1-4
  1. And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.
  2. And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying,
  3. Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.
  4. And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think a bird can carry enough to satisfy me. We’ve been there, in the Holy Land, and that’s a pretty desolate place.

1 Kings 17:5-9
  1. So he went and did according unto the word of the LORD: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.
  2. And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook.
  3. And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.
  4. And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying,
  5. Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.

“Oh, that’s great! I’m the prophet and ambassador of God, and now I’ve got to go to a heathen land and talk to a widow?” What kinds of things do you think Elijah was considering? But God directed him a very different way.

1 Kings 17:10-16
  1. So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.
  2. And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand.
  3. And she said, As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.
  4. And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son.
  5. For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth.
  6. And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days.
  7. And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Elijah.

Now Elijah had a lot of other things on his mind, and this widow had a lot of other things on her mind, other than feeding this strange religious man from another country. That was not in her plan! Ladies, how do you like it when you have an unexpected guest? That’s frustrating! Her world, her mind, her focus, her decision was going one way, and Elijah’s was going another way, and yet God forced them to consider something other than their own views. Sometimes God is looking for you to put your own problems and concerns on the shelf and consider someone else. There are times when to find what that best decision is, you’re going to have to focus on something else.

Rely on Him, and get through it

> (Picture of Moses raising his rod as the Red Sea is parting)

There are times when you’re going to have to put everything else aside, and just rely on God to get you through the situation.

Exodus 14:10-16
  1. And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the LORD.
  2. And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt?
  3. Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.
  4. And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.
  5. The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.
  6. And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward:
  7. But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.

This is a powerful, powerful demonstration of the forces that come together in our mind for a decision. If the Egyptians hadn’t come down and forced them, they never would have come to this decision.

VITAL INGREDIENTS

Prudence

Proverbs 13:16
  1. Every prudent man dealeth with knowledge: but a fool layeth open his folly.
Proverbs 14:15
  1. The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.
Proverbs 22:3
  1. A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.

Discretion

Psalms 112:5
  1. A good man sheweth favour, and lendeth: he will guide his affairs with discretion.
Proverbs 19:11
  1. The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.
Proverbs 2:11
  1. Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee:

There are three areas I’m going to give you in this journey to discover the best decision:

One – Take Inventory: Where you’ve been, and where you are going…

Before the children of Egypt got to the promised land, they went through the wilderness. They had to consider daily the miracles they’d seen and the bondage they had been in. When they went to spy out the land, they had to consider where they’d been.

Two – Wait on the Lord

Very often, before you can make the best decision, something has to die off. Maybe God’s looking to take you to a new step, to build you in a new direction, to re-make and re-mold you as the potter does the clay.

Three – Stay the Course

When you’re on that decision, it doesn’t always feel good. But if you change your mind, it isn’t the best decision anymore.

Let’s look at those three in a different way:

Take Inventory

Psalms 8:3-6
  1. When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;
  2. What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
  3. For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.
  4. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:

It’s a privilege to live this life the way God intends. It’s not easy, but it’s always worth it. There are times you’ve got to take stock and take inventory and remind yourself, “Where am I going?”

Wait on the Lord

This is talking about something dying off, so that God can take what’s left and move forward.

2 Corinthians 7:10-11
  1. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
  2. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

When you’ve got to make big decisions, you’ve got to wrestle with all those little things. There are times when you’ve got to wait on God to let something in your life be done away with, to be removed, in order to get to that best decision.

Stay the Course

James 3:17-18
  1. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
  2. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

Church, this really is the bedrock of this whole series. That verse, that chapter right there. When I’ve got to counsel people who have to make big decisions that I wish nobody would have to make, I’ve told them “Look, when you go God’s direction, that’s what it’s going to look like. You’ve got to find a James 3 solution. That’s what the best decision looks like.” Whenever you’re forced to make a decision, that’s what you need to hold on to.

Let’s take another look again:

**Take Inventory*

  • Level? 1-5
  • Influences and perceptions?
  • Prudence, Discretion

**Wait on the Lord

  • For something more
  • Focus on something different
  • Expand your horizons

Sometimes, to make the best decision, you have to grow into it. You’re not already there yet.

Stay the course

  • Do you really want what God wants?
  • Be fully persuaded!

Sometimes God shows you what he wants and you think, “God, that’s not what I really wanted…” Say the course. Pray “God, help me to be the one to accept this decision with Grace.”

How?

  • Talk to God…

> Video clip: News Recruitment Campaign by the Military

Now, this isn’t about the military. This is about the anxiety of talking to Mom or Dad about something. There is apprehension there. And you noticed the Dad started to look away. Sometimes we feel like God isn’t really listening.

The point is, there is a process that you need to go through. First, you’ve got to be convinced that you need to do this thing and not put it off any more. To get to that best decision, you’ve got to talk to God. Like the young man says, “Dad! Did you hear?” Oh yeah. God definitely hears us. But he doesn’t always answer in a way that we would like.

That’s the challenge. We don’t always consider what we should when we make decisions. We don’t always let God into it.

DYNAMIC CHALLENGE

  • Is there a BIG decision on the horizon?
  • Are you ready to handle it?
  • Will you prepare for the journey?

I hope you see that it’s worth it. It’s an amazing thing; it will change your life. And there are no regrets once you’ve made it to the best decision. I’ve never heard anybody who let God lead their decisions say “I wish I’d never done that.” God has a perfect record.

Extra Credit!

Decisions that make you think:

  • Read about David & Saul: 1 Samuel 15-31
  • Read about Joseph: Genesis 37-50
  • Read about New Testament Leaders’ decision: Acts 15

Making a Difference

Sunday Morning Service, 7/18/10

Songs

  • [ You Are Welcome In This Place]
  • [ All To You]
  • [ Because Of Your Love]
  • [ Field Of Souls]
  • [ Hungry]
  • [ You Are Why]
  • [ Oh The Glory Of It All]
  • [ You Are Worthy Of My Praise]
  • [ This Is How We Overcome]
  • [ How He Loves]

Testimonies

> Kathy Jackson

I’m thankful for all of God’s blessings, and one of them is having you all in my life. I’m thankful for the support you give us, so my two girls can have a bunch of aunties and uncles. I’m thankful for each and every one of you.

> Pat Mahoney

I’ve had a lot of great conversations this week; it’s been really blessed. I was talking with a co-worker, and he asked if I believed in aliens or extra-terrestrials. I said no, but I believe in God. I shared with him about a God who works with us on a personal level, and it was interesting to see his reaction. There is no denying that we don’t come to God; God comes to us. He reveals himself to every one of us. No matter who; no matter where; God is there. My relationship with my own father wasn’t so wonderful, but i know a God who touched my life and became my father, and that means a great deal to me. God can bring things out of life that you never tought possible. I’m thankful to have the richness and fullness of God’s spirit, and I love you all.

> *Adam Paine

This week, Scott and I have been working on putting Bible Studies out on the internet. The study I was working on this week was about Jesus showing us by example how to be a good Christian. I’m glad to be a tool for Jesus. Maybe I’m a hammer, and God really needs a wrench. God needs us to be flexible. Sometimes you use the wrong tool for the job because that’s what you have at hand, but it would have been so much easier with the right tool. Sometimes I think we put God in that predicament.

Making A Difference

> Pastor Paine

Have you ever felt like it was all up to you, it all rested on your shoulders, it was “tag, you’re it”. If you didn’t do it, it wouldn’t get done? The building was on fire, and you were the only one with a hose?

Let me turn it around. Did you ever feel like no one would even notice if you were gone? It’s two opposite sides of the same question.

My prayer today is to show you that we all matter to God, in more ways that we can measure or even imagine.

When we come together to worship, there are people who are visibile, people who hold the microphone. But what about people who every day make a difference, but don’t hold the center stage? My prayer today is that we realize that we all have an important part to play, and we make a difference.

Paul was writing to the church at Corinth and he was saying that everybody makes up this body:

1 Corinthians 12:4-7
  1. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
  2. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
  3. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
  4. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

What God has given us, given you, given me, is to be a blessing to those around us. My father had a saying: “So it’s hooray for me, and the heck with everyone else?” When my father said that to one of us, he was really putting us on notice. He was really big on this idea that the family matters, and we all contribute to the team. That’s a good thing to learn as a child: we can’t have the attitude of being the center of everything, that “it’s all about me.” But isn’t it nice to know that Jesus went to Calvary for you, and in that sense, it is all about you.

But some people here think that their part is so small, so insignificant, that if they didn’t contribute, people wouldn’t even notice. I’m not talking about money; I’m talking about whatever spiritual gift or ability God has placed in your life.

Before the service, we asked everyone to print their name on a 3x5 card, and I’m going to use them in a moment. But right now I’m asking my son Adam to be the equivalent of a radio announcer at a baseball game. I’ll stop him in a moment, and if you think you know who is the most important player of the game at moment that I stop him, just shout out who that player is.

> Just a regular 186° morning here in Norfolk, Virginia. Just a regular July morning. We’re ready for the first pitch of the game. The pitcher steps in and looks at the catcher, who is giving him a signal.

Stop. Who’s the most important player right now, at this instant?

  • The catcher!

> The pitcher nods, goes into his windup, throws his first pitch, and the batter takes a swing. It’s a foul ball down the first-base side. It looks like the batter has broken his bat!

Stop. Who’s the most important player, or person, at this moment?

  • The bat boy!

> So the bat-boy has brought our batter a new bat, (because that’s what he does), and our batter steps in, shakes the dirt off his cleats, and lines up for the second pitch. The pitcher …

Stop. Who’s the most important player at this instant?

  • The pitcher!

> … The pitcher goes into the windup, throws the ball, and it’s a hit to left field. The left-fielder lines it up, and he catches it for the first out. (Yay!) All right, batter number two. The batter comes up and lines himself up in the batter’s box. The pitcher looks at the catcher and throws the pitch for strike one. The pitcher lines up and throws again; it’s strike two. The third pitch is a hit to the second-baseman.

Stop. Who’s the most important player right now?

  • The second-baseman!

So I think you did it, Adam, and I thank you very much. At one moment, the bat-boy was more important than the pitcher or the batter. At one moment the outfielder could just stand there and wait, check his text messages, perhaps. But the moment the ball is hit to the outfield, that person becomes the most important. I hope this helps you realize that there are moments when you become the most important person on the scene, to represent God in that place, at that time.

Maybe some of you are still thinking, “Okay, that’s true for everyone else, but I’m really invisible; I don’t matter.” My prayer is that by the end of the message, you will realize that, “Yes I do.” There are moments when you’ll say “It’s time for me.”

1 Corinthians 12:8-12
  1. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
  2. To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
  3. To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
  4. But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
  5. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

Saints, we’re not just called in the congregation context, but we are individually called to be part of that body. I’m going to say a name, and when I say a name, if you can think of something that person brings to the body of Christ, I want you to raise your hand. I realize that this is different from a normal message, but if we all work together, we can make it work.

  • Noel Warren

> He brings a cheerfulness. Even when his parents can’t make it, he comes with his grandmother, and he’s also one *bad basketball player.*

  • Odell

> Brother Odell is an evangelist, that’s for sure. Last week he invited the Admiral of the Atlantic Fleet to church.

  • Eric

> We just met yesterday, and this kid’s awesome. He’s really looking forward to taking that step of faith.

  • Chris Mays

> I appreciate this brother because of his servant’s heart.

  • Ron Sherer

> He’s always had a humble and meek spirit. He’s always been a blessing in every fellowship we have.

  • Ignatius Marlbrough

> He always goes out of his way to greet you and to get to know something personal about you.

As you said that, Jonathan, I saw the look on Iggy’s face, like “Really? I did that?”

Matthew 25:31-33
  1. When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
  2. And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
  3. And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

What do you think he’s going to say? “Those of you who had the microphone, those of you who had the center stage?” No.

Matthew 25:34-39
  1. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
  2. For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
  3. Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
  4. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
  5. When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
  6. Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

They said, “When did we do that? Really? I did that?” We can read this in the context of, “I know I visited some people, but I don’t remember visiting you…” Or we can read it in the context of some of you sitting here: “Really? I made a difference? I didn’t think I did anything.”

Matthew 25:40-46
  1. And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
  2. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
  3. For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
  4. I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
  5. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
  6. Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
  7. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

So what’s the difference between everlasting punishment and life eternal? It’s doing what the father has for us to do. Yes, you have to accept Jesus as your Lord and savior. But what do we do with this life that God give us? Is it “hooray for me and the heck with everyone else” or do we look for whoever needs a word of encouragement, a blessing, a kind word.

Would my mother-in-law Hazel Davis please stand? She’s a quiet woman; she doesn’t say much. She’s like E.F. Hutton; when she talks, people listen. We’ve got a couple hours; why don’t you tell us what you do for the church every day?

> Not much.

Do you think any of that “naked and ye clothed me, sick and ye visited me” applies to you?

> I’m sure it does.

Sure it does. I remember sleeping on your couch. You fed me with your food. Then you got goofy and let me marry your daughter. Thank you for that, by the way.

  • Pat Taylor

> He brings steadfastness to this ministry, an example by the way he lives.

  • Jeff Wiedenhoeft

> I’ve got to say that Jeff is probably the most respectful person I’ve met in all my life.

  • Carlyle Miller

> Carlyle has always been there for me. He’s always had wisdom to teach me things.

You think you don’t have a ministry? Let me tell you, you don’t have to have a title to have a ministry. Barlyn, I didn’t see you before church, but I’m so glad you’re here.

  • Pamela Thomas

> Pam is a tower of dedication for us. She is always there, always looking for what needs to be done, what she can do, and inspires us to do the same.

What are some gifts that you think someone should bring to the body of Christ? What gifts do you think would make a great church?

  • Communication
  • Hospitality
  • Leadership
  • Evangelism
  • Encouragement
  • Generous spirit
  • Enthusiasm
  • Dedication
  • Friendship
  • Faithfulness
  • Helps
  • Compassion
  • Transparency
  • Cutting Grass
  • SKILLS
  • Teaching
  • Peace
  • Love

Let’s try something. Who thinks that when you see one of those words, a name comes to mind? I’m going to pass the microphone around, and I want you to tell me the word and the name. Some of us need to be reminded that we really matter.

I’m going to tell a story. This happened to me around fifteen years ago. I was the senior pastor of our church in Great Lakes, and I had just hit a row of frustrating moments. There have been weeks, months, even years when it seemed like everything I touched was a “home run”. But then there were times when it seems like everything I touched struck out. I went in the coatroom of the main hallway of the congregation of that church, and I was just standing there saying “God, I’m at the end of my wrope. I feel like if I walked out and got in my car and drove away, everyone would be happy.” Have you ever had a moment like that? If you haven’t, you’re just too young. I wasn’t crying and feeling sorry for myself so much as I was just looking for a change. Parrish Lee walked into the coatroom. A lot of you know Parrish; he’s a great brother. He said, “Pastor, I don’t mean to interrupt, but the Holy Spirit has pricked my heart, and I just want to share with you that your testimony has always been an inspiration to me. I want to tell you that you make a difference in my life.” I hugged him and said “Thank you, Parrish. I really needed to know that.” I wasn’t giving up; I was just down for the count, and the Holy Spirit lifted me up.

I’m here to tell you that you matter. You can give food to the hungry and water to a stranger. You can be an encouragement tho those around you. You pray, “God, let me make a difference; let me matter.” Last January, Norfolk had an unusually heavy snow. We called off church because of snow. We never did that in Waukegan, but we had plows up there. (Don’t get me wrong; I’m not making fun of Norfolk. I feel blessed to live in an area where I don’t own a snow shovel.) So I started shoveling snow off my lawn onto the driveway. (The neighbors were saying “He doesn’t get it. You’re supposed to get the snow off the pavement.) Then we put the grill out by the end of the driveway and Debbie made a great big hot of hot chocolate, and all the kids got out their boogie-boards and were sliding down our driveway, and we had church in our driveway. And God really blessed it. And to this day, the neighbors all say, “That was cool!” I didn’t preach a sermon that day, but we nourished a soul. Actually some of the neighbors brought back pictures the other day and said, “We got pictures of the snow day. Wasn’t that cool?”

Let’s get back to 1 Corinthians. Paul is talking about the parts of the body. One of the tricks of Satan is to make you think that your part doesn’t matter, but it does. I’m going to skip ahead a bit:

1 Corinthians 12:25-31
  1. That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
  2. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
  3. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
  4. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
  5. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
  6. Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
  7. But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

Saints, God’s got something for us to do. God’s called us to do a work together. God’s called us to matter together. And if you’re a visitor today, still God’s called you to do something for the glory of God. Do you know that God specializes in using imperfect people to do his perfect will? He uses people who slipped and fell, and thought that they’d never do anything good again, God says “I’m still going to use you.”

I’m going to shout out the word, and I want you to tell me somebody who exemplifies this in the body of Christ.

  • communication: Larry Glander
  • hospitality: Ricardo McPherson
  • evangelism: Todd Morgan
  • encouragement: Jay Ugali
  • fellowship: Jeff Linger
  • enthusiasm: Pete Paine
  • charity: John Connor
  • dedication: Josh Fenelus
  • love: Pastor Thomas
  • help: Jim Bailey
  • friendship: Pat Taylor
  • faithfulness: Christine Sanders
  • teacher: Pastor Ulysse
  • skills: Scott Shepherd
  • peace: Pastor Taylor
  • compassion: Terrence Taylor
  • transparency: Bridgette Williams

You couldn’t apply all of any of those names to all of those words, but together we make a church that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. That’s what Christ said to Peter.

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

Church, stand with me and say “I do make a difference.”

Making Better Decisions - part 2 of 3

Wednesday Bible Study, 7/14/10

Songs

  • [ Because Of Your Love]
  • [ That’s Why We Praise Him]

Making Better Decisions – Part 2 of 3

> Bruce Wilson

Last week we discussed five levels of decisions:

1. I want it Now!
2. I’ll do this now to benefit later.
3. I’ll do this to make things better around me.
4. This will make the community / world better
5. This decision will please God

Week One was “CARE: Pay attention to decisions

Week Two is “BEWARE: Notice the influences on decisions”

DISCUSSION: What does a Best decision look like? Is there a set way to get one?

  • Jesus always did what would please the father.
  • The best decision isn’t necessarily meassured in physical terms.
  • The Best decision can look good or bad by outward appearance.
  • You won’t have any guilt about it.
  • The decision is organized and deliberate.
  • God is the center, not you.
  • Does not involve sinful things.

Is there a set way to get these things?

  • As it says in James 3:17, it must be pure, peaceable, gentle
  • In Proverbs 3:5, it says to acknowledge God in all your ways
  • Pray about it
  • Be faithful in prayer, worship, fellowship, and all the fundamentals
  • Proverbs 11:14 – Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.

Duty Decision (Genesis 22)

This is a picture of Abraham offering up Isaac. God told Abraham that he would test him. He told him to offer up his only son. He had waited for years and years for this son of promise; now God says “Give him back to me.”

What king of things entered into his decision?

  • Logic
  • Knowing who gave him his son
  • Faithful
  • He knew that God would provide a sacrifice
  • Fear of God
  • Trust in God
  • Willingness to please God
  • Hebrews 6 says that he believed that God was able to bring him back to life again

You don’t find many other decisions in the Bible or in life that are heavier than that one. I believe that’s why the story is there. It did happen, and God put it there as an example to us. No matter what decisions you struggle with, God can bring you through.

Duty Decision: Jonah

This decision didn’t go so well. What entered into it?

  • Selfishness
  • Prejudice
  • Fear of his own lack of ability
  • His own agenda
  • Anger
  • Lack of trust
  • Pride
  • Figured he could “get over”
  • Independence

Out of Season: 2 Kings 13

What does “out of season” mean?

  • Not ready
  • Not the normal time
  • Not expected
  • Inconvenient
  • Unplanned

Here we have king Josiah and Elisha the prophet. This is the arrow of deliverance. This is a fascinating study; if you don’t know it, you should read it. Elisha is getting old, and the king is worried that he will leave him stranded. Here he is facing some of the biggest trials of his kingship, and he’s afraid that Elisha will leave him hanging. So Elisha says, “Shoot the arrow of deliverance.” Then he says, “Now I want you to take the rest of your arrows and smite the ground with them.” So the king took his arrows and (pounding the ground three times), said, “Okay, that’s what you wanted, isn’t it?” Then Elisha said, “You should have

What kind of things influenced King Josiah’s decision?

  • Lack of confidence
  • Hesitancy
  • Self-doubt
  • Man-fearing spirit

Out of Season – Matthew 14

This is Jesus walking on the water with Peter. It’s a stormy, chaotic time. They’re happy to say on the boat, and here Jesus comes walking on these crashing, tumultuous waves, and Peter gets a bright idea: “If this is really you, Jesus, ask me to come out on the water with you.” This wasn’t a planned decision. The rest of the disciples weren’t even sure it was Jesus. If you’ve ever been on a small lake in stormy weather, you know: you’re feeling lucky just to make it back to shore in one piece.

It’s amazing: I looked and looked, but I couldn’t find a picture of Peter on the water before he fell. So what kind of things were influencing Peter’s decision to get out of the boat?

  • Trust
  • Impulse
  • Faith

In Season: Acts 19, 20

This is a map of Paul’s travels before he went to Rome.

Acts 19:21
  1. After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome.

Now, even in this day and age, you would have to do a little planning to get where he was going. How much planning do you think it took in Paul’s time?

Acts 20:16
  1. For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost.

We see an adjustment. Before, he didn’t think he could get to Jerusalem by the Pentecost; now he thinks maybe he can.

There was a lot of planning that went into Paul’s travels. And as you read the first scripture, maybe Paul didn’t realize all of the planning he would have to do on the way to keep his decision.

What kinds of things went into Paul’s decision?

  • Wisdom
  • Understanding and feeling the needs of the churches
  • Determination
  • Caring heart
  • Faith
  • Physical resources
  • Prayer
  • He had planned beforehand to take up a collection for the poor saints of Jerusalem.

That’s a pretty weighty list.

So what about you and me in our day-to-day decisions? My goal here isn’t just to review Biblical history.

In Season: John 21

We had a really good “in-season” decision. This is one that wasn’t such a good idea. Peter said, “I go a-fishing.” That was the season. And all the other disciples decided to go with him. This wasn’t the best decision. As you read in John 21, you realize that they really didn’t have the right idea, and Jesus had to do some extra things to educate the leader of the church.

What kinds of things influenced him in this decision?

  • Frustration
  • Shame
  • Lack of vision
  • Depression
  • Didn’t take it to heart
  • Went back to what he knew
  • Unsure
  • Self-righteousness
  • Relying on experience instead of the spirit
  • Spirit of defeat
  • Didn’t have the big picture
  • Maybe as a leader, he wanted to have something for everybody to do together

Influence: Admit it! Take inventory… Nothing is done in a vacuum!

You have things around you that influence your decisions. It’s there. It’s like the air you breathe. Take inventory.

What do I mean by “nothing is done in a vacuum”?

  • Almost everything is interdependent on other things
  • Every decision has an affect on the people around us
  • Everything affects everything

Circumstances: Environment

What are some circumstances of daily life that affect us?

  • The world around us
  • The actions of others around us
  • What God expects me to do today
  • Family
  • Personal circumstances
  • Environment
  • Getting “volun-told” to do something at work
  • The economy
  • Personal limitations
  • Dealing with consequences of previous decisions

Personality

Think about your personality, the personality of your spouse, of your child, of your parent. Think about the personalities around you, of your co-workers. How does that affect our decisions?

  • Some people are introverted, and some are extroverted. They frustrate each other.
  • Some are impulsive
  • Personality affects attitude
  • Some personalities complement each other, and some conflict

Experiences

Experiences affect our decisions. If you’ve gone through something in your past, that affects your decisions. How do experiences affect your decisions?

  • You make a bad decision,a nd that temptation comes back to you.
  • Once bitten, twice shy: If you’ve been hurt by something, you tend to avoid similar situations
  • You assume that future experiences will repeat past ones
  • You can draw on the experience of other people, if you’re smart

Talents

Our talents, our skills, our innate abilities affect our decisions. “I’m going to build this doghouse? I don’t even know how to use a hammer. I’m gonna go and buy a doghouse!” But if you’re the power-tool king, then it’s no problem. Talents to teach, to communicate, to think things through, all these affect our decisions

  • Knowing your limitations
  • You pick the tasks you’re good at
  • I can buy a fixer-upper because I know I can do it
  • It affects who you are
  • Affects who you associate with
  • Sometimes things that you know affect your decisions about things that you don’t know. To the man who only owns a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

Desires

“Man, I really enjoy this.” “I’m really hoping for that.” The desires that we have, things that don’t have any logic or justification. Desires can have justification, but they don’t always. I don’t understand why I like vanilla-swiss-almond ice cream, but that’s the one that I pick. How do desires affect our decisions?

  • Causes you to be greedy
  • You make choices that put you nearer to your desire
  • Desires help you focus
  • God gives you the desires of your heart as long as you serve him first
  • You become goal-oriented
  • (eventually) Our godly desire becomes our fleshly desire
  • Desires may taint or prejudice our decisions

Perceptions: Real and unreal

Your perceptions of a place can affect our decisions. How?

  • Your perceptions are real to you
  • In the business world, perception is reality
  • It affects your testimony
  • Reality is 10% fact, and 90% perception

Ultimatum: Trapped … or am I?

How does it influence your decisions when you feel like you’re trapped? Maybe there’s a third or even a fourth way to go, but you’re frozen between right and left.

Parable of the Sower

As we read this, I want you to picture in your mind the physical things that are described, and the decisions that are made.

Mark 4:14-20
  1. The sower soweth the word.
  2. And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.
  3. And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness;
  4. And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.
  5. And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word,
  6. And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.
  7. And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.

Influences: the good seed is there; the best decision is available, always. But things get in the way, don’t they?

Galatians 6:7
  1. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

That’s a pretty good scripture to keep in mind while you’re making decisions. If we can keep in mind to be honest and humble, then maybe the decision we’re in is because of the seeds we’ve sown before, the decisions we’ve made in the past. If I want to change something, then I need to change the seed that I’m sowing.

  • Attitude seeds
  • Forgiveness seeds
  • Kindness seeds
  • Mercy seeds

To get the fruits of the spirit, you have to sow the seeds of the spirit.

For the last part of this study, I want some people to come up and find a visual aid and talk about a decision you would make with it.

> Jay Ugali – I chose the pan because I’m going to cook something later.

What kinds of things would affect his decision?

  • How many people he has to share it with
  • Just got through a surgery and can’t stand for two minutes (knowing Jay, he’d find a way.)

> Jonathan Santiago – I chose the water-gun because I’m going to have a water fight with my wife.

All kinds of things might change that decision:

  • What kind of weapon she has
  • What kind of day she had
  • How comfortable the couch is

> Pat Mahoney – I chose the static guard because I noticed that my wife’s skirt is kind-of clinging and I wanted to help out.

Things that would affect his decision:

  • What kind of mood she’s in
  • How he tells her
  • Where they’re at

> Paul VonFange – I picked a cup and decided to cut back on coffee

Things that would affect his decision:

  • Withdrawals
  • How many days he’s been on that decision
  • Weather turns cold, he might want something hot to drink
  • What shift he’s working

> Dave Rivera – I have a desire to have my own family, so I picked the marriage brochure and the prayer brochure.

Things that would affect his decision:

  • Who’s available

> Rich Snow

Things that would affect his decision:

  • What commercials are playing

> Rod Williams – I decided to support and defend the country and the freedom and independence it stands for

Things that would affect his decision:

  • Loyalty
  • Retirement
  • Experiences (good or bad)

> John Connor – Want to listen to music in the kitchen

Things that would affect his decision:

  • Water on the floor
  • How long is the cord
  • Safety

> Shaun Mullin – I got this Bible because I want to study.

Things that would affect his decision:

  • If somebody is there to help you or not
  • A life-changing event
  • Other priorities
  • TV
  • Environment
  • Can’t read
  • Need sleep

> Jaucelin Fenelus – I picked the hymnal because I decided to practice on the piano

Things that would affect his decision:

  • Doesn’t have a piano

> Rich Brand – I picked the offering basket because I decided to give more in the offering

Things that would affect his decision:

  • Whether you have a job or not
  • How focused you are on something you want to buy
  • Latest electronic gadget

Real-world use: Decide what your attitude will be … before you go to work, before you open the door!

Before you open the door to your kid’s room,
… to your workplace,
… to that discussion you want to have:

Decide what your attitude will be. That’s a real-world way to prepare for better decisions.

Dynamic Challenge

  • Change the script this week!

Some of you can write out what’s going to happen tomorrow. Make a decision to change the script from the very start. And watch the funny look on people’s faces when you do! Decide! Be pro-active! Most of us don’t like the script, if only because it’s the same thing all the time. Well, re-write the script.

  • Be instant in-season!

Things that are planned and organized and structured, go forward with those things.

  • Considering all things that are fundamental to our faith, be faithful in those things. Then when you find yourself at a decision point, you’ll be ready.

Homework!

Take a favorite Bible story:

  • Analyze the decisions in the story, or
  • Take something we have covered so far, and
  • Make a chart, picture, poem, sculpture, etc.

We’ll display them next week.

The Power Of Love

Sunday Morning Service, 7/11/10

Songs

  • [ All The Earth Will Sing Your Praises]
  • [ Sing, Sing, Sing]
  • [ Joy In The Holy Ghost]
  • [ Worthy Is The Lamb]
  • [ How Great Is Our God]
  • [ At The Cross]
  • [ Love Has Come]

Financial Ministry Open Forum Saturday, July 17th, 10am.

Testimonies

> Barbara Brand

I’m thankful to God not just for the years that I’ve been saved, but for the years that he’s strenthened me and kept me in the race. Some of you know that my grandchildren are visiting with me, and we’ve had so many spiritual conversations with them. I had a grandmother who planted those spiritual seeds of faith for me, and I hope to do the same for them. You never know the effect of what you do. I appreciate all those who have been helping to teach my grandchildren while they’re here. I appreciate my church family. God bless you.

> Jaucelin Fenelus

I’ve been praying to get on shore duty and praying to do good on my chief’s exam. I even turned to my children and asked them to pray for me. Through prayer, I got shore duty and aced my exam. God hears every one of our prayers. When he lays someone on your heart, pray for them. Prayer, love, and action. You can have all the good intentions in the world, but you’ve got to make time for fellowship, for action. Prayer, love, and action: may God bless us through them.

> Bruce Avants

I appreciate all that the Financial ministry does, and the AV guys do. There are so many different facets of ministry; there is one that God wants to lay on your heart. That’s where people get their joy. God has put an ability, a talent in your heart for you to do, so go ahead and get involved.

Message: The Power of Love

> Pastor Thomas

How many of you saw rain where you live yesterday? I was out riding, and it rained so hard in some places that you could hardly see ahead of you. But you know how refreshing it makes everything? That’s the way we need to be with the Holy Spirit. We need to open ourselves up like the hard-baked soil opened up and was transformed by that rain. My grass … well, I had some brown stumps. But my grass turned green overnight. Unfortunately, I’m going to have to cut it now. We’ve got to demonstrate the same transformation, the evidence of the Holy Spirit living in our lives.

I’m going to talk about love this morning: love of our family, of the people around us, of God.

I got some definitions. Just the word “love” is in 158 verses in the New Testament alone. In some of those verses, the word appears two or three times. Just the word “agapo” which is translated as “love” appears in 72 verses. Jesus used that word more than any other translation of “love” in all of his messages. So when Jesus used the word “love”, this is what he meant:

love
to love in a social or moral sense, to love somebody else.
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.

I love my wife; we’ve been married 35 years. I love my kids. I love my grandkids. And you know I love you, too. But I don’t love Pat Taylor the same way I love my wife. There is an intimacy that is inferred in that love, and there is a definition of that love:

love (5362)
fond of men, that is, the affection of one’s wife
love (5388)
fond of one’s children, that is, maternal love

To love has very different meanings throughout the Bible. But you can transpose the word “charity” for the word love for most of them.

agape *(0026)**
affectionate benevolence

You are to love people affectionately. How do you love your family? You don’t always like what your kids do. But what if somebody in your family had done a felony crime and has been sent to prison? Do we not love them anymore? Even if it was a violent crime? We don’t condone what they do, but it doesn’t change the fact that they are family and we love them.

Now what if a member of the church committed murder? How does that play in the church? What if a member of the community is mean and belligerent and just ugly? We’re to love them.

Matthew 5:44
  1. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

So how do we learn to love them? It doesn’t happen when we get baptized in Jesus’ name, I tell you. It takes a lot of work to get to that point. And the key to the message today is:

John 13:35
  1. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

The problem I see in the church today, not just Christian Fellowship, is that they’re judgmental; they’re hypocritical; they’re always ready to tell you what’s wrong. “Oh, I’m sorry you had a bad day.” “I didn’t have a bad day.” But you’re telling me all about what’s wrong. What went right?

You can’t love until you’ve been transformed into a disciple of Christ.

1 Corinthians 13:1-13
  1. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
  2. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
  3. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
  4. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
  5. Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
  6. Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
  7. Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
  8. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
  9. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
  10. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
  11. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
  12. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
  13. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

That’s important when you put it together with the verses in 2 Peter:

2 Peter 1:5-10
  1. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
  2. And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
  3. And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
  4. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  5. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
  6. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:

Now charity, the love of others, is second to the love of the brethren. But you’ve got several steps before you can get to the love of the brethren. It says “If I have faith to move mountains, and I don’t love my brother, I have nothing.” Our love comes from the building-blocks of faith, of discipleship. I’m not going to ask you to love each other; you’re required to do that. What I’m asking you to become is a disciple of Jesus Christ. I’m asking you to learn the ways of Christ. The Bible says that when people look at us, they are not to see us, but the invisible image of Jesus Christ. Odie, I don’t look anything like you. Tony Bushlow and I don’t look anything alike. But when people see Odie or Tony or me, they are supposed to say “There goes a man of Christ.” Is it because of a bumper-sticker or a lapel pin? No. It is because of the aura of Christ in our lives. Have you ever met someone who needed a bath? Did they have to tell you? No. You knew.

When I was on shore duty one time, they assigned us some busy duty to do while we were there. Some of you remember “Snipe’s Castle.” It became the worst barracks. If you messed up something at one of the nicer barracks, they threatened to send you to Snipe’s Castle. And guess which barracks I had to manage? You guessed it. One day I saw this kid who was just read and scratched all over. They had given him a good-old-fashioned scrub-brush shower. He was crying and saying “What do I do?” I said, “Make sure you take regular baths from now on, and this kind of thing won’t happen.”

Have you ever walked into a house where there is tension, where the people in that house were having a rough time? Did you have to be told? You can sense the tension. You can almost taste it. It’s just like one person who needs a bath can smell up a whole room: one person with tension can affect the atmosphere in a whole room.

As men and women of God, things change our ability to love. Pastor Ulysse called me and said “My sister has died; she was in a terrible car crash.” When he called me, there was no problem feeling compassion. I was able to love and feel compassion and empathy because, I’ve been there. When you’ve been involved in that kind of tragedy, love just flows. And they sense that.

But how many times have we been mad? How many times have we been so angry? Can you love when you’re angry like that? It’s not impossible, but it’s very hard. I know that Holly and Jonathan haven’t done it yet, but some day they’re going to have a fight, and it will be difficult in that time for them to express that love for one another. Some of you who are married have been there. (We won’t talk about how many times.) And yet, the Bible says we are to prefer one another, to treat one another compassionately. When we are angry, we don’t think of anybody but us.

What about when worry takes over your life? It’s very difficult for you to walk into a room and get your mind focused, to be nice, to be compassionate, to minister and help other people. That’s what God has called us as Christians to do, but the devil puts all these other things in the way. That’s why you need to add to your virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance. You’ve got to have self-control.

Dan used to do that karate thing where they learned how to break bricks with their hands. Mark Sanders does it all the time; he’s working with his daughters to teach them how to do it. One day they gave Dan a special kind of brick with a glazed finish, and he broke his arm instead of the brick.

The Bible says that if we are to love one another, it’s going to take adding knowledge and temperance, which is self-control, and patience. That’s just endurance with gladness. You’ve got to have patience before you can love the brethren.

We had a guy who was so nit-picky. I was on a trip with the Good News Singers. This was the seventies; I had these black patent-leather platform shoes and blue-green plaid pants. And this one guy showed up with the exact same shoes and pants, and he had a fit. He was demanding that I go home and change clothes. I told him “no.” I just told everybody “that’s my special brother.” But he didn’t have enough patience to see past his vanity. He didn’t want to look like anybody else.

What do people do that really bugs you? You’ve got your list of “I don’t like’s”. What causes that kind of reaction? It isn’t love, is it? It’s allowing a wedge. Jesus was a carpenter, and I believe Satan is, too. He uses all kinds of wedges and drives them between people. But God wants us to have patience.

We used to have a guy who wore Dickey’s workpants with white socks and sandals, and he used to buy those pants about two inches short. And he used to come to church like that. But that guy could work with people and form a connection where I couldn’t. So why should I let the way he like to wear his pants affect our relationship?

The Bible says that the early church gathered together and they didn’t mind anything. They were first called Christians at Antioch because they looked at things and acted like their master, Jesus Christ did. The Bible says that miracles took place in the church. Do we want miracles to take place in our ministry? I’ve been to churches where wheelchairs and crutches lined the walls. God can still perform miracles, but he cannot do it in an atmosphere of division. When Jesus healed the son who had demons, the man said “I went to thy disciples, and they could not cast them out.” Jesus said, “If thou believest, all things are possible.” We need to believe to have brotherly-kindness and see miracles happen.

The reason that lost people don’t come to church is because they see division.

This is one of the greatest churches in the world, but how much greater can it be when lost people walk in the door and can’t leave, because they see the love working through us?

There are no “cliques” in the Bible. They were of one mind and one accord no matter where they were located. I submit to you that we have sections in this church. But it would break my heart if only certain groups would sit here because they don’t like the people who sit over there. What if you walked up to a group of people and suddenly the conversation stopped because you walked up? We want to be included, don’t we? So we cannot exclude if we want to be included. So church, we need to pray for a miracle among us. The Bible says wherever two or three are gathered togther, Jesus is in the midst. But what if he can’t be in the midst, because of all the little obstacles that separate us?

I want this church to shine as Christians, as disciples of Christ.

“Agape” is used 84 times in the Bible, but only 9 times by Christ.

“Philio” (to be a friend to, to have affection for): Jesus used it 7 times, and the disciples twice.

Fondness was only used one time. Fondness is not love.

Fraternal affection was used three times.

If love wasn’t essential, Peter wouldn’t have written about it. He wouldn’t have put it at the top of the stairs, so to speak. So have knowledge; have temperance; have patience. And have love.

If someone offered you a million dollars to climb a set of stairs, you’d be killing yourself to get to the top. But spirtual effectiveness is worth so much more than money.

1 John 2:5
  1. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.

Let the love of God make you perfect.

We’ve all sinned, but if we confess our sins, God is faithful to forgive us. God forgives, and other people forgive, too. I know that my wife loves to hear me say, “I’m sorry; I love you,” even if I was right. That’s what God wants to hear. That’s what your brothers and sisters want to hear.

You take the next step to knowledge, to temperance, to patience, to love.

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