Service Notes

Notes from Sunday Worship Services

These Things Doth The Lord Hate: Feet That Are Swift In Running To Mischief

Sunday Morning Service, 4/11/10

Songs

  • [ Open The Eyes Of My Heart]
  • [ Blessed Be Your Name]
  • [ Enough]
  • [ Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing]
  • [ At The Cross]
  • [ God Is Working]
  • [ Power Of Praise]
  • [ You Are Worthy Of My Praise]
  • [ All To You]

Testimonies

> Terrance Taylor II

I’m just glad to be here. God has blessed, and I’m thankful to be amongst the brothers and sisters, to see you grow. Amen.

> Liline Ulysse

I’m so glad to be here, and I’m glad to be in a ministry like Christian Fellowship Church. I’ve been in the ministry here for fifteen years. Most of you know how it is with my family; we’ve been from Haiti to Florida to here. It’s a blessing; God bless you.

> John Hoffman

I was sharing with everybody this morning that we live in a time and a world that really needs ministering. The lady who cuts my hair shared with me that her husband of forty-two years left her for a younger woman. She’s been here before, but maybe this is what she needs to wake her up. This morning I read in the paper that the leader of Poland was killed in a plane crash, so a whole country is without a leader. We live in a world that needs ministering; look around you.

> Jonathan Santiago

What I love about this ministry is that there’s always something to do. When you’re fishing, like out on the base, different things attract different people. Regardless of whether you’re single, married, young, or old, God will allow you to minister to a specific type of people. Holly is one of the hardest working people I’ve ever known, and I look forward to what God has given us to do.

> Holly Paine

I can just say “ditto.” There are people who are hungry and hurting and looking for answers. I thank God that he’s the answer, even when we haven’t figured out the questions. I’m thankful to have a clear direction in my ministry and my life, and with Jonathan, that we can go and do what God has called us to do.

> Cedric Christian

I was going over a Bible study the other day, and reading a scripture in Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 1:5
  1. Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

God really drew me closer in paying attention to what he was saying. He knows each and every one of us, and sees us before we are even born. That blesses me, because I see that truth magnified in my life. Now that I’ve humbled myself to God and seek to his will more and more every day, I see now that I didn’t know what my direction was, but God knows. If you need direction, know that God already has a plan for your life, and he sees you every day that you wake up.

Message: These Things Doth The Lord Hate: Feet That Be Swift In Running To Mischief

> Pastor Ulysse

This is a series that we started and are continuing. Let me remind you the objective of this series is for us to identify the things that God hates, to make sure we don’t have them in any part of our lives. And if we do, we can fix that. We do want to please God, and we do want to hate whatever he hates, amen?

Let us read this together:

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

We have seen what a proud look is. It is defined as one who exalts himself or undervalues others. We saw that there were different types of pride. We even have church denomination pride. We saw that there was positive and negative pride. One can be justly proud; we are proud of who we are. We are wonderfully made. We suffer not from too much positive pride, but from too little self-esteem and from too much self-condemnation.

A lying tongue is the practice of telling lies, speaking with intent to deceive. The Bible says that the devil is the original liar. He lied to man about God, then he lied about men to God. That is what he continues to do every day; he takes your trash and tells me about it, then he takes my trash and tells you about it. Lies can do harm to reputation. The Bible says that if we say we have fellowship with (God), we do lie and we walk in darkness. He says “I know him” and walks not in his commandments is a liar. So we lie by our actions.

We went over hands that shed innocent blood. We saw what killing is about: murder starts with the intent of the heart. We read in Matthew that murder proceeds forth out of the heart. There isn’t any greater shedding of innocent blood than abortion. Ninety-three percent of abortions are performed simply out of convenience.

We went over a heart that deviseth wicked imaginations. We defined imagination as the mental power to form images of what has never existed. Most imaginations are lies. For example, you hear a voice on the radio and you imagine what that person looks like; most times that picture is entirely false. We read in the Bible that man’s heart is evil from his youth.

This morning, we are going over feet that are swift in running to mischief. You know, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. I remember saying once before at least, that if God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, he should not be hard to figure out. If God is the same, we can go to Isaiah and read, and know that what is written is written for our instruction, for our edification, and we should find help in this scripture:

Isaiah 59:1-7
  1. Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:
  2. But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
  3. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness.
  4. None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity.
  5. They hatch cockatrice’ eggs, and weave the spider’s web: he that eateth of their eggs dieth, and that which is crushed breaketh out into a viper.
  6. Their webs shall not become garments, neither shall they cover themselves with their works: their works are works of iniquity, and the act of violence is in their hands.
  7. Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths.

When you read this scripture, we know that it’s not talking about us. By the context, we know exactly who is it talking about. But if we know that the scriptures are written for our edification, then we should see ourselves in every word of the scriptures. I would want you to read Isaiah 58, and then make sense of chapter 59. This is God telling his prophet to talk to the children of Israel:

Isaiah 58:1-14
  1. Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.
  2. Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.
  3. Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours.
  4. Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high.
  5. Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD?
  6. Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?
  7. Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?
  8. Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward.
  9. Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;
  10. And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noon day:
  11. And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.
  12. And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.
  13. If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:
  14. Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

The people were seeking him; they fasted. they called upon the Lord, but nothing happened. They finally got tired; they said “C’mon, Lord. We’re tired. We’re doing too much.” But God said, “You are doing them, but you’re not doing them right. I want you to come and seek within yourself, and get it right. Be sincere; don’t lie to yourselves.”

This morning it is feet that are swift in running to mischief. Who doesn’t know what “foot” means? I looked and found that it is the lower part of the leg below the ankle. It is also the measurement. It is also the lowest part of any thing. It is also the way of life, manner of life, movement to do certain things.

Mischief is a troublesome behavior; it is also a large or disorderly crowd. It is also wrongheadedness. Keep that in mind.

So going through the definition, you can see it is more than what we just read. Having a foot that is swift in running to mischief is having a way of life that is swift to watch, to run toward wrongheadedness and troublesome behavior.

We are not rocks; we have the mind of Christ. We are spiritual men and women; we need to judge everything. So we cannot just go light; we must go deep. We run to do things because we do not take time to think. The more we think, the slower we go and the better it would be. We all know that.

I take the accusers of the adulterous woman:

John 8:1-5
  1. Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.
  2. And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.
  3. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
  4. They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
  5. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?

We all know what they had in mind. They were wrongheaded; they wasted no time. They had to go quick! Fast! And they told Christ, “Moses commanded…” Remember what I said last time; if she were taken “in the very act” then there should be two of them.

John 8:6
  1. This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.

Jesus took his time. He wasn’t even in a hurry to give an answer.

John 8:7
  1. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

Basically, Jesus said “The law says so; we have to obey the law. But whoever has not sinned among you, just cast the first stone. After that, whoever can throw as many as they want.”

John 8:8-9
  1. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
  2. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

If only they would take a little time to think, they would not do that. So they were fast to go to mischief, to do the wrong thing. But once Jesus gave them the opportunity to think about it: “Hey, think about it!” They thought about it, and they thought “You know, I am not going to be the first.” and Jesus was the only one. If Jesus had thrown the first stone, then anybody could do it. But Jesus said, “Go and sin no more.”

The Bible teaches us that we have to be slow in speaking, but swift to hear.

James 1:19-20
  1. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:
  2. For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

You know in Exodus, we saw the practices of public punishment and public execution. The crucifixion started because they wanted to make the punishment as cruel as possible, so that everyone could look and be afraid of doing the same thing. There are some places where they still do this today, and believe me, it works! Once you get an opportunity to think, then you would probably make a decision that, at least, you had taken the time to think about it.

Thoughtlessness is another name for sin. The real problem is presumption. We don’t think, but we presume, and that’s where the problem starts. I don’t have to look too deep to find that; the problem is in my own life. We don’t stop to think; we just do something, and the problem starts. We allow our instant to rule over us. We are being led by our own lusts. That’s how we run into mischief. Our manner of life is just “Go!” Thoughtlessness and presumption is a great wickedness.

David wrote in Psalms:

Psalms 19:12-14
  1. Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.
  2. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.
  3. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

Presumptious sin: we presume. We just think that it would be the right thing, and we go ahead and do it. Too late, we find that we are on the wrong path. We have something in front of us, and we are praying for an answer. Even while you are praying, you have something going through your mind. Something pops into your mind, and you say “That’s it!” and you just go do it. I love the scripture where Israel just went against the Philistines into battle.

1 Samuel 4:2
  1. And the Philistines put themselves in array against Israel: and when they joined battle, Israel was smitten before the Philistines: and they slew of the army in the field about four thousand men.

So Israel lost four thousand men.

1 Samuel 4:3
  1. And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the LORD smitten us to day before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.

They asks the right question. They said, “We got smitten. That means something is not right. Why is that happening?” Spiritual men and women judge every single thing. You have an accident and you say, “God, is there something you are trying to tell me?” Maybe it is just an accident, but there is a lesson there to be learned.

So they asked, “Why is this happening?” But they didn’t even wait for an answer. They said “Let us…” and they came up with their own answer. Of course, in verse 10:

1 Samuel 4:10-11
  1. And the Philistines fought, and Israel was smitten, and they fled every man into his tent: and there was a very great slaughter; for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen.
  2. And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.

All God is asking is to come back to him. The things that he hates, if they are evil, just take some time to think, to meditate. If we are serious about God, we need to take time to think, to ask God a question, and to take time to wait for an answer. Otherwise, we will run to mischief, which God definitely hates. As Christians, we can identify the big things, the killing, the adultery. But as Christians, we should also be able to identify the little things:

1 Peter 2:1-3
  1. Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,
  2. As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:
  3. If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

Sometimes we take the Bible to read, and we cannot even read the gospels, because we are looking for the difficult things. But as newborn babes, we need to get the milk as often as we can.

  • Malice is ill-will, intent to do harm.
  • Guile is slyness, cunning, craftiness, indicating ability to deceive or trick by perverting or twisting
  • Hypocrisy is pretending to be what you are not.
  • Envy is to look upon, to desire what someone else has.

All these are mischiefs.

Now I want to talk about what I think is directly linked to feet running to mischief. I think you will find it everywhere: it is gossip. It’s like there is something, once you hear something, and you have the gossip blood in you, you cannot wait. Sometimes you want to pull apart and send a text message, because you cannot wait. It seems like, as soon as you hear it, your feet just want to run and tell someone. This is mischief. It is important that we know this, because it’s so common. I want to share with you about a small mind and a great mind.

A small mind speaks about evil, gossip. A small mind is really good at that. But a great mind speaks about ideas, ideals, philosophies, events. Think about it, when we are talking. We know everyone, the Bible says, has a problem with the tongue. The Bible even says that if you can control your tongue, you are a perfect man; you are a perfect woman. The Bible says to make sure that your words are few. So it is important, when you are talking to people, to think about what kind of mind you have, whether it is a small mind or a great mind.

Not only God hates this mischief, but it isn’t even good for you and me. When we gossip, not only we sin because our feet rush to it, but we hurt at least three people:

  • We hurt ourselves. If I am gossiping to Jay about Paul, I am decreasing myself in front of Jay.
  • We hurt the person we are speaking about.
  • We hurt the person we are speaking to.

If you are speaking about someone to me, and you are calling them a thief, then you really mess my mind up. You fill my mind with trash, and you can’t just erase that. As a pastor, of course it is important to me to know what is going on. If there is one thing I am good at, it is in reading the attitude of someone who is coming to me to tell me about somebody else. I can tell if it is something that person wants to fix, or if it is something that person wants me to be aware of, or it is something that person just wants to tell anybody about.

How do you make a difference? How do you know? How do you avoid getting involved in that? If you are telling about somebody and you don’t see them around, most likely it is something you don’t want to hear about. If they have to pull you aside, most likely they are running to mischief.

The Bible says God hates these things, and we have to hate what God hates. Search yourself: you know better if you have pride; you know better if you have shed innocent blood; you know better if you have imaginations. You know better if your ways of life are running to do what is wrong in your own mind. God knows that too, but I want you to recognize that it is in the little things. Like in Israel: it is not in having the ark. Like it is not in having the Bible; having the Bible is good, but God wants it to be in our own hearts. Look deep in yourself and see: if they are not in you, then praise God. But if they are in you, then come back to God. God will say, “I am here.” He will always be there for you; you just need to return to him by doing what is right.

God bless you.

He Is Risen

Easter Sunday Service, 4/4/10

Songs

  • [ One Day]
  • [ Lord I Lift Your Name On High]
  • [ Hosanna]
  • [ I’m Singing]
  • [ Because Of Your Love]
  • [ Everywhere I Go]
  • [ That’s Why We Praise Him]
  • [ Grace Flows Down]
  • [ I’m Amazed]

Testimonies

> Pat Taylor

I am privileged and thankful to be here this Sunday morning. Last week, Pastor challenged us to really think and reflect in this week leading up to Easter. This is the day that Jesus overcame death, but there was a lot of pain and suffering leading up to that victory. As I watched the Passion, one of the recurring themes was Jesus’ interaction with the disciples, especially Peter. It seems that every time Peter thought he was on the mountaintop, when he thought he was doing right, when he thought he would never deny Jesus, that’s the time he denied him. How many times in my works do I deny him? Pastor Paine says that the enemy of the best decision is a good decision. One of the scriptures that comes to mind is:

Psalms 51:17
  1. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

I think sometimes that when we think we’re doing right, when we think we’re at our “A” game, maybe that’s what prevents us from doing our best for God. We should always be doing a hundred and ten percent, but God wants us to come before him with a humble and contrite spirit. That’s when he can truly use us. When I realize that I can do nothing without God, that’s when he can us eme.

> Mike Jackson

One of my greatest joys is being a father. My daughter is just amazing. How many of you in here are parents? Put your hand up. Put your hand down if you would not be willing to give your life for your child. I think about why we’re here this morning. We have a father who chose to give his life for us. When I look at that sacrifice, sometimes I find it hard to believe that God would do something like that for us, but those of you who are parents an understand. In order for it to be powerful, it has to be personal. You should be like that every single day. He did it because he loved us. I always want God to be able to smile when he sees me and says “That’s my son.” God loves us because we are his children. It’s amazing to be able to know and embrace the truth, to be thankful for what God has given us. I don’t know about tomorrow, but for today, I’m going to give everything I have for God.

> Connie Concepcion

I was watching the Passion of Christ and thought, “Why did he have to die for us? Why did he have to suffer so much?” He did it because he loved us. The first commandment is to love God, and the second to love our brothers and sisters as ourselves.

Message: He Is Risen

> Pastor Thomas

I’ve asked some men in the church to read from Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Let’s listen to the story of Easter as told by the disciples; each one picks up something different.

Matthew 28:1-10
  1. In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
  2. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
  3. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:
  4. And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
  5. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
  6. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
  7. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.
  8. And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.
  9. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.
  10. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.
Matthew 28:17-20
  1. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
  2. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
  3. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
  4. 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.
Mark 16:1-18
  1. And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.
  2. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.
  3. And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?
  4. And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.
  5. And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.
  6. And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.
  7. But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.
  8. And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid.
  9. Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.
  10. And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept.
  11. And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.
  12. After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country.
  13. And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them.
  14. Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.
  15. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
  16. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
  17. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
  18. They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
Luke 24:1-36
  1. Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.
  2. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.
  3. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.
  4. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:
  5. And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?
  6. He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee,
  7. Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.
  8. And they remembered his words,
  9. And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.
  10. It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles.
  11. And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.
  12. Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.
  13. And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.
  14. And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
  15. And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.
  16. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.
  17. And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?
  18. And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?
  19. And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:
  20. And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.
  21. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.
  22. Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre;
  23. And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive.
  24. And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.
  25. Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
  26. Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
  27. And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
  28. And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further.
  29. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.
  30. And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.
  31. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.
  32. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?
  33. And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them,
  34. Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.
  35. And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.
  36. And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
Luke 24:44-49
  1. And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
  2. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
  3. And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
  4. And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
  5. And ye are witnesses of these things.
  6. 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.
John 20:1-20
  1. The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.
  2. Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the LORD out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.
  3. Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre.
  4. So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre.
  5. And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in.
  6. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie,
  7. And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.
  8. Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.
  9. For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.
  10. Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.
  11. But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,
  12. And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
  13. And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my LORD, and I know not where they have laid him.
  14. And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.
  15. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.
  16. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.
  17. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
  18. Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the LORD, and that he had spoken these things unto her.
  19. Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
  20. And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the LORD.

I had them read that because people saw and experienced different things. What I would like to do tonight is open your eyes to your perspective on the risen savior, and where you are with your walk with God.

When the women came, they had some concerns with the physical body. The other disciples were hiding and afraid and didn’t know what to do. The women were the last ones at the cross; they stood there when all the disciples had left. They were not afraid, even when all the other disciples had left. They were the first ones at the tomb, the first to see the angels. Ladies, you have an important role to play; don’t ever underestimate what God would have you to do.

Church, sometimes you have problems, but realize that Jesus can sit on your problems. He can roll them away. We make our own problems. How many of you have carried on a whole conversation with yourself, just about someone else? Sometimes we talk a problem into a bigger thing than it already is. We need to stop having these conversations with ourselves, and start having them with God.

So they saw the empty tomb, and they were afraid, and they saw the angels, and they went to tell the disciples. The disciples didn’t believe them, but they came to see the empty tomb. I love the bickering between Peter and John. John outran Peter and came to the tomb first, but he was afraid to go in. Peter went in and saw the grave-clothes; all John saw was the empty tomb. After they left, Mary goes into the tomb, and what does she see? She sees the angels, and has a conversation. Isn’t that amazing? Three people go in and had three different experiences. After Jesus spoke with Mary, he visited those two on their way to Amaeus. They had all that knowledge, but they didn’t have an understanding. So Jesus was walking and talking with them, and I love that passage “Didn’t our hearts burn within us?” When Peter preached the first message in the book of Acts, the Bible says it pricked their hearts. That’s how God ministers to us. It’s what makes those scriptures powerful.

Then Jesus had a conversation with the disciples and they believed him, then. But it’s amazing that it took thirty days and several visits to accomplish with the disciples what he accomplished with those two on their way to Amaeus, and what he accomplished with Mary. Why did it take thirty days? I believe it was because he was showing them the deeper things of God, the things that would allow them to share with the whole world. Do you realize that those eleven men changed the face of the world? You can, too.

What did Jesus tell Mary to do? Go and tell.

What did Jesus tell the men from Amaeus do? Nothing. But they ran and told, too. Now from Jerusalem to Amaeus is a day’s journey. They had walked that way, but they ran back to share with the disciples.

What did Jesus tell the disciples to do? Go and teach; heal the sick; forgive sins; baptize. He gave them specific instructions that he wanted them to carry out for the rest of their lives.

As we look at these scriptures, I want us to consider: are we physically ministering to Jesus, but not spiritually ministering? That’s what the women were doing. They came to the tomb with all the physical things to minister to the body of Jesus. It’s like the story of Mary and Martha. Martha was worried about the physical things. I thought that every note sung this morning was just perfect, but I’d rather have a few imperfect notes and spiritual ministering going on, than a perfect choir and no ministering.

We had an event once for the senior leadership of the church. Pastor Paine bought a grill, and I just sat back and watched. Pastor Paine and Dan were arguing about what goes where, and then “Books” Wilson picked up the instructions and started helping. I got to see three double-d personalities working to put something together.

Sometimes we try to live our life without reading the instructions. The B.I.B.L.E. is what? Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.

The disciples didn’t know what to do because they weren’t following Jesus; they were just talking to each other. You’ll never get anywhere by seeking counsel from one another. Who are the best marriage counselors? The ones with a string of divorces behind them. The best alcoholism counselors are former alcoholics. I see those exercise videos on TV, and then I get a bowl of ice cream and sit down to watch, saying “I could do that.”

Start getting out and testifying; start sharing the gospel with people. It’s amazing what can happen when you follow the instructions.

Jesus told the disciples to go out and teach and minister. Those are the things he tells us to do every day. Because they did, the whole world was changed. What was not in their life when Jesus was risen? They didn’t have the commitment to see it through. But when he visited them, he gave them commitment, power, and diligence to see it through. Easter isn’t about eggs and candy. It’s about a risen savior. This Easter, get up out of your chairs and be the disciple that Jesus has called you to be. What’s wrong with the church today (not just Christian Fellowship, but the Church) is that we lack discipleship. We have membership, but we need discipleship.

I’ve found myself at different places in my life; Sometimes I’m at the road to Amaeus; sometimes I’m at the tomb. But I’m just like you; I’ve got to leave this pulpit and get out and teach and minister to people. At the end of the day, let’s all be like the disciples who went out to minister and change the world.

Are You Ready?

Sunday Morning Service, 3/28/10

Songs

  • [ Majestic]
  • [ I Have A Hope]
  • [ High And Lifted Up]
  • [ Love The Lord]
  • [ Great In Power]
  • [ How Can I Keep From Singing]
  • [ Oh The Glory Of It All]
  • [ Again I Say Rejoice]
  • [ One Less Stone]
  • [ Go Fight The Battle]

Message: Are You Ready?

> Pastor Thomas

Look over there and you’ll see two photographs. The one on the left is of the Garden of Gethsemane, and the one on the right is looking over the temple mount in Jerusalem. It’s real. Our faith is based on fact; we don’t have to go to some superstition. I’ve traveled around the world. I’ve seen temples in Sri Lanka where they worship over a million gods. How in the world can you keep track? I’m so glad that we worship one God. Take a simple religion like buddhism. Buddhism preaches a practice of peace and faith, yet some of the nations who practice it are the most violent on earth. Of all the faiths on the world today, ours is the only one that says to pray for your enemies and to do good to those who despitefully use you.

I remember one day going through the toll booth, and the lady was just sticking out her hand. She was on the phone, not even looking at me. So I gave her the money. She took it, did her thing at the cash register, still on the phone, and reached out and dropped the change without even looking. The coins dropped to the ground and the dollar bills floated in the wind. I wanted to say anything but “God bless you.” But I got out of the car, picked up the money, and said “What you did wasn’t very nice, but I want you to know that God loves you.” She looked at me. God wants us to share our testimony wherever we go.

> Will Booker

I want you to know that I’m a believer in Jesus Christ. When I was a small boy, my Mom used to play gospel music. I didn’t grow up in an environment of going to church, but I had an environment of church all around me. As I grew up, my friends used to invite me to church and little events like Good Friday and Palm Sunday. But I saw those same people getting in trouble, and I didn’t want to be part of that. In 1998, I learned about the truth of baptism and having the word of God in your heart. That’s a great thing, to have a hope and dream, to have an inspiration of God. I thank the Lord Jesus Christ for his mercy, his love, and his inspiration.

> Kandy Hunt

It’s about time. I’m so glad to be here today. I love each and every one of you. I wasn’t here last Sunday; I was so sick. I was hurting so bad. I pulled a muscle in my back. I didn’t want to go to the hospital; I hate hospitals, so I tried to self-medicate. But finally, my sister told me “You’d better go; you don’t know what it is.” Finally I went, and they gave me a shot, and after a while I felt a little better but I was still hurting. I couldn’t even stand up straight. They gave me some medicine to take and sent me home. So I went home and prayed, and look what Jesus has done now!

> (walking back and forth)

I want you to know that I am blessed! God bless every one of you.

> Pastor Thomas

It’s Palm Sunday, and we’re going to look at the story of Jesus’ trumphant entry into Jerusalem. But more than that, I want to focus on “If we only knew.”

During the time of the passover, there were thousands of sacrifices a day. There were people all over the world coming to Jerusalem to worship.

Luke 19:41-42
  1. And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,
  2. Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.

Here, the word “peace” also means joy and happiness.

Luke 19:43-44
  1. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side,
  2. And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.

Christ was speaking of the destruction that was going to take place in about thirty years. The Romans were going to come and literally tear down the stones of the temple mound. If you go there, you will see that the stones are different beginning at a certain level. And if you look at excavations of the surrounding streets, you can see where they collapsed from the weight of the stones.

I used to have a Camaro Super-Sport Convertible. If I had that car right now, it would be worth thirty-eight thousand dollars, and I only payed three hundred bucks for it. Man, I wish I’d have kept that car! Did you ever see a show called “the pickers”? They go in and find all kinds of stuff that people have that is just junk. But one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. They might pay fifty or a hundred bucks for something that’s worth seven hundred dollars. And it’s just lying there in a pile of junk. Church, we live in a pile of junk. We live in a world that is corrupt, deceitful, and self-centered. You can be that treasure that is laying in the midst of that junk if you would only realize what belongs to you.

When Jesus crested the hill and looked down on the city, he saw all the religious people of the temple. They were faithful, religious people, but they had become so accustomed to tradition that they failed to truly realize what they were doing. They were in a rut, and the only difference between a rut and a grave is a matter of depth.

Church, are you in a rut? Do you come to church, go home, and watch the football or basketball games? Do you get so wrapped up in your world that, after you make your sacrifice of praise, you go back to where you came from and blend in with the crowd? There was a tremendous crowd at the Mount of Olives. They were casting down their clothes, and palm branches, and saying “Hosanna, hosanna; blessed is the he who comes in the name of the Lord.” You might think that riding on a donkey is a silly thing, but on the contrary; that’s what the king did. When Jesus got on that colt, that foal, he knew the statement he was making. Yet he didn’t do it for the crowd that surrounded him, but for the crowd that was in the temple. It’s like the star; the religious leaders of the day should have known, but it took somebody from the outside to point it out to them.

We’ve all got to take our eyes off the mirror. Now, I know that you looked in the mirror this morning to get yourself ready, but you don’t walk all day with a mirror in front of you. I like driving with my top off (not my shirt: the car). And my hair goes every-which-way. I don’t pay attention to it, but Pam says, “Comb your hair!” Sometimes we care more about what the world sees in us than what God sees in it. The Bible says:

Deuteronomy 32:29
  1. O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!

Most of you have a retirement account. I’m talking about getting retirement account that will pay off for all eternity. Are you faithfully putting into the

Psalms 81:13
  1. Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways!
Ezekiel 18:31-32
  1. Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
  2. For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.

To really be alive is to enjoy life. If all you’re thinking of is the “Cant’s” and “Don’ts”, you will never live in the joy of the Lord. When I got married, it really put a cramp on my dating. But should I complain? Or should I realize that the joy I have in my marriage is greater than any experience I could have by dating?

We shouldn’t look at our relationship with Christ as a thing to regret. We should say, “God, I’m going to live for you because that is what will bring me joy.” God has things for you.

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.
2 Corinthians 12:3
  1. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)

God wants to take you places in his spirit. When was the last time you laid hands on somebody and saw a miracle take place? Do you have the fruit of the spirit? Pastor Ulysse has been preaching a series on the fruit of the spirit. He calls it “Crowning your life”. Do you have those fruits of the spirit manifest in your life? And you know, after you manifest those fruits, God has gifts for you. There is the gift of prophecy, and the gift of encouragement, and the gift of love. God will give you these gifts after you manifest his fruits. It’s like you have to get a bit of experience building a house before you become a craftsman.

Is God proud of you, or is he looking down and weeping? Did you ever see those plaques with odd angles, and you look at it and it doesn’t make sense? Yet if you focus correctly, the odd angles disappear and a word appears. Church, you’ve got to get your eyes focused. You’ve got to get them off the cares of the world. You’re part of the crowd saying “Hosanna, hosanna”, but will you also be part of the crowd that said a week later, “Give us Barabbas”?

Parents, are you a testimony to your child? Do they know how they should live by your example? Do they know and say, “God is important to my family”? Do the people at work know your testimony of God? I remember a brother telling me that he went to work on Monday and someone asked him how his weekend went. He told him about going to church and this and that, and the co-worker said, “I can tell that you’re still enjoying your weekend!”

Do you reenact the blessings you’ve gotten? Do you sing, as the children do, “Count your blessings, one by one”? I’ve told you to get a notebook. Write down in it every time that God has blessed you, and in the dry times you’ll be able to read from that notebook and find the joy of your salvation.

When Jesus crested that hill on the Mount of Olives, he knew that the people didn’t understand.

Matthew 23:37
  1. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

How many times has God wanted to gather you you to his bosom, but you were too busy? Know this: we don’t know when Christ is coming back. We don’t know when that trump is going to sound. God does, but we don’t. There’s no expiration-date stamped on the bottom of our foot. But one day, God is going to come. A family in Kentucky were on their way to a wedding and were killed in an accident with a Semi. Do you think they knew they were going to die? They were on the way to a wedding!

We have no way of knowing, but there is a way of living our life so that we can see with our hearts all that God has prepared for us. We are going to be of the crowd that says “Blessed be the name” even if the rest of the crowd is saying “Give us Barabbas.” There are places in the world where they celebrate the victory of a soccer game and there is rioting in the streets. They might not start out that way, but it happens. Once you get involved with the wrong crowd, it will persuade you to do things that you’ll regret. But I want to talk to you about the crowd I’m going to be in.

Revelation 7:9-17
  1. After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;
  2. And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
  3. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,
  4. Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
  5. And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
  6. And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
  7. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.
  8. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.
  9. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

That’s the crowd I want to hang around with, because I’m going to hang around with them forever. But if you don’t make that choice today, you’re going to lose the oppportunity. God sees that choice every day. He loves you, even today. But I give you this final warning. Jesus looked and saw apathy; he saw religion and tradition.

Romans 11:17-24
  1. And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;
  2. Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.
  3. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.
  4. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:
  5. For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.
  6. 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.
  7. And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.
  8. For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?

God wants us all to be at the same family. I love this church because of its diversity of race, age, you name it. This is what the church is going to look like: people of all nations and all tongues, worshiping together. But don’t you miss out because you think you deserve it. Don’t miss out because of self-righteousness. Don’t miss out because you’re hanging with the wrong crowd. Every time Jesus healed somebody, he said “Thy faith hath made the whole.” It’s your faith that makes a difference. And if you’re faithful, then on that day, you’ll be able to lay down your palm branches and say “Hosanna, hosanna. Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord.”

Say Unto This Mountain

Sunday Morning Service, 3/21/10

Songs

  • [ Hungry]
  • [ Blessed Be Your Name]
  • [ Let Us Adore]
  • [ I Know That My Redeemer Lives]
  • [ All The Earth Will Sing Your Praises]
  • [ Field Of Souls]
  • [ Everywhere I Go]
  • [ All To You]
  • [ You Are Worthy Of My Praise]

Message: Say Unto This Mountain

> Pastor Paine

We look today to the gospel of Mark. Christ is riding triumphant into Jerusalem. He comes to the fig tree and curses it. I suspect his disciples wondered why he would do such a thing. He goes to the temple and drives out the moneychangers. Then he speaks to his disciples about the cursing of the fig tree, and he tells his disciples to speak unto this mountain.

The psalmist says:

Psalms 24:1-10
  1. The earth is the LORD’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
  2. For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.
  3. Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?
  4. He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.
  5. He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
  6. This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah.
  7. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
  8. Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.
  9. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
  10. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.

That mountain was a valley. I’m asking you today to prayerfully find out if you’re not crystal clear right now, what’s the mountain that you need to speak to. We’re going to look at the scriptures and find out exactly what Christ meant when he said “Say unto this mountain” and when he cursed the fig tree. Let’s look at how God can move mountains. Can you tell me some mountains in the life experience that we need to see moved in our life so that we can get on with the thing tha God wants us to do.

  • Finance
  • Complacency
  • Pride
  • Health
  • Forgiveness
  • Family Issues
  • Self-Doubt
  • Fear
  • Uncertainty
  • Addictions
  • Anxiety
  • Selfishness
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Procrastination

Here are a lot of mountains that we face; a lot of things that hold us back. I’m sure that if I were willing to keep writing, you would be willing to keep telling. We climb a mountain today and think that all our problems are solved; the coast is clear. Then we find that we have a whole new problem, and we think, “I should have stayed with my old problem. I had a ten-dollar problem, and now I have a forty-dollar problem!”

Sonia Giebler’s daughter said to her when she was about four years old, “Mom, am I on your very last nerve?” Sometimes it’s just one thing after another; it seems like you can’t catch your breath. You think, “As soon as I clear this hurdle, there are two more!”

Mark 11:12-13
  1. And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry:
  2. And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet.

This fig tree didn’t have figs yet; nobody got to this fig tree before Jesus. But Jesus was hungry and he expected to find figs on this tree.

Mark 11:14
  1. And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.

Why? I read this verse and I wonder why? Maybe tomorrow there would be figs on it, or next month. Maybe I’ll start doing something meaningful next year, after I graduate; after I get out of the Navy; after I get married; …. Procrastination. Ask yourself, “What is the mountain that I need to speak to?” Sometimes, that mountain is imaginary.

For years, Debbie and I lived in a community near Lake Michigan. In the winter, the temperature and humidity works together to create a temperature inversion, and it appears as if there is a mountain in the form of a cloud right above Lake Michigan. The air is still; there is no wind; it usually happens in the winter. The cold air and the moisture comes from the lake stays right there. If you took a picture, you could tell somebody it’s a mountain covered in snow, and they might just believe you. But a plane could fly right through it.

Some mountains are made of clouds; they look solid and impressive, but if you try, you can fly right through them. But some mountains are made of granite.

So Jesus cursed the fig tree. Why would he do that? Does that make sense to anybody here? At least here in the gospel of Mark we don’t get any “Q&A” on it. But come down to verse 20:

Mark 11:20-22
  1. And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots.
  2. And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away.
  3. And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.

Do you think that Jesus needed to be told that? But Peter needed to say it. And Jesus said, “Have faith in God.” Do you think that answer would have satisfied you? It wouldn’t me.

Mark 11:22
  1. And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.

There is power in your words. When you speak criticism; when you speak doubt; when you speak doom-and-gloom, there is power in your words. I’m talking about the source of your faith. I’m talking about what you believe. Somebody sang a song once, “If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.” Say that often enough and you know what you’ll get? Bad luck.

Mark 11:23
  1. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.

Sometimes we ask for things that we don’t expect to get. I want you to think about: maybe that’s a mountain that the devil has set before you. Maybe you need to stop doubting; maybe you need to start believing. We’re talking about speaking to the mountain.

What about when you’re speaking doubt? What about when you’re speaking fear? What about when you’re speaking criticism? I don’t think there is one of us who wouldn’t understand the damage that can happen when a parent calls their children “stupid”. Some of us still bear the scars from that treatment. We know that it is important not to speak those words to a child, because they grow up believing it. Some of us speak those same words to ourselves.

Speak to the mountain and it will be moved. Expect God to bless you. Some of you need to believe that God loves you, just the way you are. Should you change? Yes. But you can’t do anything to make God love you more. God loves you as much as possible right now.

Jesus tells a parable of the prodigal son. The prodigal son says to his father, “Give me my inheritance.” And he went and wasted it on riotous living. He threw a great big party that lasted as long as his money. Then he came to himself and said, “I will return to my father.” Where was the father? He was looking. I think the father climbed a tree or got up on a rock or a high point on the farm and looked, because it says when he was yet a great way off, the father saw him. And it says when he saw his son, he ran to him. He said, “Get the fatted calf. Get some clothes. Get some slippers for his feet.” The son didn’t have to do anything. Do you think that God loves you any less?

Speak to the mountain. Tell that mountain of doubt; tell that mountain of guilt to go away.

Maybe you’ve heard the story about a pastor whose son went away to college. He came back and invited a young lady his age to church. Everyone at church knew her reputation; she was the harlot of the town. He invites her to church and she makes a profession of faith. She accepts Jesus Christ and was born again. Rumors are flying: “Where did he meet her?” The choir director invited her to join the choir, and some people quit the choir over it. She keeps coming to church, and the preacher’s son and her get engaged. They call a church meeting. They say “Preacher, you can’t let your son marry that girl. You know her reputation.” The preacher thought long and hard, and spoke to that mountain. He said, “It’s not her reputation you doubt; it’s the saving power of Jesus Christ.”

Somebody might need to go right to the mirror and say “I’m forgiven.” Some of us look in the rear-view mirror and we rob God from blessing us. You say, “rob God from blessing us?” Yes, because God wants to bless us.

Jesus speaking says:

Mark 11:24
  1. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.

Let’s read it out loud together.

Mark 11:24
  1. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.

Believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. It doesn’t say “believe it when you have them;” it says “believe it and you shall have them.”

Hebrews 11:1
  1. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:6
  1. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Amen? We must believe that he is. We’ve got to speak to that mountain. Some of you here today have a mountain that you keep running into in your life. Jesus is going to teach you how to speak to that mountain. We’ve got to stop believing that we’re supposed to bump through life like a ball in a pinball machine, and we’ve got to learn how to speak to that mountain. It’s time to say “You know what, mountain? It’s time for you to stop telling me, and for me to start telling you.” It’s time to stop telling God how big our problems are, and it’s time to start telling our problems how big our God is.

It’s like you have a big brother, and you can handle most of the people in school, but there’s this one big bully that you need help with. so you say to this bully, “You know my big brother, the captain of the football team?”

It’s time for you to tell God, “I’m ready to speak to that mountain. I’m ready to stop living in fear and doubt. I’m ready to start living the victory you’ve called me to live.”

Mark 11:24
  1. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.

But some people take that out of context.

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

You want a pink Cadillac? Hey, if that’s your style, go for it. And if you drive it and I’m hitchhiking, I’ll ride with you.

This isn’t prosperity preaching, but if God has to keep you poor to keep you humble, you’re not doing your part. I’m not saying that if you’re not rich you’re not spiritual, but I’m just saying. I’m not apologizing for driving a nice car or having a nice house or wearing nice shoes.

Mark 11:25
  1. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

Some of us, that’s our mountain. We don’t think we deserve forgiveness. If that’s your mountain, then let me clear it up for you.

Many times, my wife and I have had a difference of opinion, and I told Debbie that I was wrong when I knew I was right, because I was ready to end this discussion. And I thought, “I’ll be the Christian here; she can be the heathen.” I tell her, “I was wrong, honey; forgive me.” Only to find out later, after she accepted my apology, (And I thought, wasn’t that nice of her to accept my apology, when deep down she knows…) And then the next day, I found out she was right. And I’m thinking, “I’m glad I apologized! I’m glad I got the apology out of the way!”

Mark 11:25
  1. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

He didn’t say “when you figure out you’re wrong.” He said, “when you stand praying”. Can you wrap your heart around that? Some of us have a mountain of “ought.” And if we would recognize it, we would see that it’s like that mountain of vapor over Lake Michigan; you can fly right through it.

This is a true story. I recognize how silly it is. Our son Adam was born in 1981. I graduated High School in 1972. So nine years later, I’m still angry that my father didn’t come to my High Shool graduation. My father Some of you think that’s a pretty big deal, and some of you are thinking “Get over it!”. My father visited us when Adam was born. (Adam loves it when I talk about when he was a baby; when I could lift him with one hand.) I’ve got a picture of Grandpa Paine holding Adam when he was a baby. As I was driving my Dad to the airport, I said, “Dad, I’ve got to talk to you about something. Why was it that you didn’t show up for my High School graduation? I told you about it; I bought you a ticket, and you said that you’d come, but you didn’t.” He said, “Peter, are you sure I wasn’t there?” I said, “Dad, I’m real sure. I came home and the ticket was still on the kitchen table, and when I asked you about it, you said ‘Oh yeah; I forgot.’ It really bothers me that you didn’t come to my High School graduation.” And my Dad looked at me and said, “Pete, I never knew it bothered you. And I would have asked this question nine years ago if I’d have known that it bothered you. Would you forgive me?” And right then, I felt an anvil lifting from my heart.

Do you know that I let that silly little thing become a mountain?

Isaiah 40:4
  1. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:
Isaiah 45:2
  1. I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron:
Isaiah 49:1
  1. Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name.
Isaiah 61:1
  1. The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;

God’s got something great for you to do. Maybe you feel like your past is too big for you ever to have a future. Yes, if you need to move forward, then move forward. Say to the mountain, “Be moved. I’m going to live my life for God. And if the world wants to laugh, I’ll be in good company.” It was Peter and John who, when people saw what they had done, they said, “These men don’t know anything”.

Is this your day? Is this your day to say, “God, I’m ready to be all you have called me to be.” Is this your day to say, “Okay, God; whether the mountain has been real or imaginary; whether I’ve been wrong or right; I’m ready to get on with what you’ve called me to be. I’m ready to go where you’ve called me to go.”

Who Art Thou?

Sunday Morning Service, 3/14/2010

Songs

  • [ God Is Working]
  • [ Because Of Your Love]
  • [ Made Me Glad]
  • [ Grace Flows Down]
  • [ Enough]
  • [ That’s Why We Praise Him]
  • [ Hallelujah]

Message: Who Art Thou?

> Pastor Ulysse

Who art thou? Who are you? Who am I? This is a question that you should ask yourself, I should ask myself.

Are you sure of your role in life, or are you unsure of your role in life? Do you feel that you know “the real you”?

This goes for everyone, both as individuals and as families. This goes for us as institutions. We need to ask ourselves, “Who are we? What is our role?” If you are unsure of who you are, you may be experiencing what is called “identity crisis.” This is not a light thing; it is one of the most important conflicts that people face in life. As a teenager, you get to the point where you ask, “Who am I? Where am I going?” In your career, you face the same question. At my age in life, I ask myself, “Where am I headed? How do I want to finish my life?”

These are questions that people ask about us. There is a definition of “identity crisis” that I would like you to read.

Identity Crisis > A time of intensive analsys and exploration of different ways of looking at oneself.

There are times when you sit down and forget about fun, forget about the little things of life, and intensely ask yourself, “Who am I?” Just to help you understand, in my own life, as a teenager, I didn’t know what I would be. I liked my life, but I wanted to be someone else. I liked working with my hands, but somehow I decided that I wanted to be a doctor, because it is a bigger name. When someone calls you “doctor”, you feel great. My wife and I used to discuss our plans and dreams in life. But that’s not the real you. You have someone else inside of you saying, “That’s not the real you.” When I got saved, I shared with my wife, “I am a different person. My life has changed course.” It is a struggle, getting used to a new lifestyle. One day my wife asked me, “Is that it? Is that who you are?” Yes, that’s it. We had finally found out who we were.

In your relationships, you might be asking yourself, “Who am I?” “Do I see myself as a single person? Do I see myself as married, living the family life?” These are important questions. We can’t avoid them.

I remember a time when I was in the Navy, in the Middle East, and I asked myself, “Who am I?” “Here I am, a Haitian, fighting on foreign soil.” I finally had to answer, “I am a soldier. As a soldier, it doesn’t matter where I am; all that matters is who I am. I must be the good soldier that I am called to be.”

We have to answer these questions, or else we will spend our whole lives not knowing who we are. I read some research that I think is interesting. I have a two-hundred-page message here. You can catch the message in five minutes, or I can read these two-hundred pages. It’s up to you.

The first thing is that you need to know your status. You need what is called “identity achievement.”

  • Identity Achievement When an individual has gone through an exploration of different identities and made a commitment to one of them.
  • Moratorium A person who is actively involved in exploring different identities, but has not made a commitment.
  • Foreclosure Status When a person has made a commitment without attempting identity exploration.
  • Identity Diffusion When there is neither an identity crisis or a commitment.

Some people go through life not caring who they are; they just live it. But researchers have found that those who have made a strong committment to a specific identity tend to live a happier and healthier life. Who would not want to be healthier and happier? Those who live in the status of Identity Diffusion don’t care. They don’t have a problem with identity, and they don’t seek for one. But researchers have found that they tend to feel out-of-touch with the world.

There is a balance. You ask yourself, “Who am I? Where should I go?” I’m telling you because I know. There is a confusion; you don’t know what to pick. But there is a balance between identity and confusion. The balance lies in making a commitment to an identity.

Don’t you have some days when you wake up and you have things to do, but nothing works right? You feel that your days are being wasted. Sometimes you feel like you’re half-there. When that happens, I say, “Forget about everything else; I’m going to make sure that I do at least one thing today.” Then I pick up my Bible and make it happen. You have to make a choice; you have to make a commitment to a specific identity to get rid of the confusion. That is the balance that keeps you straight as you go through life.

Somebody else might ask about you, “who is that guy?” Jesus didn’t have an identity crisis. He knew who he was, and he didn’t need anyone to tell him. But he wanted to know what other people thought.

Matthew 16:13
  1. When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

I think you will see that he wasn’t asking because he didn’t know. He wanted to know what the disciples thought, and the other people around thought.

Matthew 16:14-16
  1. And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
  2. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
  3. And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

He wasn’t surprised. He said, “Peter, you’re good. God has revealed that to you.” And he was glad. He was not far from completing his mission in life. He wanted to make sure that at least some of those around him knew who he was. Because Jesus knew who he was, he accomplished everything just like (snap!) that.

We find another person who knew who he was, without a doubt.

John 1:19-20
  1. And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?
  2. And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.

He knew that some people thought he was Christ, but he told them that he wasn’t.

John 1:21-22
  1. And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.
  2. Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?

“I mean, say something about yourself. You have to know.” As I was reading this, I wonder if some of us get cornered that way. When someone asks, “Who are you?” I’m sure that some of us don’t even have an answer. But you need to know. So he answered,

John 1:23-24
  1. He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.
  2. And they which were sent were of the Pharisees.

“I am the voice.” Basically, he said, “I am nobody. I am but a voice.” They probably said, “Well, you look like a nobody. You don’t shave or anything.” So they said, “If you are nobody, then why do you baptize?”

John 1:25-27
  1. And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?
  2. John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not;
  3. He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose.

He said, “I baptize, but compared to the one who will come after, I am nothing. So don’t worry about what I am doing.” John knew who he was.

Jesus said,

John 15:5
  1. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

John was the voice, but the word needed to be manifest. The word is the important thing.

God knows who we are. He knows that we are not that important. He made us. We may not know who we are, but he knows. The Lord expects less out of us than we expect out of ourselves. Sometimes by not knowing who we are, we expect to do some great things. But God says, “Come on; you are just dirt. Don’t you know who you are?”

I am reminded of the psalm:

Psalms 103:10-14
  1. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
  2. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
  3. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
  4. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.
  5. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.

There isn’t any day that passes by that God doesn’t remember who we are. He knows what we can and cannot do. Sometimes we push ourselves so far. There is a verse that I like in Genesis:

Genesis 1:16
  1. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.

Can anyone tell me what is the greater and lesser light?

> The greater light is Christ, and we are the lesser light.

Yes, but in Genesis, what does it mean, not so spiritual? They are the sun and moon. He made the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night. The Bible says that we are the light. And the light that you get from the moon isn’t its own. It reflects the light of the sun. And when the earth gets between the sun and the moon, it doesn’t shine anymore. That is like when we let the world get between us and Christ. We shine in the night. You see the moon isn’t full all of the time. There are times when we don’t shine to our full potential. We are half-moon, quarter-moon. But if we know who we are, we can be that full-moon all of the time. If we remember we are but dust, God can use us.

1 Corinthians 1:27-29
  1. But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
  2. And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
  3. That no flesh should glory in his presence.

If we know who we are, we will end up saying, “If there is any glory, it is glory in the Lord.” Because, we are but voice. The Bible talks about being saved by grace.

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

Paul recognized that he was somebody.

1 Corinthians 15:9-10
  1. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
  2. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

You must remember that if you are anything, it is by the grace of God. Whatever you are, you’ve got to work for it, but you are saved by grace, not of works.

When I go to an interview for a job, I know my limitations, and I know what people need to think. So I make double effort to get that position. The last time I went to interview, I oculdn’t read the face of the man who was to hire me. He asked me if I had any questions, and I said, “You think that you are not going to hire me, but you are going to regret that. If you do hire me, I will surprise you.” A month or so later, he hired me. So I had to work twice as hard as anybody else. Seven months later, he called me in and said, “You were right. I didn’t think you could do it.” No I’m looking to go higher. They had me take tests and interviews, and finally they had me to drive four hours to talk to the big boss. Again, I thought that he wasn’t impressed with me. Again, at the end he asked if I had any questions, and I said, “I know that you don’t think I can do the job. But I tell you, if you don’t promote me, the day will come when your boss will call you and ask why you didn’t spot me sooner. Are you blind?” He laughed, and they haven’t called me back yet. But if I do get that job, I tell you that I will have to labor more abundantly than they all, lest I be found to be a liar.

I tell you something about Jesus. Do you think he would have prayed, “Father, let this cup pass” if he wanted to die? But God wanted to kill him.

1 Corinthians 15:35-36
  1. But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?
  2. Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:

God cannot do what he wants with us, if he doesn’t kill us.

To give you an example, I applied for that job because everybody in the office said that I should, so I gave them what they asked for. It is very easy in that type of situation to take it personally. I tell you, that if you take it personally, then you are not dead yet. David was going to battle, and there was a guy who was yelling and cursing at him. One of his men said, “Do you want me to take off his head?” But David said, “Leave him alone. It may be God’s will that he is yelling at me.”

So Paul said,

1 Corinthians 15:36-43
  1. Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:
  2. And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:
  3. But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.
  4. All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.
  5. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.
  6. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.
  7. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
  8. It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:

That’s what happens when we let God, and we realize who we are. We are but a voice; we are nobody, and we let God kill us. Finally, when we are resurrected, when we let God do his work in us, we are incorruption instead of corruption. Instead of dishonor, we are raised in glory. Instead of weakness, we are raised in power.

When I went to Haiti and visited the brother who lost a foot, he was the best in the hospital. Everyone else had lost a leg, or an arm, but he had only lost a foot. There was also a lady whose son was in the hospital. She had found him with one arm trapped under a building, but the rest of him outside. She had no one to help her lift her son. So the son said, “Mommy go ahead and cut off my arm.” It was hard for her, but she had to do it. The Bible says that we must decrease for God to increase in us. There is that life that must come to life in us, but first we must die.

During the military regime in Haiti, we had a few close relatives who were in power. There were times when we didn’t have gas, so we would call one of them and they would give us a gas card, or whatever. One time we drove in an official car. When people see that car, they think you are somebody. And when you are driving in that car, you need to act like you are somebody. At one place, they stopped the car, even though they would not usually stop an official car. So my cousin, who was driving, was told to act like she was important, or she wouldn’t be able to pass the checkpoint. But after it was all over, she still acted all important. That happens to us sometimes.

When Peter walked on the water, Peter wasn’t the one who was doing it. He knew that he could not walk on the water; that was why he said, “If you are the Christ, bid me to come.” So he came. But in the middle, he started thinking, “I am walking on the water.” He should have been thinking, “Jesus is making me walk on the water.”

Moses said,

Exodus 4:10
  1. And Moses said unto the LORD, O my LORD, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.

You don’t need to remind God how incapable you are; he knows that already.

Exodus 4:11
  1. And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD?

If God made our mouth, he knows how it works. So he can work in weakness. There is the story of Gideon, for example, when God wanted to send him to war, and there was a multitude. So God said,

Judges 7:2
  1. And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.

So God chose only three hundred to go.

If you are with me so far, you should realize that you are nobody. Christ is all in all. And once we realize that, God can work in us. Then, he will lift us up.

Jesus said something interesting about John the baptist:

Matthew 11:7-11
  1. And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?
  2. But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.
  3. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.
  4. For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
  5. Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

Out of everyone born of women, Jesus said there wasn’t anyone greater than John the baptist. Let God do that for you. If you didn’t learn anything else today, I hope you take it seriously that you find an identity. In the aspect of religion, let’s say we make peace with ourselves. We say “we are Christians.” That’s who we are. Let’s say we say “I choose to live for God; that’s what I want.” What I have in my heart to tell you before I leave is that if you choose as an identity to say, “I want to live for God,” and I choose to say “I want to live for God,” as a ministry, I believe that we should do more than we are doing right now. If more people choose this identity, then we shall truly be shining full-moon.

I hope you have eyes to see. Don’t lie to yourself; God is not mocked. Are you shining full-moon? Have you chosen an identity as a Christian? Are you at peace in everything you do? Go with that. We don’t need to give an answer to anyone, but let the answer be manifest by the fruits that you bear. Let the answer be manifested by the abundance of works that you are doing. If you would ask me, I would say at one point that I was shining full-moon. I went to work, and I started shining half-moon. Then I went back to three-quarter-moon. If you don’t know what full-moon is, go to Haiti. You can read. You don’t need any other light; if you drop something, you can see it. That’s what full-moon is.

I hope this message did something for you, but the real message cannot be put into words. You need to know who you are.

Focus

Sunday Morning Service, 3/7/10

Songs

  • [ Majestic]
  • [ Great In Power]
  • [ He Didn’t Bring Us This Far To Leave Us]
  • [ Holy Is The Lord]
  • [ We Worship You]
  • [ You Gave Your Life Away]
  • [ I Bless Your Name]
  • [ Light The Fire Again]
  • [ One Day]
  • [ Jesus, Lover Of My Soul]

Message: Focus

> Pastor Paine

I want to talk today about focus. Did you ever have a pebble in your shoe? That one little pebble seems to demand all your attention, doesn’t it?

I want us to take a look at the focus that God wants us to have in life. How many of you have a busy life? There are plenty of distractions. I heard someone asking ask recently, “Where is all this time we’re saving with all these time-saving devices?”

Even when things are going good, if we’re not careful, we could miss the focal point that God has for us. So let’s look at the scriptures and see what that focal point is, so we don’t miss God’s blessings.

The story of Mary and Martha is interesting, not because of who was wrong and who was right, but because of what was the better part.

Luke 10:38-40
  1. Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
  2. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.
  3. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.

Martha was busy taking care of all the details. Here’s Jesus in her house. I know in a gathering this size there are lots of personalities. Debbie and I have been married for thirty-four years. She said to me the other day, “Can I tell you something?” I knew that tone. I wanted to say no, but I knew that she needed to say something and I needed to hear it. So I put on my best smile and said, “Yes, dear. What is it?” She said, “You know, Pete, you were in your office and about thirty minutes ago I asked you if you would like me to fix you breakfast.” I remembered. “And it’s a joy for me to fix you breakfast, when schedule permits. But why, after the food is on the table, do you always have to do one more thing?”

That one more thing I did really didn’t matter. What I did was bring my coffee cup from the office, and it was empty, and she had poured me a new one, so I took it to the dishwasher, and there was something on the counter, so I wiped it.

Luke 10:41
  1. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:

You attend to so many details. You’re always doing this, and doing that.

Luke 10:42
  1. But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

How do you think Martha received that news? She was probably thinking, “If it wasn’t for me, the house would have been filthy. I don’t think you would have enjoyed being here.”

Before breakfast was over, I said to Debbie, “Thank you for telling me, honey. It matters to me.” I had to admit that I have this habit of doing one more thing. I’m “cumbered about” like Martha.

I have a post-it at my desk that says, “Are you working on number one?” Are you doing the important thing?

Acts 4:13
  1. Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.

That’s a compliment and a non-compliment at the same time.

Acts 4:14-17
  1. And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.
  2. But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves,
  3. Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it.
  4. But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.

As Christians, we’re sometimes put in the place where we have to decide how to react when somebody says, “Don’t talk about the Lord.” We have to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves, and render unto Caesar, but we also have to be ambassadors for Christ. As Pastor Thomas says, there is persecution, but sometimes it’s just stupi-cution.

So they threatened Peter and John that they speak no more in the name of Jesus.

Acts 4:18-20
  1. And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.
  2. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.
  3. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.

It sounds a lot like Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego, doesn’t it? They said, “We know what you said, King. But we’re not worried about how we answer to you; we’re concerned about how we answer to God.”

Acts 4:21-29
  1. So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done.
  2. For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was shewed.
  3. And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them.
  4. And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:
  5. Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?
  6. The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.
  7. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,
  8. For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.
  9. And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,

They didn’t say, “Lord, protect us and confuse our enemies.” They said, “Lord, don’t let us lose our boldness just because we’re threatened. Let our focal point be on speaking your name with boldness.”

You know the story in Numbers 13. Ten spies went out; two returned with a good report, and eight with an evil report. My challenge to you is to ask God in every situation, “What is the focal point that you want me to have in this situation?”

I told you a humorous story about my wife and me. What was my focal point in that situation? What is your focal point when your brother, sister, spouse tells you something you don’t want to hear? Is your focal point “Let me hear what I need to hear so that I can become what I need to become?” Is your focal point one that draws you closer to God.

Read Numbers 13 when you get a chance, and look at the focal point of those men.

Psalms 23:1-6
  1. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
  2. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
  3. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
  4. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
  5. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
  6. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

There are two focal points in this psalm: the valley of the shadow of death, and the good shepherd.

Ephesians 6:12
  1. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

The devil is trying constantly to get our focus off of God and on the problem. My prayer is that we will learn through this message to say, “God, what is your focus?” Check your feelings at the door. Don’t get me wrong; I believe that feelings matter, but only when they draw us closer to God. We don’t get to make our spiritual decisions based on our feelings. What happens if I don’t like something or someone? Then what? What’s my focal point at a time like that?

I asked Mariana in the hall, “Who is the best mom in the whole wide world?” Of course, her mother Sonia happened to be close by. And the way that she hesitated before she pointed to her mom told me that they had just had words. Sonia said to me, “It isn’t easy for her to answer that question right now, because I just told her something that she didn’t want to hear.” But I’m proud of you, Mariana, because you choked it down and pointed at your Mom anyway.

David was a man of God. He slew Goliath. He became king. He lost his focus on God, and saw Bathsheba. The prophet Nathan told him he was wrong. He repented, and wrote this Psalm:

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

Here was David: contrite, broken, fully aware of his transgressions and of their consequences. He knows that God knows. That may sound silly, but sometimes when we’re living in sin, we let ourselves think that we can hide it from God.

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

So he had to get the right focus. “God, what do you want this picture to look like?” I often ask people, “What do you want the next chapter of your life to look like?” So David says, “Then I’ll be in a place where God can use me.

Psalms 51:11-12
  1. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
  2. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

If you lose the joy of your salvation, it’s very easy to fall into sin. There should be a joy in your salvation. We should be thankful every day. And if you’ve lost that joy, you need to pray this prayer: “God, restore unto me the joy of my salvation.” I’ve prayed that prayer many times. Sometimes I have to remember that this is a calling; this is what God made me for. Sometimes when it feels a little too much like work, I have to pray that prayer.

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

Paul wrote to the church that with every temptation that comes, you have to choose whether to focus on the temptation, or the way to escape. I love the part, “God is faithful”. God is never asleep. I love that promise. When you’re tempted, know this: in that same package, at the same time, in the same place, there is a way to do the right thing. So your prayer should be, “God, show me how to do the right thing.”

In Matthew chapter four, the first eleven verses teach us how to escape temptation. The devil tempts Jesus, and finally he draws the line and says “That’s enough.” Sometimes we have to draw a line. Sometimes it’s that pebble in a shoe that distracts us. Sometimes it’s that little thing that bothers us in our brother, our sister, our spouse. When God gives you something you need to hear, yield. If you are having thoughts that are not spiritual, bring your focus back to spiritual thoughts.

Proverbs 16:3
  1. Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.

I told you that Debbie and I have been married for thirty-four years. There are times in a marriage of thirty-four years when you don’t feel in love. Sometimes you have to act in love until you feel it.

I had a man in my office who had been married for six months. He cried, “I still notice other women!” I said, “You got married, man; you didn’t go blind.”

So in those times when I didn’t feel in love, I chose love until I could feel it again.

The Bible tells us to pray for our enemies, for those who despitefully use you. If you live long enough, you’ll meet some of them.

Jeremiah talks about how God sees our end, how he sees things wrapping up in our life. What do we think of God? What do we think of those around us?

Jeremiah 29:11
  1. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

I conclude today with what Paul wrote to the church in Philippi, about what we should think on. I ask you to challenge yourself to think on these things, to find your focal point. Look at this inventory and challenge yourself to put your focal point here, because this will allow you to bring a blessing to those whom you affect in your life.

Philippians 4:8
  1. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Respond To The Call

Sunday Morning Service, 2/28/10

Songs

  • [ Jesus, Messiah]
  • [ All To You]
  • [ Sing, Sing, Sing]
  • [ Help Me Believe]
  • [ Offering]
  • [ Hosanna]
  • [ How Can I Keep From Singing]

Yesterday we heard in the news about the earthquake in Chile, and it has taken over the news, but I want us to remember our brothers and sisters in Haiti. They have no place to live; they have no food and water. The food and water are there, but they need to be distributed. Pastor Ulysse is working very diligently to get our church recognized as a distribution point. We have hundreds of brothers and sisters who are struggling, so let’s keep them in prayer.

Message: Receive The Call

> Pastor Thomas

Today I want to talk about the response to God’s call in your life. Is your back to the call, or are you facing what God has called you to do? We are called to be saved, stay saved, and see others saved. It is that last part that I want to bring out in this message.

In our first scripture, Paul was on his second missionary journey. He had already had a falling-out with Barnabas. They had already gone on one successful missionary ministry. God had not called Barnabas to lead the missionary journeys, but here was Barnabas arguing with Paul about taking Mark with them. When there are two leaders, God has called one to lead, and the other must follow. Eventually, Barnabas left, and we don’t hear about him anymore.

What are you called to do? With whom are you called to work, to do God’s will? Our job as a church is to work with our leaders to see souls saved.

Acts 16:6-10
  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,
  2. After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.
  3. And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas.
  4. 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.
  5. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.

[img_assist|nid=685|width=561|height=505|title=Paul’s first missionary journey|align=center|link=url,http://www.thejournal.org/studylibrary/maps/apostle-paul-first-missionary-journey-map.html]

One of the first things that happened on this journey was that Paul met a young man named Timothy. What country is this called today? It’s Turkey.

If you hear the word Asia, what do you think of? You think of China, Japan, and so forth. But here they were referring to the Roman province of Asia.

[img_assist|nid=686|width=639|height=407|Paul’s missionary journeys|align=center]

All that Paul knew at this point was that he wanted to go here, and God said no. That happens sometimes in our life, that God says “You’re not going to do this, or do that,” and we don’t know why. Sometimes God says “It’s just not time.”

By the way, the town of “Troas” is also where the city of Troy was.

Proverbs 16:3
  1. Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.

So Paul committed his works unto the Lord, and God established his thoughts. God gave him the understanding of what he was supposed to do.

There is a difference between a vision and a “pizza dream”. I had a dream one time that I was preaching to the church while wearing a radiation suit. That wasn’t a vision; that was just a bad dream. I had a vision one time that the minister we had in Sri Lanka was stealing from the church. And he had been stealing thousands. I didn’t enjoy going to tell him that he was no longer going to receive any money from the church. But as I walked into the church and I saw people doing this and that, I had another vision. God told me, “This is my room. Let me take care of it.” And it was a great comfort.

> (pointing at Philippi, a province of Greece, on the map)

Some important things happened there. They met Lydia, a dyer of purple. She met Paul by a lake where they gathered for prayer, and she became so excited that she became a member of the church. It was also there that Paul cast the demon out of the man, and it went into the pigs. It was in Greece that Paul and Barnabas were thrown in jail. Later, they travelled to Corinth.

I don’t know why God said “no” to Asia. Two thousand years later, we still don’t know. But if God tells a leader, “That’s not where I want you to go,” we’ve got to listen. What is our mission in this community? What does God want us to do, to be most effective? Every ministry has a mission, a purpose. We know that our mission as a ministry is to get the message out to people in the ministry. Because of that, we’ve seen our church grow, but it has not changed our call, or our direction, or the area of our effectiveness. We’re not most effective in busing children. That’s not our calling. We’re not called to have a ministry to the elderly. Both those things are needed, but that’s not where we are called to focus as a minitry.

When Luke was writing the book of Acts, only Paul got the vision of what they were supposed to do. But Luke said, “We perceive that God has called us to go.” Not everyone in the organization will directly hear the voice of God, but we must work together in one mind and one accord to be effective. The reason that so many churches are ineffective is that their faith has turned to religion, and their religion to a social club. They have become lukewarm to their mission. Our mission isn’t to know the statistics of all the sports players. Our mission is to be effective where God has called us. If you feel differently, you need to decide whether to be a Barnabas or to be a Timothy.

Paul’s agenda was to go into Asia; he had an idea of where he wanted to go. That was his passion. But realize that your passion is not always within God’s will. Sometimes you have to surrender your passion in order to see the will of God done.

That’s the two big points: our willingness to follow leadership, and our willingness to follow God.

Can you imagine the picture of Paul and Barnabas in prison? He had just been thrown into jail; he had just been beaten, and his hands and feet placed in stocks. And then they started singing; the chains and stocks came off, and the doors were opened.

You need to pray to find God’s will. It wasn’t God’s will for Pastor Ulysse to stay in the Navy. It was God’s will for him to start a church in Haiti. He had to go through difficult times. He had to go to a place where there was no government and no money and very little help for anybody.

I heard a guy say, “I know that we’re supposed to walk in the spirit, and I feel like the spirit called me to stay home from work today.” You’re supposed to walk in the spirit while you’re at work.

Why was Paul effective in going to Macedonia? His love for God made it possible.

Galatians 2:20
  1. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Paul’s love for God made it possible for Timothy to be saved. Because people saw his obedience to God, they were obedient. Churches were started; the face of the world was changed because of their love for God.

The church comes together to worship, but this isn’t what we’re called to do. Putting gas into your car isn’t using your car. It’s gathering energy so that your car can do what it’s supposed to do. Are you gathering the energy you need to go out and teach Bible studies and share the gospel with your neighbors, with other students, with your co-workers? Set up Bible studies, and if nobody comes, you still be faithful. If they see you faithful and consistent, then they will come. You’ve got to be consistent in the lifestyle you live. That’s what made Paul successful in what he did, and he saw churches started all over the world.

The other point I wanted to make about Paul’s success is this.

The reason we need to answer this Macedonian call, to take the gospel outside the church, is that the people who are hurting are not in the church. They’re out there struggling with drugs and alcoholism and gambling and abusive relationships. They’re out there having promiscuous relationships while looking for Mr. or Mrs. Right. They’re looking to fill that hole in their heart with relationships or things instead of with God.

I was a twenty-four year old Vietnam veteran who ahd done a tour in Japan and became a Federal Marshal. I was dealing drugs. Then I met Pastor Davis, and he said “Son, there’s a better way to live.” He wasn’t just preaching the gospel; he was out on the streets living the gospel. I got baptized at one o’clock in the morning in Lake Michigan.

So I got saved, and my next tour of duty was on the USS Independence. The Captain heard me talking to people about my faith, and he said, “Petty Officer Thomas, I need a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program.” I got to share the gospel with hundreds of men, because God opened the door.

Realize that God is calling you right now; there are voices calling right now saying “Help me. I am in pain.” They might not realize that is their cry, but God has called us to help them, by sharing with them the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Paul loved people so much. He cared about them. We talked about the outfit the high priest wore. He carried on his shoulders the responsibility of the souls of the people of God. And Paul carried the same responsibility. Paul truly cared about how people would answer to God for the life that they lived.

One time he went into a place saying, “I’ve heard you worship an unknown God.”

Acts 17:23
  1. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.

We are called to work together in Christian Fellowship. But some are called to the Graphic Arts team, and some to the AudioVisual team. Are you willing to work where God has called you, or are you going to be a Barnabas?

I love fast cars. But one day I was under this car, in Orlando Florida, and God said, “When was the last time you taught a Bible study?” I said, “But God, I can use this car as a tool to bring people to church.” That was my passion. But my passion had gotten in the way of my ministry. So I took that car up to Waukegan and tossed the keys to Rod Ferguson. I believe that I have matured since then. (My wife might disagree.) So I can have a ‘66 Mustang, and I can handle it. You don’t give a ten-year-old the keys to the car. A sixteen-year-old, maybe. A twenty-one-year-old, certainly! He’s not in my house anymore; he’s not on my insurance.

Ask yourself, “Am I hindering the will of God for this ministry, or am I enhancing it?” “When was the last time I share with somebody about getting saved?” When was the last time somebody walked up to you and said, “There’s something different about you.” When you start asking yourself these questions, then you can get your life together.

I love Martin Luther King’s speeches. He said:

> The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige, and even his life for the welfare of others. In dangerous valleys and hazardous pathways, he will lift some bruised and beaten brother to a higher, more noble life.

Church, the calling of the church is to risk our life, our fortune, our reputation. I don’t care what anybody thinks but God. You remember the movie about the Jamaican bobsled team? They didn’t care what other people thought; they had a mission. What’s your mission? What is the goal that you have set for yourself, spiritually? How big of an impact do you want to have after you’re gone?

Thomas Jefferson said, “Write your epitaph now, then live it so that others will write it when you’re gone.”

Live your ministry. Follow leadership. I know that God has called us to work together, but we haven’t seen three thousand souls baptized since the book of Acts. I want to see us having to fill the swimming pool because we have so many people to baptize that our little baptistery just won’t cut it.

Getting Egypt Out

Sunday Morning Service, 2/21/10

> (Click here to download an audio recording of this service)

Songs

  • [ Open The Eyes Of My Heart]
  • [ Love The Lord]
  • [ Church Medley]
  • [ Go Fight The Battle]
  • [ Leaning On The Everlasting Arms]
  • [ My Chains Are Gone]
  • [ Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing]
  • [ Lord I Lift Your Name On High]
  • [ That’s Why We Praise Him]

Message: Getting Egypt Out

> Pastor Ulysse

Good morning, brothers and sisters. It’s good to be home. All Haiti greets you. There is a lot to clean up; they are predicting it will take about five years. That’s a lot to clean up. Everything you see in the news: it’s true, if not worse. What I see, it’s not the actual situation. What I see is what will come after Haiti is coming out of the news, and having the daily living which wasn’t that great. What I see now is people without homes and living in tents, and people promising them that they will help. And you know what will happen; they will forget.

But I see the people in the church, and I see their encouragement, and it is like nothing happened. Actually, they encourage me. We have tap-taps in Haiti, and we have buses. And it used to be you could not take a ride on one of those buses without hearing loud, worldly music. But now, they all play Christian music.

Our churches, we serve as shelters in the community. The church needs help, but we take from what little we have and share. When I look in the Bible, I believe that is what we are called to do.

Many things are said on what happened in Haiti. You probably heard a lot of them, like maybe Haiti had a contract with the devil. I got many phone calls, like “How come it’s just Haiti where all these things happen?” It’s hard. Being born and raised in Haiti, it’s hard. This is not political; it’s not riots or anything; it’s just natural. But people wonder if it is the hand of God. The reason is, that in Port-au-Prince, this was supposed to be the season of our carnival. There was supposed to be a lot of worldly singing and dancing, but instead we now have three days of prayer and fasting. So people say, “Maybe God has his hands on that.” Whether God has his hands on that or no, I know that God can use anything. The Bible says that all things, God can use that for the good. The people are strong in spirit; they are willing to go on.

Today, we are going to talk about a people who have gone through a lot. The Bible says that God promised Abraham that he would make a great nation out of him. We know that from the beginning, they went into Egypt, and God called them out.

According to the promise that God made to Abraham, it doesn’t seem like these people were going too far, because according to God’s word, these people were in affliction. And God remembered his promise. He was ready to do something about it.

Exodus 3:7
  1. And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;

So we see affliction and cry. We see sorrows.

Exodus 3:8-10
  1. And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.
  2. Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.
  3. Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.

The children of Israel wanted to go, and the Pharaoh did not let them go easily, so God had to use force.

Exodus 6:1
  1. Then the LORD said unto Moses, Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh: for with a strong hand shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land.

Finally, the time came when the Lord saved Israel.

Exodus 14:30-31
  1. Thus the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore.
  2. And Israel saw that great work which the LORD did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD, and his servant Moses.

They went through so many things, and finally, the day came when Egypt was behind them. That day, they were dancing, and there were parties, and songs. But this was phase one: they got out of Egypt. But God had to go to a second phase, which was taking Egypt out of them. So God forced them out with a great hand, but three days later, he started to prove them.

Exodus 15:22-27
  1. So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water.
  2. And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah.
  3. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?
  4. And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them,
  5. And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.
  6. And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters.

I hope you get the big points that I would like to point out in that. I would like to keep in mind the oppression and the suffering. The people of Israel were not having fun yet. They were having a hard time. They were in need to be saved; they were in need to be helped out. Life is a mixture of bitterness and sweetness. Whether we are in God or not, life in general is a mixture of bitterness and sweetness. And the tricky thing is that what may appear sweet may be bitter; you might be bitterly disappointed. Just because it looks good, like clear water, does not mean that it will taste good. It may be bitter waters.

Some trials and tribulations will come to us naturally. But those trials and tribulations, God may be use to take Egypt out of us. Also, trials and tribulations will help us to understand who we really are. Remember Peter, for example. He was sincere about not betraying Christ. When he said,

Luke 22:33
  1. And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.

He meant that. But when he had to face death and danger, he had to save himself. So we need trials; we need tribulations to know who we really are. Like when you go through an x-ray machine. You will never know who you areally are until you go through these things.

I remember one time in my house in Haiti I was hot; I was red-hot. It was like the whole house was in flames. And the person who came to me said, “I didn’t know, pastor, you ever could be that angry.” And I said, “Oh? You didn’t know that? I am more than that!”

Got puts us in these situations so that we will know exactly how we should behave. Job was in that kind of situation. He knew that God, in his love and kindness, sends his rain on the evil as well as the good. And bad things happen to good people. So in the midst of all that Job is going through, he looks to find encouragement in his wife, and she says:

Job 2:9-10
  1. Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.
  2. But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.

In order for God to take Egypt out of our lives, he has to take us to Marah. Without Marah, we may not know who we really are. Without all those things we go through, we may think we are really saints; we may think we are perfect. I don’t know if any of you have ever gone three days without water. But if you ever go through that, when you see water anywhere, you will drink anything. Three days without water is not easy; it’s hard. It would seem that after three days, they would have reason to murmur. Remember that they had not done anything wrong; God had them go through that to prove them. But in their minds were thoughts like, “Maybe in Egypt it was better.” But it was not. They were crying; they were in affliction; they were in oppression. But now they are saying, “Well, that’s true, but maybe it was better…” You went through high school and college, and now you look back and say “Maybe it would be good to go back.” But when you were in high school or college, you wanted to get out. In life, there is good and bad, and we need to make that separation. We need to get it Egypt out of our mind; it wasn’t better.

If you are saved; if you have been baptized in Jesus’ name, you have crossed the Red Sea. And I know that Satan would tell you sometimes that you have left so much behind. But that’s not true. The only reason you have crossed the Red Sea is because you had crying and suffering on the other side. But God is still working on you. It’s like the song. God is still working on me. It took seven days to make the stars, and the sun, and all there is, but he’s still working on me. To know that he is still working on me every day and every moment of my life is something very special. How longsuffering and patient he is! He is working to take the world out of me.

Colossians 3:2
  1. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

If we get to the point where our affections are set on things above, the work is done; Egypt is out.

I love my children. A part of the mission of my life is to raise them to be all they can be. I know they observe our lives, and I see things that I could do but I deny myself because I put them first. They should not doubt for a minute that I do everything in my power for their benefit. Some people ask why Pastor Paine drives such a nice car. If someday I would drive a helicopter, I don’t want them to wonder if I took from their money to do that. Or if I had a way to sell this building for, say, fifty million dollars, and I didn’t have time to contact Pastor Paine or Pastor Thomas, I would sell it. And then later when I got a chance I would call them and say, “You need to get out, because the building is sold.”

If your affection is set on things above, you will see things differently. You need to know that God does all things for his own counsel; he doesn’t need any advice. Do you think that God had any doubt that they would cross the Red Sea? He knew that they would go three days without water. Whatever we need, God knows it.

Ephesians 1:11-12
  1. In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
  2. That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

God worketh all things after the counsel of his own will. He knows what’s going on, and you can trust him. Of course, God used Marah, and he used so many other things for the people of Israel, but he is using things right now for us. One thing he uses is giving us choice; giving us opportunity. When you make a choice that pleases God, when you feel that you can make the right choice, he says “He is all right; She is all right.”

God appeared to Solomon in a dream.

1 Kings 3:5
  1. In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee.

He could ask for many things, but he asked, “God, I want to be the best king that I can be.” And God was pleased. He said, “You didn’t ask for all these other things, but I will give them to you.” He had some misery, too. He had a thousand wives…

When you have a decision and you can make that decision for Christ, then you have Christ. A few months ago I had a decision to make, and I didn’t know what decision would be pleasing to God, so I prayed “God, tell me! Tell me what decision what to make!” If you are still expecting the pastor or your Mom and Dad to make decisions for you, then you are still a baby. So I prayed for months and months, and finally the answer came back the way I did not expect. It said, “You have the mind of Christ.” God wants you to decide; he wants you to choose. He is not going to choose for you. He believes that you will not make the choice to go back to Egypt. You will sit down and say, “Though I am in pain right now; though I do not see what tomorrow will be; I know that Egypt is not all that great. I will not go back to it.” This is how God tests us.

He also tests us by proposing hard tasks:

John 6:5-6
  1. When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?
  2. And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.

He does that to test us. Even though God has a plan, he wants you to have a plan. “How are we going to do this?” He is allowing also suffering even when you are doing things that are in his will. So you think that because you are doing everything right, you will be spared? But the Bible says:

2 Timothy 3:12
  1. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

Take the example of Paul and Silas in prison:

Acts 16:19-24
  1. And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers,
  2. And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city,
  3. And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.
  4. And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.
  5. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely:
  6. Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.

They did not deserve that, but that is exactly what they got.

God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son, and his son was the only hope that he had.

Genesis 22:1-2
  1. And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.
  2. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

It doesn’t happen to us the way it happened to Abraham. Because of Abraham’s example, if God asks us to sacrifice something we love, we will think, “At the last minute, God will stay my hand.” But God may let it happen. Jesus begged God for another plan. He said, “Father, if there is any other way, let it happen.” We should have the attitude of Job.

Finally:

Deuteronomy 8:2
  1. And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.

Israel was forty years in the wilderness. Maybe for you and me it is a different amount of years. But if you could go back in your life, all the ways that God took you through, maybe he is trying to teach you lessons that you have not learned. Maybe he is trying to take Egypt, the world, out of you. Maybe he is trying to take you to a land that is flowing with milk and honey, but he needs to do this work before he can take you there. You don’t want it to take forty years. You need to say, “God, the world is not my home. If it was that great, I wouldn’t be seeking for you.” It is sad for me and any other spiritual leaders to see people leave church; people leave God. They just forget where they came from; they forget why they were there in the first place. You need to think about all the experiences you have in life. Maybe God is still working on you because he has a great country, a great world, a great place for you. Things happen; that’s life. But how you respond to it, that’s up to you. God is working on you to take Egypt out of you. Don’t be resistant; let God cross another Red Sea with you, so he can give you the victory that belongs to you.

God's View of Our House

Sunday Morning Service, 2/14/10

> Click here to download an audio recording

Songs

Praise reports are very exciting. I think that the little things in our life is the biggest confirmation that God loves us. When God blesses us with something that seems a part of routine life, it’s a confirmation that what matters to us matters to God. As you listen to Debbie’s testimony, I want you to reflect on this.

Testimony

> Debbie Glaze

> First of all, you’ve all blessed me, and God has blessed me by bringing me to this church. I was involved in a twenty-seven year accounting career. For about ten of those years, my heart wasn’t in it. I got laid off last September, and I was actually relieved. My boss called me at home afterwards, worried that I might be upset, but I assured her that I was okay. And after I hung up the phone, I said “Thank you Jesus!” I prayed that night to God, asking him what I was supposed to do, if it wasn’t accounting. About twenty minutes into that conversation, the nurse who lived behind me came to talk, and asked me for help taking care of an elderly woman. With God’s help, I graduated Friday from an RN program, and I start work Monday. Everything has worked out awesome, thank God.

Message: Stewardship Part 4

For those of you who think we’re going to talk about money: yes we will, but don’t worry, because we’ve already taken the offering.

Our talents are a blessing from God. As Debbie shared, sometimes the circumstances change, but God always blesses. At the end of my journey, I need to be able to say to God, “This is what I’ve done with what you’ve given me.” So the challenge is what we’ve done with how God has blessed us.

The organs of our body, when they’re functioning correctly, we don’t give them much thought. Some of the talents in our ministry, some of what you do is unseen. I thank you for using your talent for the glory of God. Others use their talents in ways that are more seen, but that doesn’t make them more important. Paul, writing to the church, said that we all make up the body of the church. The eye doesn’t do what the ear does, and the ear doesn’t do what the eye does, but all are important.

The essence of a budget is telling your money where to go, instead of asking where it went. When I was in High School I got my first job that provided a paycheck. I remember looking at that amount of money and thinking that I had a lot of money. And I remember three days later asking “Where did it go?” So this idea of budget is telling our resources where to go; it’s directing it. How do we do that? With prayer. We bring them before the Lord.

Let’s suppose that you realize you’ve got Monday off next week. You hadn’t scheduled or coordinated anything, but suddenly you realize that you don’t have to go to work that day. So did you go to God and ask, “God, is there anything you want me to do with this day? Is there something you want me to do, God?” I’m not talking about something exclusively at the church. Maybe God wants you to help a neighbor.

Or how about you’re doing your tax returns, and you think you’re going to get two thousand dollars in your tax return. But they tell you that you’re going to get three thousand dollars back. Is the first question you ask, “God, is there something you want me to do with this?” I’m not saying to put it in the offering plate, but are you asking God? Maybe it’s paying off a bill; maybe it’s helping a family member.

If you’re bound up about money, and you think I’m trying to get your money, relax. I’m trying to get you to see God’s perspective on your time, your treasure, and your talent. I wish I could tell you that I’ve always had this perfect. But it’s just not the case. There have been times when we’ve had so much trouble paying the bills that I’ve said, “We’ll just pay the bills and catch up later on our tithes.” I’ve found that we didn’t get caught up until we turned that around.

What about your talent? How do you budget that? Some of you have the gift of being a good listener. I’ve tried to become a better listener. If you ever come to my office and notice that I’m literally sitting on my hands, that’s my reminder to myself that I need to shut up and listen.

You heard Debbie’s testimony that for years she was an accountant, and God gave her a new talent. Maybe this is the season for God to give you a new talent, a new blessing.

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

Some people think that scripture means that you shouldn’t have any treasure on earth, but here’s what I think: Your greater treasure should be in heaven. Some of you have asked me about starting a retirement account. I think it’s a good idea, but don’t do it at the expense of your treaure in heaven.

Matthew 6:19-21
  1. Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
  2. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
  3. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Let’s look at God’s view of our financial picture. We’re all one body, and we’re all called together in one spirit.

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

All I’m pleading for is for you to communicate with God and say, “How can I help? How can I be effective at taking my talent and using it for your glory?”

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

It’s all about bringing glory to God.

The financial ministry is putting together a year-end financial report, and it will be made available in our resource center. Dan Lantis and I will be available after service during “Revisit the blessing” if you have any questions.

The Bible tells us that we are to work together, fitly joined:

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

Some of you are very anxious to build a sanctuary on this site, and I am too. But I am thankful for this gymnasium. We bought this facility a little over two years ago, and we got a lot for our money. In fact, we were the low bidder, but the Boys and Girls club wanted to sell to us because we wanted to keep the building. So the other bidder was willing to spend more money, for just the land.

Let me remind you of some of the dreams that we’ve had. This August, Jay Hunemuller and Cedric Christian will go to Naples, Italy to start a fellowship there. That’s one of our goals; that’s one of the things we believe that God has called us to do. Recently I received a call from Seth Rupan, our fellowship leader in Hawaii. When a ship pulled in there, he was able to meet them at the pier, have a Bible study with them, take them out to dinner, and show them the island. My brother who retired from the military shared with me that one of the challenges of being in the military is finding good Christian fellowship. I believe that’s a need that God has called us to address.

Ecclesiastes 5:3
  1. For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool’s voice is known by multitude of words.
Matthew 17:20
  1. And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

The dream is big, but our God is bigger.

So here’s the challenge. I’m challenging you to tithe ten percent. You say, “I don’t want to.” Then don’t. I believe that when we get this right, we get blessed. I believe that the person who gets the most from it is the one who is honoring God that way. I’m challenging you to tithe. Some of you can’t take that leap all at once. Pray. I believe that when you get this right, God will bless you.

My challenge after that is to give offerings. That’s a gift above your tithe. You say, “I don’t like what you’re preaching.” If you’re uncomfortable with doing it, then don’t. Pray “God, show me how to have joy in that.” If you’re not giving it freely, you’re breaking up the blessing-flow. If you’re not able to give offerings freely with joy, then don’t do it.

The third thing is your time. I gave you a practical application earlier. Ask God how to spend your time more wisely. As I say that, I realize that some of you think I’m talking about spending more time in this building. What if God answered that prayer by saying, “Show up at work ten minutes early. See if there’s anybody around to minister to.” Would you do it? Ten minutes in the morning is hard to give, isn’t it?

Two Sundays ago when we had a snow-day, Debbie and I prayed “What can we do, God?” There was snow all over the ground. We live in a cul-de-sac. Debbie and I threw all the snow we could on our driveway. We made a big hill. We went around to all the neighbors; some of them have children; and we said, “If any of your kids want to slide down our driveway, it’s okay.” Then we took our firepit and put it at the end of the driveway and made hot chocolate. We sat there with hot chocolate and marshmallows and graham crackers and said, “If we stay here by ourselves we’ll look pretty silly.” But an hour later there were thirty people in our driveway. One of them said, “This is the silliest thing I’ve ever done, but it’s pretty fun!” I explained that since we didn’t go to church that day, we decided to do something at home. Another said, “This is the best church I’ve ever been to!”

Christian Budget

Sunday Morning Service, 2/7/10

Songs

  • [ This Is Your House]
  • [ Great In Power]
  • [ All To You]
  • [ All The Earth Will Sing Your Praises]
  • [ Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing]
  • [ I Bless Your Name]
  • [ Holy Is The Lord]
  • [ Blessed Be Your Name]

Message: Christian Budget: Time, Treasure, Talent

> Pastor Paine

For those of you who are thinking that this message is all about budget and finance, I’ll tell you to relax. We’ve already taken the offering; it’s not about money. But I would tell you to ask the Lord, “Show me what I need to learn.” This is a message about priorities; about getting things in the right order. As we look at this message, all of us are doing some of these things right. Maybe all you need to do to get the right priority is to switch a piece of the puzzle around. It’s amazing what can happen when you get it right.

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

If we take this verse from back-to-front, it says “All these things shall be added unto me when I seek first the kingdom of God.”

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When you look at that slide, you see that it’s all about “me.” But when we take that same picture and put God in the center,

[img_assist|nid=665|width=400|height=400|align=center]

It’s all about God. We still have the same time, the same treasure, the same talent. But when we put God in the center, then God can put them to work to glorify his name.

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

Remember the story of the thre Hebrew children. When the king saw their testimony, he didn’t say, “These are three great guys.” He said, “Great is the god of Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego.”

Pray to God, “Show me, God, how to live my life so that it makes an eternal difference.” I know that we all have a testimony, whether you’re seeking God now for the first time or whether you’ve served him for many years.

When I got baptized, that was the point where God became the center of my time, my treasure, and my talent. There is a daily challenge of keeping things that way.

Colossians 3:15
  1. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

I’m asking who is on the throne of your life. Is Jesus on the throne of your life, or are you on the throne?

Hebrews 12:1
  1. Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

You may have had the experience of trying to move something heavy without wheels, and then when you got a dolly or whatever, and you balanced it on that wheel, it moved easily. When God is our wheel, he is the center of our life, the Bible says that our burdens become light.

Some of you have the experience that this “doing the right thing” has become a burden instead of a joy, an obligation rather than a blessing. This message is about letting go and letting God. It’s about getting off the throne and making sure that God is on the throne.

God gives us that choice; we are free moral agents. God allows us to say “no” to him. He allows us to say “No, I don’t want you as the center of my life, God. I don’t want everything to revolve around you; I want it to revolve around me.”

1 Peter 3:21
  1. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

We don’t kid ourselves that we can somehow keep a secret from God. God knows you better than you know you. God knows me better than I know me. Have you ever fooled yourself into thinking you’ve done your best, when in an honest evaluation you didn’t? My coach had this rule whenever we did calisthenics. He said, “Do it until it hurts, and then do twenty more. And if that number isn’t going up every month, you’re lying to yourself.” He didn’t count; he didn’t keep track.

Matthew 11:28-30
  1. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
  2. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
  3. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

This idea of putting God first is not a heavy challenge; it’s just hard to get ourselves out of the way.

Philippians 4:19
  1. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

God supplies your needs, my needs not according to my riches, but according to his riches and glory. Some of us want to be blessed, and we wonder if God wants to bless us. I’d like you to say out loud with me, “God wants to bless me.” Let’s say it together:

> God wants to bless me.

Some of you think, “Well, that’s selfish.” God wants to bless you. If that’s hard for you to say and believe, then today is a great day to set that straight between you and God. Can you pray like this?

> God, I know you want to bless me. I know that it is your desire to bless me according to your riches and glory. I know that you would not withold any good thing from me. Yet I know that I live beneath me privilege. So I would ask you, God, to help me remove anything that might come in the way of receiving your blessing.

Some of you wonder if I can talk to God that plain. I do talk to God that plain. I tell God when I’m angry. Let’s say that I’m angry and offended at Jay. He’s hurt my feelings and I feel that he’s dealt with me unfairly. How unprofitable is it for me to just think about that? Does it help Jay? I know what I’ll do. I’ll just leave him alone; I just won’t spend any time with him. Will that help? No; especially since we work together in ministry. Let’s try this, instead.

> God, I know that you love me, and you love Jay. I don’t know whether Jay’s right, or I’m right, or whether it’s a combination, but I need help.

How about this prayer?

> I know that all my time is yours, God. I know that every day, every hour is given to me by you. Help me not to waste this time, Lord. There are so many distractions. God help me to spend my time in a way that can be used for your glory. Whether it’s resting or running the race, let it be done in a way that keeps you on the throne of my life. God, help me with this treasure you’ve given me. Sometimes it seems so small, even inadequate to pay the bills. Compared to how vast your riches are, it would seem a small thing that I have this financial frustration, and yet I am frustrated. Help me to know what to let go of, and what to embrace. Help me to keep you in the center of my life in this area of the ministry. Bless me according to your riches and glory. But I know that I have to clear the way. And about that talent you’ve given me? I want to trade it in on another talent. There’s this girl in the choir, and she’s really cute. How about making me a singer, Lord? Or maybe a guitar-player; girls like those, too.” But God, help me to remember you’re in charge. Help me to want what you’ve already given me. Help me to fully embrace and utilize the talent you’ve given me, and use them for your glory. God, I know that I live beneath my privlege, so help me in this area of time, talent, and treasure. Help me to use them for your glory, more and more each day.

That’s an example of an honest prayer of time, treasure, and talent. But remember that Monday’s prayer needs to be prayed again on Tuesday. God has placed talents in my life that I’ve been afraid of; that I wanted to run from. Some of you heard my story that I stuttered a lot as a young child. Some of you were picked on in elementary school; you know the feeling. Even today, when I get tired, sometimes I stutter. And when it happens, I just smile and say, “God, thank you. Maybe that’s just your way of reminding me that you’ve taken that away from me.” I didn’t want to answer a question when the teacher called on me, because I wasn’t sure I could get the whole sentence out. So imagine God calling me to speak!

I believe this with all my heart: stewardship done right is not a burden; it’s a blessing. Maybe you’ve heard that budget is telling your stuff where to go, not asking where it went. I think that it’s true of our money, but it’s also true of our time and our talent, too.

God’s given you an ability, and it’s dangerous, becausse there’s this risk of failure. God wants you to do it. I really believe that God has something great for us to do together. Ask yourself this:

> Do I give God the first and best of my life, or do I give God what’s left?

Just recently, I heard on the radio someone said, “When you see your partner at the end of the day, you should make the first fifteen minutes seem like you’ve been looking forward to it all day long.”

Testimonies

Sheri Shoch

> Before I came to the ministry, I let myself get sucked into the vicious circle of payday advance loans. It didn’t change until God taught me that he owns everything I have, and I need to give ten percent of my first-fruits, not just what is left over. When that happened, I found that I had enough money to pay my bills, and now Ben and I are looking forward to buying a house.

Barlyn Uribe

> After realizing that God owns everything, the next step is trusting God. When I first looked at buying a house, it seemed impossible. Then after I got married, I looked again, with the help of Pastor Thomas and others. Again, it seemed impossible. But I got down on my knees and said, “God, it seems impossible to me, so I just give it to you.” Six months later, the realtors gave us a better deal, and we will move in next month.

Saints, put God in the center. I would like to tell you that in all my years of ministry, I had this lesson down pat, but it’s been a challenge. But I can tell you, that when you get it right, it’s a blessing.

As I heard the choir singing, “This is God’s house,” I just sat back and took it in. Isn’t it great to know that this is God’s house?

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