SERMONS & TEACHING

Aug 26, 2018
Embracing and Experiencing the Supreme Goodness of God
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  • Aug 26, 2018Embracing and Experiencing the Supreme Goodness of God
    Aug 26, 2018
    Embracing and Experiencing the Supreme Goodness of God
  • Aug 19, 2018Following Jesus During Grief
    Aug 19, 2018
    Following Jesus During Grief
  • Aug 12, 2018Identified in Christ
    Aug 12, 2018
    Identified in Christ
     
  • Aug 5, 2018Feelings and Faith
    Aug 5, 2018
    Feelings and Faith
     
    Feelings and Faith
    1st Peter 1:13-16
     
    I am not a fan of emotions. I cannot say that I know many men who are fans of emotions. I would adventure to say many men tend to believe that emotions are for women. I would further assume if a survey was taking asking married men who is the most emotional in the marriage the answer “my wife” would be the #1 answer by a long shot. I am speaking about men at this juncture because it is my vantage point. I view life through the prism of a man. I do not believe that is the best vantage point. I believe that God’s word is the vantage point and it is from the lens of scripture I would like to redirect my own view on emotions.
     
    Yes, I am admitting my view about emotions has been mostly out of sync with God’s word. I was stunned in studying this week that God would dare to single out me a pastor (that’s sarcasm). And now I am admitting to you the audience that I have a battle on my hands to win the territory of my emotions for the glory of God and sake of man. It would be wrong if I singled out men only in this teaching because all of humanity needs to hear what God declares about our “feelings”. Jesus bled to purchase us and that includes are feelings. Jesus owns our feelings He has a right to ask us to feel certain ways that glorify God and blesses others. As I was reading the scripture and thinking about my own feelings and how I view them questions began to arise in my mind. Why do I view emotions the way I do? Why do I label feelings as “bad” or “unnecessary”? The first place to go when answering these questions is to the authority of God’s word. I do not trust my view point on this topic, but I trust God’s word.
    Are Emotions Bad? Are they Part of the Sin Curse?
    God created man with emotions. We learn from Jesus that emotions are not sin. God designed humanity with emotions. Jesus had perfect human emotions.
    He was a man of sorrows (Isaiah 53:3)
    He was a man of joy (John 15:10-11)
    He was angry (John 2:13-22)
    He was a man of love and compassion (Mark 8:2)
    He was a man of Agony (Luke 22:24)
    These are a few emotions of Jesus that demonstrate emotions are not sinful or evil, but part of our redeemed life that can enhance everything about our Christian walk. Denying God given emotions can hinder our growth as believers. At the same time our emotions are always in “open season”. Satan sees our emotions as opportunity to hurt, hinder, and destroy us. Emotions are great and mighty when placed under the authority of God’s Spirit, but they are also very dangerous and can easily lead believers astray. It is my hope to lay a foundation of the blessedness of emotions and give scriptural insight on how they operate and can be influenced by God for our good and survival.
     
    Addressing my personal View
    As stated earlier my view of emotions need to become Christ centered. This challenge is a big one, but it is necessary if faith is to increase. Why is my personal view on emotions the way it is? Here is what I learned and I believe you can relate.
    Emotions appear to be out of control- Emotions happen at different times sometimes without a defined reason.
    Emotion get in the way- I am a doer and would like to be more of a solider than a psychologist. I enjoy missions and seeing them through and feeling happy, sad, mad, annoyed, or other emotions can slow or hinder the mission. Did you see that? I just proved that my view of emotions is not all that good. The emotions named are viewed as hinderances and not helps. My first instinct was to write about hang ups in emotion and not hope. That is certainly an eye opener for me.
    Emotions make you Vulnerable- Crying is humiliating especially when it happens without any notice. I read something the other day that encouraged parents to play with their children while they are young for time passes quickly. I began to tear up because playing with my children is a struggle for me. I was glad no one was around because that was an unwanted emotion after all I have to work, clean the yard, and other adult things. The emotion I had about my children is a good emotion that can make me a better dad, but it was also unwanted. Pushing all emotion aside is not healthy.
    I am not part of Emotional men’s fan base- People that are driven by every emotion annoy me (not very pastoral I know). Therefore, I do the only wise thing and push back as far as possible in the other direction (sarcasm). Measuring emotions by people who do not use them scripturally is a bad idea and guess what I do that. I need, you need, we need to embrace emotions from a scriptural stand point so we may grow together in grace and love.
    The Scripture Commands Emotion
    Our Emotions are part of our redeemed person. Purchased by the Lord our emotions are to please Him and promote the blessed name of Jesus. Emotions are weapons in our warfare and God commands them perfectly. He asks emotion of us.
    Love-
     
    Love is an emotion God commands His children to express, but expression only comes if the thing produced is first generated. God commands us to generate love (Luke 10:27, Mark 10:31; Ephesians 5:25). I feel we must chase a rabbit (get off topic a little) because I want to point out some disturbing lies that the church has embraced from the rabbit hole. Being that love is commanded, it must be something we can control. Having control over who a person loves places responsibility on the person. Consider this:
    Love is dangerous if it cannot be controlled. It is dangerous to marriages because spouses would leave each other all the time taken captive by the very dangerous “love”. Your teenage daughter and son are endangered of “falling” (an accidental term) for the wrong person.
    If love is not controllable than neither is hate. This means we cannot help but hate someone. We call this racism and prejudice which is condemned by the scripture.
    If you cannot help falling in love then you cannot help falling out of love. Again, this means every relationship in the world is on shaky ground and could be attacked by love for their detriment at any time.
    The difficult but very good news is your feelings can be controlled. There is always a battle of who or what controls them, but they can be controlled instead of controlling us.
    Rejoicing and gladness-
     
    Paul teaches to rejoice in the Lord all the time and the Psalmist states to rejoice and be glad (Psalm 118:24; Philippians 4:4). These are commands that a follower of Jesus should be able to keep. We will discuss the how behind the command shortly, but right now be thankful that gladness and rejoicing is something that is very possible to experience daily.
    Thankfulness-
     
    Paul tells the believer to be thankful and give thanks (Colossians 3:15; Thessalonians 5:18).
    Sorrowful-
     
    Weep with those who weep rejoice with those who rejoice (Romans 12:15). I would venture to say it is easier for some to rejoice with the rejoicing (unless jealous is lurking) than to weep with those that weep. Rejoicing seems to be powerful and weeping is humiliating. Yet we are commanded to do both for the glory of God and sake of man.
    Do not be afraid (Isaiah 41:10)-
     
    Fear is powerful. It can grasp you in a moment and there is seemingly nothing you can do about it. Yet our merciful God, the conquer of all things, tells us to not be afraid. How can we stop the flash flood of fear in an instance? I have told myself on sleepless nights to calm down and do not be afraid, but I find that I am a hard person to get through to. These commands that God gives us are wonderful, but mysterious. We will soon unlock some truth that will help us be obedient to God concerning our emotions.
    Fear-
     
    It makes sense that there are times to fear and times to be fearless. The logical part of the equation does not concern me, but the calculation to arrive at the solution I find difficult. How do I cause myself to fear? Deuteronomy 6:24 states fearing the Lord is for our benefit and survival. Holy fear is a wonderful thing, but how to activated it when needed can be a struggle.
    Do not be confused-
     
    This command is found in Isaiah 41:10. It is a command I would love to keep
    These are some of the emotions God commands of us. Are you obedient to these commands? Do you find these commands to be commands out of your control? This is where our main text comes to our aid in being obedient to God emotionally.
    What Does 1st Peter 1:1-16 have to do with our emotions?
    Be Ye Holy
    That is a big statement and it is the climatic verse of the text. Holiness is the aim of every believer and our feelings help us achieve holiness. Let’s walk through the text together and discover God’s purpose for our emotions.
     
    Examine First:
    The work of the Trinity Saves us Completely (1-3)
    God the Father elected, The Son (Jesus our blessed Lord) purchased us with His blood, and the Spirit Sanctifies and seals each believer. Our redemption is God centered and God powered trust in Him. It is upon these truths that our wild emotions become tamed. A daily reminder of what the apostle Peter taught in the first three verses is a must when learning to command your emotions. Nothing in your life concerning your salvation is incomplete. Rather all is complete in the Trinity of God.
     
    Examine Secondly:
    You are guaranteed Blessedness Beyond Comprehension and Fire (4-7)
    You have a lively hope in Jesus. You have eternal guarantees that nothing can shake. Yes, temporal things around you can be shaken. Peter acknowledges the fires of destruction here on earth, but quickly teaches us that even the fiery trials that are against us are working for us an eternal weight of glory. The trials you have are to be expected. You are to expect them to get hot, bothersome, and helpful. Let these verse echo in your mind today resounding to the glory of God. Today things maybe shaky, but they cannot shake the eternal promises guaranteed to you by Our Father, Our Savior, and Our Comforter.
     
    Examine Thirdly:
    Affection Linked to Godly Revelation is Stronger than Compulsion of Physical Attraction (8-12)
    The audience of Peter’s letter had not seen the Lord. Their love was not linked to a face, but a revelation. The gospel writers did not spend time talking of the Lord’s physical features. They were awe struck by the Man not the mold. And it is upon this very affection that our emotions are controlled. The rejoicing, an emotion, of the saints are controlled by the affection (love) they have for God. All acts of worship flow from affections we have of God from revelation we received about God. The reception of the gospel of Jesus Christ was accepted by those to whom Peter addressed His letter and from there their emotions were directed.
     
    Examine Fourthly:
    Wrong Thoughts, Equal Wrong Emotions, Which Equal Wrong or unholy actions
    Peter’s exhortation to us is sober mindedness. Our thinking is to be stayed upon revelation. Which in turn moves are feelings toward doing that which is right and holy. Once we fashioned our emotions according to ignorance. Today many believers have not and are not fashioning their emotions by the sober thinking of revelation. The emotions you have in circumstances are left overs that have been allowed to dictate your actions without being under the influence of holy revelation. Being Holy in all actions and emotion is a direction response to open revelation of God.
    Conclusion:
    Our knowledge of God gives us emotion about life that generates action. Feeling is the conduit that connects knowledge and action.
  • Jul 29, 2018Discipleship Restored
    Jul 29, 2018
    Discipleship Restored
    Discipleship Restored

    John 21:1-19
     After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself.
    2 There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples.
    3 Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.
    4 But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.
    5 Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No.
    6 And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.
    7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea.
    8 And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes.
    9 As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.
    10 Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.
    11 Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.
    12 Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord.
    13 Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise.
    14 This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.
    15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
    16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
    17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
    18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.
    19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.
     
    Jesus Loves Us
    The love of God is not to be measured by mortal minds. No equation exists that can better value God’s love for us than that of the cross. The love of God is so deep, pure, and complex yet it is viewed in simple pictures and words. The cross of Jesus is more complex than any scholar can grasp yet it is so simple that a seven-year-old can understand it and believe in Jesus. The love of God is intrusive and pursues people to hidden places of the mind ignoring all the “beware” and “keep out” signs that are hung about our fragile being. If the horrible cup of God’s wrath and the terrible cross did not hinder Jesus from pursuing us neither will our doubts, fears, failures, or sadness. Jesus loves me against all odds He pursues me and with great grace He restores me time after time. The account we will study highlights Jesus’s love for people. He was eager to restore Peter. Peter could not restore himself, but Jesus could. Peter could not and would not be restored another way. Today as we study the account of Peter’s restoration we will highlight specifics and reinforce the blessed truth that Jesus loves me.
     
    The Real Cost
    Peter and the disciples were people like you and I. Jesus sought them, found them, and called them. The call was a costly one. It cost them their known life and jobs and they were content with that. The contentment in them came from the thought of conquering, ruling, power, and being known. The disciples had disputed on more than one occasion who would be the greatest (Luke 9:46; Luke 22:24; Mark 10:35-37) and they had also offered to call down fire from heaven when Jesus was not given a warm welcome (Luke 9:54). These were good men, but they were learning. They were learning who Jesus really is and how His Kingdom operates. They got a lot of things wrong and one was the real cost of discipleship, but the crucifixion and resurrection changed all that. Jesus was abandoned by His followers the very night He shared an intimate meal with them that the church still observes today. That precious meal did not change the heart of the disciples, but the resurrected Lord did. Not only was Jesus betrayed by one disciple, abandoned by the others, the leader cursed Him on three occasions. The full failure of the group must have lingered with them. Jesus was beat, shamed, and murdered. The disciples were shocked and broken, but then came the resurrection. Jesus was alive from the dead but what did this mean. Did He still feel the same about them? What was their mission? What was the next steps to their life? These were questions that hung about the air like a fog, but one thing was for sure the cost of following Jesus was greater than they expected seeing there was no visible kingdom, throne, or warm reception of the Kingdom of God. On the morning of our text the real cost had settled in their hearts. It was one thing to risk your life for fame, fortune, power, and some spiritual reasons, but to follow Jesus only for the reward of Jesus is a reality check. The real cost was offset by the real joy of a real Savior who really conquered death. The resurrection of Jesus and salvation He offered had to be seen as a greater reward than earthly gain and fame. The real cost was of discipleship is offset by greater reward than the human heart can fully fathom.
     
    Back to the Boat
    The real cost of discipleship, the real emotion of failure, and the real doubt of his call lead Peter back to his boat, his hobby, and his friends was his place of worldly comfort. There was no place Peter felt like he belonged more than in a boat with some nets working with friends. The aroma of the water, the chill of the cool nights, the slight rocking of the boat called beckoned to him like an old friend. The boat, nets, job, and family had not always held top spot in the life of Peter. Not to long ago a man named Jesus passed his way and invited Peter to be His disciple and become a fisher of men (Matt. 4:19). At that moment the people and things he loved the most took a back seat to the man Jesus and His call, but that was then and now in his boat as the sun was rising and the boat empty of fish things were not as clear. Jesus was more than Peter thought Him to be at first and Peter less of a man than he thought himself to be. Peter’s pride was crushed and there was no where to go but back to the boat back to fishing. The boat experience was not productive or satisfying in itself. What Peter really longed for was restoration. He longed for something to be restored to his life. He had his friends and his boat, but he did not have peace. I believe that when people long to be restored start chasing anything they used to know and love. Going “back” is great indicator that restoration is needed.
     
    The Good News from the Boat
    The fishing trip was short lived and that is good news. Peter, the other disciples, and the church has learned and will learn much from the experience. Today we will explore the great truths that can be gathered from Peter’s restoration experience.

    I. Jesus approaches us at our most distant times (1-10)

    Yes, it is true that Peter and the other disciples were distant from the Lord compared to their walk with Him prior to the crucifixion. While the death of the Lord showed His great love for them it also revealed their lack of love for Him. Jesus had taught them of the great price of discipleship and even taught of His own murder, yet it did not register with the disciples. Once they walked with Him daily, ate with Him, talked to Him, and did missions for Him but now they were distant from their original call. They were called from the boat and now they had returned to it. They did not see where the fit into the Lord’s mission. I believe many believers fall unto a foggy time in their faith. I believe this foggy time is caused by life and most likely our own sinful nature. The good news is Jesus pursues us and approaches us where we are. I am glad for Psalm 139:7-8 “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.” God is there for His people no matter where their “there” is. Run back to your old desires and God is there approaching you with what you been trying to catch (V:9).
     
    Peter spent a full night working with a group of friends trying to catch some fish and we know they caught nothing. It almost seemed as if the water was empty of fish, but then Jesus shows up and with great excitement Peter abandons his friends comes to the shore and finds Jesus with what Peter had been trying to catch! There is so much to say about this scene. First, we have to pay attention to the fact the Peter prized Jesus beyond anything. When Peter knew it was the Lord he left boat, friends, nets full of fish, and a dry condition. He desired to see Jesus, talk with Jesus, and be accepted by Jesus. Secondly, we cannot ignore breakfast. Fixing a meal for someone meant acceptance. The meal that Jesus made on the shore told Peter, with out speaking a word, that Jesus loves and accepts Him. Third, Jesus was willing to include what He allowed the disciples to catch while they were distant.
     
    God could cause holy amnesia to fall over our distant experiences, but He allows things that He taught us on our far journey to add to the future mission. This account in John’s gospel of restoration was an experience that Jesus allowed them to bring to the table for the whole church to learn from. God will not misuse your life. We will abuse and abandon our lives, but Jesus will give your life value for His and your sake!

    Application: Are you in awe of God’s pursuit of you?
     

    II. Restoration Happens Through Another (11-14)

    The disciples need restoration as individuals and a group to the Lord. There was no way to attain this alone. It is a scriptural principal that restoration comes through another. Jesus is ultimately that “Other” that provides us with restoration to God and each other. The text we are studying is dominated by Jesus. He emerges as the main character in the text without a doubt. John wanted his readers to understand that Jesus was the restorer. When things are broken in your life there is no other who can heal but Jesus. It appears that the text in some way shape or form references Jesus over 40 times. You cannot miss Jesus as their restorer if you tried. We can see motivational truths about Jesus’s desire to restore. First, we can gather Jesus wanted to bless His disciples. He told them where to fish, granted them 153 fish, and a net that would not break.
     
    He wanted to serve His disciples. This is not the last supper scene, but it is the Lord starting a fire, preparing fish, and giving His disciples something to eat. This tells me that Jesus wants to bless you where you are, He wants to serve you, and He wants to welcome you to the table of fellowship. I call you to worship the Lord this morning because He is gracious, kind, and accepting. I ask you to serve Him for He is a faithful servant to each of us. No matter how far we go He is waiting to receive us as His Children. I also ask you to consider what you are doing with your life. Are you trying to be restored to God on your own? Have you thought about counseling with someone on returning to the Lord? Are you chasing everything around you looking for peace on Jesus can give? Today come to the table and find restoration in Christ.
     

    III. Restoration is Audible (15-17)

    A few minutes ago, my oldest son came in my office to inform me that he can not play video games today. If you are a parent you know I asked him “why”. He told me he was not listening very good today and as punishment he was on restriction. He then began to ask what he could do to get his privileges restored. My response was “You need to apologize and ask what work you can do around the house”. That lesson fits perfect with what we are learning in this text. I am sure you have said it or at the very least been told to “say you are sorry”. Restoration is almost always audible at first. When the disciples were settled on the sure eating some fish Jesus begins a conversation with Peter. Jesus asked Peter 3 times does he love Him. Peter answers “yes” on each occasion becoming a little more frustrated with each repetition.
     
    There is much to learn from this dialogue. First Jesus leads Peter to confess his love for Jesus three different times. Peter had denied Jesus on three separate occasions before Jesus was crucified (John 18:12-27) and now Peter has the chance to profess his affection toward Jesus three times. The denial was known publicly and the confession would be known publicly as well. Second after each “I love you” Peter is given something to do and by this was reinstated, if you will, to his mission and purpose in life. Restoration brings much hope because it mends relationships and sends us to work. The restoration Jesus offers is one that comes with a task. The task may vary but each exist for the glory of God and sake of man. Fishing was not Peter’s main purpose in life. Can you imagine how empty fishing must have felt that night?
     
    The thing he once loved the most was overshadowed by the greater. The most exciting thing about fishing could not compare to the dullest moment following Jesus. Peter’s confession of love for Jesus was to be followed by His caring and tending the congregation “sheep” of God. This brings us to the third lesson from this point. Our affection for God is seen in our care for God’s people. John would later right what Peter already new :1st John 4:20 “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?”

    Application: Are you doing what God has restored you to do?
     

    IV. Restoration means the Cost Restored (18-19)

    Jesus restores Peter to his calling, but it is not without great price. When Peter was first called to ministry he left all to follow Jesus, then as he followed Jesus he learned to pick up his cross daily, and now Peter understands following Jesus will really cost him his life and yet he sticks with the Lord’s call. Peter could no longer hear the Lord’s words the same. The cross and resurrection changed how the group viewed Jesus. All scripture would be interpreted through the death and resurrection of Jesus from now on. Peter saw the cost of discipleship perfectly as he beheld the face of the Man who was once dead and now alive forever more. I am not sure how that day ended, but I know Peter and the disciples truly left all that day knowing the true cost of discipleship and trusting in the true reward! When a person is truly restored to Jesus they accept the cost of discipleship with new meaning. This new acceptance comes from a new vision and the new vision is one who had tasted the world after Jesus and discovered Jesus is the only one who can satisfy. Jump from your ship swim to Jesus and be restored to your purpose!
     
    A Final Word
    Dear friend who is wandering I pray you draw near
    To a Savior who loves you
    Who dissolves all our fears
    Fight all the elements that would convince you to stray
    Come to the Savior and find full life today!
     
  • Jul 22, 2018Seizing the Seasons of Life
    Jul 22, 2018
    Seizing the Seasons of Life
    Seizing the Seasons of life
    Jeremiah 8:20
    The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved
     
    The Weeping of Jeremiah
    Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet. He was a sensitive and bold man. He loved God and his countrymen, yet his countrymen failed to love God. It was such a deep rift in the heart of Jeremiah that sadness became a daily part of his life. Jeremiah prophesied and later witnessed what he predicted, the destruction of Jerusalem. Lamentations (Mourning, weeping) was penned by Jeremiah. Jeremiah cared more for the souls of men than they cared for their own souls. He preached of judgment to come and no one wanted to listen. Other preachers took the spotlight with their false messages of hope and peace. Today's message focuses on the seasons that God gave His people to repent and be prosperous, yet the people would not hear His voice and their fate was sealed. It is my hope that we hear God's word and respond to it much differently than the people Jeremiah preached to. 
     
    Seasons of Revelation and Repentance
    The whole of this message is buried in two chapters of Jeremiah (7-8). I have chosen this verse in particular because it sums up the grace of God, His faithfulness, long suffering, the opportunities He affords stubborn men,  the rejection of such grace because of man's hard heart, and the righteous judgment of God. Today rest assure if God judges you He does so righteously. As we will see God was faithful to the Southern Kingdom of Israel and the city of Jerusalem to bless when they did not deserve it and warn them of the disasters awaiting them because of their sin. Yet, the people did not see their wrong and would not turn from their sin. Jeremiah uses an agricultural picture to relay the missed opportunity of the people and the misery that awaits them. Jeremiah alludes to the gathering of grain and fruit that has proven empty. These were seasons that could be productive, happy, and sustaining when fruit was collected during them. Yet, the times of summer and fall gatherings had past and pleasant fruit full of hope was not to be found in the land. Only misery would await them in the winter season without the gathering of fruit in the seasons of reaping. God had given the seasons, but the people did not seize the seasons of repentance.
     
    Things went Bad and Good was offered (Jeremiah 7:1-7)
    God elected to call the Hebrew people His people. He saved them with a mighty hand on more than one occasion. God planted them in a good land, gave them His word, the Temple with all its ordinances and symbols, and promises of eternal redemption. Yet the people of Israel decided time and time again to reject God. Other things became their desire beside God. They wanted to be like the kingdoms around them. They wanted a king, they wanted other gods, and they wanted to treat others as they pleased. Man has evolved in many ways, but morally is not one of them. Evil men will wax worse and worse. It may be that humanity will learn to cure most diseases and become far advanced in medicine, but this does not make us less wicked. We may learn to wrinkle time and travel the known universe, but that will not make us good people. We may clothe all the naked and start programs to feed the hungry, but being clothed and fed does not fix the sin nature of man. The people of God wanted to be advanced as other kingdoms and accepted by them. They desired to rest their lives in the alliances they could make with other countries. Religion was religion no matter who they worshiped or how they worshiped. Jehovah God was not even a blip on their mental radar. And for all this God reach out to them. God offered wicked man a good deal even though they did not deserve it. Here is what God offered at the beginning of chapter 7. 
     
    The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying,
    2 Stand in the gate of the Lord's house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the Lord, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the Lord.
    3 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place.
    4 Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, are these.
    5 For if ye throughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye throughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbour;
    6 If ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt:
    7 Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever.

    God after all the transgressions and rebellion of His people offered them a chance to do what was right and continue to dwell in the land and be blessed. Our God is merciful and good. If you have not given yourself to Him I invite you today to ask His forgiveness and become His. What great grace it is that a perfect God would extend an invitation to a sinner, through Jesus Christ, to become a child of God. Hear His voice today and respond to His grace by repenting from your sin and begin to follow Him today!
     
    The Dark Damnation Beyond Grace (Jeremiah 7:8-16)
    It is not honest to tell you that God will always deal with men through an outstretched hand of grace. Yes, it is true today that God is calling you through this message to experience His grace. Yet, there exist beyond His grace a dark damnation. God commanded Jeremiah not to pray for the people. Intercession for their rescue was to cease for it was empty and unproductive in moving the hand of God to save. Their repetitive and outright rejection of God's invitation to repent sealed their fate. Death and destruction would be the only thing moving in their direction. While the false prophets told them, all was well and that they were right with God still death marched toward them. Hear what God charges Jeremiah in 7:16 and 11:14
     
    16 Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee.
    14 Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto me for their trouble.
     
    I plea with you not to harden your heart to God's message for you today. Take action today before you move beyond the realm of His mercy!
     
    Learning to do What Is Right from Wrong Examples (Jeremiah 7:17-28)
    The City of Jerusalem failed to seize the good from the seasons God gave them. A terrible sentence was passed on the people, judgement awaited them, and God points Jeremiah to look at how the families went about their lives. Before we glean any further from the text I want to make you aware of my strategy in teaching. It is my hope to show you how to seize the seasons of fruitfulness God has designed for you by taking the bad examples of these people’s life so long ago and showing the flip side to their decision that can help us. An example may help at this point. We want to look at the "Beware of Dog" sign from the owner’s perspective. To an owner it may mean "My Dog will protect me and my possessions". This is good for the owner and bad for intruders. If this doesn't make sense just follow along and you will catch on. With that in mind I want you to understand how the condemned families went about living were the cause of their judgement. They were altogether undone and the is a position that none of us desire to be. 
     
    Every person can seize the seasons of God fruitfulness in our lives by heeding to God's desire in the following areas of our lives.
     
    I. Guide Your Family to Christ Centeredness (18-20)

    When the aim of the family is to glorify God with all that they have and all that they do fruitful seasons in life are seized. The families in the days of Jeremiah would appear unified and happy, but underneath their families were misguided and headed toward ruin. Most in our society would certainly applaud a well-run home. The pinnacle of American family life seems to aim at unity.  Families look for opportunities to be together and united, and this is a great desire. Yet, Satan is real and sin is real and they both make shipwreck good desires if good desires are not check with scripture and guarded daily. Sports, work, camping, movies, and religion are all good things, in their proper place, that bring families together. But none of these things are to be the center of family harmony and purpose. I want to be clear that I am not trying to bash any of those things unless those things are standing in the stead of a Christ centered family. If that is the case then I hope to crush them blow by blow until they are dust and blown away by the wind. Anything that is at the center of the family beside Christ is to be crushed. The families in Jeremiah's day were unified and organized. The whole family unit worked together but did so for the wrong reasons. Something other than God occupied the very pinnacle of their lives. Ungodly things can unify families and make them feel good, just, and right. When verse 20 is read it is plain that all things that played part in equipping the family to worship false gods were to be destroyed. Destruction awaits anything that helps aid in glorifying anything but God.  All our efforts need to aim at glorifying Jesus. If your son and daughter get a job in high school or college their aim should be to glorify God first in their job. A mother that stays at home is to aim at glorifying God first and not appeasing a guilty mother complex (the same is for the working mom). Dads are to plan time with the family and guide the family toward events that magnify God. When we do this faithfully we are making the best use of the seasons of our lives. We are seizing on times of worship, repentance, refreshment, and joy. When these things are neglected we are letting the summer and fall harvest be unfruitful to our own detriment. Today I beg you to pray with your family and seek to guide it into a fruitful season of Christ centeredness.
     
    Application: are you leading your family to Christ Centeredness? Will you fight in prayer to guide your family?
     
    II. Guide Your Family to Real Corporate Worship (21)

    The Temple, in Jeremiah’s stood as a symbol of personal and public life. The worship of God was to stand at the center of each person’s life. The Temple was a reminder of God’s provision, protection, forgiveness, and rule. Its operation points to the beautiful holiness of God. It was seen as a sacred place because of its purpose of magnifying the glory of God to all people. Today the church, the assembly of believers, are the walking talking breathing temple of God that is a witnessed to the beautiful homeliness of God. The gathering of believers today is more important than it was in the days of Jeremiah because we know the Son of God and have been redeemed by His blood. I believe worshiping with the Church is ordained by God. There is no question in my mind that my family being here this morning is of uppermost importance. Yet, I am no fool to the fact that simply coming here does not earn me "sainthood". Families are to come to church and worship God in a real way. We are to sing, give, pray, serve, and promote God here. Our worship it to be fueled from what we know and believe about the Lord. When God is prompted in homes worship together will be real, fulfilling, and God honoring. When the family unit passes God by daily without mention in conversation, song, or prayer then the family view of God is out of focus or non-existent and public worship cannot be genuine.
     
    The people of Jeremiah’s time were worshiping other gods and ignoring the true God. This attitude flowed into public worship and the city as a whole. Let us be mindful if “church” is no good our family units have dropped the ball before the building was ever unlocked to let us in here this morning. But I am convinced that Our families have come here to worship God and we aim to do it with a pure heart. Public worship begins in private affairs of the home. God shows Jeremiah that households were bringing burnt offerings as a show and not as a sign of real worship and repentance. The family unit had no plans on changing. Therefore, God told them to keep their offerings and have a bar-b-que. “Eat if for yourself and don't bring it to Me” was God’s word. It would be like God telling you to "keep your money I will not use it to benefit my kingdom". "Keep whatever you have and consume it upon your lust I will work another way". It is God telling them "I do not want you". To be told such a thing is to be excluded from all blessings attached to the offering. Sacrifice meant salvation to the Jew.
     
    For God to say keep your sacrifice was to say "I will keep my salvation". If the families of Jeremiah's day saw corporate worship as an unwanted outdated thing and were consumed in God's wrath, how much the more is the reward and punishment for neglecting the Body of believers that have been openly purchased by the blood of the Son of God. We have a Sacrifice much greater than that of bulls and goats that inspire and drive us! Each person here today needs to bring your family to corporate worship and encourage them to see God as He is and worship Him as such. 
     
    Application: Is Corporate worship valued in your family?
     
    III. Guide Your Heart Toward Radical Obedience (Jeremiah 7:28)

    The first word of the Lord is to love Him with all your heart. Love and Obedience walks hand in hand. “If you love me keep my commandments” is the word of Jesus. Love is shown in obedience. God’s desire for His people is radical obedience. Radical obedience is more than a tip of the hat toward God. Radical obedience is a life submerged in doing what God has said is pleasing to Him and best for us even when we do not see it that way. Radical obedience is repentance when everything in your life is programmed the wrong way. Radical obedience to God is the sure mark of a true disciple of the Lord Jesus. Radical obedience looks like the actions of Pierre Barlot.

    Pierre Barlot was a gunner in the fort of Mont Valerin during the Prussian siege of Paris. One day he was standing by his gun when General Noel, the commander, came up and leveled his glass at the Sevres bridge. “Gunner,” he said, “do you see the Sevres bridge over there?”
    “Yes, sir.”
    “And that little shanty in a thicket of shrubs to the left?”
    “I see it, sir,” said Pierre, turning pale.
    “It’s a nest of Prussians; try it with a shell, my man.”
    Pierre turned paler still. He sighted his piece deliberately, carefully, then fired it. “Well hit, my man, well hit!” exclaimed the general. But as he looked at Pierre he was surprised to see a great tear running down the gunner’s cheek. “What’s the matter, man?”
    “Pardon me, General,” said Pierre, “it was my house—everything I had in the world.”
    Source: Cyclopedia of Religious Anecdotes, J. Gilchrist Lawson

    This type of obedience is the what God desired from His people, yet they decided to go about life in their own way. The scriptures say there is a way that seems right to a man but the path thereof is destruction. Today I invite you to seize the season of your life and reap the good fruit of God. Be obedient to His call of you. Be that good wife, husband, boss, employer, child, and church member. Obey God no matter the cost and let not the summer pass without being saved!
     
    Application: Are you obeying the call of God on your life?
     
  • Jul 15, 2018The High Cost of Lowly Discipleship: Part II
    Jul 15, 2018
    The High Cost of Lowly Discipleship: Part II
    The High Cost of Lowly Discipleship
    Text: Luke 9:18-25
    18 And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am?
    19 They answering said, John the Baptist; but some say, Elias; and others say, that one of the old prophets is risen again.
    20 He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God.
    21 And he straitly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing;
    22 Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.
    23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
    24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.
    25 For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?

    What is Discipleship: 
    Discipleship is following Jesus. We often follow Jesus in a more consistent way when we follow others who are following Jesus. Discipleship is patterning all things in your life after the life of Jesus. Whatever scriptures says of us we set our goal there (ultimately seen in the life of Jesus) and walk accordingly. Discipleship is not about mastering things in life, but about being governor by the Master Himself. Discipleship is not a list of do-s and don't-s, but action that stems from the immense value of Jesus. Everything we talk about this morning will attempt to explain what true discipleship looks like.

    We all have that friend
    I believe it is safe to assume we all have that friend that didn't mind one way or the other if you came to visit and wore shoes in the house because they had old carpet or flooring. But then they spent time picking out carpet, worked hard preparing for new carpet, and then paid out money to add new carpet and now they stand, on guard, at the door when you come over to make sure your shoes are off and socks are clean. Or maybe your friend was the guy with beat up pickup truck who drove like a maniac down dirt roads and had old coffee cups, water bottles, and dirt all on the floor board, but then he got a new truck and he creeps slowly down dirt roads, has a small trash can in his truck, and a little scented tree hanging from the mirror, and reminds you to knock your shoes off before getting in his new ride that he has named Betsy. What changed their minds and actions? What caused them to go to greater lengths to care for their new ride or floor? VALUE! 
     
    A Mom's love for the Dollar store
    I am sure no mother here today loves the dollar store (you know I am kidding). Every mom loves the dollar store! Why? Because you can spend $1.09 and get your child a toy that they can destroy and you won't fret! Why won't you fret over the destruction of the toy? Value! You know why Christmas is a stressful time for parents? Because we buy our children something we would have loved to have as a child. You know like a drone. Those things are pretty cool. They fly high, fast, do tricks, take video, and pictures. I can only imagine having something that awesome at 8. So, we go and spend a Benjamin ($100.00) in this thing and the first day it is out of the box we are checking wind speeds, toking for trees, power lines, and water that this thing could be destroyed by and not considering our nerves are already tore up! Why? Because there is a high value on the drone and we want to do all we can to protect it from our 8 year old so we can fly it when they aren't home!
     
    The Great Prize Today
    Do you love Jesus? Do you Value Jesus? Do you understand that He is the highest prize of all things? He is of infinite value? How do you determine if you love and value Jesus? Today I hope to remind, teach, and challenge you to have Jesus as your most valued treasure!
     
    Budgeting Jesus
    Christianity has become a religion of bargaining. I am afraid that well-meaning, well respected, faithful church members fall into this realm of thinking. If your life were budgeted out it may look like X amount of time at work, home, vacation, church, sports, rest, and a cushion portion of your budget to do some good deeds. Now, many would congratulate you if you get a good schedule and routine going in your life, but that is not the height of life. Most of what I hear about scheduling come from ladies especially moms. They (Moms) feel if they get a good routine down where everybody gets a % of their time and love then all the world falls into place. What a great lie that is! Full life only comes from the DIVINE LIFE in Jesus. 

        Jesus was straight forward in His teaching of following Him. You give Him all or He wants nothing! You cannot love Wife, children, mom, dad, husband, vacations, jobs, investments, self-gratification, or even your life more than Jesus and follow Him. You are either following Jesus fully or you are not following Him at all!
     
    What's with the Hardcore Stand?
    Why does Jesus teach that it's all or nothing? It goes back to God being supreme. There is nothing more valuable than Him. It goes back to the first command That there is no God but our God. You cannot worship idols and prize God at the same time. If my grand-father leaves me a piece of land and I sell it for one million dollars what was more valuable to me the land or the million dollars. If I purchase a home that cost a million dollars which did I love more the million dollars or the home? After living there for sometime I trade my home for a private island. Again which do I love more? The answers are easy there is far more that I really loved than the land my grandfather gave me. I saw other things as the prize of my heart. You may think "Preacher that's just good investing" again I loved good investing more than the gift from my grandfather. Jesus knows this very simple truth what you do not value as supreme can be traded, sold, or at least left on the market while shopping for something your heart truly desires. 
     
    It's All so Confusing
    I truly believe there are some here today that want to be a disciple of Jesus. I believe there are others who want to follow Jesus as closely as they can. I also believe that it is easy to get confused on how to be a disciple of Jesus. I first started following Jesus at 18. I remember reading the bible, along with some books, going to church, and going over to a friend’s house to learn discipleship. Later I discovered google and boy can google be a blessing or curse! There were so many church models, Sunday school models, life group models, and discipleship models that my head is still spinning. Can I be a true disciple at a traditional church, does the a "modern church" present the best options, what about house church is that more "Acts" like, and before long the one qualifier of following Jesus goes missing among the "how to-s" or "what's new" or "What's best or right". What Jesus said is not complicated, but it is also not easy. Simply put prizing God above all else will strip you of all things to give you better things. It is the high value of Christ that leads me to prayer, bible study, giving, good works, loving my wife, attending worship, loving my neighbor, and resisting the devil! The bible is clear on how to follow Jesus. It is the same today as it was 2,000 years ago. Many things have changed in church culture, and the battle of "who does church right" or "how to do it right" and who has the "closest model" to the original and what's going to attract the next generation rages on, yet none of that amounts to anything if Jesus is not prized beyond those things! He (Jesus) has to be the height of life and worship not a model, not a fad, not a lofty idea, but simply and only Jesus.
     
    With all that being said and mediated upon I invite you now to look at Jesus’s call for discipleship and be challenged to love, value, and follow Him above all things!
     
    1. The Audience (23) Who was Jesus talking to?

        The audience Jesus was addressing is twofold. First the original disciple. They claimed that He was Christ. They saw Him as the Supreme the anointed of God. This very audience had been called by Jesus (Matthew 10:1), sent by Jesus, and witnessed first-hand the power of Jesus. This very audience now had the opportunity to weed through all the community dialogue about the Lord and express for themselves who He really is. They agreed that He was the Anointed of God and thus placed a supreme value upon Jesus. It is from this revealed value that their discipleship would find root and power to grow until all but one would become martyrs for Jesus. The one that did not become a martyr was John ( I have excluded Judas), but do not confuse martyrdom as lack of giving one's life to Jesus. John gave his all his living to the Lord proving he was a true disciple. Although the audience at the time was the Lord's disciples the invitation would eventually be spread through them. 

    Which brings us to the second level, if you will, of the audience. This morning we are the audience. We are those who have said Jesus is the Son of God the expressed image of God. It is only from the immense value of Jesus that we can verify and continue our discipleship. Jesus has us as His audience and it is time that we decide is Jesus worth (is His value) higher than all things in our life? Is He truly God to us?
     
    Application: Have you owned Jesus as Supreme? Do you value Him more than all other things?
     
    2. The Aim (23:b) "come after me"
     
    Being that Jesus is of supreme value it makes since that the only aim of life is to follow Jesus. If a person begins the journey with Jesus with alternative motives, then that person will be found a false disciple before it is all over. A person may have an addiction and come to Jesus only to cure the addiction and once the addiction is broken and life is set straight the person will rapidly or slowly walk away from his religious ties. A person may come to Jesus only to fix their marriage, and once that marriage is fixed the couple moves on from the Lord because they got what they really wanted and it was not Him. Another person may be in finical ruin and comes to Jesus to get a good job and settle all his debts, and once the debts are paid and a new house, cars, and extra money appears Jesus takes a back seat to those things only proving that Jesus was never the prize. I have personally seen each of these things and more. Jesus doesn't simply become a crux over time, He was a crux from the beginning. God was merely a stepping stone to something greater than we think Him to be. But let me state plainly today that there is no higher prize than Jesus, and He does have power to heal, restore, and make better the things in your life, but if those things are your prize then your prize is health, wealth, marriage, friendships, acceptance, and so on, but your affection is not toward God alone and He cannot share His place with anything or anyone else. The aim of Jesus's call of discipleship is for people to desire Him and follow Him for He is the greatest reward for humanity. Now considering that He is the greatest reward Jesus will desire no less for you. To desire less than Himself for you would be not to love you, but Jesus does love each of us and this is why He calls us to Himself. So, the aim is to follow Jesus in your life. Making His life the marker by which all affections flow and decisions are made. 
     
    Application: Is your life aimed at the life of Jesus?
     
    3. The Action (23) "Let Him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me"
     
    The action of discipleship is denial of self, picking up the mindset of your own execution, and following Jesus. We express this action in our baptism, our life as a child obeying and caring for parents, at school and work, in our marriage submitting and loving, in our finances being a good steward of our house and giving charitably to others. We demonstrate our discipleship in the cooperate church by forgiving, showing mercy, forbearing, and caring for one another. Discipleship is a lifelong endeavor that is built upon self-denial, an execution mindset, and a desire to follow Jesus at all cost. We keep nothing back. Everything is on the table to know, love, and serve Jesus. Acts Chapter 5 teaches of a couple who decided to make a show of following Jesus. They promised something but held a part back. This lead to their death. Half-hearted commitment is death to the one who claims to be a Christian. When we use what Jesus taught to measure our motives and act accordingly we will discover the action we take are eternal actions that do not lack eternal rewards.
     
    4. The Accumulation (24) "whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall save it"
     
    The accumulation of life long discipleship is a saved life. A life that experiences the power of salvation every day. If there is only One way to save your life for the glory of God and sake of man, then there many ways to lose your life. You can lose your life in your marriage, job, money, sports, recreation, and many other things. Discipleship me cost you your life, but it promises more abundant life in Christ that will never end! I ask you to ponder your heart, count the cost, and esteem the riches in Christ greater than the riches of this world, your own ideas, your own desires. With wisdom commit to Jesus in a real way for He is the sum of all things and the grand prize of our discipleship!
  • Jul 8, 2018Characteristics of Jacob’s Well, Compared to the Church
    Jul 8, 2018
    Characteristics of Jacob’s Well, Compared to the Church
  • Jul 1, 2018The High Cost of Lowly Discipleship: Part I
    Jul 1, 2018
    The High Cost of Lowly Discipleship: Part I
    The High Cost of Lowly Discipleship
    Text: Luke 9:18-25
    18 And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am?
    19 They answering said, John the Baptist; but some say, Elias; and others say, that one of the old prophets is risen again.
    20 He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God.
    21 And he straitly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing;
    22 Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.
    23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
    24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.
    25 For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?

    What is Discipleship: 
    Discipleship is following Jesus. We often follow Jesus in a more consistent way when we follow others who are following Jesus. Discipleship is patterning all things in your life after the life of Jesus. Whatever scriptures says of us we set our goal there (ultimately seen in the life of Jesus) and walk accordingly. Discipleship is not about mastering things in life, but about being governor by the Master Himself. Discipleship is not a list of do-s and don't-s, but action that stems from the immense value of Jesus. Everything we talk about this morning will attempt to explain what true discipleship looks like.

    We all have that friend
    I believe it is safe to assume we all have that friend that didn't mind one way or the other if you came to visit and wore shoes in the house because they had old carpet or flooring. But then they spent time picking out carpet, worked hard preparing for new carpet, and then paid out money to add new carpet and now they stand, on guard, at the door when you come over to make sure your shoes are off and socks are clean. Or maybe your friend was the guy with beat up pickup truck who drove like a maniac down dirt roads and had old coffee cups, water bottles, and dirt all on the floor board, but then he got a new truck and he creeps slowly down dirt roads, has a small trash can in his truck, and a little scented tree hanging from the mirror, and reminds you to knock your shoes off before getting in his new ride that he has named Betsy. What changed their minds and actions? What caused them to go to greater lengths to care for their new ride or floor? VALUE! 
     
    A Mom's love for the Dollar store
    I am sure no mother here today loves the dollar store (you know I am kidding). Every mom loves the dollar store! Why? Because you can spend $1.09 and get your child a toy that they can destroy and you won't fret! Why won't you fret over the destruction of the toy? Value! You know why Christmas is a stressful time for parents? Because we buy our children something we would have loved to have as a child. You know like a drone. Those things are pretty cool. They fly high, fast, do tricks, take video, and pictures. I can only imagine having something that awesome at 8. So, we go and spend a Benjamin ($100.00) in this thing and the first day it is out of the box we are checking wind speeds, toking for trees, power lines, and water that this thing could be destroyed by and not considering our nerves are already tore up! Why? Because there is a high value on the drone and we want to do all we can to protect it from our 8 year old so we can fly it when they aren't home!
     
    The Great Prize Today
    Do you love Jesus? Do you Value Jesus? Do you understand that He is the highest prize of all things? He is of infinite value? How do you determine if you love and value Jesus? Today I hope to remind, teach, and challenge you to have Jesus as your most valued treasure!
     
    Budgeting Jesus
    Christianity has become a religion of bargaining. I am afraid that well-meaning, well respected, faithful church members fall into this realm of thinking. If your life were budgeted out it may look like X amount of time at work, home, vacation, church, sports, rest, and a cushion portion of your budget to do some good deeds. Now, many would congratulate you if you get a good schedule and routine going in your life, but that is not the height of life. Most of what I hear about scheduling come from ladies especially moms. They (Moms) feel if they get a good routine down where everybody gets a % of their time and love then all the world falls into place. What a great lie that is! Full life only comes from the DIVNE LIFE in Jesus. 

        Jesus was straight forward in His teaching of following Him. You give Him all or He wants nothing! You cannot love Wife, children, mom, dad, husband, vacations, jobs, investments, self-gratification, or even your life more than Jesus and follow Him. You are either following Jesus fully or you are not following Him at all!
     
    What's with the Hardcore Stand?
    Why does Jesus teach that it's all or nothing? It goes back to God being supreme. There is nothing more valuable than Him. It goes back to the first command That there is no God but our God. You cannot worship idols and prize God at the same time. If my grand-father leaves me a piece of land and I sell it for one million dollars what was more valuable to me the land or the million dollars. If I purchase a home that cost a million dollars which did I love more the million dollars or the home? After living there for sometime I trade my home for a private island. Again which do I love more? The answers are easy there is far more that I really loved than the land my grandfather gave me. I saw other things as the prize of my heart. You may think "Preacher that's just good investing" again I loved good investing more than the gift from my grandfather. Jesus knows this very simple truth what you do not value as supreme can be traded, sold, or at least left on the market while shopping for something your heart truly desires. 
     
    It's All so Confusing
    I truly believe there are some here today that want to be a disciple of Jesus. I believe there are others who want to follow Jesus as closely as they can. I also believe that it is easy to get confused on how to be a disciple of Jesus. I first started following Jesus at 18. I remember reading the bible, along with some books, going to church, and going over to a friend’s house to learn discipleship. Later I discovered google and boy can google be a blessing or curse! There were so many church models, Sunday school models, life group models, and discipleship models that my head is still spinning. Can I be a true disciple at a traditional church, does the a "modern church" present the best options, what about house church is that more "Acts" like, and before long the one qualifier of following Jesus goes missing among the "how to-s" or "what's new" or "What's best or right". What Jesus said is not complicated, but it is also not easy. Simply put prizing God above all else will strip you of all things to give you better things. It is the high value of Christ that leads me to prayer, bible study, giving, good works, loving my wife, attending worship, loving my neighbor, and resisting the devil! The bible is clear on how to follow Jesus. It is the same today as it was 2,000 years ago. Many things have changed in church culture, and the battle of "who does church right" or "how to do it right" and who has the "closest model" to the original and what's going to attract the next generation rages on, yet none of that amounts to anything if Jesus is not prized beyond those things! He (Jesus) has to be the height of life and worship not a model, not a fad, not a lofty idea, but simply and only Jesus.
     
    With all that being said and mediated upon I invite you now to look at Jesus’s call for discipleship and be challenged to love, value, and follow Him above all things!
     
    I. The Audience (23)- Who was Jesus talking to?

        The audience Jesus was addressing is twofold. First the original disciple. They claimed that He was Christ. They saw Him as the Supreme the anointed of God. This very audience had been called by Jesus (Matthew 10:1), sent by Jesus, and witnessed first-hand the power of Jesus. This very audience now had the opportunity to weed through all the community dialogue about the Lord and express for themselves who He really is. They agreed that He was the Anointed of God and thus placed a supreme value upon Jesus. It is from this revealed value that their discipleship would find root and power to grow until all but one would become martyrs for Jesus. The one that did not become a martyr was John ( I have excluded Judas), but do not confuse martyrdom as lack of giving one's life to Jesus. John gave his all his living to the Lord proving he was a true disciple. Although the audience at the time was the Lord's disciples the invitation would eventually be spread through them. 
    Which brings us to the second level, if you will, of the audience. This morning we are the audience. We are those who have said Jesus is the Son of God the expressed image of God. It is only from the immense value of Jesus that we can verify and continue our discipleship. Jesus has us as His audience and it is time that we decide is Jesus worth (is His value) higher than all things in our life? Is He truly God to us?
     
    Application: Have you owned Jesus as Supreme? Do you value Him more than all other things?
     
    2. The Aim (23:b) "Come after me"
     
    Being that Jesus is of supreme value it makes since that the only aim of life is to follow Jesus. If a person begins the journey with Jesus with alternative motives, then that person will be found a false disciple before it is all over. A person may have an addiction and come to Jesus only to cure the addiction and once the addiction is broken and life is set straight the person will rapidly or slowly walk away from his religious ties. A person may come to Jesus only to fix their marriage, and once that marriage is fixed the couple moves on from the Lord because they got what they really wanted and it was not Him. Another person may be in finical ruin and comes to Jesus to get a good job and settle all his debts, and once the debts are paid and a new house, cars, and extra money appears Jesus takes a back seat to those things only proving that Jesus was never the prize. I have personally seen each of these things and more. Jesus doesn't simply become a crux over time, He was a crux from the beginning. God was merely a stepping stone to something greater than we think Him to be. But let me state plainly today that there is no higher prize than Jesus, and He does have power to heal, restore, and make better the things in your life, but if those things are your prize then your prize is health, wealth, marriage, friendships, acceptance, and so on, but your affection is not toward God alone and He cannot share His place with anything or anyone else. The aim of Jesus's call of discipleship is for people to desire Him and follow Him for He is the greatest reward for humanity. Now considering that He is the greatest reward Jesus will desire no less for you. To desire less than Himself for you would be not to love you, but Jesus does love each of us and this is why He calls us to Himself. So, the aim is to follow Jesus in your life. Making His life the marker by which all affections flow and decisions are made. 
     
    Application: Is your life aimed at the life of Jesus?
     
    3. The Action (23) "Let Him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me"
     
    The action of discipleship is denial of self, picking up the mindset of your own execution, and following Jesus. We express this action in our baptism, our life as a child obeying and caring for parents, at school and work, in our marriage submitting and loving, in our finances being a good steward of our house and giving charitably to others. We demonstrate our discipleship in the cooperate church by forgiving, showing mercy, forbearing, and caring for one another. Discipleship is a lifelong endeavor that is built upon self-denial, an execution mindset, and a desire to follow Jesus at all cost. We keep nothing back. Everything is on the table to know, love, and serve Jesus. Acts Chapter 5 teaches of a couple who decided to make a show of following Jesus. They promised something but held a part back. This lead to their death. Half-hearted commitment is death to the one who claims to be a Christian. When we use what Jesus taught to measure our motives and act accordingly we will discover the action we take are eternal actions that do not lack eternal rewards.
     
    4. The Accumulation (24) "Whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall save it"
     
    The accumulation of life long discipleship is a saved life. A life that experiences the power of salvation every day. If there is only One way to save your life for the glory of God and sake of man, then there many ways to lose your life. You can lose your life in your marriage, job, money, sports, recreation, and many other things. Discipleship me cost you your life, but it promises more abundant life in Christ that will never end! I ask you to ponder your heart, count the cost, and esteem the riches in Christ greater than the riches of this world, your own ideas, your own desires. With wisdom commit to Jesus in a real way for He is the sum of all things and the grand prize of our discipleship!
  • Jun 24, 2018Legacy: After This: The Legacy of Glory After Life’s Trial
    Jun 24, 2018
    Legacy: After This: The Legacy of Glory After Life’s Trial
    Series: Legacy

    After This: The Legacy of Glory After Life’s Trial

    Job 42:16-17 16After this lived Job a hundred and forty years, and saw his sons, and his sons' sons, even four generations. 17So Job died, being old and full of days.

     

    Stronger than the Sands of Time

    Job left a legacy that went beyond his life. His legacy has lasted through kings, empires, disasters, wars, cultural shifts, and all the power the sands of time could throw at it. His legacy lasted far beyond his trial, to the point that my two-year-old (Nehemiah) is in my lap, as I type this, singing a song inspired by the book of Job (Though You Slay Me). The glory of a godly legacy transcends time and the very affliction that helped give birth to it! No matter what you are enduring today as a child of the King, rest assured you have an “after this” that awaits you!

     

    The Pain of a Loss Cause 

    Setting the backdrop for a future legacy of glory can be very painful. The backdrop of Moses’s legacy was a painful one. Separated from his family, a fugitive for murder, safe away from Egypt while the people he loved dearly suffered. And then out of nowhere God appeared in a burning bush that shaped Moses’s legacy. There was an “after this” that far out matched the pain, suffering, and exile that Moses faced. Now, when considering Job’s “after this” legacy we must get a look at the great dreadful backdrop that God allowed in order to anchor Job’s legacy into the halls of eternity.

    Job lost people and things that could never be recovered. The pain of death is amplified by the knowledge of what you have lost you will never get back in this world. Job was broken beyond comprehension and the legacy he thought he was building was lost in an instant. 

    We see in the book of Job loss of;

    Live-Stock- This is the equivalent to losing a family business in an instant. All the years you worked, calculated, saved, the people you spent time training, all gone in a moment. There have been people that lost jobs, retirement, or a much-needed source of income can relate. 

    Wealth-Job's wealth came from his livestock and servants. The loss of livestock represents much time and labor lost. Wealth represents his comfort. Job did not have a chance to down size, but was left with nothing.

    Children- I am sure that Job's children were the prize of his life. He held them in his arms, raised them, taught them, and prayed for them. Job was a family man, and what made him a family man was taken from him. No matter how bright the sun shined, how loud the birds chirped, or how big the flowers bloomed, the days without his children were dull, silent, and without beauty. Death does something to the atmosphere that is unexplainable. 

    Wife's endurance- In the midst of great loss we depend on our spouse or that one person we are most intimate with. Job had his wife, but the sight of Jobs pain was so severe she would rather him dead than alive. She could not hold out under the great hand of affliction Job was dealt. Job was without comfort. He was completely alone in the physical world.

    Friend's respect- Those who have had a failure or a run of "bad luck" understands this next loss very well. Job was a well-respected man, but when things went south everyone lectured and ridiculed but none comforted. It is true that his friends remained close, but for all the wrong reasons. They saw their role as those who should chastise and not comfort. 

    Health/physical and mental- The day light was dull and the smell of the air was rot in the life of Job. Physically and mentally he was broken. Where he was once healthy and stable mentally he was now broken and confused. Job was fully depleted. 

    We Are His Workmanship

    Most of the Biblical account of Job’s life is harsh, but the whole account changed with one stroke of the Master’s pen!

    Ephesians 2:10 states, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." Job's life is part of the grand love letter written to humanity. It is a real love letter full of hurt, sickness, persecution, and loneliness. It is real because love will endure (1st Corinthians 13:7-8) all things and all those things are part of all things. The story of God's love for us is a harsh one at times. He suffered affliction, rejection, sorrow, and death for us. He was the man of sorrows. The truest love story ever told or heard is the one of Jesus Christ, His Cross, His conquest, and all for His Church. What makes God's love story great and luring is the suffering He endured in order to bring many sons to glory. John 3:16 has captured many hearts because the great price God paid in order to redeem His people. The great suffering of the Lord is very appealing because His suffering was aimed at us in love and the legacy he left was not only after all he suffered, but because of all He suffered. 

    Job's story fits the grand narrative of scripture. It is through much suffering and strife that the people of God are renewed to show forth praises to the name of God. But what are they praising God for? Revelation 7:9-17 gives some insight on this matter:

    9 “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; 10And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. 11And 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, 12Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. 13And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 14And 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. 15Therefore 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. 16They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. 17For 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."

     

    They were praising God for His deliverance. It was His rescuing them from great tribulation that evoked their heavenly worship. Those who have been rescued from affliction have experienced the harshness of affliction and blessedness of rescue. Those who have experienced pain appreciate pleasure in a praiseworthy manner. 

    I want to make the point abundantly clear that Job's affliction was a blimp in time compared to the eternal weight of glory he is experiencing. Job's trial has been over for a long time, but the eternal praise he is rendering God for His grace hasn't even warmed up good! The “after this” of our affliction celebrates the eternal glory that has magnified itself in the magnitude of our affliction. There is no glory without affliction, so thank your affliction for giving or better yet sharing with you the glory of God.

     

    Your Great Legacy “After This”

    Job received sons, daughters, many years, wealth, and fullness of life all the days he lived after his trial. I do not directly benefit from these things that Job personally received. What is it that benefits me and you this morning from Jobs life?

    The “after this” that Job has left us is…

    1. After a Trial You Know God Better (Job 42:5)

    Job learned more about God meeting God than he did discussing theology with his friends. Good and bad theology was in their conversations, but they did no good in bringing Job closer to God. Job met God in his afflictions and that made all the difference in the world. Job had discussed his knowledge of God at length with his friends. They each shared the view they had of God and Job in their discourses, but none of it sunk in until God came to Job in his agony. Today we gain hope in our trials believing that suffering causes us to truly experience what we have only heard concerning God. “Taste and see that the Lord is good” is an invitation to experience the sweetness of God. I can teach more about the sweetness of honey with one drop on your tongue than a million-word description in your ears.

     

    2.What God Does Not Restore He Can Replace (Job 42:12-13)

    This point is a play on words. I understand that one child cannot replace, in the fullest of terms, another child but God did place in the stead of the deceased children, which were not to be restored, more children. The daughters Job were given after his trial were more beautiful than any other girls around. God placed great favor on Jobs substance and family. We will all live through tragic loss. There will be somethings and people that you will not see restored to you in this life, but God can place exceedingly great people and things in their stead for you to enjoy and be comforted by.

    3.You Can Survive Your Most Devastating Life Event With Faith Intact. (Job 42:1-6)- Job had his world rocked with all Satan was allowed to throw at him. Job came out of the fires of life with his faith intact and even increased. He had heard about God and now he had seen Him in the fire. It is possible to go through a death, a divorce, deep depression, sickness, and isolation with your faith intact. Job has taught us this and we rejoice in it.

     

    How Job’s Legacy Has Helped Countless Millions in Everyday Life:

    Job gives hope beyond the darkness. When trials come and we sink in confusion, Job shows us that God is there in our mess. He is there to reveal Himself in the thick darkness of life. No matter how thick the darkness of life is it cannot extinguish the glory of God.

    Job proves all is ours. Paul taught that all things are ours. Even death and suffering are ours. These things belonged to Jesus on this earth and we have inherited them. The deep darkness that settles in on our lives at times is not there to conquer us. They are actually there to be the Black back drops that God’s never ending glory and love for us is best seen.

    Job makes us think “After this”. If we remain faithful, if we trust God, if we suffer, then will we reign.

    This morning I want to end with a letter that a Southern Baptist Missionary wrote just two months before I graduated High School in 2003.

    March 7, 2003

    Dear Pastor Phil & Pastor Roger,

    You should only be opening this letter in the event of death.

    When God calls there are no regrets. I tried to share my heart with you as much as possible, my heart for the Nations. I wasn't called to a place. I was called to Him. To obey was my objective, to suffer was expected, His glory was my reward, His glory is my reward.

    One of the most important things to remember right now is to preserve the work. ... I am writing this as if I am still working among my people group.

    I thank you all so much for your prayers and support. Surely your reward in Heaven will be great. Thank you for investing in my life and spiritual well being. Keep sending missionaries out. Keep raising up fine young pastors.

    In regards to any service, keep it small and simple. Yes simple, just preach the gospel. If Jason Buss is available or his dad have them sing a pretty song. Be bold and preach the life saving, life changing, forever eternal GOSPEL. Give glory and honor to our Father.

    The Missionary Heart:

    Care more than some think is wise.

    Risk more than some think is safe.

    Dream more than some think is practical.

    Expect more than some think is possible.

    I was called not to comfort or success but to obedience.

    Some of my favorite scriptures are: Isaiah 6, you know the one. 2 Cor. 5:15-21, 1 Peter 1:3, Col. 4:2-6, Romans 15:20, Psalm 25 and 27. You can look through my Scofield and see where it is marked. Please use only what you want or feel is best.

    There is no Joy outside of knowing Jesus and serving Him. I love you two and my church family.

    In His care,

    Salaam, Karen

    Her “After This” legacy is here this morning. We have been introduced to a total stranger that is part of our family, the Family of God. Her life and death, although we do not know it well has inspired us this morning to make Christ the main prize and glorify Him even in our suffering.