Sunday, January 18, 2015

Make a Stand!

Paul Harvey tells the story of the uncertain soldier in our Civil War who, figuring to play it safe, dressed himself in a blue coat and gray pants and tiptoed out onto the field of battle. He got shot from both directions!

The Bible is full of examples of individuals who compromised in one form or another and their ensuing losses. Lot who separated from Abram and moved as far as Sodom (Genesis 13:12-13; Genesis 19:1-29); Samson who compromised with Delilah (Judges 16:1-2); and Solomon who loved many foreign women (1 Kings 11:1-4) are but a few examples.

What about times when we are tempted to compromise our faith or beliefs? Will we stay strong or try and wear the blue and gray? Think about it! "Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might" (Ephesians 6:10).

Friday, January 16, 2015

"Just Start!" Part 1 "Start Over!"

Bible Reading:

Joh 3:1-3
(1)  There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
(2)  The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
(3)  Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

An old story tells of a tourist who paused
for a rest in a small town in the mountains.
He went over to an old man sitting on a
bench in front of the general store and
asked, "Friend, can you tell me something
this town is noted for?"

"Well," the old timer answered. "I don't
rightly know 'cept that it's the starting
point to the world."

"Excuse me?" said the newcomer.

"Yep," the old man continued. "You can
start here and go anywhere you want!"

That is what a new year is like.  We can start here and go anywhere we want this year.  We can make up our mind and improve our lives.  We can throw out the old useless things (be careful husband) and we can determine to grow and change.

Lots of people make fun of and ridicule New Year’s resolutions, but New Year's Resolutions are goals.  Goals are something you need to go to the grocery story, to graduate high school, to buy a home, or to retire.

So where do you want to go in 2015?

What do you want to accomplish?

I hope you have set some personal goals and I hope you have thought about some financial goals and I hope that you have thought about some family goals but my main focus this morning is where do you want to go with God?

Will December 2015 find you closer to Jesus or farther away?

If Jesus comes this year, will you be eagerly awaiting His return or bitterly regretting the fact that you didn't get ready?

***There is a brother that wore a t-shirt the other day.  It had a picture of a man getting ready to lie down on the couch.  The caption said "I have so many things that I need to get done today that I think I will just lie down and take a nap."

Well we have all felt that at times.

We make plans and goals and lists of things that need to get done and if we are not careful we become overwhelmed with the tasks that loom over us like a giant mountain of boulders about to topple upon us.

If we get overwhelmed at work and don’t do the task, we may miss the promotion or get fired.
If we don't do the things we need to do at school you may flunk the test or fail the grade.
If we don't do the things that we need at our homes we may be embarrassed if an unexpected guest visits.

But if we don't get ready to meet God, we may lose our eternity!

This is not something that we can afford to do.

We must get ready...but where do we begin.

Where do we Start?

The bible gives us a great starting point "In the beginning God....!!!!"
There is a God in heaven!
There is a creator who cares about us. 
The Maker knows best!

We have been created with a God consciousness.  
A certain something that tells us in our heart that there is a God.
This is part of what draws us to God, His (prevenient grace) pulling us, attracting us, making us aware we need Him.
Our part is to respond, to come to Him.

He makes us thirsty, we must drink.
He makes us hungry, we must eat.
He opens our eyes and makes us aware that there is something more than this natural realm, there is a spiritual realm, there is a God who created us, and our part is to seek that God, to pursue Him.

This is the story of Nicodemus.
Although we have only a handful of verses about this man, we can discover much from his position.
He was a leader, a Pharisee, he obviously had a desire for God.
He had given a great part of his life to studying the scriptures and endeavoring to live them.

When He came in contact with Jesus it was from afar.  
He was one of those that saw the miracles.
That wondered in his heart, how can He do those things? and who is this man?
Something began to pull him to Jesus.

What about you?  
We also have been created with a desire to know God.
We sometimes have relegated this longing for God to a search for beauty.
A looking for meaning.
We may call it: trying to find yourself.

The truth is God is trying to get you to look to Him!

We see a child being born, we experience the transcendent beauty of nature and we say, there is something more.  There is a God in heaven, a creator!

Too often we stop there.  
We subdue that inner longing for more, with fleshly pleasures that satisfy for a moment, but leave us just as empty later.  Some never learn.  

All their lives they fill their emptiness by emptying bottles.
They answer their spiritual loneliness by trying to never be alone
Tthey answer their soul's hunger for God by feeding their fleshly lusts.
You know there is a God!
You know He is calling you!
You know you need to change!


Nicodemus did.

It wasn't in the broad daylight, 
It wasn't with great theological wisdom

But He started.

Nicodemus said it this way…"We know that thou art a teacher come from God for no man can do these miracles except that God be with him.  Nicodemus recognized that God was with Jesus, what he didn't yet know was that Jesus WAS God!

Nicodemus Started!

He knew Jesus had something that He didn't have.

He overcame the pressure of his peers

He recognized that religion could be rewarding, but it wasn't freeing! 

He knew that a knowledge of God was wonderful but not the same as knowing God. 

Jesus told him.
You have got to start over.
You must be born again!
This sounded good to him, but how do I do this?

Nicodemus had invested his entire life into religion. He had memorized the scriptures, attended the synagogue, obeyed the law and now Jesus was telling him you have to start over.  What you have done, and what you are doing, isn’t going to get you to where you want to go.

(Joh 3:3)  Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Nicodemus, it is not just a change of actions that you need, you need a change of heart!

It is the same with us!

Paul showed us how to become new when he said:

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

The answer then, is to start over, in Jesus. Surrender your life to Him.

Ron Hutchfield shares a story of a lady that had visited Europe and as she sat next to him on the airplane, she excitedly began sharing what she had seen.  She talked about the beauty of the cathedrals there and one thing she had learned, was that underneath the cross atop these cathedrals, the architects and builders had built in a gold ball. In that ball was a copy of the plans for the cathedral - safely hidden away in case something ever happened to that magnificent structure ... so folks would know how to rebuild it.

Of course, it isn't just buildings that need rebuilding, it's people, too! You may have been hit by some pretty damaging blows recently - maybe you've been virtually "totaled" by what's happened. But where do you start to rebuild?
It is at the feet of Jesus! That's where the rebuilding of a life begins. In fact, let me suggest that you look for answers where they kept the rebuilding plans for those old cathedrals - beneath the cross.


"Start Over"

When you've made your plans and they've gone awry
When you've tried your best and there's no more try
When you've failed yourself and you don't know why, start over.

When you've told your friends what you plan to do
When you've trusted them and they didn't come through
And now you're all alone and it's up to you, start over.

When you've failed your kids and they're grown and gone
When you've done your best but it's turned out wrong
And now your grandchildren have come along, start over.

When you've prayed to God so you'll know His will
When you've prayed and prayed and you don't know still
When you want to stop cause you've had your fill, start over.

When you think you're finished and want to quit
When you've bottomed out in life's deepest pit
When you've tried and tried to get out of it, start over.

When the year has been long and successes few
When December comes and you're feeling blue
God gives a January just for you, start over.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Fellowship Meeting in Saint Louis Missouri

Fellowship Meeting with Pastor Olson in Saint Louis, Missouri with representation from the following states: Alaska, South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, West Virginia, New York and Washington D.C.