Monday, March 31, 2008

INTRO. TO "COMPASSION SUNDAY" 3-30-08

Matt. 28:18 – “Then Jesus….said,…..'All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations……’” - The Great Commission. Jesus had all authority to give this commission.

The first and primary way to spread the gospel and fulfill the great commission is to minister to our own family.

The second is to go beyond the family to other families.

COMPASSION INTERNATIONAL – a well-known, well run Christian development ministry. It has been in operation for over 50 years.

Their philosophy includes:

#1 – Aim Lower - target kids with the gospel

Worldwide – between 60% and 80% of gospel respondents are under the age of 12 when they accept Christ.

In the United States, the probability of accepting Christ as Savior is:

32% for ages 5 – 12

4 % for ages 13 – 18

6% for ages 19 and up

Researchers claim that moral and spiritual development begins as early as 2 years of age.

Also, moral and spiritual foundations are generally determined by the age of 9

Spiritual identity is largely established by the age of 13.

This doesn’t mean that a person can’t or won’t change after 13, but that they are most likely to have established a primary and basic belief system by then.

After the age of 13, you have to make a radical change in your belief system when accepting Christ.

Therefore: Aim Lower

#2. Think Smaller.

Well-trained, well- established kids are the most effective means of reaching other kids – in relational evangelism. Matter of fact and unintentional.

Christian children naturally, in an uninhibited and unintentional way, win their friends to Christ.

This doesn’t mean presenting the Roman Road to salvation, or using the wordless book, but simply

A. influencing them to attend church and accept basic concepts and beliefs, and

B. ultimately directing them to Christ.

Kids can encourage their friends to come to Bible Release Time, Sunday School, Day Camp, etc. Any place they are to learn about Christ, they can invite their friends to come as well.

In Thinking Smaller, we need to think about:

A. Christian leadership training in Pre-Teen years.

B. Parents coming to Christ because of their children’s faith.

#3. Give Up – of your abundant resources and blessings to help accomplish reaching people for Christ and changing the world.

In the USA, if “A” equals the amount spent of reaching and teaching a child for Christ, then the amount spent on caring for a convicted, incarcerated felon equals “A” x 68. In other words, we in the US spent 68 times as much caring for a convicted, incarcerated felon than we do on reaching children for Christ.

Worldwide – only 15% of global missions giving is directed toward children, but 60% to 80% of respondents to Christianity are children.

#4. Go Have A Cup of Coffee – cooperate with other Christians. This includes: locally, denominationally, associationally, cooperative program, etc.

Here where we live, this means cooperate with a local church which is ministering to kids in needy and developing countries.

Compassion International works with nearly 4,000 churches in 25 developing countries.

Next week congregation will have the opportunity to select a child to support and stay in touch with. This is at a cost of $32.00/month. Packets containing a picture of the child and a profile will be here for you to look at and decide.

GENERAL OBSERVATIONS

#1. Not everyone should do “Compassion” ministry.

A. Your heart, passion, ministry may be elsewhere which is OK.

B. You may not be able to afford it.

Either way, you shouldn’t feel guilty for not participating. You can support this without money, or you can team up with another family or two to divide up the monthly cost.

BUT:

#2. Everyone should do something. Matt. 5:13-16 – “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness,….it is no longer good for anything……,. You are the light of the world……….let your light shine before men…..”

Ministry if for ALL Christians. Changing the world is our vocation.

#3. That “something” should be MORE than just social work.

Social work is doing good without strings attached, but without a higher purpose.

Doing good without strings is NOT the same as doing good without a purpose. We should always have a purpose.

Christians should do more than “Go M.A.D.” (go Make A Difference). They should also “Go M.A.E.D.” – (go Make An Eternal Difference).as well.

Compassion International is one way to be salt and light and make a difference and make an eternal difference for $1.00 a day.

Oddly enough,

#4. You can BE salt and light and M.A.D. and M.A.E.D., without:

A. Being Saved

B. Being committed to Christ or the gospel or the Great Commission.

For example: anyone can get involved in Compassion International. We recommend this program to anyone..

But-----why would you do that???

The greatest blessings and impact and outcome are going to be the result of a living Christ working: A. in you

B. through you

You will maximize the effect of what you do when you are committed to Christ.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Sunday - 2008

Observation: Satan had been after Jesus for a very LONG time. Gen. 3:14 & 15”…..I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers;…..” This is not simply about people and snakes, but rather Satan and the seed of woman, who was the Messiah to come. The battle has been constant since this time.

SO…. Since Satan knew that this was going to happen, how could he keep Jesus from “crushing his head”?

#1. By preventing His birth.

Examples: A. Pharoah ordered the Egyptian midwives to kill all the male children born to Jewish women., thus destroying the Jewish race.

B. Haman, in the book of Esther, tried to exterminate the Jews

#2. By recruiting and enlisting Jesus to his side. Matt. 4 “….all this will be yours if you bow down and worship me….”

#3. By having Him killed. Jesus’ death on the cross was real and His burial was in a real tomb. His body was lifeless, there was a hewn grave, there was a cold stone ledge, there was a sealed entry, His followers all walked away.

PROBABLE SCENES AFTER JESUS’ DEATH:

On Earth – A. Rome was unmoved, B. the Jews were satisfied, C. the disciples were devastated..

In Heaven – A. the Father was grieved but silent – He knew what was going to happen B - the angels were stunned. This was the Son. They didn’t know what was happening.

In hell – A. there was great rejoicing

B. the Champion had been defeated

C. Hell was secured

D. Death was triumphant

In the grave Nothing. Jesus of Nazareth lay cold, stiff, lifeless; a body without warmth, a heart without a beat, a mind without thought. He was dead, dead, dead!

For three days/nights – A. Rome went on with business as usual. They’d crucified hundreds of people. This was nothing different to them. Just a problem that’d been handled.

- B. hell – the party was probably dying down, but the sense of smug superiority remained

- C. Heaven – still silent, still stunned.

- D. Earth - the Disciples – were dull, numb with the feeling that follows emotional trauma

AND THEN …. RESURRECTION!!!

The women approached the tomb, the guards were in a stupor, the stone was blasted away…. And they encountered Jesus Christ – the Promised One, the Anointed One, the Anticipated One, and now, the RISEN ONE!!

AND, EVERYTHING CHANGES! (Reverses)

1. In Heaven – there is great rejoicing and celebration. (If there is great rejoicing over one sinner who repents, imagine the rejoicing that took place when Jesus arose from the dead.)

2. On earth – the disciples’ grief turned to joy, their despair turned to hope, their courage turned to boldness, their confusion turned to resolve. THE CHURCH IS BORN!

3. In hell – there is shock, disbelief, frustration, anger, and RAGE!! (Rev. 12 – tells the story in condensed form)

BUT NOTE…. The Resurrection is NOT the end of the story!!

If Genesis was Chapter 1 of the story, and the death/burial/resurrection was Chapter 2, the WE are in Chapter 3. Rev. 12:17 “Then the dragon was enraged….and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring, -- those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus, ….”

The story isn’t over. Satan couldn’t get to Jesus, so he’s after US – the followers of Jesus.

Things really haven’t changed that much from Chapter 1 of the story, except for technology. Now we just have bigger toys and better ways to kill each other.

QUESTION: Is there any way to combat this??

ANSWER: Yes!!! The same way as did the early Christians. Rev. 12:11

#1. by “the blood” – It was applied – it was a personal salvation. Jesus died for all persons but all are NOT saved. The application of the blood is personal.

#2. by “the word of their testimony” – they shared and told the story of Jesus to others, and had a personal story and testimony of what He’d done in their lives.

#3. by their dedication to Christ – they had a personal walk with a personal Lord.

#4. by their pursuit of the Kingdom – they took personal responsibility and made it their personal mission on earth to carry on what Jesus had started. Acts 1:1 “….Jesus began to do…” The book of Acts is about what Jesus is doing now

Matt. 6:9 & 10 “……. Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth….”

We have a PERSONAL Ministry – to reach others for God here, now, where we live, where we work, etc. I AM my brother’s keeper.

BUT ALSO NOTE: Chapter 3 is NOT the end of the story!!!

Chapter 4 – is about the Return of Christ and is somewhere in the future. Rev. 19:11-16/20:14/21:1-4I

THIS, THEN, IS THE END OF THE STORY.

If ever there was a day for making a decision, responding to an invitation, it should be today – Easter.

IT IS A DAY TO:

1. Remember – what He’s done and doing and going to do.

2. Rejoice – in all He’s done, doing, and going to do.

3. Repent – turn from what you’ve been pursuring, and turn to what you should be pursuing.

4. Receive – Jesus as personal Savior and LORD.

5. Return – to the God of your youth, the Savior of your soul, to

6. Reconnect – with the church

7. Rejoin – the army, crusade, cause of Christ.

CLOSING: Song ”He Is Lord” “He is Lord, He is Lord, He has risen from the dead and He is Lord. Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”

Monday, March 17, 2008

3-16-08 - Lord's Supper Service

Hymn – “Saved by the Blood” (click link to view the words to this song if it's not familiar to you) Saved

Scripture Reading: I Cor. 11:23-26

Hymn – “Jesus At Your Holy Table”/”We Have Come Into This House”

Passing of the Bread

Scripture Reading: Is.53:1-7,10a I Pet. 2:24, 2 Cor. 5:21

Hymn – “O Sacred Head Now Wounded”

Scripture Reading: Matt. 26:26 - Eating of the bread

Passing of the Wine

Scripture Reading: Matt. 27:32-54

Hymn – “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”

Scripture Reading: Matt. 26:27 & 28 - Drinking of the wine

Hymn – “Amazing Grace”

CLOSING: Numbers 6:24-26 – “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn His face toward you and give you peace.”

3-16-08 AM - The Lord's Supper

Introduction: Lev.16:5-10 – day of atonement

15 & 16 – sin offering - shedding blood of innocent animal for the sins of the people. The blood was the evidence of the death of the animal

20-22- scapegoat – (innocent one who takes the blame or pays the penalty for someone else’s wrongdoing.) All sins of the people were symbolically placed on the head of the goat and then the goat was sent far away into the desert – carrying the sins away, never to return.

This was all a foreshadowing of what Christ would do on the cross.

Why don’t we do this???? Because – this was all fulfilled in Christ. I Pet. 2:24/3:18 “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree,…..; by is wounds you have been healed.”

“For Christ died for sins once for all,….to bring you to God…..”

Christ fulfilled the role of both of the old testament goats. HE paid for all sins, for all mankind, for all time.

HOWEVER, even though the Cross is there, entrance into heaven is NOT guaranteed. Christ made the way, but the BLOOD must be applied personally.

Christ’s death on the cross; ie. the shedding of blood, is the hub of the wheel and is essential to Christianity. Without the death of Christ, we have just another religion or philosophy.

The Old Testament sacrifices were pictures of what would come.

We picture what has come.

The Lord’s Supper is this picture of what has already happened.

So, the bread and wine are good pictures of the body and blood of Christ.

But, why eat it???? Matt. 26:26-28 – “……This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins…..” A covenant in that day was a very serious agreement between two parties, like a contract today. They did things to symbolize the agreement that had been made.

Covenant pictures – a. exchange of garments (what I have is yours and what you have is mine), b. slitting of wrists – (your life in me and my life in you) c. share a meal – (feeding each other cake at a wedding reception)

John 6:47-56 “….I am the bread of life……here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man my eat and not die. I am the living bread….”

What we believe here at Octavia Baptist Church. That the elements are symbolic and a picture of:

1. His body broken and His blood shed. In the same way that a picture of a family member in your wallet or purse is just that – a picture, not the real person. But we say, “this is my wife/husband”, meaning this is a picture of my wife/husband.

2. My willingness to accept and participate in that as a sign of my belief.

How we celebrate (at OBC)

We gather together on the Sunday evening prior to Easter, worship together, eat the bread and drink the wine together, and fellowship together – in family groups.

Why we do it.

1. To remember His work. 2 Cor. 5:21 – “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us,….” We exchanged garments – His righteousness for our unrighteousness.

2. To demonstrate our belief in that work.

3. To celebrate our common bonds. (We have been made saints if we are saved, but we are still sinners practically. We are all brothers and sisters in Him)

4. To renew our vows and commitments to Him.

Who should participate Here at OBC we believe that this is the Lord’s Supper.

If you belong to the Lord (any who have accepted Him, committed to Him, and examined themselves – I Cor.11:27-29 – “..whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself….” then you are welcome to celebrate with us.

There is a problem!!! “I’m not worthy!” If you were worthy, you wouldn’t need a Savior.

Luke 18:9-14 – the story of the Pharisee and the Publican. There were two unworthy people. But only one approached in a worthy manner. Coming in a worthy manner is recognizing your unworthiness and coming humbly in that recognition.

Conclusion: So,… Go - reflect, examine, confess, commit

And …Come … gather in and group up

Monday, March 10, 2008

3-9-08 AM - The Cross of Christ

I. GOD…..

1. Is loving – He created mankind for friendship and fellowship

But… 2. Is also Holy – absolutely perfect and doesn’t permit sin into His presences. When there is sin, there is separation from God.

And…3. Is just.. He demands payment for sin/disobedience/rebellion. He cannot simply forgive sin or justice would not be served. Sin must be paid for..

Note: forgiveness is wonderful, but is it wonderful at the expense of justice? Example: Your child or grandchild abducted, abused, and killed by a person. The person is caught, no question that the right person is on trial, and when that person is found guilty, the judge states that he forgives him and instructs the family of the child to forgive him as well, and he is set free. Is that justice????

So… how cans we blend, and balance and fulfill love and holiness with justice?

The answer is the cross, ie. the death of Christ. That is the bridge between God and man. Christ paid the price – justice was fulfilled

II. The Cross…. is where mercy and lovingness are coupled with the fulfillment of justice

1. It is Historical – it really took place. It really happened. There are 39 ancient sources documenting the life and death of Jesus Christ.

2. It is central to our faith. I Cor. 15:3 & 4, Act 2:22 & 23, Acts 2:26 There are 175 direct references to His death in the New Testament.

If there is no cross and no resurrection, then Christianity is just another idea or philosophy or religion. It has no foundation without the cross. The term “the blood” is making reference to His death. That’s why it is important NOT to remove “the blood” from the text. Rom.5:9 “Since we have now been justified by His blood,……”, Eph. 1:7 “In Him we have redemption through his blood,……”, Matt. 26:28 ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out…..”

3. It is effectual (it produced, accomplished a purpose) Christ’s death accomplished something – He satisfied the debt, then mercy and justice could work together.

4. It is substitutional - Christ didn’t merely suffer and die for us.. He bore our sins. Our sins were transferred to His body. I Pet. 2:24 – “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree,…” He was our scapegoat. Gal.3:13 “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us……”

5. It is universal in scope. Christ died for ALL the sins of ALL mankind. I John 2:2 “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

6. It is personal in application. The cross is the most powerful event in history, but each one must make the choice to accept and embrace what the cross has accomplished.

7. It has potential. The cross has the potential for salvation but we must “cross the bridge” to receive reconciliation, cleansing, etc.

Matt. 7a;21-23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven,…… then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers’”

WHAT DID HIS DEATH ACCOMPLISH FOR US?

#1. Propitiation – an appeasing, satisfying. Example: Satisfying a debt. Paying a bill. I John 4:10 “This is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

#2. Forgiveness Eph. 1:7 “In Him we have redemption through his blood the forgiveness of sins, …” No MERCY can operate with out conflicting with justice! Justice and mercy/grace and truth

#3. Cleansing I John 1:7”………and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” I Cor. 6:9-11 “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? ……But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified…..”

#4. Ransom/Redemption – to buy back or purchase from. I Pet. 1:18 & 19 “For you know that it was not with perishable things ……that you were receemed, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect….” We were bought back from Satan. We don’t belong to him because we’ve been redeemed. BUT, we can’t get to God without the cross.

What is the point of #1, 2, and 3 if we are still OWNED by sin/Satan? Heb. 2:14 & 15 “……so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death - that is the devil - ……..”

#5. Reconciliation Col. 1:19 & 20 – “…..and through Him to reconcile to himself all things,…..by making peace through his blood shed on the cross.”

This is the bridge illustration. God provided the means to get to Him. I Pet. 3:18 “For Christ died for sins, once for all, ….. to bring you to God. …” John 12:32 & 33 “”But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself…..” Eph. 2:12 & 13 “remember that at that time you were separate from Christ,……..without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you …..have been brought near through the blood of Christ.”

#6. Salvation. This is a broad umbrella term, but, refers to the saving of your soul. John 3:14 – 17 “….that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

The point is: the cross is EFFECTUAL (#3) – it accomplishes much

But it is also SUBSTITUTIONAL (#4)

APPLICATION

#1. Remember – the Resurrection was preceded by the cross. Why make a point to be in church to celebrate Easter Sunday morning when you haven’t accepted the cross and what it accomplished for your life.

#2. Renew – your vows that were made when you were saved. Rededicate and recommit to that which you’ve already committed to.

#3. Receive – If you haven’t already done so, and you know you should, accept Christ, embrace Him, and make Him Lord.

#4. Keep the cross central. Christianity without the cross is like a car without the motor. It may have all the other “stuff” but it won’t go,

#5, Keep it (the cross) simple. Rev. 1:5b “To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood”

#6. Keep it (the cross) handy. I Pet. 3:15 “…..Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have…..”

The answer is: Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead to take my place and give me eternal life with Him in heaven.

Monday, March 3, 2008

3/2/08 AM - Giving and Sharing

CHRISTIAN GIVING AND SHARING

The Ten Commandments of Personal Finance – This list will vary, but for Christians, there is an obvious omission – Giving and Sharing.

Giving and sharing has always been an essential part of God’s economy and there for is a Christian responsibility.

EXAMPLE: Old Testament financial requirements:

#1. The Levitical Tithe – 10% - this to support the priest, Levites, tabernacle, temple worship

#2. The Festival Tithe – 10% - brought to the tabernacle for use in celebration and worship by worshippers and priests Duet. 12:6 & 7

#3. The Welfare Tithe – 10% every third year – to help take care of non-jews, Levites, widows, orphans Duet. 14:28-29

#4. Profit Sharing - Share your blessings. Lev. 19:9 & 10
Today the above two items are taken care of, in large part, by the taxes that we pay..

#5. Free Will Offerings – voluntary giving because want to and are able to give more than required. Some examples: Ex. 35:5 – 10, Ex. 36: 2-7

#6. Personal Benevolence – meeting individual needs as they are encountered and as able to meet the needs

#7. Family inheritance - they were expected to leave an inheritance to pass down to future generations.

These began as a requirement, but became the mindset and philosophy of the people.
500 years later. Examples: Prov. 11:25, 22:9, 28:27, 19:17

This doesn’t mean that all Jews were generous. The thing is that those who were not seeking God came to recognize that the righteous, wise, Godly people had developed an attitude of generosity.

In the New Testament there is: less requirement, ie. no law, no specified amount, giving is not necessary to salvation.
But there is: greater expectation because we’ve experienced God’s grace in Christ.

It is not about a greater % of giving, but developing a heart of giving and a habit of giving.
Note the promises in these scriptures. Luke 6;38, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, …..”
Heb. 13:16 – “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.,
2 Cor. 9:6
- “…whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly….”
Acts 20:35
– “….the Lord Jesus himself said:’It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

I. Why give

1. To honor God. New Testament sacrifice is obedience, the act of worship, showing faith and confidence in God, supporting and building the Kingdom and Kingdom work.

2. To bless others. This means to meet needs, share the blessings, encourage the recipients, build community, and benefit society. We’re to be salt and light and make a difference in the world, and change the world.

3. To benefit yourself. Nearly every verse about giving includes a promise of blessing for giving. Giving builds your faith in God, develops a heart of giving, makes you aware of your blessings, makes you more sensitive to needs, and makes your subject to rewards.

In summary, Jesus said, “the first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul, and the second is to love your neighbor as yourself.” All the law is fulfilled in these two. You reap benefits of honoring God and helping others.

II. How to Give

1. Cheerfully
2. Gladly
3. Thankfully
4. Humbly
5. Proportionally & systematically – set aside according to your income and systematically – it accumulates and builds up. 1 Cor. 16;1 & 2
6. Wisely - Use your head. We’re to be stewards of what God has blessed us with. Don’t give away what’s meant to take care of your family. Don’t be stupid and na├»ve in your giving.

III. How Much to Give The amount is NOT the primary issue. If the will is there, the gift is acceptable.
2 Cor. 8:12 – the widow’s mite became the model of giving. She gave out of her poverty while others gave out of their wealth.

So….
A. it’s your decision 2 Cor. 9:7, “ Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to gove, not reluctantly or under compulsion….”

B. Pastor’s advice would be start with 10%. - How can we as Christians, and ‘wealthy Americans’ decide that we only need to give a fraction of what the Old Testament required of God’s people.

Luke 12:48(b) ‘from everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Giving should be done with a spirit of generosity, not begrudgingly.

C. Some statistics:
3% of those who attend church and claim to be Christians actually tithe 10%.
40% of those who attend church give 0 to the church.
If church people actually tithed, there would be a $150 billion per year surplus available for God’s work.

SUMMARY:

For Christian givers this message is for instruction and for confirmation.

For Christians who are not giving as they should, take the 90-day challenge.
Malachi 3:10 “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse,…… Test me in this, “ says the Lord Almighty, “And see if I will not ….. pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”

For pre-Christians, the challenge is to start giving and it will lead you to Christ.

Jim Elliott once wrote, “he is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

2/24/08 PM - God's Pathfinder

GOD'S PATHFINDER - This was part of our Bible Released Time presentation this month, and I decided to share it with the adults tonight.

God's Pathfinder is a list of questions to help find God's will when trying to make a decision. This was developed for SKITuations by Steve and Cora Alley at skits@bigfoot.com.

The key verse is Proverbs 3:5 & 6. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on you rown understanding. In all you rways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths."

List your options: Should I_________________________?

Or should I _____________________ ?

Then, prayerfully ask God to help you answer the following questions:

#1. "God, show me what the Bible says about this." Phillipians 4:8 ' ..."whatever is true, nobel, right, pure, etc..."

#2. "God, show me what honors my family." Ex. 20:12 - "honor your father and mother..."

#3. "God, show me how to be a Christian example to my friends." - Matt. 5:14 "...let you rlight shine before people, that they may see your good deeds, and prise your Father in Heaven."

Ask yourself, if my decision was made public,what would it do to my Christian testimony.

#4. "God, show me which decision will I be glad I made, later." Phil. 4:7 "...and the peace of God will..."

It's easy NOT to think about the long-term consequences of decisions. We are 'immediate-gratification' oriented.

#5. "God, give me wisdom through my Christian friends or counselors." Prov. 15:22 "In the counsel of many, there is wisdom..."

None of us have all wisdom and all the answers. We need each other's input and that of Christian counselors. Someone who will give a good answer, not just the answer we want to hear.

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS:

#1. Duet. 4:29 - "if you seek the Lord your God with your whole heart, you will find Him. Finding God's will takes seaching and seeking diligently for His wil. Jer. 29:10-13 "...for I have plans for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you...."

#2. You are more likely to find God's unknown will if you are already walking in his known will.

John 7:17 - "If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own."

If you truly do God's will, you will find out that Jesus' teaching is from God and that Jesus is the Messiah.

#3. Sometimes you won't find clear answers and will have to choose and decide on your own. As we grow and mature, God seems to let us make more decisions on our own.

#4. Sometimes you won't get a clear answer and you get to choose what would make you the happiest and most fulfilled.

#5. Sometimes when you don't get a clear answer, you should wait.

#6. Sometimes you will miss God's will. If you make a wrong choice honestly after seeking His will, it probably won't make that much difference. For example: a self-guided missile - locks on a target but gets off course many times during the trip to the target. It is in a constant state of veering off course, correcting course, getting back on course. It ultimately hits the target but hasn't gotten there in a straight path.

You may miss His will willfully or out of ignorance. Even when we are NOT faithful, He IS faithful.

However, it is VERY important to seek His will in all things with sincerity and diligence.

2/24/08 AM - What Bible Commends re. Money

WHAT THE BIBLE COMMENDS ABOUT MONEY
Proverbs 31:10-31 - The virtuous woman - a wife of noble character.
Concerning money and possessions, she is praised because.......
#1. She works hard. It is God's intent that the primary source of income is from work. This refers to more than manual labor. Point being - apply yourself to your work - be diligent and productive in whatever work you do.
Gen. 2:15 - "...put man in the Garden of Eden to work it......" This was BEFORE the fall.
2 Thess. 3:6-15 - warns against idleness. "If a man will not work, he shall not eat."
#2. She works well. She is skilled and diligent.
Prov. 18:9 - "One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys."
Statistics: 70% of Americans say they could be more productive on the job.
45% say they could do twice as much as they actually do.
If you are a Christian and could be doing more, you should do it.
Prov. 22:29 - "....skilled man will serve before kings;...."
Col. 3:23 & 24 - ".....work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord,....."
#3. She manages well. Prov. 31:15, 18, 27 It doesn't matter how much you earn if you can't manage!
The woman of Prov. 31 is WISE in buying/selling/spending/saving.....
#4. She invests well. Vs. 16 she buys a field and plants for the long term investment.
In the parable of the talents, the first two servants handled their talents wisely - invested them.
NOTE: To invest well equals to invest reasonably. Prov. 12:11 - "He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment."
God has blessed us a lot and we should be using it wisely for Kingdom work.
#5. She shares Vs. 20 - "she opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy."
God's math is different from that of a CPA.
CPA says, you can't give away 10% of your money. You'll never make it.
God says, "Give Me the 10% and I will take care of you with the 90% that's left."
Prov. 11:24 - "One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty."
The promise is not that we will be wealthy if we give, but we will be blessed. Not always financially.
#6. She leaves a legacy of financial responsibility.
May or may not leave an inheritance, but does leave a positive legacy regarding finances.
SOME RESULTS OF HER FINANCIAL SAVVY.......
#1 Her family is well provided for... Vs. 21 Sometimes due to various circumstances, this is not possible, but
if it is possible and we don't.... he who doesn't take care of those in his own household is worse than an
infidel.
#2 Her marriage is strengthened....Vs. 11 Now, financial issues are the #1 cause of divorce.
#3. She is praised by her children..... Vs. 28 - They have a practical, Visible model of financial responsibility.
One of the biggest faults we have is not teaching our children how to manage money.
#4 She is financially secure..... Vs. 25 According to Social Security Department - 85% of those 65 and older can't
write a check for $250.00 at any given time.
#5. Her husband is respected...... Vs. 23 because she handles the finances well.
#6. She is used as a Godly example..... Vs. 30 She fears the Lord by doing all of the above.
Vs.31 - "let her works bring her praise at the city gate."
This is not intended only for the women. The principles of financial responsibility apply to all Christians who handle finances - male or female.

2/17/08 AM - The Misuse of Money

THE MISUSE OF MONEY
There are over 2000 verses in the Bible about money and possessions.
Therefore we need to know God's will for the use of money.
The misuse of money includes:
#1. Acquiring it improperly. Prov. 10:2a 11:1a 13:11a 20:17 21:6 - Acquiring money needs to be done within God's will and plan.
Hab. 2:9-11 - speaking of wealth built by improper means - these will witness against you on that final day.
#2. Using it to take advantage of others. Ezek. 18:5 / 7 & 8 10-13 = taking advantage of a good deal and of a person who may be in a tight spot. Usury.
#3 Using it to pervert justice. (or buy favors) Prov. 17:23 Ex. 23:8 / 23:3 Don't offer a bribe, don't take a bribe. There is no difference if you are taking the side of the rich or the side of the poor. God is about justice. We;re not to be partial.
#4. Hoarding (to run up prices) Prov. 11:26 / 11:25 for the purpose of taking advantage of those in need, ie: It's mine and I'm keeping it and not using it to any good. Good stewardship says, "God, what shall I do with it?"
#5. Withholding - wages, payments, gifts, what's due Prov. 3:27 & 28 Mal. 3:5 w// 3: 8 & 9 This speaks of withholdling good from those who deserve it, especially wages due, payments, gifts, etc. when you have it in your power to pay.
#6. Greedy Indulgence Phil. 3:17-19 Person who wants stuff to consume on self. Worships the 'belly' god. His god is sensuality, lust, pleasure, and consumption. Worshipers of Belly God called Consumers.
#7. Indiscriminate borrowing. Prov. 22:7 It is not sinful to borrow, but it does make you a servant to the lender. And it can make you a slave. You can't serve God when you have to serve a debt holder.
#8. Indiscriminate spending. Prov. 21:17-20 Illustration: credit cards - since 1950 roughly 1.2 billion credit cards in the United States.
Problem is not the use of credit/debit cards but when used to spend indiscriminately. 40% of Americans last year spent more than they made, and paid more interest than they gave to God's work.
#9. Apathy and indifference Prov. 27:23 & 24 Don't take money and possessions for granted or lightly.
Pay attention to investments and possessions.
Matt. 12:36 - "man will give account on the day of judgment for every carless word spoken." Could the same principle apply to money?? We will answer for what He gave us and what we did with it.
GENERAL OBSERVATIONS:
#1. The Lord has blessed you with wealth
#2. God expects you to use it wisely.
#3. All wisdom comes from God even wisdom in financial matters.
#4. He who doesn't seek God's counsel on money is not seeking the whole will of God.
#5. The use or misuse of money is a moral issue!
#6. As surely as He condemns the misuse of money, He blesses the proper use of money. Prov. 10:22
So......... where are you in this matter?
A.. Are you on the throne of your heart with God on the outside?
B.. Is God in your heart but you are on the throne making the decisions and He is at the foot?
C.. Is God in your heart and ON the throne where He belongs with you at the foot.
Are you willing to adjust? Change? Correct?

2/10/08 PM - Church As It's Supposed To Be

CHURCH AS IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE.

The Beginning of the church. (church = ecclesia = people meeting together) Acts 2: 42-27
Holy Spirit fell at Pentacost.

As far as the Christian church, this was a result of: #1 – God’s Spirit working
And #2 – the efforts of God’s people

Note: We can’t control God’s Spirit moving and working, but
We can control our actions and efforts.

So, if we want an atmosphere in our church like in the first church, we have to work at it. Haggai: 2:1-4

Question: What did the people of that time work at so when God decided to work, they were ready??

Some things they devoted themselves to (worked at)

#1. Learning God’s Word. 2 Tim. 2:15 The doctrine of the apostles and their teaching.
They worked at learning the things of God and the Word of God.
When we are intentional about something, we are intense at working at it.

#2. Loving each other
A. Apply self to loving. There are times when it’s not easy to love one another.
We have to work at it. We are to love even the unlovable. Have to work a lot.
B. Apply self to being lovable. Self examination and change.

#3. Prayer - as an individual and as a group.

Prayer is a powerful weapon. James 5:16
Prayer has powerful opposition Dan. 10:12-14
Prayer is hard work. Interruptions and distractions seem to come from all directions.

#4. Worship. The early church gathered together daily.
A. We don’t always feel like it. We have to work at it even if it doesn’t come natural or easy.
B. We have a tendency to come to receive instead of give.
Deut. 16: 16, 17 - Worship in the O.T. was bringing and giving something to God.

We have the notion that worship is a place we go to get something.
We should bring to the Lord – thanksgiving, praise, time, love to others, etc.
People who receive the most from worship are the ones who give the most.

#5. Giving not just of money, but time, talents, ministry to others, etc.
The church thrives on givers.

#6. Gathering Heb. 10:25 “Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together…”
It’s not about how often or what days and times.
Gather to give – for the sake of others – as a witness.

#7. Getting along Rom. 14:19 Eph. 4:3 Heb. 12:14
The early church worked at getting along and sharing things.
Sometimes it takes great effort to get along.
Matt. 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers.
Peace makers are intentional and active and proactive about making peace.

Getting along may be more awe inspiring than signs and wonders.

Conclusion: ALL of these 7 things are:

1. Work – require effort
2. Self-inflicted work – “devoted selves to” No one can make you do this.
3. God’s work – they’re done for Him – just as ministry and missions are done for Him.
4. Effective work - Acts 2:47 - “the Lord added daily to their numbers…”
5. Individual work!!! In other words, each individual has to do his or her part.
We have limited control over the Holy Spirit, but we have TOTAL control over our efforts.

2/10/08 AM - Biblical Concept of Money

BIBLICAL CONCEPT OF MONEY

Servanthood is tied to Stewardship which is tied to Money

The Bible deals with money and possessions more than any other single thing mainly because money is very important to us, and we are very important to God.

It is not an important issue to God, but it is to us.

The principle is: if it’s often repeated, it is important.

Note: The Bible doesn’t condemn money, ie: possessions, acquisitions, accumulation of wealth, or the pursuit of wealth and possessions. Prov. 8:20 & 21 Deut. 8:18

It does condemn…....I. The Love of Money (attitude)

II. Misuse of Money. (action)


So…THE LOVE OF MONEY I Tim. 6:6-10

The definition of love of money: always reaching and grabbing for, unhealthy desire for, greed, avarice, lusting after.

1. The love of money is difficult to measure

Symptoms include: A. Money is primary focus and concern,. It demands a lot of your time, attention, and focus when there are no immediate needs to be met.
B. You never get enough.
C. You resent others getting some of what is yours (through gifts, purchases, wages, etc.)
D. You’re willing to sin to obtain it; cheat, lie, compromise integrity, etc.

2. The love of money is not just about currency. Ex. You don’t love $$, just the things $$ can buy. It’s also more than material things. It can be comforts, pleasures, popularity, power

3. The love of money can be occasional and proportional. It’s not a primary issue in life but it is there sometimes to some degree. ie: we love it a little too much.

Question: Why do we struggle with this so much? Why do we love $$$ so much?

Answer: We believe it can produce what we long for and desire – self worth, satisfaction, security, happiness, popularity – and it can produce these things. BUT only in a temporary, superficial way.

There’s nothing wrong with having these things but they can’t meet the need of our heart.

The Bible says: The love of money:

#1. creates a greater thirst for money. Eccles. 5:10 & 11

#2. creates a false sense of security. Luke 12:16-23 Parable of the rich man

Prov. 18:11 wealth of the rich is their

fortified city…..”

Money doesn’t prevent us from dying and meeting our maker.

#3. diverts your focus from what is important. Matt. 22:34-40 What matters finally in the end is:

A. our relationship with God (eternal Kngdom)

Luke 18:23-25 Matt. 6:31-33

Rich, young ruler. Loved him money more than eternal life.

And… B. our relationship with people.

#4. Makes you spiritually unproductive. Matt. 13:7 & 22 Parable of the seeds: cares of life and deceitfulness of wealth chokes out the new plant and it becomes unfruitful.. The love of money chokes us spiritually.

SUMMARY: I Tim: 6: 9 & 10. “People who wan tto get rich fall into temptation and a trap……for the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil…..”

Vs. 11 “…..but you man of God, flee from all this and pursue righteousness, godliness…..”

Again: there is nothing wrong with money. The problem is the LOVE of money.

We must… A. examine ourselves for it. Not only our attitude toward it, but our practice as well.
B. Guard against it. Luke 12:15 “….Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed……”

For Christians, this is all summed up in Luke 16:13 - “No servant can serve two masters……..You cannot serve both God and Money.”

You can have both, but it’s a Lordship issue, not a money issue.

So, where are you concerning this issue???

Is God in your heart at all?

Is God in your heart, but you are on the throne calling the shots?

Is God in your heart AND on the throne as Lord?

2/3/08 AM - When We Experience Tragedy

When We Experience Tragedy
After tragic death of two Octavia residents (father and son) on Thursday, Jan. 31..

TRAGEDY SHOULD REMIND US …THAT

#1. We live within inches of death

How many near misses have you had? How many misses that you are unaware of?
Question? Why did it happen? Question: Why were we so often spared?

#2. You are not immune (exempt/secure)

How many drive the same route? There is no perfectly secure place.

#3. You should prepare yourself. Being within inches of death means within inches of eternity) Scripture: Gen. 28:12 & 13 John 1:51 If you haven’t crossed the bridge and accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, Why?????

#4. You should prepare others --- Connect People to God.

You can’t decide for others, but you can introduce them to faith, and Christian concepts and other Christian workers Especially true of the younger ones. Sunday School, AWANA program, Bible Release Time

#5. You should offer assurances – to your family and friends who love you.

“I’m OK” and include WHY you’re OK. Personal testimony is a very effective witness. Scripture: John 9:25 & 33

#6. You should seek assurance

Ask….”where are you in your spiritual pilgrimage? Walk with God? Relationship with Christ?”

Ask: What can I do to help you along on your journey?

#7. We as a church should be serious about being a church.

We’re not just here for fun. We should be intense about connecting people to God and making an eternal difference.

1/27/08 PM - Stewardship continued

STEWARDSHIP continued. Luke 16:1-9 “The unjust steward…” or (NIV) – “the shrewd steward”

Note: Jesus is NOT commending dishonesty, but shrewdness. The definition of shrewdness – clever, resourceful, prudent, proficient….

I The moral of the story – Verse 9 of text. He was shrewd (wise) in the use of his resources.

A. The unfaithful steward used his resources to gain men’s favor and build earthly accounts

B. We are to use our resources to gain God’s favor and build heavenly accounts.

II The convicting part - Verse 8 of text.

A. Are lost people better than saved people at stewardship?

B. Do they do a better job with their resources than we do with ours?

For example: Hitler was gifted with great leadership qualities, but he didn’t use it to build heavenly accounts, but instead focused on earthly things.

BIBLICAL VIEW – a steward should be……

#1. Honest, trustworthy, faithful - I Cor. 4: 1 & 2

#2. Hardworking Matt. 25:26 Prov. 18:9

#3. Focused Matt. 6:19 & 20

#4. Innovative, resourceful – Matt. 25:14 - Parable of the Loaned Money & Luke 16:1- Parable of the Shrewd Steward

#5. Be intent on serving the Master and expanding His holdings

OBSERVATIONS:

#1. He’s not asking you to serve beyond your abilities Matt. 25:15

#2. He’s not asking you to service beyond your means

#3. Those who receive the most are expected to produce the most. Luke 12:47 & 48

#4. resources are not only to be used but used wisely. (think investments/compound returns, etc…)

Scripture: 1 Pet. 5:1 & 2 This principle applies to any servant/steward.