These past few weeks have been extremely difficult because I've been holding in a secret that I have to let out or God and my friends won't forgive me. I need you all to pray for me. This thang has taken serious control of me and I can't let it go. I mean it has caused me to neglect the most precious things in life to me, like blogging. It's caused me to neglect some of my work. I feel like I've committed....a serious sin that has now got me by the heart.
I plead with all of my friends in blogtown please pray for me that I get delivered from....................
Topic: Trusting the God Who Will Provide Text: Genesis 22:1-14
Transitional Sentence: Abraham teaches us an important lesson in the text because Abraham made the decision to put God first. His decision provides a testimony to us today and for ages to come which is my sermon sentence summary for the day:
Thesis: God will meet your needs in the midst of the most difficult circumstances of life when you make Him a priority in your life.
So, let us look at this story of Abraham and gleam some truths to will help us endure difficult circumstances of life by putting our trust in the God who will provide all our needs. Here are four (4) principles to hold on to:
1. The Difficulty of Understanding God’s Purpose – v. 1
To understand the difference between test and trials we need to know how to distinguish between the two.
First, trials are sometimes self-inflicted. In other words, you are the reason for your troubles. You made the bad decision and didn’t need any help.
Secondly, trials are sometimes Satan-inflicted. The bible is clear that Satan goes about searching for who he can destroy.
Thirdly, trials are sometimes people-inflicted. Meaning there are some people you don’t need in your life because they are bad news.
The difference between trials and test is that trials are caused by people, Satan, and/or our own bad choices. However, God is the source of all testing. Job’s test came after God gave the devil permission to attack Job. God’s purpose was to prove to Satan that Job’s faith is strong and could not be broken.
Point: The purpose of test in our lives is to build our character. You may not like it but you need it.
2. The Decision to Obey God Under-Pressure – v. 2-3
This test seems unfair. Why would God want to take back from me what He’s given to me? Isaac is not Abraham’s only son. He also has Ishmael. Take him instead would have been my suggestion. Ishmael is my mistake but Isaac is Your fulfilled promise. Let me keep the promise but take my mistake.
Interesting, it’s easy to give away our mistakes but difficult giving back our blessing(s).
What can we learn about obedience?
- Obedience doesn’t procrastinate (“So Abraham rose early in the morning…”). Tension: We’ll try to negotiate with God to delay our act of obedience. Abraham wasted no time, but got himself up and gathered everything he needed to do what God had commanded. He left nothing out, but he took nothing extra! Procrastination has caused the death of many profound spiritual experiences. We confuse waiting with procrastination. We say we’re waiting for God but in reality God is waiting for you.
- Obedience is being prepared (“…and saddled his donkey, took two of his young men with, Isaac his son, split the wood, and went to the place of which God told him.”) Tension: We’ll try to leave some stuff behind to delay our obedience. Abraham was not only prepared in what he took but he was also prepared in his heart. Abraham knew what he was going to do. Isaac was the future but Abraham was prepared to give for today and all that was promised for tomorrow. Are you prepared to give today in order to let God provide for your tomorrow.
3. The Desire to Please God Sacrificially – v. 4-8
This verse is powerful for two reasons:
It’s a statement of Principle – “We’re going to worship” - Abraham declares in this verse that the sacrifice of Isaac is an act of worship. It’s hard to worship God when God has to compete for our attention. What has your attention more than God?
This worship was going to cost Abraham dearly. Genuine worship is costly because it requires us to make sacrifices. Sacrifices like time, talents, plans, pride, pleasures, secret sins, and some many more.
Here’s the principle to behold:
- God wants nothing less than everything
- God wants nothing less than your best
It’s a statement of Perspective – “We will come back to you” – Abraham believes that when he comes back Isaac is coming back with him. What a faith! Abraham doesn’t know what lies ahead for his son Isaac but he believes that God will provide for them both so that they can come back. It teaches us that faith is expectancy. As a child of God you should expect God to do some things in your life.
4. The Declaration to Acknowledge God Undeniably – v. 9-14
God saves Isaac life by providing a lamb caught thickets and Abraham declares the place; “LORD-WILL-PROVIDE”.
Point: If you take care of God’s business, God will take care of your business.
I must admit yesterday was a good day, especially, after having such a discouraging day last week. Praise God for His faithfulness.
Yesterday we celebrated "Family and Friends" in our morning service. I was encouraged because there was an evangelistic appearance in our service that really made me excited and proud of the members of FGMBC. Many of our guest were people who are not saved and/or not committed to any church. I challenged our church at the beginning of this year that we're not in business of sheep stealing. That's not what God called us to and that's not what we're going to do. Los Angeles has more than enough sinners (lost people) for every church. That's who we're going after.
So, I was presently surprised and thankful that many of our guest fit the category of lost people in Los Angeles. Praise God!
We have a standard rule that every guest should be greeted three time before finding a seat in the sanctuary. One by our Greeters ministry, one Doorkeepers ministry, and one member. Anything less than 3 is unacceptable.
The service was good but still a little cold in the building. We got a temporary electrical hook-up while the contractor works out details for upgrade with Edison. Needless to say, I thought I turned the heater but it was AC...GRRRRRRRR! But it warmed up mid-way thru the service.
I'm still preaching our series "The God of Our Trust" looking at the names of God. So yesterday we preached:
Topic: Trusting the God Who Will Provide Text: Genesis 22:1-14
I'll post the outline later this week. But this text was difficult to formulate thoughts because one of the best sermons I heard preached on the text was by Pastor Maurice Watson entitled "It's Only A Test". Not to mention Pastor Charles and so many others. And as I was studying the text, of course, their sermons thoughts kept coming to mind. So, I had to fight the temptation to steal their information. God helped me to pull it out. Thank You Lord!
After service, we prepared a light dinner for our guest. Just some fried chicken, seasoned rice, corn, greens with potatoes, corn bread, salad, punch, and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Nothing big but it was goooooooooood!
I went home and relaxed watching MTV's Scarred, NBA, and then the Oscars. I was a little disappointed because I wanted Taraji P Henson to win. She always a ghetto roll so it was good to see her do something different and be good at it.
In our Wednesday Night Bible Study @ 7 pm (every Wednesday), we've been studying the Letter of James. This letter has challenged me in areas that many of us struggle with on a daily basis. I teach and try to model a level of spiritual maturity for others to follow that is practical as well as doable. In other words, I think we've made Christian living entirely too complicated. We’ve placed religious rules, traditions, philosophical opinions, by-laws, church attendance, religious practices, and Robert Rules of Order as a potential gauge for measuring a person’s and/or own spiritual growth. We use our own spiritual maturity to measure someone else’s growth. If they don’t do it like we do then they have not grown in Christ. Accountability is no longer accountability for the sake helping each other become more Christ-like. Accountability has now become a judging match between 2 people that eventually creates fights and quarrels (James 4:1). Let me caution you to be careful judging someone else’s development against yours for when you place your supposed maturity next to the holiness of God you will discover you still have little more growing to do.
In addition, we allow supernatural events to be our gauge for measuring our spiritual growth. The more of the "supernatural" (whatever that means to you) we experience the more we feel we have grown in Christ. So, being healed physically, financial prosperity, near death experiences, and so many others, we assume, are valid experiences to measure our spiritual growth. Don't get me wrong, I do believe God can do anything! But are our Christian experiences enough to measure our growth in Christ. But what happens when the experiences run out? What do have then as a gauge? Something to think about.
This letter is teaching me that Christian living is practical and doable. The measurement for spiritual maturity rest in practical Christian living day-by-day. James writes; “So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything (NLT)”.
We’ve all asked this question (or one similar); “Am I growing as a Christian?” But when you ask this question what type of answer are you expecting? Are you expecting a heavenly voice to trumpet down and say; “This is my son/daughter in whom I am well pleased?” Are you looking for others to validate your spiritual maturity with a word of congratulations? Are you living a false spiritual maturity that on the outside says “I have everything together” but on the end side you’re just as sinful as can be?
Whatever the case, I believe the only real measurement for spiritual development is in areas of daily living disciplines. The letter of James shows us practical daily disciplines as a means to measure our spiritual development. I want to outline the book of James in question form to help each us look at our spiritual development in a different light.
How do you respond to the struggles of life? James 1:1-4 What is your process for making decisions? James 1:5-8 What is you financial goal in life, to be rich or honor God? James 1:9-12 Do you own up to your mistakes? James 1:13-16 How do you view God’s blessings? James 1:17 Are you a quick tempered person? James 1:18-20 Are you honest with yourself about your spiritual development? James 1:21-27 Do you show favoritism? James 2:1-17 Do you trust God at all cost with everything? James 2:18-26 Can you control your tongue (WOW, this will show who’s growing)? James 3:1-12 Are you a selfish person? James 3:13-18 Do you like to fight? James 4:1-10 Do you respect other people? James 4:11-12 Are you impatient? James 4:13-17 What’s your focus here on earth, temporal satisfaction or eternal security? James 5:1-11 Are you an indecisive person? James 5:12 How is your prayer life? James 5:13-20 Can you be trusted? James 5:16 Do you believe God to do what you’ve requested? James 5:17-18 Are you on speaking terms with God? James 5:19-20
Will we ever reach spiritual maturity at it’s best? I don’t know but we can try our best.
Topic: A Church Worth Talking About Text: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
Thesis: A church worth talking about is a church making a difference in the world until Jesus comes back.
1. A church worth talking about is "A Chosen Church made up of Chosen People" - v. 1-4 (Key: "knowing, you election by God)
How do we know that we're a chosen church made up of chosen people?
- A chosen church is favored church - v. 1: "grace and peace be unto you" - A chosen church is a praying church - v. 2: "making mention of you in our prayers" - A chosen church is trusting church - v. 3a: "Work of faith" - A chosen church is a working church - v. 3b: "labor of love" - A chosen church is a persevering church -v. 3c: "patience in hope"
2. A church worth talking about is "A Courageous Church with Confidence in the Word of God" - v. 5-6
A church worth talking about is a church that honors the Word of God, at all cost! Why?
- The Word of God is Powerful - v. 5 - The Word of God provides strength in adversity - v. 6 - The Word of God changes the heart of man - v. 7
3. A church worth talking about is "A Converted Church with a Convincing Witness" - v. 8-10
- Our conversion speaks for itself - v. 8-9 - We are convinced of our future - v. 10
Nothing interferes more with our ability to serve God than our need to earn a living. An observer from one hundred years ago would be awestruck by the "improvement" in our living standard and by the amount of leisure time our technology now provides us. Few North Americans regularly work more than a fifty-hour week; most work forty-four hours or less. In addition, we now live an average of eighteen years longer than we did one hundred years ago and have at least one-third more diposable income per family. When all of those factors are weighed, together with the fact in America alone there are perhaps twenty million Christians, it seems clear that we ought to be getting out the message of Jesus Christ much better than we are.
The simple truth is that most Americans are too busy to serve God. We have grown complacent and comfortable in God's blessing and have forgotten the first commandment. In the meantime, immorality and cults have grown to alarming proportions because their advocates are more zealous in their support than we are. Since God asks for obedience rather than demands it, many Christians simply ignore the very reason for their existence: to glorify God. Without exception, God has a unique and meaningful plan for every believer that does not depend on age, income, or ability.
It is also clear that God calls each of us to fill this gap. Like Esther, every believer must decide either to be used by God or to be bypassed and allow another to be chosen instead. What a loss that we allow temporary comforts and laziness to rob us of true riches, both immediate and eternal!
(Giving & Tithing by Larry Burkett; "Giving and Tithing -Too Busy To Serve" - pp. 4)
We had good day of worship eventhough the crowd was off partly due to rain. In Calif, people don't like the rain and it's probably because they've watched too much of the Wizard of Oz and saw the wicked witch of the east dissolve to nothing when water was poured on her...UGH...LOL
But for the most part worship was good. I opened our service with the video clipping I posted last week entitled "Don't Waste Your Church". It set the tune in our service. I preached on the name "Elohim-God Our Creator". Here is the sermon skeleton but I want to share a snippet of the sermon that really blessed me while I was preaching.
Topic: God Made You Text: Psalms 139
Thesis: You are precious to God
Transitional Sentence: You are so precious to God that He was and still is actively participating in your life.
1. God knows all about you - v. 1-6 Point: There's no secrets with God
2. God is present in your life, always - v. 7-12 Point: You can't hide from God
3. God knows you potential - v. 13-24 Point: Be yourself
Sermon Snippet: I was in junior high school in the 7th grade and had the biggest crush on a young lady and wanted her to be my girlfriend. I would walk her to class, carry her books, buy her lunch, walk her home, made sure my hair was combed, teeth brushed, clothes ironed, and everything I could to get her attention and let her know that I liked her. I was a skinny kid at 12 years old with a big afro and I wasn't the best dresser in the world. I didn't play sports because in basketball they jumped over me, in football they ran through me, track/field was limited because of asthma, and baseball wasn't mucho enough for me at the time.
For two weeks, in my mind she was my girlfriend but it needed to be validated with the question, "Will you be my girlfriend?" Before I could ask, she says: "I don't want to be your girlfriend. You're skinny and ugly!" This crushed my ego and broke my heart. My cousins and friends all had girlfriends, popularity, and very athletic. But I was the male Cindarella of the bunch. I joined the marching band playing the trumpet and "Gee Club" (another name for choir) with hopes of finding a girlfriend. Strike out! I started dressing like a gangsta with big white t-shirts, baggy pants, and wore my hair in a perm like Snoop Dogg with hopes of getting a girlfriend. Strike out #2! My talk changed from proper english to; "You know" after every sentence. I started hanging with the bad kids all to gain attention so that I could be like my cousins and friends.
All of my 7th grade year I became a loner sitting at lunch by myself reading a book. I quickly became the loner kid who's skinny and ugly among the girls of my school. The guys called me a punk, nerd, and every name you can think of. I got so bad that I found myself fighting everyday of the week until I got kicked out of school.
My 8th grade year wasn't any better!
When I started my freshman year of high school, I had a new attitude (I'm not sure where it came from). But I started my freshman year of high school realizing that there's always going to be someone who looks better than me, be smarter than me, more athletic, much bigger. much more talented, and so on. But there is one thing can't nobody do better than me; "BE ME!"
This confidence changed my life completely. I was no longer looked at as the skinny ugly boy in school. As a matter of fact, the same girl I had crush on in junior high school had the nerve to want to talk to me, NOT HAPPENING!
And today, I still think the same way. I'm not a jealous person, I'm not trying to be like any preacher, singer, or anything, just me.
As I reflect back, I became comfortable and confident with who I was and not based on what others think because God made me unique for an express purpose in life that no other person can do just like I can do. Praise God!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
My exhortation is simply this; "Stop being a carbon copy and be yourself like God made you to be!"
This message blessed my spirit and after long I started talking to myself. God be praised for His word, I am somebody!
I'm still itching to preach this message again. God Made You!
Tracy had a pretty rough start yesterday morning with an issue that's beyond my control. I love her dearly and hate to see her feelings get hurt. But it's best that I pray about and leave in God's hands. Please keep her in your prayers.
I just watched a video clipping by Josh Harris, pastor of Covenant Life Church, about the meaning and importance of church attendance/participation. Awesome expression in a 1 minute and 50 second clip! Here is the clip:
Worship was good Sunday! I preached @ Redeemer Baptist Church for Pastor Curtis Monroe in prayer breakfast. I was asked to do something on the topic of change and/or taking risk. I preached Matthew 9:14-17 "A Change Is Gonna Come". The Lord really blessed the preaching moment and that was the first time for me preaching at Redeemer. Thank God for the opportunity.
After the prayer breakfast I had to run out to our church to preach our 10 am service. I didn't arrive until 11 am and went straight to the pulpit to preach. I didn't finish my work on Psalms 139 so I preached John 3:16 "The Greatest Love of All". I was a little tired but God helped me to preach the message.
I was glad to see my mother in church this week. She's been out for the last two (2) weeks. Praise God for His comfort and strength. She's hanging in there like a trooper.
We came to church for the first time, since I've been pastoring, Sunday. Tracy and the kids were hilarious the entire day. I know it's because we rode together. They've been wanting to do that for a long time. But I'm usually at the church at 4 am in the morning getting ready for worship putting finishing touches to the sermon, checking microphones, etc. So this Sunday was pretty cool riding in with them.
One of my prayers for 2009 is that God will help me establish a music department with people with a love for Him and ministry. My problem is that right now finances are tight plus we're still recovering from our renovation project, financially. But, Laweta who's the director of my favorite community choir, made a suggestion and offer to come in to lead our praise and worship but would have to leave to make it to City of Refuge. She would bring a organ player and drummer at no charge. I want to be open minded but at the same minimize distractions during our worship service. I really like the idea because she has a love for God and is a dynamic worship leader. So, I'm praying for direction about this and many other options that have been presented to me lately. We'll let God work out the details.
After church we went to my brother's house to watch the Super Bowl game. We had so much fun as we always do. We didn't play dominoes because it didn't feel right with a vacant seat that belonged to POP so we didn't play this time. But for the most part, we really had a good time. As well on this past Friday was my cousins birthday so Tracy and I went to Corbin Bowl in the valley which is about 45 minutes from Lakewood to help her celebrate with the rest of the family. We didn't get home until 3 am. I was beat down on Saturday. Tracy and I had so much fun on Friday that it continued on Saturday running errands and stuff. That's partly why my work didn't get down for Sunday. But we needed that time together.
Well, that's it that's all. We'll talk real soon! Man down.