Tuesday, November 30, 2010
This past Thanksgiving, I shared in a combined worship service with Pastor Payne of Full Gospel Church and Pastor Severe of Cathedral of Praise Church. All three (3) pastors gave a 15 minute exhortation:
The Motivation of Thanksgiving – The Parable of The Ten Lepers – Pastor Severe
The Manner of Thanksgiving – 1 Thess 5:18 – Me
The Mandate of Thanksgiving – Psalms 100 – Pastor Payne
The service was high spirited and all three (3) exhortations were challenging as well as encouraging. However, I am stuck on what I believe to be a difficult exhortation in 1 Thessalonians 5:18: “In everything give thanks for this is the will of God through Christ Jesus concerning you”.
There is a follow-up question I believe to this exhortation; “Does the bible really mean give thanks in everything?” Let’s think about this for a moment:
- You go to the kitchen to find something to eat only to realize that there is nothing there. Do I walk away saying: “Lord, thank you that I have nothing to eat!”
- You go to the doctor for a checkup only to be called back in with some disappointing news that you only have 6 months to live. Do I walk away saying: “Lord, thank you that I’m about to die in six months!”
- You come into work on Monday morning only to be told that you’re services or no longer needed. Do I walk away saying: “Lord, thank you that now I’m unemployed!”
- Your marriage is headed to divorce court with no sign of reconciliation. Do I thank God that I’m about to be divorced?”
The point is simple yet difficult to understand and practice at times. Yes, the bible is clear that we should give thanks to God in everything because it’s His will for us to be thankful no matter what happens in our lives.
This year has not been the best of years for me. Bad choices, mistakes, complaining, and complacency blocked my ability to be thankful in all things. But when I look over the year, I realize I really do have much to be thankful for. In the midst of adversity, God has been good to me. In the midst of failures, God still watched over me. During a recession, God has been covering me and my family financially. With the loss of friends, God has removed some only to place new ones in my life. In the midst of ministry challenges, God still provides me the power/anointing to preach His word on weekly basis.
Yes, this has not been an ideal year for me but I am thankful. What about you!
Monday, November 22, 2010
For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed. Then suddenly there was total quiet. Not a peep was heard for over a minute. Fearing that he'd hurt the parrot, John quickly opened the door to the freezer. The parrot calmly stepped out onto John's outstretched arms and said "I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions.
I'm sincerely remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do everything I can to correct my rude and unforgivable behavior." John was stunned at the change in the bird's attitude. As he was about to ask the parrot what had made such a dramatic change in his behavior, the bird spoke-up, very softly, "May I ask what the turkey did?"
HAPPY THANKSGIVING to you all!
Friday, November 12, 2010
Sermon Series Title: The Joy of Ministry Partnership
Sermon Series Thesis: The letter of Philippians shows that ministry is a joy when leader/people share the same passion in ministry.
Cross References that led to thesis conclusion:
1:5 - "I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now."
1:7 - "... All of you share in God's grace with me."
2:1 - "... if any fellowship with the Spirit...."
3:10 - "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings...."
4:14 - "Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles."
4:15 - "Not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only."
Philip. 2:1-30 (NKJV)
Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy,  fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.  Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
Place of Writing: Rome
Overall of Letter: joy and fellowship
Occasion and Purposes
Paul's immediate concerns in writing this letter are:
- To recommend to the Philippians one of their number, Epaphroditus, who had come to help him in prison, but had fallen ill and was being sent home.
- To let the concerned Philippians know about the current state of Paul's welfare.
- To prevent the Judaizers from persuading the Philippian Christians to submit to circumcision.
- To encourage the Philippian believers to quiet their dissention and be united.
Through the letter, however, Paul does much more than this. He provides the inspiration and encouragement of a friend, mentor, and fellow believer who finds Christ's strength and peace while struggling with opponents, anxiety, physical needs, and fear for his life. To see how a man, an apostle, meets obstacles and overcomes them in Christ, makes this letter very relevant for our day, too.
Friday, October 22, 2010
- While a lot of attention is placed on the lad with a small lunch. The focused attention is not on the lad and his lunch but on what the disciple saw Jesus do with the lunch.
- The disciples learned from the miracle that God can be trusted with every care of the world, even hunger.
- The disciples learned that God cares about every detail of our lives: sickness, pain, and need
- The bread in Jesus' day was cheap food but for the people it was a gourmet meal. Don't complain about what God provides it may short circuit an even greater blessing. There was sufficient leftovers at the end of the miracle.
- This miracles teaches that a true is not an event but continuance. Jesus fed the 5000 and then sent them home satisfied and not empty handed
- "after these things ..." - this is the 4th miracle performed by Jesus. The disciples saw Him turn water to wine, raise a dead son, and heal a man at the pool of Bethseda who laid there for 38 years. Why is this significant? If we, Christians don't believe God's ability to do the impossible, who will.
- In Matthew, Mark, and Luke in their account of the miracle they mention "a lonely place". Why is it a lonely place with so many people there?
- The miracle is in the leftovers
- When following Jesus, He never sends you away empty handed
- "200 denarii isn't enough to feed so many people" is this a statement of good stewardship, being cheap or frugal, or recognizing reality?
- Lesson to learn: the reality of a situation can cloud your faith of the situation. When reality meets faith, faith will always when.
- God demands active participation when meeting the needs of others.
- Short on money, short on food, trust God He can still make it happen for you.
- Here's a biblical account of a 3 dimensional recession: physical - sick people in the crowd, spiritual - lack of faith, resources - not enough food or money.
- Life has many lessons and the best time to learn is when you're short on everything.
- Many people follow Jesus for all the wrong reasons but still get blessed. The text says "many followed Jesus because of the signs and wonders He performed"
- Was there anything significant about the ppl in the crowd of 5000? Yes, they were hungry.
- What dies the txt mean that Jesus had compassion?
- The difference between Jesus and the disciples in this story is that Jesus cared about the needs of others while the disciples wanted to send them away hungry.
- This story is truly a miracle but what can we learn practically from the miracle?
- This text also teaches us that the needs of people a great and too great for one person to handle.
- Spiritual bean counters are necessary in the work of the Lord. We should count the cost before moving ahead. There's really nothing wrong with bean counting.
- This text is also a lesson on vision. Vision will always exceed budget. However, God will make up the difference when the vision is in line with His will.
- "there's a lad here..." - a lad oftentimes refers to the age of person or even the maturity of person. The lesson to learn is God can use an immature person to be a blessing to the God's people.
- Jesus thought a plan through before asking how much money was in the account. True leadership thinks before it acts.
- This miracle has so many lessons to be learned:
1. There's a lesson to be learned on faith2. There's a lesson to be learned on leadership3. There's a lesson to be learned on servanthood, sacrifice, stewardship4. There's a lesson on leadership and lay people relations5. There's a lesson on vision and church work6. There's a lesson on ministry and people relations
- The lad in his young age understood the significance of being actively involved in the ministry of meeting peoples needs. Don't count out what our young people understand about the ministry. Take what they have to offer no matter how small or large their contribution maybe. It's worth it!
This study was birth out of my message from last week on "Can We Live Again" from Ezekiel 37 the story of the valley of dry bones. Our church is faced with a huge monthly bill with few people resources resulting in few financial resources and all that goes along with it.
The feeding of the 5000 helps me as I remind myself of an observation in this passage:
Jesus teaches us a good lesson on leadership do not panik in what may seem as a stressful situation. Huge need to be met with little resources. God is able to make up the difference! And I believe it!
Monday, October 18, 2010
Then one day walking up his drive way he saw a dark, hideous sinister creature looking at him and saying to him,” I want to be the next enemy of the world”.
The devil takes him through his yard sale and begins to show him all that he has for sale. As they begin to walk up and down the rows of tables they see on the tables weapons like
and as this dark sinister creature sees all of these things he says, “my goodness what wonderful and powerful tools these would be in my hands to stop the work of God in the earth and to keep the people of God from being what God would have them to be”.
But then the devil turns to this sinister creature with a smile on his face and says to him, “yes these weapons have been used wonderfully and yes of course they have accomplished the work that I have wanted them to do, but I want you to see the weapon I have used the most to bring down nations and to cause people to give up on serving God and to stop great things from happening in the world”.
As this sinister creature awaits wringing his hands anxiously to see what weapon that the devil is talking about, the devil reaches back in a corner and pulls out a weapon and written at the top of this weapon is the word, “DISCOURAGEMENT”.
The devil presents this weapon before him and says, “by this weapon I have toppled kingdoms, I have stopped people that were excited about the things of God and excited about serving God, I have stopped them dead in their tracks, by this weapon I have stopped people that have made a good start with God, I have made them to give up and lose hope and lose heart, by this weapon I have conquered and by this weapon I have overcome more than by any other weapon in my arsenal. And by this weapon you can well continue on the work that I have begun”.
I want to tell you, that the single greatest weapon that the devil has to use against the people of God is discouragement. The discouragement we see in the valley does not stem from the dry bones from a lack of faith that these bones can live again.
Picture the scene if you will, each Sunday, Ezekiel stands at the cliff of the valley opens his bible, reads his text, gives his topic of discussion, starts to proclaim the Word to silent, lifeless, and hopeless situation. He preaches hard each week, extends the invitation, and no one comes down the aisle. How discouraging can that be? And many of us pastors/preachers, we preach each week to dying and dead generation but no life has come. What do you do when it seems as if your work is non-productive? What do you when there's no life in a church and its members? What do you when you've tried everything possible and the bones don't come together? I'll tell what Ezekiel did, he stayed at the task he was assigned by God.
Many of us are discouraged in life personally and spiritually because we’re too busy looking at the condition of valley rather than the possibilities that can come out of the valley. Life would be so much better if we just learned to stop focusing on bad conditions and start focusing on the possibilities.
We must always keep in mind that, God specializes in breathing life into dead situations.
This may well be the devil’s weapon of choice, when we look at the lifeless valley but I declare what seems lifeless, dead, hopeless, and a waist of time is nothing more than an opportunity to see God work a miracle in our lives and church.
This text offers three (3) facts about the restoration life (Let me says also that these principles are universal. It applies to us individually but also to the church collectively):
I. The Power of God Restores Life – v. 1-3
The Prophet Ezekiel is taken to the valley of dry bones and God asks him the question: “Can these bones live?” God starts Ezekiel mission with the start of question just like Jesus did in John chapter 6 in the story of the feeding of 5000. In John chapter 6 Jesus asks His disciples; “Where shall we buy bread for these to eat?” However, the question was asked not because Jesus did not know what He was going to do. But He asks the disciples to test their in the midst of an impossible situation.
Understand church that before life can be restored, we must have the faith life can be restored. The hardest work in restoration is not the situation in and of itself but getting Christians to see the possibilities of life. I think there is another way of question the same question in a different way: “Do you believe there’s life in the valley?” Or, “Do you believe God can do anything?”
If you can’t get past this question, then that which is dead will remain dead no matter what you do.
(Footnote: Too many people in the church are working in the church but don’t believe that the church can live again.)
I like Ezekiel’s response the God’s question in v. 4: “O Lord God, You know.”
The Living Translation says: “Lord, you alone know the answer to that.”
Illustration: John 11: “The Raising of Lazarus from the Dead”
Point: God has the power to raise dead stuff.
II. The Proclamation of God’s Word Restores Life – v. 4-7
Ezekiel preached a message of hope in a hopeless situation.
And that’s what preaching is all about, preaching a message of hope; “All is not lost.” Just because the valley looks dead doesn’t mean it has to stay that way.
If we’re going to see life being restored to the people of God and the church we must PREACH THE WORD. This text says that restoration starts with the preaching of God’s Word.
Point: The Word of God can change things.
Secondly, we must TRUST THE WORD OF GOD. It’s one thing to preach the Word of God but it’s a totally different thing to believe and trust that which is being preached.
Point: You can depend on God’s Word.
III. The Promises of God Restores Life – v. 8-14
What does God promise when life is restored? God promises complete restoration.
God promises unity – v. 7-8
God promises strength – v. 10
God promises freedom – v. 11-13
Point: It’s not over until God says its over.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
This past Sunday as I was preparing for church, I pulled it out of my desk and began to flip the pages. Man, this is some valuable information. I have notes of sermons, bible study lessons, and conferences from some of the greatest pulpit speakers of our day, pastors/preachers such as: my pastor Richard D Sanders, H.B Charles Jr, Kevin Willis, Maurice Watson, Ronald Saunders, Dr James Borror, Henry Brown, Kelly Taylor, Darnell Dyson, Anthony Thompson, Barry Severe, R.A Williams, Lance Mann, Reginald Payne, Bishop Noel Jones, and so many others. Man, what preaching. teaching, and conversations.
Many of these guys voices will cease when they leave from earth and into glory. Many of them will not be heard of on a national stage of media, television, internet, radio, newspaper, book writing, commentary work, or anything. But they are some good pulpiteers for all to hear.
I value this book because its been a source of invaluable information. Whenever I studied a difficult text this book was used as a commentary. When needing to provide advice to someone, this book has been a source of information. When stuck in a preaching drought, this book has helped me through (in other words, yes, I preached some of these sermons before). When discouraged, this book has been my encouragement. This book has also taught me not to judge another preacher's message. People may deliver a message like I do but that doesn't mean that it wasn't for me at that time. I've taken some of these notes and validated what was said in the pulpit is accurate in biblical intepretation . Not for judging purposes but for learning purposes.
The point is that as Christians, we should never stop learning. And I find that as a preacher, I'm still learning about God, His church, His people, myself, etc. I will soon purchase another lil black book as the pages of this book has been consumed.
I encourage you who's reading this blog to purchase yourself a lil black book and take good notes when in worship, bible study, or wherever/whenever you feel it necessary to learn.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
The point of these sermons is to challenge our membership to become thankful Christians based on things eternal and not on earthly temporal things. I believe the thankfulness of your heart will dictate your worship life and style. Therefore, if we worship primarily for houses, cars, a new job, a promotion, winning the lottery, a good marriage, well behaved children, etc then our worship life/style is exciting and wonderful. The flipside is that when things in life take a turn for the worse our worship life becomes dull, stagnant, un-exciting, and boring. We come to church with our heads hung low, heart heavy, and an unrealistic expectation of the pastor to preach something to make you feel good. Or, expect the choir to sing a song that makes you feel good. What a waste of time!
I want the members of our church to be true sincere worshippers that worships God with a heart of thanksgiving based on things of eternal significance.
I resist the temptation to preach on the goodness, grace, and mercy of God because I believe we, Christians, minimize God’s goodness, grace, and mercy to deliverance from trials, struggles, and pain. However, the passages I’ve selected will in one way or another cover all three (3).
Mini-series sermon outline:
- We have much to be thankful for in DANIEL 2:23 - Wisdom and Strength
"I thank You and praise You, O God of my fathers; You have given me wisdom and might, And have now made known to me what we asked of You, For You have made known to us the king's demand."
- We have much to be thankful for in Romans 1:8 – Be thankful for those who hang in there
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.
- We have much to be thankful for in Romans 6:17-18 – Changed Lives
But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
- We have much to be thankful for in 1 Corinthians 15:57 – Victory over death
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
- We have much to be thankful for in Revelations 11:15-17 – The Return of Christ
Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever." And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, "We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign.
May God create within us a heart of thankfulness on things eternal!
Thursday, August 12, 2010
(2) distinguish between wants/needs
(3) Spread Your spending - no need for sweaters in the summer
(4) Don't allow peer pressure to dictate your spending
(5) If all else fails be honest with your child and tell them you don't have it.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
On the journey to Sinai, the events taking place illustrate the Israelites need for Law. They complain angrily about food; yet God supplies meat and manna (Exodus 16:1-35). They quarrel with Moses and question God’s commitment yet God supplies water (Exodus 17:1-7).
Now Moses and children of Israel is faced with another challenge, the attack of Amalekites. This is the first fight on their way to the land of promise. The Amalekites seem to have attacked the Israelites in the same way and through the same motives that the wandering Arabs attack caravans which annually pass through the same desert. It does not appear that the Israelites provoked any reason for the attack, it seems that Amalekite army attacked them merely through hopes of plunder (to steal from them). In the most treacherous and dastardly manner, for they came from behind them to attack this weary and feeble group of believers. Attacking every person in the camp (children, women, young and old) taking all that they possess.
Isn’t life just like that sometimes, when the enemy comes to attack you’re not looking and unaware. He comes up from behind and attacks to steal your joy, your self esteem, your faith, your emotions, your money, your family, your children, your job, your success, your mind, and your zeal for God. He attacks you when your already struggling with God’s presence, power, and participation in your life. You’re wondering where is God in the midst of this? It’s at that moment when the enemy comes up from behind and attacks you.
Moses tells Joshua to choose several men and go out and fight the Amalekites. While in battle, Moses assures Joshua that he would be on the mountain with the rod of God in his hand. While Moses hands were lifted the Israelites were winning but when his dropped they started loosing. Hands lifted they’re winning, hands lowered they’re losing.
I do not understand, in a literal sense, how the lifting and letting down of Moses hands influenced the battle with the Amalekites, humanly speaking. It is, however, likely that he held up the rod of God in his hand as a banner to the people. It is recorded in the Exodus chapter 9 that hands lifted and spread out is a posture of prayer and supplication. The Jerusalem Targum says, “When Moses held up his hands in prayer, the house of Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hands from prayer, the house of Amalek prevailed.”
The lifting of Moses hands in the battle signifies Moses spiritual strength to pray over the people of God while in a battle for their lives. However, what’s troubling in the story is that Moses’ hands become heavy and starts to drop signifying Moses physical and spiritual weakness.
The text says; “Moses’ hands became heavy!” Heavy meaning burdensome. The heavy is explained in various portions of OT passage as being described in the following:
- “…for the famine was severe in the land” – Genesis 12:10
- “So the plenty will not be known in the land because of the famine following, for it will be very severe.” _ Genesis 41:31
- “Now the famine was severe in the land” – Genesis 43:1
Moses hands becoming heavy was like a famine hitting the land, no more, it’s all gone! Here lies the reality of leadership, Moses had no more in him. Meaning there are times when leadership has reached its point where every part of his spiritual being has been exhausted.
Here’s something you need to understand about leadership, when God uses his power to touch lives with his power, it often leaves his servant drained and vulnerable.
Pastoral leadership is an endangered species and every pastor is at risk. Why, you ask?
Pastors have more responsibility
Pastors are more subject to temptation
Pastors are the biggest target for spiritual warfare
Pastors have more influence on others
Pastors have more visibility
Pastoral leadership is at risk and we’re seeing the attack on leadership greater today than ever before. Pastors are falling be the wayside. Losing their lives, families, money, ministry, self-esteem, credibility, and pulpit/personal influence because of the attack of the enemy when they’re weak and vulnerable.
Pastors are at risk and something must be done!.
This text provides the solution for a burden, vulnerable, and spiritually zapped leader, here it is:
LIFT LEADERSHIP IN PRAYER!
The text says that when Moses’ hands were heavy, Aaron and Hur came alongside of him, sat him on a stone, and stood to the left and to the right they lifted his hands.
What a beautiful scene! Pastor Moses is being lifted by the church. Translation, pray for your pastor!
Several years age while at Mt Sinai, Pastor H.B Charles taught a lesson in our Tuesday night bible study entitled; “The Responsibility of the Flock to its Shepherd”. It was a lesson instructing the members of the church to pray for their pastor. While studying this passage of scripture his outline came to mind and I want to use the same outline today to instruct the members of this church to pray for your pastor.
Let’s consider five (5) ways you can be a prayer shield for your pastor.
Ask God to give you respect for the office of pastor.
1 Thes. 5:12-13 (NKJV)
And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you,  and to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. Be at peace among yourselves.
1 Tim. 5:17 (NKJV)
Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.
Hebrews 13:17 (NKJV)
Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.
Petition God to help your pastor be faithful to his divine calling
2a. Pastors are called to oversee the congregation
Acts 20:28 (NKJV)
Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.
2b. Pastors are called to set an example of godliness
Philip. 3:17 (NKJV)
Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.
2c. Pastors are called to preach and teach the bible.
2 Tim. 4:2 (NKJV)
Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
2d. Pastors are called to develop godly members
2 Tim. 2:2 (NKJV)
And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
2e. Pastors are called to nurture the members of the congregation
1 Thes. 2:17 (NKJV)
But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavored more eagerly to see your face with great desire.
Pray that your pastor will use the right ministry tools
- True ministry is done with prayer
- True ministry is done with the Word of God
Acts 6:2-3 (NKJV)
Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, "It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables.  Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business;
Pray for the ministry team that supports the pastor
There are four (4) things that will sabotage a man’s ministry:
A neglect of personal holiness
A Non-supportive wife
A uncooperative team of leaders
Pray for the specific needs your pastor has
Pray for his personal concerns
Brethren, pray for us – 1 Thess. 5:25
Pray for his family life
If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church? – 1 Timothy 3:5
Pray for his physical/spiritual health
Meditate on these things; give yourself to them, that your progress may be evident to all – 1 Timothy 4:15
Pray for his pulpit ministry
Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. – Acts 20:26-27
Pray for his pastoral leadership
And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our suffering is from God – 2 Corinthians 3:4-5
What was the result of Moses hand being lifted by Aaron and Hur? The result is found in verse 13, “So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword”.
Victory is given to the church when we keep our leader lifted in prayer.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
“One of the greatest missing teachings in the American church today is the reminder to men and women that nothing we have belongs to us.” - Gordon MacDonald
The American way of thinking is that we are self-sufficient and that we are responsible for all that we possess. The Bible provides a different perspective, of course: that we are merely the overseers of God’s earthly domain, responsible for taking care of His resources until Jesus returns. Getting people to understand and accept our role as managers rather than creators of wealth and resources is a crucial element toward encouraging good stewardship.
• Genesis 14:17-24 (Abraham acknowledged that his victory spoils were a gift from God).
• 1 Chron. 29:14-18 (everything is God’s; we watch over it on earth).
• Psalm 24:1-2 (everything belongs to God).
• Psalm 50:10-12 (God created, knows and owns everything that exists).
· 1 Cor. 4:2 (Paul exhorted those being trusted to prove themselves faithful).
However, there is another passage of scripture on the level of stewardship that we often times don’t see as a passage on stewardship or one as a lesson on tithing. This passage is recorded in Genesis 2:15-17.
Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.  And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat;  but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."
What does it mean to be a steward? To be a steward is to be a manage of God’s divine resources. Understand that being a good steward is not that of being cheap, stingy, over-protective, and/or a numbers watcher. A good steward is a good manager for manager.
A man doesn’t decide to become a steward after he has been saved, nor after he begins to make good money. He is a steward—good or bad—when he becomes a Christian.
Stewardship in the Christian life demands that a man take good care of his financial affairs because he has been commissioned by Christ to manage those affairs for the Lord.
Stewardship is seen in how we manage our time, talents, and tithe. And the beginning account of scripture teaches us that God expects us to:
- Work: “tend and keep”
- Eat: “of every tree of the garden you may freely eat”
- Tithe: “of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat”
Here’s the underlining theme of the message we all need to get. As stewards of God’s divine resources make sure you don’t touch the tithe. I believe our stewardship is measured by how well we stay away from the tithe.
Well, let’s unwrap this text so that we can become better stewards (managers) of God’s divine resources.
I. The Call to Stewardship – v. 15
Understand that the book of Genesis is the book of beginnings. It is in Genesis that we read, witness, and believe that God spoke into nothing and created something. It is in Genesis where God forms the oceans, lakes, and land. It is in Genesis where we see God separate the moon and sun. It is in Genesis where we see God hang stars in the sky. It is in Genesis where we see God create the birds of the air, fish in the see, and animals on the land. It is in Genesis where we see God create man from the dust of the ground in God’s own image.
By the time we get to chapter 2 God breathes breathe into the nostrils of man. In verse 8 of chapter 2 we see God now creates a Garden which is named the Garden of Eden. In this garden, God placed 2 trees. One tree is the Tree of Life and the other Tree of Knowledge of good and evil and there where other trees in the garden as well.
Out of all the things we see in the Book of Genesis, we see a very important concept here. We see the concept of stewardship in the book of Genesis for in chapter 2 verse 15 the text says; “God took the man and placed him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it.” The verse shows us a very important concept here that we cannot forget and miss. God places Adam in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it. In other words, God places Adam in the Garden to manage that which God has created and given unto him. Here’s what we need to understand:
- Everything belongs to God
- Everything we possess is a blessing from God – v. 9
- God provides and sustains our every need – v. 10-14 – understand that no rain had come to water the garden. However, God provides and sustains the garden by allowing water to come from the ground to water the garden. What that means is that God can provide and sustain the stuff he places in your care.
II. The Command in Stewardship – v. 16-17
Chapter 15 of 1 Samuel reveals the developed flaws in Saul’s character that serve as warnings to believers today. Once humble, power made him so arrogant that he disobeyed God in the name of godliness. God regrets Saul and sends Samuel to call king Saul on the carpet. In verse 13 Saul feels as if he obeyed God’s command to destroy Amalek. Saul and the people of Israel pick the best animals to bring to God as an offering of sacrifice. In 1 Samuel 15:22 (NKJV) we read these words:
So Samuel said: "Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.
The message that Samuel brought to Saul is the same message that God brings to us today; sacrifice and obedience is not the same thing. More than what you bring to God, God wants your obedience. See, if we get being obedience right, we won’t be fighting with God, the pastor, and/or church over how much we ought to give of our time, talents, and tithe. God wants you to obey Him!
There is a positive and negative command here for those who obey to voice of God:
Positive - Satisfaction – The text says; “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat.” 1 Tim. 4:4 (NKJV) “For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving…” See many of us are not satisfied with what we have because we’re not thankful for what we have.
Negative - Suffering – The text says; “If you eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you will surely die”. Will a person physically die from being a bad steward? My answer is “I don’t know”. It is possible. Romans 6:16 (Msg) says – “You know well enough from your own experience that there are some acts of so-called freedom that destroy freedom. Offer yourselves to sin, for instance, and it's your last free act. But offer yourselves to the ways of God and the freedom never quits. All your lives you've let sin tell you what to do. But thank God you've started listening to a new master, one whose commands set you free to live openly in his freedom!” In other words, when we disobey God we open ourselves up to a life of suffering and pain which can lead to death physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. Disobedience breeds consequences. But if you keep reading chapter 6 you will find out that while Romans 6:23 (Msg)
You work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death. But God's gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master.
The only way out is to do what God tells us to do.
III. The Challenge in Stewardship – Chapter 3
The challenge of stewardship is seen in chapter 3.
First, the TEMPTATION – v. 1-5
As a little boy my mother would tell me over and over again, Clint don’t touch that, don’t do that, stay away from that. Don’t play with matches. Stay away from the electrical socket. Stay out of that field. And everything she told me to stay away from seemed like that’s what I wanted to do most. I heard her voice with the command of what to do and not do but challenge was trying to stay away from it.
The challenge in life is resisting temptation. We fight hard to resist all temptations of life but when it comes to our money we tend to be care-free. We give in to the temptation to spend what we know we don’t have, for things we don’t need, to impress people we don’t like (and they don’t like us). The serpent tricked Eve into believing that her disobedience was the right thing to do. He made her to think that she will not die nor will there be any consequences for her actions. And that’s what temptation will do, it makes you think it’s the right thing to do even when you know it’s the wrong thing to do.
Second, DISOBEDIENCE – v. 6-8
The 2nd challenge of stewardship is just as important and vital as the first, disobedience. Yielding to temptation leads to disobedience. I’ve learned a new definition for disobedience, disobedience is being spiritually stubborn. Nehemiah chapter 9 describes this spiritual stubbornness during the time when scripture is being read and study and true revival takes place with the people Israel. As they confess their sins to God in response to the word of God, v. 26 of chapter 9 gives this description of stubborn disobedience;
"Nevertheless they were disobedient
And rebelled against You,
Cast Your law behind their backs
And killed Your prophets, who testified against them
To turn them to Yourself;
And they worked great provocations.
Here is what you need to understand about disobedience, disobedience is never rewarding! Throughout all of Scripture, you will learn that disobedience doesn’t bring any good to the one who disobeys. Nehemiah 9:27 says;
Therefore You delivered them into the hand of their enemies,
Who oppressed them;
And in the time of their trouble,
When they cried to You,
You heard from heaven;
And according to Your abundant mercies
You gave them deliverers who saved them
From the hand of their enemies.
Adam and Eve disobeyed God and the text says their eyes were opened, they covered themselves, and tried to hide from God.
Disobedience is never rewarding!
Third, ACCOUNTABILITY – v. 9-19
God held the serpent, Eve, and Adam responsible for what took place in the Garden of Eden. The point is simple here, there is no escaping God’s accountability. He will hold you (and I) accountable for everything deed done good and evil.
Praise God that the story doesn’t end in Genesis chapter 3 with Adam and Eve being kicked out of the Garden of Eden. And praise God that whatever was lost due to our disobedience can be restored. Here’s a few suggestions to help each of us get back on track with God on this issue of stewardship:
- Confess Your Sins - James 5:16A
Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.
- Pray Hard - James 5:16b - The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
- Be realistic (frugal) - Luke 14:28 (NKJV)
For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it--
- Stay away from people, things, and places that will tempt you to spend the tithe - 1 Cor. 15:33 (NKJV)
Do not be deceived: "Evil company corrupts good habits."
My final suggestion, pray harder than the first time:
Yield not to temptation, for yielding is sin;Each victory will help you some other to win;Fight manfully onward, dark passions subdue,Look ever to Jesus, He’ll carry you through.
Ask the Savior to help you,Comfort, strengthen and keep you;He is willing to aid you,He will carry you through.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
James 5:15 (Msg)
Believing-prayer will heal you, and Jesus will put you on your feet. And if you've sinned, you'll be forgiven—healed inside and out.
Hebrews 8:12 (Msg)
They'll get to know me by being kindly forgiven,
with the slate of their sins forever wiped clean."
Hebrews 10:17 (Msg)
"I'll forever wipe the slate clean of their sins."
1 John 1:9 (Msg)
On the other hand, if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won't let us down; he'll be true to himself. He'll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing.
Mark 11:25 (Msg)
And when you assume the posture of prayer, remember that it's not all asking. If you have anything against someone, forgive—only then will your heavenly Father be inclined to also wipe your slate clean of sins."
Luke 6:37 (Msg)
"Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don't condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you'll find life a lot easier.
Psalm 103:12 (NKJV)
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Isaiah 43:25 (NKJV)
"I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake;
And I will not remember your sins.
Galatians 6:1 (Msg)
Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day's out.
Psalm 51:12 (NKJV)
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
Monday, June 21, 2010
I’m not doctor (nor do I claim to be), however, in laymen’s terms the best way to define suppression is the ignoring of present reality. Reality is our loved ones will die, people get divorced, everybody (including you) is not perfect, people will loose their jobs and homes, the economy is not getting any better, and list goes on and on.
While I believe suppression is relevant in everyday living, I also believe there is a new attack of the enemy using suppression as a weapon to take out the Christian community, starting with church leadership. Over the past few months, I’ve been trying to figure out my own spiritual breakdown. It has taken me a while but I think I’ve figured it out, spiritual suppression. Using the definition mentioned above as well as understanding scripture, I have determined that we as pastors/preachers, church leaders, and Christians, spiritually suppress present realities for fear of being deemed as faithless or spiritual failures. If a person recognize present reality then their spoken of as people who don’t believe or trust God to take care of all their needs. Pastors spiritually suppress present reality to maintain an appearance of faith before the congregation because we taught that as a visionary if the leader doesn’t believe in the vision then the people won’t believe in the vision. I believe it’s dangerous to spiritually suppress present reality.
The bible doesn’t teach faith is ignoring present reality. It does say; “We walk by faith and not by sight”. It does says; “Faith without works is dead”. It does say; “Without faith it impossible to please God”. But, do these verses tell us to ignore present reality? Of course not!
I know for a fact that I’ve suppressed present realities as it relates to my pastoral ministry. However, reality is I have present realities that cannot be ignored as well as God doesn’t require of me as a leader to ignore them. And even when we look back at the testimonies of people in Scripture it is apparent that they “kept faith by recognizing their present reality”. For instances:
- God promised Abraham that he would birth a nation. Reality, he and Sarah were too old to have children. They believed God anyway.
- The women with the issue of blood. Her reality is that she was sick but she pressed through the crowd to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment.
- The man who laid by Bethesda’s pool, reality he laid in the bed for 38 years waiting for someone to help him into the water. But when Jesus came and instructed him to get up and walk, he was healed.
- Ezekiel preached to a valley of dry bones. He kept preaching and them bones came to life.
I think you get the picture. Suppression your present reality is an indictment on your faith in God’s ability to handle your situation no matter how difficult it may be. Faith doesn't ignore reality, it faces reality head on believing God to change things around.
So how do you fight against spiritual suppression? I have a few suggestions that pray will help you in days to come if you ever (like did) find yourself spiritually suppression present reality:
First, Be Honest with God and Yourself. For some reason we think God doesn’t know our current condition, He does! You’re not telling Him anything He doesn’t already know so be hones with Him. Be honest with yourself! You’re not perfect, you will make mistakes, and don’t let the opinion of others define you. I did (and have) but the only person who knows my unique ability is God. Furthermore, I understand that I have faults but I’m not a failure. God still has work for me to do!
Secondly, Pray and pray hard.
Thirdly, read the word.
Fourth, Talk. Find someone you trust and can talk too with confidence knowing they will give you godly advice.
Fifth, if you fall to spiritual suppression which may lead to some other failure, get up, its not the end to life. We serve a gracious and merciful God.
Sixth, Get rest and a lot of it. We become vulnerable to the enemies attack when we’re tired.
May the Lord bless you and keep is my prayer, my friends!
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Society cannot flourish without godly pastors. how alarming for the Christian cause when men and women of God feel forced to brood about the future o fministry as they watch their work get harder and their world grow more corrupt.
Something has to be done. Ministry hazards are choking the hope out of pastors' souls. They feel disenchanted, discouraged, and often even outraged. They question why they should be expected to squander energy on trivial matters when evil threatens to wreck the human race. Fatigue shows in their eyes. Worry slows their stride. And vagueness dulls their preaching.
The church faces a perilous future when pastors find it so tough to survive emotionally and economically. Many flounder for meaning and mission as traditional morality keeps buckling under brutal unrelenting assualts from secular society. For good reason, pastors dread what will be next as the moral richter scale shoots up to a shocking six most days and sometimes tops ten. Some pastors consider their lives to be shadows of what they dreamed they would be, because many old formulas for ministry no longer work.
Something has to be done. Overwork, low pay, and desperation take a terrible toll as pastors struggle to make sense of crammed calendars, dectic homes, splintered dreams, starved intimacy, and shriveled purpose. Some quit in utter hopelessness to sell used cars, hawk Amway, or peddle water softeners. Others lapse into passivity like holy robots. And many of the remaining stouthearted hold on by their fingernails, hoping to find a hidden spring to refresh their weary spirits and scrambled thoughts. No aspect of pastors' lives has been spared, neither personal nor professional.
Something has to be done. Just when they are most needed, pastors are going haywire. It is obvious that nothing but vital faith will revive our times and culture. Now more than ever, a disintegrating society needs the spiritual salt that pastors provide.
Something has to be done. Pastors are at risk. The risks they face demand an all-out corrective action by the church. All this squandered devotion and wasted talent must be stopped so ministry can be restored to equilibrium and usefulness. Surely God intends pastors to be whole persons, flesh-n-blood examples of how the Gospel works in this kind of a world.
Something pastors can do. To enjoy a fulfilling future ministry that can transform our culture for Christ, pastors must intentionally move their focus away from trivia to singnificance. In the process, pastors will be reawakened spiritually and challenged professionally. God always enriches the worker busied with his work.
Effective pastors for the new century must be whole persons who deliberately balance being and doing, family and church, person and profession, worship and work. That means wounded healers must allow themselves to be healed through the same Gospel they use to bring recovery and wellness to others. The results: those now victimized by high demands of ministry will become triumphant victors (Pastors at Risk - H.B London, JR and Neil B Wiseman - pp. 11-13).
Thursday, May 20, 2010
In Sept of 2002, I started a journey of as a bi-vocational pastor and 8 years later I’m still a bi-vocational pastor. Without a doubt, I have dreams of being in full-time ministry but only God knows what lies ahead.
I don’t regret my decision to enter along this journey of bi-vocation ministry. As with most journeys, there is (and will always be) bumps in the road as well as speed limits changing, crazy drivers on the road, signal lights, stop signs, directional signs, freeway traffic, and detours. I will admit that I never thought it would be this difficult juggling work, family, church, and my own personal needs (spiritual/emotional/physical/ministerial/etc).
It is the challenges of bivocational ministry that has burdened my heart to write on the issue and offer what I believe to be helpful advice and suggestions to such a difficult task for many of us. I’ve searched the internet for resources, conventions, or whatever I could find to assist me along my journey. What did I find? Not much and the information I did find was so general that it was not helpful. The only convention I find offering some helpful information is the Southern Baptist Convention on the website http://www.lifeway.com/. I’ve found who has now become a favorite writer of mine, Pastor Dennis Bickers who’s been a bivocational pastor for over 20 years. I’ve found that his blog page http://www.bivocationalministry.blogspot.com/ has been extremely helpful as well as his book entitled: “The Bivocational Pastor – Two Jobs, One Ministry” and “The “Work of a Bivocational Pastor” both provides valuable information. Other than that, there isn’t much information that can and will assist those in dual ministry.
Denominational work, minister’s conferences, preaching seminars, leadership development, etc are held during the day and those of us who are in dual roles cannot attend. So we miss out on valuable information, networking, and fellowship with local pastors in our area that can assist us in building the kingdom of God.
Over these past 8 years, I’ve had questions about bivocational ministry challenges and began doing my own biblical research to help me understand bivocational ministry from a biblical perspective. I am under the belief that when we as Christians approach anything in life we should look to the bible for answers. So, I’ve approached my writing looking to Scripture for understanding, meaning, and purpose.
Not only do I want to write from a biblical perspective but I want to write using real life issues that are challenging to bivocational pastors. These real life issues are not limited to just bivocational pastors but I believe will be helpful to all pastors, ministers, and lay leaders who’s serious about ministry work in both full-time or in dual ministry.
I have a series of questions that I believe I’ve answers for in regards to bivocational ministry. Questions like:
Is Bivocational ministry a biblical practice?
Is Bivocational ministry for everybody?
How does a bivocational pastor manage his time?
Does our secular career supersede our calling?
What is the relationship between bivocational pastors and the church?
How does a bivocational pastor prepare for weekly sermons and lessons without consistently cheating?
Should a bivocational pastor forsake his own spiritual development?
How does a bivocational pastor handle sermon droughts?
Is there a balance for pastoral ministry in the work place?
How should we handle family life?
Should we compromise our biblical convictions to keep a job?
Does a church with a full-time pastor grow faster than bivocational ministries?
Many of these questions will be combined as I write and new ones will no doubt be explored.
Bottom-line: ministry, in general, rather full time or bivocational, is very a fulfilling ministry.
Monday, May 17, 2010
Everything at the church is going well. We still have our challenges but God has been gracious and kind to us. We've seen some new guest at least every other week which is good. Our church implemented, Membership Partners which is the care ministry of our church. Each member in the church is assigned a fellow member who has not been to church in a while to call on, pray for, chat with, and build a relationship. So on mother's day, they asked they're partners to come to church which had a positive result. We celebrated their presence by giving them small tokens as well as Tracy gave away baskets by drawing names. It was a good day!
I've been struggling for past few weeks with me sermon series in James. I love the letter of James but there has been so many interruptions in my study time that I've been getting started too late in the week which is bad for me. I don't think that quick like I used to. But our study has been very helpful to the church. I will continue to press through.
Yesterday, Rev Larry Harold of the California Southern Baptist came to worship with us. I've been considering becoming a part convention work and doing some research on conventions in the area. Thank you. Rev Harold for joining us on yesterday. Our attendance was of because of some stupid carnival that had our street blocked off all weekend. I don't get involved in political stuff but I think I will to keep the carnival from happening next year. Too much hassle this year in more ways than I care to discuss. Giving back to the community is not what its designed to do.
Saturday, we held a movie screening at the church of which I played a role as Pastor Evans in a short film entitled: "Heads or Tails" written/produced by Raenelle Jones. The attendance was off due to the carnival but it was positive feedback about the film and the actor's chemistry. DVDs are available for $10. Contact our church office for your copy.
Well, gotta go but will talk to you soon. Peace.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
For example, verse 16 is a transitional verse and poses a challenge of understanding for me. Between his teaching on the important subject of trials and temptations and his specific consideration of the goodness of God, is a short discussion on deception. Pay close attention to the proceeding verses as well as the next verse:
- v. 13-15: “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”
- v. 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren
- v. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
Verses 13-15 deals with sin; verse 16 deception; and sandwich in between is deception. How’s does verse 16 flow into this discussion of sin, deception, and blessings?
The important teaching of verse 16 could be included at the close of the previous verses (v.13-15) or at the start of the next verse (v. 16). I’ve decided to look at the verse by itself.
Understand that the evidence of spiritual maturity will be evident in how we respond to deception. Deception will effect our ability to live practical Christian lives. Therefore, your response to deception will determine your outlook of life’s challenges (v. 1-15) and the blessings of God (v. 17-18).
This verse helps us to recognize and how to respond to deception by presenting three (3) present realities of the attack of deception:
I. Recognize the SOURCE of Deception
Deception is an attack of the enemy. We saw/see his attack in the beginning of creation in Genesis chapter 3 in the story of the fall of Edam and Eve. We discuss the act of their sin but not much of the attack. Often times we tend to overlook the deceptive conversation between the serpent and Eve. God tells Adam and Eve not to touch the tree of knowledge or they will die. The serpent in deception says: “You will not die but adds “surely, you will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." With this deceptive assurance, Adam and Eve ate off the tree that God told them not to. After the act of sin, God calls Adam and Eve, knowing what they have done asked them “what have you down?” Eve explains: “The serpent deceived me and I ate”. Let’s give Eve a break here, Eve has done what many of us struggle with on a daily basis, she didn’t recognize that she was being tricked by the servant. The enemy preys on our vulnerability, weakness, struggles, stresses, and ignorance to the command of God. And the struggle is that many of us mature and immature believers don’t and can’t recognize the attack of the enemy through deception.
From that day forward, the enemy has used (and is using) deception as an instrument to pull the worse out of us.
Deception means craftiness, trickery, cunning, cleverness, shrewdness, evil design. It means a person will do anything and use any means to get what they want.
So what happened to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden happens to us everyday. The devil attacks us with deception to pull us away from God.
Not only did we see deception in the Garden of Eden but we also see deception in the birth of Jesus Christ in Matthew 2 when Herod calls the wise men in hanger to go search for baby Jesus that he might worship Him. Herod had no intentions on worship the young child. Herod wanted to kill Jesus. But Herod’s intentions was flipped because when the wise men saw Jesus they began to worship Jesus and in a dream God warns to not go back to Herod and instead they left their own country.
Adam and Eve yielded to deception but the wise men were protected from deception that no harm would come to them or the Jesus.
Sin is deceptive, and Satan is always seeking to deceive us.
Peter was right when he warned us to “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8).
In contrast, God never deceives. He always deals with truth. Jesus came declaring, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Jesus said if we would know Him we would know the truth, “and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). He proceeded to call the devil “a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).
And so the wise counsel of James is that we should not be deceived. And, since this verse is the transition between two important paragraphs of truth, it is appropriate for us to apply both truths to the teaching of this verse. First, we should not be deceived regarding the source of evil—that is Satan. He is the one who would tempt us to do evil and who would delight in leading us to sin and death.
Then, we should not be deceived concerning the One who is the source of all good—that is God. He is not only the source of good, but He is the One who is committed to making all things work together for good for His children, those who are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28).
II. Be Aware of Self Deception
Luke chapter 18:9-14 record the story of the Pharisee and Tax Collector. Luke 18:10-14 (Msg)
"Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man.  The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: 'Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.'
"Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, 'God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.' "
Jesus commented, "This tax man, not the other, went home made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you're going to end up flat on your face, but if you're content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself."
The bible warns us against being more than we think we are.
- Spiritual ignorance is self deception: 1 Cor. 3:18 - Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.
- Spiritual Arrogance is self deception: Galatians 6:3 - For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 1 John 1:8 says: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
- Hypocrisy is self deception: 2 Tim. 3:13 – “evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived”. And James 1:22 says “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves”.
- Religious practices is self deception: James 1:26 - If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless.
Practical Christian living is not lying about where we are as Christians but admitting we are sinners trying to be all we can for God.
III. Be On Guard for Scriptural Deception
One of the most prominent deceptions taken place in our day and time is the false teaching of scripture. Many pulpits around the nation are being filled with lies on scripture. People are being deceived about the truth of Scripture. The sad indictment is that many believers are not able to recognize scriptural falsehood. So they go with anything that sounds good but everything that sounds good is not necessarily good in sound.
2 Timothy 2:17-18 says: “And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some”.
What’s the remedy for guarding against scriptural deception? 2 Timothy 2:15 says; “Be diligent (study) to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth”.
Monday, April 12, 2010
Saturday, we spent time at the house eating fried chicken, fish, shrimp, FF, salad, and hot dogs (Lance only…lol). Good conversation except for the fact that Aysia and Lance played with their Blackberry phones all night (lol). Tracy, Kari, and Summer were doing wedding planning stuff. But we had a good time at the house chilling.
I was so far behind in my work that when everybody left I went to the church to prepare for Sunday’s assignments. Needless to say, when I finally locked myself in the church, I sat in front of the computer and stirred at it. I went to sleep with hopes to get started in the morning, nothing happened. Ram in the bush, Pastor Tyrone Boyle of Full Gospel Baptist Church stood in my place and did a good job. Thank you, sir.
In the afternoon, the church and I went to Cathedral of Praise to close out their anniversary celebration. Good time of worship! I preached James 1:12 – Hang In There. I think I did a pretty good job. I pray Pastor Severe, Cathedral of Praise, and all those present were helped by the message. It was also good fellowshipping with Pastor W Charles Harris and Village Baptist Church. Pastor Harris is a humble, good pastor! Thanks for the fellowship.
Lance and Aysia picked Rocoe’s Chicken and Waffles for dinner. They put us out, so we took the fellowship to the parking lot. When I got home Tracy and I were both exhausted but tried to have some conversation. Well she tried to have conversation with me. As usual, I fell asleep.
I have a break for the next two (2) weeks with bible study and I’m taking another Sunday off to rest this coming weekend.
Keep me and my family in your prayers and I will keep praying for you!
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Friday night, Tracy spoke for the first time in a Good Friday service on the seven last sayings. It was a service given by my friend Lamont Bradley of Lord B4 Us Productions featuring first ladys in our church community. It was a good service just long. Tracy did a good job explaining "thou shall be with me in paradise". And I didn't help her with it! Great job!
Saturday a few of us met for prayer and evangelism to pass out fliers promoting our services on Resurrection Sunday. I had one rejection from a lady who would not accept my flier. But she was the first out of the 100 I passed out. Good seed planted in the community.
Saturday night I came home to make some jambalaya and watch the NCAA tournament as well as the Jones vs Hopkins fight. My commentary, I like Butlers chances in the NCAA finals but I think Duke will be too much for them. As far as the fight goes, I was disappointed with both fighters. Hopkins was a cry baby in the fight. He's a dirty fighter so why should he complain about getting in the back of the head and he was hit on the red belt line and didn't need 5 minutes. Bottom-line: DISAPPOINTED!
We offered 3 services for Resurrection Sunday, 6, 9, and 11:15 am. Pastor Robert Calvary of Praise Chapel preached at our 6 am service and set the tone for the rest of the services. Thank you pastor Calvary. Pastor Payne preached the 9 am service. What a blessing, thank you pastor Payne. I preached the 11 am service from Luke 23:50-56: "The Significance of the Tomb of Jesus". Major point: Christ needed a proper burial in order to have a great resurrection.
All services were well attended!
After service I came home, ate, and went to sleep. There was a 7.1 earthquake off the coast of Baha, Ca but I didn't feel it because I was in a deep sleep.
I watched the Trumpets Award today and I'm so glad that Franky Beverly and Maze finally received their due reward. 40 years without a Grammy, Soul Music Award, or anything...WOW! It's about time they received some kind of recognition. If you have not figured it out yet, I'm a fan for life and it won't change.
I'm going for the underdog, Butler in the NCAA finals! Go Butler.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
The 1st chapter of James shouts for our attention with paradoxical statements. The opening sentence of this epistle says: “when you fall into trouble be glad about it (paraphrased) in verse 2 and verse 12 is no different, “A person is blessed who endures trouble”. To the human, this makes absolutely no sense at all. I’m blessed because I hung in there through the midst of trying times. I’m blessed in trouble. I’m blessed with no money in my pocket. I’m blessed when my marriage is on the brink of divorce. I’m blessed when my child was shout in a drive-by-shooting. I’m blessed after receiving a pink slip on the job. Here’s another way saying: “Am I being blessed in the midst of hardship, trials, tests, troubles, sufferings, and pain?
James, is concerned that the pressure of life does not take over the life of the Christian to instability. So to encourage them he writes paradoxical encouraging statements to provide stabilizing wisdom to hang in there in when hanging in there ain’t easy. Listen again to these statements (but listen carefully):
“Brethren, count it all joy when you fall into a lot of trials.” – v. 2
“Let the brother of lowly degree (or in humble circumstances) be elevated in due time” – v. 9
“Let the rich be humble for his stuff will perish in due time” – v. 10-11
“Blessed is the person who hangs in there” – v. 12
Amplified: Blessed is the man who is patient under trial and stands up under temptation, for when he has stood the test and been approved, he will receive, the victor’s crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him.
NLT: God blesses the people who patiently endure testing. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
Phillips: The man who patiently endures the temptations and trials that come to him is truly happy. For once his testing is complete he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to all who love Him.
Msg: Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life.
Here’s the C.E V (Clint’s English Version): Hang in there, God wants to bless you.
Let’s open the shell of this oyster to uncover the pearls inside. The pearls of wisdom I see in the text are:
I. The PRINCIPLES OF HANGING IN THERE
Blessed is the man who endures temptation;
How can a believer conquer trials and temptations? Answer: A person can conquer trials and temptations with…
A. The Principle of Disposition – “Blessed…”
The text starts with the word “Blessed”. An interesting word within the circumstances of the text presented before us. Blessed is the same word used in Matthew 5: 3-12 in the Be Attitudes. Blessed means to be happy. It is the ability to live independently of daily cares and worries because his every breath and situation is in the hands of God.
The Greeks in using the word “blessed” used in reference to the dead who were “the blessed ones” because they reached the place free of trials, problems, test, struggles, and strains. They also used this word to refer to the socioeconomic elite (filthy rich people). In short, the Greeks felt that one had to be either dead or filthy rich to be considered blessed. However, if we stay with the Greeks usage and meaning of the word it says we have to die or be filthy rich in order to be blessed. Now, let’s talk for a moment, I don’t want to die to be blessed although for the believer dying is a blessing to spend eternity with God. And if I have to be rich to be blessed then I’m in big trouble right about now.
Thank God, that word “blessed” as a wider meaning. John McArthur explains the word to mean happiness is a divine pronouncement, the assured benefit of those who meet the conditions God requires. Therefore, blessed is a state of existence in relationship to God in which a person is blessed from God’s perspective even when he or she doesn’t feel happy or isn’t presently experiencing good fortune. Ultimately, blessed means the state of those who believe in Christ and in so possessing God, posses everything. Being blessed means possessing the favor of God. Warren Wiersbe says: James started and ended with joy to express to the reader that OUR OUTLOOK DETERMINES OUR OUTCOME!
It’s not in the believers DNA to live defeated lives. Charles Haddon Spurgeon says: “Untested treasures may be worthless; not so with those which have endured the fire”.
Here’s what we need to understand today, you’re blessed!
- Blessed when all hell breaks loose in your life
- Blessed if you loose your job
- Blessed if your marriage is falling apart
- Blessed if you loose your job
- Blessed if the doctor gives you a bad report
- Blessed during the gossip
- Blessed during times of test, trials, troubles, and strains
- Blessed in good days and bad days
- Blessed in up and downs
- Blessed rich or poor
You’re blessed because being blessed is a state of mind that lives independently of life’s difficulties.
B. The Principle of Decision – “Blessed is the man who…”
There is a principle here in the text that I believe is vital to your survival during difficulties. Here it is: “You gotta make the decision to hang in there”. The easy decision to make is quit, give up, sit down, and totally shut down. James is a practical letter written to believers who must make decisions to live in a manner that will glorify God. Look at all the examples of Scripture of people who had to make a choice to live for God no matter what comes there way.
- Abraham had to believe God’s promise of being the father of many nations while his wife Sarah laughed at him and God
- Noah built an ark for flood he’d never seen before and warned the people for 120 years that it was going to rain
- Job lost everything in one day but declares; “Tho He slay me yet will I trust him.”
- Jeremiah wanted to quit on God but couldn’t because he says: “It’s like fire shut up my bones.”
- The three Hebrew boys would not bow to the golden image, placed in fire, but decided to stand for God in the fiery furnace.
- Daniel kept praying before, during, and after the lion’s den.
- Rahab made the decision to hide the spies until the enemy left
- Ezekiel kept preaching in the valley of dry bones until they started living again
- Jesus decided to hang on the cross; “Not my will but thy will be done”.
- Paul and Silas decided to have a prayer meeting while in the jail
Point here is beautiful to behold, hanging in there is decision you must make!
C. The Principle of Determination – “Blessed is the man who endures temptation…”
When I started studying this text, I will admit I tried to re-visit the word “endure” for some new revelation. I was looking for a rhema word from the Lord to help e understand what endurance or hanging in there meant. The discovery I found wasn’t anything new. The word endurance means exactly what says hang in there. The Greek meaning comes back to the same meaning; hang in there. Hang in there under the pressures of life. The word in the original language is really intense. To remain under the pressure is not that of remaining under trial with resignation. That means hanging is not hanging in there living defeated or like a victim. The one thing God doesn’t want us to do is live life always feeling defeated and/or sorry for yourself.
The meaning of endure or persevere is descriptive language.
- Bearing up under the trying ordeal is to be our habitual practice.
- To remain under
- Robert Louis Stevenson says it like this; “Saints are sinners who keep on going.”
- Here’s my definition of the word endure, you gotta keep pushing.
By perseverance the snail made to the ark (Charles Haddon Spurgeon). Today’s mighty oak is just yesterday’s little nut that held its ground. Even the woodpecker owes his success to the fact that he uses his head and keeps pecking away until he finishes the job he starts (Coleman Cox). Though Christians be not kept altogether from falling, yet they are kept from falling altogether (William Secker)
II. The PURPOSE OF HANGING IN THERE
“…for when he has been approved…”
Why is it important for us to hang in there? What’s the purpose? Why so much talk about endurance? What’s at the end of this? I prefer to give up rather than deal with this mess?
Have you ever made statements like these are similar statements? Before you totally loose your mind this explains the purpose for enduring hardships. Here’s the purpose, “for when he has been approved”.
In the ancient world there was no banking system as we know it today, and no paper money. All money was made from metal, heated until liquid, poured into moulds and allowed to cool. When the coins were cooled, it was necessary to smooth off the uneven edges. The coins were comparatively soft and of course many people shaved them closely. In one century, more than eighty laws were passed in Athens, to stop the practice of shaving down the coins then in circulation. But some money changers were men of integrity, who would accept no counterfeit money. There were men of honour who put only genuine full weighted money in circulation. Such men were called approved. It is said that we are put to the test for the purpose of being approved, and having me specifications, having the stamp of approval placed upon one.
Enduring and coming out of the test is God stamping His approval on your faith.
I remember a sermon preached by Pastor Maurice Watson, “It’s only Test. He gives an illustration of going to the doctor to his annual check up. The doctor wanted to check the strength of his heart so he placed Pastor Watson on a treadmill and explained to pastor Watson what the test entail. The doctor says; I’m going to start the treadmill and each progression is going to get faster and faster in an incline. The purpose of this test is to test your endurance. The treadmill began and pastor Watson says it was a breeze for him. He was an athlete. This was nothing for him. The doctor warned him that he was going increase the speed and incline of the treadmill. It became a fast walk. The instructed pastor Watson that the speed and incline was going to increase, his walk became a jog. The speed and incline increased and his jog become a run. The doctor says this one is going to prove your endurance. Both the speed and incline were increased to full blown. Pastor Watson describes the experience as a person running for his life of which he ultimately looked at the doctor and told to stop this thing, man, you trying to kill me.
- The purpose of hanging in there is to pull the best out of you
- The purpose of hanging in there is to glorify God: 1 Peter 1:7 (NKJV) - that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,
Hanging in there is for sole purpose of glorifying God.
III. The PROMISE FOR HANGING IN THERE
“…he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”
What can we expect from hanging in there?
The promise of the text for those who hang in there is this the crown of life. The believer who endures the temptations of life shall be crowned with life itself, eternal life, life that will go on and on, never ending. This is living life with the hope of a better tomorrow but don’t limit tomorrow to eternity for that’s the ultimate life for us to live.
- We have life now
This text not only speaks to our future life but it encourages us in living for today. The sad indictment is that the pressures of life causing men and women to take their own lives to escape the stress and frustration that life brings. However, this text encourages that we live today in order to live tomorrow. We live today so that we may see a better tomorrow. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever (Psalms 23:6)”.
- We have life in the future
We not only have life today but we also have life eternally. Just imagine the actual moment when Christ will crown us with the crown of life. The crown of life will fill us with unbroken joy and rejoicing. The crown of life will bestow on us honor and glory. The crown of life will give us a deep and perfect sense of victory and triumph. The crown of life will conform us to the image of eternal royalty.
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:1-2).
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Cor. 4:17).
“For our conversation [behavior] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Phil. 3:20-21).
“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:12-13).
“And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life” (1 John 2:25).
The crown is the emblem of spiritual success, given by the King of the universe to those who keep their faith in the midst of suffering and temptation. Life should be taken as identifying the reward and that reward is life itself.
O the friends that now are waiting
In the cloudless realms of day
Who are calling me to follow
Where their steps have led the way
They have lead aside their armor
And their earthly course is run
They have kept the faith with patience
And their crown of life is won
Monday, March 15, 2010
I continued our series, “Practical Christian Living” with our focus on James 1:12 – Blessed is the man who endures temptation, for when he is tried, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord promises. Sermon topic: Hang In There. It was truly a message that we needed to hear as a church and as individuals. I will post full manuscript later this week, if I get a chance.
We didn’t catch any in the net yesterday but we pray seed fell on good ground.
After our morning service, we shared in a good meal prepared by the members of the church.
Our afternoon service started a little late of which I apologize. We’re not used to having a two (2) hour break between services now that our service is at 11:15. Before our break between services was 3-4 hours. But overall, the day was good and Tracy did a great job coordinating the service.
Pastor Ronald Saunders preached us crazy with a message from Exodus 15 entitled: How I Got Over? Good and timely message for all present. Thank you, pastor.
As well in our afternoon service we gave honor to Deacon Charles Loud. Many of you know he’s been struggling with health issues for the last year. He’s contributed a lot to the ministry over the years and as a church we thought it was good to honor him in the service. He came to church in the morning service but was unable to attend the afternoon service. Deacon Loud, thank you for your service to First Goodwill Church. God is not unjust to forget your labor of love that you’ve shown to the members of First Goodwill.
I hate spring forward! I need my extra hour of sleep.
I do request that we keep the family of Damon K Hill in your prayers as they mourn his passing. A loss is a loss and loosing a loved is hard to handle under any circumstance.
May God continue to richly bless until we meet again.
Monday, March 8, 2010
But if we must, allow me to suggest what I believe to be helpful hints when discussing current events:
Point People To God – It’s important to remember the sovereignty of God in all situations. Yes, God is sovereign and He’s not an angry God sitting in heaven waiting and wanting to rain down terror on the wicked. No God is a loving God who cares for humanity. In the midst of adversity, people doubt God knows what He’s doing and it’s the responsibility of the preacher/teacher to remind them of what kind of God we serve. We may not understand everything that takes place but God knows more than we do. We have to trust Him, no matter what!
Stick to the Bible – Let scripture do the explaining. Stay away from your opinions, ideas, and philosophies. The bible has the answers to our questions. We may not like the answer but it does give an answer.
Pick and choose the current event wisely – There’s just some stuff we don’t need to discuss from the pulpit. I heard a guy preach a sermon on Michael Vick’s conviction for dog fighting, WHY! Another person preached a sermon of Tiger Woods, FOR WHAT! These topics are not worth the time and energy.
Lead people in a time of prayer – The best response to life’s questions is a prayer response.
Friday, March 5, 2010
This week, I received a text message from a member of the church asking me, “Is dancing a sin?” The question being asked had to do with dancing at parties, weddings, for leisure, exercise, etc.
Allow me state an objection as well as explain my conviction on the matter:
First, I think we’ve made Christian living entirely too complicated with do’s and don’ts that have no biblical soundness but filled with philosophy and opinions. Therefore, painting a picture of Christian as boring. Being a Christian is not boring. We have our challenges but this lifestyle is refreshing and joyful.
Secondly, my answer to the text message question was this: “Dancing is morally neutral. There’s nothing wrong with dancing in and of itself. However, it’s your motive while dancing that makes it sinful”. Dancing in a seductive way that will entice a people to sin makes dancing a problem for the believer.
The bible speaks of dancing as being a leap for joy (Eccles 3:14, Job 21:11, Isaiah 13:21). It is also symbolic for rejoicing as seen in Psalms 30:11 which says: “You have turned my mourning into dancing”. One of the most popular illustrations for dancing is David in 2 Samuel 6 where he danced out of his clothes before the ark of God rejoicing or shouting (doing his holy dance). Footnote: David got away with dancing out of his clothes but you need to keep your clothes on.
Dancing, biblically, was reserved for religious worship and festivities and the gradually became a practice of common life on occasions of rejoicing as seen in Jeremiah 31:4, “Again I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt, O virgin of Israel! You shall again be adorned with your tambourines, and shall go forth in the dances of those who rejoice”. The women of scripture danced by themselves and that explains why many times we see women dancing by themselves at functions, it was a biblical practice. As well as, many guys can be jerk when it comes to dancing because they dance with their eyes and not with their legs.
The bible is very clear that dancing is a time of rejoicing. As well, dancing can be very therapeutic to escape the pressures of life. Dancing is a form of exercise to burn calories. Dancing can a time of bonding for married couples (Christians and pastors).
There are many dances that are fun and non-seductive. For instances, I like the Cupid Shuffle, Electric Slide, Macarana, break dancing, pop-lock, the jerk, etc. These dances can be done with a group of people without becoming seductive and sinful. For couples: the Cha-Cha, Salsa, Chicago Stepping, etc are fun and it may help enhance the romance level of your relationship. Many people met their mates dancing somewhere before you got saved so why stop now!
Bottom-line: Dancing is not sinful. It’s what you do with it like anything else makes it sinful.
So dance like David, but keep your clothes on.
Peace and Blessings