Okay, so the candidate I voted for has been inaugurated. However, this is not the time to cease praying and to sing “Happy Days are Here Again”. We have much to pray through in the coming days and much to confess. I like the idea of a strong military but our safety is not in horses or chariots or their modern equivalent. The safety of America depends on her dependence on God. I hope to see much in the coming days of the need for repentance and returning to God. If we as a nation continue down the road to secularism as we have been for decades, then the judgement of God cannot be far behind. We need to understand that no one man is our national savior no matter what his intentions are or how much we agree with his objectives. We need to be diligent in prayer and keep our goals before Washington just as those will who oppose us. We need the right Supreme Court Justice and increased religious freedom to do our part in sharing the truth of the gospel to a needy nation and the world. We need to look to our own lives and make personal holiness once again a priority. No party or candidate can do that for us. Let us strengthen our churches, separate ourselves from the world and let the righteousness of God be revealed in us. America’s need is not prosperity but for her citizens to be reconciled to God.
I had the sad honor tonight to minister briefly with the family of Officer Walker. It seemed such a small thing to hold his youngest baby and to pray with the wife and family gathered at Denton Regional Emergency Center. It is heart breaking to see the brothers and sisters in blue gathering in the hallways and near the doors. We all had the same questions and desires to help in any way possible, to assist the grieving. Sorting through the emotions of the night we encounter disbelief, shock, and anger. These feelings are natural and point out to us our common shared humanity. There is no shame or dishonor in tears shed and frustration expressed at such a time as this. Our Jesus wept at the grave of His friend Lazarus. He wept for us because as He told Lazarus’s sister He, Jesus Christ, is the resurrection and the life. He also wept from His own broken heart for when He took on humanity to make our salvation possible He shared all our pain including the pain of the death of those we love.
Following or together with His tears, Jesus prayed and He prayed for the grieving around Him. Sleep does not come easy tonight but prayer and thoughts on prayer do. I will be so bold as to suggest some things we can pray about so that we can turn our grief into ministry.
Tomorrow is only the third of July but is also Sunday the day we Christians gather to celebrate the truth of Jesus Christ who makes us free. We will rightfully honer those who served in the armed services of our beloved USA but we will also morn the drifting from the truths of God that founded our nation in liberty. If you believe in truth, justice, and liberty be in a Church tomorrow and pray for our nation for we stand at a decision point that will determine whether our children will live free or be slaves.
Jesus and the Spirit filled Life
Mountains and Valleys
Matthew 12:18 “BEHOLD! MY SERVANT WHOM I HAVE CHOSEN, MY BELOVED IN WHOM MY SOUL IS WELL PLEASED! I WILL PUT MY SPIRIT UPON HIM, AND HE WILL DECLARE JUSTICE TO THE GENTILES.
I. The Joy of the Mountain Top Matthew 3:16-17 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. (17) And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
a. The Spirit leads us into testing
b. Testing takes a number of forms
i. Test of patience
ii. Test of faith
iii. Test of love
iv. Test of endurance
v. Test of humility
vi. Test of sacrifice
c. The reward of testing
i. Confidence in what God can do through you.
III. Joy principles
a. Testing will often follows victories
b. Trials do not mean I am in the wrong place (looking for the easiest path will not lead to the center of God’s will.)
c. Rejoicing for the believer is to be found in both the mountain to and the valley.
Through It All
I've had many tears and sorrows,
I've had questions for tomorrow,
There've been times I didn't know right from wrong:
But in every situation God gave blessed consolation
That my trials come to only make me strong.
I've been to lots of places,
And I've seen a lot of faces,
There've been times I felt so all alone;
But in my lonely hours,
Yes, those precious lonely hours,
Jesus let me know that I was His own.
I thank God for the mountains,
And I thank Him for the valleys,
I thank Him for the storms
He brought me through;
For if I'd never had a problem
I wouldn't know that He could solve them,
I'd never know what faith in God could do.
Through it all, through it all,
I've learned to trust in Jesus,
I've learned to trust in God;
Through it all, through it all,
I've learned to depend upon His Word.
BROWN, GARY VICTOR / HARVEY, STEVE
© Universal Music Publishing Group
The Holy Spirit and Marriage
Eph 5:17-28 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (18) And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, (19) speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, (20) giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, (21) submitting to one another in the fear of God. (22) Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. (23) For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. (24) Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. (25) Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, (26) that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, (27) that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. (28) So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. NKJV
I like lists. I have always found it amusing to make various lists especially on long flights or waiting in airports. One of my favorites down through the years is a list of things that I cannot put off until heaven. I can wait till the Millennium to be a tourist. The Holy Land tours don’t have a great attraction unless I am needed to teach or preach, but it seems that there are a list of better teachers and preachers lined up for those jobs. A couple of years ago in Cusco, Peru with Robert there was an opportunity to visit Machu Pichu, an Inca temple that is famous around the world. I could visit that or teach in three church meetings that day. My choice was easy because I cannot change lives in heaven but by teaching the bible I can here and now.
Things I can’t do in heaven
“Never Alone” (John 14:15–31) “Never Alone” (John 14:15–31)
Hezekiah 6:1 says, “God helps those who help themselves.” Can I get an amen? Perhaps a “Preach it, brother?” No? Why not?! “This is not a biblical citation,” you reply. You are correct. Despite what many Christians think, “God helps those who help themselves” is likely the most often quoted phrase that isn’t in the Bible. This saying is usually attributed to Ben Franklin, quoted in Poor Richard’s Almanac (1757). Franklin and his contemporaries adapted it from one of Aesop’s Fables—Hercules and the Waggoner (6th century BC). In the story, a waggoner’s heavy load becomes bogged down in mud. In despair, the waggoner cries out to Hercules for help. Hercules replies, “Get up and put your shoulder to the wheel. The gods help them that help themselves.” It’s rather ironic that a polytheistic tale appealing to Greek mythology has now made its way into what many believers think is in the pages of Scripture.
“God helps those who help themselves” is not merely extrabiblical; it is also unbiblical. It is polar opposite of the message of Scripture. The Bible insists that God helps the helpless. Today, if you are feeling helpless and hopeless, don’t despair. If you are feeling lonely and discouraged, don’t lose heart. Jesus has a word for you. In John 14:15–31, on the eve before His death, Jesus imparts to His distressed disciples His final words. In these waning moments, He declares: God helps those who help themselves to Him. This is the message of John 14 and the whole Bible. In every area of spiritual life, from beginning to end, God only helps those who help themselves to Him. Keith Krell
Temptation’s sharp and keen,
I have a peace in knowing
My Savior stands between--
He stands to shield me from danger,
When earthly friends are gone,
He promised never to leave me,
Never to leave me alone.
I’m treading the road of care,
My Savior helps me to carry
My cross when heavy to bear,
Though all around me is darkness,
Earthly joys all flown;
My Savior whispers His promise,
“I never will leave thee alone.”
For me they pierced His side,
For me He opened the fountain,
The crimson, cleansing tide;
For me He’s waiting in glory,
Seated upon His throne,
He promised never to leave me,
Never to leave me alone. Author Unknown
I. The greatest power in the universe or in heaven
a. Acts 1:8
b. Power to witness
II. The “Paraklete” John 14:16,26;15:26;16:7; and 1 John 1:2
a. One who comes along side
b. Helper(NKJV, NASB,ESV,)
c. Comforter (KJV)
d. Counselor (NIV,HCSB)
e. Lawyer or Advocate (Macedonia, 1John 2:1)
III. Power to love John 14:15 If I love Jesus I:
a. Obey (1John 1:7)
b. Love other believers
c. Know we are disciples (John 13:35)
d. The power to love (Galatians 5:22)
IV. Power in abundance
a. Truth (John 14:17)
b. The perfect Father- Child relationship (14:18)
c. The blessedness of the trinity (14:20)
d. The comfort of the Word
e. The peace than cannot be understood (14:27, Philippians 4:7)
Study Questions 1. Which of Jesus’ commandments are the most difficult for me to obey (14:15, 21)? Why is this particular commandment so difficult? How have I sought to obey this command or battle the temptation to break this command? How would I presently rate my love for Jesus based upon my level of obedience? Do I consciously obey Christ by yielding myself to the Holy Spirit?
2. How do I rely upon “the Helper” in the course of my daily life (14:16)? If the Holy Spirit was taken away from me, would I even recognize His absence? How would I function? Would there be any notable difference in my life? If so, what would be identifiably different?
3. Why does God promise to dwell with obedient believers in a unique way (14:21–24)? What does this promise mean to me? Am I satisfied with my present intimacy with Christ? If not, what area of my spiritual life needs to be improved? How can I prepare myself for greater intimacy in the eternal state?
4. Martin Luther once said, “The simple maid studying the Bible with the help of the Holy Spirit’s grasp is better than the greatest scholar studying without the help of the Holy Spirit.” How has the Holy Spirit taught me the Word and reminded me of biblical truth (14:26)? Why is it so difficult to rely upon the Spirit in my Bible study?
5. Do I currently sense Christ’s peace in my life (14:27)? Am I restless? If so, what area of my life needs the peace of Christ? Why is it so difficult to trust in the Lord? What role should 14:18 play in my perspective? Do I believe that Christ loves me and cares for me?
Study Questions and introduction courtesy of Keith Krell at www.bible.org
During the depression this field was a sheep ranch owned by a man named Yates. Mr. Yates wasn’t able to make enough on his ranching operation to pay the principal and interest on the mortgage, so he was in danger of losing his ranch.
With little money for clothes or food, his family (like many others) had to live on government subsidy.
Day after day, as he grazed his sheep over those rolling West Texas hills, he was no doubt greatly troubled about how he would pay his bills. Then a seismographic crew from an oil company came into the area and told him there might be oil on his land. They asked permission to drill a wildcat well, and he signed a lease contract.
At 1,115 feet they struck a huge oil reserve. The first well came in at 80,000 barrels a day. Many subsequent wells were more than twice as large. In fact, 30 years after the discovery, a government test of one of the wells showed it still had the potential flow of 125,000 barrels of oil a day.
And Mr. Yates owned it all.
The day he purchased the land he had received the oil and mineral rights. Yet, he’d been living on relief.
A multimillionaire living in poverty.
The problem? He didn’t know the oil was there even though he owned it.
Many Christians live in spiritual poverty.
They are entitled to the gifts of the Holy Spirit and his energizing power.
In his book, Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life", the author Charles Swindoll tells a story about the 19th Century agnostic Thomas Huxley (some of you might know that it was Huxley who promoted Darwinism and Humanism in his attacks on Christianity). Huxley was in Dublin and was rushing to catch a train. He climbed aboard one of Dublin’s famous horse drawn taxis and said to the driver -"Hurry, I’m almost late ... drive fast". Off they went at a furious pace and Huxley sat back in his seat and closed his eyes. After a while Huxley opened his eyes and glanced out the window to notice that they were going in the wrong direction. Realizing that he hadn’t told the driver where to take him he called out ‘do you know where you're going?’ The driver replied "No, your honour, but I am driving very fast’.
As I continue working on Sunday’s message on, “Does Life have a Purpose?” Maslow’s voice cried out to me from his grave to say some basic needs must be met before man can even consider such lofty thoughts. Indeed missions experience says that some have trouble seeing a need for anything as long as there survival is in question. The eternal may seem inconsequential to an aids infected mother with aids infected children for whom she is having trouble providing enough calories in their diet even to survive. Often on the mission field we satisfy physical needs in order to reach and meet the individual’s spiritual needs. Maslow however would also put safety, belonging, and esteem ahead of the question, “What purpose does my life have?” And certainly asking what purpose God has for man would be last in his list of expressed needs. In 1943, Maslow based his conclusions on the top 1% of his group intellectually with no spiritual consideration at all. Indeed one might perceive an anti-spiritual bias.
John 7:37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” 39 But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. NKJV
The heart of verse 38 is sometimes translated ‘belly’ and refers to an empty place within man that seemingly only God through the Holy Spirit can fill. Both Augustine and Pascal made reference to the God shaped hole in man’s inner being that only He can fill. The apostle John quotes Jesus as saying that this filling will help satisfy the thirst of others. The direction is from finding purpose that leads us to service. Lord help me to communicate that first the indwelling of the Spirit and then the expression of His power through service is the proper order. Faith first.
Next Sunday's message asks the question, "Does life have a purpose?" The difficulty for me is that it seems that I have always had a purpose in life. It was not always a good one, however. Education was a goal in order to become a doctor. Not a bad goal but one motivated by the desire to escape the hard life of a poor farmer. I saw the respect given to and lifestyle earned by the medical profession and that became my goal. I placed much effort into preparing for the educational challenges ahead saving money for college, working after school and keeping grades up to get me to my goal. Somewhere in Vietnam or after it everything began to seem unimportant and empty. After that time God gave me HIs purpose and life began to have meaning. There is a difference between our goals and God's purpose. God help me to communicate that on Sunday.
Ecclesiastes 1:3 What profit has a man from all his labor
In which he toils under the sun? NKJV
Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
Tomorrow we begin a Study of Isaiah in my 9:30 Bible Class. I have had the joy of preparing for it this week. Unlike many of the prophets Isaiah was of noble birth and of high standing in the Jerusalem community. He had wealth, position, and education. I suppose one might say he was born of the silver spoon class. That would make his submission to the call of prophet a one of deep devotion to the will of God. Hebrews 11:37 says, “They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented…”(NKJV). This gives us a good idea of the reception prophets received in Isaiah’s day. It is also of note that the phrase “sawn in two” is thought to refer to the end of Isaiah’s 50 plus years of ministry. In spite of the prospects before him his only objection was that he was unclean or unfit for ministry. I hope that all who are called to a place of leadership with God’s people feel the same way. Cleansing is available but that lesson is still a few weeks off and I get ahead of myself.
For 35 chapters he preaches a series of sermons with what is to become a familiar pattern. He points out the rebellion of God’s people and the suffering that sin brings and the need for a redeemer even as Job in his book that precedes Isaiah by centuries (Job 19:25 “For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth;”) The excitement of seeing the redeemer revealed hundreds of years before He was born is a major joy of the study of this wonderful book written by the Holy Spirit through the pen of Isaiah. Join us at Living Word tomorrow at 9:30.
There is something about small town Friday night football in Texas. The national anthem playing at the games always touch me. It is the same with the opening of the rodeo as the riders post the flag of the USA, the anthem is played and everyone stands, many salute or place their hands over their heart. I love my country and have spent a large portion of my life hoping to lead a few to a 2 Chronicles 7:14 place so that God will spare her for another generation. I sometimes feel like Abraham bargaining with God over Sodom and Gomorrah. “Lord if there are but 10 righteous there will you not spare America?” You may think I am too dramatic, but my country saddens me and I must work and pray that we will have time for my great grandkids to enjoy the country I have loved and served so long.
2 Timothy 4:2New King James Version (NKJV)2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
We are trying something different this fall with the Explore God series. As people have become more isolated than they were in the rural culture I grew up in, it has become necessary to find new ways to fulfill our command to “teach the gospel” while going through this old sinful world. This campaign in the DFW metroplex will have over 300 churches taking part and is a platform that we will use to further obey our Lord’s will. We have home discussion groups with a few brave Living Word members inviting people into their homes as well as following the topic schedule outlined below. I hope all members of Living Word will join together for discussion and bring skeptics to the services as well as Sunday School , Awana and Children’s Church. Join us at 9:30 and 10:30.
The 7 Big Questions Series:
Does Life Have a Purpose? September 13
Is There a God? September 20
Why Does God Allow Pain and Suffering? September 27
Is Christianity Too Narrow in Our Culture? October 4
Is Jesus Really God? October 11
Is the Bible Reliable? October 18
Can I Know God Personally? October 25