Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sunday Stuff

Great day this past Lord's day at FMZBC! I am amazed at how the Lord will answer prayers when the people get together to ask Him for a change. God is totally giving our church a brand new atmosphere that is conducive for worship and provides and inviting place for new converts to come and be apart.

I truly believe that God will not send people to your church if the atmosphere is not set right. I am not complaining nor talking down my church, I am just stating the obvious...that God is going to honor our requests when we begin to possess His Spirit within the fabric of our church.

I had a heavy spirit on me all day Saturday and I couldn't understand why. It wasn't until my older brother walked into the sanctuary that god revealed it to me. My brother Leonard is dealing with some real personal issues that have brought about a real sense of depression in his life, and when he walked in, I realized that he was in a bad place mentally, emotionally and spiritually. The Lord led me to lead the congregation in that great Dwayne Woods song, Let Go, Let God Have His Way. I literally saw the load lift off of my brother so that he would be free to give all of his issues to the Lord and leave them there. Please pray for my Momma's oldest son, he really needs it.

I continued our series on the Beatitudes entitled Developing Christian Character with the first principle that Jesus gives to us on how to walk and act with the character of a follower of Jesus Christ, with an exposition on Matthew 5:3...blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven, which I labeled A Humble Spirit.

Being poor in spirit does not mean to be poor spirited, it does not mean to have no backbone, it does not even mean as Catholic priests profess, that God wants his servants to take on a vow of poverty. This verse literally means to possess a spirit of humility. God does not want his people to exhibit arrogance, but instead in order to be great in God, we must all possess a spirit of humility, which suggests that we must be willing to look at ourselves and see that we fall terribly short of the personage of God. That will cause us to have a humble spirit.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Pursuit of Happiness

Text: Matthew 5:1-12

Thesis: true happiness is achieved by our willingness to turn away from temporal things and head directly towards the spiritual

I. True Happiness is a Free Gift For Saints

-we must recognize that we shall never get anywhere in our search for happiness until we give up trying to find in on our own efforts and receive it for what it is
-a free, unwarrented, undeserved gift from the Lord

II. True Happiness is Found in the Forgiveness of Our Sins

-we must realize that the blessing from the Lord that is most central in the life of every individual is that we need God to forgive us from our sins
-we pray for many things that we don't need but we want, but the thing we need to pray the most for is that God will offer us forgiveness

III. True Happiness Focuses on Our Savior

-we must put our focus on the actions of the savior to be blessed by what he did to provide the happiness we need
-we need to put our entire focus on the cross of Calvary

Monday, March 23, 2009

Sunday Stuff

We had a pretty interesting day at FMZBC. First of all I have been sick for the last four days, so much so that I could not get any sleep Saturday night, my nose was completely stopped up, my ears were popping, and I had a cough that I thought was going end up with one of my lungs in my lap. Needless to say I was very concerned about my energy level during our worship service, and to top it off, I had to preach at an afternoon service, I had no idea how the day would turn out.

I want to report that the Lord showed up yesterday during worship, and he made an exchange, he took my physical weakness and gave me his strength, and I was able to make it through the day. God Be Praised!!!

The Lord led us to begin a new preaching series on yesterday on the Beatitudes housed in Matthew 5:1-12, which I have tagged the series, Developing Christian Character. This was Jesus' famous message known as the Sermon on the Mount, in which Jesus sets out to provide keys on how to live as a believer ought to live. And as our church is inching closer and closer to our new location, this series is designed to show us that a new building does not a new church make. We cannot expect to do the same things, be the same way, and get different results. I am so excited about this series. Please pray for the series.

Yesterday, I introduced the series with a topical message (something I rarely do) on the word that opens each lesson in the Beatitudes, the word blessed, in which I labeled the message, The Pursuit of Happiness. This word blessed has multiple meanings in the original language. Firstly, it means to bless, or to consecrate and set aside for the service of the Lord. It is where we get our custom of blessing our food before we eat it, to ask the Lord to consecrate both us and our food to be used for his service. Secondly, it is defined as words that we get our English derivatives benediction and eulogy, which means to speak well of. Later on in this sermon, Jesus says bless them that curse you, which suggests that when people put their mouth on you, don't fire back, speak well of them and watch the Lord take care of them. Thirdly, it means to be spiritually happy, which suggests to us that while we as humans seek happiness in many places, the only way to experience true happiness is to find it in Jesus.

I had the pleasure of preaching for the 55th Pastoral Anniversary of Bishop B.F. Jackson, pastor of the St. John's Methodist Episcopal Reformed Church of Elizabeth, NJ in the afternoon, and it was a joy and and honor to stand and deliver my convictions about Jesus Christ during this grand celebration. The St. John's Church did a marvelous job in the celebration, and I ask that you would keep them in your prayers as a transition is soon to take place there.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Prayer Changes Things

Text: Ezra 10:1-5

Thesis: for the intercession of God's anointed can make the difference in what God will do to and through his people

I. Prayer Produces a Proper Assembly

-verse 1...while Ezra prayed and made confession, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, a very great assembly of men, women and children, gathered to him out of Israel, for the people wept bitterly
-prayer will cause God's people to gather around the altar for prayer

a. Unified Society...a very great assembly of men, women and children gathered together
b. Uncovered Sins...wept bitterly...they wept with the reality that they were sinning against God

II. Prayer Produces a Proper Answer

-verse 2...and Shecaniah, the son of Jehiel, of the sons of Elam addressed Ezra: we have broken faith with our God and have married foreign women from the peoples of the land, but even now there is hope for Israel in spite of this
-this prayer caused Shecaniah to confess the obvious sin of the people of God...they married pagan women
-God's law did not permit this type of marriage because they were from different nationalities...but because they professed a different faith
-Ezra's answer was not to hide their sins...but to confess that they have broken faith with God

III. Prayer Produces a Proper Agreement

-verse 3...therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all these wives and their children, according to the counsel of my Lord and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God, and let it be done according to the Law
-Shecaniah makes this agreement to free God's people from their sinfulness so that they could truly worship the Lord
-it was intersting that Shecaniah was the spokesman with this agreement...since his father married a pagan woman which would suggest that his mother was that woman...and if this agreement was met, then both his mother and he would have to leave
-sometimes the hard decisions are the ones that will free the people from the bondage of sin

IV. Prayer Produces a Proper Attitude

-verses 4& 5...suggest that Ezra displays the right attitude by not blasting the people for their sins...he instead prays for them
-when he looks up to heaven, they look up to heaven...his attitude was to pray...their attitude was to follow spiritual leadership
-prayer will cause sinners to follow leadership back to the feet of the Master

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sunday Stuff

The Lord really showed up this past Sunday at the First Mount Zion Church. I know that has been my testimony for the last few weeks, but it is the "Gospel truth", the Spirit of the Lord has really been moving within the walls of the church and in the hearts of the people of God. I wish I could take credit for it through my preaching, or my worship, or my personality, but that would make me out to be both a liar and a glory hound.

The reason why the Spirit of the Lord has shown himself in our church for the last few weeks, greater than ever before, is totally because our God is a prayer answering God. I have really discovered that when God's people pray, God's power will appear! The congregation has become more engaged in study, in worship and in their expectation that God is getting ready to bless us tremendously.

Worship was outstanding once again as Jamal got the congregation ready for our worship in the Word of God.

We concluded our series on the book of Ezra which I tagged the series, Restoration and Rededication, with our closing message found in Ezra 10:1-5, which I labeled, Prayer Changes Things. Chapter 10 is a continuation of chapter 9, in that Ezra discovers that the people of God had begun the practice of engaging in marriage with pagan women. This act greatly disturbed Ezra, and he took his issue with the people's disobedience to the law of God to the Lord in prayer. Chapter 10 chronicles for us the results of God's anointed going to God on behalf of the people of God.

The reality is that when we pray for the Lord to fix that which is wrong with us, we will discover that prayer will indeed turn things around on our behalf. Fred Hammond sang a song, late in the midnight hour, God's gonna turn it around, it's gonna work in your favor. I do believe that as our church engages in prayer for the deliverance of our congregation, that prayer will turn things around for us.

This past weekend, I received the terrible and heart wrenching news that Dr. Cedric Britt of Fort Worth, TX went home to be with the Lord. Cedric Britt was one of the last of the nice guys in ministry. He was a great personality and a great preacher. The church community has been better because we have had Cedric Britt to dwell among us for a little while. Please keep his family and his church in your prayers.

Please keep me in your prayers this week, Saturday is 3 year anniversary that my Momma went to rest with Jesus.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Prayer For Revival

Text: Ezra 9:1-9

Thesis: whenever the people of God offer a sincere prayer for deliverance to God, God will always provide a powerful response to bring the dead back to life

I. God Will Never Desert Us

-verse 9...for we are slaves , yet our God has not forsaken us in our slavery
-Ezra here celebrated the fact that God had delivered them from bondage to the Babylonians
-but he was distressed with the fact that although they were no longer slaves to Babylon, but now they were slaves to their sinfulness
-but in spite of their sins, God will never walk away from us

II. God Will Never Detest Us

-verse 9...but has extended to us his steadfast love before the Kings of Persia
-God did not show hatred towards Israel for their disobedience to them, but instead he gave them something they needed more...His love
-he did this before the Kings of Persia to tell them that although they allowed the children of Israel to return to Jerusalem, they were still under the control of the Lord

III. God Will Never Discard Us

-verse 9...to grant us some reviving to set up the house of our God, to repair its ruins
-no matter how messed up we are, God will preserve us
-he preserves us so that we can do the Lord's work

a. Repair the House of God
b. Rebuild the Ruins

IV. God Will Never Endanger Us

-verse 9...and to give us protection in Judea and Jerusalem
-while the church is working to rebuild and repair the House of God, there will be no need to worry because the Lord will be our protector
-God will build a hedge of protection all around us

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Today is my youngest son's 14th birthday. I am so proud of "my baby". Please keep all of our sons in your prayers.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Sunday Stuff

Who told the United States Congress to change the date for turning your clocks forward without telling me? For not only did it affect MY ability to get some much needed rest (LOL), but it affected our congregation from making it to church on time.

Penny and I got to church on time (thank God ) and we spent time together on our knees at the altar. Having time in communion and fellowship with the Master before worship is something that we both take very seriously to be the very mechanism that God will use to not only change the atmosphere at our church, but to also send the unchurched to the House of the Lord. It is starting to really catch on with the congregation, and my continued prayer to the Lord is that every member will deem it essential for them to get to the altar before worship themselves.

Penny began a new teaching series during Sunday School, as the Lord has led her to take our church back to the basics entitled How to Study God's Word. As she is centered on that, the Lord has led me to lead our church on Thursday Evening during Bible Study, to a new teaching series on the book of Revelation entitled Victory in Jesus. Both classes were well attended and the participation was great and encouraging that we are headed in the right direction. Please keep us in our prayers.

Again Jamal took us into the presence of the Lord during our Praise & Worship period. God is using this young man in a mighty way through his gift of singing. God has put an organ with a leslie speaker inside his throat and he is using it to the glory of God. Our music ministry was in rare form yesterday, as they accompanied me on a great old song of the church entitled Jesus Be a Fence All Around Me. I love those young men! They are not going anywhere!

We preached the next to last sermon of our series on the book of Ezra with an exposition on chapter 9:1-9 which I labeled A Prayer For Revival. The great scribe Ezra, after leading the people of God back into Jerusalem, noticed that the people were participating in intermarriages with the natives of the land, who were not devoted to the Lord. They were taking their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons. This practice troubled and grieved Ezra greatly, so much so that the bible says he tore his hair and his garments. So he goes into the temple during the evening sacrifice, and he begins to pray to the Lord to revive this dead people and lead them back to the Lord.

I dare say that many of our churches have allowed themselves to mixed the ways of the Lord with the ways of this world, and that has caused them to dilute their worship and be contrary to the will of God. We all need to pray that God can and will bring us all back into right relationship, fellowship and worship of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

How To Handle A Problematic Predicament

Text: Ezra 8:15-20

Thesis: when faced with problems beyond our capabilities, God's anointing on our lives will lead us to victory

I. Recognize The Problem

-verse 15...I gathered them to the river that runs to Ahava, and there we camped three days...as I reviewed the people and the priests, I found there non of the sons of Levi
-people deal with problems two ways...ignore the problem or attack the symptoms instead of the problem

a. not enough workers...Levites were called by God to assist the priests with the temple work and if there are no Levites, the priests would have to carry more of the load and take them away from primary responsibility

b. everyone was not on board...people were there to worship; priest were there to minister; but the Levites were not there to work

II. Respond With the Prescription

-verses 16-17 suggests that when faced with problems, there is a need to come up with right solutions
-solutions to problems are easy to come by, but the right solutions are difficult
-right solution was to send out for Levites

a. How he sent them...Ezra could have gone himself, but his responsibility was to seek, perform and teach God's will, by going out himself he would have taught them that he had to do everything for them to succeed

b. Who did he send...verse 16 says that 11 men were sent out...9 were called leading me or the most influential in the community...2 were called men of insight or intelligent men...God will use many different people to get his work done

c. They were sent with a plan...verse 17 says Ezra gave them very clear instructions...where to go, who to see and even what to say

III. Realize The Possibilities

-verses 18-20 suggests that we are to deal with problems by correctly identifying our successes
-he sends the 11 men to Casiphia, the place where the Levites lived, only 38 levites answered the call
-Ezra could have gotten angry but instead he thanked the Lord for putting his good hand on them
-and if the Lord only sent 38, then that was all that they needed

Monday, March 2, 2009

Sunday Stuff

What a wonderful day in worship we had at the First Mount Zion Church on yesterday. There was a great feeling of anticipation from the moment I woke up in the morning. When we walked into the sanctuary, I couldn't wait to get to the altar for our early morning prayer. Again, I truly believe that during that set time of communion with the Lord at the altar is going to pay off real dividends for our church.

Penny again led a very spirited Sunday School class. The congregation is starting to become more interactive and participatory with her during class. Yesterday there were people engaged who never have said anything in a corporate setting since I have been here, yet they were completely into the subject matter. That class has spurred some in the congregation to ask for me classes on various topics, which is what I was hoping for. Thank God for progress!

Our praise and worship leader Jamal, returned to the church after having to be away for a little while to handle some personal issues that needed his immediate attention, and boy did I really miss him. He stepped right back into place and he flat out "killed" praise and worship. It was a much needed reprieve for me, as I have been leading the congregation with praise and worship, but that was really taking a great toll on my voice and energy level as a whole. I am so grateful that Jamal is back and I am going to turn him loose for real!

We continued our series on the book of Ezra, with an exposition of chapter 8:15-20, which I labeled the message, How to Handle a Problematic Predicament. For the great scribe and Hebrew scholar Ezra, had just been commissioned by King Artaxerxes, to lead God's people out of Babylon and return to worship the Lord in the newly rebuilt temple in Jerusalem. So as Ezra was leading 5000 Jews back to Jerusalem, he gets to the river called Ahava and stops in their tracks. For he does a quick inventory of the people in the camp, he notices that there were the people there, the priests were there, but there were no Levites in the camp.

This was a problem for them, because everyone had a role in the temple and without the Levites, a role was not going to be fulfilled. So Ezra sets out to show us how do we deal with our predicaments are problematic in verse 17 when he acknowledges that the good hand of the Lord was on them, and it is the anointing of God that gives us the ability to to deal with whatever problems that arise and occur. To often we attempt to handle issues with our own strength, but we must realize that our strength will not be able to withstand a spiritual situation. For Paul picked that up when he said that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12 ESV).