Tuesday, June 23, 2009

When Life Doesn't Make Sense

Text: Proverbs 3:5-6

Thesis: when life brings us to a point of confusion, our total trust in our heavenly Father will make the difference between failure and fruitfulness

I. Measure of Our Trust

-verse 5...trust in the Lord with all your heart
-Solomon describes for us how much we are to trust in the Lord
-we are not to trust God haphazardly, not lazily nor as if it is inconsequential...but in our moments of confusion we are to trust the Lord with all of our heart

II. Motivation of Our Trust

-verse 5...trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding
-two verbs provide the proper picture of our motivation...lean and understanding
-lean means to depend on...understanding means intellect or logic
-Solomon says that we are to never depend on our own logic but rather on the logic of the Lord

III. Mark of Our Trust

-verse 6...in all your ways acknowledge him
-we are to express a high regard for the presence of the Lord in our lives
-need to acknowledge that God is the giver of everything in our lives...and if he brought us out of that before, surely he can bring us out again

IV. Management of Our Trust

-verse 6...in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths
-God manages the trust we place in him by giving us a reward for our trust
-that when we trust God, depend on his understanding, acknowledge his control over our situation, God will provide a way of escape

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sunday Stuff

Let me make a confession that I believe I have shared in a previous post, special days in church are not my favorite days to worship and preach in. I am turned off by the lack of attention that's paid to the importance of the preaching moment during worship, so much so, that I am often distracted for a momentarily by the actions and antics of those who come to be seen and not to worship. I may be a little harsh but please understand my convictions about this: the most important moment in any worship experience, I believe, is the moment of preaching and the subsequent decision that an unsaved sinner must make during the call to discipleship, and it bothers me to no end, when people take that moment for granted or don't have a high regard for it.

Having said all of that, worship yesterday at the First Mount Zion Church was off the hook! It began from sunday school, all the way to the invitation to discipleship. Penny was great with her class as usual, Jamal sang his face off during the worship in song period, I mean he really blessed the people, and the Lord showed up in a major way during the moment of preaching. It made me really forget my inhibitions with preaching during special days and I am grateful for the time we all shared with the Lord in worship.

I continued our small sermon series on encouragement with a message that has been a burden on my heart to preach for some time, out of a familiar passage housed in Proverbs 3:5-6 which I labeled "When Life Does Not Make Sense". This message dealt with our trouble in dealing when life gets confusing to a child of God. Solomon writes this great book so that the reader is shown how to live a wise life and is instructed on how to be successful in life through an intense fear of the Lord. Chapter 3 is a picture of a father who motivates his inexperienced child on how to trust God completely when life makes no sense. In those moments of confusion, God doesn't desire us to fall to pieces to give up and throw in the towel, but to trust God in moments of misery and confusion.

After church, Penny took me to one of my favorite local Italian restaurants for dinner and we came home and just relaxed and enjoyed our day. I thank God for great days!!!!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

God Will Help You

Text: Psalm 46:1-3

Thesis: our ability to rise above our bad situations rest totally in our complete confidence in a God who can

I. God is Our Personal Rescue

-verse 1...God is our refuge and strength
-this verse suggests that when we are in trouble, God is willing to come to our rescue

1. We Find Safety in God - verse 1...God is our refuge - this means that God is our shelter from our troubles

2. We Find Security in God - verse 1...and strength - this means that when we get in a tight situation we need somebody stronger than we are to handle the tough times of life

II. God is Our Powerful Resource

-verse 1...God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble
-this suggest that not only will God protect us from trouble but he will provide for us in trouble

-present has two distinct meanings in the Hebrew:

1. God is our Sufficient Resource - it means to be enough...when we get in trouble, God is all that we need

2. God is our Immediate Resource - it also means right now...for there are times when we cannot wait God will show up right now

III. God is Our Permanent Resistance

-verses 2-3...therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea...though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling Selah
-resistance is a synonym for preservation which means that God will preserve us from the troubles in our lives

1. preserves us even though our fears stricken us (v. 2)
2. preserves us even though our foundations shake us (v. 2-3)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sunday Stuff

My wife and I went away on vacation last week so I did not attend worship of any kind for the first time in a long time, and it was really worth it and much needed. We have been on the grind at the First Mount Zion Church for the entire 3 years that we have been there and even more so since we began our relocation project 2 years ago this month. We both were completely fried mentally and physically and I am grateful to the Master for allowing us to be able to go an refresh and recharge our batteries to come back ready to work.

I came back this week ready to get back at relocating and rebuilding our church. I continued our "mini-series" on encouragement with an exposition on one of my favorite passages in scripture housed in Psalm 46:1-3 which I labeled the message God Will Help You. This Psalm written by an unknown psalter, is an companion text to 2 Kings 19, which is a Psalm that was written as a celebration because God had assisted the children of God survive and attack and prevail in a battle with the Assyrians under the rule of Sennacherib. This song was sung as they went into the Temple in celebration for God helping them defeat their enemies.

We may not have an enemy named Sennacherib, but our enemy is more powerful and more wicked by the name of Satan, and in our attacks from our enemy, we are unable to defeat them under our own strength or devices because our physical strength is powerless against a spiritual foe. But we have a God that will provide all of the help we need in our battles against Satan.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Strength For The Struggle

I am currently in a serious predicament with regards to my preaching schedule and it has me in a real quandary. As many of you know, I am consistently in a series either on a book of the bible, a chapter of the bible or a biblical principle. I truly believe that preaching in a series keeps the focus of our congregation on a specific thought for an entire period that develops their understanding of scripture and their familiarity of the direction that God is leading our church. But I am now in a real quandary. I have just completed our series on the Beatitudes entitled Developing Christian Character, and due to various things going on during the month of June, it would not be prudent for me to start a new series and have it broken up a couple of weeks in the month, hence the problem.

So during my personal prayer time, I sought direction from the Lord and he led me to preach a few messages on encouragement in the meantime. In this present day and age, with our economy dealing a mighty blow to our finances, with enemies of our country still plotting to do us much harm, the people of God need to be encouraged to stand tall in the midst of pain, doom and gloom.

The Lord led me to preach an exposition out of 2 Corinthians 4:1-6 which I have tagged Strength For the Struggle. The Apostle Paul writes this 4th chapter as a continuation to what he wrote in chapter 3. In chapter 3 he tells the church there that there were a group of zealots called Judaizers who preached a mixed gospel to the Galatians that threatened to destroy the ministry.

Their major emphasis was that salvation by faith in Christ was not enough, that they had to mix faith in Christ with an obedience to the law. This gospel of legalism became very popular with the people and it undermined the correct teachings of Paul that our salvation is solely tied to our belief in the person of Jesus Christ. Paul rejected their methods of teaching as those who were false teachers leading the people of God away from the Word of God. How did Paul refute these false prophets, by showing the people the wonderful glory of the ministry of the Gospel by reminding them that this ministry was given to them by the Lord Jesus Christ. Here is the sermon outline:

Text: 2 Corinthians 4:1-6

Thesis: our realization of what we have in Jesus Christ, provides for us all the strength we need to handle any conflict that comes our way

I. Refuse to Discontinue the Ministry

-verse 1...therefore having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart
-he had already confessed that the trials he faced in Asia almost brought him to despair in 2 Cor. 1:8
-because of all of the struggles...all of the heartaches...all of the pain...all of the discouragement that comes along with the ministry...no matter how difficult the struggle, he will never give up on the ministry
-Jesus said in Luke 9 while talking to his disciples about the cost of ministry, tells one who wanted to say farewell to his family before he follows Jesus...he that put his hands to the Gospel plow and looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of Heaven

II. Refuse to Deceive the Ministry

-verse 2...but we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways
-Paul acknowledges that this ministry came from the Lord...and since it came from the Lord, we must conduct ourselves as good ambassadors of Jesus Christ...we cannot conduct ourselves in a deceitful manner

1. refuse to deface the Gospel of God...verse 2...we refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word
-Paul refuses to handle the Word of God deceitfully

2. refuse to disavow the goodness of God...verse 3...and even if our Gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing
-the Judaizers were guilty of hiding the truths of the Gospel to keep the people fooled into believing that their teaching was the truth
-Paul says that he has nothing to hide in his personal life nor in his preaching and he will always allow the people to see the goodness of the Lord through his Word

3. refuse to deny the glory of God...verse 4...in their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ
-Paul says that he will never deny the people from experiencing the glory of God through his faithfulness in preaching the truths of the Gospel
-the lost sinner is blinded by Satan but when sinners are given the Gospel the light of the Gospel will shine on their lives

III. Refuse to Dominate the Ministry

-verse 5...for what we proclaim is not ourselves, but jesus Christ as Lord with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake
-the awesome fact that Jesus gave them the ministry kept Paul from allowing the ministry to be all about him
-but the ministry is always about Jesus Christ

1. preached genuine humility...verse 5
2. God pours His glory into humanity...verse 6