Saturday, October 07, 2006

October 1 and 8, 2006--Psalm 23 Perfects

Note: Post taken from loose outline notes of pastor. Actual sermon may have varied. This sermon based on something the pastor's sister gave that came from her Church's study.

Text: Psalm 23

IT is amazing how things we have looked at time and again can reveal new things to us. Well, I think we knew these things were there, but we couldn't see the forest for the trees. My ssister gave me this info, and I am going to pass it on. Hidden inside this famous piece of Scripture are 14 perfects God provides for us and we can get in a relationship with Him.

The Lord is my Shepard--Perfect Salvation
We have seen the imagery before. Christ as the perfect shepard. A shepard loves his sheep, he cars for them like they are family. Christ loves us so much he is willing to risk all and did so. Shepards care so much for one sheep that they will leave the rest of the flock to go and find the lost sheep. Glad Christ is like that because we are the lost sheep, he found us and led us to salvation. A perfect salvation, where he is always watching out for us.

I shall not want--Perfect Satisfaction
We have so many needs and wants in our lives. WE need food and shelter, clothing, water. However, we have so much desire for other things, when really all we desire is to have a full relationship with God, to fillup that missing part in our hearts. A relationship with God satisfies us, because when we are with Him we know that He will care for us, we know that He will provide, and we can take satisfaction in knowing He will give according to our needs.
He makes me to lie Down in Green Pastures-Perfect Rest
Remember when we were kids? Remember running in the yard and then getting tired? We just flopped down on the nice cool grass and looked up at the sky and had a nce little rest. That is the metaphor here. When we have a relationship with God, he gives us rest like that. That pure, childlike rest where we don't worry about germs or stains or anything else, we are just at peace outside, taking a moment to soak in His creation. God provides that for us. He gives us the chance to lay down our labors and just lie in the grass with Him, then to give Him our labor and we can rest while he does the heavey lifting.
He leadeth me beside still waters-Perfect Refreshment
Remember in the westerns? The Lone Ranger and Tonto would ride all day, tracking bad guys, and would need a rest. They would come to a stream when they and hte horses were tired. There they would take a drink from the pure clean water. Yes, htis was back before toxic waste and the mess of our waters. Some of you may remember when you could drink by the stil water. God leads us to the still waters to provide us with refreshment. Often, our tanks run dry. WE don't feel like being joyful or doing service. WE come to God and he gives us something which refereshes us, which allows the water of the Holy Spirit to wash us and refresh us, to give us a drink of the water of Life that then we can go out and ride the trails again. That is the perfect refreshment God can provide us.
He restoreth my soul-Perfect Restoration
Sometimes we are battered by the world. Our spirits get bruised, we get hurt by others, we are worn down by the world. God promieses to restore us, and this shows it in the Psalm. WE get worn down by the world, and God gives us the energy to go on, even in sorrow, even in pain. He gives us the ability to have our full being and soul restored. Sometimes we get in a position where we feel our souls are tattered, and God restores us to like pure infants.

He leadeth me in paths of righteousness-Perfect Guidance
God can lead us in a relationship with Him. He will lead us along paths we may not initially want to go down. However, if we trust Him, we will always be led on the right path. It might take unexpected turns, but it is the right path.
I will fear no evil-Perfect Protection
Along our paths, there are temptations, slings and arrows, hidden forces wanting us to go off the path, like the tempting grass of a new meadow for a sheep. God, if we trust him and call upon him, will protect us from these. God protects us so we don't have to fear evil, we can then confront evil and claim his protection.
Thou art with Me-Perfect Company
We all want the perfect friend. We spend our lives meeting people we call friend, and everyone, even those we call our best friends, fall short. Sometimes we are lucky to have a few great friends, whether outsidres, spouses, brothers or sisters, etc. However, if we trust in the Lord and abide in Him, we get the perfect friend. Someone who knows us completely, inside and out, and loves us anyway, without condition. someone willing to sacrifice for us, willing to die for us. We get in our corner the creator of the universe, for goodness sake! What an awesome friend. The best company to have, one who protects and guides us.
Thy Rod and thy Staff, they comfort me--Perfect Comfort
When God is in our company, God provides us with Comfort. He provides us with the comfort of His direction. when we fall off the path, he reaches out with his Rod and tells us to grab hold and be pulled out of the abyss. The comfort is like when we are learning to bowl, when they put the bumpers up to keep us from making a gutter ball. The bumpers allow us to know that no matter if our aim wavers, we still will not fall into the abyss of the gutter. God will reach out to us until there is no time left. He will continue to reach out with that staff to keep us from going into the gutter, or to grab us when we are falling.

Thou preparest a table before me--Perfect Provision
God sets us up with all we need, even when our enemies are around. He gives us all we need, provides us with all the tools we need. Like soldiers, we need to have the right tools and things for our mission. Different missions and journeys require different provisions. God provides it all to us.
You Annoint my Head with Oil--Perfect Consecration
Oil is very important. it is very valuable, as we all know about by going to the gas pumps. If you have oil, you have a precious resource. Oil was used to consecrate a king or important person. You poured that precious resource over their head to show how important they were, more important than the resource of the oil. God does that for us. He annoints us with the Holy spirit, he annoints us with Christ's blood, He annoints us with forgiveness and consecrates us to be His people in this world.
My Cup Runneth Over--Perfect Joy
Imagine being a kid and having a neverending supply of ice cream. Wooeee! That would be awesome. A neverending flow of the stuff, overflwing from the cone. That is how our joy should be, especially when we step back and count our blessings. when we take stock of all God has given to us and all He does for us, we find how blessed we are. We find new joy. By counting our blessings, we get that joy, and by realizing how wonderful it is to be with Him, and what a relationship with Him means, ie, eternal life in the glorious New Heaven with Him, then we realize how joyful we should be, despite our present sufferings. AFter all, waht is in store is a place where there are no more tears, fears, or sorrows. How amazingly joyful is that? Why, its better than a neverending supply of ice cream!
Goodness and Mercy shall follow me all the days of my Life--Perfect Care
When we have a relationship with God, he watches out for us. He takes care of us. He provides for us. He will give us good things and we will have the abuundant blessings of being forgiven Jesus people. Though we may endure hardship, we still will have God's goodness and love and mercy.

I will Dwell in the House of the Lord Forever--Perfect Destiny
God has a plan for us. He wants all of us to be with Him forever. He wants all of us to hang with Him in the Big House in the Sky, to eat of the blessed fruit and drink from the water of life. He wants that for all of us. That is aht he has planned for us to do, where he has planned for us to go. Howeer, it is up to us. WE have this thing called free will which sometimes gets in the way. However, God plans for us to be with Him and when we call out ot Him and have a relationship with Him, we can know that this is waht is waiting for us. It should embolden us and enrich us to go from being spiritual infants to spiritual giants. What a great destiny awaits!

You know what else is cool? Look at the tense of these perfects. They are in the present tense, meaning we can have these perfects right now in our lives if we claim these perfects, if we believe in God and his Promises. They are not in the past tense, meaning that we had them, but now we don't. It is not in the super conditional tesne, meaning that there is some parameters that must be met, or some condition. WE can have these right now if we believe in God, and these promises, these perfects, if you will, are even now being fulfilled and worked out in us. Even now, we are being perfectly guided, perfectly cared for, and can have perfect joy. It is not some uncertain time in the future. These perfects can be accessed now. Claim them. Grow your relationship with God. Fulfill and get closer to that perfect destiny he calls us to!

September 24, 2006--Faults and Forgiveness

Actual sermon may have varied, post taken from loose outline notes of pastor.

Text: Matthew 6:12; Luke 6:41-2

When we see how our plans derail on the characters of people we have to deal with we are "in one way" seeing what it must be like for God. But only in one way. There are two respects in which God's view must be very different from ours. In the first place, He sees (like you) how all the poeple in your home or your job are in various degrees awkward or difficult; but whne He looks into that home or office He sees one more person of the same kind--the one you never do see. Of coruse, I am talking about yourself. That is the next great step in wisdom--to realize that you also are just athat sort of person. You also have a fatal flaw in your charater. All the hopes and plans of others have again and again derailed on your character just as your hopes and plans have derrailed on theirs.

Of course, we routinely pass over this with some vague admission of "I know I have my faults." Taht is no good, however. It is important to realize that there is some really fatal flaw in you: something which gives the others that same feeling of despair which their flaws give you. And it is almost certainly something yo udon't know about, which everyone notices except hte person who has it. Or it can be something you don't think is that big a deal, but others can see how big it is. Even the faults you know you don't know fully. You say, " I admit I lost my temper last night", but others know that you're always doing it. It takes more than a general admission to admit your faults.

I suggest we abstain from thinking about others faults unless it is part of our duties like a teacher or a parent makes it necessary to think about them. Whenever the thoughts come unnecessarily into one's mind, shove them away. With what? Why, push out their faults with thoughts of your own faults. For there, with God's help, we can do soemthing. When all we do is focus on others faults, we are still powerless. That person has to make the decision to change. Only God can help with that. All our words mean little. However, when we focus on ourselves and fixing that plank in our eyes, it is practical. Of all the weird and awkward people we know, there is only one whom you can improve very much--YOU. And we had better, the job has to be done someday, and every day we put it off, it will make it harder to begin. Besides, when others see us doing soemthing about our faults and problems, God uses it to inspire them. Who knows how self improvement can become world improvement?

Which leads us into forgiveing others. Firstly, forgiving does not mean excusing. Many seem to think it does, especially the language we use when someone asks forgiveness or says I'm sorry. WE say, that's ok. But it is not. What they did is not OK, it was bad. WE need to just say, I forgive you. However, those words are very hard to say. Maybe because we want to hold things over thier head. By saying we forgive, it is acknowledging something bad happened and that we forgive them for it, that we are not holding it against them in terms of not being friends or whatever. However, forgivemness does not mean putting blinders on. If someone broke a promise and your forgive them, that does not follow that you must necessarily believe his next promise. It does folow that you must take every effort to kill every trace of resentment in your heart.

In our own cases, we accept excuses too easily. See, this is why I did it....blah blah blah. In others, we do not accept excuses easily enough. However, think about God. He excuses our sin, and we have no excuse. To be Christian, we must do the same thing. It means forgivening the inexcusable, because God forgave the inexcusable in you.

This is hard. You know, I think it is no so hard to forgive a single great injury as the smaller things. The single great ones we pout and we gripe, but quickly it is forgotten. It is the litle things, the incessant provocations like the bossy mom in law, the bullying brother, the nagging wife, those little everyday idiosyncracies. Those are hardest to forgive. How can we do it? Only by remember where we stand, by meaning what it says in the Lord's prayer where it says "forgive us our trespases, as we forgive those who trespass against us." We are offered forgiveness on no other terms. To refuse is to refuse God's mercy for ourselves. There is no hint of exception and God means what He says.

Sept. 17, 2006--The Need for Study

Note: Actual sermon may have varied. Post which follows based on loose outline notes of the pastor.

Text: Proverbs 30:5; Isaiah 40:8, Isaiah 55:11

You know, sometimes, studying can be tough, but we have to do it. I understand why people are put off by the idea of studying anything, much less God's word. I remember once someone told me about talking to an old Air Force pilot, who said, "I've got no use for all that theology stuff, but mind you, Iam a religious man too. I know there's a God. I've felt Him, out alone in the sky at night, the tremendous mystery, and that is why I just don't believe all your neat little dogmas and formulas about him. To anyone who has ever met the real thing they all seem so petty and pedantic and unreal!"

Now in a sense, I agree with the grizzled old pilot. I think he had real experiences with God in the sky and flying. And when he ruend from that experience to the Christian creeds and works, I think eh really was turning from something real to something less real. In the same way, if a man has once looked at the Atlantic from the beach, and then goes and looks at a map of the Atlantic, he also will be turning from something real to something less real; turning from real waves to colored paper. But here is the point. The map is admitteedly only colored paper, but there are two things you have to remember about it. In the first place, it is based on what hundreds and thousands of people ahve found out by sailing the ocean. In that way it has behind it mases of experience just as real as yours. Only, while yours would be an isolated glimpse, the map fits all those different experiences together. In the second place, if you want to go anywhere, the map is absolutely necessary. As long as you are content with walks on the beach, your own glimpses are far more fun than looking at a amap. But the map is oging to be ore use than walks on the beach if you want to get to Europe, or Africa.

Study is like that map. Merely learing and thinking about the Christian doctrines, if you stop there, is less real and less exciting than direct experiences. Doctrines and creeds and testimonies are not God, they are only a kind of map. But that map is based on the experience of hundreds of people who really were in touch with God--experinces compared with which any thrills or pious felings you and I are likely to get on our own are very elementary and very confused. And secondly, if you want to get any further, you must use the map. See, study is our map. By reading Scripture, testimonies, comentaries, doctrine adn the sort, we can gain a better picture of where we are and where we want to go. If we just stick with what we know, we might be missing the forest for the trees. And, without a map, often times we just end up spinning our wheels and not getting the full breadth and depth of the relationship we should have with God.

And we need to study now more than ever, because I feel in some senses, we miss our opportunities to interact with God or to give him praise. By studying the Scripture and the doctrines and the commentaries and such, we gain more depth of unerstanding, we see through others eyes, and our eyes might be opened to things that were there, just we didn't see because we were only looking at it through one point of view. Taht is the value of study. IT can help us to enrich our experience, and also to empathize with others, creating better and greater spiritual warriors, and opening our eyes to more praise for the Creator.

Sept. 10, 2006--5 years later....

Note: Post taken from loose outline notes of the pastor. Actual sermon delivered may have varied.

Text: Matthew 24:4-7, 11-13

Actual sermon notes for this one could not be found, but the overall message was to look to the true faith, not the faith that has a Verse of the sword, for the truth. We must fight against this blasphemy called a faith not just with the sword, but in deed and word. We must realize that we are in a war for the survival of tolerance and faith, that the so called religion of peace is not that. As we remember those who fell on 9/11, let us not lose our resolve. Let us not forget, and let us not let others forget. Let us fight with righteousness, love and the truth.

Sept. 3, 2006--Reflections of Christ

Note: Post taken from loose outline notes of the pastor. Actual delivered sermon may have varied.

Text: Matthew 5:15-6, Galatians 2:20

Our destiny is not in being ourselves, as the world defines it, but in fact in casting off that false notion of just being us, our human nature, and instead being reflections of Christ. It is not when we find ourselves, as it were, but when we find Christ that we reveal what we are truly to be. When we reflect Christ's image, that is when ouir true selves come out.

If we have read the New Testament right, it leaves no room for "freelancing" even in a modified or theoretical way. Our whole destiny seems to lie in the opposite direction, in being as little as possible ourselves, in acquiring a fragrance that is not our own but borrowed, in becoming clean mirrors filled with the image of a face that is not ours, but in fact is the best image ever. Everything else that is inherently ours, that human nature of pride and such, is like so much dust which clouds and lowers the image, lowers its radiance.

Pride does not only go before a fall, but in fact is a fall itself--a fall from our attention to what is better, ie God, perfection; to what is worse, our own selves, our baser needs.

Unbelievers take their experience and temperment just as they happen to stand, on face level. They consider them worth discussing because they are facts, or worse still, because they are theirs. To the Christian, his own termperament and experience, as mere fact or simply because they are there, is of no value or importance whatsoever. We deal with them only because it was through them that something more universally Blessed or Profitable appeared to us.

We can imagine two men seated in diffferent parts of a theater. Both, when they come out, will tell us their experiences, and both may use the first person. But the one is interested in his seat only because it was his--"I was most uncomfortable," he will say. "You would hardly believe what a draft comes from the door in that corner. And the people! I had to speak pretty mean to the woman in front of me." The other, more Christ centered, or more other driven, will tell us what could be seen from his seat, choosing to describe this becasue this is what he knows, and because every seat must give the best view of something. See, that is being tolerant, being vigilant, being open to what God reveals, and less concerned with what others are doing and what it does for you. " Do You know," he will begin,"the molding on those pillars goes on round the back. It looks, too, as if the design on the back were the older of the two." Here we have the expressionist and the Christian attitudes toward the self or the temperament. One can't see the forest for the trees, and the other takes it all in, from different angles, and reflects it back for the greater glory of the Creator.

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