A Father for All – Isaiah 64:8

The evidence is convincing that the better our relationships are at home, the more effective we are in our careers. If we’re having difficulty with a loved one, that difficulty will be translated into reduced performance on the job. In studying the millionaires in America (U.S. News and World Report), a picture of the “typical” millionaire is an individual who has worked eight to ten hours a day for thirty years and is still married to his or her high school or college sweetheart. A New York executive search firm, in a study of 1365 corporate vice presidents, discovered that 87% were still married to their one and only spouse and that 92% were raised in two-parent families. The evidence is overwhelming that the family is the strength and foundation of society. Strengthen your family ties and you’ll enhance your opportunity to succeed.

Zig Ziglar in Homemade, March 1989.

Genesis 2:24 (NIV)  24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. 

Genesis 1:28 (NIV)  28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number;  The family is described very early in the Bible.  The two shall become one flesh.  They are to multiply and have children.  They have a responsibility to work and to care for one another.  Adam and Eve are our biblical example of the original family, a father and mother united together, producing children.  Children are to be born to two committed parents, committed to one another and to their children.

The Bible confirms this when it tells us, “You shall not commit adultery,” which is to have sex with someone that you are not married to.   We are not to conceive children outside of marriage. 

When we do not obey God’s word, there are consequences:

63% of all youth suicides are from fatherless homes

85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes.

71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes.

85% of youth sitting in prisons grew up in a fatherless home.

Nearly 40% of children in America do not live with their fathers.  Just as bad a problem is fathers who are at home but ignore their children. 

Perhaps the most relevant missionary challenge for our society was penned by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthians: Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father. (I Cor. 4:15 NIV) Paul knew that these people didn’t need another teacher, their needs were much deeper, they needed a father. The same is true in our day.  First, your own children need you to be their father.  Fatherless children in our community need to know the care and concern of a father figure.

We who call ourselves Christians need to reverse the trend and invest our time and energy, more than our money into our children.  God sets the greatest example of the importance of fatherhood.  A quick look at the trinity shows us that God desires to relate to us as a father.  Of all of the ways that God could relate to us, he desires to be our father.

 God is our Father

Psalms 68:5 (NIV) A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.

Isaiah 64:8 (NIV) Yet, O LORD, you are our Father.  We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.

 God desires for us to relate to him as our father.  When Jesus teaches the disciples to pray, he instructs them to address God as Father.  When God saves us from sin, the Bible says that we have become his children.  The Bible tells us that God loves us as children, protects us as children and even disciplines us as children. If God considers his relationship with us as father to be important, than it is just as important for us to take our job as fathers seriously.

 Matt 7:9-11 (NIV) 9 “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

 Jesus takes for granted the typical treatment of a father toward his son.  If the son asks for food, a father is going to provide it for him.  While 60% of children still live with their fathers, it is now nearly 40% of children do not live with their fathers. 

 We as Christians should be setting the standard for how children ought to be treated.  Last week, we looked at Deuteronomy 6.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (NIV  Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

If we are to impress God’s instruction on our children, we are going to have to spend time with our children.  Young people, you can begin making decisions now that will affect your future family, when you will marry, the type of person that you will marry, that you will wait until you are married.  Marriage is intended for life and children are a gift and a responsibility given by the Lord.

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The Hope of God

The school system in a large city had a program to help children keep up with their school work during stays in the city’s hospitals. One day a teacher who was assigned to the program received a routine call asking her to visit a particular child. She took the child’s name and room number and talked briefly with the child’s regular class teacher. “We’re studying nouns and adverbs in his class now,” the regular teacher said, “and I’d be grateful if you could help him understand them so he doesn’t fall too far behind.” 

The hospital program teacher went to see the boy that afternoon. No one had mentioned to her that the boy had been badly burned and was in great pain. Upset at the sight of the boy, she stammered as she told him, “I’ve been sent by your school to help you with nouns and adverbs.” When she left she felt she hadn’t accomplished much. 

But the next day, a nurse asked her, “What did you do to that boy?” The teacher felt she must have done something wrong and began to apologize. “No, no,” said the nurse. “You don’t know what I mean. We’ve been worried about that little boy, but ever since yesterday, his whole attitude has changed. He’s fighting back, responding to treatment. It’s as though he’s decided to live.” 

Two weeks later the boy explained that he had completely given up hope until the teacher arrived. Everything changed when he came to a simple realization. He expressed it this way: “They wouldn’t send a teacher to work on nouns and adverbs with a dying boy, would they?”   Bits & Pieces, July 1991.

The power of hope is an amazing thing.  Hope is what gives you the ability to overcome when it looks like defeat is inevitable.  Hope is the ability to see beyond your circumstances to what can be instead of what is. 

My Hope

Psalm 25:5  Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.

Psalm 71:5  For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth.

Psalm 71:14  As for me, I will always have hope;  I will praise you more and more.

Psalm 119:114  You are my refuge and my shield;  I have put my hope in your word.

Isaiah 40:30-31  Even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall;  but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

The Bible tells us about what is available to the Christian.  When we find the Lord, we find a hope that unlike anything else.  What are the struggles that you face?  We all have our battles, whether it is in our family, in our job, with our finances, in health issues.

Our God is able to take care of all of our problems.  Our God is able to help us overcome our greatest difficulties.  Our God is able to work in our greatest tragedies to produce beautiful results.  God is able to take what seems hopeless and to deliver hope.

Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV)  20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

The Bible tells us of so many stories where everything seemed hopeless and God provided the victory that overcame all odds.

God promised Abraham and Sarah that they would have descendants that were as numerous as the stars.  When Sarah was 90 years old and still childless, she had lost hope of having children, but God spoke to them again promising that they would have a child.  They even laughed at the absurdity of this, but God kept his promise and gave them a son.  God can do whatever he wants.  He is not limited by our circumstances.

When the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt under the hand of a powerful pharaoh and his army, surely there were many who had lost hope, but God sent Moses and God performed great miracles and Pharaoh had no choice but to let God’s people God.  God is our hope when all seems hopeless.

When Jesus began his ministry, hope was restored to so many.  As the stories began to circulate of the blind being able to see again and the crippled being able to walk again and the deaf being able to hear again, all who were sick and weary were filled with hope.  “If I could just touch the hem of his garment, I would be healed.  It was amazing hope and it was fulfilled again and again.

Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV)  20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

When Jesus died on the cross, for many, hope died with him, but when He rose from the dead on the third day, hope had come alive again.  The same Jesus who healed the sick and raised the dead is still alive today and has the power to work in our lives and bring hope in our most desperate situations.

When my son Seth was born and he came out of his mother, he was as lifeless and limp as a rag doll.  I was so afraid that he might be dead.  I sent up a prayer to God, “O Lord, please help him.”  In just a moment, he took a breath and came to life.  It was a heart wrenching moment and there was nothing for me to do, but to cry out to God and God answered.  Our God is still at work.

My Hope

My Hope is centered in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Materialism, politics, drugs, alcohol, sex, money, false philosophies and religions and all of them have failed.  Millions of people are searching for answers to the crushing problems and fears that they face today.  There is an answer to these troubles.

“Many people are adrift morally and spiritually, confused and fearful — not knowing who they are or where they are going. We live in a world dangerously torn by hate and violence and conflict, and yet we feel powerless to do anything about it.

Is there any answer?  The Bible gives a resounding “Yes!”  There can be hope, and there can be changed hearts and a changed society as we yield ourselves to Christ.”  “If ever there was a time we needed the intervention of God, it is now.

 Romans 5:3-5 (NIV)  Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Romans 15:13  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Colossians 1:23  … continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

We would not have a high attendance day if we had given up on you or this town and community.

God loves you, Christ died for you, and rose from the dead because of you.  There must be a decision here and now in this life.

A Strong Family

You may remember shortly after I arrived, you were given a slip of paper about your top stressors and what you would like to learn most about the Bible.  Family came in as the number one concern of our church.  Money came in second.

Proverbs 22:6 (KJV)  Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Many are waiting on the promise of this verse to come true in their wayward children.  I like the way the new NIV reads.

Proverbs 22:6 (NIV)  Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

Even when they are old, as if to say that they will never depart in the way.  Have we ever seen someone that was raised properly that departed from the way?  Probably so.  It is important to know that this is a principle of Scripture and not a promise.  Have you seen those who strayed for a long time, but finally returned to the Lord?  It is true that what we teach our children has an impact on them.  And for those that have strayed, we have no idea what really went on in their home.

Where do we begin?  We must understand the standard on how to train up a child in the way that he should go.  How do we do it?  What happens if we don’t do it?

What are the consequences if we don’t?

A small child waits impatiently for his daddy to get home.  He wants to tell him all that happened that day and how much fun he had.  The time comes; Dad arrives.  But Dad is worn out from a long stressful day at work and he says, “Not now, son, I’m busy, go watch television.”  The most often spoken words in the American household today are the words: go watch television. If not now, when? Later. But later never comes for many and the parent fails to communicate at the very earliest of ages. We give them designer clothes and computer toys, but we do not give them what they want the most, which is our time. Now, he is fifteen and has a glassy look in his eyes. “Son, do we need to sit down and talk?” Too late. Love has passed by.

 Being a father is a great responsibility.  If it is neglected, there are grave consequences.

 For the best part of thirty years we have been conducting a vast experiment with the family, and now the results are in: the decline of the two-parent, married-couple family has resulted in poverty, educational failure, unhappiness, ill-health, anti-social behavior, isolation and social exclusion for thousands of women, men and children.

 Studies show that the absence of the father expresses itself in male children in two very different ways: it is linked to increased aggressiveness on one hand, and greater manifestations of effeminacy on the other. A 1987 study of violent rapists found that 60 percent of them came from single-parent homes. A Michigan State University study of adolescents who committed homicides found that 75 percent of them were from broken homes. Girls without fathers fare no better. They become sexually active sooner and are more likely to have out-of-wedlock children.

I preached a series of sermons about the fatherless child and I got a call from a mother of a fatherless child and she said that her son was so discouraged by it.  By the time he was a senior in high school, he was fulfilling all of these characteristics that I just told you about.  Was it my preaching that caused it?  I doubt it.  There were many other family issues going on in the house as well.

Where do we begin?  We must understand the standard on how to train up a child in the way that he should go.

Deuteronomy 6:1-9 (NIV)  These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

The Bible tells us the importance of our obedience to God.  It also tells us the blessing from God if we are willing to obey His commands.  If we learn God’s commands, we and our children will fear the Lord as longs as we live, a lifetime relationship with God.  We will enjoy a long life.  Life will go well and we will be blessed with abundant life.

How are we to teach our children?  First, it begins in us.  We must love the Lord our God with our heart, soul, mind and strength.  We must obey His commands.  They must be on our hearts.  Then we are to impress them on our children, saturating their lives and ours with the commands and the word of God.

It must be true in us and it must be a priority for us to communicate it to our children.  It must be first importance.

Dealing with Worry

Phil 4:4-19 (NIV) 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

     8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

  13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

 How much time do we spend on the do’s and don’ts of Christianity and neglect to mention the benefits of the faith?  The truth is that there is a way that God desires for us to live and for us to live that way, we have to know what that way is.  At the same time, we need to know why it is worth living that way.

There are great benefits to being a Christian.  The ultimate benefit is the one that we will enjoy for all eternity.  It will be when we finally get to enjoy what we were created for.  We will reach our destiny when we arrive in Heaven.  We will leave all of our worries behind and we will enjoy a place where there is no more death or mourning or crying or pain.  It is a place that Jesus has prepared for us and one day he is going to take us home to be with him.

These verses tell us of one of the great benefits of being a follower of Jesus Christ.  There is peace available to us.  Peace is a valuable asset in the world that we live in.  There are circumstances that we face every day that can turn our worlds upside down.  It can be a situation at work.  It can be trouble at home.  It can be a health crisis.  It can be a financial crisis.  We can worry about our children, our parents, our government and our world.  We can be in turmoil about this coming election.  There is no shortage of things to worry about, and all the while the Bible promises us that we can have peace.

Phil 4:4-13 (NIV) 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

How do we arrive at that peace that is available to us?  So you say I can have peace, but I do not have any now.  Where is God and why has He failed to deliver his peace to me?  Are you following the Lord’s instructions on how to enjoy that peace? 

Rejoice.  I say again: Rejoice!  Even when things are tough, praise the Lord.  This magnifies God and when God is big in our lives, it will make our problems look small.  It keeps our minds in the right place as we will see in a minute.  We need to remember that the Lord is near.

Do not be anxious.  Do not be anxious about anything.  Anxiety and worry, a troubled heart, these come along with being human and living in this world, and then God comes along and He tells us not to be anxious.  How do I get around being anxious when it is part of the human condition?

Prayer.  Don’t be anxious, but instead, pray.  Worry and anxiety is of the flesh, but prayer is of the spirit.  We are to put to death the flesh and be alive in our spirit.  By prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  Why do we spend so much time worrying about things that we cannot control?  Who can control it?  God can.  Bring your burdens to God. 

John 14:27 (NIV) 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

 Jesus says that He gives us His peace.  If Jesus gives us his peace, how good is that peace?  It is an extraordinary peace.  It is a peace that surpasses, transcends all understanding.  It is a peace that  guards our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.  He gives us the Holy Spirit to guide us.

 John 14:26 (NIV) 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

The Counselor, also called the Comforter comes from the Greek word Paracletos, one who comes alongside to help.  It can be translated as Comforter, Advocate, or Intercessor.  He comforts us.  He comes to help us.  He prays for us.  He pleads our case. 

Jesus said it this way in John 14, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”  How are we to arrive at such peace?  We simply need to do what Jesus asks.  He continues, “Believe in God, believe also in me.”  We need to believe in Jesus.  We need to live by faith, because without faith, it is impossible to please God.  Jesus was always getting on the disciples, “Where is your faith?”  “Oh, you of little faith.”  The first step to peace is faith.

Matt 11:28-30 (NIV) 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Are you burdened, tired, weary?  Are you anxious, worried and stressed?  Bring your burdens to Jesus and He will see you through.  He will give you the rest that you are looking for.

Tim McGraw sang a song a few years ago.  It says, “Everyone just wants to get high, sit and watch a perfect world go by.  We’re all looking for love and meaning in our lives.  We follow the roads that lead us to drugs or Jesus.”  How many have turned to drugs when what they needed was Jesus!  How many addictions are formed when we are trying to get through the burdens of our lives and we don’t know which way to turn?  The world has offered to us everything with the promise that it is what we need to make it through, to get beyond the anxiety, the worry, the loneliness, the boredom.  All of them are cheap substitutes that never satisfy.  They all fall short.  They never do cure the problem.

There is a solution that will see us through.  There is an answer that will meet our need.  It is Jesus.  It is the God of the Universe who knows all the answers and takes the time to meet us where we are and to see us through.  There is a God who offers us the opportunity to walk on water and helps us up when we begin to sink.  There is a God who cares and He is waiting on you to come.

8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Dwell on the truth.  God tells us to set our minds on the things of God. 

My friend was watching some scary movie the other night.  One of her sister got scared.  Another one was being annoying.  And one of her parents was in a bad mood.  I told her that she should have chosen a better movie, a positive one, one that would put people in a good mood.

We need to spend our time and our energy focusing on what is true and pure and right.  We need to think on the good things in life.  We need to quit giving time to the things of this world that are so negative, all of the negative influences that drag us down.  We need to quit spending so much time listening to all the things that are running us down and we need to listen to what God is saying.

J. Arthur Rank, an English executive, decided to do all his worrying on one day each week. He chose Wednesdays. When anything happened that gave him anxiety and annoyed his ulcer, he would write it down and put it in his worry box and forget about it until next Wednesday. The interesting thing was that on the following Wednesday when he opened his worry box, he found that most of the things that had disturbed him the past six days were already settled. It would have been useless to have worried about them.

Follow a godly example.  9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.  Paul encourages his people to follow his example.  In another place, he said, “Follow me, as I follow Jesus.”  We need to follow the example of Christ.  God has a way for us to live and it is a way that we can be proud of.  It is a way that we can stand on and know that we can have confidence in God, because we are right with him.

Our fear and our worry come because we do not have faith.  We do not have faith, because we do not know God and we don’t know Him because we are not in the habit of walking with Him. 

Phil 4:13 (NIV) 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

We can have the peace of God because we have confidence in God.  His word promises us that we can do what God has for us to do because God will give us the strength to accomplish those things that God has for us to do.

 Phil 4:19 (NIV) 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

God will meet all our needs.  We can count on God.  God will open a door.  God will provide.  God will give us His strength.  Bring your burdens to the Lord and let Him take care of them.  Walk in obedience and relationship with God and trust Him to take care of you.

 We have a God who loves us and takes care of us.  We can trust Him.

The Church – God’s Plan A

God looks beyond our past.  He offers grace to forgive our sins.  He desires that we all be saved.  Everyone is welcome around God’s throne and it is our responsibility, yours and mine, to make sure everyone gets there.  The church is God’s Plan A for reaching the world and there is no plan B.

 

The church truly is a great plan.  God has made it possible for us to succeed in sharing the Gospel and we are equipped with the power of God to accomplish His task, as long as we are faithful to do our part.  God has equipped the church in many ways.  There are a variety of people and gifts and talents and even attitudes and it is going to take all of us to succeed.

 

At a meeting of the American Psychological Association, Jack Lipton, a psychologist at Union College, and R. Scott Builione, a graduate student at Columbia University, presented their findings on how members of the various sections of 11 major symphony orchestras perceived each other. The percussionists were viewed as insensitive, unintelligent, and hard-of-hearing, yet fun-loving. String players were seen as arrogant, stuffy, and unathletic. The orchestra members overwhelmingly chose “loud” as the primary adjective to describe the brass players. Woodwind players seemed to be held in the highest esteem, described as quiet and meticulous, though a bit egotistical. Interesting findings, to say the least! With such widely divergent personalities and perceptions, how could an orchestra ever come together to make such wonderful music? The answer is simple: regardless of how those musicians view each other, they subordinate their feelings and biases to the leadership of the conductor. Under his guidance, they play beautiful music.

 

If you could take a survey of the different ministries in the church, how would we perceive each other?  How would you describe the pastor and the ministers, the music ministry, the youth ministry, the children’s ministry, the men’s ministry, the women’s ministry and on and on?  Just like the orchestra, we might see the negatives in the others.  Why is it always so much easier to see the negatives?  Perhaps because we are dissatisfied with all of the things wrong with us and it helps us feel better about ourselves.

 

Regardless of the perceptions, if we would all subordinate or submit ourselves to the leadership of the conductor, our Lord Jesus Christ, we could make beautiful music together and in so many ways we are.

 

The Church is a vital part in God’s plan.  The Church is God’s ‘Plan A’ to reach this world.  God has called the church, that is you and me, to tell this world about Him and offer every soul on the planet the invitation to God’s love and to heaven.  Why would God entrust something so important to us?  Because He trusts that we can handle it.  How are we going to accomplish this?  We each have to do our part.

 

The Body of Christ and all its many parts.

1 Cor 12:12-13 (NIV) 12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

Continue through the end of the chapter

 

The Body of Christ is diverse.  There are so many people, each with their gifts.  We all have a gift from God.  If you are a Christian, you have been given a gift and you have a role to fill in the body of Christ.  If you are not using your gifts, you are handicapping the body of Christ.  You are holding the church back.

 

Now you cannot say “I do not want to hold the church back so I will sit at home.”  That will also hold the church back.  There is only one way not to hold the church back and that is to get on board.

 

This passage talks about all the excuses.  It talks about all the ones that feel overlooked.  It talks about all the ones that feel put upon.  We can all be that way, but then we must remember that we are servants and that is what we are called to.

 

Just a couple of weeks ago, I was working in the yard and a friend was coming over to help, but he was running later than I thought he should and I was getting aggravated because I was having to do the work all by myself.  Then I remembered that it was my house and my responsibility and it was for my own benefit and that I did have someone there working beside me and that was the Lord and I quit complaining and I pressed on in what I was doing and the work got better.  We are quick to throw our own pity parties.  We must remember who we are working for.  We must remember why we do the things we do.  We cannot forget the reward that waits at the end.

 

We must remember that we each have a job to do and we are all important and just because you don’t have that job, you still must do your job because it is important.  You are important.

 

God has given the church everything it needs to be successful.

1 Cor 12:18 (NIV) But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.

 

The church as a whole is a huge organization.  By one definition, every church like First Baptist combines to make up the global church.  We are a part of the global church, made up of everyone who professes Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord.

 

Even our church, First Baptist Church of Homer, La, is a large organization with 377 members.  That is a great pool of resources.

 

Our mission statement is to win people to faith in Jesus Christ through intentional evangelism, baptize them into the church body, involve them in life changing Bible study and meaningful, corporate worship, and disciple them to live in a manner that glorifies God.

 

Our first12 goal is to win people to faith in Jesus Christ.  Who are we going to win?  The town of Homer is 3,237 people.  The population of Claiborne Parish is 17,195.  Minus all the ones going to church, that leaves us with a lot of work to do.  It is going to take all of us to accomplish this goal. 

 

How are we going to accomplish this?  Intentional Evangelism. 

 

First, it will take each one of us.  God has put you where you are to be a witness to those around you, each and every day, in your neighborhood, at your work, at you school and everywhere you go.

 

Second, we accomplish this together as a church.  Nearly everything that the church does is an opportunity for the church to lead people to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.  From Worship Service to Sunday School to outreach and on and on.

 

Sunday School is a great tool for us to accomplish our purposes.  We have many gifted teachers working with all ages to teach the Bible.  It is a great place where every member can work together to invite friends and get to know one another and share life together. 

 

Many of you in here are a part of Sunday School already.  I want to encourage you.  Teachers, keep up the good work.  Continue to study hard and bring lessons that teach, challenge and inspire your class to great things.

 

Sunday School members, you are a vital part of your class.  Make sure that you take note of who is absent each week and make a phone call to someone to let them know that they were missed.  The teacher cannot do it all.  Every member is a minister in a Sunday School class.

 

It is important that you are there every Sunday that you can.  A former college football player was sharing what it felt like to run out on his home football field with the stands full of fans.  He said it was a great boost and made the players excited and ready to play.  When the stands were empty, it was quite a let-down and it created another obstacle to overcome, even before the game began.  Church is the same way.  Just your attendance encourages others and your pastor, too.

 

1 Cor 12:27-30 (NIV) 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?

 

We all have a job to do.  You may not be the pastor or on staff or even a Sunday School teacher, but you have a responsibility.  Notice that ‘being able to help others’ is a spiritual gift.  I think that God has given this gift to almost everyone.  That is what Christianity is all about.  We are all commanded to love our neighbor. 

 

We were visiting a lady in the nursing home this week.  Even though she is in the nursing home, she is still in pretty good health.  Before we left, she said that she felt like that God was calling her to minister to her neighbors in the nursing home.  What a great attitude.  Wherever I am planted, I will serve the Lord.  Whatever I can do, I will serve the Lord.  I was just thinking a few months ago, “I wonder if anyone has ever moved into a nursing home so that they could be a missionary in the nursing home.”  God has placed you in your neighborhood to be a missionary to that neighborhood.  Go for it.

The Lord’s Supper – 1 Corinthians 11:17-31

We come today to celebrate our Lord’s Supper.  It is a celebration to remember what he has done for us.  It was instituted and begun by him in his final evening on this earth as he celebrated another feast of God’s grace for his people.  It is a time for us to remember how he gave his life for us, with his body being broken and his blood being poured out to save us from our sins.

 

The gospels tell us of how Jesus and his disciples celebrated the first Lord’s Supper.  They had gathered together to celebrate the Passover, which was the Jewish feast to remember how God had saved the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.  Moses was told to have every Israelite household smear the blood of a lamb on the doorposts of his house so that when the tenth plague on Egypt occurred, their house would not be affected.  As the Lord went through Egypt and saw the blood on the door, he spared the house from the death of the firstborn.  After this plague, Pharoah, the ruler of Egypt, let the Israelites go free.  Every year the Jews celebrated this occasion when God had mercy on them and rescued them from their slavery with a Passover feast.

 

Now Jesus instituted a new feast.  It is the Lord’s Supper. It is a feast to remember what He did on the cross for us.

 

Matt 26:26-30 (NIV) 26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
     
27 Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
     
30 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

 

We eat the bread, which represents the body of Christ.  As we think of the body of Christ, two images come to mind.  First is the image of his physical body and the life that he lived.  We think of how he walked this earth in a body like yours and mine.  We think of how he committed no sin with his body.  He lived a perfect and sinless life and set the example for all mankind as to the life that God desires for all of us to live.  We think of how his body was beaten and strained under the weight of the cross and how he cried out in agony as he was nailed to that cross and how that body died, taking the consequence that each one of us deserves because of our sin.

 

Second, we think of another body of Christ, the Church.  We are now the earthly body of our Lord Jesus.  We are to continue that ministry that he began as the original body of Christ.  We are to be his hands and feet.  We are to be his voice and go and tell of the love that God has for mankind.  We are to love the unlovable.  We are to serve the needy.  We are to feed the poor.  We are to heal the sick.  We are the body of Christ and we are to serve the world as he would.  We are one body and we are to be unified.  As we break bread together, we share from one loaf, which is the symbol of our unity together.  We must remain in unity if we are to accomplish what he has called us to do.

 

We drink the cup which represents his blood.  His blood is the establishment of a new covenant or promise to us.  The covenant is that if we accept his death and blood as the forgiveness of our sins and we are willing to live in him, we will be saved.  When we think of his blood, we think of the crown of thorns that was placed on his head and as they pierced his head, the blood began to run down his face.  We think of the gruesome beating that he took at the hands of the Roman soldiers, as they flogged him with a cruel whip woven with glass and bones.  We think of the spear the pierced his side and the blood and water that poured out.  We think of a death that we deserve, but that he died for us.  We also think of the forgiveness of our sins and the peace with God that is granted through that blood of our loving Savior.  Corinthians calls it a cup of thanksgiving and we should live a life of thanksgiving and obedience because of the perfect blood that was shed on Calvary’s cross so that we may be reconciled and restored to an almighty and most holy God.

 

First Corinthians 11 gives us many warnings as we receive the Lord’s Supper.  He described how the Lord’s Supper was of no benefit to them because of their sin.  In fact, it was actually harmful to them.  He spoke of the divisions that existed among them.  He spoke of the arrogance of some over others.  He speaks of a careless attitude regarding the Lord’s Supper.  He then speaks of the consequences of their sin and how many were weak, sick, and even dead because of their sin.

 

1 Cor 11:17-31 (NIV) 17 In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. …20 When you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, 21 for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk. 22 Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing?

     27 Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment.

As we prepare for the Lord’s Supper, we must examine our own lives and search our hearts and confess our sin to God and to one another.  If you have something against someone in this church, you need to get it right before you take the Lord’s Supper.  If you have mistreated your brother or sister-in-Christ, you need to ask their forgiveness before you receive the Lord’s Supper.  If you are holding on to sin in your life, you need to confess it. 

 

 If there are things in your life that are coming before God, the Bible calls these idols and you cannot share in the sacrifice on this altar if you are bowing down to an idol on another altar.  Jesus Christ must be the number one priority in your life and everything must fall in behind him.  You must stop sinning and return to God.  There is no place for sin the life of God’s people.

 

 Let us come before his table with a pure heart that we may enjoy complete communion with Him and with one another.  Take this time to pray to him, confess your sin and renew your relationship to him.

My Blog

Welcome to my blog.

I am new to this so I hope it goes well.

I am going to use this as a place to post the notes from my sermons.  It is my hope that you will enjoy reading them and that if there is a thought that you want to share with someone that you would.

I make no promises on timeliness, but I will do my best.

I hope you enjoy it.

Brian