Tag Archives: God

Be Encouraged – God Has Promised

This is the text to Pastor Thomason’s Wednesday night Bible study.

Be certain to pray as a family, sing praises to God and read all the scripture noted in this
attachment. Discuss the scripture. Grow in Christ together.

Coronavirus Numbers Update
Current numbers updated in red. At the time of my writing this to you last week more
than 400,000 (932,760 today’s total) people worldwide have been infected with the
Coronavirus. At least 18,000 (46,840 today’s total) people have died. The death rate per
persons infected varies from 3.5% to 4.5%, depending upon your source. Italy has the
highest number of deaths at 6,077 (13,155 today’s total) with 63,927 (110,574 today’s
total) number of cases. In the United States there have been 43,214 (212,980 today’s
total) reported cases with 533 (4,759 today’s total) deaths. This means that 1.23%
(2.23% today’s total) of all those infected in our country die.

The president has requested of us that we self-quarantine through April 30 th . We may or
may not find that this date will be extended into the month of May. Only those
businesses deemed “essential” are still allowed to work. Grocery stores and gas stations
continue to remain open as do take out food facilities. The goal is to reduce personal
interaction with one another. There are indications that self-quarantining has been
helpful in drastically reducing the spread of the Coronavirus.

That said, the world as we knew it has changed very quickly. Things that we never
dreamed of seeing are happening. Some shelves at grocery stores are empty. Our
stores used to have an overabundance of bread, eggs, milk, meat and paper products.
Now we are blessed if we find these items available.

Last week I asked the question, “So, as a Child of God, what do we do?” I bring to your
remembrance that as a child of God we are not to despair. 2 Corinthians 4:8 tells us, We
are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;”
There will be many times throughout our lifetime that we will be presented with situations
that perplex (cause to be puzzled or bewildered over what is not understood or certain)
but that should not then be allowed to grow into despair. Despair is to have no hope (the
complete loss or absence of hope.) This is antithetical (mutually incompatible) to what
scripture tells the child of God. Again Romans 15:4, ready begin (quote it.)

“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”

Remember last week I encouraged us to not focus on the storm going on around you.
That storm could be the Coronavirus or something else but do not allow yourself to be in
fear of that. Remember, do not complain about your current storm but rather, learn to be
the student and not the victim. Take time to ask God what he is doing. But only if you
truly believe that he is in full control of your life, which He is.

So, what do we do? We do what we can! Here are some suggestions.

1. Check on your elderly neighbors but do not overwhelm them with your contact of
phone calls or texts. Find out if they need groceries. Find some way to bring a
smile to their face.

2. Contact your friends in the medical field and ask if they are doing okay. Let them
know you appreciate their efforts.

3. If you are the designated shopper, keep your distance from one another, cough
into your arm. Wear gloves and or a mask.

Do not focus on the things you cannot do. This can become frustrating.
Read Romans chapter 8. As a child of God, we have many promises, here are just four:

1. We Are Free of Condemnation – Romans 8:1
Owe are no longer under the condemnation or our sin for it has been satisfied by
Jesus Christ. We are no longer under the penalty of punishment. Did you know
that no one can serve the imposed jail sentence for someone else? The laws of all
the states decree that when someone is convicted of a crime, that person is to
receive the actual conviction that will go on his or her record and if jail time is
given, the person who received the jail sentence must actually serve the time.
God paid our penalty on the cross. He was our substitute, 1 John 2:1-2. He is our
propitiation.

2. God is For Us – Romans 8:31
If you have ever played sports for a school you are aware of the difference of
playing for the “home crowd” verses the “away crowd.” There is just something
about playing for the home crowd. The encouragement you receive from it and
how it causes you to play just a little bit harder. This is a poor analogy attempting
to illustrate what we have in Christ in knowing that he is for us. Oh, praise God
that he is not against us. That said, read James 4:6 and consider what the author
was saying to the child of God.

3. We Are Conquerors – Romans 8:37
The dictionary defines conqueror as – a person who vanquishes; victor. Matthew
Henry said that as conquerors we have little loss. He continued that in fact we
have great gain. He added that the spoils are exceedingly rich and these are
glory, honor and peace. Consider what all earthly conquerors had in common. All
were defeated in battle or in death. In other words, as a child of God, with Him, we
win!

4. Nothing Can Separate Us from Jesus Christ – Romans 8:38-39
The Apostle Paul recorded several things to consider that cannot separate us
from the Love of Jesus Christ. There are no angels or rulers that can separate us
from Jesus Christ. There is nothing that is currently happening or something that
is going to happen that can separate us from the love of Jesus Christ. There is no
mountain height or valley low that can separate us from the love of Jesus Christ. If it were possible to kill my God then you could separate His love from us, but as
someone said, “Death cannot kill what never dies.”

Be encouraged. God is still on the throne. Do not allow what you do not know to
cause you to fear. Read Philippians 4:8.

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Here are some scriptures to meditate on and to memorize.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6)

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isaiah  41:10)

Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble. The Lord will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies. The Lord will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness.” (Psalm 41:1-3)

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies.” (Psalm 103:2-4)

“Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of
God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

I Am in Trouble Now

If I can just learn what I know. I know that God is in control.

“O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!” (Deuteronomy 32:29)

I know that he has promised to keep me safe.

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.” (Psalm 91:1-2)

I know he has promised to never forsake me.

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5)

I know he has promised to supply all my need.

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

So why do I make the choices I do? Why do I have so much trouble navigating through this life and all of its decisions. The key is we need to allow God and His Word to be the basis for all of our decisions. Th problem is too many times we make decisions without ever seeking His will.

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations.” (James 1:2)

One preacher said, “when troubling times come, be a student, not a victim.” He
continued, “A victim says, why did this happen to me? A student says, what can I learn
from this? A victim complains he is being treated unfairly. A student thanks God he is
not being treated as he deserves. A victim tries to get even with those who have hurt
him. A student seeks to serve others in the midst of his difficulty. A victim believes this
life and the world is against him. A student believes God is at work even in the worst
situations.”

Bad things are going to happen. It does not mean that you are not in God’s will. God
uses the bad times of life to grow us for His purpose. We need to learn to see these
times in our life as opportunities to draw closer to Him. The key is in how we react to
each dilemma of life as they occur.

(Note: Like the Apostles did so often, I draw you to remembrance. While we are
truly in troubling times, God is not troubled.)

The point is clear, while we are rarely in control of what happens to us, we can
always choose how we will respond. Sometimes we will make the wrong choice and
pay a heavy price for our mistake. Often, we will not learn the correct lessons until we
can look back and see how God was at work in our trials.

Something like that happened to a woman named Naomi. You find her story in the Old
Testament book of Ruth. It is a story that starts with misery and ends with joy. This
small book contains only 85 verses and yet it covers a vast range of human emotions,
beginning with heartache and then ending in happiness. Along the way we watch as
God, works behind the scenes. He is the God who works in, through and sometimes in
spite of the decisions we make.

(What is God doing through this time of Coronavirus? What is He teaching us?)
The opening verses set the scene for us: Ruth 1:1-5

“Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons. And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehemjudah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there.  And Elimelech Naomi’s husband died; and she was left, and her two sons. And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years. And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband.” (Ruth 1:1-5)

From our text we can learn three lessons that will help us navigate the troubling times of
life. Romans 15:4 Ready begin…quote it.

“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”

1. Troubling Times Can Happen at Any Time

The book of Ruth opens tying this story to a particular time and place: “Now it came to
pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land.” Verse 1.
This means the story took place after Joshua’s death and before Saul became king.
When we read the book of Judges, we may be tempted to think it was a godless time,
but that would not be entirely correct. We should think of it as a time when “every man
did that which was right in his own eyes.” Judges 21:25.

As long as the judges ruled, the people served the Lord. But when a judge died, the Jews turned to idolatry. It was a recurring cycle of obedience, disobedience, judgment, suffering, desperation(troubling times) and returning to the Lord.

In Deuteronomy 28:14 Moses warned the people that if they refused to obey the Lord,
God would curse the land: “The Lord shall make the rain of the land powder and dust:
from heaven shall it come down upon thee. Until thou be destroyed.” That means the
famine in the Promised Land did not just happen. It was not just a natural disaster. God
used the famine to send a message to His people.

Some people wonder if God speaks to us today. The answer is absolutely He does.
God can speak to us in many ways and many times He uses circumstances of our life to
get our attention. God knows how to get through to any of us at any time.

2. Troubling Times Compel Us to Make Hard Choices

If you are Elimelech, what do you do when a famine impacts your family? I am told that
the land around Bethlehem was some of the most fertile ground in the Promised Land.
A man who worked hard could harvest enough each year to take care of his family.
What do you do when a famine troubles your land? For Elimelech the answer was
simple. He took his family and moved to Moab because it was a land of good soil and
plenty of rainfall. Perhaps he could stay for a few months or even a year or two until the
famine was ended. It appears from the text that things worked out for a while. They
settled in the “country of Moab” and found plenty to eat. Surely, they thought that the
trouble of the famine they had left was over.

But soon Elimelech dies. We are not told how or why, only that he died in Moab, leaving
Naomi without a husband and the two boys without a father. Eventually they married
Moabite women; one named Orpha and the other named Ruth. Then the two sons die
and are buried in Moab and before you know it many years have passed. How true that
is. I read a story of a person that wrote their own obituary, it read, “I was born, I blinked
and it was over.”

Verse 1 notes that Elimelech intended to emigrate to Moab for a “sojourn” (a temporary
stay) meaning he never intended to leave Judah forever. This was a temporary more
into foreign territory. A decision made under great duress. But God was very clear that the Israelites were to have nothing to do with the Moabites. “An Ammonite or Moabite
shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord: even to their tenth generation shall
they not enter into the congregation of the Lord for ever: (6) Thou shalt not seek their
peace nor their prosperity all thy days for ever.” Deuteronomy 23:3, 6. Our circumstance
does not allow us the right to go against the statues of the Lord.

I believe Elimelech did not intend to leave the Lord by migrating to Moab, but it
was a reckless move at best. Moab was a foe of Israel. It originated with Lot’s
incestuous relationship with his daughters as seen in Genesis 19:30-38. He was leaving
the land of blessing to live among the pagans on the east side of the Dead Sea. He and
his family would be exposed to the Moabite religion with its idol worship and its sexual
perversion. I think Elimelech understood the risk but considered this move a temporary
expedient move for the sake of his family. (Human reasoning).

Geoff Thomas, a Baptist preacher said this, “The problem in Israel was not the lack of
bread. The problem was the lack of obedience to Jehovah.” This was not the first time
of famine in the land flowing with milk and honey, and it would not be the last.

Remember, good motives will not cancel the impact of bad decisions. Everyone
has rules that we must abide by. We all have rules that we do not like. It is not a
question of whether you like the rules or agree with them. The only question is, will you
obey them? You are free to have your own opinion, but you are not free to disobey
without consequences.

Motives matter, but in real life obedience matters more.
You cannot run from your problems because your problems will follow you
wherever you go. Human nature wants us to run from our problems. We do not like
what is going on in our life and our answer is to move. Remember, a change of
scenery does not produce a change of heart. Whatever you were before is what
you will be wherever you go next.

We all feel the urge to change things when we
encounter problems. Whether it is a new job or a new career. Moving into a new house
or into a new neighborhood. Or if our church does not go the way we like and we want a
new pastor. We think if only we could make a fresh start, things would improve.
Sometimes that is true. It is not that change is always bad. But change can be an
excuse not to face the problems of life head on. Running away from our trouble rarely
makes things better.

Elimelech thought he would go to Moab, stay until the famine passed and then come
back home (sojourn.) But it did not go as he had planned. By verse five of chapter one
Naomi had buried her husband and then her two sons. His wrong decision meant he
never made it back home. Samuel Cox, a Baptist preacher in the 18 th century in the
London area said this, “Elimelech lost his life while seeking a livelihood, and found a
grave where he had sought a home.”

At the end of our text (verse five) we find Naomi still in Moab. She is far from her
homeland and is coping with the loss of her husband and her sons. She is in a land that
she should not be. She is separated from God’s people and is now facing the consequences of her husband’s unwise decision. It is an understatement to say that she
was not in an ideal situation. Surely, she must have thought, “I am in trouble now.”

3. Troubling Times Prepare Us for a Great Work of Grace

Oswald Chambers wrote about the “dance of circumstance,” (author of “my Utmost for
his Highest) by which he meant the hand of God working through seemingly random
events. Who raised up the judges? God did. Who sent the famine? God did. Who gave
safe passage to Moab? God did. Who decided the three men of the family should die
there? God did. As far as we know, God never spoke directly to Elimelech, yet you
recognize it is the Unseen Hand of God moving behind the events.

Whatever you may say about your life, do not ever forget that God oversees the tiniest of details. Nothing escapes his notice and even the most unlikely events are part of his plan for you.

Illustration: I am reminded of the story I have told you before. It was a time while I was attending Bible college. I was working part-time jobs to make ends meet. One of the
jobs I had was delivering pizza. The afternoon after school Alice and I went shopping
and had spent all of our money for groceries. It was not until we returned home that
Alice realized that we had forgotten to get cereal for our children. I told Alice not to
worry. “I will pick some up tonight after delivering pizzas with the tip money I get.” About
11:00 PM I had a delivery to a large warehouse. I had just dropped off the pizzas and
was going out the door when one of the men said to take any two boxes of my
choosing. I was a bit confused until I turned and saw a shelf with all sorts of cereal
boxes on it. I was in a cereal warehouse. I immediately recognized what God had done
but it was on my way home that I understood that God sees all my problems. Nothing
catches him by surprise.

When the family left Bethlehem, there were four of them, three men and one woman:
Elimelech, Naomi, Mahlon and Chilion. But now Naomi is faced with the fact that she
has buried all the men of her family in the mountains of Moab. When she discusses her
situation with Orpah and Ruth, Naomi declares that God has turned his hand against
her when she said, “…the hand of the Lord is gone out against me.” Ruth 1:13.

So, you ask, in what sense is Naomi preparing for a great work of grace? As our text
ends, Naomi is still in Moab, far from home (figuratively and spiritually), coping with the
loss of her husband and her sons. She is where she should not be (in a pagan land),
separated from God’s people, facing the consequences of her husband’s unwise
decision. She is an older widow, in the company of two younger widows. It was not an
ideal place for her to be in.

Her story spells HOPELESS. Naomi is stuck in Moab. She is now a widow with no hope
of ever having another child. She has two younger widows, her daughters-in-law by her
side. To cap it off, her daughters-in-law are not Jews but Moabites. As far as Naomi is
concerned, not only does she have no future, but neither do they if they stay with her.

Whenever you read the book of Ruth you need to do it without knowing how the story
ends. We face the same challenge when we read about Joseph in the book of Genesis.
How much did Joseph know about the end of the story when his brothers cast him into
the pit in Genesis 37? The answer is nothing. Ask the same question when he is carted
off by the Midianites and then sold as a slave to Potiphar. How much did he know about
the future when Potiphar’s wife falsely accused him of rape? Or when Potiphar had him
thrown into jail? Or when the cupbearer promised to remember him but instead forgot
about him while he wasted in an Egyptian prison? The answer is the same. And yet God
had a plan. “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to
bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” Genesis 50:20. Joseph had
no advance knowledge that he (a Hebrew slave) would eventually be second in
command in Egypt.

One preacher asked, “Does God have a blueprint for my life? Yes, but there is only one
copy, and it is locked up on the second floor of the administration building in heaven
and I do not know any way you can get a copy.” We are not given advance notice of
what tomorrow will bring. That is true for all of us, rich and poor, young and old, new
child of God and mature child of God. We all must take life as it comes to us, one day at
a time.

Naomi still believes in God, even in a foreign land, cut off from her own people. If she is
bitter at the Lord, at least she had not turned from Him. At best, she is a bruised
believer, brokenhearted at what she has lost. Perhaps like some today. If we
heartlessly say, she got what was coming to her,” we only reveal how little we
understand about God’s heart. He is rich in grace, and if he had pockets, they would be
deep and full of mercy.

God has not given up on Naomi, no matter what she may think about him. He has big
plans that are about to unfold. Little does she know that one day she will hold a baby in
her lap who will be the grandfather of King David. Even less would it be possible for her
to imagine that her daughter-in-law Ruth (a Moabite maiden) will end up in the lineage
of the Messiah.

Her sadness will be turned to joy and she will discover that where sin abounds, grace
did much more abound. But that day has not come for her yet.
Our encouragement today is this. Do not despair and say, “I am in trouble now.” Know
this, we serve a God who can take the worst and turn it into the best because that is the
kind of God He is. Give God time to work. He knows what He is doing when we do not
have a clue. Trust Him. Trust Him during this time of Coronavirus.

Free But Servant To All

Pastor Thomason recently preached from Romans 14 about Christian liberty. The Bible makes it clear that we are not under the law.

“For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:14)

We have liberty having been freed from the curse of the law by Christ who was our perfect law-keeper and who met the demands of the law on our behalf. The text in Romans 14 deals with judging others for using their freedom differently then we use ours.

While we are free the Bible also teaches that we are servant to all. We are to serve one another and live our lives for the benefit of the brethren.

“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13)

“Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:16)

In Acts 15 a council was called in Jerusalem to consider what was required from the Gentile believers. The answer was given by James.

Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.” (Acts 15:19-20)

The argument was that since they were justified by faith why put them under the law which was a burden that even the Jews couldn’t keep. James said the Gentiles had to abstain from a few things but why?

The answer is unity. There were tensions in the Jewish/Gentile church and many Jews were trying to bring them under the law. James didn’t take away the liberty of the Gentiles but instead affirmed it then advised they abstain from certain things offensive to the Jews.

Often times we boast in our liberty yet we forget that things we enjoy in liberty others cannot and we may weaken the faith of our brother.

But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. Let not then your good be evil spoken of: For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.” (Romans 14:15-21)

We have tremendous liberty in Christ but with that liberty comes great responsibility to act in a manner that conveys love for our brother. The faith of others is more important than the liberty we possess. All things must be done in love looking to the things of others before our own things.

Resolutions

New Years time is the time for resolutions. We all now how it goes don’t we? We resolve to lose weight, stop swearing, read our Bibles more or whatever it is and by the end of January it’s all over, if it even lasts that long.

I want to encourage us today to make some valuable resolutions for the coming year. I don’t want to challenge you as much as to invite you to join me in making these resolutions because these are my resolutions.

These are areas that I need to work on and I’m willing to bet that you do too. If we will practice these I believe we will find that at the end of the year we will look back at a year of more victory in our Christian lives. These 5 resolutions are important keys to successful Christian living.

In 1896 a book was written called In His Steps. It’s a terrific book that I wholeheartedly recommend and while it makes good fiction it struggles in real world application.

The book is about a pastor who challenges his church to not do anything for an entire year without first asking themselves what would Jesus do if He were in this situation. This led to a cultural slogan in the 90’s which was WWJD or What would Jesus do?

It made it’s way into bracelets, bumper stickers, shirts, hats and all manner of Christian merchandise. The failure was not with the slogan but with our amazing ability to justify ourselves in any situation. The problem is that we felt that we were good Christians so if we did it or said it then of course Jesus would as well.

We rationalized that anything we did is what Jesus would do no matter how un-christian that thing would be. All of our anger was righteous anger, punch the wall? Jesus toppled tables. Hit someone? Jesus used whips. Surround ourselves with unsaved friends? Jesus ate with sinners. Cuss people out? Jesus used strong language against His enemies.

Jesus became our homie, our cool hip friend who was okay with anything we did. The slogan failed because we rationalized everything we did as something Jesus would do. These resolutions are similar to the WWJD challenge but they are taken directly from Scripture and leave little wiggle room to rationalize.

I want to give us 5 verses and challenge us not to do or say anything this year without first asking can I do or say this in light of these specific verses?

1. Do and say to others as you want them to do and say to you. (Matthew 7:12)

“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”

The golden rule. This is probably one of the most famous verses in the Bible. Even among the unbelieving world. It’s very basic truth and should be a regular guide for all Christian behavior. Treat others the way we want to be treated.

We far too often treat people the way they actually treat us but that’s not what Jesus is saying here. He isn’t even saying to treat others the way we know they would treat us. Those ways of dealing with people are common in the world.

We are to go against that and treat others like we would want to be treated if we were in their place. I fail miserably at this. There is a reason it’s a resolution for me.

This changes how we interact with each other and with unbelievers. In fact this will change entirely how we act online where it’s easy to get behind a keyboard and lie about ourselves or slander others. Before we say or do anything we have to ask if we would want this said or done to us.

Before we get angry with the bad service at the restaurant and complain to the manager we need to ask would I want someone to complain about me? What if it’s their first day? What if their child recently died? There is so much we don’t know. We need to react with the same grace we would want.

I want to challenge you this coming year to not do anything to anyone without first asking yourself: would I want someone to do this to me? Don’t say anything to anyone or about anyone without first asking yourself: would I want someone to say this to or about me?

2. Don’t Worry about Anything, Pray about Everything. (Philippians 4:6)

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”

I want to focus on the phrase “be careful for nothing.” In modern language that means don’t worry about anything. What Paul is telling us is don’t worry about anything pray about everything. That’s the resolution.

One of my besetting sins is worry. My mom always tried to normalize worry by saying it was her job to worry. The truth is that worry is a sin. It’s an accepted sin in most circles so we don’t stigmatize it like others but it’s a sin far too common among Christians.

“…for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” (Romans 14:23b)

Worry is the enemy of faith. Faith is trust, settled, confidant trust in God. Worry is to take upon ourselves concern for the future. Worry is not settled and it’s not confident.

Remember the account in Luke 8 of the apostles and the Lord in the boat during the storm? The were terrified thinking they were going to die and Jesus was asleep in the boat. He was completely confident.

You say, “Well He was the Son of God” True but can we trust our Father any less that Jesus. In fact in our salvation the Father treats us as He treats Jesus. Should our confidence be less than His? Jesus woke up and stilled the storm and then asked a stunning question in Luke 8:25, “Where is your faith?” He expected them to have the same trust He did.

What if He asked us that very question tonight? When we worry we worry over things we have no control over, but God does. Are we worried that He will do something bad for us? Are we worried He has forgotten us? If the answer is no then why worry?

When we worry we concern ourselves with a future we don’t know, but God does. Are we afraid something has escaped His notice? If not then why worry?

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” Corrie Ten Boom

Worry denies the sovereignty of God. If we really believe that God is sovereign which means over all things and in complete control of all things and if we believe that this sovereign God is good and is working out a plan in our lives to conform us to the image of His Son then why would we worry?

Paul commands us not to worry about anything but he doesn’t stop there. He is not saying be passive because he gives us something else to engage in besides worry. He says to pray about everything. Take the problems or concerns to the one who said in Matthew 28 that all authority in heaven and earth is given to Him.

“And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” (Daniel 4:35)

“In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” (Ephesians 1:11)

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

“What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32)

When we worry we fundamentally deny the God described in these verses. Resolve with me this year to not worry about anything but pray about everything and when we pray don’t check it off like a list.

Don’t say I prayed so now I can worry. Partial obedience is disobedience. Leave the worry there. If you struggle with it pray the prayer of the centurion in Mark 9:24 “I believe help my unbelief.”

3. Have a mind of humility. (Philippians 2:5)

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”

This point comes in the middle of what Paul is saying. Look at verses 3-4:

“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”

Paul is telling them to not do anything through selfish ambition or conceit but rather in humility to consider others as better than themselves. He follows that up by telling them how its done, by looking to the interests of others over their own interests.

Then we come to verse 5 where he tells them to have this same mind that was in Christ Jesus. We hear preaching on humility all the time and it seldom makes a difference because we all believe we are humble.

Some of the proudest people I know believe in their heart of hearts that they are the most humble person on earth. The command to be humble isn’t enough because we are often self deceived.

So Paul holds up Christ as the ultimate example. If we compare ourselves to others we can justify our false humility but not compared to Jesus. So what was the mind of Christ that should be in us? Look at verse 6:

“Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

Christ was the only person deserving glory and honor and He lowered Himself and became a servant to those who should have been His servant. None of us are deserving of the place of honor that Christ is.

If Christ deserved honor and made Himself a servant then we should never lift ourselves over others. Even if we believe that we deserve something we don’t deserve what Christ did. This year we need to make ourselves servants not masters.

If your the boss then serve those under you don’t make them serve you. Don’t consider anything beneath you and if your not treated with the respect you think you deserve treat them with the respect you think you deserve.

This year look to the interests of others before our own, consider everyone we meet as better than ourselves, treat everyone with the honor and respect we think we deserve.

4. In Everything Give Thanks. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

This is a hard one. It can be easy to be joyful in bad circumstances or even content in bad circumstances but this verse actually commands us to give thanks for everything, good or bad.

I have heard men stand up and testify that they are thankful for being in prison knowing they wouldn’t have sought the Lord without it. Thanks flows from realizing that good came out of the bad situation.

So how do we give thanks for everything? The key is Romans 8:28. In that verse we are told that all things work together for good to those who love God. All things all the time work for our good.

This is why we need to give thanks for everything because God is using everything good or bad to conform us to the image of Christ. This year let’s give thanks for everything that comes our way.

From the bonus check to the car accident. From the birth in the family to the death in the family. This command will change how we react to everything if we obey it.

5. Do Everything in the name of the Lord Jesus. (Colossians 3:17)

“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”

This will change our lives if we apply it consistently. If we only did things that bring glory to God or said things that bring glory to God. You can’t commit adultery in the name of Jesus, or do drugs in the name of Jesus, or get drunk or watch pornography in the name of Jesus.

You also can’t gossip in the name of Jesus. You can’t backbite or speak against others in the name of Jesus. You can’t be rude to your spouse in the name of Jesus.

A lot would change in our lives if we ran everything we said or did by this one filter: does it bring glory to God? Can I do it in the name of the Lord Jesus?

Conclusion:

These 5 verses are resolutions for the coming year. I want to encourage you to adopt these and post them up somewhere.

How much would change in our families and our church as a whole if we didn’t do anything or say anything this coming year without first asking ourselves: is it in line with these verses?

Do and say to others as you want them to do and say to you.

Don’t worry about anything instead pray about it.

Become a servant. Consider everyone as better than yourself, look to the interests of others before your own and treat everyone with the respect you fell you should be treated.

Give thanks for everything…everything. This will eliminate a lot of complaining.

Whatever you do in word or action do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus. If you can’t say I am doing such and such to the glory of God or in the name of Jesus then don’t do it.

What was God Doing in the Christmas Story? (Part 2)

The place of His youth. (Matthew 2:23)

“And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.”

Now this is an interesting verse. It’s often used by enemies of Christ to prove the Bible is wrong. The reason is that there is no verse in the Old Testament that predicts the Messiah will be a Nazarene. Let me tell you what I believe this means.

The town of Nazareth comes from the word netser which means branch or sprout. Now follow me on this. Matthew didn’t say it was spoken by the prophet singular, but the prophets plural. The other prophecies were by a single prophet but this one was by more than one prophet.

Where is it spoken that the Messiah would be a netserene or a branch or sprout. It was spoken by several prophets, plural.

“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.” (Isaiah 11:1)

“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.” (Jeremiah 23:5)

“In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land.” (Jeremiah 33:15)

“Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the Branch.” (Zechariah 3:8)

“And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The Branch; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord.” (Zechariah 6:12)

He is a yes to the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Zechariah.

The trip to Egypt. (Matthew 2:13-15)

“And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.”

Herod hears from the wise men that the King of the Jews had been born. Fearful for the loss of power he tries to destroy the child. He kills all the male children 2 years old and under. Joseph is warned to go to Egypt until the king dies and it’s safe to return.

Why Egypt? The reason is that it was prophesied by the prophet Hosea.

“When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.” (Hosea 11:1)

This was based on a historical event that served as a type of the coming Christ. Everything in the Old Testament points to the coming Messiah even the Exodus from Egypt. We also see God using normal means to accomplish prophecy.

Just like He used a tax to bring them to Bethlehem, God uses the evil desire of the King as a means to take them to Egypt so that He can call them back out.

Also note that Egypt had once been a place of death for Israelite males but now it serves as a place of refuge for the holy child Jesus. God can make a river in the desert and bring calm in the midst of a storm.

He is a yes to the prophet Hosea.

The Rage of the King. (Matthew 2:16-18)

“Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.”

The King orders the murder of all males 2 years old and under. This fulfills a prophecy about Rachel weeping for her children. Rachel here the mother of Israel weeping for her children. This refers back to Jeremiah 31.

Jeremiah is writing about the carrying away of Israel into captivity by the Babylonians.

“Thus saith the Lord; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.” (Jeremiah 31:15)

As the captives marched past the tomb of Rachel she is said to be weeping over them but not just about the captivity. Many of them would return this was looking forward to this event when the children of Rachel would be slaughtered.

In that same chapter Jeremiah talks about the new covenant that God would make with His people and here we have not only the fulfillment of this prophecy about Rachel weeping but it’s at the birth of the Messiah who would initiate this new covenant with His on blood.

He is the yes to the prophet Jeremiah.

I could go on and on. At the death of Jesus and throughout the ministry of Jesus we see many more fulfilled prophecies. We have many examples of the yes that Jesus is to all of God’s promises.

What God was doing in the Christmas story was showing that His word was trustworthy and that He could be trusted to fulfill His promises. He kept His word about the coming of Messiah so they could trust Him about the sacrifice of Messiah.

We can look back and see that He kept His promises about the death of Christ and trust that all He promised us in Christ He will likewise fulfill.

What was God Doing in the Christmas Story? (Part 1)

I love the story of Christmas. It’s a beautiful story that only God could tell. It’s a story that only God could write. We know the basics of the story, it’s all very familiar to us. I don’t want to hit on the basics I want to dwell for a few minutes on the facts less talked about.

I don’t have a single text because we will be all over the place but if I had to have a set text from which to jump into the subject it would be Galatians 4:4-5:

“But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”

What we have in the Christmas story is the middle chapter a longer story. It’s kind of a bridge between the types and shadows and the fulfillment. The story began in Genesis 3:15 with the prophecy from God Himself that a Savior would be coming.

From there a foundation is laid throughout the Old Testament with types and figures of the fulfillment of this great promise. How could such a Savior come to fulfill these types that we see played out in story form across the Hebrew Scriptures?

It’s clear you would need a separate story to bridge the promises and the fulfillment. Certain prophecies were written into the story hinting at what that bridge would look like. Prophecies hinting at how such a Savior would come.

Then we get to the birth of Jesus and we begin to see these prophecies played out in real life. God was doing more in the birth of Jesus then giving the world a Savior. He was keeping His word and demonstrating that He was faithful to bring this Savior.

Have you ever noticed the emphasis God places in the Old Testament on His previous works? The Psalms which were the songs sung in Israelite worship constantly recount the mighty acts of God on behalf of His people.

God over and over again tells the people of Israel remember when I parted the Red Sea, or delivered you from the house of bondage, or gave your fathers manna in the wilderness. His keeping of his word became the evidence that they should trust Him in the future.

This is what Christmas is about. Jesus and the events of His birth are the proof that God keeps His word.

“For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” (2 Corinthians 1:20)

All the promises of God are yes in Jesus because in Jesus we find the great fulfillment of all that God promised. So let’s look at the Christmas story with the eye to see the the Word of God to His people fulfilled.

1. The nature of His birth. (Matthew 1:18)

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.”

After going through a list of this father begat this son Matthew comes to Jesus and he is like the birth of Jesus the Messiah was in this way. In other words not the normal way. He was born of a virgin.

This was promised by God through the prophet Isaiah 700 years before His birth. This was in Isaiah 7:14. If Jesus was born in the normal course of things then God’s promises would be void but they are yes in the birth of Jesus.

“Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” (Matthew 1:22-23)

We see these events play out in Luke 1:26-35.

“And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”

2. The place of His birth. (Luke 2:1-4)

“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David.”

The place of His birth is vital because the prophets spoke of it long before it happened. The Jewish leaders understood this, in fact even the Roman authorities knew it had been foretold.

“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.” (Matthew 2:1-6)

Where are they quoting from? They are quoting the prophet Micah.

“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” (Micah 5:2)

He had to be born in Bethlehem and then God used ordinary means to bring it about. A census was taken in order to tax the population. We often forget that God uses mundane day to day activities to accomplish His purpose.

God tells the king to take a census and the king thinks it’s his decision and doesn’t realize that God is using him to bring the Savior in the world. He is the yes to the prophet Micah.

To be continued…

In Everything Give Thanks

“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

I think this short verse holds one of the most difficult commands in the entire Bible. I know it does for me. Corrie Ten Boom struggle with obedience to this verse as well. Listen to her story.

“We lay back, struggling against the nausea that swept over us from the reeking straw.
..Suddenly I sat up, striking my head on the cross-slats above. Something had pinched my leg.
“‘Fleas!’ I cried. ’Betsie, the place is swarming with them!’
“‘Here! And here another one!’ I wailed. ‘Betsie, how can we live in such a place!’

“‘Show us. Show us how.’ It was said so matter of factly it took me a second to realize she was praying. More and more the distinction between prayer and the rest of life seemed to be vanishing for Betsie.
“‘Corrie!’ she said excitedly. ’He’s given us the answer! Before we asked, as He always does! In the Bible this morning. Where was it? Read that part again!’
“I glanced down the long dim aisle to make sure no guard was in sight, then drew the Bible from its pouch. ‘It was in First Thessalonians,’ I said. We were on our third complete reading of the New Testament since leaving Scheveningen.

“In the feeble light I turned the pages. ‘Here it is: “Comfort the frightened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all…’”
It seemed written expressly to Ravensbruck.

“‘Go on,’ said Betsie. ‘That wasn’t all.’
“‘Oh yes:’…“Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.’”
“‘That’s it, Corrie! That’s His answer. “Give thanks in all circumstances!” That’s what we can do. We can start right now to thank God for every single thing about this new barracks!’ I stared at her; then around me at the dark, foul-aired room.
“‘Such as?’ I said.
“‘Such as being assigned here together.’
“I bit my lip. ‘Oh yes, Lord Jesus!’
“‘Such as what you’re holding in your hands.’ I looked down at the Bible.

“‘Yes! Thank You, dear Lord, that there was no inspection when we entered here! Thank You for all these women, here in this room, who will meet You in these pages.’
“‘Yes,’ said Betsie, ‘Thank You for the very crowding here. Since we’re packed so close, that many more will hear!’

She looked at me expectantly. ‘Corrie!’ she prodded.
“‘Oh, all right. Thank You for the jammed, crammed, stuffed, packed suffocating crowds.’

“‘Thank You,’ Betsie went on serenely, ‘for the fleas and for–’ 

“The fleas! This was too much. ‘Betsie, there’s no way even God can make me grateful for a flea.’
“‘Give thanks in all circumstances,’ she quoted. It doesn’t say, ‘in pleasant circumstances.’ Fleas are part of this place where God has put us.
“And so we stood between tiers of bunks and gave thanks for fleas. But this time I was sure Betsie was wrong.”
“Back at the barracks we formed yet another line–would there never be an end to columns and waits?–to receive our ladle of turnip soup in the center room. Then, as quickly as we could for the press of people, Betsie and I made our way to the rear of the dormitory room where we held our worship “service.” Around our own platform area there was not enough light to read the Bible, but back here a small light bulb cast a wan yellow circle on the wall, and here an ever larger group of women gathered.
“They were services like no others, these times in Barracks 28.

“At first Betsie and I called these meetings with great timidity. But as night after night went by and no guard ever came near us, we grew bolder. So many now wanted to join us that we held a second service after evening roll call.
There on the Lagerstrasse we were under rigid surveillance, guards in their warm wool capes marching constantly up and down. It was the same in the center room of the barracks: half a dozen guards or camp police always present. Yet in the large dormitory room there was almost no supervision at all. We did not understand it.
“One evening I got back to the barracks late from a wood-gathering foray outside the walls. A light snow lay on the ground and it was hard to find the sticks and twigs with which a small stove was kept going in each room. Betsie was waiting for me, as always, so that we could wait through the food line together. Her eyes were twinkling.

“‘You’re looking extraordinarily pleased with yourself,’ I told her.
“‘You know, we’ve never understood why we had so much freedom in the big room,’ she said. ‘Well–I’ve found out.’
“That afternoon, she said, there’d been confusion in her knitting group about sock sizes and they’d asked the supervisor to come and settle it.
“But she wouldn’t. She wouldn’t step through the door and neither would the guards. And you know why?”

“Betsie could not keep the triumph from her voice: ‘Because of the fleas! That’s what she said, “That place is crawling with fleas!’”
“My mind rushed back to our first hour in this place. I remembered Betsie’s bowed head, remembered her thanks to God for creatures I could see no use for.”

The reason we can obey this particular command is in the light of Romans 8:28.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

If all things work together for our good then we can confidently give thanks for everything because no matter how bad anything seems all things work for our good and therefore deserve thanks.

 

Why Missions?

This message was preached by Dwight Tomlinson of barnabas1040.com. This ministry focuses on helping national Pastors working in the 1040 window as they establish churches in their home countries. This message was preached at First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana in March of 2016. I hope it will challenge your heart for missions.

Broken Chains

“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.” (Colossians 1:13)

One of the greatest truths in salvation is that God didn’t just forgive our sin but He actually freed us from the power of sin. Jesus said in John 8:34 that whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. Picture sin as a giant rock that we are chained to.

We can’t get away from it, we are connected to it and powerless against it’s influence. Jesus didn’t just declare us sinless before God but He actually broke the chain that bound us to our sins. The strength of sin was in the law (1 Corinthians 15:56) and Jesus fulfilled the righteous demands of the law for us (Romans 8:3-4).

We were given the nature of our father Adam from birth. When we are born again we take on the nature of the second Adam. Just as we inherited Adams guilt and sinful nature, in salvation we inherit Christ’s sinlessness and righteous nature. This means the power no longer belongs to the old man but to the new man.

If sin has power in our lives it’s because we have given the power to the old nature. Scripture commands us not to do this.

“Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Romans 6:11-16)

Each day we need to remind ourselves of the Gospel. Remind ourselves that we are no longer chained to sin. We are no longer under it’s control. We need a daily surrendering of ourselves to the new man who is renewed in righteousness.