November 13 Sermon

Blog — July 24

Once an old preacher stood up before a gathered convention of all the denomination’s delegates, where he had be asked to open the meeting with prayer.  In a room filled with hundreds of preachers and church officials, he prayed:

“Lord…..You and I both know……that if the rapture were to take place right now…..there would still be enough people here to have church.”

So pronouncing, he stepped back and took his seat.  Often times in church when words of prophecy or interpretation are given, they fall along the lines of “God loves you” and “You are accepted.”  And while these messages are good and often needed, true prophetic words can often be considerably harsher.  Such were the words here in Ezekiel.

First, he vividly describes the scene of the Glory of the Lord leaving the temple, and then he follows it up by dressing like an exile, digging a hole through the wall and escaping out of Israel.  The message was clear—judgment is coming.

It’s hard not to draw comparisons of pre-exile Israel and modern America.  Both were founded by miraculous providence, divinely protected as they grew, and rose to power as a nation known for the God they served.  But along the way, they began to despise the yoke of righteousness.  People with strong moral codes were mocked.  “Don’t tell me what I can’t do” became their mantras.  They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator.

We find ourselves in the middle of a society that has traded in their families for the illusion of success, who have replaced joy with entertainment, and who give up on love and then settle for sex.  It may be that God doesn’t judge America as harshly as Israel, but who can now say that we wouldn’t deserve it if He did.

Blog — June 30

Sennacherib, the King of Assyria, depending on his formidable army, laid siege to the fortified towns, giving orders for his army to break through their walls. He also attacked Jerusalem. This made Hezekiah take some actions that might make it difficult for Sennacherib to achieve his aim. All those efforts of Hezekiah were to no avail as Sennacherib threatened the land to destroy it. He made a wrong generalization. He believed that since the gods of other nations could not deliver their people from him the God of Israel would also not be able to deliver His people. Hezekiah, however, assured the people of Israel to disregard the mightiness of Sennacherib’s army, and rather consider that the God of Israel is mighty to save. Hezekiah the king and Isaiah the prophet prayed to God, and the Lord delivered His people and disgraced Sennacherib.

Even though Hezekiah put some efforts in place to resist Sennacherib (strengthened himself, built up the broken walls, and raised up the towers), he did not put his confidence in those things. Rather, his confidence was in the God of Israel for their deliverance. As a wise king, he partnered with the prophet of God and called on the Lord.

Hezekiah had learned over the years to depend on God and call on Him in any difficult situation. This helped him to believe that the God of Israel would still hear his prayers and heal him of his sickness. Even though the message came from a well-known prophet of God, he turned to God and recounted how he had walked faithfully with God. The Lord heard his prayer and healed him and added fifteen years to his life.

However serious or hopeless a situation may seem, the fervent prayer of a righteous man avails so much. When we are obedient to God and walk in His statutes, He demonstrates His love and will not leave us or forsake us in the day of adversity. If you call upon Him today, and put your confidence in Him, not in your own efforts, He will answer and fill your mouth with songs of praise to Him.

Blog — June 17

ATHALIAH & JOASH

Geez!  What a roller coaster the people of Israel/Judah are. Granted, the Bible can cover many years in a matter of verses, but it’s like every other chapter:  they are good and awesome with God then it seems they forget a few verses later and they are back to worshipping Baal. With all of these names being so similar, I was hoping that Athaliah was one of the good ones. I was wrong. Her whole goal was to wipe out David’s line.

She thought that she’d accomplished this task. And the people did too. It appeared like a hopeless situation. God had promised that David’s reign would be forever. Here, a woman of Baal, appeared to have defied God and done what couldn’t be done. But Athaliah and the people didn’t know all of the story– that a small child had been hidden in the temple of the Lord, of all places. For 6 years he was hidden there, protected. And on the 7th year, the priest presented him to the people. Athaliah was killed. The monuments to Baal were destroyed. Joash, the only remaining descendent of David, was king.

Joash did good. He pleased the Lord, for a time. He even tried to rebuild the temple. He didn’t get very far but he tried, right? Then after some time the priest who helped save him, Jehoiada, died. This is when Joash began to turn from God. He gave in to new ideas and peer pressure. Destruction came to the land and the kingdom only suffered.

Bottom line: be careful who you surround yourself with. Even though he came from a pretty messed up situation, Joash was a good king in the beginning because he had a good example to follow and had trusted advisors. But almost as soon as they weren’t there, he began to fall. He didn’t just screw it up for himself; he screwed it up for a whole people. How often do we give in to peer pressure from the wrong sources? How often do we need a Jehoiada? Or better yet, how often should we be someone’s Jehoiada as a positive reinforcement?

Blog — June 1

One thought leaps to my mind when I read about the prophets, Elijah & Elisha – these guys do not play games!  Evil king giving commands – no rain (or even dew) for your land!  Nothing to eat – ravens will sustain him!  Widowed without food – feed the prophet all you have left – God will fill your containers! Your son is dead – give him a moment to stretch!  Thinking that Baal brings the rain – nah, perhaps your god is daydreaming or relieving himself – come over here, he’ll show you Who really brings the rain – then he’ll show you who brings the pain!  Steal a vineyard – he’ll introduce you to some dogs! You got bad water – bring the Morton’s and he’ll make it pure!  AND please do not say anything about his hair!

God’s business is serious stuff.  I wonder how often we make a game of it?  What I mean is, how often do we take His business and make it about us – our plan, our expectation, our strategy?  All those miraculous events listed above – it’s not like the prophet had some power of his own to do those things.  Not at all.  The prophet simply knew to trust God and obey.  God will take care of His own business.  I think we are too often like Naaman:

But Naaman became angry and stalked away.  “I thought he would certainly come out to meet me!” he said.  “I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the Lord his God and heal me!  Aren’t the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than any of the rivers of Israel?  Why shouldn’t I wash in them and be healed?” So Naaman turned and went away in a rage.”

Naaman nearly missed his healing if not for the wise counsel of his faithful officers – and all because he thought he knew God’s business better than God did.  Brothers and sisters in the Lord, living out our faith as believers doesn’t have to be difficult.  Trust God and obey!  God will take care of His own business, so you and I can take care of our business – loving and leaning on Jesus.

Devotional thought

Isn’t it great when we renew a room in our house?  My son-in-law just “renewed” my upstairs bathroom.  He gutted it and replaced everything from the floor up.  It’s so modern and fresh.  God’s Word is like that.  When we read it prayerfully, it transforms us; it energizes us.  Sometimes we get our thoughts mixed up.  The Word of God divides between our soul and spirit.  He makes us new again with right thinking.  Accusatory thoughts against God (Why did you let this happen, God?), or against ourselves (How awful can you be?) or others (they did this or that) are dissolved. God’s purpose for us becomes clear again.  His laws and wishes come through.  Our purpose for living drives us in a new and positive direction.

In this busy holiday season, take time to get “renewed” each day.  Everything will go MUCH better in every way.

Devotional thought

Ephesians 6:17 tells us that God has given us the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.  The Greek word used here is Rhema.  It describes something that is spoken clearly, in definite terms.  It carries the idea of a quickened word which the Holy Spirit makes to come alive in us.  It is usually directly from the written Word of God.  As we meditate on God and His Word, the Holy Spirit will often bring a verse to the forefront in an unmistakable way.  In one case, a friend of mine experiences a rhema whenever the devil tries to deeply discourage her.  God will bring the verse, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)  It will come suddenly over the radio or TV or it will be in her readings, or someone sends her a card in the mail.  For every person it is personal.  God wants to be up front and personal with you through His rhema word.  Be on the lookout for this experience.

Devotional Thought

Dive into Ezekiel 47:1-12 closely today.  Take time to visit God’s Word as it so vividly captures a snapshot of the healing river flowing from the Temple in the prophet’s vision.  As you examine it – close your eyes and imagine it.  Feel the water as it submerges more of your body.  Think of all the spiritual implications and allusions made by these verses.  As you journey, consider these other passages as well:  Genesis 2:8-10; Psalm 1:3; Jeremiah 17:8; Zechariah 14:8; Matthew 4:18-22; John 7:38; Revelation 22:1-2.

“…so where the river flows everything will live” (Ezekiel 47:9).

Holy Spirit, help us live!

Prayer focus

As we fast today, please uplift the leadership of Trinity Chapel. 1 Peter 5:1-2, “Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God…”

Leadership of any kind comes responsibility. Each leader has to answer to God for how he/she leads. Whether it be ministry leaders, deacons, pastoral staff, especially the lead pastor, all would covet your prayers today.

Prayer Focus

Isaiah 49:6 gives us an insight to the Father’s heart.  His wish was and is to see all mankind brought to salvation.  “It is too small a thing that you should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”  Let’s pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help us reach our small part of the world with the good news that Jesus Christ ransomed us so that all who believe can see a heavenly Father rather than a righteous Judge.