Now this is not a sermon I have preached recently. It is one I am about to preach.
Matthew 25: 37-40 -- Then the good people will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and give you food …
God didn’t put us here to just watch. We are to do something. Actually, I think we are to do MORE – M.O.R.E
M – Mobilization. We need to GET GOING. Doing nothing does nothing.
James 2:14-17 -- My brothers and sisters, if people say they have faith, but do nothing, their faith is worth nothing …
But in order to do something we need …
O – Opportunity. And opportunity doesn’t just happen. We need to LOOK FOR IT. We can’t just sit back and wait for people who need us to come to us.
Philippians 4:8-9 – … Do what you learned and received from me …
"Put it into practice". In other words --- DO IT!
Whatever is true -- DO IT!
Whatever is noble -- DO IT!
Whatever is right -- DO IT!
Whatever is pure -- DO IT!
Whatever is lovely -- DO IT!
Whatever is admirable -- DO IT!
Whatever is excellant -- DO IT!
Whatever is praiseworthy -- DO IT!
That opportunity doesn’t have to be a “major, big, fat, hairy deal” either. You’re at the grocery store and it looks like rain at any moment. 2 cars down from you (or maybe even 4 or 5 cars away) is a woman with a child or two and a cart full of food …
Might there be an opportunity there?
Neighbor works out of town. He is sometimes gone weeks at a time. It’s summer. Rain has been falling. Sun has been shining. Grass has been growing …
Hmmm, may be an opportunity there too.
But opporunity has 2 sides. The first side is actually easy. As Big Weld says in the movie Robots, “See a need, meet a need.”
But the other side of opportunity is …
R – Reconciliation. Sometimes the opportunity is a bit harder to do. In order to do MORE we may have to MAKE PEACE.
Romans 12: 14, 17-19a -- Wish good for those who harm you; wish them well and do not curse them … If someone does wrong to you, do not pay him back by doing wrong to him. Try to do what … is right. Do your best to live in peace with everyone … do not try to punish others when they wrong you …
That reconciliation may be helping a family member be reconciled to Jesus. Maybe it is helping 2 people reconcile to each other. Maybe a Mother is praying for her daughter to return to God. Maybe a Father needs to get involved in the life of his child.
Or maybe you borrowed a tool that never made it back to where it came from. Nothing’s been said, but it is hindering our witness with whomever the tool’s “Daddy” is.
So to do MORE we need:
MOBILIZATION -- GET GOING
OPPORTUNITY-- LOOK FOR IT
RECONCILIATION – MAKEPEACE
And do it with …
E –Excellence. Whatever opportunity mobilizes us, DO IT WELL and DO IT THOROUGHLY.
I Corinthians 10:31 -- The answer is … do it all for the glory of God.
Recent Preaching Series'
As I have mentioned elsewhere, we recently served as Children's Pastors. In that role we have felt led to structure the worship service similar to an adult service.
Toward that end I developed sermon ideas that I could preach to adults. In fact, I have preached these exact same sermons in adult settings. I often tell folks, for example, that it is actually easier to preach to adults than kids. That is because I have to self-edit vocabulary, imagery, and analogies as I go along.
In 2012 we are continuing to preach through the Bible, focussing on the doctrines outlined in Hebrews 6:1-3 as being the "milk" of the Gospel: Who and what Jesus is, Faith in God, The purpose and meaning of Baptism, Prayer and Healing, and The Judgment of God. For 2011 it was one book at a time, for a month each.
For 2012 it is a variety of scriptures based on certain numbers.
Looking at the Bible you can find a great deal of what some might call coincedences. Of course, to us it is just proof of God’s grand design. For example, to us 9-1-1 is a number that means emergency. It is the number to the police, fire, etc. it is also the number of great national tragedy. But would you be surprised to know that there are many 9:11 verses in the Bible that speak of how God saves us in the midst of trouble?
We know 4-1-1 as the number to call when we need to find somehting out. It is the number for information. And in the Bible there are a number of 4:11’s where God is giving us info that we need to live the life He calls us to.
In CB and two-way radio lingo 10-4 is “yes”. So do you want to guess how many places the verse 10:4 is God saying yes to us in one way or another? Or calling us to say yes to Him?
Finally, the most famous verse in the Bible is John 3:16. And it is about God’s saving grace toward us. So do you think that God would have other verses about His mercy and salvation under the numbers 3-16?
So … some very interesting stuff ahead for 2012. Especially once you remember that the verse numbers are not part of the original writings of scripture. They were added (some would say somewhat hap-hazardly) thousands of years later, chapters in the 1200's and verses in the 1500's. .
In CB and two-way radio lingo 10-4 is “yes”. So do you want to guess how many places the verse 10:4 is God saying yes to us in one way or another? Or calling us to say yes to Him? Well, in April we explored some of those “Yes” passages.
Ezra 10:4 – God told Ezra, and Ezra then told the people, that they needed to deal with sin if they wanted to continue to enjoy God’s provsion and protection. To do that they needed to not be comfortable with sin, display a Godly sorrow about their sin, take the presence of sin in their life seriously, follow through with genuine repentance, and take steps to right any wrongs their sin had caused. Then they were to stop sinning, because repentence is not just saying “I’m sorry”, but also “Yes, I will change.”
Proverbs 10:4 -- Being blessed by God means saying “Yes, I will work hard.” Will we always be poor if we are lazy? Maybe not, but by letting others do things we could and should do for ourselves we don’t learn how to best take care of ourselves. Will we always get rich if we work hard? Depends on how you define rich. God defines it as having what you need in order to take care of yourself and help others. Is it OK to spend all our money? Of course not. We should save some and give some. But we can spend some too. So, is it best to save all our money? No, but the more we can save now the more we can have later. $10 per week saved from childhood to retirement could result in over $2 million. Should we give some of our money away? Yes. God says we can test Him through our tithes and offerings.
Acts 10:4 – So what happens to people who have never heard about Jesus? The story of Cornelius tells us. Cornelius was not a Christian. But he was an honest seeker of God and doer of good. For that reason God sent an angel to Cornelius. This angel did not tell Cornelius that “it was OK, you’re trying, and that’s all that counts.” The angel let Cornelius know that God was sending Peter to him in order to preach the Gospel to him. Cornelius accepted the message and he and his whole house accepted Jesus beacsue, when we earnestly pray and seek God, and do what He tells us to, He says “Yes.”
9:11, God Please Help
In March we looked at the 9:11's in Genesis and Deuteronomy. What we see is that when we "dial" 911 in the Bible, God shows us how He will come to our aid.
Genesis 9:11 -- This verse comes toward the end of the Flood narrative. This is where God promises to never again destroy the Earth by flood. But the real question is: "Why did God send the flood in the first place? Then, "Who caused the problem that God used the flood to solve?" The emergency was the flood. It was caused by our sin and disobedience. But who stopped the flood? That would be God. The point here is, "God will help us ... even when we make the emergency ourselves."
Deuteronomy 9:11 -- A retelling of the 10 Commandments. And, again, the message here is quite similar to that in Genesis. Moses had destroyed the original tablets because the people turned their gold into an idol. But God came to their rescue even though they caused the problem. They needed to have the 10 Commandments so they could live as God wanted them too and thus have His protection from the enemies that surrounded them.
4:11, Information Please
February is the 4:11's. In Exodus, Joshua, 2 Kings, and 2 Chronicles we find that God gives us information we need to do whatever He is telling us to do.
Exodus 4:11 -- "For Our Information: God made us like we are, for a reason." God called Moses to lead His people out of slavery in Egypt. Moses' repsonse? I can't becasue I stutter and stammer! But God told him that he was made like God wanted him. Sometimes when God calls us to do something we may make excuses too. But wehn we do, God has a reason for every excuse we have. Take for instance "I'm not smart enough." God's response? We know how people feel. Our excuse, "I don't have enough time." God's response, "We can help others be organized." An excuse, "Important people don't know me." God says, "That means you need me." Our excuse, I'm too shy." But God says, "We are sensitive." We might say, "I'm not talented." God tells us, "We know how to overcome limitations." Our excuse, "I'm not popular." God says, "I can be a friend to those who need me." And possibly excuse number 1, I have no money." God's response, "We have to rely on God's blessings."
Joshua 4:11 -- "For Our Information: To do God's work well, be sure God's presence is with you." The children of Israel had been brought out of Egypt. They followed God's instruction to the edge of the land He promsied them. But, before they could cross the river and go into the Promised Land, they had to let the priests go first, with the Ark of the Covenant. It was a symbol of God's presence with them. Thsi might seem strange becasue they were about to face enemies who would want to fight them. But they weren't sending the army first. And then, even when they got across the river they were to stop and build a memorial out of stones before they could go on. This was so they would always remember what God had done for them.
2 Kings 4:11 -- For Our Information: To do God's will, God will sometimes ask us to rest, then work." A couple wre so grateful to Elisha that they had built a room in their home for him for whenver he would come to their town. One time he came into town in the midst of doing miracles and delivering the Word of the Lord. But before he did anyting else, he went up to rest. There are a number of times in the New Testament we are told that Jesus went off by Himself to rest or pray. We aren't talking about a nap. We are talking about meditation, spiritual rest. Getting alone with God to draw strength and direction from Him.
2 Chronicles 4:11 -- "For Our Information: God's work is sometimes the same as our work." Huram made bowls. He had a special ability to make things. Our special abilities can be used to worship God, just as Huram's bowls were. What special talents or abilities do you have? How can you use them to worhsip God?
3:16, Our God Saves
January is about the 3:16's. We looked at chapter 3, verse 16 in three different books of the Bible: Exodus, Proverbs, and Daniel.
Exodus 3:16 -- "Even when things look bad, and it seems there is no hope: Our God Saves." God told Abraham to move to a country unknown to Abraham. God promised Abraham that his family would inherit that land as their permanent home. He further promised Abraham that his family would become a great nation. But, at the time of Exodus 3;16, the nation that Abraham's family became -- the Israelites -- were slaves in a foreign land and had been for 400 years. Just when the leaders of Israel seemd to be losing all hope in God's promise, he moved in and saved them out of Egypt.
Proverbs 3:16 -- "If you do what God says, and use the wisdom He gives: Our God Saves." In order to enjoy the benefits of God's Wisdom, he tells us to do five things. First, we are to lean on Him. And this isn't just leaning back slightly. This means putting all our weight on Him in such a way that if He isn't there, we will fall. Then we need to acknowledge God. Sometimes we need to pray not to ask God for anything, but to simply let Him know that we know He is there and we love Him. Next, of course, following God means giving. John 3:16 tells us that God gave. So part of getting and using God's wisdom is to be like Him -- and give. God also has a lot to say to us to help us in our life. But we have to spend time reading and studying His Word in order to learn what it is. Finally, in order to enjoy the benefits of God's Wisdom we must exercise the sound judgment He gives us through that wisdom. Makes no sense to ask God for wisdom and then not utilize it to make good decisions.
Daniel 3:16 -- "When we do the right thing, even if we are threatened if we do: Our God Saves." Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are faced with a choice, worship King Nebuchadnezzar or die. What would they do? Well, I think they had seven choices. And those choices are the same ones we have when faced with difficult decisions. They could have said, "Let's just pretend to worship the idol." Maybe they thought to themselves, "We'll just do it one time, God will understand and forgive us." Maybe they considered, "The King gave us our powerful jobs, we should be nothing more than slaves, we owe it ot him." One option they might have had was, "This is a foreign land, God will excuse us. After all, we need to respect their culture." How about this excuse, "Others have done worse things, this isn't as bad." How many times do we think, "We're not hurting anybody." And I bet they were very tempted to think, "We are in a position to help our people. We can't help anyone if we die." But, what did they do. They remembered that God said, "Have no other gods before me." So they did the right thing and trusted God to save them.