Armed and Dangerous Part 3

Ephesians 6:10-18

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

As we have seen in many caught on camera incidents since the rise of technology and social media even if you are not armed and dangerous, you may be considered armed and dangerous and your life could end just because of the color of your skin. Andre Hill, Casey Goodson, Freddie Gray, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, Trevon Martin, Breonna Taylor, and the list goes on and on and on.  And especially now with all that’s going on in our nation.  When law and order tactics only apply to one group of people.  When domestic terrorist can storm the capital building without any fear of any consequences to their actions.  

When the world all around us appears to be going to hell in a hand basket.  I read an article about the black capital police officers that were at the capital last Wednesday, and how the people that stormed the capital building called them the “N” word as they chased them down.  But its not about race, and President Trump did not encourage this type of behavior.  I stand here today to tell you that we have to continue to arm ourselves. God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, love, and of a sound mind.  That’s why it is more important than ever to make sure that you are wearing the full armor of God.  We have to get armed to be dangerous.  We cannot be dangerous unless we are armed.   

We can’t be caught off guard.  

We can’t be caught unprotected.  

We can’t be caught slipping.

We can’t be caught lollygagging.

We can’t be caught slacking.

We can’t be caught procrastinating.

We have to get armed so that we can be dangerous.

The last couple of weeks we talked about the first three pieces of the full armor of God.  

The belt of truth. 

The truth sets us free. 

The truth sets others free.  

And the truth frustrates the devil because we are free.  

The breastplate of righteousness.  

Righteousness fixes us.  

Righteousness fortifies us.  

And righteousness fine tunes us.  

And last week we discussed the gospel of peace.  

Peace focuses us.  

Peace fulfills us.  

And peace fascinates us.  

And today we are going to talk about the shield of faith.

According to Jack Zavada, no defensive armor was as important as a shield. It fended off arrows, spears, and swords. Our fourth piece of armor is the Shield of Faith, which guards us against one of Satan’s deadliest weapons, doubt. Satan shoots doubt at us when God does not act immediately or visibly.  Do you know what Satan does the minute you are down?  

He kicks you.

He starts to whisper in your ear.

Your God hasn’t come through for you yet.  

God doesn’t love you anyway. 

Look at all the stuff you have done.

Look at all the stuff you’re doing right now.

How could God possibly use you?

Why don’t you just give up on God?

That is why I am always encouraged by the story of Job when he states, though he slay me, yet will I trust him.  

And if you’re not careful you might actually buy into the enemy’s lies.  Zavada states, But our faith in God’s trustworthiness comes from the unassailable truth of the Bible. We know our Father can be counted on. Our Shield of Faith sends Satan’s flaming arrows of doubt glancing harmlessly to the side. We keep our shield held high, confident in the knowledge that God always takes care of us, God always looks out for us, and God is faithful to his children.  Our shield holds because of the One our faith is in, Jesus Christ.  And the great thing about faith is that even when our faith is weak God is still faithful.  God has never and will never let us down.  I have never seen the righteous forsaken of his seed begging for bread.  

Is anyone in the room grateful for God’s faithfulness?  

Think of all the times he has made the impossible possible for you.  

Think of all the times that he has had your back.  

Think of all the times that you should have died.  

Think of all the times that he has forgiven you, and welcomed you back with open arms.  

Think of all the times that he has made ways out of no ways.  God has been faithful.  

So just think of what you could do if you raised the level of your faith.  And you hold your shield of faith with the confidence of knowing that your God is able to do anything but fail. 

Great is thy faithfulness, O God my father.

There is no shadow of turning with thee.

Thou changest not, thy compassions they fail not.

As thou hast been thou forever wilt be.

And great is thy faithfulness.

Great is thy faithfulness.

Morning by morning new mercies I see.

All I have needed thy hand hath provided.

Great is thy faithfulness.

Lord unto me.

Here are three things that faith does.

Faith protects.  When I look back over my life and see all the Lord has brought me through my soul cries out hallelujah!  Because I know what God has protected me from.  

Dangers seen and unseen.  

Life or death situations.  

MYSELF!  

Come on y’all, how many times has God protected us from ourselves?

The car accidents we walked away from.

The diseases we were healed from.

The heartache we avoided.

The disaster we side-stepped.

The mess we somehow managed to overcome. 

The test we tiptoed through.

Our faith in God has protected us.

Can I get a witness?

Faith provides.  For some reason I’ve always enjoyed talking about the provision of God.  Maybe because of where I’ve been and where I am now.  I have not forgotten where I come from.  I see all the Lord has done for little old me in 44 years.  And God has been good to you too, and I am sure that many of you have the same testimony.  Just like Joseph.  No matter what situation he was in God always provided for him.  

When his brothers were about to kill him, God  provided him with a pit.  

When the slave traders sold him, God provided him with a Potiphar.  

When they threw him in prison for crime he did commit God provided him with a prison guard that favored him.  

When Pharaoh needed someone to interpret his dream God provided Joseph with the proper interpretation.  

God is Jehovah Jireh, the Lord will provide.

Has God provided for anybody in the room or online today?

Has he made ways out of no ways?

Has he put clothes on your back?

Has he put food in your belly?

Has he put a roof over your head?

Has he given you a job to go to?

Has he given you a car to drive?

Has he given you a bus pass to use?

Has he given you a family to love?

Has he given you friends to count on?

Turn to a neighbor and say faith provides!

Faith protects.  Faith provides.  Faith produces.  In Bible Study this week we talked about how James stated several times that faith without works is dead.  Not that your works save you.  We know that we are saved through faith.  What James was saying that if you have faith, that faith should produce works.  In other words, if you say you have faith in God, that faith should prompt you to do works.   That faith should produce something. 

And what you produce should be good!  

So what does faith produce?  I’m so glad you asked.

In a teacher it will produce a good lesson.

In a parent it will produce good children. 

In a child it will produce good old fashion obedience.

In a person it will produce good character.

In a deacon it will produce good service.

In a trustee it will produce a good stewardship. 

In a preacher it will produce a servant after God’s heart.

In a leader it will produce good leadership.

In a church it will produce praise and worship.

Oh you just missed your cue to praise and worship the God in which you claim to have faith in.  Faith provides, faith protects, and faith produces.  And right now your faith should be producing a praise.  

Put your ten stringed instruments together and give God praise for the shield of faith!

Produce a praise for the God of your salvation.

Produce a praise for the God of your healing.

Produce a praise for the God of your life.

Produce a praise for the king of kings.

Produce a praise for the Lord of lords.

Produce a praise for the great I am that I am.

Produce a praise for Jesus Christos.

Produce a praise for the lamb that was slain.

Produce a praise for the Prince of Peace.

Produce a praise for the God who walks with you, and talks with you, and tell you that your are his own.  And the joy you share as you tarry there.  No other has ever known.

Let me close with this story…

Whose Side is God On?

During the US civil war Abraham Lincoln met with a group of ministers for a prayer breakfast. Lincoln was not a church-goer but was a man of deep, if at times unorthodox, faith. At one point one of the ministers said, “Mr President, let us pray that God is on our side”. Lincoln’s response showed far greater insight, “No, gentlemen, let us pray that we are on God’s side.”

Lincoln reminded those ministers that religion is not a tool by which we get God to do what we want but an invitation to open ourselves to being and doing what God wants.  If that is not faith I don’t know what is.  That is the problem with our nations right now.  Everyone thinks that God is on their side, when the truth other matter is the only side that God is on is HIS side, and the only side that we should be on is God’s side.  So with that being said I have one question for you.  Who’s side are you on?  If your answer is God’s side than pick up your shield of faith and hold high.  If you’re on God’s side…

Let the world know that for God I live and for God I die.

Let the world know as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.

Let the world know that great is he that is in me than he that is in the world.

Let the world know that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Let the world know that God so loved the world…

Let the world know all things are possible.

Let the world know the devil is a liar.

Let the world know that God is a healer.

Let the world know that God is a protector.

Let the world know that God is a provider.

Let the world know that God is a producer.

If we are on God’s side we let the world know all this by our faith! 

Take up your shield of faith.

Armed and Dangerous Part 2

Armed and Dangerous Part 2

Ephesians 6:10-18

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Painting Peace

There once was a King who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried. The King looked at all the pictures, but there were only two he really liked and he had to choose between them.

One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror, for peaceful towering mountains were all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect picture of peace.

The other picture had mountains too. But these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky from which rain fell and in which lightening played. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. This did not look peaceful at all. But when the King looked, he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In the bush a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest… perfect peace.

Which picture do you think won the prize?

The King chose the second picture. “Because,” explained the King, “peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace.”  This is the type of peace that Paul refers to in Ephesians when he talks about the Gospel of peace.  Let’s go to work.

Ephesians 6:15 talks about fitting our feet with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of Peace, the third piece of armor. According to Jack Zavada, Terrain was rocky in the ancient world, requiring sturdy, protective footwear. On a battlefield or near a fort, the enemy might scatter barbed spikes or sharp stones to slow an army down. In the same way, Satan scatters traps for us as we’re trying to spread the gospel.  Remember Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy.  The Gospel of Peace is our protection, reminding us that it is by grace that souls are saved. We can sidestep Satan’s obstacles when we remember, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NIV)  Fitting our feet with the readiness of the Gospel of Peace is described in 1 Peter 3:15 like this: “… always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear…” (NIV) Sharing the gospel of salvation ultimately brings peace between God and men (Romans 5:1).  So while you go out to spread the good news Satan is going to throw obstacles in your way, but remember that no weapon formed against you shall prosper.  

The weapon will be formed.

The enemy will attack.  

The bills will keep coming.  

The pressure will continue to rise.  

You will lose loved ones.

We will have to battle disease.  

We will have heart ache.  

But the weapon will not prosper because we are more than 

conquerors through Christ who loves us.  You have to fit you feet 

with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. And these three things will happen.

Peace focuses us. When you have peace you can focus on what really matters because you are not worried about stuff that really does not matter or stuff you have no control over.  Think of all the time you waste on things that do not matter or things you have no control over.  

Why are y’all getting quiet on me…

Nobody in here wastes time worrying about their favorite sports team.

Or who got voted off of dancing with the stars or big brother.

Why he or she got the promotion over you?

Why the next door neighbors left their garage door open?

What’s going on in Mr. and Mrs. Jones’ marriage? 

Not that you’re concerned, you’re just being nosy.

Or why did pastor give them the leadership position? 

Peace focuses us so we do not have to worry about stuff that does not matter.  And when we are focused there isn’t much that we cannot accomplish.  

David defeated Goliath because he was focused on God.  

The Israelites defeated Jericho because they were focused on the lord.  

Peter was able to walk on water when he was focused on Jesus. But the minute he started to worry about the wind, and the waves he began to sink.  

Jesus was focused on the cross, and what he came to do.  That is why he was able to say, Father forgive them for they know not what they do.

Peace focuses us.

We can focus on our faith.

We can focus on our family.

We can focus on our future.

Peace focuses us.  Peace fulfills us.  When we have the peace of God we have everything we need.  That is why Paul said in Philippians 4:11-13,  11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.  I believe this strength comes from the peace of God.  Is anyone in the room fulfilled by the peace of God.  The peace of God fulfills us!

Peace fulfills us emotionally.

Peace fulfills us physically.

Peace fulfills us spiritually.

Most people that are not fulfilled because they do not have peace.  When you do not have peace your mind is never at ease.  You are always worrying about this or that.

You are always wondering about that or this.

But when you truly have the peace of God, you will be fulfilled not matter what your circumstance or your situation is.

Peace focuses us.  Peace fulfills us. Peace fascinates us and others. Paul also says in Philippians 4:7, And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  The simple fact that you, that I, that we made it through what we made it through is nothing but proof that the peace of God transcends our understanding.  

Think about that for a moment.

In the midst of the storm you had peace.

In the midst of the divorce.

In the midst of unemployment.

In the midst of a pandemic.

In the midst of folks storming the capital building.

In the midst of social injustice.

In the midst of racial discrimination.

In the midst of chemo.

In the midst of dialysis.

In the midst of bereavement.

You had peace, and that peace fascinates us.

Peace fascinates our intellect.

Peace fascinated our imagination.

Peace fascinates interests.

Has anyone in the room been fascinated by the peace of God?

Let me share this story with you that I found on FB.

There was a survivor of a shipwreck washed up on a small uninhabited island.  He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him, and everyday he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming.  Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect himself, and to store his few possessions.  Then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling all the way to the sky.  The worst had happened; everything was lost.  He was stung with grief and anger. God how could you do this to me!  He Cried!  Early the next morning he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island to rescue him.  He asked, how did you know I was hear?  Asked the weary man of his rescuers.  We saw your smoke signal they replied.  It is easy to get discouraged when things are going bad, but we shouldn’t lose heart because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of pain and suffering.  This is the time that we should have peace because God is always working behind the scenes.  Remember the next time your little hut is burning to the ground, it just may be a smoke signal that summons the grace of God.

So don’t worry about the cancer it’s just a smoke signal.

Don’t worry about being unemployed.

Don’t worry about the argument. 

Don’t worry about the court case.

Don’t worry about the friction in the friendship. 

It’s just a smoke signal. 

And, After all the hell you went through you should have lost your mind, but God.

After the blow you just took you should be off your rocker, but God.

After the storm you just went through you should be going crazy, but God.

After the abuse you suffered you should have been committed to a psychiatric institution, but God.

After all the drama you endured you thought about committing suicide, but God.

And you look in the mirror wondering how in the world did you make it.  People all around you are wondering how in the world are you standing and you know that it is the peace of God that passes all understanding. And you can give the Lord a but God praise because you know that if it had not been for the lord on your side you would have gave up a long time ago.

You would have thrown in the towel.

You would have packed your bags and bounced.

You would have taken you ball and went home.

You would have gone postal.

But the peace of God.

Greater is He that is in me than that is in the world.

I’m sorry but I need y’all to give a but God praise.

I was down to my last dime, but God.

I was given an unfavorable diagnosis, but God.

I lost my job, but God.

I almost lost my life, but God.

My marriage was or is on the rocks, but God.

My children were out of control, but God.

My life was on a downward spiral, but God.

I did not know how I was going to make it, but God.

Give the king of kings and the lord of lords a but God praise!

Let’s get armed so that we can be dangerous.

Armed with the belt of truth.

Armed with the breastplate of righteousness.

Armed with the gospel of peace, and give God praise!

If you don’t praise him the rocks will cry out.  And I don’t know about you but God has been too good to me to let a rock cry out in my place. That is why the Psalmist said let everything that has breath praise the lord.  So inhale, now exhale, you just qualified yourself to praise.  

You just passed the test.  

Your audition went well.  

In other words, if you are breathing you should be praising.  

From the rising of the son to the going down of the same the name of Jesus is worthy to be praised.

Armed and Dangerous Part 1

Ephesians 6:10-18

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

On Monday afternoon two men were shot by a person in a black SUV near Robinson and Cottage Streets. The 24-year-old driver was shot in his side and arm, while the 27-year-old passenger was shot in the hand and left elbow. They are both being treated at the nearby Hospital. Police have obtained an arrest warrant for a suspect they believe fired shots at two men sitting in a car on Monday afternoon.  Columbus police are searching for Robert Bobby Watson, 21 years old.  Watson is facing numerous charges including assault with intent to murder. Police have not yet determined a motive and said the suspect should be considered armed and dangerous. If anyone has information on the suspect they are asked to call 911.  The suspect is considered armed and dangerous.  We hear stories like this all the time on TV shows, the radio, and the news, and it happens so much that we are not even fazed by it.  We have become numb to these types of stories.  Do you know that over 144 people were shot and killed in Columbus in 2020.  And I am sure that there are more than that because this does not take into account the ones that were shot by police officers.  Someone gets shot, stabbed, or attacked and we just go on with our lives. People commit terrible crimes every day because the are armed and dangerous.  They are robbing folks because they are armed and dangerous.  They are beating folks because they are armed and dangerous.  They are terrorizing neighborhoods and schools because they are armed and dangerous.  They are killing folks because they are armed and dangerous.  And in many cases black men are being killed because some police officers and others think that they might be armed and dangerous just because of the color of their skin.  But I would like to submit to you today that every single child of God should be armed and dangerous.  

 If you are in the fraternity or sorority of the twice born you should be armed and dangerous.  

If you are born again you should be armed and dangerous.  

If you have accepted the Lord into your heart you should be armed and dangerous.  

If you have confessed with your mouth that Jesus is the Lord of your life you should be armed and dangerous.  

In other words if you are saved you should be armed and dangerous 

What are you saying Pastor Brian?  We all need to be strapped, packing heat, ready to bust a cap, ready to spread some lead?  No, not at all but I am suggesting that you get armed and that you become extremely dangerous with the full armor of God!   Shall we look at the text?  In the text today Paul is writing the sixth part of his letter to the church in Ephesus.  He tells the people 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Now as I prayed, prepared, and researched for these messages I found a great deal of useful information describing the full armor of God.  My main source of information was an article I found on learningreligions.com entitled Armor of God Bible Study by Jack Zavada, and I am so excited to share it with you over the next month.  And if you pray for me as I preach and teach I really do believe there’s a blessing in the house.  

Someone will be healed.

Someone will be delivered.

Someone will be changed.

Someone will be challenged.

Someone will be encouraged. 

Someone will receive confirmation.

But you have to be armed and dangerous. 

According to Zavada The Full Armor of God, described by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:10-18, is our spiritual defense against attacks from the enemy.  Now if we were to leave home every morning dressed in a suit of armor, we would feel and look pretty silly. Fortunately that’s not necessary. The Full Armor of God may be invisible, but it’s just as real, and when used properly and worn daily, it provides solid protection against the Enemy’s attacks.  The good news is that none of these six pieces of the Full Armor of God require power on our part. Jesus Christ has already won our victory through his sacrificial death on the cross. We only have to put on the effective armor he has given us.  

Aren’t you glad that the power of the armor does not come from man?  

We are so fickle we’d turn off the armor because someone got on our nerves, or bought the outfit that we wanted.  

Or we’d turn the armor off just because we felt like it or we were in a bad mood with a jacked up attitude.  

We’d be negligent with our resources forget to pay the bill and the power would be shut off.  

So thank God for Jesus that he paid the ultimate price in order for us to have the full armor of God.  So lets talk about this armor!  This morning we are going to discuss two pieces of the armor.  The belt of truth and The breastplate of righteousness.  Let’s begin!

The Belt of Truth, which is the first piece of the Full Armor of God, is described by Zavada like this.  In the ancient world, a soldier’s belt not only kept his armor in place, but it might be wide enough, as a girdle, to protect his kidneys and other vital organs. Just so, the truth protects us. Practically applied to us today, you might say the Belt of Truth holds up our spiritual pants so that we’re not exposed and vulnerable!  Jesus Christ called Satan the “father of lies”, and deception is one of the Enemy’s oldest tactics. We can see through Satan’s lies by holding them against the truth of the Bible. The Bible helps us defeat the lies of materialism, money, power, and pleasure as the most important things in life.  The world wants us to believe that money, power, pleasure, and materialism are what truly matters in life.  

I have to wear the latest fashion.  

I have to be driving the freshest and newest ride.  

I need to be a part of this club or organization to prove that I have arrived.  

I need to be making this much money 

I need to live in this neighborhood 

And it is even effecting our young people and they are judging other kids based on what they are wearing or not wearing (what are those).  But, the truth of God’s Word shines its light of integrity into our lives and holds together all of our spiritual defenses.  Jesus told us “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, NIV) In other words, the truth shall set you free.  The world is constantly portraying evil as good.  It has become so twisted that many people see the most despicable things as all right.  We see it everyday on TV.  We hear it on the radio.  Fantasia has a song called I’m sleeping with the one I love.  At first I thought that’s nice you’re sleeping with the one you love, hopefully it’s you husband, but as I listened to the song I realized that the song was glorifying an affair because she says the man she’s with is good, but he’s not good enough so I’m sleeping with the one She loves… so the song is a modern day version of the woman at the well because neither one of these men seems to be the singer’s husband.  People just doing whatever makes them feel good despite the consequences of their actions, but of course I am not talking about anyone at SCC!  

No one in here is getting high or drunk.  

No one in here is going to the club or party and kicking it all night long.  No one in here is getting busy without a wedding ring.  What’s Beyoncé say…. 

No one in here is moving from one partner to another.  

No one in here is just doing what they want to do, however they want to do it, whenever they want to do it.

You need the belt of truth so that you can show the world the truth of Jesus Christ.  Here are three things that happen because you’re wearing the belt of truth

The truth will set you free.  

When we realize the truth that Jesus Christ loves us in spite of our mess, this sets us free.  

When we understand the truth that while we were yet in sin God sent Jesus to die for us, this sets us  free.  

When we come face to face with the truth that God has forgiven us of all the stuff we’ve done, this sets us free.  

And when we are free, this truth will set others free.

The truth will set others free.  You see what happens is others see all that you have gone through and the freedom you now possess because of the truth of God in your life, that they want what you’ve got.  They want to experience what you experience.  They want to feel the way that you feel.  So in a sense you have to be like Harriet Tubman.  Once Harriet got her freedom she went back to the plantations to help free others.  So once you receive freedom from this life of sin by the truth of God’s word you must go out and share your story in order to help others get to freedom as well.

The truth frustrates the enemy because we are free.  He is the father of lies.  And he uses lies to keep you in bondage.  Just like the slave masters controlled slaves by twisting the word of God to meet their needs.  Now if a slave owner got upset after a slave or slaves were freed how much more will the devil be frustrated that the truth of God has set you and others free.  Because once you know the truth you are a threat to everything that he has planned.  

I don’t know about you but I like the idea of frustrating the enemy.  

I like the idea of messing up the enemies plans.  

I like the idea of getting on the enemies nerves.  

I like the idea of jacking up satan’s plans.  

That’s why I will continue to put on the belt of truth!

The next piece of armor is the Breastplate of Righteousness, which guards our heart.  According to Zavada, a wound to the chest can be fatal. That’s why ancient soldiers wore a breastplate covering their heart and lungs. Our heart is susceptible to the wickedness of this world, but our protection is the Breastplate of Righteousness, and that righteousness comes from Jesus Christ. We cannot become righteous through our own good works. There is nothing we can do to become righteous.  When Jesus died on the cross, his righteousness was credited to all who believe in him, through justification. God sees us as sinless because of what his Son did for us.  When God looks at us all he sees is the blood.  

He does not see the liar.

He does not see the cheater.

He does not see the gossip.

He does not see the fornicator.

He does not see the adulterer.

He does not see the mistake. 

All God sees is the blood!  Is anyone grateful for the blood?  Accept your Christ-given righteousness; Let it cover and protect you. Remember that it can keep your heart strong and pure for God.  You have to protect your heart at all cost.  Because Jesus paid it all.  All to him I know.  Sin had left a crimson stain, but he washed it white as snow. You have to protect your heart with the breastplate of righteousness. This is what the breastplate righteousness does for us.

Righteousness fixes us.  Remember how jacked up we were before the righteousness of God fixed us.  One of my favorite songs is he took me and made something beautiful out of my life.  

Is that anyone’s testimony today?  

Did he pick you up and turn you around?

Did he place your feet on solid ground?

Where you lost and now found?

Did he look beyond your faults and see your needs?  

Did he clean up what you messed up?

His righteousness fixes us.

Righteousness fortifies us. Fortify means to protect or strengthen against attack; surround or provide with defensive military works.

2.  To furnish with a means of resisting force or standing strain or wear.

3. To make strong; impart strength or vigor to.

4. To increase the effectiveness of, as by additional ingredients.

5. To strengthen mentally or morally.

6. To confirm or corroborate.

In other words, His righteousness builds us up.  

His righteousness improves us.  

His righteousness strengthens us.  

His righteousness gives us a strong foundation on which to stand on.  

On Christ the solid rock I stand all other ground is sinking sand.  All other ground is sinking sand.  His righteousness fortifies us.

Righteousness fine tunes us.  So after his righteousness fixes us and fortifies us, it fine tunes us.  Now have you ever heard an instrument that was out of tune.  It just doesn’t sound right.  It does not make the beautiful music is was created to make because it needs to be fine tuned.  Or your car is not running the way that it should run because it needs to be fine tuned.  Or you computer is not operating correctly because it needs to be fine tuned.  After you and I are fixed and fortified every now and then we get out of tune.  We get off track, and we are not running the way God intended us to run and we need fine tuned.  

God’s righteousness fine tunes us by taking us through a storm. 

God’s righteousness fine tunes us by making ways out of no ways.  

God’s righteousness fine tunes us by reminding us that He is the reason we live move and have our being.  Is anybody in the room bedsides the man holding the microphone excited about the fact that God’s righteousness fixes us, God’s righteousness fortifies, and God’s righteousness fine tunes us.  

You must put on the breastplate of righteousness!

You must put on the belt of truth!

Let me share this story with you.

How Many Beans in the Jar? (On Faith and Truth)

Christian writer Tim Stafford tells of an unusual approach to teaching about religious truth adopted by a pastor he knows. You might expect this, for the pastor, Stephey Bilynskyj, holds a Phd in Philosophy from Note Dame University! Whenever he runs a confirmation class the pastor takes a jar full of beans with him. He then gets the students to guess how many beans are in the jar, and writes down their guesses on a notepad. Pastor Bilynskyi then asks the class members to list their favorite songs, writing them down alongside the bean estimates. Pastor Bilynskyi then returns to the bean guesses, revealing the actual number and then whose guess was closest to being right. After congratulations have been offered attention is then refocussed on the song list. “And which one of these is closest to being right?” Pastor Bilynskyi asks. Invariably the students argue that when it comes to “favorite songs” there is no right answer. It’s purely subjective, a matter of taste. It’s at that point that Pastor Bilynskyi asks “When you decide what to believe in terms of your faith, is that more like guessing the number of beans, or more like choosing your favorite song?” Always, Bilynskyj says, he gets the same answer: Choosing one’s faith is more like choosing a favourite song. Bilynskyi disagrees, and though he still confirms those who hold this view, does his best to try to argue them out of it!

Source: Reported by Tim Stafford, Christianity Today, September 14, 1992

So what are you trying to say pastor?  The truth of God can not be like your favorite song list because you’re favorite song list can change. Unlike the number of jelly beans in the jar.  That number is fixed. It does not change just like the truth of God which leads to righteousness never changes.

And I was just wondering if there is anybody here excited about the fact that you have access to the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness.

If so stand on your feet. 

Put your ten stringed instruments together and give God a ridiculous praise.

Praise him for his belt of truth.

Praise him for his breastplate of righteousness.

Praise him for the access to this armor.

Praise him for the ability to use this armor.

Praise him for allowing you to be armed and dangerous.

Is Your GPS On?

Is your GPS on?

John 14:1- 6

14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Has anyone ever been lost before?  You were going on a trip and took a wrong turn somewhere along the way and ended up in the middle of nowhere.  I am sure that many of us have ended up on a dark dirt road just praying that we would not run out of gas because we were in no mans land!  I know I  have been there before.  I just knew that I was going the right way and ended up lost.  Many years ago on the way home to Pittsburgh we had to pick up my nephew from California University of Pennsylvania…  

I think it was last month, me and Noah were watching an episode of the Wonder Years…  

But people do not like to admit that they are lost, especially men.  Whether it is on a real road or on the road of life.  We will just continue on the wrong road or path acting as if we are going the right way.  Someone will ask, are you lost?  

No, I’m not lost. 

I’m just taking a short cut.  

This is a scenic route!  

I wanted to try a different way! 

I just want to drive and see where the road take me.  

We studied this month how over 2000 years ago the wise men came looking for Jesus.  They did not get lost.  They followed the North Star to find Jesus and worship him.  They presented him with gold, frankincense, and myrrh because he is the king of kings, the great high priest, and the savior of the world.

But with today’s technology it is very hard to get lost.  There is a device call a GPS that can keep you on track.  GPS, stands for global positioning system, and has become extremely popular as a personal navigation system. Elements used to create the GPS were developed as early as 1959, but it would be several decades before the technology was fully operational. Today, GPS units are readily available and affordable to the public. Although it was developed for military purposes, civilians can also enjoy GPS technology. A number of companies produce GPS units for the public, and a number of cars, boats, and other vehicles are equipped with them.  Today most cellular phones and smart watches have GPS functions on them.  What I love about the GPS is that if you do not follow the guide’s directions or miss a turn the system will redirect you so that you can reach your destination.  So when you do not know the way this device will show you the way, and take you to your destination.  Even if you mess up and miss your turn or take the wrong turn the GPS will redirect.

Has anyone ever needed redirected before?  

You were on the right path.  

You were on the right road and somewhere along the way you took a wrong turn.  

You made a bad decision.  

You chose the wrong path.  

You trusted the wrong person.  

You played to close to the fire.  

You tempted fate one too many times.  

You messed up.

You made a mistake.

You stuck your foot in your mouth.

You lost control.

Well I stopped by this morning to let someone know that there is a way to get back on track.  

There is a way to get redirected.

No matter how many wrong turns that you’ve made.

No matter how lost you are.

There is a way to reach your destination.  

Ask your neighbor, is your GPS on?  

Shall we look at the text?  In the text today John, the apostle whom Jesus loved is explaining a conversation between Jesus and his disciples.  In the previous chapter, John 13, Jesus told his disciples that he will be leaving soon, they will look for him and he will be gone in reference to his crucifixion.  Now in the 14th chapter he is trying to comfort the disciples.  Letting them know that they will be okay.  Explaining to them the purpose of his father’s plan.  He tells them not to let their hearts be troubled, but trust in God and him.  He told them you believe in God, now believe in me.  In my father’s house there are many rooms.  If it were not so, I would have told you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you.  I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going.  Thomas said to Jesus, Lord we do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way.  Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the father except through me.  In other words, Jesus was giving his disciples directions.  They just had to use their GPS’s.  He was showing them the way.  They just had to turn on their GPS.  I know what you’re thinking.  The disciples did not have a Global Positioning System.   And you are correct, they actually had something better, the Holy Spirit.  And in order for you to reach your destination your GPS must be fully operational as well.  Now don’t look at me in that tone of voice.  

I know you’re not into all that technology.  

I know you can just use a map.  

I know you can just use map-quest, but map-quest is a computer program hooked up to a GPS.  Why do I need to turn my GPS on?  I am so glad that you asked.  Here are three reasons why your GPS needs to be on and then I will bid you good day.  

The first reason your GPS should be on is because you need to know the way.  You cannot get anywhere in life if you do not know the way.  I could not be with you today if I did not know the way to Second Community Church, but if I don’t know how to get here after being here over a year… Houston we have a problem.  We have been to places that we did not know how to get to.  In those cases we would just place the address into our GPS, and let the device lead us to our destination.  I would let the device show me the way!  But I am not talking about the way to a church, or the way to the store, or to the way to Big Mamma’s house in South Carolina.  

But I am talking about the way to salvation.  

The way to spending eternity with God.  

The way to living the life God has called you to live.

The way to your purpose.

The way to redemption.

The way to freedom.

The way to your calling. 

The way to heaven.  

It’s a highway to heaven.

None can walk up there.

But the pure in heart.

It’s a highway to heaven.

Walking up the king’s highway

You must know the way.  And the text tells us today that the way to heaven is through Jesus.  That means that you need to know Jesus.  You need to accept him into your heart, surrender all to him, and follow his direction.  But knowing Jesus is the way is not enough.  You also need to know the way.  Meaning that knowing the way also means knowing Jesus.  And you get to know Jesus by studying his word.  Meditating on the word night and day.  You have to open your bible.  You have to read it and concentrate on what God is teaching you.  Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.  You must know the way, which is through Jesus and you must know the way, which is Jesus.

The second reason that you need to turn on your GPS is so that you can go the way.  Isn’t it so much easier to go the way, when you know the way?  So you would think!  

If I know how to get to the store it should be easy for me to go to the store.  

If I know how to live saved it should be easy to live saved, right?  But God never said that it would be easy.  God said that he would never leave us or forsake us!  Usually when you put your destination into a GPS a map appears and shows your starting point and your ending point, but then it gives you directions to your final destination and all you have to do is go the way that it tells you.  We know the way to the father is though Jesus, so all we have to do is be like Nike and just do it! But we do our own thing.  Sometimes as soon as we find out the way, we go the opposite direction because we feel that we are not ready to follow Jesus, or worthy to follow Jesus.  If we waited until we were ready or worthy to follow Jesus we would never get saved.  We are a stubborn people and we want what we want when we want it, but God is not Burger King and you can’t have him your way.  You know the way and you must go the way, which is his way!  Jesus states this clearly!  No one can get to the father unless they go through me!  You must know the way.  You must Go the way.  And the only way to go is through Jesus.  Meaning, you must believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus is the savior of your soul.

The third reason you need to turn on your GPS is so that you can show someone else the way.  Once you know the way, and go the way, it is extremely important that you show others the way.  God did not give you this great gospel to keep to yourself.  You must share your story, use your gifts, and live a life of integrity that will lead others to Christ.  

Not to you, but to Christ.  

Not to church, but to Christ.

Not to Pastor Brian, but to Christ.

No to religion, but to Christ.

Not to tradition, but to Christ.

Not to the movement, but to Christ.

Not to dressing a certain way, but to Christ.

Not to acting a certain way, but to Christ.

You have to catch a fish before you can clean it.  So you must show people the way, and then you can teach them the traditions, history, and movements of the church.  Then you show them how to dress and carry themselves as Christians. But then again, How does a Christian dress?  Sometimes we focus too much on things that are not important.  We have to keep the main thing the main thing.  We cannot be so worried about what someone is wearing that we don’t consider how they are feeling or what they are going through.  

People need to know the way today more than ever.  Look at all the craziness that is going on in the world today.  

All of the horrific and terrifying tragedies in our world.

COVID-19!

Police Shootings!

Social Injustice!

Racism and discrimination!

Black on Black crime!

White on White crime!

Plots to kidnap governors! 

Natural Disasters!

Human trafficking!

Transition of presidential power!

The racial unrest in our nation!

Sexual assaults in High school!

Cyber bullying, and the list goes on and on!

People need to know the way.  

People need to know Jesus. 

People need to get their affairs in order, and I am not talking about wills and insurance.

I am talking about getting your soul in order.

I am talking about getting your name written in the lamb’s book of life.

I’m talking about getting your mind right.

I’m talking about using the good sense that the Lord has given you and accepting him as your Lord and Savior.

I am talking about knowing the way, going the way, and showing the way.

Look at your neighbor, and tell them to turn on their GPS.  I have been telling you throughout this message to turn on your GPS.  And I know that you have been thinking, what does the global positioning system have to do with knowing the way, going the way, and showing the way.  Well I have a confession to make.  When I was telling you to turn on you GPS I was not referring to the Global positioning system.  I was referring to the God Praising System.  In order to really know the way you must praise God.  In order to go the way you must praise God.  And in order to show someone else the way you must praise God.  So everyone in the room do me a favor and turn your GPS and give God some praise.  Turn on your God Praising System and praise him.  From the rising of the sun, to the going down of the same the name of Jesus is worthy to be praised.  So on this last Sunday of 2020 lets give God praise for getting us through an unprecedented time of a global pandemic, social unrest, political upheaval, uphill battles, and outright bigotry and hatred that is far from over.  

Yet we are still standing.  

In spite of it all God has blessed us.  

In spite of it all God has kept us.  

In spite of it all God is still using us.  

In spite of it all God is still pushing us forward. 

In spite of it all God is still allowing us to minister.

In spite of it all we are still worshipping in our homes because we understand that the building is not the church, we are the church.

In spite of it all we are going to give God praise!

So turn on your GPS, your God praising system, and praise the God of your salvation.

The savior of the world!

The lily of the valley!

The balm of Gilead!

The lord of lords!

The king of kings!

The author and finisher of our faith!

The beginning and the end!

The bright and morning star!

The great I am!

The deliverer!

The provider!

The mighty God!

The protector!

The healer!

The way maker!

The mind regulator!

Because once you turn your GPS on and you find the way.  Then you know the truth, which is the simple fact that God is real and he loves you so much that he sent his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.  And when you know the truth you know the life.  Because Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Now how many of you have been on vacation, or you have seen someone on a movie or television show sitting on the beach with a chilled beverage in their hand.  They are comfortable and relaxed and the utter the words, “this is the life!”  Well I have news for you baby if you do not have Jesus in your life you have no life at all.  So tap your neighbor and tell them, turn your GPS on.  Turn on your God Praising System because this is the Life that God has called you to.  

This is the life that God predestined for you before the foundations of the world.  

This is the life that God ordained for you while he knitted you in your mothers womb. 

This is the life that you were meant to have.

This is the life that you have been praying for.

This is the life that you have been fasting for

This is the life.  

The life of salvation.  

The life of a Christian.  

The abundant life that God has promised us.  

The eternal life!  

Oh come and go with me to my father’s house. 
There will be no dying there.  

There will be no lying there.

No bombings there.

No weapons of mass destruction there.

No gun control issues there.

No explosions there.

No natural disasters there.

No shooting there.

No sexual assaults there.

No bullying there.

No disease there.

No cancer there.

No blindness there.

No canes there.

No walkers there.

No wheel chairs there.

No suffering there.

No homelessness there.

No starvation there.

No racism there.

No classism there.

No democrats or republicans or independents there.

Oh, come and go with me to my father’s house!

But you will have to turn on your GPS to get there.  

You will have to turn on your God Praising System so that you can know the way, go the way, and show the way!

Turn your God Praising System on!

Oh come let us adore Him!

The Gifts That We Should Give Part 3

Matthew 2:1-2, 11

Romans 12:3-8

I Peter 4:10-11

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him. . . .

And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” 

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your[a] faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,[b] do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Two weeks  ago we began a series entitled the gifts that we should give and we talked about giving our treasure because the wise men gave Jesus their gold to signify that he was and is the King of kings and the Lord of lords.  

We give our treasure to support the ministry.

We give our treasure to sustain the mission.

We give our treasure because it is sovereignly mandated.  

Last week we talked about giving our time because the wise men gave Jesus frankincense signifying that he is the great high priest and just like the high priest Jesus gave his time so we should give our time too.

We give our time in seeking the Lord in his word.

We give our time in service to the world.

We give our time in sending up praise to the Lord.

This week I would like to talk about giving of our talent because that is exactly what Jesus did while he was here on earth.  We learned in Bible Study this week that the wise men gave Jesus myrrh which was strange because myrrh is an embalming spice, but the wise men giving Jesus myrrh signified that they had faith that he was their savior.  And the greatest talent that Jesus gave us was him sacrificing his life to save us, and because Jesus gave his talent we must give our talents as well…  Yes dying was a talent…  

Because he died we get to live.

Because he died we are healed.

Because the died we are delivered.

Because he died we are redeemed.

Because he died we are set free.

Because even though he died, he was able to defeat death, even death on a cross.  And this makes him our talented savior.  But he also displayed his talent in his miracles, his teaching, his preaching, his mentoring, his healings.  Jesus gave the world his talents and we should give our talents as well.

Shall we look at the text…

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him. . . .

And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” 

Now as we learned in Bible Study the last couple of weeks the significance in this story is not found in the wise men themselves, but in the gifts that they brought.  All we know about the wise men is that they came from the east following a star to worship Jesus.  We do not know if they were kings.  We do not know if they were wise.  But we do know treat they came bearing gifts.  Gold for their king.  Frankincense for their great high priest.  And myrrh for their savior.  This is what we know.  The gave to Jesus and Jesus gave and gives to us, and this is why we should give our gifts.  We talked about giving our treasure.  We talked about giving our time.  Now let’s talk about giving our talent.  And I know someone is thinking what gift, what talent to I have to give.  Well let me show you.

Paul tells the church in Rome For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your[a] faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,[b] do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.  

Paul was telling the church that we all have gifts, but don’t think to highly of yourself because of your gift.  Instead use your gift toy glorify God.

This next passage of scripture is special to me because it is the scripture that I would reference whenever I ministered through gospel rap.  Whenever someone would say to me that I should not do that in the church.  I would reference this text.  Because I truly believe that whatever gift you have should be used to glorify God and build up the kingdom.  

Peter says this in his letter, 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.  

Now there were some things that Peter and Paul did not agree on, but this was not one of them.  Both of them believed that we all have received gifts and talents from God, and by His grace we should be using them to glorify God.  We should be giving our talents.

We give our talents in three ways.

We give our talents to express to the pew the power of God.  In other words, we give our talents to the church.  We use our talents, our God given gifts in the church.  I truly believe that God has blessed us with gifts and talents to be used in the church.  To bless the body. That is why Paul tells the church in our text today that we all have one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function.  So the the functions that each of these members have individually bless the entire body.  And it is the same in the body of christ.  We are all a part of the body of Christ and we all have different functions in the body.  We all have different gifts and talents to fulfill our function or our purpose.

We express the power of God when we sing.

When we preach.

When we teach.

When we usher.

When we work the sound.

When we organize the event.

When we cook a meal.

When we send a card.

When we clean.

When we shovel the snow.

When we pull the weeds.

When we make a phone call.

When we dance.

When we play an instrument.

So what does giving my talent have to do with the power of God?  Let me answer that question with a few of my own.

How many times have you felt the power of God in a preached word?

How many times have you felt the power of God in a Sunday school lesson?

How many times have you felt the power of God in a song sung?

How many times have you felt the power of God in the way an usher treated you?

How many times have you felt the power of God in a phone call from a saint?

How many times have you felt the power of God in a card you received?

How many times have you felt the power of God in a praise dance you observed?

How many times have you felt the power of God in a meal that was cooked for you?

We use our gifts in accordance to the grace God has given us.

We use our talents to express to the pew the power of God.

We give our talents to expose the people to the passion of God.  This is how we give our talent and gift to the world so that they can see that God loves them.  There are so many people in the world that do not know and do not believe that God loves them.  I know this is hard for some of us to believe because we have experienced the unconditional love of God.  

We know for God so loved the world… 

We know that greater is he…  

We know that we can do all things…

But let’s be honest this morning.  We did not always know and believe that God loved us.  As a matter of fact, there was a time in some of our lives when we thought that there was no way that God could love us because we didn’t even love ourselves.  We did not like what we saw in the mirror.  But someone used their gifts and talents to expose us to passion of God.  This reminds me of a story of a conversation in a barber shop.  And in this conversation they were arguing about the existence of God.  And the barber says there is no God.  If  there was a God.  

Why is there so much violence?  

Why is there so much hate?  

Why is there so may killings?  

Why are so many people addicted to drugs?  

Why is there prostitution?  

Why is there abuse?  

Why is there COVID-19?  

If there was a God all this bad stuff would not be happening.  And the customer notices a homeless person with long unkept hair and a rough looking beard and he says to the barber there is no such thing as a barber.  Barbers do not exist.  And the barber says I am right here.  I just cut your hair.  I have been cutting your hair for years.  And the customer says, if barbers exist why is that homeless man out there with unkept hair and a rough looking beard?  And the barber says because he hasn’t come to me for a haircut.  And the customer said and that’s exactly why the world is in the state that it is in because people don’t come to God. And one of the many ways that people can come to God is by us giving our talents so the people can see the passion of God.

We give our talents to experience the pleasure of the presence of God.  So the first two points are about giving to others, but this last point is about giving to ourselves.  I know as men and women of God we often think that it is selfish to think of ourselves, but I want you to know this morning that it is imperative to think of ourselves as well.  Jesus says to love your neighbor as yourself.  Well you cannot love your neighbor as yourself unless you love yourself.  Where are you going with this Pastor Brian?  When we are giving our gifts and talents.  When we are teaching, and preaching, and ushering, and cleaning, and cooking, and doing all the things that God has called and gifted us to do we experience the pleasure of his presence.  Does anybody know what I am talking about? 

Have you ever been ministering to someone and experienced the presence of God?  

Have you ever been serving someone and experienced the presence of God? 

Have you ever been used by the Lord and experienced the presence of God?  

Well I have, and I do not know about anybody else, but there is no place that I would rather be than in the presence of God…

I love my family.

I love my friends.

I love my job.

I love my church.

I love working out.

I love studying the word.

I love watching my eagles.

I love watching the buckeyes.

I love competition.

I love many things.

But there is nothing that I love more, than being in the presence of God, and this is what happens when we give our talents.  We experience the pleasure of being in the presence of God.

Let me share this story with you as I close.

The Cracked Pot

A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the masters house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water in his masters house.

Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you.”

“Why?” asked the bearer. “What are you ashamed of?”

“I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your masters house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts.” The pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, “As we return to the masters house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.”

Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again the Pot apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pots side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my masters table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.”

Each of us has our own unique flaws. We re all cracked pots. But if we will allow it, the Lord will use our flaws to grace His Fathers table. In Gods great economy, nothing goes to waste. Don’t be afraid of your flaws. Acknowledge them, and you too can be the cause of beauty. Know that in our weakness we find our strength.

So I was just wondering the Sunday before Christmas if we have any cracked pots in the house or online.

Is there anybody here that is ready to give God your talents in spite of your cracks

In spite of your blemishes.

In spite of your flaws.

In spite of your short comings.

In spite of you mistakes.

In spite of your past.

In spite of your present.

In spite of your issues.

In spite of your circumstance

In spite of your situation.

In spite of your thoughts.

In spite of your feelings.

In spite of your lack of experience.

In spite of your wounds.

In spite of your scars.

Because you understand that if the Lord can use anything he can use me.

So take my hands Lord take my feet.

Touch my heart Lord speak through me.

If you can use anything Lord you can use me.

So since he can use me I am going to give my talents.

He gave them to me anyway.  So I mind as well give them back and use them for his glory.

That is what is so beautiful of that famous Christmas Carol the Little Drummer Boy.  A song that was never my favorite, but when I really thought about it we should all have the attitude of the little drummer boy.

Come they told me pa rum pum pum pum

A newborn King to see pa rum pum pum pum

Our finest gifts we bring pa rum pum pum pum

To lay before the King pa rum pum pum pum

rum pum pum pum rum pum pum pum

So to honour Him pa rum pum pum pum

When we come

Baby Jesus pa rum pum pum pum

I am a poor boy too pa rum pum pum pum

I have no gift to bring pa rum pum pum pum

That’s fit to give a King pa rum pum pum pum

rum pum pum pum rum pum pum pum

Shall I play for you? pa rum pum pum pum

on my drum?

Mary nodded pa rum pum pum pum

The ox and lamb kept time pa rum pum pum pum

I played my drum for Him pa rum pum pum pum

I played my best for Him pa rum pum pum pum

rum pum pum pum rum pum pum pum

Then He smiled at me pa rum pum pum pum

Me and my drum

Does anybody here want Jesus to smile at you today?

Does anybody here want to make Jesus happy today?

Does anybody here want to give there gifts today?

Well just like the little drummer boy even when you think you have nothing to give you do. 

We give our treasure.

We give our time.

We give out talent.

We give our talent to express to the pew the power of God.

We give our talent to expose the people to the passion of God.

We give our talent to experience the pleasure of the presence of God.

The Gifts That We Should Give Part 2

Matthew 2:1-2, 11

Ephesians 5:15-17

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him. . . .

And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” 

Ephesians 5:15-17, 15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

Last week we began a series entitled the gifts that we should give and we talked about giving our treasure because the wise men gave Jesus their gold to signify that he was and is the King of kings and the Lord of lords.  

We give our treasure to support the ministry.

We give our treasure to sustain the mission.

We give our treasure because it is sovereignly mandated.  

This week we learned in Bible Study that the wisemen presented Jesus with frankincense.  Frankincense is an ingredient used in the making of the incense that was used in the temple by the high priest and they presented it to Jesus to signify that he was their great high priest.  This is significant for us because the high priest interceded for the people of Israel, just like Jesus intercedes for us.  

The high priest Jesus gives his time in service for us.

The high priest Jesus  gives his time when soliciting the father for us.

The high priest Jesus gives his time as he saved us for the father.  So since Jesus, the high priest gives his time,  we should give our time as well.

David Livingstone is renowned as one of the greatest missionaries of all time. He was among the first to explore Africa, driven by a passionate desire to end the slave trade. Livingstone was convinced that by opening up the continent he could expose slavery for the evil it was. When he died he was beloved in both Africa and England. His heart was buried in Africa and his body returned to England, where he was given a hero’s funeral. The gravestone read “brought by faithful hand over land and sea, David Livingstone: missionary, traveller, philanthropist. For thirty years his life was spent in an unwearied effort to evangelize the native races, to explore the undiscovered secrets and abolish the slave trade.”

Yet it is easy to focus on Livingstone the “saint” without recognizing that he was an ordinary human being facing normal human struggles. Before he found his life’s work Livingstone met with a lot of “dead ends”. He initially entered medical college in response to a call for medical missionaries to China, but by the time his training was complete the Opium Wars had begun and the door to China was closed. He then settled on South Africa, having met a missionary already at work there, Robert Moffat. Moffat had a mission station 600 miles north of Capetown, and had told Livingstone that it glowed in the morning sun with “the smoke of a thousand villages where no missionary had been before.” Unfortunately, when Livingstone arrived he discovered Moffat had been exaggerating. Rather than the smoke of a thousand villages Moffat had less than 40 converts, of whom half had returned to their pre-Christian ways, and the surrounding countryside was destitute of people.

Disillusioned with Moffat’s mission station Livingstone then set out to establish his own missionary work. Over the course of ten years he established a strong of mission stations, but had only one convert, who eventually returned to paganism.

This caused Livingstone to rethink his vocation, and it was only after all these setbacks that he finally embarked on his great journeys of exploration.

Not only did Livingstone face many setbacks before finding his vocation, he also suffered many character defects. While he loved the native Africans and got along well with them, he found it almost impossible to get along with his fellow Europeans. He fought with fellow missionaries, fellow explorers, assistants, and even his brother Charles. He held grudges for years, could explode with rage and later in life had a serious falling out and parting of the ways with his original mission organization, the London Missionary Society.

Livingstone’s story reminds us that we move into the future one step at a time, that where we will end up is often unclear, that there may be many detours along the way, but that if we are faithful God will take us and use us.  Livingstone was able to accomplish so much because he was willing to give his time, and we must be willing to give our time as well.  Shall we look at the text.

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him. . . .

And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” 

Now I touched on this earlier when I mentioned that the wise men presented Jesus with frankincense to signify that he is the great high priest.  And as a high priest Jesus gave his time.  It is also important to note that wise men gave their time as well.  They traveled from the far east, following the northern star to find Jesus, worship him, and present him with gifts. 

And we can’t even find our way to church. 

We can’t find our way to the word.  

We can’t find our way to worship.  

We can’t find our way to our knees to pray.

We can’t find our way to praise.  

We can’t find our way to bless somebody else.  

We can’t find our way to lend a helping hand.  

We better check ourselves before we wreck ourselves.  

We must give our time.

Ephesians 5:15-17, 15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.  Paul was really expressing to the church in Ephesus the importance of time.  Not only must we give our time, but we must make sure that we are not wasting our time.  We must seize and make the most of every opportunity.    We must be careful how we live, we must be wise and not unwise.  We must not be foolish and we must understand what the Lord’s will is.  In other words, we must not waste our time or His time.  Instead by knowing the Lord’s will we can properly give our time.  We give our time in three ways.

We give our time in seeking the Lord in the word.

Joshua 1:8 “This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; but you shall meditate therein day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success.”

Nehemiah 8:3 “And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.”Romans 10:17 “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

We must give our time to seeking the Lord in the word.  

In other words, we must spend time studying the word.  

We must spend time meditating on the word.  

We must spend time thinking about the word.  

We must spend time learning the word.  

We must spend time applying the word to our lives.  

We must spend time reading the word.

We must spend time comprehending the word.

We must spend time understanding the word.

We cannot just get buy on what we hear at church and bible study.  This is something that we need to know for ourselves.  And this takes time, and I truly believe that this is time worth spending.  Its is an investment that will have a return.  Because the stock of God’s word is on a continual rise because the more time you spend with God in his word the higher and higher and higher and higher he will take you.  

We must give our time seeking the Lord in the word.

We give our time in service to the world.  I think one one the main reasons that we give our time in seeking the Lord in the word is so that we will know how to give our time in service to the world.  Now we all know the great commission in Matthew 28:19-20, Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  We all know that it is better to give than receive.  

We all know that we are to care of the widowed, orphaned, and the least of us.   

We know this from seeking the Lord in the word.  Now it is time to take what we have learned and put it into action.  It is our job, and our responsibility as the body of Christ to serve the world, and look out for those less fortunate than us.  

To help those that our struggling. 

To help those that our in need.  

To give food to the hungry.  

To clothe to the clothe-less.  

To give shelter to the homeless.  

We must give our time in service to the world.  

Now everybody cannot do everything, but everybody can do something.  We have to be like the good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37, On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]”

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”  

The Samaritan man gave his time to serve a Jew knowing good and well that Samaritans do not associate with Jews.  And Jesus tells us to go and do likewise.  We must give our time in service to the world.

We give our time in sending up praise to the Lord. We give our time in seeking the Lord in the word.  We give our time in service to the world.  And we give our time in sending up praise to the Lord.  Now don’t get quiet on me now.  I know how disappointed most of you were when the Ohio State/Michigan game was canceled.  Ya’ll were eagerly waiting and anticipating cheering on the Buckeyes as the crushed the wolverines one again.  You could not wait to chant O-H-I-O!  You could not wait to praise your team!  We need to have that same energy when it comes to giving our time in sending up praise to the Lord.  

We should not dragging when it’s time for church.  

We should not be hesitant when it’s time to worship.  

We should not procrastinate when it’s time to praise.  

We should not be wishing we were somewhere else when we’re in worship.  

The Bible says in I Chronicles 16:23-31, 23 Sing to the LORD, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day. 24 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. 25 For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. 26 For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. 27 Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place. 28 Ascribe to the LORD, all you families of nations, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. 29 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him. Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness. 30 Tremble before him, all the earth! The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved. 31 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, “The LORD reigns!”  We give our time in sending up praise to the Lord because he is worthy of our praise.  Can I get a witness this morning that the Lord is worthy of our praise?

We give our time in seeking the Lord in the word.

We give our time in service to the world.

We give our time in sending up praise to the Lord.

These are all the things that the old testament high priest did while giving their time.  These are all the things that Jesus did in the new testament and is still doing in giving his time.  And we should do the same.  Times is the one thing in life that we cannot get more of, and once its gone you can’t get any more.

You can get more food, but you can’t get more time.

You can get more things.

You can get more clothes.

You can get more land.

You can get more money.

You can get more friends.

You can get another jobs.

You can get more stuff.

You can get another car.

You can have more kids.

You can get another spouse.

You can get another dog.

You can catch more fish.

You can get more opportunities, but you can’t get more time.

So don’t waste your time thinking about the past.

Don’t waste your time wondering if you’re good enough.

Don’t waste your time watching TV.

Don’t waste your time on that man or woman that does not appreciate you.

Don’t waste your time not walking in your calling.

Don’t waste your time not being all that God called you to be.
Don’t waste your time not doing what God called you to do.

Don’t waste your time not receiving all that God has for you.

Instead give your time like the high priest.

Give your time like Jesus.

Make time for Jesus and I guarantee he will make time for you.  

Make time for God and he’ll make time to bless you.

He’ll make time to heal you.

He’ll make time to deliver you.

He’ll make time to rescue you.

He’ll make time to make a way out of no way.

He’ll make time to make the impossible possible.

He’ll make time to lift you up.

He’ll make time to take you and make something beautiful out of your life.

He’ll make time to pick you up, turn you around, and place your feet on solid ground.

He’ll make time to look beyond your faults and see your needs.

He’ll make time to be the light in your dark world.

He’ll make time to meet you at your point of need.

He will make time for you.

Does anybody in the room want to make time for Jesus?

Does anybody in the room want to give your time to the Lord?

We give our time in seeking the Lord in the word.

We give our time in service to the world.

We give our time in sending up praise to the Lord.    

The Gifts We Should Give Part1

Matthew 2:1-2,11

Malachi 3:8-10

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him. . . .

And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” 

“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.

Last year during the advent season I preached a series entitled the gifts that God gives.  I shared with you that the gifts that God gives are special because he loves us.  The gifts God gives are specific because he knows us.  The gifts that God gives are spectacular because he’s God.  And the gifts that God gives are spiritual because God is spirit and those that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.  Last year it was all about worshipping and praising God for the wonderful gifts that he gives us.  And how many people today can give God praise for the gifts that he gives.  We may not get what we want, but he always gives us what we need!

This year I would like to focus on the gifts that we should give.  That’s right we cannot always be receivers, we must give as well. My mother-in-love always says you’re not living if you are not giving.  

I mean you cannot always have your hands out.  

You cannot always expect someone to be giving something to you.  

You cannot always be the one on the receiving end.  

As good as God has been to us, it should be easy for us to be good to someone else.  

As much as God had given to us, it should be easy for us to give to someone else.

I just believe that we should be following the example set by our father.  What are you talking about Pastor Brian?  

For God do loved the world that He gave….   

He gave his only.  

He gave his best.  

He gave his child.

He gave us breath.  

He gave us life.  

He gave us health.

He gave us strength.

He gave us everything.  

So because our father is a giver we should be givers as well. 

So during this advent season I would like to talk about the gifts that we should give.  

This sermon series actually coincides with what I am teaching in Bible Study this month as well.  We are talking about the significance and symbolism of the gifts that the wise men bought to Jesus, and the first gift that they gave Jesus was gold.  

They presented Jesus with gold to signify that he was the king of kings and the lord of Lords.  

They presented him with gold because that’s what you give to royalty and Jesus is royalty.  

He rules and he reigns!

And his rule reign shall never end.  

And just like the wise men gave Jesus their gold, their treasure, we should give our treasure as well.  

Shall we look at the text?

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him. . . .’

And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” 

Now we do not know much about these wise men, whom some have called magi.  Some people have referred to them as kings, but we don’t know if they are kings.  All we know is they came from the east.  They saw the star and they followed it to their king.  

We don’t know much, but we do know that they were not Jewish.  We do know that they were gentiles.  

We do know that they were foreigners.  

We do know that they traveled a long way to worship a kings they knew nothing about.  

We do know that they worshipped Jesus.  

We do know that that they gave him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.

We do know that they gave him their treasure.

I think that it is important to note that the wise men gave their treasure.  They gave their gold.  As mentioned earlier they gave gold to signify the rule of Jesus.  Because gold is what you give to royalty.  Gold is what you give to kings and queens.  Gold is what you present to rulers. But gold is also precious, valuable, and expensive.  And that is what is so significant about them giving it to Jesus.  They could have easily given him silver or copper or livestock or grain, but they chose to give him their gold, their treasure.  So many people today are so hung up on their treasure, their money.  

How much do they have?

How much do they need?  

How much can the get?  

How much can they spend?  

How much can they save?

And they fail to realize that there are so many things that are much more important than money.  

That was the problem with the young man that came to Jesus asking what good thing must I do to inherit eternal life…. When Jesus told him what he needed to do he went away sad because he had much wealth.  This is when Jesus said it is easier for a camel to walk through the eye of the needle than a rich man to enter eternal life.  You cannot be so caught up and hung up on your money that you are not willing to give.

Which bring us to Malachi 3:8-10, “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.

We cannot be so caught up in our treasure that we rob God.  We cannot be so caught up in what we have that we fail to give God what rightfully belongs to him.  It is funny how people can be all into church until you start talking about their money.  

You can talk about my sin.  

You can talk abut my character.  

You can talk about me needing to get involved.  

You can talk about me not being committed, but don’t talk about my money.  I once heard someone say, Me and God have an understanding.  I stay out of his business and he stays out of mine.  Now as children of God this cannot be our attitude.  I believe we all know that God does not want pieces or parts of our lives.  He wants it all, and all includes your treasure.  

I Timothy 6:10 clearly states, For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.  Now money in and of itself is not evil, it is the love of money that is evil, and the love of money will cause you to rob God.  And Jesus says in Mark 8:36, What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?  So let me give you three reasons why we should give our treasure and then let I will let you go.

First we must give our treasure to support the ministry.  Giving our treasure is just a fancy way of saying our tithes and offering. 

It is our tithes and offering that pay the mortgage.  

It’s our tithes and offering that keep the lights on.  

It’s our tithes and offering that keep the heat on.  

It’s our tithes offering that keep the water running.  

It’s our tithes and offering that keep the ac cool.  

It’s our tithes and offering that keep the internet running.

It’s our tithes and offering that take care of the building enabling us to do the ministry that God has called us to do.  

We must give our treasure to support the ministry.

Secondly, we must give our treasure to sustain the mission.  Our church’s mission is to love God and to love people.  We cannot do that without the giving of our treasure.  I mean we can say it, but we cannot not actually do it without the giving of our treasure.  

Coat donations, which by the way are still coming in, giving of our treasure.

School supply drive, giving of our treasure.

Sock drive, giving of our treasure.

Hats and gloves collection, giving our treasure.

Snack pack give away, giving of our treasure.

Trunk or treat, giving of our treasure.

Media ministry, giving of our treasure.

I am not stating these things to be braggadocios, but to let you know that there is a reason and a purpose to the giving our treasure.  

We have work to do.  

We have things to accomplish.

We have a mission to sustain.

And it all costs money.  

So we give our treasure to sustain the mission.

Last but not least we give our treasure because it’s sovereignly mandated.  God told the Israelites through Malachi to bring the whole tithe to the storehouse.  

Not some.  

Not a portion.  

Not a part.  

Not a little bit of it.

Not a down payment.

Not a layaway plan.  

Not 90 days same as cash.

Bring all of the tithe to the store house.  And if you do he will bless you!  He will bless you so much that you will not even have room to store it.  Let’s think about that for a moment.  When you give God a tenth of what is his anyway, he is going to bless you for giving you 10% of what is his.  To me that is a win win situation.  But let me give you a visual.

Now I did not come up with this example myself.  I seen it used by Pastor John Jenkins of First Baptist Church in Glenardon, Maryland who happens to be a great friend of my spiritual father.  And I just thought it would be a good fit right here..

So even when we are giving our treasure which is his anyway, God is still blessing us.  Sometimes you have to look at it from a different angle.  Don’t think of it as what you are giving up. Think about what he allows you to keep.  

Let me close with this story about John Wesley.

The modern Australian way is to spend, spend, spend, to the very limits of your income and then some more!

A few hundred years ago the great preacher and evangelist John Wesley showed us another way. Wesley lived in economically uncertain times, yet from humble beginnings he became so well known that his income eventually reached 1400 pounds per year. In 2001 this would be the equivalent of earning around $300,000.

So what did he do with all this wealth? Did he tithe it? No. Wesley went way beyond tithing. He disciplined himself to live on just 30 pounds of the 1400 pounds he earned every year. He gave away 98% of all he earned and lived on just 2%!

Wesley once preached a sermon on Luke 16.9. In it he spelled out his philosophy: money is a tool that can be used for great good or great ill. “It is an excellent gift of God” he claimed, “answering the noblest ends. In the hands of his children, it is food for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, raiment for the naked: It gives to the traveller and the stranger where to lay his head. By it we may supply the place of an husband to the widow, and of a father to the fatherless. We maybe a defense for the oppressed, a means of health to the sick, of ease to them that are in pain; it may be as eyes to the blind, as feet to the lame; yea, a lifter up from the gates of death! It is therefore of the highest concern that all who fear God know how to employ this valuable talent; that they be instructed how it may answer these glorious ends, and in the highest degree.”

He went on to spell out three simple rules which can guide us: gain all you can, save all you can, give all you can.  

Which brings me back to what my mother-in-love always says, you’re not living if you’re not giving.  And I don’t know about anybody else in the room or online but I want to live so I am going to give.

And right now I am going to give God praise.

I am going to give God Glory.

I am going to give God my worship.

Because from the rising of the son to the going down of the same  the name of Jesus is worthy to be praise.

Oh little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie

Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by

Yet in thy dark streets shineth, the everlasting light

The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

For Christ is born of Mary, and gathered all above

While mortals sleep the angels keep their watch of wondering love

Oh morning stars together, proclaim thy holy birth.

And praises sing to God the king, and peace to men on earth.

Because God gave us Jesus, we must give as well.

The first thing we must give is our treasure.

We give our treasure to support the ministry

We give our treasure to sustain the mission.

We give our treasure because it is sovereignly mandated.

P.O.W.

People of Worship

2 Timothy 2:22-26

22 Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

I know what some of you may be thinking.  It is the first of advent and he just read from 2 Timothy.  This is a time of expectation.  When we look forward to the celebration of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.  I did not hear the birth of Jesus Christ mentioned in the scripture that pastor read?  Where is Joseph?  Where is Mary?  Where are the shepherds?  Where are the wise men?  Where is sweet baby Jesus?  Well, let me explain.  If it had not been for the birth of Jesus, Paul would have no reason to be writing this second letter to Timothy or any of the many letters that he wrote in the New Testament.  In other words, it is all relative and I just believe that on this first Sunday of advent God is trying to tell us something through this passage of scripture.  So let’s get to work.

In 1985, a movie was released.  It was a sequel to Rambo: First Blood.  It was Rambo: First Blood 2, starring Sylvester Stallone.  It was a box office hit grossing over 300 million dollars and said to be the best of the series.  Now the movie picks up where the Rambo: First Blood left off.  John Rambo is in prison and he is offered early release and a pardon by federal order to document the possible existence of POWs in Vietnam, under the belief that they will find nothing, thus enabling the the government to sweep the issue under the rug.  When Rambo arrives in Vietnam he realizes that there are POWs in Vietnam and he is determined to rescue them.  His commanding officer has no intentions of rescuing anyone and makes his intentions known to Rambo.  Somebody say big mistake.  Along with the help of a young Vietnamese girl Co-Bao (they had to add a love story to the movie) Rambo was able to free the POWs, return home, and earn his freedom.  

Now the first thing that came to my mind as I prepared for this sermon was Senator John McCain, and how he bravely served our nation in the Navy.  His plane went down and he was a POW in Vietnam for 5 1/2 years, and how our president has mocked, ridiculed, and bulled one of our countries heroes, even after his passing.  Now I may not have agreed with all of Senator McCain’s political views, but I respected what he went through in service for these United States.  And anyone that was a prisoner of war should be saluted and respected.  Can I get an amen.  

Which brings me to what I want to talk about today.  One of the hardest things that we deal with as Christians is spiritual warfare.  It was what Paul was discussing in Romans last week.  It is the constant battle between our flesh and the spirit.  What our sinful nature wants to do opposed to what the spirit of the living God dwelling with in us calls us to do.  One of the main risks of spiritual warfare is the possibility of becoming a POW, prisoner of war.  And I know what you’re thinking.  What in the world are you talking about PB?  Well if there is a war, even if it’s a spiritual war, there are going to be prisoners of that war.  And since we are talking about spiritual warfare there are going to be some spiritual prisoners of war.  As a matter of fact, in spiritual warfare we have all been POWs, will be POWs, or are POWs right now.  Now don’t look at me in that “whatcha talking bout Willis” face. 

We have all been prisoners of this war.

We have fallen short.

We have all messed up.

We have all been lost.

We have all been wretches undone.

We have all been shackled by sin.

We have all been chained up by sin.

We have all been in-prisoned by sin.

We have all been in bondage to sin.

We have all been enslaved to sin.

Now you want to get quiet on a brother.

I’m knocking on the door and you’re acting like no ones home.

I’m ringing your door bell and you won’t answer the door.

I am not a Jehovah’s Witness but I am a witness of Jehovah.

Now I have to get all in your businesses.

Your bondage may have been liquor.

Your bondage may have been sex.

Your bondage may have been drugs.

Your bondage may have been pornography.

Your bondage may have been food.

Your bondage may have been lying.

Your bondage may have been gossip.

Your bondage may have been jealousy.

Your bondage may have been adultery.

Your bondage may have been pride.

Whatever you bondage is, was, or may be you have experienced being a POW, a prisoner of war.

Isn’t this exactly what Paul is talking about in the text today.  22 Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.  Paul is telling Timothy not to go after youthful desires but to pursue righteousness.  To stay away from quarrels and arguments because the Lord’s servant must be kind to everyone.  As servant of the Lord we must be kind to everyone!  We must teach everyone without being resentful.  Out opponents, the ones that don’t believe what we believe must be taught in the right way in order to bring them to repentance.  This means we teach them in love and not beat them up with the Bible.  Which will lead them to the truth and they will be able to escape from the devil who has taken them captive.  So in a a sense we become their Rambo.  We help rescue them just like someone helped rescue us, because we have all been captives.  We have all been POWs.

So how do we become POWs?  I am so glad that you asked.  Here are three ways that we become POWs. Prisoners of war.  Now don’t get too excited this is just my ABC not my 123!

A.  We were tricked by the enemy.

B.  We were trapped by encounters.

C.  We were trained by experiences.

But because of Jesus. Because of the cross.  Because of the blood we have been set free and we are no longer prisoners of war, but we are still POW’s, People of Worship!  We have been saved.  We have been redeemed.  We have been delivered.  We have been set free.  We are POWs!  People of Worship!  We are People of Worship for three reasons.

We are people of worship because of the transaction.  The transaction was the life death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  There are three things that are involved in this transaction. 

The goods received. The life of Jesus is the good that we received.  For God so loved the world that he gave…. I think it is safe to say that Jesus is the greatest gift, the greatest good that we have ever received.

The services rendered. The service that Jesus rendered was his sacrificial death on the cross.  Because we know that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin.  And Christ paid the ultimate price so that we would not have to.

The funds returned. So we received the goods, Jesus.  He rendered His service by dying on the cross.  Then the funds were returned.  

You see they beat Him.

They tortured Him.

They ridiculed Him.

They ripped off His clothes.

They slapped Him.

They spat on Him.

They made sport of Him.

They nailed Him to the cross.

They pierced Him in His side.

They killed Him.

They threw Him in a grave.

They thought they had won.

They thought He was gone.

They thought is was over.

But three days later He rose again with all power in His hands.  Three days later He returned.

Somebody say funds returned!

We are people of worship because of the transformation.  When we believe in the transaction our lives our transformed.  2 Corinthians 5:17 Paul tells the church in Corinth, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!  We are transformed in three ways.

We are changed for the better.  Is there anybody in the room and online that can testify to the fact that since the transaction and the transformation your life has changed for the better.

You are walking right.

You are talking right.

You are living right.

You are eating right.

You are treating your family better.

You are handling your money better.

You are more responsible.

You are more committed.

You are better.

We are challenged to be our best.  Before the the transaction and the transformation we were okay with being okay.  

We were fine with being fine.  

We were comfortable being comfortable.  

But now we have been challenged to do more.  

We have been challenged to be more.  

We have been challenged to be all that God has called us to be.  And this is not an easy thing to do, but we are up for the task because we know that God will give us everything that we need to face the challenges that lie ahead of us.  He has done it before and he will do it again.

We are charged to bring others in.  I keep telling you it is not all about us.  We are charged to bring others into the fold.  I cannot think of a better gift to give during this Advent season than the gift of an introduction to Jesus Christ.  We are charged to do it.  Matthew 28:19 says, 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  We are charged to bring others in!

We are people of worship because of the transfer.  Has anyone ever experienced a transfer before?  

Whether it was on your job transferring from one location to another.  

Maybe you experienced a travel transfer from one bus to another, or one plane or train to another.  

Maybe you experienced a transfer of funds from one account to another.  

Maybe you experiences a transfer of ownership.  

What are you talking about PB?  Give me a second and I will show you.  

A transfer is basically moving from one place to another and I am so excited that because of the transaction and because of the transformation we will get to transfer from this world to the next.  Our time here is temporary.  This world is not our final destination.  That is why I told you months ago that we should be living out of our suitcase because we are just passing through.  And here are three reasons for our transfer.

The price has been paid.  The ticket has been purchased.  Our seat has been reserved because of the transaction and the transformation our name is on the role.  Our names have been written in the Lamb’s book of life.  And whether we are among the dead in Christ that will rise first or among those that will be caught up to me Him, I believe the trip will be first class.  The price has been paid.

The place has been prepared.  Jesus Himself, has prepared the place for us so you know that it is going to be laid out!  And if Jesus took the time to prepare the place He will come back to take us to the place He prepared for us.

The promise is permanent.  I don’t know what your experience has been with God.  But every time God has promised me something it has come to pass or it is on the way.  

2 Corinthians 1:20 Paul states, For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.  God’s promises are permanent.

They are Lasting, enduring, indefinite, continuing, perpetual, everlasting, eternal, abiding, constant, persistent, irreparable, irreversible, lifelong, standing, perennial, unending, endless, never-ending, immutable, unchangeable, unalterable, invariable, unchanging, changeless, undying, and imperishable!  God’s promises are permanent.

Because of the transaction, the transformation, and the transfer we are POW’s not prisoners of war described in our text today, but we are People of Worship.  And here is the thing about worship.  Everyone cannot worship God.  Only children of God can worship God.  Because those that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.  You can only worship Him in spirit and in truth if His spirit is living in you. That is why the transaction and transformation are so important because through the transaction and transformation we will receive His spirit and eventually our transfer to where we will worship Him for all eternity.  But in the meantime we can worship Him right now.  

I worship you almighty God.

There is none like you.

I worship you, oh prince of peace.

That is what I long to do.

I give you praise for you are my righteousness.

I worship you almighty God.

There is none like you.

Does anybody here what to worship God this morning?

Does anybody here want to kiss the face of God this morning?
Does anybody here want to bow down and worship Him this morning?

Does anybody here want to lift up holy hands and worship God this morning?

Well, go ahead and do it!

We are all POWs.

People of Worship.

Because of the transaction.

Because of the transformation.

Because of the transfer.

We are People of Worship.

Got Sin?

Romans 7:14-25

 14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

 21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!   So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature[b] a slave to the law of sin.

Does any one remember the old milk commercials where the little boy or girl would be drinking a class of milk looking in the mirror and seeing themselves all grown up in the future?  They would be talking to themselves and saying something like, “I am not going to be this size forever, as a matter of fact I am drinking milk, and I am growing stronger everyday.  I even remember the commercial that simply stated milk does a body good, pass it on.  Well in 1993 they shrunk a 30-60 second commercial into two words, “Got Milk” you would see it on billboards, in magazines and news papers, and on television.  Some superstar like Michael Jordan or Madonna would have a great big white milk mustache and the headline or caption would read, “Got Milk” to stress the importance of drinking milk.  The campaign  re-emerged in 2014 with newer faces like Serena Williams and Dwight Howard.  I have even seen Pittsburgh Steelers fans with T-shirts that said, “Got Rings” referring to the number of super bowl rings they have compared to other teams in the NFL.  Which many Steeler fans believe will soon be seven and counting.  And it may happen soon the way they are playing this year.  I have even seen Christians with bumper stickers and t-shirts that say, “Got Jesus” as to imply if you do not have Jesus, let me introduce Him to you.  And, this week as I pondered over what God would have me speak about this morning it came to me.  “Got Sin?”

And its funny because although we all have been saved from sin.

Although we all struggle with sin.

Although we all have our issues with sin. 

Although we all have are hang-ups about sin. 

Although we try to act as if we don’t have sin.

And we look down on people, who are living in sin, 

outwardly committing sin.

Forgetting that we are all members of the X family and I am not talking about Malcolm X.  I am talking about the family of…

X alcoholics!

X drug addicts!

X fornicators!

X benders of the truth, or tellers of little white lies, or let’s just call it like it is, X liars!

X adulterers!

X gossipers!

X fighters!

X thieves!

X gamblers!

X whoremongers!

X player players!

X woman beaters!

X child abusers!

X gang bangers!

X instigators!

X haters!

And some of us are not an X anything because we are still doing the same old things, only we do them behind closed doors when no one is watching.  News Flash, God sees and knows everything.  

Although we are saved sanctified and filled with the Holy Ghost we still struggle with sin, and at the same time we never talk about sin.  Well today we are going to talk about sin.  The first step to fixing a problem is admitting that you have a problem.  Isn’t that what they tell drug addicts and alcoholics that are trying to kick the habit of using drugs and alcohol?  So let’s keep it real today.  And I will start it off myself…  “My name is Pastor Brian Kelly Holland and I struggle with sin!”  Repeat after me, “I struggle with sin!” Well sin begins in the mind.  It takes root in the mind.  First you get an image of a sin in your mind.  Then you start to think about that sin over and over and over and over again, and the next thing you know you are committing that sin.  That is why we have to guard our minds from sin.  You cannot let anything and everything into your mind.  For example, if you are constantly listening to music about a certain thing.  If you are consistently watching movies and television shows about a certain thing.  If you are in the habit of reading books and magazines about that certain thing.  You are going to start thinking about that thing, fantasizing about that thing, and wanting to do that thing.  The next thing you know you will be doing that thing.  You will wake up the next morning wonder how in the world did this happen again?  Then you’ll be at the alter next Sunday again, saying to yourself, why do I keep making the same mistakes over and over again.  Its because you have not been guarding your mind.  You have to guard your mind!  I say this all the time, but as a child of God you cannot watch what everyone else is watching, and listen to what everyone else is listening to.  You have to guard your mind!  But, we are not alone, even Paul the great Christian persecutor turned mighty Apostle had issues with sin.

Shall we look at the text?  In the 7th chapter of Romans, or the letter that Paul wrote to the church in Rome, Paul is explaining his personal experience with sin to the church.  As preachers, teachers, leaders, and witnesses it is extremely important that we make ourselves transparent to the people we are ministering to.  We cannot act all high and mighty.  We can’t be so heavenly bound that we’re no earthly good.  People need to see that we have issues too.  We mess up too.  We make mistakes too.  We are human too. There is no red cape under our robe or suit, and we do not have a big “SC” on our chest for super Christian.  

But back to the text, without getting all deep and philosophical, (which would be easy to do with this scripture) Paul was simply telling the church in Rome, I struggle with sin too.  I do the things I don’t want to do.  And I do not do the things that I should do.  I know what is right, but for some reason I keep doing what’s wrong.  Does this sound familiar to anybody?

Paul goes on to say that this happens not because of him, but because of the sin living within him.  Listen, this is not an excuse for Paul’s behavior, but a statement of the great control sin can have over a Christian’s life.  Notice that I said can, can means that it is only a possibility.  Not that it is a definite.  

I can get sick and die, but that is only one option.  The other option is that I can be healed from my sickness and go on to live a prosperous life.  

I can cheat on the test.  Or, I can study using the ability that God has given me and pass it on my own.  

I can continue to live with my sin, or I can make a decision to live a better life.

My bible tells me that no weapon formed against me shall prosper, and I am more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus.  God will not put more on you than you are able to bear, and when temptation comes he will always provide a way out for me.  

When Donnie McClurkin came out with the song we fall down, but we get up.  A number of people thought Donnie was saying it was all right to sin, but I don’t believe that is what he was trying to say at all.  Even in the scripture text, someone could easily bend and twist the scripture to say that sin is OKAY, but that was not Paul’s intention.  Instead of acting like sin does not exist or that it is not an issue because you are saved.  Like many of us do.  We try to keep the sin behind closed doors, to sweep it under the rug.  To keep the skeletons in the closet.  Paul warns us that if we are not careful sin can and will control and destroy our lives again.  Yes, Donnie said we fall down, but we get up, but I believe he was trying to tell us that once we get up we rely on God through prayer and the power of the Holy Ghost not to fall down again.  It is like a parent warning a child of the dangers of playing with fire or touching a hot stove.  They do not want their children hurt so they warn them.  Paul is warning us of the danger of sin, and if we don’t talk about it we are more likely to become overtaken by it.  Sometimes I think we believe that if we do not talk about something, that it really doesn’t exist.  If we just ignore the issues, problems, and situations they will go away.  

We don’t talk to our kids about the dangers of drugs because we don’t think that our children will ever try drugs.  Then we ‘re so disappointed and heart broken when we find out they’re experimenting or even worse, addicted to drugs.  We don’t talk to our children about not having sex before they’re married, because we assume that they will not have sex.  Not my baby! But when they come home with a sexually transmitted disease or a positive pregnancy test we want to scream and yell.  

We don’t think our Christian brothers and sisters will back slide so we do not talk about our weaknesses and concerns with sin, and when they fall we want to get judgmental, act like we are better than them, and tell all of their business.  Did you hear about brother or sister Jones…? But if we would just talk about the issue of sin we wouldn’t have to deal with so many of these situations.

Got Sin?  Yes, we got sin.  So what do we do about it Pastor Brian?  I am so glad that you asked.  Here are three things that you can do with your sin…

  1. Stop:  I know it seems simple, but I am a simple kind of preacher.  As I’ve told you many times before.  Whatever it is that you are doing you need to stop doing it. Lying, cheating, fornicating, disobediance, defiance, cutting up at school, being disrespectful, whatever the sin is just STOP!
    1. Repent, meaning to turn away from the sin and ask God to forgive you.  I once told a coworker  that you cannot better yourself if you continue to hang in the environment you’re trying to get away from.  For example if you are trying to quit smoking you have to quit hanging around smokers.  If you are trying to quit drinking you have to stop hanging around people who drink.  So you don’t just repent in your mind, you must physically turn away from the sin as well.
    2. Return to your proper relationship with God, you have to return to your first love.  Because when you’re sinning you know your relationship with God is not what it should be.  You cannot go to God the way you want to go to God because sin is standing in your way.
    3. Replace it!  They always tell addicts that they need to replace the old habit with something new.  For example, if you were an over eater they tell you to exercise.  If you’re a drinker they will encourage you to drink coffee or water.  So whatever you’re struggling with you need to stop doing it and replace it with something else.  You could easily replace the sin with the word, with your worship, and with your witness.
  1. Drop:  You need to drop it.  You see sometimes we will stop doing something, but we will continue to hold on to it.  Now don’t look at me like I’m crazy you know exactly what I am talking about.  You stopped sinning, but you are still holding on to the memories.  The good old days.  Now in the words of the great theologians Boys II Men, I know it hard to say goodbye to yesterday but you need to Drop it like its hot!  The sin that is.  I think the biggest part of getting over the wrongs that we’ve done is forgiving ourselves and letting things go.  You messed up!  Get over it and move on. 
    1. Let go of the pain
    2. Let go of the guilt
    3. Let go, and let GOD!!! (I’m not where I want to be, but I am not what I used to be.  Please be patient with me, God is not through with me yet!)

3.  Roll:  Now that you have stopped the sin, and now that you have dropped the sin it is time to roll from the sin.  It is time to move on.  God has great things in store for you and you cannot get all that God has for you if you stay in the same place.  You have to roll.  That’s why in Philippians 3:13-14 Paul states, Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.  We need to roll.  

  1. Roll on by preparing- you must be prepared for the next level in Christ, you must be prepared for the next thing the devil throws your way.  The minute you climb one mountain, there is another one to climb.  So roll on in preparation.
  2. Roll on by praying- if any Christian is truly going to be triumphant over sin he or she must do so on their knees.  You need to be committed to stating in constant and consistent communication with God!
  3. Roll on by praising-I don’t think there is any better way to overcome sin than to praise God!  So praise him in the good times.  Praise him in the bad times.  Praise him on the mountain and praise him in the valley.   Praise him in the morning, praise him in the noon time praise him when the sun goes down!

Yes, you were not hearing things, I used fire safety rules to describe what you must do if you’ve Got Sin, which is so appropriate because the bottom line Saints is that the wages of sin is death, and I don’t know about you, but I do not want to spend eternity burning in hell in the fiery pit.  I told you last week I can’t do hell twice!  I have gone through enough hell on earth already.  So if you are not afraid to admit that you have sin.  And you are tired of the sin trying to control your life, and you are ready to walk in your calling to achieve all that God has in store for you.  

If you are ready for your break through.  

If you are ready for the next level in your Christian walk, just stop, drop, and roll.

If you are tired of…

Doing the same old things.

Getting high and drunk.

Sleeping around.

Lying.

Cheating.

Gossiping.

Stirring up trouble.

Stealing.

Watching pornography.

Being unforgiving.

Not being obedient.

Not following leadership.

Being disrespectful.

Not following the will of God.

Living in sin just stop, drop, and roll

I would rather stop, drop, and roll than end up in hell.  So with that being said it should be easy to stop, drop, and roll if you know that you’ve got…

Got a savior.

Got the alpha.

Got the omega.

Got the comforter.

Got the lily of the valley.

Got grace.

Got mercy.

Got favor.

Got joy.

Got peace that passes all understanding.

Got a doctor in the hospital.

Got a lawyer in the court room.

Got God on your side.

Got hope.

Got the healer.

Got the provider.

Got the prince of peace.

Got the beginning.

Got the end.

Got the creator.

Got the mind regulator.

Got the original promise keeper.

Got the almighty.

Got the maker of heaven and earth.

Got the father.

Got the son.

Got the Holy Ghost.

Got Jesus.

Got God’s faithfulness. 

I can never repay you Lord…

We can stop, drop, and role because we have God’s faithfulness.

Everybody standing.

Look at you neighbor and say Stop, Drop, and Roll.  That is another thing that the church is lacking.  Accountability.  We need to hold one another accountable.   If you see your brother or sister struggling with sin, you are supposed to help them, not talk about them.  You need a prayer partner.  Someone you can trust, who will not tell your business. That’s why that song by Hezikiah Walker was so powerful.  You pray for me. 

I’ll pray for you.

I love you.

I need you to survive.

I won’t harm you with words from my mouth.

I love you.

I need you to survive.

It is His will that every need will be supplied.

You are important to me.

I need you to survive.

Look at your neighbor one last time.  

Tell them to stop the sin.  

Tell them drop the sin.  

Tell them to roll from the sin.  

I Can’t DO Hell Twice!

Romans 6:19-23

19 I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. 20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[a] Christ Jesus our Lord.

In 2002 Jennifer Lopez, or J-Lo as many of us call her today, stared in a movie entitled ENOUGH.  In the movie J-Lo’s character, Slim, thought she found and married her Mr. Right.  They had a romantic courtship, the big beautiful expensive wedding, bought the perfect white house with a white picket fence. They had a precious little girl.  She was a stay at home mom and homemaker.  They were living the American dream.  But, before she knew it her American dream turned into a nightmare.  She caught her husband cheating on her, and when she confronted him about the affair he beat her.  Anytime she challenged him he would hit or abuse her in some way.  When she tried to leave he threatened to kill her.  When she finally had ENOUGH, with the help of her friends she managed to escape from her abusive husband and she vowed to never go back.  She recreated herself  and changed her and her daughter’s identity.  She got a trainer who taught her how to fight in order to protect herself if her husband ever found her and her daughter.  She was always anxious and looking over her shoulder because she never knew if her husband would find her or not.  So of course at the end of the movie he found her, but little did he know how prepared she was.  And she kicked his butt!  I mean she beat him down like the Lakers beat the Heat. Like the Saints beat the Buccaneers.  Like the Dodgers beat the Rays and how I hope my Eagles will beat the Giants today. And the final blow she delivered to him sent him falling to his death. She was determined that she’d had ENOUGH.  She had experienced hell on earth in her marriage and there was no way that she could do hell twice.  Look at your neighbor and tell them I can’t do hell twice.  Now just like J-Lo in ENOUGH, there has to come a point in your life when enough is enough.  

When you have to get tired of going though the same drama over and over again.  

Going through the same situation and the same circumstances time and time again.  

Continuing to do the same thing and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. (Personal Hell) 

So maybe it is time to try something else, something new, and something different.  

Come on and say amen, you know that I am telling the truth.

I know that you have trials and tribulations.

Tests and situations.

You’re stuck between a rock and a hard place.

You’re always in the wrong place, with the wrong person at the wrong time.

If it weren’t for bad luck you’d have no luck at all.

You’ve been there done that and you have the t-shirt.

It seems like as soon as you get out of one storm you are heading into another.

Well I woke up early this morning to let someone know that you do not have to do hell twice.  

God is still on the throne.  

He still sits high and he looks low.  

And greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.  

So it does not matter what hell that you have experienced on earth.  You do not have to continue to experience it anymore. 

Now by no means am I trying to dismiss your situation and your circumstance, but there comes a time in each and everyone of our lives when enough is enough.  And I am talking to everyone in the room, including the man holding the microphone.  

Now when Paul writes this letter to the church in Rome he was on possibly his third missionary trip, and at the time he was in Corinth and could not get away.  So he decided to write a letter to the church in Rome to prepare them for his future visit.  The theme of the letter is the gospel, God’s plan for salvation and righteousness for all mankind, Jews and Gentiles alike.  In the particular portion of scripture that was read for your hearing this morning, Romans 6:19-23 Paul is conveying to the church that before they were saved they where slaves to sin.  They freely committed sinful and lustful acts. They were basically living in hell on earth, on their way to hell and they didn’t even know it.  Just like when we were in the world.  Some of us were going to hell on scholarship, all expenses paid!  We were totally committed to doing whatever it was that we wanted to do.  And we did it just like Lionel Richie, “All night long!”  Whether it was drinking, smoking, clubbing, or in the words of Marvin Gay, “getting it on”.  We did it all night long!  We just got paid, it was Friday night, we were party hunting and feeling right!   But Paul was trying to get the church in Rome to understand that now that you are saved, the same way that you submitted yourself to sin and an unholy life style is the same way that you must submit your self to Christ and become a slave of God.  

So beloved I ask you this morning.

Why continue to do the same old things that caused you so much pain?

Why continue on the same path that caused so much destruction in your life?

Why continue to stay in a situation that is not good for you?

Why continue to take the abuse?

Why continue to be taken for granted and advantage of?

Why continue in the addiction?

Why continue to be depressed?

Why continue to be broke, busted and disgusted?

You are free from the bondage of sin. 

So, why do you continue to act like you are still in chains?  

No matter what the situation or the circumstance the wages of sin are still the same!  And in this passage of scripture Paul lets the church know that the wages of sin is death, BUT the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  So look at your neighbor one more time and tell them I can’t do hell twice.  I’ve been through too much hell already in my life and I just can’t do it again.  I spent enough time in hell on earth before I got saved.  As a matter of fact, let’s be real this morning some of us have been through hell and back since we’ve been saved.  

The bad marriage was after salvation.

The bankruptcy was after salvation.

The abuse was after salvation.

The addiction was after salvation.

The unemployment was afternoon salvation.

The sexual assault was after salvation.

The depression was after salvation.

The awful work experience was after salvation.

The racial discrimination was after salvation.

The social injustice was after salvation.

You see, that’s what we never want to talk about.  

We want to act like everything has been peachy keen since we got saved.  

We want to act like we’ve been saved all of our lives.  

We want to act like our stuff doesn’t stink.  

We want to act like we have everything under control.  

But we can’t continue to fake the funk.  

We have to keep it real.  

God never promised that the road would be easy, but he did promise that He would never leave us and that he would never forsake us.  

That is why everyday with Jesus is sweeter than the day before.  Not because my life is problem free, but that in spite of my problems I still have joy and a peace that passes all understanding because God is with me.  I am never alone.  So why in the world would I want to do hell twice?  

Why in the world would anyone want do hell twice?   

Why in the world would we not run to Jesus and surrender all to him?  Well I don’t know why anyone would want to experience hell once let alone twice, but here are three reasons why I can’t do hell twice and I will bid you good day!

The first reason we can’t do hell twice is that we are free from sin.  In Romans 6:22 it states now that you have been set free from sin and have become a slave to God.  The chains have been removed. Many people continue to stay in the situations they are in because they do not feel that they are worthy to be saved or work in the kingdom because of the sins of their past. They refused to get involved or be used by God because they think that they are not good enough.  Well the truth of the matter is, no one is worthy, and no one is truly good enough.  

That’s what makes God so great is that he uses us in spite of ourselves.  

That is why his grace is so amazing because he looks beyond my faults and sees my needs.  

I remember when my one of my best friends Tim White preached a sermon at First Church of God in Washington Court House called What’s Holding You Back.  I remember the topic because he preached it at Washington Court House about a week or two before he accepted the call to become their Pastor.  The basic theme of the sermon was, what’s holding you back from being used by God.  And one of the members of the church asked Tim, “What’s holding you back from becoming our pastor?”  And many times what’s holding us back is sin, or guilt from our past sins.  

Well I stopped by this morning to let you know that you are FREE.  You are no longer bound by sin.  

You are no longer bound to sin.  

That is why God sent Jesus, because without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin.  And Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice.  When God looks at us all he sees is the blood!  You are free!  Because of the blood! Is anyone grateful for the blood?  

I am free.  

Praise the Lord, I’m free.  

I’m no longer bound.  

No more chains holding me.  

My soul is resting.  

It’s just a blessing.  

Praise the Lord Hallelujah I’m free.

Not only are we free from sin, but also we are free to live.  Romans 6:22 continues to state, the benefit you reap leads to holiness.  In other words, since you are free from sin and have become a slave to God, the benefit you get is living a holy life.  Holiness means free from sin or purified from sin.  That is why we say the he washed me whiter than snow, or the blood cleansed me. 

What can wash away my sins?  

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.  

What can male me whole again?  

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.  

Oh precious is the flow. 

That makes me bright as snow. 

No other fount I know.

Nothing but the blood of Jesus! 

And this cleansing blood allows us to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord.  

It allows us to live the Christian life.

It allows us to live a blessed life.

It allows us to live a life of favor.

It allow us to live out the life that God has planned for us to live.

It allows us to live a life of promise.

It allows us to live a life of purpose.

It allows us to live a life of holiness.  

It allows us to live a free life.

Does anyone in the house want to live a free life.  As Mary Mary sang years ago, take the shackles off my feet so I can dance.  I just want to praise him.  God has taken the shackles off of your life, so live a free life, and praise him, praise him, praise him!

So not only are we free from sin, not only are we free to live, but we have received the free gift of eternal life.  Let’s look at Romans 6:23, for the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  In the New American Standard it states that the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to pay for a gift.  

A gift is something that someone gives to you because they care about you.  It is not paid for, and it is not earned.  The giver freely gives it.  If I buy the gift that someone gives to me it is not a gift, it is something that I purchased.  If I do some kind of work or favor to earn the gift than it isn’t truly a gift.  It is payment for the work or the favor I performed.  Now maybe Paul worded it like this because he knew there would be a day and time when there would be gifts that would not be free.  Let me give you a couple of examples of what I mean.  

Someone offers you a great job, but you have to compromise your character to accept the job.  (The job offer)

Someone lets you order the lobster and steak off of the menu, but you will have to sleep with them in return.  And in some cases you don’t even have to buy lobster you could get lucky for a happy meal.  But that is another topic for another day.  

Someone will marry you if you buy them the five-bedroom home with the three-car garage and the latest Lexus.  

In other words, I will do this for you if you do that for me. 

I will give you this if you give me that!  

I don’t know about you, but I am so glad that God doesn’t operate like that?  He has given us the greatest gift in the world.  

The life, death, and resurrection of His son insuring that if we just believe we shall have eternal life.  The free gift of eternal life.  And we could never ever pay Him for that!  

You can’t be God given, no matter how hard you try.   

I don’t know about you, but that makes me happy.  

That just tickles my fancy.  

I mean I get to spend eternity with God.  

The maker of heaven and earth.  

The alpha and the omega. 

The beginning and the end.

The author and finisher of our faith.

The captain of our salvation.

The bright and morning star.  

The lily of the valley.  

The rose of Sharon.  

The balm of Gilead.

The father.

The son.

The Holy Spirit.

Check out this quick story about heaven and hell.

A man spoke with the Lord about Heaven and Hell. “I will show you Hell,” said the Lord. And they went into a room which had a large pot of stew in the middle. The smell was delicious and around the pot sat people who were famished and desperate. All were holding spoons with very long handles which reached to the pot, but because the handles of the spoons were longer than their arms, it was impossible to get the stew into their mouths. Their suffering was terrible.

“Now I will show you Heaven,” said the Lord, and they went into an identical room. There was a similar pot of stew and the people had the same identical spoons, but they were well nourished, talking and happy.

At first the man did not understand.

“It is simple,” said the Lord. “You see, they have learned to feed each other.”  

What are you saying PB?  I am saying that we probably would not experience so much hell on earth if we would learn to live together, and love one another, and look out for each other, and help one another.  That is what I love that old hymn so much!

Oh when we all get to heaven what a day of rejoicing there will be.  When we all see Jesus.  We’ll sing and shout the victory.

There is no way that I can do hell twice.  God has done too much for me.  As I look back over my life and see how far the Lord has brought me, my soul cries out hallelujah.  When I think of how He picked me up and turned me around and placed my feet on higher solid ground.  

How could we possible do hell twice when we have a faithful God that loves us the way that God loves us?  

Just how faithful is God?  

Well let’s take a look at Romans 6:23 one more time, it says the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life. 

I was always taught that when you see but in a sentence you can basically forget everything that came before it. 

In other words.,,

You thought the sickness was going to kill you, but God!

You thought the marriage was over, but God!

You thought your child was lost, but God!

You thought you could never love again, but God!

You thought you would never recover from the divorce. but God!

You thought you would never find another job, but God!

You thought what am I going to do without my job, but God!

You thought you could never stop drinking, but God!

You thought you could never stop smoking, but God!

You thought you’d never get over your friend stabbing you in the back, but God!

You thought you could never be used in the Kingdom, but God, but God, but God.

The great I am.

The will in the middle of a wheel.

The friend that sticks closer than a brother.

The way maker.

The promise keeper.

The light in the darknesses.

Immanuel.

Yahweh.

El Elyon.

Jesus Christos.

Jehovah.

Jesus.

Oh yeah did I mention?  I can’t do hell twice.  Like J-Lo in Enough, I have had enough!  And if you’ve had enough why don’t you stand to your feet and give God a shout of praise?Why don’t you stand to your feet and give him glory?

I know that you may not feel like it, but God is still worthy to be praise.  I will enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart.  I will enter His courts with praise.  I will say this is the day that the Lord has made I will rejoice for He has made me glad.  He has made me glad, oh He has made me glad. Has God made anyone glad in the house today?  

Well praise him!  

Give him glory because we can’t do hell twice.

We are free from sin.  

We are free to live.  

We have received the free gift of eternal life.