Satisfaction Guaranteed Part 1

John 6:35

John 3:16

35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Now I am sure that many of you have seen a snickers commercial before, but vI just wanted to take a trip down memory lane.  The snickers commercials are always talking about how a snickers candy bar can satisfy your hunger.  And I like a good candy bar as much as the next person, but when I am hungry I need more than some peanuts, caramel, nougat, and chocolate.  As a matter of fact, can somebody please tell me what in the world is nougat?  I have no idea what it is, but it sure tastes good, but as good as a snickers tastes, it cannot satisfy my hunger.  When I am hungry I need to eat some meat, some potatoes, some bread.  I need to eat something with some substance.  Does anybody in the room know what I am talking about?  How many times has a candy bar actually satisfied your hunger?  It may have teased your taste buds, but there is no way on God’s green earth that it satisfied your hunger.  Speaking of green, how about some collard and mustard greens cooked with a nice fat ham-hock or smoked turkey with some corn bread.  Now that would satisfy my hunger.  And this satisfaction thing is not just about our hunger.  

We want to be satisfied in every area of our lives.  

We want to be satisfied with our job.  

We want to be satisfied with our salary.  

We want to be satisfied with our family.  

We want to be satisfied with our health.  

We want to be satisfied with our appearance.  

We want o be satisfied with our spouse.  

We want to be satisfied in the bed room.  

We want to be satisfied with our lives.  

Maybe that’s why the rolling stones song “I can’t get no satisfaction”  was such a popular song because everyone could relate to it, because everyone wants to be satisfied in some way, shape, or form.  Well I stopped by this morning to let you know that I know a way that you can be satisfied.  

I know a way that you can be fulfilled.  

I know a way that you can have the desires of your heart.  

I know a way that you can have true satisfaction.  

As a matter of fact I know how you can have guaranteed satisfaction.  

If you have Jesus in your life, satisfaction guaranteed.  

If you are saved, satisfaction guaranteed.

If you’re a born again believer, satisfaction guaranteed.

If you are a member in the fraternity or sorority of the twice born, satisfaction guaranteed.

You don’t believe me lets look at the text.  In John 6:35 Jesus is talking to some Jews that had followed Him after He performed the miracle of feeding 5,000 men, plus women, and children with two fish and five loaves of bread.  They were asking Him how they could do the work of God?  He told them your work is to believe in the one He sent.  Somehow they got on the topic of manna, and claimed that Moses gave it to them in the desert.  Jesus corrected them by saying that God provided the manna then as He is providing it for you now.  Jesus was trying to explain to them that manna only fills their physical needs but God wants to fill there spiritual needs.  So the Jews say, give us this bread.  To which Jesus responds, I am the bread of life.  Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.  Someone say satisfaction guaranteed.  Jesus was basically telling the Jews if you will believe in me you will never be thirsty or hungry again.  In other words, I will satisfy all of your needs.  Now when Jesus makes this statement He is not referring to physical hunger and thirst, although He can and will satisfy those needs as well, but He was referring to their spiritual needs.  You see all of us walk around with a hole in our hearts that can only be filled by Jesus.  We walk around with this unexplainable thirst and hunger that can only be satisfied by God.  Jesus the Christ says,  Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.  He is basically saying, satisfaction is guaranteed!  

So throughout the month of August we will be talking about how life with Jesus satisfies us, and not only does it satisfy us, but that satisfaction is guaranteed.  So why is this satisfaction guaranteed?  Well simply put, satisfaction is guaranteed because God loves us.   Jesus loves me this I know…. John 3:16 states it as plain as day.  For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.  Now we quote this scripture all the time. Well, I know that I quote this scripture all the time. It is one of the most quoted scriptures in the Bible because it displays so eloquently how much God loves us.  It’s the gospel in a nutshell!  I mean He loved us so much that He sent His only son to die, so that we could live.  If that’s not love I don’t know what is.  But today let’s take a closer look at the context in which this text was written.  At the beginning of this chapter we see that a man named Nicodemus a ruler of the Jews came to see Jesus in the middle of the night.  He came in the middle of the night because he wanted to believe that Jesus was the Messiah, but he didn’t want the other Jewish leaders to know what he was up to.  He wanted to keep it on the DL.  He wanted to keep it on the down low.  That’s why Nic came at night.  You’ll get that one on you’re way home.  So Nicodemus began his conversation with Jesus using flattery, which Jesus could care less about.  And Jesus said unless a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.  And Nicodemus responded how can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time in his mother’s womb and be born?  Jesus said a man must be born of the water and the spirit to see the kingdom of God.  In this statement Jesus was referring to water and spiritual baptism.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh but that which is born of the spirit is spirit.  Jesus went on to tell Nicodemus that the spirit is like the wind no one can tell where it comes from but we know that it exists.  And Nic is like, how can this be?  Jesus said you are a leader and you don’t know these things.  If I tell you earthly things and you don’t believe, how can I tell you spiritual things to believe?  Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness the son of man must be lifted up.  And whosever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  And here comes the best part.  For God so loved the world…. Now the word love used here in the Greek is agapao.  To love in the New Testament refers to the active love of God for His son and His people.  The active love His people should have for God, each other, and even their enemies.  This form of love appears in the Bible over 140 times.  God loves us actively!  Meaning He just does not say that He loves us, He shows us that He loves us.  That sounds good Pastor Brian.  God actively loves us.  I think we already knew that.  So in the words of Tina Turner, “what’s love got to do with it?”  I am so glad you asked.  Our satisfaction is guaranteed because God loves us, and because God loves us three things happen.

The first thing that happens because God loves us is we get God’s attention, as a matter of fact we always have God’s attention.  There is not a second, minute, hour, day, week, month, year, moment, or season that we are not on God’s mind.  We had to be on His mind for Him to inspire John to write for God so loved the world….  And if we are on God’s mind then we have His attention.  Think about that for a moment.  When something is on your mind, that thing has your attention.  No matter how hard you try to focus on something else, when something or someone enters your mind they have your attention.  And I believe it is the same way with God.  And because we have His attention the following three things happen.

He acknowledges us.  He let’s us know that our presence is known to him.  That we matter.  That we are important.  There is nothing worse than going somewhere whether it be a party, the doctor’s office, a place of business, a meeting or other social event, and no one acknowledges your presence.  They just go on about their business as if you’re not even there.  And it makes you feel small, unimportant, and unwanted and no one likes to be treated that way and no one deserves to be treated that way.  For my birthday one year we went to Red Robin…. No one acknowledged me…. But I am so glad that we serve a God that acknowledges us.  That He loves us.  That our satisfaction is guaranteed.

But not only does He acknowledge us.  He answers us.  Jesus says it best in Matthew 7:7-8 ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find; knock and the door will be open to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; the one who knocks, the door will be open.  In other words, God will answer you.   Jesus on the main line tell him what you want.  You just call hm up and tell him what you want. Is there anybody in the room excited about the fact that you serve a God that answers you!

So He will acknowledge us.  He will answer us.  Then He affirms us.  Affirm means to state as a fact, assert strongly and publicly.  God so loved the world…  Can it be stated and stronger or factual than that.  To declare one’s support for, to uphold, or defend.  He is a refuge in the time a trouble.  The righteous run in and are safe.  He is a strong tower.  The battle is not yours it belongs to the Lord.  To offer someone emotional support in the time of trouble.  This is my God, the friend that sticks closer than a brother.  He affirms us!  Is there anyone in the room today that can testify to the fact that the God we serve loves us so much that He acknowledges us, He answers us, and He affirms us.  That is why our satisfaction is guaranteed!

So first we get God’s attention.  Secondly, we get God’s affection.  Affection is the way in which we display our love for one another.  It’s that PDA.  

Public Display of Affection.  

Holding hands, kissing, and hugging.

Walking down the street with your hands in one another’s pockets, smooching, and making out.  

All of those things that human beings do to display their feelings for the person they love.  And God shows us affection as well, but He does it in a different way.  Here is how God shows his affection for us.

He answers for us.  What are you talking about preacher?  

We owed the debt for sin.  

We messed up.  

We fell short.  

We back slid.  

We fell off the wagon.  

We lost control. 

But Jesus paid the debt.  

He went to the cross.  

He shed his blood.  

He died for us.  

He answered for us.  

It’s like the time when you broke the lamp in the living room and your brother or sister took the blame.  Jesus took the blame for us.  Because God loves us we get His affection and He answers for us.

So He answers for us.  Then He arises for us.  Not only did He die for us, but three days later He rose from the dead with all power in His hands.  He defeated death on the cross, and because He defeated death on the cross we shall live and not die.  Yes these mortal bodies will pass away, but as I told you before, earth is just a rest stop.  We are just passing through.  We get to spend eternity with God because He loves us and He arises for us.

So He answers for us.  He arises for us.  Then He asks for us.  After His life, death, and resurrection Jesus ascended into heaven and He intercedes for us.  Check this out SCC Family, because of the Holy Spirit living within us we have been adopted into the kingdom of God and we call Him Abba Father.  We are the children of God.  We are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.  Meaning not only is God our father, but Jesus is our brother and He asks God for us.  He puts in a good word for us.  He vouches for us.  So as we pray to the father, our brother is whispering in His ear on our behalf.  He loves us so He asks for us and our satisfaction is guaranteed.

Our satisfaction is guaranteed because God loves us, and because God loves us we get His attention.  Because God loves us we get His affection.  Last but not least, because God loves us we get His action.  Look at the very next verse John 3:17. We don’t talk about the next verse too much so lets check it out.  For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. If we believe in the love that God has shown us we receive God’s action.  His action was in the sending of His son.  In other words He moves on our behalf.  He acts in equipping us to do all that He has called us to do.  We see His action in the following three ways.

He approaches us.  In other words, He introduces Himself to us.  Through some way, shape, form, or person He let’s us know that He loves us.  

He let’s us know that He sent Jesus to die so that we could live.  He let’s us know that there is nothing that He won’t do for us.  

He let’s us know that He will never leave us or forsake us.  

He approaches us.

So He approaches us.  Then He appoints us.  Isn’t this what He did to Paul on the road to Damascus.  He approaches Paul by knocking him off his high horse literally.  Jesus says, why are you persecuting me?  Paul says who are you? And He says it’s me Jesus the one you’ve been persecuting.  He approaches Paul.  Then the Lord told him to arise and go into the city and you will be told what to do.  He appoints Paul.  And He appoints us too.  How many times has God told you what to do?  

How many times has God laid something on your heart?  

How many times has God given you a burden?  

This is God appointing you.

So God approaches us.  Then God appoints us.  And then God anoints us.  Now it is great that God approaches us.  It is wonderful that God appoints us.  But is there anybody in the room excited about the fact that God anoints us to do exactly what he approached and appointed us to do!  I don’t know about anyone else, I can only speak for myself, but I am slap happy that the Lord anoints us to do what He’s calls us to do.   Because there is absolutely positively no way that I could do anything without the power of the anointing in and on my life.  

It is the anointing that breaks the yoke.

It’s the anointing that makes the impossible possible. 

It’s the anointing that changes situations.

It’s the anointing that gives us power to walk right.

It’s the anointing that gives us power to talk right.

It’s the anointing that gives us power to do right.

It’s the anointing that gives us power to act right. 

It’s the anointing that gives us power to live right .

Is there anybody in the room excited about the anointing!

Look at your neighbor and tell them satisfaction guaranteed!  And satisfaction is guaranteed because God loves us.  And because God loves us we get His attention, we get His affection, and we get His action.

Here are a couple definitions of satisfaction.  Payment through penance of the temporal punishment incurred by a sin.  Reparation for sin that meets the demands of divine justice.  The penalty for our sin was death, but Jesus satisfied our debt for our sin.  It also means the fulfillment of a want or need. The quality or state of being satisfied.  

So I have a question this morning, is anybody in the room satisfied with Jesus?  

Is there anybody in the room that has had a need met, a want fulfilled, or a debt paid by God?  

But it gets even better than that.  Not only does God satisfy us as He teaches in John 6:35, but this satisfaction is guaranteed.  

A guarantee is a formal promise or assurance typically in writing that certain conditions will be fulfilled.  A guarantee is a promise and this guarantee has been made by God and written in the Bible.  So that means that we can take it to the bank.  It is check that will not bounce.  There are sufficient funds in God’s account. Satisfaction is guaranteed in every area of our lives because God loves us.  What are you talking about preacher?  Let show you what I’m talking about.

Christian life

Prayer life

Home life

Work life

School life

Sick life

Recovery life

Addicted life

Abused life

Kicked to the curb life

Neglected life

Long life

Short life

Midlife crisis life

Depressed life

Out of control life

Lost life

It does not matter what kind of life you lived or are living if you surrender to the Lord your satisfaction is guaranteed.

How do you know preacher?

I know because I am satisfied with God!

God has never let me down.

God has always been there for me.

God has healed my body.

God has kept my mind.

God has walked with me through bereavement.

God has encouraged me when I couldn’t encourage myself.

God has loved me when I didn’t want to love myself.

God saw in me when I couldn’t see myself.

God has forgiven me for all of my sin.

God has turned my life around.

God has blessed me beyond measure.

God has protected me and my family…

And every single day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before!

So I am satisfied with my God.  There is a song by Luther Barnes that says…

I am so satisfied.

I am so satisfied with my Savior.

He means more to me than anything, anything that this world

Could ever offer.

I am so satisfied.

I am so satisfied with my Savior.

He means more to me than anything,

Anything that this world could ever offer me.

Verse 1

I’m satisfied with the way that He cares for me.

And how He makes a way when there seems to be no hope for me.

And yes I’m satisfied with the joy He placed within my soul.

And how He helps me to bear my heavy load.

Verse 2

He’s so wonderful. He’s so merciful.

He looks out for me even though I’m not all that I should be.

And what makes Him so very special is the fact that He gave

His very life for me.

What more, what more, what more can I say? 

As a matter of fact, falling in love with Jesus is the best thing I’ve ever done!  Why because in his arms I feel protected and there’s no place I’d rather be.  Satisfaction is guaranteed!

Declaration of Dependence Part 4

John 15:-5

John 14:1-6

14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. 2 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? 3 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. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Well it’s time to bring this series to a close.  For the last month we have declared our declaration of Dependence.  Because everyday is our Dependence day because every day we depend on God.  Our guiding scripture has been John 15:5 where Jesus tells the disciples, I am the vine. You are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit.  Apart from me you can do nothing.  Does anyone believe that this morning?  That apart from Jesus you can do nothing.  Yeah yeah yeah, I know what your thinking I’ve done a lot of things without God.  And my rebuttal to that is, did you really?  Because I believe that even when we were out there doing our own thing, God was still looking out for us.  Why else would the Bible say that while we were yet sinners he sent Jesus to die for us?  But nonetheless we depend on God.  

I don’t know about you, but I can’t make it without him.

You can’t make me doubt him. 

I know too much about him.  

So the first week we learned that we depend on God for his forgiveness.  His forgiveness gives us freedom, a fresh start, and a fruitful ministry.  Then we learned that we depend on his faithfulness.  His faithfulness keeps us factual, firm, and in fellowship with him.  And last week we learned that we depend on God for his favor.  And we see God’s favor in our finances, our fitness, and our family.  And I am so excited to share the last thing we depend on God for.  This is a very exciting thing to depend on God for.  It is one of the main reasons we do what we do in the first place.  Why we are saved.  Why we live this Christian life.  We depend on God for our future.  I’m not  talking about our physical and literal future here on earth.  I am talking about our eternal future with God.  The fact that we are characters in a never ending story.  We do not have to worry about a happily ever after fairy tale ending because our story never ends.  We depend on God for our future with him.

Shall we look at the text.  This is one of my favorite passages of scriptures, and it is often read at funerals to comfort and console bereaved families.  

14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. 2 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? 3 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. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.” 

5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

In this passage of scripture Jesus is comforting his disciples because he has just told them the plan.  He just explained to them his purpose for coming to earth in the first place.  He just let them know that although they were on their way to Jerusalem, it would be just a one way trip for him.  Because once they got there, he would be arrested, tried, beaten, ridiculed, spat upon, punched, and hung on an old rugged cross.  He just told them that he was about to die.  On top of that He had also told them that they would all forsake Him, Peter would deny him, and one of the twelve would betray Him.  There heads were spinning, and they could not handle it.  They were falling apart.  They were losing control so he had to comfort them.  And he told them.  Don’t worry.  You believe in my father, now believe in me.  In my father’s house are many rooms.  The king James (and I’m not talking about LeBron) says in my fathers house are many mansions.  In other words his fathers house is huge.  It is ginormous.  I showed you this illustration before with my amazing artistic skills a few months ago…  He said if this was not so I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.  I am going to hook up your spot.  I am going to fix up a place for you and then I am going to come back and get you and take you to the place I fixed for you.  So you will be where I am.  You know the way.  And Thomas say, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?  Jesus responds I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No man comes to the father except by me.  Can it get any clearer than that.? Can it get any better than that?  Jesus, himself is preparing a place for you and you and you.  And Jesus is the only way to this place!  We depend on God for our future with him because of three reasons.  I will share these three reasons with you and then I will bid you good day.

First of all my future with God is for sure.  Because I accepted the Lord into my heart.  Because we are saved.  Because our names have been written in the lambs book of life our future with God is for sure.  Because we know that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.  We don’t have to worry about it.  We don’t have to double check.  We do not have to check on our reservation.  We officially submitted our RSVP when we gave our lives to the Lord. There ain’t no doubt about it!  And here are three reasons why.

First my future with God if for sure because it has been funded by Jesus.  Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain and he washed it white as snow.  The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life.  He paid our debt with His son’s life.  Our sin earned us a death sentence, but Jesus paid our debt for sin.  He gave us a stay of execution.  Is anybody excited about the fact that He paid our sin debt. Has anyone ever had a debt forgiven or paid off?  There is nothing like the weight of debt being lifted off of you.  This is what Jesus has done for us.  Our future with God is for sure because it is funded by Jesus.

Not only is our future for sure because its funded by Jesus, our future is for sure because it is fueled by blood.  The currency that was used to pay our sin debt was the blood.  The Bible says that without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sin.  Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice and his blood covers a multitude of sins.  Look at your neighbor and say I know it was the blood.  It reaches…. Only the blood of Jesus was sufficient enough to pay our sin debt.

So our future with God is for sure because it was funded by Jesus.  Our future with God is for sure because it is fueled by the blood.  And our future with God is for sure because it is fashioned in the word.  What are you saying?  I’m saying that God said it so I believe it.  The plan is clearly written in the word of God.  It is like a contract of faith!  And it is legally binding by the blood of Jesus.  Our future is for sure because it is fashioned in the word, fueled by the blood, and funded by Jesus.  What more do we need?  In essence I just told you that Jesus has vouched for us.  We are in, because God has invited us Himself.  We are on the list!

First my future with God is for sure.  Secondly, my future with God is for real.  Simply put since God is real my future with him is real as well.  Is there anyone in the room this morning that knows that God is real.  Remember that song we use to sing John P. Key?  Jesus is real, I know the Lord is real to me…  Here are three ways that we know that our future with God is for real.

The forces of evil are defeated.  If our future with God was not for real why would He bother defeating our enemies.  He said that he would make our enemies our footstool.  He said that He prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemies.  He went into hell and took the keys to the kingdom, defeating death on a cross, and rose from the grave with all power in his hands.   Our future is for real because the forces of evil are defeated!

Not only is my future with God for real because the forces of evil are defeated.  My future with God is for real because I can face any challenge that comes my way.  I quote this scripture quite, and that’s because I truly believe that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  I don’t worry because I know with Jesus on my side there is no challenge that I cannot overcome.  Paul tells the church in Philippi, Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6.  And when we do this He will help us face any challenge that comes our way.  He will come to our aid.  In the words of Marvin Gaye “ain’t no mountain high enough, ain’t no valley low enough ain’t no river wide enough to keep Him from getting to you.”  And if He can get to you there is nothing that you can’t face.  Your future is for real!

So my future with God is for real because the forces of evil are defeated.  Our future with God is for real because we can face any challenge that comes our way.  And our future with God is for real because we’ve come to far to turn back now.  Look at where you were and look at where you are right now.   That is the problem we sometime face on the journey.  We get so caught up in the destination that we don’t take time to enjoy the ride and/or experience the journey, and we forget or don’t realize how far we’ve come.  There is no way that you can turn back now.  There is no way that we can go back to the way things used to be. 

We can’t go back to the way we used to live.

We can’t go back to the the lying.

We can’t go back to the cheating.

We can’t go back to the stealing.

We can’t go back to the using.

We can’t go back to laying around.

We can’t go back to thinking we’re better than everyone else.

We can’t go back to stinking thinking.

We can’t go back to doubting.

We can’t go back to that situation.

We can’t go back to that circumstance.

We’ve come this far by faith…

Somebody look up to the the heavens and tell God, You’ve brought me from a mighty long way…

We’ve come too far to turn back now.

First, my future with God is for sure.  Secondly, my future with God is for real.  Last but definitely not least, my future with God is forever.  In the words of that great theologian Buzz Light Year from Toy Story our future with God is to infinity and beyond!  It lasts forever.  It never ends.  You know that saying, funny how time flies when you’re having fun.  That statement does not apply to forever.  Because that state implies that the fun times, the good times are coming to an end, but out time with God is eternal.  Our future with God is forever.  And here are three reasons why.

Our future with God is forever because the foundation is set.  When Jesus asked the disciples who do you say I am.  Peter said, you are the Messiah, the son of the living God.  And Jesus replies, blessed are your son of Jonah.  For this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but my father in heaven.  And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.  On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand!  The whole reason that we have been able to make a declaration of dependence is because of whom we depend on.  We depend of Jesus and what better foundation is there than Jesus the Christ.  Our future is forever because of the fact that the foundation is set and that foundation is Jesus!

Not only is our future forever because the foundation set.  Our future is forever because it’s founded in love.  God so loved the world….  God is love!  And he loves you no matter what.  His love is a forever love.  God does not fall in and out of love like we do.  He has loved us from the beginning and he will continue to love us throughout all eternity.

So our future with God is forever because the foundation is set.  Our future with God is forever because it is founded in love.  And our future with God is forever because the founder is God!   How can our future with God not be forever when the founder is God?  The founder is He who was, He who is, and He who is to come.

The founder is He who forever will be.

The founder is the beginning and the end.

The founder is the alpha and omega.

The founder is the author and finisher. 

The founder is the bright and morning star.

The founder is the lily of the valley.

The founder is the balm of Gilead.

The founder is the rose of Sharon. 

The founder is the creator of heaven and earth.

The founder is the will in the middle of a wheel.

The founder is the way maker.

The founder is the  promise keeper.

The founder is the healer!

The founder is the deliverer!

The founder is my all and all!

The founder is the great I am that I am!

We depend on God for our future.  

That future is for sure. 

That future is for real.  

That future is forever!

It reminds of a story I once read about Tom Brady.  We all know who Tom Brady is.  Well good old Tom passes away and makes it into heaven.  Upon his arrival God is showing him around.  They come to a modest little house with a faded patriots flag in the window.  And God says this is your house for all eternity.  Tom said, this is special, very special not everyone gets a house up here.  Tom felt special indeed.  And walked up to his house.  On the way up the porch he noticed another house just around the corner.  It was a three story mansion with a green, silver, and black sidewalk.  There was a 50 foot flag pole in the front yard with a huge Philadelphia Eagles flag floating in the air.  It was magnificent.  Tom looked at God and said, I’m not trying too be ungrateful, but I have a question.  I was an all pro quarterback.  I won 5 Super Bowls.  I was in the hall of fame.  God said, so what do you want to know Tom?  Well why does Donovan McNabb have a better house than me.  He never one a super bowl.  As a matter of fact, I beat him in a super bowl.  God chuckled and said, Tom that’s not Donovan McNabb’s house, its mine!

But on a serious note we depend on God for our future, and the future is to spend eternity with God.  So let me give you the directions…

Make a right on Believeth Blvd.

Keep straight and go through the green light, which is Jesus Christ.

There, you must turn onto the Bridge of Faith, which is over troubled water.

When you get off the bridge, make a right turn and keep straight.

You are on the King’s Highway, heaven bound.

Keep going for three miles.

One for the the father.

One for the son.

And one for the Holy Spirit.

Then exit on Grace Blvd.

From there, make a right turn on Gospel Lane.

Keep straight and then make another right on Prayer Road.

As you go on your way, yield not to the traffic on Temptation Ave.

Also, avoid Sin Street because it is a dead end.

Pass up Envy Drive and Hate Avenue.

Also, pass Hypocrisy Street, Gossiping Lane, and Backbiting Blvd.

However, you have to go down Long-suffering Lane, Persecution Blvd. and Trials and Tribulations Avenue.

But that’s all right, because Victory Street is straight ahead.

Are you on the right road?

Are you heading the right direction?

Is your navigation system operating correctly?

Oh I want to see Him, look up on his face.

There to sing forever of His saving grace.

On the streets on glory let me lift my voice.

Cares all past, home at last, ever to rejoice.

Some glad morning when this life is o’er, (I’ll fly away)

I’ll fly away, Oh Glory.

I’ll fly away; (in the morning)

When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,

I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away).

Oh when we all get to heaven. 

What a day of rejoicing it will be.

When we all see Jesus.

We’ll sing and shout.

We’ll shout and sing.  

The victory!

This is our Declaration of Dependence 

We depend on God for His forgiveness.

We depend on God for His faithfulness.

We depend on God for His favor.

We depend on God for our future.

Declaration of Dependence Part 3

John15:5

Luke 4:16-21

16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

    because he has anointed me

    to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

    and recovery of sight for the blind,

to set the oppressed free,

19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”[a]

20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.

Now we are in our third installment of our series Declaration of Dependence.  So far we have learn from Jesus in John 15:5, I am the vine, you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit.  Apart from me you can do nothing.  In other words we depend on God.  So we have declared our declaration of Dependence because everyday is our Dependence day, because every single day we depend on God.  We began by learning that we depend on God for his forgiveness.  And his forgiveness gives us freedom, a fresh start, and a fruitful ministry. Then last week we learned that we depend on his faithfulness.  His faithfulness keeps us factual, firm, and in fellowship with him.  And today we are going to learn that we depend on God for his favor.  I once preached a sermon on favor and one day I will share that with you.  In that sermon I share that God’s favor does not expire, there is no expiration date.  In that sermon I reinforce the fact that the favor of God last forever.  And since the favor of God last forever we can depend on it.  So what exactly is favor.  Favor is defined as an attitude of approval or liking.  Is there anyone in the room excited about that fact that not only does God love you, but he likes you and approves of you.  As a child of God you have his seal of approval.  Favor is an act of kindness beyond what is due or usual. This is where grace and mercy come into to play.  Could you imagine if God gave us what we actually deserve?  Instead he gives of life, and life more abundantly.  Favor means to go beyond what is done or usual.  Probably because our God is an unusual God and he loves us in an unusual way.  Favor means to feel or show approval or preference for.  God approves of us and he prefers to be with us.  Why do you think He tried over and over and over again to bring us back into relationship with Him?  Because He prefers to be with us.  This is the kind of favor that God showed Able when he preferred Able’s offering over Cain’s offering.  And it wasn’t the offering he preferred it was the attitude of Cain that He preferred.  So you can say all the right things and do all the right things but if your attitude is not right you might as well not even say it or do it!  And favor means to give someone something they want.  Now how many times has God given you what you need….   Now think of all the times that God has given you what you want.  That is what you call favor.  That is the favor that we depend on and that is the year of favor discussed in the text that I read this morning.  Let’s look at it a bit closer so that I can show you what I’m talking about.

16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

    because he has anointed me

    to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

    and recovery of sight for the blind,

to set the oppressed free,

19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”[a]

20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.

So Jesus was in the Synagogue teaching, and make no mistake about it, everyone was not feeling what He had to say.  He was not the Messiah that they were expecting.  So Jesus is reading from the book the scroll of the prophet Isaiah He reads, 

The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

    because he has anointed me

    to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

    and recovery of sight for the blind,

to set the oppressed free,

19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”[a]

This is just another reason why I love Jesus so much.  He was  and is indeed the man!

Because after reading the scroll, he rolled up the scroll, as everyone was starring at him, and said today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.  He was telling the people that all of this is fulfilled today, because I am here!

In the words of Aloe Black he just told everyone in the room I’m the man, I’m the man, I’m the man. Yes I am, yes I am, yes I am.

The great I am that I am has arrived.

So if Jesus came to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and since Jesus is still alive and present.  That means that we are still in the year of the Lord’s favor.  Because God’s time is not our time.  So who knows how long a year is to God?  No body does because we operate in chronos time, which is where the term chronological comes from.  We deal in seconds, minutes, and hours.  24 hours, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year.  But God works in Kairos time, which is the right, critical, and opportune moment.  Which can be any time God wants it to be.  That is why the seasoned saints used to say, He may not come when you want Him, But He’s always right on time.  How many of you know that we serve an on time God?  I was reading a blog by William Pike the other day and this is what he said about the year of the Lord’s favor. “The year of the Lord’s favor” simply denotes a new era of blessing.  It is not confined to a specific time in history or even a specific period of time.  It is available to all people, at all times.  Jesus speaks it into being, literally, by proclaiming it, both in Isaiah’s prophecy and through his promise at Nazareth that the scripture is fulfilled.  The year of the Lord’s favor is there for the taking.  The question is whether we will accept it.  And I am so glad that we are in the year of the Lord’s favor.  Because we depend on that favor.  And we see the favor of God in three areas of our lives.

The first area we see God’s favor is in our finances.  Yes the money.  Everyone always gets quiet when you talk about money.  But money is necessary in the world that we live in.  

Now there is nothing wrong with money.  

Nothing wrong with having money.  

As a matter of fact, I like money.  

And I don’t think I’m the only one in the room that likes money.  And there is nothing wrong with that.  The Bible says that the love of money is the root to all evil, not the like of money is the root to all evil.  Now I don’t love money.  Money is not my God.  I just understand the purpose, place, and plan that money plays in our lives and I don’t know about you but I want God’s favor over my finances.

I don’t want to be in debt. 

I don’t like owing people money.

I don’t want to be behind on my bills.

I want to have something in my savings account. 

I want to have some money in my pocket .

I would like to be able to buy something nice without having to take from the bill money to do it.

I want to put something away for retirement.

I want to set up college funds for my boys.

I want to leave something behind for my family and my church. 

And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

I want God’s favor over my finances and we can have it by doing the following three things.

We must be fiscally sound.  What are you talking about Pastor Brian?  You have to be responsible with the resources that you have.  You have to be a good stewart of the money that God has blessed you with.  And when you do that I truly believe that he will bless you with more.  Now don’t get it twisted.  This is not a name it and claim it, blab it and grab it message.  This is if you do what you’re supposed to do with what God gives you, He will give you more.  Remember the parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30. The man was going away and he gave five talents to one of his servants, two talents to another one of his servants, and one talent to a third servant….  To the servant that did nothing he took his talent and gave it to the one who had ten and cast him out into the darkness where there was weeping and gnashing of teeth.  God expects us to do something positive with the resources that He has blessed us with.  I truly believe that God wants us to be fiscally sound with His resources.

Not only must we be fiscally sound, we must faithfully sow, I do not know if your previous pastors spent a great deal of time talking to you about giving, but I’m assuming they did because you are such a giving church.  A lot of pastors don’t talk about giving because they do not want the church thinking that they’re in it for the money.  But then there are the pastor/preachers that are definitely in it for the money and all they do is talk about giving money.  Which always baffled me.  There are so many ways to make money in the world.  Why would you use God’s people and the church to get rich?  I just don’t get it.  That is why it is extremely important to teach why we give and to lead by example.  I will never tell you to do something that I am not doing myself.  For example,  I cannot tell you to tithe if I’m not tithing.  I cannot tell you to give if I’m not giving.  I cannot tell you to pledge if I’m not pledging.  I cannot tell you to buy coats, socks, and school supplies if I’m not buying coats, socks, and school supplies.  With that being said, ministry requires financial resources and I think it is very important that we all do our part.   We give God’s tithe, 10% of your gross income, and you give your offering.   Your offering is anything you give above and beyond your tithe.  And you will see favor in your finances when you faithfully sow.  Jesus says in Luke 6:38,  “Give, and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured in your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

So we must be fiscally sound, faithfully sow, and must freely share.  We have to freely share with others what God has given to us.  And it is not just giving to the church through our tithes and offering as I mentioned in the previous point, we also need to share with those less fortunate than us.  We can’t just see someone in need and just pray for them when we have the resources to help them.   We have to put up or shut up!  And we don’t just give of our treasure (our money), we also give of our time and our talent.  We see God’s favor on our finances when we freely share.

So first we see God’s favor in our finances, then we see God’s favor in our fitness.  That’s right our health.  They are our bodies, but they are God’s temples.  What did Paul say in Romans12:1 therefore I urge you brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, this is your true and proper worship.  In other words, take care of your body.  You have to go to the doctor.  You have to have annual check ups.  Just like you do regular maintenance on your car you need to do regular maintenance on your body. You need to get an oil change and you need to rotate your tires.  You need to make sure that everything in your body is functioning properly, and if it’s not you must take the necessary measures to fix it. We want God’s favor on our fitness and we do this is three ways.

Find a well balanced diet that works for you.  I am not talking about a gimmick diet, like Atkins, weight watchers, juicing, slim fast, or intermittent fasting.  You have to find a balanced diet that works for you.  You need to do it, and commit to it.  You cannot just eat whatever you want, whenever you want, however you want.  I know you don’t want to hear it and I’m sorry, but I just want you to be healthy and take better care of your body. You have to find a well balanced diet that works for you.

So you find a well balanced diet that works for you and then you force yourself to exercise. 

I know you don’t want to do it, but you have to do it.  

I know you don’t feel like doing it, but you need to do it.  

I know it’s not fun to do it, but you still need to do it.  

And I’m not saying that you need to run a marathon next month. But you could go for a walk.  

You could go for a swim when the pools open up.  

You could take the stairs instead of the elevator.  

You could do some stretches at your desk.  

You could go for a bike ride.  (Wednesday bike rides)

You could do a number of things, but you need to do something. To have God’s favor on your fitness you have to force yourself to exercise.

So you find a diet that works for you, force yourself to exercise, and then you have to fight stress.  Stress is real and it can have a negative affect on your physical health. You need to be aware of your stress level, and find healthy ways to release and relieve it.  Like through a healthy diet and exercise.  I read a book called Real Happiness: The power of meditation by Sharon Salzburg.  Now I always thought that meditation was a form of Buddhism or Hinduism but it’s just being more aware of what’s going on in you and around you and it is also a great way to relieve stress.  Find a hobby that assists you in relieving stress.  For me it’s exercise. For you it may be gardening or building models, or fishing, or sewing.  For God’s favor on your fitness you have to fight stress.

So first we see God’s favor in our finances, then we see God’s favor in our fitness, and lastly we see God’s favor in our family.  I don’t know about anyone else in the room, but the area I want to see God’s favor the most is in my family!  I want my wife and my children, my mothers and my father, my sisters and my brothers, my nieces and my nephews, my cousins, and my God children doing well.

Because if my family is doing good, I’m doing good. 

If my family is happy, I am happy

If my family is well, I am well

If my family is successful, I am successful 

I want to see the favor of God on my family.  And this happens in three ways.

Keep your family first.  You have to make sure that your family knows that next to your relationship with God that they are your number one priority.  God, family, and church.  And in the home it is spouse and then children.  Don’t you put your children ahead of your spouse.  I am trying my best to make sure that my family knows that they are the number one priority in my life.  With all that is going on in my life and in this world they need to know without a shadow of a doubt that there is nothing more important to me then they are.  This is important, you never want to take your family for granted.  You appreciate and love your family.  You receive God’s favor on your family by keeping your family first.

So you keep your family’s first and then you keep your family front and center.  In other words, keep your family around as much as possible.  Where you go they go.  If you stay they stay.  Your conversations should have stories of your family.  Your desk or cubicle should have pictures of your family.  Your phone should be full of pictures of your family.  Your Facebook and instagram should be plastered with pictures of your family. Not to put up a front, but so that people know that you are all about your family. People who know you should know that you are a family person.  They should know how much your family means to you!  For God’s favor on your family you need to keep your family front and center.

You keep your family first, you keep your family front and center, and you keep your from harm.  Protect your family.  Look out for you family.  You don’t throw your family under the bus.   You have to be like a guard dog when it comes to your family keeping them from all harm and danger.  

Whether it’s emotional harm. 

Physical harm.   

Psychological harm.  

Educational harm.  

You go to bat for your family. 

You go to war for your family.

You go to battle for your family.

You risk it all for your family. 

You sacrifice for your family. 

You do what it do for your family.

To receive the favor of God for our family we must keep our family from harm.

Let me close with a story!

His Favor Brings a Birthday Cake

What I want to share is something so simple, it changed my life and how I saw God’s love for me and His ability to show His favor in my life.

Back when this happened, I was a single parent working as secretary for a church and Christian school. It was my birthday and pastor’s wife brought in a giant store-bought sheet cake with thick shortening frosting for me. I HATE store bought cakes with thick shortening frosting and never eat them. It was thoughtful so I thanked her and shared with all the people who came into the office (i.e., gave it all away).

I was missing my family and, in truth, feeling a little sorry for myself. I remember telling God, “Lord you know I hate these store bought cakes with a passion. I sure would have loved my favorite cake. Sigh.” We all know how impossible that would be (!) since only my mother knew my favorite birthday cake and she lived 500 miles away. Around noon, there was a knock on the office door and one of the student’s mothers stuck her head around the door.

She asked me, “Do you like pineapple?” Strange question. I replied, “Yes, it’s actually one of the ingredients in my favorite cake.”

She sighed in relief and said, “Oh good! I was so worried.” She walked in the door carrying a covered cake dish saying, “You’re not going to believe this but God woke me up in the middle of the night and told me to make a Mississippi Pea Pickin’ cake for you. He said it had to be for today. It has pineapple in the icing and so many people hate pineapple.”

She whipped the lid off the cake and there sat my favorite cake, what my family calls a Mandarin Orange Cake. I was so astonished I just started crying. I told her it was my birthday and what I had just said to God that morning about wishing I had my favorite cake. She began crying because she hadn’t known it was my birthday and it was the very first time she’d ever heard God’s voice so specifically. She was unsure it was really Him since so few in her family even liked the cake. She took a step of faith but wasn’t going to bring the cake in if I didn’t like pineapple.

The favor of God has brought so many blessings into my life from promotions, houses, cars, clothing – but to me, one of the sweetest and the one that clearly showed me how much He cares for even the smallest details in my life, was this time, when He moved on a woman’s heart to bring a single parent her favorite birthday cake.

Truly nothing is impossible with God. I have never forgotten it and His favor truly showed me how much He loves me to the point of a tiny favor just for me – bringing me my favorite cake (which we all know is a HUGE thing).

So I have one question.  Who wants cake?

Now I’m not talking about a sweet comforting desert.  Your cake can be anything you desire from God that his favor can provide.

For example, new job, cake! 

Happy marriage, cake!

Addiction free, cake!

Promotion on the job, cake!

Children safe, cake!

Good report from the doctor, cake!

Feeling good in your body, cake!

Approved for the loan, cake!

New car, cake!

New house, cake!

Wife made your favorite meal, cake!

Husband took you to your favorite restaurant, cake!

Raise on the job, cake!

Lowered insurance premiums, cake!

Corona virus gone, cake!

All people to see that Black lives matter, cake!

Does anyone want cake?

Does anyone want the favor of God?

We are in the year of the Lord’s favor.

And he will give you favor over your finances.

Favor over your fitness.

Favor over your family.

We depend on God for his favor!

Praise God for his favor!

From the rising of the sun to the going down of the same.  

The name of Jesus is worthy to be praised!

Declaration of Dependence Part 2

John 15:5

I Corinthians 1:1-9

1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes,

2 To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours:

3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

4 I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 5 For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— 6 God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. 7 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8 He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

(Video Clip)

Last week we began our new series entitled Declaration of Dependence.  I shared with you that every day is our Dependence day because every day as Christians, as children of God, as followers of the way, and as members of the fraternity or sorority of the twice born we are daily dependent on God.  We are in essence addicted to God because we can do nothing without him.  That is what Jesus tells his disciples in John 15:5. I am the vine, you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit, apart from me you can do nothing.  We depend on God.  We need God!  Is there anybody in the room depending on God this morning?  

And last week I told you that we depend on God for his forgiveness, and because of his forgiveness we have freedom, a fresh start, and we’ll have a fruitful ministry.  Today I want to talk about something else that we depend on God for, and I am quite sure that you will all agree.  It was quite evident in the video after seeing what Jessica and Jordan went through in their brief marriages and finding one another.  We depend on God for his faithfulness!  Has God been faithful to anybody in the room toady?  This is why I love God so much because even when our faith is weak and anemic and pathetic and doubtful, lukewarm, and almost non-existent God is still faithful!  Do I have any witnesses to the faithfulness of God.  I know this is just my introduction but I just want to have a praise break right now and lift up the name of Jesus for his faithfulness.  

Because he did not have to do it, but he did.

He didn’t have to wake you up.

He didn’t have to heal you.

He didn’t have to feed you.

He didn’t have to put clothes on your body.

He didn’t have to put a roof over your head.

He didn’t have to have to keep you.

He didn’t have save you.

He didn’t have to protect you and your family. 

He didn’t have to send his son so that we could live.

I thank God for his faithfulness. 

I need God’s faithfulness. 

I am addicted to God’s faithfulness. 

I depend on God’s faithfulness. 

Let’s go to the text… in our text today Paul is writing his first letter to the Christians in Corinth. Now Corinth was a major city.  It was a city of commerce because of its location, it had both land and sea routes.  It was also the Roman Capital in Achaia, making it a happening place.  It was the NYC or Las Vegas of the day.  The city that never sleeps.  It was a very religious city because of the many different religions practiced there, as well as an extremely immoral city. Which is one of the reasons Paul was writing this letter.  I’ve always been impressed with the style in which Paul wrote his letters.  Just listen to it…

Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes, To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

I mean you probably really felt like somebody to be receiving a letter from Paul.  There was always mention of the Christians’ walk with God, how Paul was praying for them, and how thankful he was for them.  He always tried to give them a word of encouragement before he told them something they did not want to hear.  Such as a word of criticism or correction.  He always built people up before he tore them down. And more times than not he was building them back up again by the end of the letter. That’s probably why they refer to Corinthians as the love book because Paul always reminded the church of the love of God and how we should love God and one another.  I said all that to say this, Paul as usual wrote this letter to encourage, admonish, reaffirm, and reassure the church in Corinth.  There were some things going on in the church that he needed to be addressed, and he did so with love.  Paul was telling the church because you believe in God.  Because of your belief in the life death and resurrection of Jesus, his grace is upon you, and you lack no spiritual gift among you.  God will keep you because he is faithful and has called you into fellowship with his son.  In other words, God is faithful.  And we depend on this faithfulness.  Great is thy faithfulness, oh God my father, there is no shadow of turning with thee.  Thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not.  As thou has been thou for ever will be… and this faithfulness does three things for us.

First God’s faithfulness keeps us factual.  Look at verse 6, Paul tells the church, God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. God confirms.  Confirms means to establish the truth or correctness of something previously believed, suspected to be the case.  

State of assurance that a report or fact is true.  

To reinforce someone in an opinion, belief, or feeling. 

To affirm!  

To corroborate! 

To verify!

To prove! 

To validate!

To authenticate!

To substantiate!

To justify!

To vindicate!  

To support! 

To uphold!  

To back up! 

God faithfulness keeps us honest, and if we are true Christians we have to be honest.

Gods faithfulness keeps us factual in three ways.

God’s faithfulness keeps us factual by making us focused.  I told you last week that in order to have a fruitful ministry you must keep the focus on God.  But this also applies to every aspect of your life.  If you are going to be focused.  If you are truly going to be what God has called you to be.  You must be focused on God.  You have to have a laser like focus on God.  When we focus on God he can truly be the center of our joy.  Why?  Because every good and perfect gift comes from him.  He is the heart of our contentment and the hope for all we do.  When we are focused, Jesus truly will be the center of our joy.  And we can be all that he’s called us to be.  His faithfulness keeps us factual by making us focused.

God’s faithfulness keeps us factual by making us focused, then it keeps us factual by making us frank.  Not the name Frank, but God’s faithfulness makes us frank, meaning marked by free, forthright, and sincere expression.  A frank reply.  In other words, saying it like it is.  No candy coating. No fluff.  Just the way God intended it to be.  For example the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.  As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.  You cannot serve to masters for you will love one and hate the other!  See where I am going with this.  The faithfulness of God keeps us factual by making us frank.

God faithfulness keeps us factual by making us focused.  God’s faithfulness keeps us factual by making us frank.  And God’s faithfulness keeps us factual by making us create friction.  The Christian lifestyle is counterculture.  We live in this world, but we are not of this world.  It is only our temporary dwelling place.  Just like these bodies we live in. What we believe is totally controversial and contradictory to the world we live.  What you talking about Willis? 

Well we believe that God created the heavens and the earth.  

The world believes in the Big Bang theory or that we evolved from monkeys.  

We believe that a man should marry a woman and a woman should marry a man.  

But the world believes that you should marry whom ever you want.  

We believe that you should be married before you have sex.  While the world believes that you should do whatever makes you feel good.  

We believe in one God, one faith, and one baptism.  

But the world believes in being more spiritual than religious.  

We believe that God created everyone in his own image.  

The world believes that some people are less than them so they treat them poorly based on their race, ethnicity, religion, and socio-economic status.  

We believe that All lives cannot matter until black lives matter.  

The world believes that we are taking things to far, and we need to get over it, and move on.

And what we believe causes friction.  

What we believe rubs people the wrong way.  

What we believe causes conflicts.  

What we believe makes people feel uncomfortable. 

Well I’m sorry because I’m gonna have to rub some people the wrong way,  

I am going to have to cause a little conflict.  

I am going to have to be contradictory and controversial.  

I am going to have to make a few people feel uncomfortable.  Because I’m about to cause some friction.  

Because I will speak the truth of God, and that truth will set you free.  God’s faithfulness keeps us factual and makes us cause friction.

Secondly God’s faithfulness keeps us firm.  Look at verse 8, He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  And he goes on to say in chapter 15:58, Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.  The NIV says stand firm.  Let nothing move you.  When your focus is on God you should have no problem being firm in what you believe.  God’s faithfulness keeps us firm, and this firmness does three things for us.

Being firm fixes us. Remember how broke we were before God got his hands on us.  We will forever be a work in progress.  We will always have under construction signs all around us, but I am so glad. That his faithfulness keeps us firm and that firmness fixes us.  Is there anyone in the room besides the man with the microphone that was a wretch undone.  You were broken into so many pieces that only God could put you back together.  Only God’s faithfulness can fix us.  Which leads me to my next point.

God’s faithfulness keep us firm.  Because we are firm he fixes us and then he forms us.  After he pulls together all of the broken pieces of our lives he forms us into what he wants us to be.  He molds us and makes us. Now look at the work of art God created with the shattered pieces of your life.  

Picasso has nothing on God.  

Michael Angelo has nothing on God.  

Van Go has nothing on God.  

Because only God can make something out of nothing.  

Being firm fixes us, and once we are fixed we can be formed, which leads me to my next point.

Now that we are fixed and formed by God’s faithfulness he fortifies us.  This is the way that he makes sure that what he puts together, what he creates does not fall apart.  He is the glue that keeps us together.  There is a type of Japanese art called Kintsugi which is created from broken pieces of pottery.  They put the pieces together with a special type of adhesive that has gold or silver or platinum powder in it so that the cracks become a beautiful part of the artwork.  Not only is kintsugi beautiful but the material used to create it makes it stronger than it was before.  It is fortified!  And I was just wondering is there anybody in the room that was broken, and God picked you up, and put you back together again.  You were like Humpty Dumpty.  All of the kings horses and all the kings men could put you back together again. But when you looked to the hills from where your help comes from.  God put you back together again.  He made you into a beautiful piece of art.  That is stronger now because God has put his hands on you.  Is there anybody in the room excited that God’s faithfulness keeps us firm?  And because we are firm he fixes us, forms us, and fortifies us.

So God’s faithfulness keeps us factual, God’s faithfulness keeps us firm, and God’s faithfulness allows us to fellowship with Him.  Look at verse 9, God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Fellowship means companionship, company, community of interest, activity, feeling, or experience. The quality or state of being a comrade.  Meaningful communication for building trust.  This sounds like a relationship.  God’s faithfulness keeps us in relationship with Jesus.  I am so glad that I do not have a religion and I have a relationship with my lord and savior Jesus Christ! 

So you can have spiritualism, I’ve got fellowship.  

You can have Hinduism. 

You can have Buddhism.

You can have Mormonism.

You can have have the Nation of Islam. 

You can have Confucius.

You can have any religion you want.

But I’m gonna stick with Jesus.

I have a relationship with my God.

I have fellowship with my God.  

And this fellowship works in three ways.

In this fellowship we are his followers.  

We follow his word. 

We follow his way.  

We follow his will.  

We are his servants.  

We are his disciples.  

We are followers of the way.

Because we are in fellowship with God we are his followers!

In this fellowship we are his followers and we are his friends.  In John 15:15 Jesus says, I no longer call you servants because a servant does not know the masters business.  Instead I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from the father I have made known to you.  Did you hear what I said you are a friend of God.  Now how many times in your life did you want to be in the in-crowd?  

You wanted to go where the in-crowd goes.  

You wanted to be down with the cool folks.  

You wanted to go where everybody knows your name, and there always glad you came.  

How many times have you dropped a name of someone you claim to know trying to impress people?  But it really does not  matter who you know or who you say you know.  What really matters is if they know you.  And aren’t you slap happy this morning that not only does the God of the universe know who you are but he calls you His friend.  I am a friend of God.

So in this fellowship we are his followers, we are his friends, and we are His force to be reckoned with.  Do you know who we are?  We are followers of Christ.  We are friends of God, and we are His force to be reckoned with.  

We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

We are more than a conqueror through Christ who loved us.

Greater is he that is us than he that is in the world. 

We are God’s child, for we are born again of the incorruptible seed of the word of God.

We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. 

We are redeemed from the curse of the law of sin and death.

We are blessed.

We are highly favored.

We are  the head and not the tail.

We are holy and without blame before him in love.

We are the elect of God.

We are established to the end.

We are set free.

We are strong in the Lord.

We are joint heirs with Christ.

We are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.

We are in Christ by his doing.

We are accepted in the beloved.

We are complete in him.

We are crucified with Christ. 

We are alive with Christ.

We are free from condemnation. 

We are reconciled to God.

Do you know who we are?

We are His force to be reckoned with.

That’s why this is our Declaration of Dependence. 

This is our Dependence day because everyday we depend on God.  We depend on God for his faithfulness. 

His faithfulness keeps us factual. 

His faithfulness keeps us firm.

His faithfulness allows us to fellowship with him.

Is anybody in the room thankful for God’s faithfulness?

God is faithful.  He cannot lie.  If he makes a promise He will keep it.  There about 277 instances in the Bible where God made covenants with his people.  So I have to believe that there are 277 times that God was faithful to his word and fulfilled his promise. He saved Noah from the flood.

He made Abraham the father of our faith.

He provided Abraham with a ram in the bush.

He reestablished his covenant with Jacob.

He spared Joseph in order to save his people.

He raised up Moses to free the Israelites. 

He provided for his people in the desert.

He brought them into the promise land.

He blessed them with judges like Deborah, Sampson, and Gideon.

When that didn’t work he gave them kings, the most notable being David a man after his own heart. 

He saved His people through Esther’s bravery.

He honored Ruth’s commitment to her mother-in-law.

And this is just a small piece of the Old Testament that displays God’s faithfulness.

Let’s fast forward to the New Testament when the angel appears to Mary and Joseph telling them that they will become parents before they even get married.

That son is born.

That son lives a perfect life.

That son goes through a mockery of a trial.

That son is beaten, ridiculed, and mocked.

That son gets on an old rugged cross and lays down his life.

That son comes back to life three days later with all power in his hands.

Because all of the faithfulness that God had displayed up to this point was not enough for his people to realize that He is all the God that they needed.  Something had to die.  So God stepped into human form and in essence sacrificed himself because God is Jesus and Jesus is God so that we could live.  If that is not faithfulness I don’t know what is so stand to your feet and give God praise for his faithfulness.

Just think about it for a moment.

Your health, God’s faithfulness! 

Your strength! 

Your protection! 

Your provision!

Your purpose!

Your success!

Your depression! 

Your mistakes!

Your mess ups!

Your short falls!

Your job!

Your children!

Your addiction!

Your ego!

Your pride!

Your arrogance! 

Your disappointment! 

Your healing!

Your achievements! 

Your overflowing favor!

Your salvation!

Our declaration of Dependence! 

We depend on God for his faithfulness!

His faithfulness keeps us factual! 

His faithfulness keeps us firm!

His faithfulness allows us to fellowship with him!

Give God praise for his faithfulness!

Declaration of Dependence Part 1

Dependence Day

John 15:5

Colossians 1:13-14 (NIV)

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

The Declaration of Independence is the statement adopted by the Second Continental Congress meeting at the Pennsylvania State House (Independence Hall) in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies,[2] then at war with the Kingdom of Great Britain, regarded themselves as thirteen newly independent sovereign states, and no longer under British rule. Instead they formed a new nation—the United States of America. John Adams was a leader in pushing for independence, which was passed on July 2 with no opposing vote cast. A committee of five had already drafted the formal declaration, to be ready when Congress voted on independence. The term “Declaration of Independence” is not used in the document itself.  John Adams persuaded the committee to select Thomas Jefferson to compose the original draft of the document,[3] which Congress would edit to produce the final version. The Declaration was ultimately a formal explanation of why Congress had voted on July 2 to declare independence from Great Britain, more than a year after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. The next day, John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail: “The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.”[4] But Independence Day is actually celebrated on July 4, the date that the Declaration of Independence was approved.

So this weekend we celebrate our countries’s Declaration of Independence. 

We will celebrate the Fourth of July.  

We will celebrate our Independence Day.  

In a sense we celebrate our birthday.

Now for years I thought this day was about ribs, potato salad, and fireworks.  But the date is really significant in our country’s history.  It is the day that we declared that we did not need to be under the rule of Great Britain.  That we were free to be our own country.  We wanted our freedom and we took it!  So today we are one of the greatest nations in the world.  And in the greatest nation in the world slaves were not free until June 19,1865.  Two years after Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.  That is why we celebrated Juneteenth a few weeks ago.  And in the greatest nation in the world we still have problems.  

We are still battling racism.

We are still battling bigotry.

We are still battling discrimination.

We are still battling hatred.

We are still battling poverty.

We are still battling police brutality.

We are still battling inequality.

We are still battling racial injustice.

We are still battling voter suppression.

And we may not be happy with everything that is going on in our nation, but I don’t think we’d want to be anywhere else either.  Because here we are free.  We enjoy the luxury of freedom.  We can go where we want to go.  Do what we want to do.  Marry who we want to marry.  And worship any God we want to worship.   That is the idea anyway.  The American dream. Wow, when you think about it.  That kind of freedom can be scary.  But with that freedom we are free to choose.  And today I choose to be totally dependent on God.  

With all that is going on in my life I need to depend on God.

With all the darkness in the world.

With all hell breaking loose in my life.

With the rise of racial unrest in our nation.

With the uncertainty that COVID -19 has brought.

With all the madness going on in Washington DC.

With a friend and colleague going through the wringer because of a FB post.

With the true colors of friends and loved one beginning to show.

So today I am making a declaration of dependence.  Today is my dependence day.  As a matter of fact, every day is my dependence day because every day I am depending on God.  Because I cannot do this thing called life on my own.  So for the month of July we will be talking about our dependence day.  Because everyday we should be depending on God.  There are at least four things that I would like to share with in the month of July that we depend on God for.  And the first thing that we depend on God for is His forgiveness. 

Shall we look at the text.  First let’s look at the passage in The Gospel according to John the disciple whom Jesus loved.  In this chapter of John Jesus is talking to his disciples.  He is basically telling them that he is the vine and his father is the gardener.  And the gardener is going to cut off every branch that does not bear fruit.  He reassures the disciples that as long as you remain in me and I remain in you, you will bear fruit, but apart from me you can do nothing.  In other words, you need me.  You must depend on me, and if you depend on me I will never leave you or forsake you.  We can do nothing without God.  Does anybody believe that this morning?  You see I tried it on my own…

Now in Colossians 1:13-14 Paul is addressing the Christian Church in Colossae.  He tells them how thankful he is for each and everyone of them and how grateful he is that they have heard the Gospel story.  He expressed to them how him and Timothy had not stopped praying for them since he heard that they believed.  He wanted to reassure them of their faith and reminded them that God has rescued them from the dominion of darkness and brought them into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Paul wanted them to know that because you believe.  Because of your faith in God you have been rescued from the darkness and brought into the kingdom of the son.  You have been redeemed.  Your sins have been forgiven.  Your sins have been forgiven.  I don’t know about you, but knowing that my sins are forgiven gives me a freeing feeling that I just cannot explain.  It is like a huge weight that is lifted off of my life.  Does anybody know what I’m talking about?  So as we thread the needle between these two scriptures we can see that we can do nothing without God, we depend on God, and one of the things that we depend on God for is His forgiveness.  

One rainy afternoon I was driving along one of the main streets of town, taking those extra precautions necessary when the roads are wet and slick.

Suddenly, my son Matthew spoke up from his relaxed position in the front seat. “Mom, I’m thinking of something.” This announcement usually meant he had been pondering some fact for a while and was now ready to expound all that his seven-year-old mind had discovered. I was eager to hear.

“What are you thinking?” I asked.

“The rain,” he began, “is like sin and the windshield wipers are like God, wiping our sins away.”

After the chill bumps raced up my arms I was able to respond. “That’s really good, Matthew.”

Then my curiosity broke in. How far would this little boy take this revelation? So I asked… “Do you notice how the rain keeps on coming? What does that tell you?”

Matthew didn’t hesitate one moment with his answer: “We keep on sinning, and God just keeps on forgiving us.”

I will always remember this whenever I turn my wipers on. Isn’t it comforting to know that God does keep forgiving us?

Is there anybody in the room excited about the fact that God keeps on forgiving us.

No matter what we’ve done God forgives us.

No matter how many times we’ve done it.

No matter how many times we mess up.

No matter how many mistakes we make.

No matter how many times we relapse. 

No matter how many times we fall off the wagon.

No matter how many times we go back where we should not go.

No matter how many times we back slide.

No matter how many times we disappoint Him.

It does not matter, God will always forgive us, because God will always love us.  And this forgiveness does three things for us.

The first thing God’s forgivenesses does for us is give us freedom.  Which is such an appropriate point the day after we celebrated Independence Day!  God’s forgiveness gives us freedom.  Remember how free you felt the first time you left home and you were on your own.  It was you against the world and you were ready to take it all on.  Well the freedom that we receive from God’s forgiveness is so much more liberating.  That is why we love to sing that old song.

I am free praise the lord I’m free, I’m no longer bound.  

No more change holding me. 

My soul is resting. It’s just a blessing.  

Praise the Lord, hallelujah I’m free.  

Anybody free this afternoon.  

Here are three things that we are free from.

We are free from our former selves.  

You are a new creation, the old has passed and the new has come.  

You are free from the person you used to be.  

You are free from the things that you used to do.  

You don’t have to be that person anymore.  

You don’t have to do those things anymore.  

That is a beautiful thing!  Let me be a little transparent for a moment.  The old Brian was a no good, dirty, rotten scoundrel, that would try to get over on anyone that I could.  I was always on a hustle.  I was always looking to take advantage of a situation or circumstance, but thank God that he looked beyond my faults and saw my needs.  That he took me and made something beautiful out of my life.  We are free from our former selves.

So we are free from our former selves and we are free from the facade.  

We don’t have to put on a show anymore.  

We don’t have to fake it til we make it.  

We don’t have to act like we have it altogether.  

What are you saying Pastor Brian?  

I am saying that we can be vulnerable.  

We can be open.  

We can let people in.  

We can let people help us.  

We can let people see us hurting.  

We don’t have to front like we have it all under control.  

That’s what we used to call it when I was growing up.  

We called it fronting or putting on a front when you were trying to be something you’re not.  

Like trying to be tough when you’re weak.

Like trying to be cool when you’re a nerd.

Like trying to be hard when you’re soft.

Like trying to be sophisticated when you can’t even spell sophisticated.

Like trying to act good when you know you’re bad.

I thank God that we are free from the facade.

So we are free from our former selves, we are free from the facade and we are free from fretting.  And fretting is just another way of saying worrying.  We don’t have to worry.  As a matter of fact this is what the Bible says about worrying in Matthew 6:25-34 

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.  I cannot say it any better then the word of God.  What in the world are you worried about?  We are free from fretting!

The first thing that God’s forgiveness gives us is freedom and the second thing that forgiveness gives us is a Fresh Start.  How many people in the room will be honest and testify that you are thankful for your fresh start.  Things got pretty bad out there.  When you were, when we were out there doing our own thing.  Things got a little bit out of control.  We made some terrible, horrible, regrettable mistakes.  That put us in some compromising positions.  We were in some unbelievable situations and circumstances so thank God for your fresh start.  Here are three things that you can do with your fresh start.

Since you have your fresh start your can begin to Formulate.  What in the world are you talking about.  Just give me a minute and I’ll explain.  You have a fresh start.  So what are you going to do with it.  You need to formulate. You need to make a plan.  You need to set some goals and objectives for your life and plan out how you are going to reach those goals and objectives.  It is not going to happen overnight, but if you are committed to the plan, and place the plan in God hands, as a matter of fact, don’t even make the plan without consulting God first.  That way you can make sure that your plan is in alignment with God’s plan for your life.  That’s the problem that most of us have.  We make plans without consulting God.  We make plans without even considering God’s point of view.  We make plans that are not consistent with God’s plan for our lives.  That is why people say that we make plans and God laughs.  Our fresh start allows us to formulate.

So our fresh start allows us to formulate and then our fresh start allows us to Facilitate.  This is when we put the plan into action.  It is so great to write a plan.  The Bible even tells us to write the vision and make it plain.  But the plan will do us no good if we do not put it into action.  Why else would James say that faith with our works is dead.  You had the faith to make the plan. Now have the faith to put the plan in motion.  This is going to require some action on your part.  Don’t just make the plan and put it on the shelf.  As a matter of fact,  someone in the room has a plan already, and you put it on the shelf.  God told me to tell you to get that plan off the shelf.  Dust it off and put that plan into action.  It’s not over.  You still have time.  It’s not too late.

To start that business

To go to school

To get out of debt

To buy that house

To get that car

To answer your call

To write that book

To write that song

To write that grant

To start that program

To get involved 

It’s not to late.  Our fresh start allows us to facilitate.

Our fresh start allows us to formulate.  Our fresh start allows us to facilitate.  And our fresh start allows us to Fascinate.  This is what I love about God.  He forgives us.  Gives us freedom.  Freedom from our former selves, the facade, and fretting.  He gives us a fresh start by allowing us the formulate and facilitate which give us the ability to fascinate everyone around us.  Because when we become all that God has called us to be.  When we formulate and facilitate with God on our side this is going to fascinate the world around you.  And they are going to ask and even wonder how in the world could this happen to you, and that’s when you lift your hands, shout hallelujah and give God all the glory which leads me to the third thing that God’s forgiveness does for us.

The first thing that forgiveness gives us is freedom.  The second thing that forgiveness gives us is a fresh start and the third thing that forgiveness gives us is a Fruitful ministry.  And I don’t know about you but I want a fruitful ministry.  I do not want to be one of the branches that is cut from the vine and thrown into the the fire.  I want to be fruitful.  Back in biblical times if a tree did not bear fruit within in three years they cut it down and threw it in the fire.  

I am not trying to be an unfruitful tree.  

I don’t want to preach just so people can hear me talk and tell me how much they enjoyed the sermon.  

I want souls saved and lives to be changed.  

I want to be fruitful.  

I just don’t want to stand in front of my students and entertain them.  

I want them to be better readers, writers, and mathematicians because of the time I spent with them.  

I want to be fruitful.  

But I don’t want to be fruitful for me, I want to be fruitful for God.  Here is how we make a fruit ministry.

We make a fruitful ministry by Framing it around God.  God must be the focus of the ministry.  Think about it!  When you put a frame around a photograph or a beautiful piece of art, no matter how wonderfully crafted the frame is, the frame is not the focal point the photograph or the art work is.  You don’t want the frame outshining the picture.  If that’s the case why even bother putting anything in the frame.  You could just hang up the empty frame. You have to keep the main thing the main thing and God is the main thing in any ministry.  Take it from me, I have made the mistake of creating a ministry around me, and the moment I left the ministry the ministry died, because it became Brian’s ministry instead of God’s ministry and I will never make that mistake again.  So how can you avoid that?  First you make Jesus the focus of the ministry.  Then you build a team around you with the same mindset, that this is about God and not about us.  Then you train up one, two, or three people to take your place or fill in the gap when you’re not there.  The ministry should be able to operate in your absence.  A fruitful ministry must be framed around God.

A fruitful ministry must be framed around God, and a fruitful ministry must include Fostering relationships.  Everything in this world is built on relationships.  Whether those relationships are good or bad.  But in order to have a fruitful ministry you must be willing to foster relationships.  This means that you will have to put others needs before your own.  This means that you have to think about others before you make decisions.  This means that you have to genuinely care about other people. Because as John Maxwell says, no one cares what you know until they know that you care.  And when you foster relationships in your ministry to the point that everyone is on the same page, on one accord with a leader they know cares there are no limits to the success of the ministry.  It will bear fruit.  A fruitful ministry must foster relationships.

So a fruitful ministry must be framed around God, it must include fostering relationships, and it must include Fulfilling your call.  Because if you are not operating in your gift and doing what God has called you to do you are wasting your time and the time of everyone around you.  God did not forgive you, free you, give you a fresh start so that you could be unfruitful in a ministry that he did not call you to.  So make sure that whatever you are doing, that you are doing it because that is where God has called you to be.  And if you don’t know just ask him, and he will tell you!  But I am pretty sure that you already know what God wants you to do.  So be like Nike and just do it.

Called to teach!

Called to preach!

Called to dance!

Called to usher!

Called to organize! 

Called to give!

Called to clean!

Called to cook!

Called to sing!

Called to play an instrument!

Called to lead!

Whatever it is that God called you to do, Just do it!

In order to have a fruitful ministry you must be fulfilling your call.

So I am making my declaration of dependence on God today!

And the first thing that I am dependent on is his forgiveness.  

His forgiveness gives us freedom.

His forgiveness gives us a fresh start.

His forgiveness gives us a fruitful ministry.

Today is our dependence day.

And everyday is our dependence day because everyday we depend on God.

Give God praise for our independence. 

Now, Give God praise for your dependence.

I don’t no about you, but I depend on God.

I depend on the Immanuel. 

I depend on the Savior.

I depend on Jesus.

I depend on Yahweh.

I depend on El Elyon.

I depend on Jehovah.

I depend on Jesus Christos.

I depend on Adonai.

I depend on the balm of Gilead.

I depend on the rose of Sharon.

I depend on the bright and morning star.

I depend on the the friend that sticks closer than a brother.

I depend fountain on living water.

I depend on the God of all comfort.

I depend on the God of all grace.

I depend on the God of hope.

I depend on the God of peace.

I depend on the God of my life.

I depend on my God, the great I am that I am.

I depend on the father.

I depend on the son.

I depend on the Holy Spirit.

And that’s why I sing….

I need the oh I need the, every hour I need the.

Oh bless me now my savior, I come too the.

A Summer of Scandal! Part 3

Summer of Scandal 3

John 4:1-14, 39-41

Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John— although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.

Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.[a])

10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.

Three weeks ago we began a series entitled a summer of Scandal.  And we talked about a scandal being something that people talk about.  And I encouraged you to give the people in your circle of influence, your family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors something to talk about.  And if we’re going to give them something to talk about we need to give them Jesus.  We talked about a man by the name of Zacchaeus, who was a tax collector that wanted to see Jesus, and because of his short stature he climbed a tree so that he could see Jesus.  Jesus came to the tree and told Zacchaeus to come down from the tree because he would be going to his house today.  Immediately the people began to talk and say he is going to the house of a sinner.  The scandal had begun.  So we discussed that in order to have a summer of scandal we need to know what we believe, and we believe in the father who produced us, protects us, and provides for us.  We believe in the son who preaches to us, parishes for us, and presents us.  And we believe in the Holy Spirit that prepares us, produces through us, and prospers us.  Two weeks ago we talked about having a summer of scandal by the way we behave.  We talked about the ten lepers that Jesus healed between the cities of Galilee and Samaria, and how only one out of the ten lepers came back to to praise God for his healing.  And I told you that in order to have a summer of scandal you need to display the following three behaviors. Practice, prayer, and praise.  We practice with patience, peace, and perseverance.  We pray personally, people minded prayers, and persistently.  And we praise God on purpose, for a purpose, because it is our purpose.  And today we are going to close out the series when I tell you not only is our summer of scandal based on our beliefs, not only is our summer of scandal based on our behavior. But our summer of scandal is based on the benefits we receive from God because of our beliefs and behaviors.  

Now there is a reason that Shannon and I ended up in Columbus, Ohio 20 years ago to be teachers.  We had family here.  They recruited us, basically hiring us on the spot in Pennsylvania, and the starting salary was pretty good compared to other stated that we looked in to, but the benefits were even better.  

Insurance was good.  

Dental was good.  

Vision was ok.  

The retirement plan was good.

We could go to The Ohio State University for free.  

And let’s not forget summers off.  

But as good as our benefits are they do not compare to the benefits we receive as children of God.  Remember who your daddy is!  How many of you know that there are benefits when you are a child of God when you are living the Christian life?  And if we are living it right those benefits will cause a scandal.  Those benefits will get people taking about us.  But more importantly, those benefits will get people talking about Jesus!

ZShall we look at the text… I know we were just looking at this particular text last month, but this just shows how rich God’s word is.  Many things can be gleaned and learned from the same passage of scripture.  So if you remember in this story Jesus is heading back to Galilee and he passes through Samaria because it is the quickest way to get there.  On his way he ends up on a plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph, and Jacob’s well is there.  And since Jesus was tired from his journey he stopped to rest and get a drink. So let me say parenthetically on the way to where I’m going, if Jesus got tired and rested, don’t you think that it’s ok for us to get tired and rest every now and then.  You can’t keep going like the energizer bunny!  You have to take time and rest, relax, and refresh.  Because if you don’t your body will take a break on you!   You have to rest!  You have to relax.  You have to refresh, and this gives you time to reflect.  Let’s get back to the text.  So Jesus was at the well and about noon a Samaritan woman came to the well.  

Somebody say scandal.  

Most women came to the well in the morning to get water, but this woman came at noon to avoid the crowd, to avoid the stares, to avoid the gossip, to avoid the pointing fingers.  

Somebody say scandal 

But Jesus is there, an unexpected surprise, and he asks her for a drink.  

Somebody say scandal.  

Jews don’t associate with Samaritans.  

Somebody say scandal.  

Men do not talk to woman in public.  

Somebody say scandal.  

But Jesus did.  And she responds, how can you ask me for a drink.  Because Jews do not associate with Samaritans and Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”  And they go back and forth for a while because this woman is trying to figure out how in the world is Jesus going to give her water when he has nothing to get the water out of the well with.  

Little did she know that he was not talking about physical water.  He was not talking about natural water.  

He was not talking about spring water.  

He was not talking about purified water.  

He was not talking about distilled water

He was not talking about Dasani, Evian, Fuji, Aquafina, or Ice Mountain.

He was not talking about H2O at all.  

He was talking about living water.  

He was talking about the Holy Spirit.  

Because he told her, Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  

So she asked for the living water!  

She asked to be delivered!

She asked to be saved!

And they continue the conversation in which Jesus gets all up in the woman’s business and she acknowledges him as prophet. And goes onto say how the Jews used to worship where they were.  And Jesus told her a time is coming when we shall worship God in spirit and in truth.  Because that is what God desires.  Regardless of your race, color, class, gender, or ethnicity.  God wants true worshippers.  And true worshippers worship the father in spirit and in truth.  

The disciples return, and the woman leaves and goes into town, and tells everyone, come see a man that has told me everything I’ve ever done.  The people come and the people believe. 

Somebody say Scandal!

So let me share with you three benefits that will assist you in your summer of scandal and then I will bid you good day.

One of the first benefits that we receive from God is his protection.  Now I know we discussed this when we talked about our beliefs.  When I expressed to you that we believe that God is our father and because he is our father he protects us.  But today I want to go a little deeper and tell you what he protects us from.  He protects us from dangers seen and unseen.  He protects from the things that go bump in the night.  But I would like to get a little more specific than that.  Here are three things that God protects us from.

The first thing that God protects us from is people.  

Yeah I know you have 500 Facebook friends.  

I know you have 736 twitter followers, and everyone is always liking your pictures on instagram.  

I know you think that everyone loves you.  

And everyone has your best interest at heart.  

But let me drop some knowledge on you from the great theologians the O’Jays, they smile in your face and all the time they wanna take your place. The back stabbers.  

Everyone is not your friend.  

And everyone does not have your best interests at heart.  

As a matter of fact there are a number of people that don’t like you at all.  

They may even hate you.  

And it’s not because of anything you’ve done to them.  

It’s just because of who you represent.  

And there is a scandal all around you because of what you believe,  how you behave, and the benefits you receive.  

But if I’ve told you once I’ve told you twice people only hate on people that are doing something.  So if you don’t have any haters you must not be doing anything.  But I thank God that he protects us from people.  

He protects us from their lies

He protects us from their flattery

He protects us from their jealousy

He protects us from their gossip 

He protects us from their drama

He protects us from their mess

He protects us from their agendas

Is there anybody in the room excited about the fact that God protects us from people.

But not only does God protect us from people, he protects of from Personal Sabotage.  You guessed it, he protects us from ourselves.  He protects you from you and he protects me from me!  How many times have you messed up on purpose?  

Failed on purpose.  

Made mistakes on purpose.  

How many times have you got in your own way and did not achieve all that God had in store for you? 

Think of all the times you doubted yourself.  

All the times you thought you could not do it.  

All the times you thought you couldn’t make it, but you did.  

Why?  Because God protects us from personal sabotage.  God protects us from ourselves.

When you want to go where you know you shouldn’t go.

When you want to do what you know you shouldn’t do.

When you want to say what you shouldn’t say.

When you want to watch what you shouldn’t watch.

When you want to listen to what you shouldn’t listen to.

When you want to visit that person you have no business visiting.

God protects us from personal sabotage.

So God protects us from people, he protects us from personal sabotage, and he protects us from the prince of darkness.  Yes, the devil is real.  The enemy does exist.  And he has come for no reason but to steal, kill, and destroy you. But Jesus said, I have come that you may have life and have it more abundantly.  And that is why the devil hates us because he hates God, and he hates the fact that God protects us because God loves us!  

He wants us to fail.  

He wants us to suffer.  

He wants us to go through.  

He wants us to doubt ourselves.  

He wants us to give up.  

He wants us to give in.  

He wants us to give out.  

He wants us to throw in the towel.  

He wants us to fall so far away from God that we forget that God loves us.  

We forget that God called us.  

We forget that God has a purpose for our lives. 

We forget that God sent Jesus to die for us.  

Check out this letter from Satan…

A letter to you from Satan

I saw you yesterday as you began your day.  You awoke without kneeling to pray.  As a matter of fact, you didn’t even bless your meals, or pray before going to bed last night. You are so unthankful, I like that about you.  I cannot tell you how glad I am that you have not changed your way of living, fool, you are mine.  Remember, you and I have been going steady for years, and I still don’t love you yet.  As a matter of fact, I hate you, because I hate God.  I am only using you to get even with God.  He kicked me out of heaven, and I’m going to use you as long as possible to pay him back.  You see, Fool, God loves you and he has great plans in store for you.  But you have yielded your life to me and I am going to make your life a living hell.  That way we’ll be together twice.  This will really hurt God.  Thanks to you.  I’m really showing him who’s boss in your life.  With all of the good times we’ve had……  We have been watching dirty movies, cursing people out, partying, stealing, lying, hypocriting, fornicating, overeating, telling dirty jokes, gossiping, back stabbing people, disrespecting adults and those in leadership positions, NO RESPECT FOR THE CHURCH, and bad attitudes.  Surely you don’t want to give all of this up.  Come on, Fool, let’s burn together forever.  I’ve got some hot plans for us.  This is just a letter of appreciation from me to you.  I’d like to say “THANKS” for letting me use you most of your foolish life.  You are so gullible, I laugh at you.  When you are tempted to sin, you give in HA HA HA, you make me sick!  Sin is beginning to take a toll on your life.  You look twenty years older, I need new blood.  So go ahead and teach some children how to sin.  All you have to do is smoke dope, get drunk, cheat, gamble, gossip, fornicate, and get high .  Do all this in the presence of children and they will do it to.  Kids are like that. Well Fool, I have to let you go now.  I’ll be back in a couple of seconds to tempt you again.  If you were smart, you would run somewhere, confess your sins, live for God with what little bit of life you have left.  It’s not my nature to warn anyone, but to be your age and still sinning, it’s becoming a bit ridiculous.  Don’t get me wrong, I still hate you… IT’S JUST THAT YOU WOULD MAKE A BETTER FOOL FOR CHRIST…  This is what the devil thinks of us.

So aren’t you glad that God protects us from the prince of darkness.  Now we could all go in right there.  If we just took a few moments to think about all the things God has protected us from.  Someone in the room needs to give God praise for his protection!

So the first benefit is God’s protection.  The second benefit is God’s presence.  Now I have to be honest this afternoon.  I do not know what I would do without the presence of God in my life.  The fact that he walks with me, and talks with me, and tells me I am his own.  And the joy we share as we tarry there. No other has ever known.  Grounds me and allows me to walk in my purpose.

His presence is what keeps me.  

His presence is what completes me.  

His presence is what holds me up. 

His presence is what keeps me going.  

His presence let’s me know that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. 

His presence let’s me know that greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world.  

His presence let’s me know that I am more than a conqueror through Christ who loves me.  

Is there anybody here that wants to give God praise for the benefit of his presence?  His presence comes in three ways.

The first way that we have God’s presence is in the form of peace.  Now I told you two weeks ago that we need to behave with peace.  Meaning we should have peace among our family, friends, and neighbors.  As children of God we should operate with peace with other people.  But the peace I’m talking about today is an inner peace that can only come with the presence of God.  That is why Paul tells the church in Philippi, and the peace of God which transcends or passes all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  God’s presence gives us peace.  

How else could you stay so calm, cool, and collective in the midst of all the hell you’re going through?  

God’s presence gives us peace. 

How else could you stay so steady in the midst of the storm you’re going through?  

God’s presence gives us peace.  

How else could you be worry free on the job that is firing people at will?

God’s presence gives us peace.  

How else are you holding it together when your world is falling apart?

God’s presence gives peace. 

How else could you make it through this COVID-19 pandemic?

God’s presence gives us peace.

How else could we stand in the midst of the racial injustice and unrest that we continually face?

God’s presence give us peace.

But not only does God’s presence come with peace, God presence comes with passion.   Because we have his presence we have his passion.  If we remain in him, he will remain in us.  Have you ever been sitting alone or even in the midst of a crowd and you begin to think about the goodness of the Lord and all that he has done for you.  And you begin to feel his passion for you.  His love for you.  

That love that sent his one and only son to the cross.  

That love that forgives us no matter what we do. 

That love that calls us.  

That love that uses us.  

That love that keeps us. 

That love that sustains us.  

His presence brings his passion.  

And because we have his passion we must share it with others.  We can’t keep it to ourselves.  

We must love our neighbors as ourselves.  

We can’t be stuck up Christians and turn our noses up at other people whether they are believer or not we have to share the love and the passion of Christ with everyone.  

Even if we are mad at them we have to love them.  

Even if they’ve hurt us we have to love them.

Even if they get on our last nerve, we have to love them.

Even if they’ve offended us, we have to love them.

Even if they have done something or are doing something they should not be doing we have to love them.

You know why, because when we have done all of the above and so much more God still loves us!

His presence brings his passion.

So his presence brings us peace.  His presence brings us passion.  And his presence brings us a person.  What are you talking about Pastor Brian?  Well we seem to think of the Holy Spirit as a ghost or something eerie and weird, like beetle juice or Casper the friendly ghost.  But the Holy Spirit is a person, and this person lives in us.  And because he lives in us we can be all that God has called us to be.  

We can serve the way that God wants us to serve.  

We can walk the way he wants us to walk

We can talk the way he wants us to talk 

We can go where he wants us to go

We can do what he wants us to do

God’s presence gives us a person.  That person is the Holy Spirit that is why we sing anointing fall on me…. Which leads me to the last benefit.

The first benefit that God gives us is His protection.  The second benefit that God gives us is His presence.  And the last benefit that God gives us is His Power.  Now there is a number of things that we think we can accomplish on our own.  But those things that we think we accomplish on our own we really don’t accomplish on our own.  Nobody does it on their own!  So I dare you to tap into the power of God.  I double dog dare you to tap into the power of the true and living God.  As a matter of fact, I triple dog dare you to tap into the power of almighty God.  Because when we tap into the power of God the sky is the limit to all that we can accomplish for His glory.  Here are three things that happen when we tap into the power of God.

The first thing that happens when we tap into the power of God is that we’re able to Proceed.  With all this woman at the well had gone through she was able to proceed.  Oh you thought I forgot about her didn’t you.  Remember Jesus got all up in her business.  You’ve had five husbands and the man you’re with now is not your husband.  With that alone she could have tucked tail and ran off, but she accepted his invitation and received the living water giving her power to proceed.

The power to keep going.

The power to keep on keeping on.

The power to persevere.

The power not to give up.

The power to press on.

Which leads me to my next point.

Because the power of God allowed her to proceed she was able to go back in town and Promote.  Promote?  What in the world are you talking about preacher?  She ran back to town and told everyone come and see a man that told me everything I’ve ever done.  

Come see a man that looked beyond my faults and saw my needs.  

Come see a man that loves me in spite of myself.  

Come see a man that uses me in spite of my mistakes.  

Come see a man that talked to me when he was not supposed to.  Come see a man that was willing to start a scandal to save my soul.  The power of God allowed her to promote God, and because she could proceed, because she was able to promote she was able to produce.

The final thing that tapping in the power of God allows us to do is Produce.  I know what you’re thinking.  What in the world did this woman produce besides a bunch of bad relationships?  What in the world can we produce?  Look at the text.  

39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.”  Because she tapped into the power of God she was able to proceed, she was able to promote, and she was able to produce.  And you know this caused a scandal.  So ask yourself, self, what am I producing?  If your answer is nothing, than it’s time to get to work.  

It’s time to get off the bench.  

It’s time to get in the game.  

It’s time to stop window shopping.

It’s time to put your hands to the plow.  

It’s time to get to work.

It’s time to get your hands dirty.  

It’s time to get down to business.

It’s time to produce!

Now I don’t know about you, but I thank God for the benefits.  

We have a pretty good retirement plan.  

We have great health benefits.  

We have great life insurance policies.  

We have a few annuities.  

We have some great benefits.  

But none of those benefits can compare to the benefits that come from God.

The market can crash

But God’s benefits remain the same

The insurance claim may be denied 

But God benefits will always remain the same

You could lose your job and lose your benefits 

But you will never lose the benefits of God

The insurance company may not cover preexisting conditions

But you will always be covered by the blood of Jesus Christ.

Is anybody in the room excited about the fact that your preexisting conditions are covered. 

Your lying is covered!

Your stealing is covered!

Your over eating is covered!

Your bad attitude is covered!

Your fornication is covered!

Your mistakes are covered!

Your short comings are covered!

Your depression is covered!

Your lack of faith is covered! 

Your health is covered! 

Your bereavement is covered!

What a great benefit to know that no matter what your preexisting condition is, you are covered.  And this is going to cause a scandal.  

People are going to wonder how in the world are you receiving all these benefits when you use to do this and you use to do that?

But that’s what I love about Jesus is he uses us in spite of ourselves.  And he knows that you have to catch a fish before you clean it and he has called us all to be fishers of men and women.

And he blesses us with his benefits 

He blesses us with his protection 

He blesses us with his presence 

He blesses us with his power

And these benefits will give us a summer of Scandal

Let’s give them something to talk about!

Let’s give them Jesus.

My hope is built on nothing less.

Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

I dare not trust the sweetest frame.

But Wholly lean on Jesus name.

When darkness veils his lovely face.

I rest on his unchanging grace.

In every high and stormy gale.

My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, his covenant, and blood. 

Support me in the whelming flood.

When every earthly prop gives way.

He then is all my hope and stay.

When he shall come with trumpet sound.

Oh, may I then in him be found.

Clothed in his righteousness alone.

Faultless to stand before the throne.

On Christ the solid rock I stand.

All other ground is sinking sand.

A Summer of Scandal

What we believe.

How we behave.

The benefits we receive because of what we believe and how we behave.

Let’s give them something to talk about.  

Let’s give them Jesus.

Who’s your daddy?

Who’s Your Daddy?

Romans 8:14-17

14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

15 For [the Spirit which] you have now received [is] not a spirit of slavery to put you once more in bondage to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption [the Spirit producing sonship] in [the bliss of] which we cry, Abba (Father)! Father!

16 The Spirit Himself [thus] testifies together with our own spirit, [assuring us] that we are children of God.

17 And if we are [His] children, then we are [His] heirs also: heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ [sharing His inheritance with Him]; only we must share His suffering if we are to share His glory.

When I was growing up I never thought too much about Father’s Day.  As a matter of fact it was just another day in the Holland House.  We may have got Dad a card, a bottle of Pepsi, or a carton of cigarettes.  Filterless Pall Malls, if we only new then that we were slowing aiding in his death.  What kind of gift is a carton of cigarettes anyway?  If we were feeling really generous we may have gotten him a can of Right Guard or a bottle of Bruit by Faberge.  But pretty much, that’s how it’s always been, we roll out the red carpet and ring all the bells and blow all the whistles on Mother’s day, but Father’s Day is not really given all that much attention.  But now that I am a Father I want the red carpet rolled out.  I want all the bells and whistles!  And I must say that my wife and boys do an excellent job of making me feel appreciated not only on Fathers Day, but throughout the year.   Now I am sure that you all have sufficiently planned for Father’s Day, but just in case you missed the mark this year,  this is a heads up for next year.  Because it’s never too early to start planning.                                                                           

Now we all know that God has many names.                               For example…

Jehovah, the Lord. 

Immanuel, God with us.

Yahweh, The Lord

Elohim, God

El Shadai, God almighty.

El Elyon, God most high. 

El Roi, the God who sees.

Adonai, Lord Lord.

I Am that I am!                                                                           

But since its Father’s Day I would like to focus on one name in particular, and that name is Abba.  According to Strong’s concordance Abba is an Aramaic word meaning father, which is a customary title of God in prayer.  For example, our Father which art in heaven…  It is equivalent to papa.  This term conveys intimacy and respect for the Father.  Jesus called God Father, and he gave that same right to his disciples, and therefore to us, but we will get into that in a few moments.  A number years ago I was driving home from work and I saw this huge billboard with Maury Povitch on it that said in big letters, “who’s your daddy?”  The sign was referring to a topic that was and still is running rampant on the talk show circuit.  This topic was and is the topic of paternity.  Jerry Springer and Maury Povitch discuss paternity issues on their talk shows.  This topic has even entered the courtroom/judge shows like Judge Judy, Judge Mathis, and Divorce Court.  These T.V. shows bring in these couples and/or single women and their so-called baby daddies on national television to air out all of their dirty laundry.  A wife will tell her husband after 10 years of marriage that she had an affair and the child that they have loved and raised over the past 8 years may or may not be his biological son or daughter.  So after embarrassing the man on national television the talk show host offers to give the family a paternity test.  A few moments later an envelope is brought out with the test results.  The suspense is building, and tears are running down everyone’s face in the room.  The man says that he does not care what the test says, he is the baby’s father and he will continue to love and support the child.  The talk show host opens the envelope to view the results and looks at the awaiting family with pity in his eyes and recites these five words, “You are not the father!” The man runs off the stage in frustrated anger as the mother sits on stage crying on the talk show host’s shoulder.  Another scenario had a young lady on the show over 7 times and she still did not know who the father of her baby was.  Now some of the shows have had a happy ending with the man who wanted to be the father, or thought he was the father actually being the father.  But for the most part a number of these women leave the show not knowing who the father of their child is.   It is a shame to think of how crazy our society has become that a woman would have to go on a television show to find out who the father of her child is.  I don’t know about you, but I thank God that I know who my father is.  Both biologically and spiritually.  It will be 21 years this November since my Dad has gone onto glory, but I thank God for Walter Kelly Holland.  He wasn’t winning any father of the year awards, but I know that he did the best that he could, and I love him for that.  So if your parents are still living, show them that you appreciate them now, cherish them now, honor them now, and give them their flowers now.  Don’t hold grudges, and spend as much time as possible with them now.  Oh what I wouldn’t give to see my father again.  Just to see that smile that told me he was proud of me because he would never tell me to my face.  I would hear it from his friends.  Your Dad is so proud of you!  The closest my father ever got to saying something positive to me was when I was student teaching in Las Vegas.  I may have shared this with you before, but I would call him every Sunday, and one Sunday as we were talking he said,  “I was talking to your mother the other day and I told her that I miss you.”  He has missed out on so much.  My graduate school graduation, my wedding, buying our first house, and those wonderful grandsons of his.  The most comforting thought I have in his absence is that he got saved the day before he died and I will see him again.  That is a fact, and I thank God for that!  

Well even though many people may or not know who their biological father is.  (I have friends that have never met their biological father and could care less, and I have friends that have just recently met their biological fathers within the past decade) But today, I want to talk to you about your spiritual father.  Look at your neighbor and ask them, who’s your daddy?”

In the text Paul is writing a letter to the Christian church in Rome.  He wants to visit the church, but at the present time he needs to be in Jerusalem, so he decides to write the church in Rome a letter of introduction.  In this letter he discussed the spiritual condition of mankind and how he has discovered that both Jews and Gentiles are sinners in need of salvation.  A salvation that can only be accomplished through faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  In this particular portion of the letter Paul is explaining to the believer that because of your confession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ you are now a child of God.  Look at your neighbor again and ask them, “Who’s your daddy?” Paul expresses it like this, for all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For [the Spirit which] you have now received [is] not a spirit of slavery to put you once more in bondage to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption [the Spirit producing sonship] in [the bliss of] which we cry, Abba (Father)! Father! The Spirit Himself [thus] testifies together with our own spirit, [assuring us] that we are children of God. And if we are [His] children, then we are [His] heirs also: heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ [sharing His inheritance with Him]; only we must share His suffering if we are to share His glory.  So in other words if you are saved you are a child of God.   If you are born again you are a child of God.  If you are in the fraternity of the twice born you are a child of God. Who’s your daddy?  Your daddy is God!  Now let me say parenthetically on the way to where I am going that God is the father of all in the sense that he created all, and his love and providential care are extended to all.  But not all are his children.  Jesus said to the unbelieving Jews of his day, you belong to the devil.  According to John 8:42-44 Jesus says, If God were your Father, you would love Me and respect Me and welcome Me gladly, for I proceeded (came forth) from God [out of His very presence]. I did not even come on My own authority or of My own accord (as self-appointed); but He sent Me. Why do you misunderstand what I say? It is because you are unable to hear what I am saying. [You cannot bear to listen to My message; your ears are shut to My teaching.] You are of your father, the devil, and it is your will to practice the lusts and gratify the desires [which are characteristic] of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a falsehood, he speaks what is natural to him, for he is a liar [himself] and the father of lies and of all that is false.  In other words if you are not saved, your spiritual father is the devil.  People become children of God through faith in the son.  So ask your neighbor again, who’s your daddy?  

So that’s great Pastor Brian that we become children of God and God becomes our father through salvation and we can refer to him as Abba, but exactly how does the process take place.  I am so glad that you ask.  I will give the three ways the process of being able to call God Abba (Father) happens and then I will bid you good day.  

The first way that we are able to call God Abba (Father) is to accept the spirit (accept means the act of taking or receiving).  Listen to what verse 15 says, for the Spirit which you have received (accept) is not the spirit of slavery to put you once more in bondage to fear, but you have received (accepted) the spirit of adoption (the spirit producing sonship) in the bliss of which we cry Abba Father (Abba meaning father or adopted).  That is one of the many things that I love about God he never forces himself on us.  He never forces his will on us.  He just offers us a path and we can choose to take it or go our own way.  When someone offers us something we can accept it or decline it, but I am so glad that I accepted the Lord’s invitation.  I am so glad that I have accepted him into my life.  When I think about what my life was like before I accepted him I thank God for bringing me such a mighty long way.   When I look back over my life and think of all that the Lord has done for me my soul cries out hallelujah.  Because I realize that if it was not for God’s Grace and Mercy who knows where I would be.  I definitely would not be at Second Community Church as the pastor preaching the Gospel.   So I thank God for looking beyond my faults and seeing my needs.  

I thank God for picking me up.  

I thank God for turning me around.  

I thank God for placing my feet on higher and solid ground.  

I thank God for giving me the opportunity to accept him.  

I thank God that he is my daddy, and that I can call him Abba!

 But not only are we able to call God Abba when we accept his spirit.  We are able to call God Abba when he adopts us.  The second part of verse 15 says but you have received the spirit of adoption the spirit producing sonship in the bliss of which we cry Abba, or Father!  Adoption is defined as taking into one’s family through legal means and raising as one’s own child.  In biblical times an adopted son received all the rights and privileges of the natural son including inheritance.  Why are ya’ll so quiet.  Did you not just hear me say that as adopted children of God we are entitled to all the rights and privileges including the inheritance of the natural son?  Who is God’s natural son?  That’s right Jesus!  So we have rights to the same things that Jesus does.  Not only that, but we are his heirs.  So if cattle on a thousand hills belong to my father, why am I worried about making ends meet?  

Why am I worried about finding a job?  

Why am I worried about feeding the kids?  

Why am I worried about the light bill?

Why am I worried about the car note?

Why am I worried about the rent?

Why am I worried about the medical bills?

Why am I worried at all?  

And if Jesus rose from the dead with all power in his hands, why am I worried about a little pain in my body.                You better lay hands on yourself and pray!  If a man who is evil will not give his son a snake when he asks for a fish, how much more will my father in heaven give me the desires of my heart?  I have never seen the righteous forsaken or his seed (if we are his seed, that means we are his children) begging for bread.  And we call him Abba, and that means that we have a close relationship with God.  In other words we can call him daddy.  And if my natural father who did not give his life to the Lord until the day before he died could give me everything I wanted when I asked him.  How much more will my daddy in heaven provide all of my needs according to his riches in glory?  Did I not just mention that the cattle on a thousand hills belongs to God, and if he is my Daddy, that entitles me to few burgers, sirloins, rib eyes, t-bones, prime ribs, porter houses, and even a little bit of that filet minion.  Who’s your daddy?

So not only are we able to call God Abba when we accept the spirit, not only are we able to call God Abba when the spirit adopts us, but I will bid you good day when I let you know that we can call God Abba because the spirit will assure us.  Verse 16 says the spirit himself thus testifies together with our own spirit assuring us that we are children of God.  Assure means to promise, pledge or guarantee giving us confidence and freedom from doubt.  Basically that means that when God says something that you can take it to the bank.  You can stand on his word.  If God has made you a promise he will be true to his word.  It will come to pass because God cannot lie. God is not a man that he would lie.   So if God says that we are his children, guess what?  We are his children.  So the next time someone asks you who your daddy is?  You tell him or her with confidence that your daddy is the Lord.  Tell him or her that your daddy is God.  

That your daddy is the creator of heaven and earth  

The alpha and omega the 

The beginning and the end 

The author and the finisher

The first and the last

The bright and morning star 

The lily of the valley

The rod of your strength 

The refuge from the storm 

The balm of Gilead

The hope of tomorrow

The way maker

The miracle worker

The promise keeper

The light in the darkness

The healer

The redeemer 

The prince of peace 

Jehovah 

Immanuel 

Jesus Christos

Your daddy is the great I am

And because he is our daddy, 

And because we are his children

We are more than conquerors 

No weapon formed against us shall prosper 

We are new creatures in Christ  

We are the temples of the Holy Spirit 

We are delivered from the power of darkness 

We are blessed 

We are highly favored 

We are the elect of God 

We are friends of God  

We are set free 

We are strong in the Lord 

We are joint heirs with Christ 

We are healed 

We are delivered  

We are the righteousness of God  

We are the light of the world 

We are the salt of the earth 

We are called of God.  

So let me close with this story entitled….

Learning God is Good (Source: reported by Randy Hoyt, “Seeing God,” Pentecostal Evangel, January 21, 2001, pp.14-15)

What should have been a joyous occasion turned into a nightmare of grief. Randy Hoyt watched helplessly as his wife Kris went into the hospital for an emergency Caesarean section operation when only 5 months pregnant. The bleeding was tremendous. Kris required 30 units of blood. As the doctors battled to save her life Randy cried out to God “God, what do you want? I know you can heal her; why don’t you?”

God didn’t heal her. Kris and 16 days later their prematurely born daughter Grace lost her struggle for life. Randy was left the single parent of six children.

“What about our plans, God?” he asked. “Who will teach the kids, guide them, and love them like their mother?”

Randy soon found out. A program was started which became known as “Help Bring Hope to the Hoyt Kids.” Over the next six months, hundreds of people worked, sent money, donated meals and supplies and poured love into Randy’s family. Randy received more than 500 letters, e-mails and cards from people who said they were praying for them.

At the end of the six months the medical bills are all paid, the mortgage has been paid and Randy is back at work. God did not save his wife, but God’s love was ministered to Randy and his children in deeply profound ways after Kris’ death.

The pain of Kris’ and Grace’s death of course remained. Yet when he started to sink into despair Randy could imagine the two of them in heaven together, fully alive, healthy and full of joy. “See her as she is now,” he felt the Holy Spirit saying. “She is alive.”

Reflecting upon his experience Randy says, “I asked God for the life of my wife; I received instead a lesson on the nature of God. God is good. Armed with that knowledge, I have no fear for today or the future. God will always be enough…for any situation.” So not only is God Good, but this Good God is our daddy…

So stop worrying about your health and remember who your daddy is.

Stop worrying about the job.

Stop worrying about the bills.

Stop worrying about how you will feed your kids.

Stop worrying about the pain.

Stop worrying about the diagnosis.

Stop worrying about the addiction. 

Stop worrying about the problems.

Stop worrying about your unsaved loved ones.

Stop worrying about what someone else has. 

Stop worrying about your past.

Stop worrying about your present.

Stop worrying about your future.

Why because we know who our daddy is.

I know COVID-19 is on your mind.

I know the Black Lives Matter Movement in on your mind.

I know the upcoming election is on your mind.

I know the state of the economy is on your mind.

I know the condition of the world is on your mind.

But remember who your daddy is!

There is no need for me to go on any talk show to find out who my daddy is, because I already know.  I have accepted the spirit, the spirit has adopted me, and the spirit has assured me.  But if I did go on a talk show when the host opened up the envelope (Envelope with picture of Jesus on the cross.) the results would read Brian you are a child of God, God You Are the Father!  The Blood test proves it!  Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there!  Who’s your daddy? Your daddy is The Lord!  Everyone in the room stand to your feet and give Your daddy praise!

Because the blood test is in…

We are the children of God

Jesus paid it all

All to Him I owe

Sin had left crimson stain

But Jesus washed it white as snow

What can wash away my sins…

The blood that Jesus shed for me…

Why, because it reaches to the highest mountain…

Who’s your daddy?

Summer of Scandal Part 2

Summer of Scandal 2

Luke 17:11-19

11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 

12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy[a] met him. They stood at a distance 

13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 

18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 

19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

It is has happened again, another black man killed by police in Atlanta Georgia Friday evening, shot in the back as he fled the scene, 27 year-old Rayshard Brooks the father of three girls 1, 2, and 8, and a 13 year-old stepson.  I am tired church.  I am tired of being tired.  This thing has got to stop.  I don’t think there is anything worse than being mistreated, discriminated against, abused, and killed because of the way that you look, the color of your skin.  As if there is anything you can do about the way that you are born, and you should not have to.  Raise your hand if you have ever been stopped for a…

DWB, Driving while black, I have…

WWB, Walking while black.

PWB, Parked while black.

SWB, Shopping while black.

BWB, Barbecuing or bird watching while black.

HWFWB, Hanging with friends while black.

SHWB, Sleeping at home while black.

DWPWB, Dating a white person while black.

GSWB, Going to school while black.

or a simple BBWP,  Being black in the wrong place.

You see this is what privilege blinds people from seeing.  Most have know idea what we go through on an average day.  There is a great commercial on BET by P & G…  But I must admit that I am thankful for those that are trying to understand.  But like I said a few weeks ago until we get to the heart of the problem and change the hearts of men and women that treat others this way we will never see a change, that is why our summer of scandal is more important than ever.

Last week we began a series entitled a summer of scandal.  And we talked about a scandal being something that people talk about.  And I encouraged you to give the people in your circle of influence something to talk about.  And if we’re going to give them something to talk about we need to give them Jesus.  We talked about a man by the name of Zacchaeus, who was a tax collector that wanted to see Jesus, and because of his short stature he climbed a tree so that he could see him.  Jesus came to the tree and told Zacchaeus to come down from the tree because he would be going to his house today.  Immediately the people began to talk and say he is going to the house of a sinner.  The scandal had begun.  So we discussed that in order to have a summer of scandal we need to know what we believe, and we believe in the father who produced us, protects us, and provides for us.  We believe in the son who preaches to us, parishes for us, and presents us.  And we believe in the Holy Spirit that prepares us, produces through us, and prospers us.  Well today we are in our second installment of the series and I want you to know in order to have a summer of scandal not only is it based on what we believe, it is based on how we behave, our behavior.  Yes you heard me correctly.  I said behavior because our behavior should cause a scandal.  

The way we act should cause a scandal. 

The way we interact with others should cause a scandal.  

The way we carry ourselves should cause a scandal.  

The way we treat one another should cause a scandal.

The way we are when we’re alone should cause a scandal.  

So ask your neighbor is your behavior causing a scandal.  

Is your behavior getting people to talk about Jesus?  

Is your behavior drawing people closer to the Lord?

Is your behavior a good representation of the God that you serve?

So let’s take a look at the text. In the text today Jesus is traveling between Galilee and Samaria.  There is a group of lepers, 10 to be exact that notice Jesus, and they cry out master have mercy on us.  And when he saw them he said go show yourselves to the priest and when they went they were cleansed.  

Somebody say scandal.  

Jews did not associate with people who had contagious diseases.  It was in the law.  They were considered unclean.  This is why they were outside of the city in the first place.  They were not permitted in the city because they were lepers, but Jesus spoke to them anyway.  

Somebody say scandal.  

Jesus healed them anyway.  

Somebody say scandal.  

Jesus sent them to the priests because they had to be seen by the priest to prove that they were healed, and you know they told the priest who healed them. 

Somebody say scandal.  

But here is the crazy part.  Out of the 10 that were healed only one came back to thank Jesus for healing him. 

Only one out of 10 came back to give Jesus praise.  

Only one out of ten had the sense to give Jesus praise for what he had done.  

And the wild thing about it was, not only was he a leper but he was also a Samaritan.  And Jesus asked where are the other nine.  Has no one came to praise God except this foreigner?  And I just have to ask on the way to where I’m going is there anybody in the room or online that is going to be the one out of ten to give God praise.  

Is there anybody here or online that is going to be the one out of ten to give God glory?

Is there anybody here or online that is going to be the one out of ten to lift up the name of Jesus?

Is there anybody here or online that is going to be the one out of ten to magnify the Lord?

Is there anybody here or online willing to be the minority?

I told you this before, that something happens when you come into Jesus’ presence.  Things change when you come into the presence of Jesus, and as you can see the behavior of the Samaritan leper changed when he came into the presence of Jesus.  He began to praise a Jew for healing his body, and I am sure this caused a scandal.  

So the relevant question is, what behaviors should we display in order to cause a summer of scandal.  I will give you three behaviors to cause a summer scandal and then I am going home because me and my baby girl, my boo, my best friend and my number one fan have been celebrating our anniversary all weekend long, and we are not finished yet!

The first behavior that we display is our practice.  Now I am pretty sure that I have shared this with you before, but a doctor has a medical practice.  A lawyer has a law practice.  An architect has an architectural practice.  Mothers have a mommy practice.  And the week before Father’s Day I want to encourage all of my fathers to have a daddy practice…

And as children of God we should have a Christian practice.  Our practice is the way that we live our lives.   And if we claim to be Christians we should be living our lives in a certain way.  Meaning there should be a distinct difference between us and the world.  We can’t watch what everyone else’s watches, and go where everyone else goes.  And do what everyone else does.  We are a peculiar people, a chosen generation, a royal priesthood.  Our practice is displayed in three ways.

First our practice is displayed in our patience.  Patience is one of the most difficult things to master in the world.  When I tell people that I’m a first grade teacher.  Their first response is, you must have a lot of patience.  And the truth of the matter is, I don’t, but I am working on it every single day.  

We have to be patient because we are not going to get what we want when we want it all the time.  

We are not going to become the person that God has called us to be over night.  

We are not going to rise to the top of the company in a month.  You’re not going to lose the weight you want to lose in a few weeks or even months it took years to put on the weight and it will take time to get it off.  That’s why we used to sing that song, please be patient with me, God is not through with me yet.

You have to practice with patience.

First we practice with patience and secondly we practice with peace.  We must live our lives in peace with our neighbors, family, and friends.  And right now that is not an easy thing to do…  If we are to love our neighbors as ourselves practicing with peace should be a no brainer.  

We are not always going to get along.  

We are not always going to agree.  

We are not always going to be on the same side, but that does not mean that we cannot have peace.  

We can disagree without being disagreeable.  

It’s is okay to have a difference of opinion as long as you know that I am right and you are wrong.  But seriously, we are all wired differently and our points of view are not always going to be in alignment but that does not mean that we should not have peace.  That is why Paul told the church in Ephesus make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.  We must practice with peace.

First we practice with patience.  Secondly we practice with peace.  Thirdly we practice with perseverance.  

We keep on keeping on.  

We don’t give up.  

We don’t throw in the towel.  

Because living this life is not easy, but it is definitely worth it.  Getting saved is easy.  We say it all the time.  Getting saved is as easy as ABC, but living saved is a whole new ball game.   That’s why you have to do it with perseverance. 

When you get knocked down you get back up.

When you fall down you pick yourself back up.

When you fail you try again.

When you miss the mark you try harder next time.

When you make a mistake you learn from it.  You persevere.  

That which does not kill you only makes you stronger.  We practice with perseverance.

So the first behavior you must display to have a summer of scandal is practice and the next behavior you must display to have a summer of scandal is prayer.  In the words of my spiritual father Bishop Timothy J. Clarke, “If we are ever going to move forward we must do so on our knees.”  We have to pray continually.  We have to pray consistently.  Prayer is not something that we just do in the morning, at night, before we eat a meal, or when we need something.  Prayer is a continual conversation with our father.  Let’s just have a little talk with Jesus…  And we pray in three ways.

First we pray personally.  We pray for our personal wants and desires.  

We pray for our faith

We pray for our family

We pray for our fitness

We pray for our finances.  

We pray that we don’t stray.  

We pray for strength.  

We pray for stability.  

We pray for the things that we want and for the things that we need.  

We pray personally!

First we pray personally.  Secondly we pray people-minded prayers.  

We pray for the people in our neighborhood

We pray for the people in our communities 

We pray for the people in our city

We pray for the people in our county

We pray for the people in our state

We pray for the people in our nation 

We pray for the people in our world

We pray for our leaders 

We pray people minded prayers.  It cannot and should not always be about you.  You must pray people minded prayers

First we pray personally.  Secondly we pray people-minded prayers, thirdly we pray persistently.  We don’t stop praying because our prayer does not get answered in the first hour, day, month, or even year that we prayed it.  We have to be persistent in our prayers and I think that the best way to accomplish this is to pray with expectation.  I honestly believe that most of us don’t get our prayers answered because we don’t expect to get our prayers answered.  This is when our faith truly comes into play.  Do you truly have faith that God is going to do what you ask him to do?  Because if you don’t you might as well not waste his time or yours by asking.  You have to have expectations when you pray persistently.

So the first behavior that we need to display to have a summer of scandal is practice.  The second behavior we need to display to have a summer of scandal is prayer.  And the third behavior we need to display to have a summer of scandal praise.  Isn’t that what the Samaritan leper did when he was healed of his leprosy.  He came back and gave God praise.  And I am pretty sure that there are some people in the room that owe God some praise this morning including the man on the microphone for something he’s already done for us. 

Has he touched your body?

Has he made ways out of no ways?

Has he made the impossible possible?

Has he fed your family?

Has he given you a job?

Has he took you and made something beautiful our of your life?

Has he found you when you were lost?

Has he picked you up?

Has he turned you around?

Has he turned your mess into a message?

Has he turned your frown upside down?

Has he turned your test into a testimony? 

Has he turned you from a victim to having victory?

Give him praise.

Praise him in the morning.

Praise him in the noon day.

Praise him when the sun goes down.

Oh I love to praise him.

I love to praise his holy name.

And we praise him in three ways.

First we praise him on purpose, meaning we do not accidentally or incidentally praise the God of our salvation.  We do it on purpose.  The leper purposely praised God because he wanted to thank him!

We do it because we want to.

We do it because he’s worthy.

We do it when we don’t feel like it.

We do it when we’re up. 

We do it when we are down.

We do it on the mountain. 

We do it in the valley.

Because we have to take every possible opportunity to give our God praise because from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same the name of Jesus is worthy to be praised. 

So we praise him on purpose and then we praise him for a purpose.  The leper praised God for the purpose of his healing.  I truly believe that when the praises go up the blessings will come down.  The more that we praise him.  The more he will bless us.  Now this is not the reason why we praise.  It is just a benefit of praising him and I don’t know about you but if he never did anything for me I could not praise him enough for what he’s already done.  But we praise God for a purpose.

So we praise him on purpose, we praise him for a purpose, and we praise him because it is our purpose.  The soul reason that God created us in the first place was to give him worship and praise.  Psalms 150:6 says, Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.  So if you can inhale and exhale you should be giving God praise because that is our purpose.

So no matter what’s going on in our lives we need to give God praise because it’s our purpose.

No matter how we feel we need to give God praise. 

Now matter what we’re gong through we need to give God praise.

No matter what the situation. 

No matter what the circumstance. 

In sickness and in health. 

In want and in plenty.

In the good times and the bad times we have to give God praise because that is our purpose.

We have to PUSH. 

We have to practice until something happens.

We need to pray until something happens. 

We need to praise until something happens.

We have to push.

So as I close this out I was just wondering is there anybody here willing to behave in a manner that will cause a scandal.

Is there anybody here willing to behave in a manner that will give people something to talk about.

Is there anybody here willing to behave in a manner that will get people talking about Jesus.

Is there anybody here willing to behave in a manner that will show people the love of Jesus.

Is there anybody here willing to behave in a manner to show the world that Black Lives Matter.

Is there anybody here willing to behave in a manner to show the world that enough is enough.

In other words, do I have any scandalous Christians in the house today?

Do I have any scandalous saints in the house today?

That are willing to get down for the Lord. 

That are willing to practice for God.

That are willing to pray to God.

That are willing to give praise to God.

Well stand to your feet. 

Put your ten stringed instruments together and give God praise. 

Because I don’t know what you came to do.

But I came to praise the Lord. 

I came to clap my hands.

I came to stomp my feet.

I came to do my dance.

I came to do a victory lap.

I came to praise the lord.

And you know what else, I don’t care what people say about me.

I will dance like David danced and tell them I will get even more undignified than this while I’m giving praise to my God.  

Because this joy I have the world did not give it and the world cannot take it away.

So let them talk about us.

Let them point their fingers at us.

Let them say whatever they want to say.

As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what we want them to do.

Because if we are behaving in the proper way it’s not us that they’ll be talking about.  They will inevitably be talking about God and that’s what the summer of scandal is all about.

It’s all  about….

God!

The great I am!

The high and lofty one!

The great shepherd! 

Jehovah Elyon, the Lord most high!

Jehovah Jireh, the Lord will provide!

Jehovah Nissi, the lord my banner!

Jehovah Rohi, the lord my shepherd! 

Jehovah Rapha, the lord my healer!

Jehovah Sabaoth, the lord of hosts!

Jehovah Shalom, the lord our peace! 

Jehovah Shammah, the lord is there!

Jehovah-Tisidkenu, the Lord our righteousness! 

It’s all about God.

 A summer of scandal.

Let’s give them something to talk about.

Let your behavior causing a scandal.

A Summer of Scandal Part!

Summer of Scandal

Luke 19:1-10

19 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd.So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Today I am beginning a new series entitled A Summer of Scandal.  There have been several scandals in our world lately.  The Ahmad Arbery Scandal.  The Breanna Taylor scandal.  The George Floyd Scandal.  The police brutality scandal.  The “all lives matter” scandal.  The Law and order President scandal.  The Drew Brees talking about kneeling during the national anthem is disrespectful scandal.  The COVID-19 scandal.  There are scandals all around us.  And people love talking about a scandal.  By a show of hands how many people have heard of or seen the TV show Scandal starring Kerri Washington.  I must admit, that I was sucked into the story, and I rarely missed an episode.  Although I do not agree with or condone much of what is portrayed on the screen, the story line is pretty good.  Olivia Pope is a bad mamma jamma, and her and the associates always handle their business no matter how bad the scandal is.  The OPA, Olivia Pope and associates are fixers.  People bring their problems to the OPA and they fix it.  No matter how big, small, crazy, sick, or deranged the scandal is, the OPA can fix it.  They can make it seem like it never even happened, or turn it around to the persons advantage.  But let me say parenthetically on the way to where I am going that aren’t you glad that you do not have to go to a fixer when you are going through…  

You don’t have to go to an agency to get you out of your mess.  You don’t have to go to a company to fix your problem. 

You just ask the savior to help you, comfort strengthen and keep you.  He is willing to help you.  He will carry you through.  Is anybody excited about the fact that God will carry us through.

In spite of racism

In spite of COVID-19

In spite of the division of our nation

In spite of unemployment 

In spite of police brutality

In spite of poor leadership

In spite of political unrest

In spite of it all, God will carry us through!

But as I was saying the TV show scandal revolves around Olivia Pope and her associates fixing scandals.

So today I want to suggest to you that you have a scandal of your own.  

I want to suggest today that you give your family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers something to talk about.  Now don’t get too excited.  I am not talking about an illicit affair, going off on your boss, causing a drama at the Walmart, or doing something crazy on social media, rioting, or looting.  

I am talking about stirring up a scandal about the God that you serve.  

The Christ in your life.  

The Jesus in your heart.  

The reason for the season

The captain of your salvation

The hope of the world

If you are going to give people something to talk about.  Give them Jesus.  

Yes, I said it, I want your scandal to be about Jesus.  Usually when you think of the word scandal you think of something that is bad, negative, and immoral, because by definition, that is exactly what the word means.  But I also believe that a scandal is something that people like to talk about.  So, let’s flip the script on the word scandal and turn it into something positive and have people talking about Jesus! 

With all the negativity in our nation lets start a scandal about Jesus.  

With all of the racial unrest lets talk about Jesus.  

With all the friction between Democrats and Republicans lets start a scandal about Jesus.  

With COVID-19 numbers on the rise lets talk about Jesus. 

With all of the social injustice lets start a scandal about Jesus.  

Girl… Did you hear about Jesus.  Yeah girl he is still in the miracle working business.  He saved my cousin Day Day just the other day.

Since people love to talk, lets give them something to talk about.

Shall we look at the text.   

19 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd.So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Here is the inside scoop of this story.  

Zacchaeus is a tax collector.  

He is not an ordinary tax collector, he is a Jew that is a tax collector.  

He is a traitor.  

A turncoat.  

A backstabber.  

He is not well liked.  

As a matter of fact he is despised by his people.

Not only did tax collectors work for the Roman government forcibly taking money from their own people to support the Roman Empire, but they usually took more than they we’re supposed to in order to line their own pockets.  They actually benefited from the mistreatment and abuse of their own people.  So they were not very popular.  So when Jesus sees Zacchaeus in the tree and invites himself to his house, this caused all kinds of drama.  

This caused all kinds of dialogue.  

This caused all kinds of discussion.  

This caused all kinds of rumors.  

This caused a scandal.  

Zacchaeus hears the crowd and says, look Lord, here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor and if I have cheated anybody out of anything I will pay them four times the amount.  Jesus says, today salvation has come to this house, because this man is a son of Abraham too.  Then he tells the crowd one of greatest things ever said by Jesus in the Bible. The son of man came to seek and save the lost.  

He came to seek and saved the lost.   

He came for you and for me.  

He came for the drug addict.  

He came for the street walker.  

He came for the gambler.  

He came for the bookie.  

He came for the dirty politician.  

He came for the crooked preacher. 

He came for the fraudulent doctor.  

He came for gangbanger.  

He came for the juvenile delinquent.  

He came for the racist.  

He came for the bad cop.  

He came for those that need him.  

And that is why we need to start a scandal about Jesus.  People need to know who this Jesus is that came to save them.

So, the relevant question is how can we have a Summer of Scandal.  I am so glad that you ask.  I am going to share with you several things over the next few weeks to help you achieve your summer of scandal.  And today I would like to start with your beliefs.  Your summer of Scandal is based on your beliefs.  What exactly do you believe?  What do we as Christians believe?  What are our basic beliefs?  And when someone asks us what do we believe, what do we say?  I am so glad that you asked.

First we tell them that we believe in the Father.  

We believe that God the creator of heaven and earth is our father.   The great I am that I am is our father.  

The alpha and the omega is our father.  

El Shadai is our father.  

Yahweh is our father.  

Jehovah is our father.

The king of kings and the Lord of lords is our father. 

And because he is our father he does the following three things.

Produces us, he created us, and he created us in his own image.

Protects us, he makes sure that we protects us, just like any good father protects his children, our heaven father protects us

Provides for us, he makes sure that all of our needs our met.  Food, clothing, shelter.  I know you think it was your job, but it was God.  I know you think it was…

Not only do we tell them we believe in the father, we tell them that we believe in the Son.  For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosever believeth in him should not parish but have everlasting life.  And the son does three things for us.

First the son Preaches to us, he wrapped himself in human flesh.  Came to this world, lived a perfect life and preached to us.  He shared everything thing about the father with us.  Preaching means to proclaim the gospel or the good news.  And this is exactly what Jesus did.  And when he wasn’t doing it with his words he was doing it with his actions…

First the sone preaches to us, secondly the son parishes for us.  He dies so that we can live.   He goes to that cross bearing our sins.  He did nothing wrong.  He parishes for us.  And even in a moment of weakness in the garden when he asked God to remove this cup.  He said not my will, but your will be done.  So he had a made up mind to do what he was sent to do.  He would not come down from the cross…  The son parishes for us.

First the son preaches to us.  Secondly the son parishes for us,  and lastly the son presents us.  I say it every Sunday as part of the benediction,  Now unto him who is able to keep us from falling and present us faultless before his throne with exceeding joy…  Do you know why the son, Jesus is able to present us faultless.  It is because of the blood that he shed.  The blood that washes us white as snow.  The blood that reaches to the highest mountain.  The blood that flows to the lowest valley…  is any body excite about the blood.  Is anybody excited about the fact that when Jesus presents us all God sees is us faultless because of the blood.  All he sees is the blood. The son presents us.

Not only do we tell them we believe he is the father.  Not only do we tell them we believe he the son.  We tell them that we believe he is the Holy Spirit.  Holy Holy Holy lord God almighty early in the morning I song shall rise to the.  Holy Holy Holy merciful and mighty God in three persons, blessed trinity.  Yes we let them know that we believe in the Holy Trinity.  The father.  The son.  The Holy Spirit.  And it is the Holy Spirit that resides in us.  The comforter that arrived on the day of Pentecost.  The Holy Spirit does there things for us.

Fist the Holy Spirit prepares us.  The Holy Spirit gets us ready for everything that God has called us to do…  Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true, with thanksgiving, I’ll be a living sanctuary for you.

First the Holy Spirit prepares us.  Secondly the Holy Spirit produces through us.  I keep telling you that Jesus does not save you for you.  He did not save me for me.  He does not save us for us.  He save you.  He saved me.   He saves us so that we can go into the world and help save other.  And this is how the spirit produces through us.  The Holy Spirit uses us to the the work that God has called us to do.  We do not do it on our own it is the power of the Holy Ghost.

First the Holy Spirit prepares us.  Secondly the Holy Spirit produces through us.  And thirdly the Holy Spirit prospers us.  Now I am not talking about name it and claim it.  But there are rewards for being a child of God.   He prospers us.  We have his favor.  We have faithfulness.  And we shall wear a crown.  When its all over.  I’m going to put on my robe and tell the story of how I made it over.  The Holy Spirit will prosper us.

And when we live our lives according to our beliefs it is going to cause a scandal.  People are going to talk about you.  Just like that talked about Jesus for hanging out with Zacchaeus.  What are you talking about preacher?

When you stand up for what is right people are going to talk about you.  

They are going to say you need to have an open mind.  

You need to be more tolerable.  

When you say a man and woman should wait to be married before they have sex.  This is going to cause a scandal.

When you say that you believe that a man should be with a woman and a woman should be with a man.  This is going to cause a scandal.

When you do the right thing when all of your coworkers, friends, and family are doing the wrong thing.  This is going to cause a scandal.

When you say that George Floyd and other black men should not have died.  This is going to cause a scandal.

When you say that kneeling during the national anthem is not disrespectful to the flag or the soldiers that fought for our freedom this is going to cause a scandal

When you say Black lives matter.  This is going to cause a scandal.

When you say this is why Kolin Kapernick took a knee in the first place.

When you say Jesus loves everyone.

When you say that its not your place to tell her what she should do with her body

When you say that your sin is no different than their sin

When you say as for me and my house we will serve the Lord

When you make up in your mind that for God I live and for God I die.  This is going to cause a scandal, but that’s okay.  

Lets start a summer of scandal.

Let’s give them something to talk about.

Let’s give them Jesus.

Let’s give them the lamb that was slain.

Let’s give them the hope of tomorrow. 

Let’s give them the only way.

Let’s give them the righteous one.

Let’s give them Immanuel. 

Let’s give them the great I am.

Let’s give the the will in the middle of a wheel.

Let’s give them the way maker

Let’s give them the miracle worker

Let’s give them the light in the darkness

Let give them El Elyon.

Let’s give them Yahweh.

Let give them Jehovah Jireh.

Let’s give them Jesus Christos.

Let’s give them the friend that sticks closer than a brother.

Let’s give them the father.

Let’s give them the son.

Let’s give them the Holy Spirit.

Let’s give them the answer.

Jesus is the answer for the world today

Above him there’s no other Jesus is the way

If You Have Some Questions In The Corners Of Your Mind

And Traces Of Discourgement And Peace You Cannot Find

Reflections Of The Old Past, They Seem To Face You Everyday

There’s One Thing I Know For Sure That Jesus Is the way

Jesus is the answer for the world today

Above him there’s no other Jesus is the way

I Know You Got Mountains That You Think You Cannot Climb

I Know That Your Skies Have Been Dark, You Think The Sun Won’t Shine

In Case You Don’t Know

I’m Hear To Tell You That The Word Of God Is True

And Everything That He Promised

I Tell You He Would Do It For You

Jesus is the answer for the world today

Above him there’s no other Jesus is the way

Let’s give them something to talk about.

Let’s give them Jesus.

Let’s start a summer of scandal.

Ordinary women that did extraordinary things. Part 4

Ordinary women that that did extraordinary things

My best is a product of my worst

The 1% Miracle

Mark 5: 25-34

25 And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, 26 And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, 27 When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment.28 For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. 29 And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague. 30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes? 31 And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? 32 And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing. 33 But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth. 34 And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.

During the month of May we have been discussing ordinary women that have done extraordinary things, and how our best is a product of our worst.  Our best is a product of our worst.  Our best is a product of our worst.

In the midst of all that is going on in our nation with the unnecessary brutal death of yet another unarmed black man.  With continued protests, riots, and curfews.  With a president refereeing to his fellow american citizens as thugs and saying things like when there’s looting we’ll start shooting.  With things so tense and turbulent these names come to mind…

Trevon Martin

Eric Garner

Michael Brown

Laquan McDonal

Tamar Rice

Sandra Bland

Rumain Brisbon

Tony Robinson

Eric Harris

Walter Scott

Philando Castile

Alton Sterling 

Terence Crutcher

Stephon Clark

Ahmaud Arbery

And now George Floyd

This is the time for our country to truly be what our pledge of allegiance states one nation under God.  This is our nation’s opportunity to allow God do what only God can do.  God please help our nation turn its worst into its best.  Many people like to quote 2 Chronicles 7:14 in times like this.  If my people who are called by my name would humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and heal their lands.   This was a specific promise for a specific people and many times it is quoted out of context, but there is always a lesson to be learned in the word of God.  Humble, pray, seek God, and turn, all of these actions can be summed up in one action, repentance.  We as a nation must turn away from our ways that have lead us astray and turn to God.  I woke up this morning with a heavy heart as many of you today.  As I was walking my dog this I just heard God saying to me… Symptoms, symptoms, symptoms.  So I was like God what are you trying to say.  And he said we keep trying to fix the symptoms instead of the problem or the cause of the problem.  We want to put a bandaid on a symptom of a problem that requires surgery.  Cold medicine does not cure the cold, it gives relief for the cold symptoms. Think about it… Emancipation Proclamation, bandaid.

Civil Rights Movement, bandaid. 

Voter rights, bandaid.

Desegregation, bandaid.

Affirmative Action, bandaid.  

They were all really nice bandaids, but bandaids all the same.  They only dealt with the symptoms of the problem, not the heart or cause of the problem.  And the heart of the problem are the hearts of men and women.  Until we all see one another as equal human beings these symptoms will continue to consume our nation, ultimately destroying us from the inside out.  But there is hope, because God is still God.  He still sits high and looks low.  So this is our moment to allow God to make our best a product of our worst, because we are at our worst right now, and it is time to let go and let God turn it into our best.  

I am looking forward to the day when we can say that we did it.  

I am looking forward to the day we can say that we made it.  

I am looking forward to the day we can look back and see what God brought us through.  

I am looking forward to the day when this nation can say our best is a product of our worst.

Now let me try to preach this sermon.  In the month of May we have been talking about ordinary women that have done extraordinary things.

I have explained to you that by calling these women ordinary we are not putting them down or throwing shade.  We just refer to them as ordinary because their names are not mentioned in the Bible, and despite them not being named they were able to do extraordinary things and just like us their best was a product of there worst.  Three weeks ago we talked about the woman at the well. Jesus knew the same thing about her that he knows about us, that our best is a product of our worst, and that is why he used ordinary woman in the Bible to do extraordinary things.  Jesus is able to see our potential because he looks beneath the surface, he looks between the signs, and he looks beyond our sin.  Two weeks ago, we learned about the woman that washed and anointed the feet of Jesus.  I stressed to you the fact that she was so focused to get to Jesus that she went to a dinner party that she wasn’t even invited to, knowing that people would talk about her and judge her, and mistreat her.  But she new that her best would be a product of her worst if she did what we need to do, humble ourselves, have a heart to serve, and hear the savior.  Last week we talked about the Canaanite woman that was willing to go to her enemy to ask for help because her daughter was demon possessed and suffering greatly.  We talked about how a mother or father will do just about anything for their children because they are distressed, they will be deliberate, direct, and determined, and God will see that and deliver them.  So today I would like to close out this series.  I actually was going to preach something totally different, but God wanted me to complete this series.  So we are going to talk about one last ordinary woman that did an extraordinary thing.  One last woman whose best was a product of her worst.  One last woman to show you that miracles still happen even if there is only a 1% chance.  Let me share a story with you.

One summer day a young boy named Josiah went to the neighbor’s house to go for a swim in their pool.  It was just an ordinary summer day, hanging out with friends and having a good time.  The kids were jumping in the water and playing with water toys when Josiah decides that he was going to dive through a hula-hoop.  The only problem was that the hula-hoop was in the shallow end of the pool.  When Josiah dove into the water he went straight to the bottom of the pool hit his head on the pool floor.  When they pulled him out of the water he said that he was all right, but he was not acting like himself. The neighbors called his mother and then they rushed him to urgent care.  At the urgent care facility they examine him and x-rayed him and found that he had broken the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth vertebrae in his neck.  The doctor said that there is a saying in the medical profession that “if you break c-four you breath no more.” In other words the chances of Josiah surviving were slim to none.  As a matter of fact the doctor told Josiah’s mother to prepare for the worst because when the c-four vertebrae is broken there is a 1% chance of survival.  Josiah was then life lighted to the nearest hospital and they would not let his mother ride in the chopper with him.  In the mean time his father was on a business trip when he heard the news and he just knew that it didn’t sound good.  So as the mother traveled to the hospital she called her pastor, friends, and family and they all began to pray.  His father dropped to his knees in the middle of the airport and began to call out to God.  When Josiah reached the hospital and they reexamined and x-rayed him.  They brought in his mother and the doctor had the x-rays from urgent care in one hand and the x-rays from the hospital in the other hand and he says to Josiah’s mother these cannot be the x-rays of the same thing because our x-rays show no signs of any of his vertebrae being broken.  Josiah is going to be just fine.  Josiah had a full recovery that did not even require physical therapy.  Josiah said that when people tell him that he is lucky or that his experience was good luck, he simple tells them that it was not luck it was a fact of what God can do and how he can do it.                                                                                   

Now I know that we hear bible stories like the woman with the issue of blood all the time.  And many of us think that miracles like that only happened in the biblical times.  But the story of Josiah was published in June of 2013. Just 7 years ago!  In other words, God is still in the miracle working business.  As a matter of fact I know that a couple of miracles are watching this service right now!  

Someone watching has walked away from a car accident.

Someone watching is a cancer survivor.

Someone watching has survived the abuse.

Someone watching has turned it around.

Someone watching is better today than yesterday.

Someone watching made it in spite of everything and everyone that was against you.

So, I stopped by this morning to let my SCC Family know… 

The God we serve is still able.  

The God we serve can still make ways out of no ways.  

The God we serve can still open doors.  

The God we serve can still move mountains.  

The God we serve can still provide for you.  

The God we serve can still regulate your mind.  

The God we serve is still using ordinary people to do extraordinary things.

The God we serve is still making our best a product of our worst .

The God we serve still performs miracles. 

The God we serve can still heal you even if there is only a 1% chance of you surviving.  

I don’t know about you, but in my experience that is when God shows up.                                                                        

When it seems like its hopeless.  

When it seems like the situation is impossible.  

When your back is against the wall.  

When there is no other way.  

When you are stuck between a rock and a hard place.  

When you hit rock bottom.  

When the odds are stacked against you.  

When you are down to your last dime.  

When your money is funny and your change is strange.

That is when God shows up right on time, and brings with him a miracle.  You see that is what happened in the text today.  There was a woman who had an issue of blood.  Many scholars believe that this issue of blood had to do with here menstrual cycle.  That she was constantly on her period or time of the month for twelve long years.  Could you imagine what this woman had been through in the past twelve years?  I try to be understanding of how uncomfortable and inconvenient that time of the month can be for women.  

You see my wife is a woman.

My mother is a woman.

My grandmothers were women.

My sisters are women.

My aunts are women.

My nieces are women.

Most of my coworkers are women.  

So I hear the stories.  

I have made the late night runs to the store.  

But this was nonstop bleeding for twelve years.  And this was way before the convenience of feminine products if you know what I mean.  There were no maxi pads or tampons.  There were no wings for extra protection.  Now I know this may be a bit uncomfortable to hear, but I want to paint a picture of what she was going through.  

She went to many physicians and no one could seem to help her.  She spent all of her money trying to find a cure.  

She was all alone because of the fact that she was constantly bleeding she was considered unclean and no one could be around her or they would be considered unclean as well.  Someone say my worst, my worst, my worst.

But she heard that Jesus was in town.  And she thought to herself if I could just touch his clothes, I will be healed.  So she pressed through the crowd and touches the hem of his garment and as soon as she touched his clothes the blood dried up.  Jesus felt the power leaving his body and he said who touched me?  The disciples looked at him like he was crazy.  All these people around you and you’re asking who touched you?  Jesus said, I know someone touched me because I felt power leaving my body.  As Jesus looked around the woman knowing what she had done and the healing that she received fell down before him and told him the truth.  And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.  You see beloved this woman had no other option but to go to Jesus.  Nothing else she tried worked out.  If I were a betting man, I would bet that all the doctors she went to see would have only given her about a 1% chance of surviving her issue of blood.  But the thing about only having a one percent chance of surviving is that even though it is only a one percent chance.  It is still a chance.  Just like Josiah’s story, the doctors said that there was only a 1% chance that he would survive, and his family took that one percent chance and fell to their knees and prayed to God.  And in their one percent chance of surviving prayer God gave them a miracle, and healed their son.  So what would you do if you were only giving a one percent chance?  Would you fall apart or would you fall to your knees?  Just like with the women with an issue of blood.  She may have only had a 1% chance of surviving, but she pressed her way through the crowd, touched the hem of Jesus’ clothes and was made whole.  Just like it seems that with all this turmoil in our nation that our chances of survival seem to grow smaller and smaller every day I still believe that God can turn it around.  I still believe in miracles.  What it all boils down to is this?  No matter how bad the situation is.  No matter how difficult the circumstance may appear, even if there is only a 1% chance of survival.  If God is in it, chances are we are going to win it!  So how do I get my one percent miracle?  How can my best be a product of my worst?  How could such an ordinary woman do such an extraordinary thing?  I am so glad that you asked.  

The first thing that you must do to get your 1% miracle and make your best a product of your worst is pray.  In my spiritual imagination, I have to believe that this had to be a praying woman.  There is no way that she could have gone through 12 years of this condition without talking to God on a consistent basis.  Besides, she did not have anyone else to talk to.  Praying is probably how she knew that Jesus would be able to heal her.  I am sure she heard the rumors about him, but she had faith that Jesus could heal her.  And this faith did not come from rumors.  It came from a relationship with God that was created through prayer.  In other words my brothers and sisters, we have to pray!  Every single solitary day we need to have our own personal time with the Lord.  If we ever want to experience our 1% miracle, our best becoming a product of our worst, we have to pray.  

But not only do we need to pray, we also need to press.  If we are ever going to move forward we must do so on our knees, but when we are done praying we must get up and press.  We must do something.  Prayer alone is not going to cut it.  Prayer alone is not gong to do it.  The woman knew what she needed to do, but she also knew that there were consequences for her actions, but she pressed.

She was already considered unclean, but she pressed. 

Because of her unclean status she was not permitted to enter town, but she pressed.  

She obviously wasn’t feeling very well, but she pressed.  

In spite of the many obstacles standing in her way she pressed.  She pressed through her fears.  

She pressed through her tears.

She pressed through her emotions.  

She pressed through her shame.  

She pressed through her guilt.  

She pressed her way through the crowd.  

She pressed her way to the hem of his garment, touched it and was made whole because she pressed.  

And we don’t want to even press our way to church because we don’t feel like logging in.  

We don’t want to press our way to bible study because we heard it all before.  

We don’t want to press to be the change we want to see.

We don’t want to press the issues at hand.

We don’t want to press to do our part.

But if we want to experience our 1% miracle and make our best a product of our worst we are going to have to press. 

Press through the drama.  

Press through the unemployment.  

Press through the health issues.  

Press through the marital problems. 

Press through our wants.

Press through our issues.

Press through our desires.

Press through our-SELVES.

Press through the mess so God can give us a message.  

Press through the test so God can give us a testimony.  

We have to press.  

So in order to get our 1% miracle and make our best a product of our worst we must pray, we must press, and we must praise.  Now you had to know that I was going to go there?  We have to give God praise.  Even with the state our nation is in today we must give God praise.  We have been through this so many times before, but sometimes you have to hear something over and over and over and over again until you get it.  If you really want your miracle you have to give God praise.  Giving God praise is not an optional part of the relationship.  Think of it like wedding vows. I Brian Kelly Holland take you God to be my God. To praise and to follow you from this day forward, for better and for worse I will praise you, for richer and for poorer I will praise you, in sickness and in health I will praise you, to love and to cherish you till death on earth till I see you in heaven where I will praise you for all eternity.   

You have to praise him in the morning. 

Praise him in the noonday.

Praise him when the sun goes down.  

Praise him in the good time.  

Praise him in the bad time.  

Praise him when you’re happy.  

Praise him when you’re sad.  

You have to praise him when you don’t feel like it.  

And I don’t know about you, but I didn’t feel like praising him today, but I decided to follow Job’s example, though he slay me, yet will I trust him, and if I can trust him, I can praise him.

Now as I was preparing this message it struck me that all of the ordinary women that we have discussed have had their own issues.  The woman at the well had men issues.  They woman that washed Jesus’s feet had personal issues, she was assumed to be a street walker.  The woman that asked Jesus to heal her daughter had family issues.  And this woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment had a blood issue.    This last woman had blood issues and the more I thought about her blood issues the more I thought about The Blood of Jesus.  Stay with me because I am going somewhere.  You see the truth of the matter is if the miracle of Jesus Christ did not happen over 2000 years ago there would not have been any more miracles to follow.   

Without Jesus no miracle would be possible.  

Without Jesus the man with leprosy would not have been healed.  Without Jesus the paralytic would not have picked up his mat and walked.  

Without Jesus water would not have been turned to wine.  

Without Jesus the blind would not have received sight.  

Without Jesus Peter would not have walked on the water.  

Without Jesus the storm would not have been calmed.  

Without Jesus the five thousand would not have been fed with two fish and five loaves of bread.  

Without Jesus the adulterous woman would have been stoned.  Without Jesus the demon-possessed man would still be. possessed.  

Without Jesus Lazarus would not have been raised from the dead.  

Without Jesus the deaf would not have heard and the mute would not have talked.  

Without Jesus the woman at the well would not have changed.

Without Jesus the woman with the alabaster box would have never been forgiven.

Without Jesus the the Canaanite woman’s daughter would not have been delivered from the demon./

Without Jesus the woman with the issue of blood would not have been healed.

Without Jesus we will never overcome the disease of racism that is devouring our country.

Without Jesus there would be no sacrifice.  

Without Jesus there would be know resurrection.  

Without Jesus there would be no salvation.  

Because the 1% miracle would never be possible if it had not been for the miracle of Jesus Christ being born of a virgin, so that he could live a perfect life, be crucified on an old rugged cross, and resurrect three days later so that everyone that believes in their hearts and confesses with their mouth that Jesus is Lord shall be saved!  Which is the ultimate miracle because I don’t know about you, but out of all the people in the world I had 1% percent chance of survival before Jesus looked beyond my faults and saw my needs.  

I had a 1% chance of survival before Jesus picked me up, turned me around, and placed my feet on higher solid ground.  

I had a 1% chance of survival when I was out there in the world doing what I wanted to do the ways I wanted to do it.  

I had a 1% chance of survival before Jesus pulled me out of the muck and the mire.  

I had a 1% chance of survival before Jesus took me and made something beautiful out of my life.  

I had a 1% chance of survival before Jesus touched me and made me whole.  

I had a 1% chance of survival before I placed my life in God’s hands and we all know that little becomes much when you place it in God’s hands.  

But I have to be honest this morning.  I still want more.  Not more stuff.  Not more money, but more of God’s miracles.  I want what he has done for me done for all of my family, friends, and the lost in the world.

So I’m looking for a miracle. 

I expect the impossible. 

I feel the intangible. 

I see the invisible.  

The Sky is the limit to what I can have.  

Just believe and receive it. 

God will perform it today.

Is anybody in the house looking for a miracle?  Do you want your 1% miracle?  Do you want your best to be a product of your worst?

Well stand to your feet and give God praise.

The beginning and the end

The author and the finisher

The Alpha and the Omega

The great I am

The king of kings

The lord of lords

The bright and morning star

The lily of the valley

The friend that sticks closer that a brother

The balm of Gilead

The banner of the nations

The captain of our salvation

The chief cornerstone

The chief Shepard

The deliverer

The faithful and true God

The Father of mercies

The Fountain of living waters

The glorious Lord

The God of all comfort

The God of all grace

The God of all hope

The God of all peace

Emmanuel, God with us.

Praise God for Jesus.

Praise God for your 1% miracle.  I am trying to end this, but when I think about the goodness of the Lord and all that he has done for me my soul cries out hallelujah.  Now we have talked about having a one % chance of survival, but consider this as I close this out.  The woman with the issue of blood was healed, and she did not even touch 100% of Jesus.  She did not even touch 50% of Jesus.  As a matter of fact she did not touch Jesus at all.  She touched a piece of his clothes and she was made whole.  Imagine what would have happen if she had actually touched Jesus?  

Just imagine what you could do if you let him touch your heart by accepting him into your life.  

Imagine what he could do if you prayed to him on a consistent basis. 

Imagine what he could do if you pressed.  

Imagine what he could do if you gave him praise. 

Imagine what this nation could do if it allowed God to touch it.

Imagine your miracle coming to pass.

Imagine your ordinary becoming extraordinary. 

Imagine your best becoming a product of your worst.

And on Pentecost Sunday when they were all together on one accord, and the Holy Ghost came upon them causing them all to speak in different tongues or languages Peter preached his first sermon.  On that day more than 3000 people gave their lives to the Lord.  We need that power to fall today like never before.  We need to people of the world to experience the full power of the Holy Spirit.   So if you are not saved I cannot think of a better day for you to give your life to the Lord.