Adidas Part 2

Philippians 4:10-19

10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

14 Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; 16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. 17 Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. 18 I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Last week we began a series entitled ADIDAS, an acronym for all day I’m delivered and saved.  I expressed to you my infatuation with Adidas tennis shoes and how no shoe could possibly compare to what Jesus Christ has done for me.  As a matter of fact, I told you that I would have no shoes on my feet.

No clothes on my back.

No food on my table.

No water to drink.

No roof over my head.

No car to drive.

No job to go to.

No family to love.

No air to breath if it were not for God.  

Now somebody in the room knows what I’m talking about and should give God praise right now!

We talked about our lives before Adidas.  Before all day I’m delivered and saved.  

We had a made up mind.   

We made our mark.  

We made a mess.  

But after Adidas we knew that we could make it.  

We could make it through.  

We could make it happen.  

We could make a difference.  

Now this week I want you all to know that not only can we make it.  We can maintain it.  You hear stories all the time about people making it to the top.  Then years, months, weeks, or sometimes even days later we hear about the same people falling from the top.  

For example, people who win the lottery and are broke months later.  

Athletes that rise to the top of their sport, but fall because of an injury or infidelity.  

Actors and artist that rise to the top only to fall because of addiction and depression. 

Preachers who rise and fall because of pride and the pursuit of prosperity and prestige.

CEO’s that shoot to the top of the company and fall because they cannot handle the pressure.  

How many brothers and sisters have you seen give their lives to the Lord?  They made it, and months later they leave the Lord and the Church because of this or that.  (Usually because of church folks, but that’s another sermon for another day!) 

People make it all the time but they seldom maintain what they make.  So I stopped by this morning to let everyone in the room know that not only can you make it, you can maintain it.  Bishop Clarke talked about this on his Truth for Tuesday segment on Facebook live a while ago.  He stated that the most dangerous times of our lives are the moments right after the victory.  We put so much time and effort into winning that we don’t strategize and plan for life after the battle is won.  

Many times we fail after the battle is won.  

Many times we fall after the victory.  

Many times we mess up after we make it.  

Because we don’t have a plan.

And if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.  But I proclaim to you today that not only can we make it, we can maintain it!  

This is what we learn in our text today.  The same text we were in last week.  When Paul had written a letter to the church in Philippi from prison to thank them for the gifts and resources that they had blessed him with.  Let me say parenthetically on the way to where I am going, make sure that you say thank you.  Nothing burns my biscuits more than when someone does not say thank you.  As if you had to do whatever it is you did for them, or you had to give whatever it is you gave to them.  Just the other day…  Please make sure you teach your children to say thank you as well.  They should be writing thank you cards for birthday presents and graduation gifts, or they can make a video or send an email.  But they need to do something to show some gratitude.  Anyway, back to what I was saying.  In the midst of this thank you note Paul drops some knowledge on the church in Philippi.  Shall we look at the text…

10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

14 Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; 16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. 17 Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. 18 I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.

Verse 19 is where I want to focus today.  And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.  Someone say Adidas.  Because All day I’m delivered and saved I can maintain.  You don’t see it do you?  Let me show you.  Because of the fact that all day I am delivered and saved I can be like that church in Philippi.  We can live the way God calls us to live.  We can take care of people the ways God calls us to take care of people.  We can give the way that God wants us to give.  Because they were so giving is why Paul says, he wished that more could be credited to their accounts.  And when we are the people that God called us to be because we know that all day I’m delivered and save we can maintain because God will provide all of our needs according to the riches of His Glory in Christ Jesus.  This reminds me of that old song we used to sing…

We’ve come this far by faith.  

Leaning on the the Lord.  

Trusting in his holy word.  

He never failed me yet. 

Oh, oh, oh, can’t turn around. 

We’ve come this far by faith.  

How because God will meet all of our needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.  In other words, we can maintain it.  And we maintain it in three areas.

First, we maintain our sanity (our minds)… this is so important in the world that we live in today.  From the music, to the movies, to the television shows (The cussing and nudity on regular TV is out of control), to the media, especially social media, the political climate, and all the racial injustice in our land.  Just yesterday one street over on Wheatland three were shot and two are dead.  We need to maintain our sanity.  That is why we have to guard our minds.  

We can’t let everything and everyone have access to our minds.  We have to keep watch and be gate keepers of our minds.  

We have to be careful of what we let into our minds. 

We have to do our part and God will do his.  What are you saying Pastor Brian?  The Bible says that He will keep our minds in perfect peace, when our minds are stayed on Him.  The problem is that our minds are on everything but God…  Now don’t look at me in that tone of voice because you know exactly what I’m talking about and part of you is hoping that I won’t go there.  

But I have to go there!

Your mind is stayed on do your own thing.

Your mind is stayed on doing what you want to do.

Your mind is stayed on getting high.

Your mind is stayed on getting drunk.

Your mind is stayed on making it to the top.

Your mind is stayed on buying that big house.

Your mind is stayed on buying that Tesla.

Your mind is stayed on the Big 10 finally deciding to play football.

Your mind is stayed on that woman or that man!

But I truly believe that He will keep your mind in perfect peace if your mind is stayed on Him.

That is why you can remain calm in the midst of the storm.

That is why you can keep your cool in the heat of any situation. 

That is why you can stay focused in the fight.

That is why you are composed in the challenge. 

That is why you can be strategic in the tragedy .

That is why you can see the win in the loss.

That is why you can stand when everyone else around you is dropping like flies.  

That is why you can see the good in the bad.

That is why you can see the silver lining in the cloud.

That is why you can be the light in the darkness.

Because you know deep down inside of you that God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.  You can maintain your sanity.

First, we maintain our sanity.  Secondly, we maintain our situations.  We can truly do all things through Christ who gives us strength.

We can climb any mountain.

We can cross any valley.

We can swim any sea.

We can win any battle.

We can reach any height.

We can defeat any enemy.

We can overcome any obstacle.

We can rebuke any demon.

We can triumph over any trial.

We can stand up to any bully.

We can charge any challenge.

We can survive any sickness.

And once we win we can stay there.  We can continue to enjoy the success we have achieved.  This is what I was talking about in my introduction.  There is no amount of success that we can’t maintain.  The same God that helps us attain it is the same God that will help us maintain it.  

If God gets us there He will keep us there.

If God heals us He will keep us healed. 

If God delivers us He will keep us delivered.

If God reconciles our marriage He will keep our marriage together.

If God repairs a relationship He will keep the relationship repaired.

If God brings the promise to pass He will keep us in the promise land.

If God has done it He will continue to do it!

You know what, let me change that if to when because if, if was a fifth we’d all be drunk because it’s not a matter of if God will do it, it’s a matter of when God will do it!

When God gets us there He will keep us there.

When God heals us He will keep us healed.

When God delivers us He will keep us delivered.

When God reconciles our marriage He will keep our marriage together.

When God repairs a relationship He will keep the relationship repaired.

When God brings the promise to pass He will keep you in the promise land.

When God has done it He will continue to do it! 

Won’t He do it!  Yes He will!

We can maintain our situations.

First, we can maintain our sanity.  Secondly, we can maintain our situations.  Thirdly, we maintain our sanctification.  Here is the most important point.  Sanctification means to be set apart for the purpose of being used by God.  We have to be set apart because we are children of God.  We are a peculiar people.  We are a royal priesthood.  And I know I’ve said this before but I will say it until I am blue in the face.  But we cannot be like everyone else.  I know we want to be, but er can’t.

We can’t go where everyone else goes.

We can’t watch what everyone else’s watches.

We can’t listen to what everyone else listens to.

We can’t do what everyone else does.  

I try explaining this to my boys all the time.  It’s not easy to be different, but we have to be different because that is what God has called us to be.  It is easy to fit in.  It is easy to go with the crowd, but that is not what God wants us to do.  We have to be sanctified.  And truth be told church, the only way that we can maintain our sanity, the only way that we can maintain our situations is if and only if, I mean when and only when we maintain out sanctification.  How else will we know all day we’re delivered and saved if we don’t maintain our sanity?

We have to be what God has called us to be.  

We have to be holy because the God that we serve is Holy.  

We have to let the Holy Spirit saturate every single aspect of our lives.  The problem is that we want to be selective in the areas in which we allow God into our lives.  We want to pick and choose.  God you can be in my marriage, but you can’t be in my finances.  God you can be with me on the job, but you can’t be involved in my decisions. 

God you can be in my house, but stay out of my home. 

God is not satisfied with that.  

He does not want some of us He wants all of us.  

He does not want part of us He wants all of us.  

He does not want a portion of us He wants all of us.

He does not want a piece of us He wants all of us.

He does not want a section of us He wants all of us.

And I was wondering if there is anyone in the room today ready to give it all to God.  There is contemporary song by Forever Jones that goes like this…

There’s a voice that cries out in the silence, searching for a heart 

that will love Him.

Longing for a child that will give Him their all, give it all, He wants it all.

And there’s a God that walks over the earth, He’s searching for a heart that is desperate.

And longs for a child that will give Him their all, give it all, He wants it all.

And He says, love me, love me, with your whole heart, He wants it all today

Serve me, serve me with your life now.

He wants it all today.

Bow down, lets go of your idols. 

He wants it all today.

He wants it all.

I just believe that if God wants it all we should give it to Him!

And then there’s the traditional hymn that says the same thing in a differed way.  

All to Jesus I surrender

All to Him I freely give

I will ever love and trust Him

In His presence daily live

All to Jesus I surrender

Humbly at His feet I bow

Worldly pleasures all forsaken

Take me Jesus take me now

I surrender all

I surrender all

All to Thee my blessed Savior

I surrender all

Because when we surrender it all because He wants it all we can maintain our sanctification, and this is the only way that we can maintain our sanity.  This is the only way we can maintain our situations.

Let me close with a story entitled Churchill’s Commencement Address.

Sir Winston Churchill took three years getting through eighth grade because he had trouble learning English. It seems ironic that years later Oxford University asked him to address its commencement exercises.

He arrived with his usual props. A cigar, a cane and a top hat accompanied Churchill wherever he went. As Churchill approached the podium, the crowd rose in appreciative applause. With unmatched dignity, he settled the crowd and stood confident before his admirers. Removing the cigar and carefully placing the top hat on the podium, Churchill gazed at his waiting audience. Authority rang in Churchill’s voice as he shouted, “Never give up!”

Several seconds passed before he rose to his toes and repeated: “Never give up!” His words thundered in their ears. There was a deafening silence as Churchill reached for his hat and cigar, steadied himself with his cane and left the platform. His commencement address was finished.

A very simple but powerful speech but Winston Churchill knew something that he was trying to share with the graduates that day.  They had reached a goal.  They had made it!  And many times when we make it, we give up because we think we have arrived, but in order to maintain what you have attained you cannot give up.

You just got the job never give up.

You just kicked the habit never give up.

You just got clean.

You just bought the car.

You just got approved for the loan.

You just graduated.

You just got accepted into school.

You just got the promotion. 

You just got married.

You just had your first child.

You just accepted your call.

You just made it.

You just attained it.

You have to maintain it!

And you can maintain it because you have Adidas, All Day I’m Delivered and Saved!

You can maintain because God will supply all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.  His riches… I know I’ve shared this with you before, but the scripture says that my father’s house has many mansions in it.  Now we talk about rich folks today but they have nothing on the riches of God…

Not Warren Buffet.

Not Bill Gates.

Not Oprah Winfrey.

Not Jay Z and Beyoncé.

Not President Donald Trump.

None of them can hold a candle to what our God has, as a matter of fact their many houses and mansions would fit in God’s house.  The cattle on a thousand hills belong to God and since He’s my daddy He will take care of me and I can maintain!

So do me a favor.

Stand to your feet.

Open up your mouth.

Put your ten stringed instruments together.

And give God praise.

Because the Bible says let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

So if you’re breathing you should be praising!

If you’re alive you should be praising!

If you’re above ground your should be praising!

Praise God that you can maintain.

You can maintain your sanity.

You can maintain your situations.

You can maintain your sanctification.

ADIDAS

Philippians 4:10-13

10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a small infatuation with Adidas tennis shoes. That’s just what I like.  You can have your Nikes, Reeboks, Jordans, K-Swiss, Converse, ASICS, New Balance, or any other kind of sneaker, but give me my Adidas.  I have them in different colors, and I have them in different styles.  The song, my Adidas by Run DMC could actually be my theme song!  

My Ahhh-didas, walk through concert doors
And roam all over coliseum floors

I stepped on stage, at Live Aid

All the people gave, and the poor got paid

And out of speakers I did speak

I wore my sneakers but I’m not a sneak

My Adidas touch the sand of a foreign land
With mic in hand, I cold took command

My Adidas and me close as can be

We make a mean team, my Adidas and me

We get around together, we down forever

And we won’t be mad when caught in bad weather

My Adidas… my Adidas…

Yo, whassup?

Now don’t judge me!  We all have our thing or things, and Adidas are just one of mine.  I’d wear them every day if I could, but I haven’t found a pair that go with a suit yet.  Anyway, as I was sitting one day thinking and pondering the word of God, I thought about Adidas and how I feel when I get a new pair or wear one of my favorite pair.  You guys know what I am talking about.  We all have a favorite pair of shoes, piece of clothing, or an outfit that we feel a certain way when we wear it.  You look at yourself a little longer in the mirror when you have it on.  You have a little pep in your step when you’re wearing it.  It just makes you feel good when you have it on.  Maybe it’s because of the person who got it for you.  Maybe it’s because its the first thing you bought for yourself.  Maybe it’s because of the compliments you receive when you wear it.  Now don’t look at me in that tone of voice.  We all like to receive compliments every now and then.  Or maybe it’s because you just like it!  But as I was thinking about my feelings about a shoe, I realized that I serve a God that has done more for me than any shoe could possibly do for me.  As a matter of fact, if it were not for God I would not have a pair shoes to put on my feet.  Yet, He has blessed me enough to have pairs of shoes to choose from.  So today we are going to begin a series entitled ADIDAS, yes we are going to talk about shoes all month long.  Of course not, ADIDAS in an acronym for All Day I’m Delivered And Saved.  Shall we look at the text…

As I meditated on this topic God lead me to Philippians 4:10-13.  Now Paul wrote this letter to the church in Philippi while he was in prison.  And  we all know Paul’s story.  He used to be known as Saul, a Pharisee that sought out and persecuted believers of the way, A.K.A. Christians.  He was actually on his way to continue this work in Damascus when Jesus knocked him off his high horse figuratively and literally.  He came to know Jesus as his personal Lord and savior, and immediately went into the ministry, preaching the word, planting churches, and writing most of the New Testament.  Many of us can relate to Saul’s experience.  We may not have been persecuting Christians, but just like Saul we were doing our own thing and God had to knock us off of our high horse and we realized what fools we had been.  He picked us up, turned us around, and He placed our feet on solid ground and now we can say All Day I’m Delivered And Saved. Listen to what Paul says…

10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Basically Paul is saying that it does not matter what the situation or the circumstance that I am in, I will be fine.  I will be ok.  I will be content.  Because I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.  The him is Jesus.

When I have food I’m content.

When I’m hungry I’m content.

When I’m clothed I’m content.

When I’m naked I’m content.

When I’m going through I’m content.

When I’m coming out I’m content.

When I’m in the the storm I’m content.

When I’m in the sunshine I’m content.

When I’m on the mountain top I’m content.

When I’m in the valley I’m content.

When I’m sick I’m content.

When I’m healthy I’m content.

When I’m alone I’m content.

When I’m with family and friends I’m content.

It does not matter what’s going on in my life I’m content.

The bottom line is I can be content because I have Jesus and because I have Jesus I have ADIDAS, All Day I’m Delivered And Saved.  And because I know that All Day I’m Delivered and Saved, I can make it.  Which is what I want to focus on today.  Paul knew without a shadow of a doubt that no matter what he was going through that he could make it.  That’s what this discourse in this letter to the church in Philippi was all about.  Letting the people of God know that they could make it.  

Is there anyone in the room today that wants to make it?  

Is there anyone here today that is sick and tired of being sick and tired?  

Is there anybody here that is ready to put your best foot forward?  Is there anybody here that is ready to get out of your sticky situation?  

Well let me share with you three ways that you can make it.  But before that let me share with you what you made before you had ADIDAS.  Before you knew that All Day I’m Delivered And Saved.

We had a made up mind, and I am not talking about in a good way.  We did not have a made up mind to follow Jesus.  

We had a made up mind that we were going to do what we wanted to do.  

We had a made up mind that we were going to do it the way we wanted to do it. 

We had a made up mind that we knew it all.

We had a made up mind that we were grown and no one was going to tell us what to do.

We had a made up mind that we didn’t need anyone but ourselves.

We had a made up mind that we could do it all on our own.

We had a a made up mind that all we needed was me, myself, and I.

We had a made up mind that we could do all things through ourselves.

We had a made up messed up mind.  Give me an Amen if you know what I’m talking about.

And our minds were so made up that we made our mark, and it wasn’t a good mark.  Everyone knew who we were and what we were about.  Our reputation proceeded us.  Because we made our mark for starting trouble.

We made our mark for causing drama.

We made our mark for spreading gossip.

We made our mark for getting in folks’ business.

We made our mark for being high.

We made our mark for being drunk.

We made our mark for sleeping around.

We made our mark cussing folks out.

We made our mark for having a bad attitude.

We made out mark for being a bully.

We made our mark for all the wrong reasons.

So because our minds were made up, and because we made our mark, we made a mess.  I mean our lives were jacked up from the floor up.  We couldn’t recognize ourselves in the mirror and if we could recognize ourselves we did not like what we saw.  If we hadn’t burned the bridges of our relationships with our family and friends.  They had to distance themselves from us, or they abandoned us altogether because we had made such a mess of our lives that we were toxic.  No one wanted to be around us for fear that some of our mess would rub off on them.  Let’s be honest this morning how many people can say that at some point in your life you made a mess of your life because you had a made up mind and you made your mark.

That is why we we need to thank God for Jesus because now that we know Him, He has flipped the script.  We now know that its not about us and it’s all about Him.  Now our minds are made up to serve God.  Now the only mark we want to make is to please God.  And now our mess has become an opportunity to share His message.  Because now we have ADIDAS, now we know that All Day I’m Delivered And Saved.  We know that we can make it, and we make it in three ways.

First we can make it through. Every time I hear someone say I am going through or I’m going through something.  I think to myself they should be praising God that they are going through because they could be stuck in whatever it is they are going through!  We can make it through anything and everything we go through.

Every trial!

Every tribulation! 

Every storm!

Every battle!

Every sickness!

Every disagreement!

Every disappointment!

Every heartache!

Every unfair treatment!

Every addiction!

Every form of abuse!

Every form of depression!

Every attack of the enemy!

Every attempt of our haters!

Every lie told on us!

Every rumor spread about us!

Every pandemic.

Every police shooting.

Every social injustice.

Every bigoted presidency.

Every church building shut down.

We can make it through because All Day I’m Delivered And Saved!

First we can make it through.  Then we can make it happen.  

This is where the rubber meets the road.  

This is where we don’t just talk faith, but we put our faith into action.  

This is where we just don’t talk about God making a way, but we actually get up off of our backside and walk the way that God has made.  

It’s is one thing to sit back and say the Lord will make a way.  

It is another thing altogether to walk the way the the Lord has made.  

What are you saying PB, let me show you.  

You’ve been saying for years how you’ve been wanting to go back to school.  God has opened a door for you to go back for free and you don’t take advantage of the opportunity.  

You have always dreamed of owning your own home.  God has made a way, but you don’t want to clean up your credit to get approved for the loan.  

You always dreamed of owning your own business.  God has opened up an opportunity for you to do so, but you’re so fearful of failure that you won’t step out on faith.  Peter would have never walked on the water if he did not get out of the boat.  It is time for many of us to get out the boat.  Look at your neighbor and say get out the boat.  

That is why I stopped by 311 South Highland Avenue to let someone know today that you can make it happen because All Day I’m Delivered And Saved!

First we can make it through.  Then we can make it happen.  And last, but not least we can make a difference.  Remember, I keep telling you for a year now it is not about us!  So once we make it through and we make it happen we can make a difference in the life of someone else.  Because whether you realize it or not people are watching you.  Now let’s be honest this morning.  Some people are just watching us to see us fall flat on our faces.  But then there are those that have been watching us for a while.  

They seen us when we had a made up mind.  

They seen us when we made our mark.  

They seen us when we made a mess.  

They’ve been watching us as we make it through.  

They’ve been watching us as we make it happen, and they’ve been wondering how did we get from there to here?  

They’ve been wondering how did we turn it around? 

They’ve been wondering how did we flip the script?

They’ve been wondering how did we get it together?

They’ve been wondering how are we standing?

They’ve been wondering how are we smiling?  

They’ve been wondering how are we holding it together?

They’ve been wondering why haven’t we lost our minds?

And this gives us the perfect opportunity to make a difference when we share our story.  When we tell them it has nothing to do with us and every to do with God.  When we let them know that because we made it they can make it too.  And the only reason that we could make it was because we knew ADIDAS.  All Day I’m Delivered And Saved!

The Olympic Games, Mexico, 1968. The marathon is the final event on the program. The Olympic stadium is packed and there is excitement as the first athlete, an Ethiopian runner, enters the stadium. The crowd erupts as he crosses the finish line.

Way back in the field is another runner, John Stephen Akwhari of Tanzania. He has been eclipsed by the other runners. After 30 kilometers his head is throbbing, his muscles are aching and he falls to the ground. He has serious leg injuries and officials want him to retire, but he refuses. With his knee bandaged Akwhari picks himself up and hobbles the remaining 12 kilometers to the finish line. An hour after the winner has finished Akwhari enters the stadium. All but a few thousand of the crowd have gone home. Akwhari moves around the track at a painstakingly slow pace, until finally he collapses over the finish line.

It is one of the most heroic efforts of Olympic history. Afterward, asked by a reporter why he had not dropped out, Akwhari says, “My country did not send me to start the race. They sent me to finish.”

Source: reported on Sydney 2000 Olympics website

So I stopped by this morning to let you know that its not how you start the race its how you finish the race and you can finish the race, you can make it!

No matter how bad you’re hurt!

No matter what the cost!

No matter how you feel!

No matter what people say about you!

No matter what the competition looks like!

No matter how the odds are stacked against you!

No matter who shows up to cheer you on!

No matter how many times you fall down!

No matter how many times you mess up!

No matter what you can finish because God did not create you to just start.  He created you to finish and you have a job to do.

In other words, you can make it.

So keep on keeping on you can make it

Keep your eyes on the prize!

Keep your head up!

Keep pushing forward!

Don’t give up!

Hold on!

Don’t through in the towel!

Hang in there!

Persevere!

You’re almost there!

You can see the light at the end of the tunnel!

It’s within in your reach!

It’s at the tip of your fingers!

Keep on moving you can make it because you know.

All Day I’m Delivered and Saved!

You know God’s got your back!

You know that God is in control!

You know that God will never leave you or forsake you!

You know that the battle belongs to the Lord!

You know that greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world!

You know that God is on your side!

You know that Just like Paul, you can do all things through Him that gives you strength!

You know that you can make it!

You can make it through!

You can make it happen!

You can make a difference! 

Because All Day I’m Delivered And Saved!

Betting on the Book

John 1:1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.

I had every intention of beginning a new series this morning.  I had a three part series, I could not wait to share with you, but God had other plans.  I guess the series will have to wait because I started something last week when I started talking about the word that God wants me to finish today.  Last week I told you that in the world that we live in we need to BYOB.  You need to bring your own Bible and in order to bring your own Bible.  In order to bring your own word you must lear the word, you must labor with the word, and you must love the word.  Bottom line you have to know the word for yourself.  I am going to stay in that same vein this morning by letting you know that I am betting on the book!  Let’s go to work!

In 1978 Kenny Rogers came out with a song called the gambler.  The song tells a story of a late night meeting on a train bound for nowhere between Rogers and the gambler.  The Gambler tells Rogers that he can tell that Rogers is down on his luck by the look in his eyes and offers him some advice for his last drink of whisky.  After the Gambler takes a drink he give Rogers the following advice.  You gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em.  Know when to walk away.  Know when to run.  You never count your money when you’re sitting at the table.  There will be time enough for counting when the dealings done.  The Gambler goes on to tell Rogers that the secret to surviving is knowing what to throw away and what to keep and the best that you could hope for is to die in your sleep.  

I think it is interesting how this song parallels to everyday life.  Because in our every day lives we need to know what to hold on to  and what to throw away.  We need to know when to fold, to let it go.  And when definitely need to know when to walk away and when to run.  Why are you looking at me like you don’t know what I’m talking about?  Let me show you what I mean.  

The pains of life should we keep them or throw them away.

The grief

The bad relationships

The addiction

The heartache

The failures

The forgiveness and/or unforgiveness

What about the mistakes

The regrets 

The would of’s, could of’s and should of’s of life.

The so-called friends

The backstabbers

The haters

In the game of life you need to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em.  Know when to walk away and know when to run!

And I know talking about gambling is a strange way to introduce a sermon for the simple fact that we as Christians do not gamble.  We do not play the number or the lottery.  We do not shoot craps and hang out at the slot machines.  Well at least we should not be gambling, playing the lotter, shooting craps, and hanging out at the slot machines.  We don’t need to gamble.  We don’t need to rely on luck.  We don’t have to hope the odds are in our favor.  We don’t need a bookie.  We don’t need a sure thing.  

Because we have the real thing.  

We have Jesus.  

We have God.  

We have the Alpha and the Omega. 

We have the first and the last…

But if I were a gambling man, I would bet all I have on the book.  If anyone ever asks you, what I am betting on.  Let them know that I am betting on the book.  

The word of life.  

The Bible.  

The B-I-B-L-E. That’s the book for me!

Basic instructions before leaving earth.  

Everything that I want is in the book.

Everything that you need is in the book.  

The solution to my problems is in the book.

The remedy to my sickness is in the book.

The answers to my questions are in the book.

The rights to my wrongs are in the book.

The role models of righteousness are in the book.

The directions to my life are in the book.

The plan of action is in the book.

Everything is in the book.

It’s like that spaghetti sauce prego… whatever you need, it’s in there.

That is why John tells us that in the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made, without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life and that life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.  Now in this passage when John is talking about the word.  He is referring to Jesus.  Who else could the “He” in John 1:2 be?  Let me prove my point.  In Genesis 1:26 God said let us make man in our image, in our likeness.  Now I was taught in my English classes that the pronouns us and our refer to more than one person.  And I cannot think of another person that would be with God in the beginning other than His son, Jesus.  Now to illustrate my point a bit further allow me to reread the passage and substitute Jesus for word he and him.  In the beginning was Jesus, and Jesus was with God, and Jesus was God.  Jesus was with God in the beginning.  Through Jesus all things were made, and without Jesus nothing was made that has been made.  In Jesus was life and that life was the light of man.  The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.   There is no doubt in my mind that John was referring to Jesus in this passage.  Now that is a great Pastor Brian, but why are you telling me all this when the title of your sermon is betting on the book?  What an excellent question.  9 out of 10 Christians refer to the Bible as the word.  and if John is saying that the word is Jesus.  Then in essence the sermon is about betting on Jesus.  The bible is the representation of God’s actual words to His people.  Men wrote down what God inspired them to write.  So if you are going to bet on anything bet on the word.  Bet on Jesus!  

Listen to what happened to Jesus in Mathew 4.  Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted[a] by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’[b]”

5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,

    and they will lift you up in their hands,

    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’[c]”

7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’[d]”

8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’[e]”  Now if Jesus is using the word and is stressing the need for the word, which is himself when tempted by satan.  Why do we think that we can get by without the word?  Why do we think that we can make it without word when Jesus can’t even make it without word?    In other words, how can we make it without Jesus?  When Jesus can’t even make it without Jesus.  I will give you three reasons why we should be betting on the book and bid you good day.

The first reason that we should be betting on the book is that there are lessons in the book.  Just like I told you last week that we need to learn the word.  One of the ways that we learn the word is by the lessons that are taught in the word.  

In the old testament, we learned from Adam and Eve how sin entered the world and what happens when we sin against God.  

We learned from Noah the Judgment of God.  

We learned from Abraham the faithfulness of God, and that He always keeps His promises.  

We learned from Gideon that God will and can use anybody. We learned from Moses that God will use you despite your disabilities or where you come from.  

In the new testament, we learn from the apostles that faith without works is dead.  

We learn that nothing is impossible for God. 

We learn that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. 

We learn that we are more than conquerors.  

We learn that all things work together for the good of those that love God.  

We learn that greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world.

There are lessons in the book.

First we can bet on the book because there are lessons in the book.  Secondly we can bet on the book because there is love in the book.  I told you last week that we should love the word.  We also need to know that there is love in the word.  John 3:16… God loved us so much that He sent His son to die for us.  I love my Second Community Church Family, but I have to be honest I would not let Elijah or Noah die for any of y’all.  And here is the beautiful thing about God’s Love.  It is unconditional.  He loves us no matter what.  There are no conditions on His love for us. But we have conditions on our love.  Don’t look at me in that tone of voice…

I’ll love you if you do this.

I’ll love you if you do that.

I’ll love you if you sleep with me.

I’ll love you if you do what I say.

I’ll love you as long as you’re rich and successful.

I’ll love you as long as I’m in your will.

But God’s love is not like that.  The Bible says, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. 

While we were getting high.

While we were getting drunk.

While we were sleeping around.

While we were gang banging.

While we were slanging dope.

While we were cheating on our taxes.

While we were taking office supples from work.

While we were having our co-workers stamp our time cards for hours we didn’t work.

While we were playing the numbers.

Christ died for us.

In spite of our most hideous actions He loves us.  

In there are hundreds of examples of His love for us in the book.

There is love in the Book.

First we can bet on the book because there are lessons in the book.  Secondly, we can bet on the book because there is love in the book.  Thirdly, we can best on the book because there is life in the book.  I began the previous point with John 3:16 and I am going to begin my last point with John 3:16…EVERLASTING LIFE!  This is the main objective of the Bible.  Bringing God’s people back into relationship with him.  God desires to be reconciled to His people for eternity, for Life.  That is why He sent Jesus.  Time and time again in the Old Testament God tried to get us back but nothing seemed to work.  

He tried covenants, but that didn’t work.

He tried the ten commandments, but that didn’t work.

He tried judges, but that didn’t work.

He tried kings, but that didn’t work. 

He tries sacrificing animals because without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin, but that didn’t work.

So then He tried Jesus.  

His one and only son.  

And we know that that shedding of Jesus’ blood works.  That same blood that Jesus shed when He died is the same blood that gives us life.  

It is the same blood that makes us new creatures in Christ.  It is the same blood that gives the righteous eternal life.  

It is the same blood that reaches to the highest mountain. 

It is the same blood that flows to the lowest valley.

It is the sam blood that gives us strength from day to day.

It is the same blood that will never ever lose its power.  

Does anyone in the room want the lessons found in the book?  

Does anyone in the room want the love that is found in the book?  

Does anyone in the room want the life that is found in the book?  

If so you need to be betting all you own on the book.  

You should be betting your life on the book.  

It does not matter what your circumstance is, if you are betting on the book I can guarantee you will be victorious because I already know the cards that you have been dealt.  I know what’s in your hand.  

You are holding all aces because an ace equals 1 and you serve the one true and living God.  

You are holding a full house, because your father is rich in houses and lands, and he holds the power of the world in his hands.  

You are holding four of a kind because the trinity, the father, the son, and the holy ghost plus you equals four and the bible says that we are created in his image and we shall be like him.  

You are holding a royal flush because you are serving the 

King of kings!

The lord of Lords!

The alpha and omega!

The beginning and the end!

The great I am!  

Let me share with you a short story called The Bible versus mobile phones.

I wonder what would happen if we treated our Bible like we treat our cell phones?

What if we carried it around in our purses or pockets?

What if we turned back to go get it if we forgot it?

What if we flipped through it several times a day?

What if we used it to receive messages?

What if we treated it like we couldn’t live without it?

What if we gave it to kids as gifts?

What if we used it as we travelled?

What if we used it in case of an emergency?

What if we upgraded to include 24/7 tech service from the Holy Spirit?

This is something to make you go…hmmm…where is my Bible?

Oh, and a couple more things.  We don’t have to worry about our Bible losing power because the Bible is powered by God.  So there is not need to carry around a charger and constantly look for an electrical outlet.  And unlike our cell phones, we don’t ever have to worry about our Bible being disconnected because Jesus already paid the bill!

Jesus paid it all.

All to Him I owe.

Sin had left a crimson stain.

But He washed it white as snow.

Is there anybody here excite about the fact that Jesus paid it all.

Is there anybody here excites about the fact that you Bible can do more than you than you iPhone, Galaxy note, or Lg whatever.

Is there anybody here excited about the fact that when you bet on the book you are guaranteed victory.

So just bet on the book and I promise you that you will find all you need in the book.  

You will find lessons in the book.  

You will find love in the book.  

You will find life in the book.

BYOB (Bring Your Own Bible)

Psalms 119:11

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against 

thee.

This morning I want to take you back.  I would like to take a trip back in time.  I want to take a stroll down memory lane.  Now some of you may or may not want to take this trip with me.  There were a lot of good times in the good old days, but there were also a lot of bad times in the good old days as well.  Some of y’all may not remember the good old days because of the good times you had, or because you have been trying so hard to forget about them.  But lets take this stroll down memory lane anyway.  How many of y’all remember getting excited because the weekend was near, you just got paid, it was Friday night; you were party hunting, and feeling right.  You had some money in your pocket and you were ready to get down.  You were ready to party.  I think that’s why most kids like college so much because you don’t have to wait until weekend to have a good time.  Every night is a potential party night in college.  Anyway, don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about.  We all looked forward to the weekend so that we could have a good time.  But how many of you remember getting that invitation to the party, whether it was a paper invitation or word of mouth.  And on the bottom of the invitation or in a lowered toned voice you would read or hear the letters BYOB!  Which meant that you had to bring your own bottle.  If you wanted to get your drink on you had to bring it yourself.  And this always reminded me of my daddy because he always brought his own bottle.  He liked a specific type of vodka and that’s what he always had in his brown paper bag.  Now don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about you had your favorite thing to drink, whether it was Seagram’s gin in the bumpy bottle, E & J, Hennessy, Crown Royal, Scotch, or maybe you liked that malt liquor old English, St. Ides (special brew), Colt 45 (in my Billy Dee Williams voice), or you may have been a beer person Bud-weis-er, miller genuine draft, or Heineken, or you may have been one of those who drank whatever you could get your hands on, mad dog 20/20, Ripple, night train, or cough syrup.  Oh, you still are trying to play the kid.  Maybe it wasn’t a bottle that you brought to the party.  Maybe you brought the blunt, joint, or sack of weed.  Maybe you brought the vile of coke, the pipe, or the needle.  Maybe your party pleasure was sex and you just brought a three pack of Trojans.  Nonetheless you brought your own to the party. But today in this party of life we do not need to bring our own bottle.  We do not need to bring our own bag, sack, pipe, or needle to get our swerve on!  If we are going to get through this thing called life, and do it the way that God intended for us to do it we will have to BYOB bring your own Bible.   

With all that is going on in our world…

I cannot believe that I am saying this again, that another unarmed black man has been gunned down.  Another unarmed black man by the name of Jacob Blake was shot seven times in front of his three children last Sunday and the police are walking around not arrested, but on paid administrative leave.

The racism and social injustice in our nation is at an all time high and completely out of control.

This pandemic, this COVID-19 that has our nation so twisted that we are sending our kids to school, placing them in front of computer screens, but yet we still want to send them unprotected onto sports fields.

And I don’t even want to bring up politics, but both sides have totally lost their minds.

And on top of all this…

We still have poverty.

We still have homelessness.

We still have hunger.

We still aren’t taking care of our veterans.

We still have unequal education.

We still have racial issues in the church.

We still have crime.

We have to BYOB.  Bring your own Bible.

We have to bring our own word.  

We can’t bring what momma and daddy said about the word.  

We can’t bring the bible verses that grandma and grandpa use to quote.  

We can’t even bring the passages that pastor preaches on Sunday.  

We can’t bring the empowering word we heard from T.D. Jakes on the radio.

You have to bring your own word.   You have to bring what you know.  You have to BYOB.  You have to bring your own bible.  And I’m not talking about the actual holy book in its physical form, what you literally carry in your hand.  Whether it is fancy leather bound bible with the gold trim with four different translations in it or a paperback New Testament only bible with Psalms and Proverbs. Or any bible app you may have on your phone, tablet, or computer.  I’m talking about knowing the word for yourself.  What good will a weapon do in war if you don’t know how to use it?  The word is our spiritual weapon of warfare that is why you need to know it.  That is why David could not fight Goliath in Saul’s armor.  Not only was it way too big, he did not know Saul’s armor.  He was not familiar with Saul’s armor.  

He was not comfortable with Saul’s armor.  

He was not confident in Saul’s armor!  

And let me say parenthetically on the way to where I am going that is why many of us are stuck on stupid waiting on dumb because you’ve been trying to get by in someone else’s armor.  

You’ve been trying to win the battle with someone else’s armor.  You’ve been trying to fix the situation with someone else’s armor.  You’ve been trying to work through the circumstance with someone else’s armor.  

You are not genuine.  

You are a fake and a phony and the enemy knows it. 

You have no power because you do not know the word for yourself.  

Oh, I’m sorry baby did I hurt your feelings.  You’ll be okay because the bible says that the word of God is sharper than any two-edge sword.  That means you will get cut, but you’d know that if you knew the word instead of trying to fake the funk and use someone else’s armor.  

Look at your neighbor and say ouch, I just got cut! But don’t get offended I’m not talking about you unless I’m talking about you!

Now this is exactly what the author of the 119 division of Psalms knew.  He knew that to get through this journey of life that he needed the word of God to make it.  Now the 119 Psalm is referred to as the longest Psalm for the simple fact that it is indeed the longest Psalm and the largest chapter in the bible.  And in each of the psalms’ 176 verses is devoted to the importance of Gods word in the life of the believer.  Now no one is sure of the author of this Psalm.  Many believe that it was David.  Others believe that it was Daniel.  And some believe that it was Ezra.  To me it’s not that significant because either one of these men, the king, the prophets could attest to the power of God’s word through any trial and every situation.  Take David for example that killed a bear and a lion with his bare hands, killed a giant with a sling and a stone, and was anointed king of Israel when he was the least qualified for the position according to the laws and customs of the time.  And then there was Daniel, who was taking from his land and imprisoned in Babylon, told not to worship his God by King Darius, which he refused to do, tossed into a den of lions only proving his God’s power all the more when he was unharmed in the morning and rising to power in a foreign land.  And then there was Ezra who was able to assist in the rebuilding of God’s temple after he returned to Jerusalem from captivity amidst a ton of opposition.  So any one of these great men of God could attest to the important power of the word of God.  The verse that I read for your hearing this morning was only one of 176 that I could have used, but God brought this verse to my attention, and I believe that it is important to know what the author was saying when he wrote in Psalms 119:11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.  The author was saying that I will meditate on your word to the point that it is a part of my being.  It will be in my heart, and if your word is in my heart it will be difficult for me to sin against you.  If God’s commands are embedded to the very fibers of my soul and my heart how could I possibly break those commands?  Keeping God’s word is not a work of righteousness.  It is external evidence of your faithfulness and love towards God.  So you see by analyzing this verse we can see the importance of BYOB.  We can see the life altering power of bringing your own bible, the power of knowing the word for yourself.  And how do we get the power of knowing the word for ourselves?  How do we BYOB?  How do you bring your own bible?  How do we bring our own word?  I am so glad that you asked.  

The first way that we bring our own word is to learn the word.  You and I must learn the word.  In the bible the word is referred to as HIS commandments, statutes, laws, precepts, testimonies, judgments, and ordinances.  No matter what it is called you need to know it for yourself.  So that means you need to learn it.  That is why God told Joshua before he led the Israelites over the Jordan into the promised land “This book of the law shall not depart from thy mouth, but thou shall meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein.  For thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and thou shalt have good success.  You have to learn the word.  This does not mean to just read the word, but to think about the word.  Not just memorize scripture, but also think about the word.  Get a dictionary to look up words you do not understand.  Read a commentary that will break the scripture down so that you will understand exactly what God is trying to say through his word.  You need to know who wrote the scripture.  Where he was when he wrote the scripture?  When did he write the scripture?  Why did he write the scripture?  How did he write the scripture?  And by answering all these questions through learning and thinking about the word with guidance from the Holy Spirit you will know what the word is saying.  

But you have to learn the word to bring your own word.  

You have to learn the word in order to BYOB.  And you learn the word in three ways.

First, You learn the word through studying it.  Studying means to devote time and attention to acquiring knowledge, especially by means of books.  To look closely in order to observe or read.  To make and effort to achieve or take into account.  Ask your neighbor are you really studying the word.

Secondly, You learn the word by staying in it.  You have to constantly read your word.  It cannot be an every now and then thing.  How else can you study it if you do not stay in it.

Thirdly, You learn the word by standing on it.  Standing on the word means that you have faith in it, but you can only have faith in what you know.  It is impossible to have faith in the word if you do not know the word.  Remember you did not have faith in God until you were introduced to him and got to know him.  In order to bring your own bible you have to learn the word, and you learn the word by studying the word, staying in the word, and standing on the word.  This is exactly what the author of Psalms 119 did!

So not only do you need to learn the word, everybody say learn the word!  You also need to labor with the word.  Everybody say, labor with the word!  Mathew Henry’s commentary put it this way, those that make the word of God their rule and conscientiously walk by that rule shall both do well and spread well, and this entitles you to the best blessings.  In other words, once you learn the word, you can labor with the word, or shall we say work the word.  And when you work with the word you will live a blessed life!

You cannot say greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world if you are not working the word.  

You cannot say no weapon formed against me shall prosper if you are not working the word.  

You cannot say that you are more than a conqueror if you are not working the word.  

You cannot say I can do all things through Christ Jesus if you are not working the word.  

You cannot say that you are standing on the promises of God if you do not know the promises of God.  

You cannot say all things work together for good to those that love God who are called according to His purpose if you are not working the word.

You have to work the word.  You have to labor with the word.  You labor with the word in three ways.  

You labor with the word through your witness.  Who are you telling about the word?  How are you sharing the love of Jesus Christ with through the word?

You labor with the word through your work.  What are you doing in the kingdom?  Are you doing your part, or are you falling apart?

You labor with the word through your worship.  Now everyone cannot do worship.  Only children of God can worship.  Those of us that are members of the fraternity or sorority of the twice born can worship God.  For God is spirit and those that worship him must do so in spirit and in truth.

You have to labor with the word!  And you do so through your witness, work and worship!

Labor does not mean that you sit back and relax.  

When you labor you have to get your hands dirty.  

When you labor you can’t look cute.  

When you labor you have to expect to mess up your nails and your ponytails.  

When you labor you’re going to perspire.  

When you labor you will have some pain.  

When you labor you will have to push, but what comes out of you through the perspiration, pain and pushing is a power that can only be attained through laboring with the word.  

You have to labor with the word to bring your own bible.

So in order to bring your own bible you must learn the word.  Everyone say, learn the word.  You must labor with the word.  Everyone say labor with the word.  Last but definitely not least you must love the word.  Everyone say love the word.  A few years ago I had the opportunity to spend two days with Bishop T.D. Jakes at his Project Gideon Conference.  Over 300 pastors, aspiring pastors, and ministry leaders were in attendance.  And he shared his heart with us.  One of the most important things that he told us was that we need to love the word.  And I was instantly convicted because I knew that I was not treating the word the way that it deserved to be treated.  And I know that some of you may have felt that I was beating you up in this sermon, but the truth of the matter is, I’ve been preaching to myself as well.  The word whipped my but in the preparation process!  But we don’t love the word like we used too.  Remember when you first got saved and all you wanted to do was read the word because you wanted to know as much about God as possible.  What happened?  Why don’t you read the word like you used to?  Remember when you met your spouse for the first time.  All you wanted to do was spend time with them.  Get to know them. Every waking moment was spent thinking about them or trying to be with them. You would talk on the phone to the wee hours of the night.  Neither one of you wanted to hang up the phone.  You hang up, no you hang up.  Okay on the count of three we’ll both hang up at the same time.  1, 2, 3!  You still there?  Yes!  Why didn’t you hang up?  Why didn’t you hang up?  You were so in love that you never wanted to say goodbye.  That is what God longs for with us.  We need to return to our first love.  And we need to return to our first love, loving Him the way that He deserves to be loved.  We can’t half step.  We have to be all in because when you learn, labor with, and love the word you are learning, laboring with, and loving God.  John 1:1 states clearly that in the beginning was the word, the word was with God, and the word was God!   So when we are learning, laboring with, and loving the word we are learning, laboring with, and loving Jesus.  

We must love the word in three ways.  

We must love The Lord completely. In Matthew 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  

You have to love the Lord with every ounce of you your being.  You have to love the Lord with everything that you’ve got.  

You have to love the Lord like He loves you, unconditionally!  

You have to love God more than a kid loves candy.  

You have to love God more than peanut butter loves jelly.  

You have to love God more than sugar loves kool aid.  

You have to love God more than Joanie loved Chauchie!  

You have to love God more than you love your spouse.  

You have to love God more than you love your car.  

You have to love God more than you love yourself!

You have to love the Lord completely.

We must love the Lord continually.  This is a nonstop love affair. 

You cannot fall in and out of love with God.  You have to love him 

at all times.  That is why Psalms 34: 1 says that I will bless the 

Lord at all times and his praise shall continually be in my mouth. 

You cannot take a break from loving God.  There are no time outs, 

and there are not any half times.  You have to constantly, always, 

frequently, regularly, habitually, repeatedly, recurrently love God.  

There are no “ifs, ands, or buts” about it!

We must love the Lord consistently.  You may not agree with

what the Lord does and how He does it, but you still have to love 

Him.  You can’t love Him one day and not love Him the next day.

Just because He does not give you what you want when you want 

it does not give you the right not to love Him.  

In spite of every situation you have to love God.  

In spite of every circumstance you have to love God.  

I do not always agree with my wife.  

I do not always agree with my children.  

I do not always agree with my family.  

I do not always agree with my friends.  

But I will always love them.  

And we must always love God.

Always and forever, each moment with you, it’s just 

like a dream to me that some how came true. And I know 

tomorrow will still be the same.  Because we have a life of love

that won’t ever change.  Everyday love me your own special way,

melt all my heart away with smile.  Take time to tell me you really 

care and will share tomorrow together.  I’ll always love you 

forever!  I told you I wanted to take you back today!

We have to come back to our first love!

We have to love the Lord like the author of the Psalms 119 when 

he stated…

Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the 

Lord. 

Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with 

their whole heart.

They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways.

Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently.

O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!

Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy 

commandments.

I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have

learned thy righteous judgments.

I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly.

Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed 

thereto according to thy word.

10 With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander 

from thy commandments.

11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against

 thee.

You have to love the word of God so much that it saturates every 

aspect of your life.  That no matter what comes your way you can 

face it because you have brought your own bible and you know 

that God is on your side.  And greater is he that is in you than he 

that is in the world!  

In other words, you have to bring you own bible…

Trouble on the job?

Problems in you marriage?

Kids getting on your nerves?

Struggling at school?

Issues with your health?

Pain in your body?

Drama in your family?

Dealing with addiction?

Fighting against depression?

Having a hard time feeding your family?

Going through a storm?

Losing your mind?

Lost and out of control?

Down to your last dime?

Stuck between rock and a hard place?

Hit rock bottom?

Bring your own bible and you will know that…

The king of kings!

The Lord of Lords!

The alpha and omega!

The beginning and the end!

The author and finisher of your faith!

The lily of the valley!

The balm of Gilead!

The rose of Sharon!

The bright and morning star!

The great I am!

Has your back, but you have to bring your own bible!

You have to learn the word.

You have to labor with the word.

You have to love the word, and when you love the word you love God.  

When you love the word you love the true and living God.  

When you love the word you love the worthy lamb.  

When you love the word you love Jesus!

Does anyone in the room love Jesus this morning?

I love you Jesus.

I worship and adore.

Just want to tell you.

That I love you more than anything!

Satisfaction Guaranteed Part 4

John 6:35

Luke 15:11-24

11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

Week four and guess what?  Satisfaction is still guaranteed!  Well it it’s time to wrap up this series.  It is time to bring this thing to a close.  Our guiding scripture for this series has been John 6:35, when Jesus tells the Jews of His time I am the bread of life, whomever comes to me shall not hunger, and whomever believes in me shall never thirst.  Someone say satisfaction guaranteed!  In week one I told you that our 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.  In week two I shared with you that our satisfaction is guaranteed because God leads us.  He leads us because He has a purpose, He has a plan, and He made a promise.  And last week I flipped the script because I told you our satisfaction is guaranteed based on what we do instead of what God does.  And we must long for God.  Because when we long for God we’ll listen to God, we’ll learn from God, and we’ll lean on God.  And as we close this out I want to let you know that our satisfaction is guaranteed because God, The creator of heaven and earth.  The bright and morning star, the beginning and the end.  The Alpha and the Omega.  The king of kings and the Lord of lords longs for us!  So not only do we long for him but He longs for us!

I read this in the daily journal by Sheridan Voysey….

Blaise Pascal once said the now-famous words: “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which [can] be filled . . . only be filled by God.” St. Augustine once prayed, “Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You.” In Revelation 21 we see the end of human longing—the heart at rest in relationship with its Creator in His eternal kingdom.

Something we spend less time thinking about, however, is the longing that God has—a longing that will also be fulfilled on that great day. Now, to be sure, an omnipotent, self-sufficient God doesn’t lack anything. We don’t meet God’s needs. But throughout biblical history, God has expressed His longing for us: “You will be Mine.”

• “I will claim you as My own people, and I will be your God” (Exodus 6:7).

• “I will be your God, and you will be My people” (Leviticus 26:12).

• “I will put My instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people” (Jeremiah 31:33).

• “You will live in Israel, the land I gave your ancestors long ago. You will be My people, and I will be your God” (Ezekiel 36:28).

For thousands of years, God has had one desire—a people drawn to Himself. This longing has fueled His missionary endeavors: sending prophets to call back His straying people, sending His Son to find His straying sheep (Luke 19:10). In the kingdom of God, His desire will finally be fulfilled: “I will be their God, and they will be My children” (Revelation 21:7).

God is our King and Judge, that’s true. But we often miss His Fatherly heart—a heart that longs for our free, loving, devoted allegiance to Him; a heart that awaits that longing to be fulfilled.

Has anyone in the room ever longed for someone or something before.  It’s is like you just don’t feel right until you have that someone or something back.  

You can’t eat.  

You can’t sleep.  

You can’t function.  

You don’t feel right.  

Something is missing.  

And this is how this father felt in the absence of his son.  This is how God feels about us before we are saved and when we’ve gone astray.  This parable is just an example or an illustration about God’s longing for His children. Shall we look at the text.

The entire 15th chapter of Luke is dedicated to parables and/or stories about something being lost and then found.  The stories describe the deep longing that the people had for the things that they had lost.  One person lost a coin, another lost a sheep, and another lost a son.  Now we have all heard the story of the prodigal son.  If you have not heard the story before, let me give you the cliff notes or the abbreviated version so that we can get to the heart of the sermon.  There is a man that has two sons, and the youngest son asked his father if he could have his inheritance early.  This young man was extremely bold or extremely stupid.  Anyway his father said yes, gave him his inheritance.  The young man left for a distant country and squandered all of his money on wild living.  He found himself in a desperate situation.  

He had no money.  

No food.  

No place to live.  

He was down and he was out.  

So he hired himself out and ended up in a field feeding pigs, and he longed for the food that the pigs were eating, but no one would give him anything.  

When he came to himself.  

When he came to his senses.  

When he realized what a fool he had been.  

When he realized how much he messed up, he thought to himself, I should go back to my father and work for him, even his servants have food to spare.  So he was going through the scenario in his mind of what he would say to his father.  He was practicing his lines.  Father I have sinned against you and heaven and I am no longer worthy to be called your son, make me like one of your servants.  So when he got his lines just right he headed home to his father.  Now when his father seen him in the distance he was filled with compassion.  He ran to him, threw his arms around him and kissed him.  The son spoke his prepared lines, father I have sinned against heaven and against you, I am no longer worthy to be called your son.  But his father told his servants go and get the best robe and put it on him.  Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.  Bring the fattened calf and kill it.  Let’s have a feast and celebrate.  For this son of mine was dead and is alive again.  He was lost and is found.  And they began to celebrate.  When the older brother came home from work, he was like what in the world is going on.  And one of the servants told him that his brother has come home and the we’re celebrating his return.  This infuriated the older brother and he refused to go to the party.  So his father goes out to plead with him to come in and the brother expresses his feelings. All these years I’ve been here working for you.  Being faithful to you, and you never gave me a celebration like this but this son that has wasted your money on who knows what gets this great celebration.  The father said son you are always with me and everything I have is yours, but we had to celebrate and be glad because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is found.  

Now although the text does not explicitly say this, I think that it is safe to believe by the father’s reaction to his son’s return that he longed for his son.  This is evident in the way he ran to his son when he saw him.  

How he embraced him.  

How he kissed him.  

How he gave him the best robe.  

How he put a ring on his finger.  

How he put sandals on his feet.  

How he celebrated his return.  

None of that would have occurred if the father was not longing for his son.  And beloved God feels the same way about us.  Look at your neighbor and tell them God longs for you.  And because he longs for you your satisfaction is guaranteed.  And since he longs for us these three things happen.

He searches for us…. I just have to believe that this father searched for his son.  As excited as he was when he saw his son, I think it is safe to assume that he searched for his son.  

He thought his son was gone.  

He thought his son was lost.  

He thought his son was dead.  

And most parents are going to search for their children if they haven’t heard from them in a while.  And I truly believe that God searches for his children as well.  He did it with Adam and Eve in the garden after they had sinned (notice I said they…). Because the Bible says when he came looking for them they hid in the bushes because they were naked and God called to the man, where are you?  And if he searched for them after their sin I truly believe that he searches for us as well.  Now don’t get it twisted, God does not search for you and I as one who does not know where we are.  I mean He is God.  He knows all.  He knew where Adam and Eve were when they hid in the bushes.  But He searches for us in the sense of meeting us where we are to let us know that there is no place that we can go, where He won’t go to get us.   He searches for us.  And because He searches for us these three things that happen.

First of all He see us.  Just like the father saw his son in the distance, God see us.  

He see us and everything that we do.  

He sees the ups and the downs.  

He sees the highs and the lows.  

He sees the good times and the bad times.  

He sees us at our worst and he sees us at our best.  

He sees us for who we really are, not who we pretend or try to be.

But the important thing is He sees us.  

How many times have you been in a room full of people and felt all alone?

How many times have you been in a relationship and felt all by yourself?  

How many times have you been around coworkers and felt as if no one valued your opinion?  

How many times have you felt as if you did not exist?  

How many times have you felt like nobody sees you?  

Well I stopped by today to let you know that God sees you?

But not only does God see us but God sprints to us.  He meets us right where we are.  I am in the book. When the man sees his son the Bible says that he ran to him.  Is there anybody in the room today excited about the fact that God will run to you.  God will sprint to you. God will come to you.  Think about it, there are a number of stories where people brought their issues to Jesus, but there are just as many stories of Jesus going to the people that needed him as well.  

He went to Zacheuas’ house.  

He went to Lazarus’ tomb.  

He went to the dead girls house.  

He went to the disciples on the lake walking on the water.  

God will meet you right where you are.  So that means you don’t have to get it together before you come to God.  If you have to get it together before you come to God you will never come to God.  This is a trick and lie of the enemy.  God sprints to us right where we are.

So God see us, God sprints to us and then God shows us.  

He shows us just how much we mean to him.  

Just how much he loves us. 

Just how much he misses us.  

Just how much he longs for us.  

Just like the father when he sees his son, then sprints to his son, and then shows his son how much he means to him. The scripture says he was filled with compassion for his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.  Now you know that grown men don’t usually hug and kiss their grown sons, but this is how much this father longed for his son.  I can’t pay Noah to kiss me.  But I hug and him and Elijah all the time.  I tell them I love them all the time.  And they asked me once why I did this so much, and I told them I do it because my father rarely did it to me.  

He wasn’t a kisser.  

He wasn’t a hugger.  

He wasn’t an expresser of his feeling.  

He rarely directly told me how he felt…. And I don’t want there to be a doubt in my boys minds that their daddy loves them.  And that’s the way God feels about us.  He shows us all the time how much he loves us. For God… God shows us!

God searches for us, and once He finds us He secures us.  He affirms us.  He lets us know without a shadow of a doubt that we belong to him.  

That He is our God and we are His people.  

That we are His children and He is our father.  

I can just hear this father saying don’t worry about what you’ve done.  

Don’t worry about what you’ve said.  

Don’t worry about what people say.  

Don’t worry about the past. 

You’re home now and daddy has your back.  

I’ll take care of everything.  

And isn’t that what God does for us.  

He keeps us.

He comforts us.  

He wraps his arms around us.

He reassures us that everything is going to be alright.  

He secures us and does this in three ways.

First He stays with us.  He said that He would never leave us or forsake us.  And this father could have easily shunned his son for his mistakes, but he forgave him and stayed right by his side.  He probably watched his son sleep those first couple of nights just to make sure that he was ok, and he was really home.  I am so glad that God stays with us.  If someone would have pulled one eighth of the stuff that we’ve pulled on God we would have left in a New York minute.  But God stays with us. Think of all the times you mess up and God stayed.

All the times we fell short of His glory.

All the mistakes we made.

All the times we failed.

All the times we said the wrong thing.

All the times we did the wrong things.

All the time we went to the wrong place.

All the times we had a bad attitude.

All the times we refused to forgive.

All the times we held a grudge.

All the times we were the cause of the drama.

Someone give God praise for the simple fact that in spite of ourselves God stays with us.

God stays with us and God speaks for us.  The father tells his servants to get his son the finest robe, put a ring on his finger, and sandals on his feet.  The father speaks and things happen.  When God speaks things happen.  He spoke the entire world into existence and this same God speaks for us.   He makes sure that we have everything that we need and He does it just by speaking.  I am so glad that my God speaks for us.

God stays with us, God speaks for us, and God stands up for us.  When the older brother heard what was gong on he was furious and acted like a fool. So his father had to check him.  He said, son you are always with me and everything I have is yours,  but we had to celebrate and be glad because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again, he was lost and now is found.  And the same way this father stands up for his son is the same way that Yahweh stands up for us.  

He told us that He would make our enemies our foot stool.  

He said that He would prepare a table for us in the presence of our enemies.  

He said that the battle is not ours it’s belongs to the Lord.  

So, I am going to give God praise because He stands up for me.

God searches for us, God secures us, and God sustains us.  Sustain means to give support or relief to. Or to supply with sustenance or the necessities of life.  Is that not what the father did for his son. He runs to him, hugs him, kisses him, and then he sustains him.  He gives him a robe, gives him sandals, and prepares him a meal.  Psalms 119:175 says let me live that I may praise you and may your laws sustain me.  I am so glad that God sustains us.  He supplies all of our needs according to his riches in glory.  He sustains us in three ways.

God Strengthens us.  God sustains us by strengthening.  By giving us what we need He strengthens us. I am sure the son was weak, and famished, and suffering from malnutrition.  So his father feeds him giving him strength. His father covers him giving him strength.  Psalms 147:13 He strengthens the bars of your gates and blesses your people within you.  That’s why we can do all things through Christ that strengthens us.  Does anyone know what I’m taking about this morning?  

When I’m down He lifts me up.  

When I’m out He brings me in. 

When I am broke He makes me whole.  

When I am lost He makes sure that I’m found. 

When I’m weak He makes me strong. 

Is there anybody here that is grateful for the fact that God strengthens us!

God strengthens us and then God showers us.  This father showered his son with his love.  He didn’t just give him clothes to wear.  He said get him the finest robe.  He made sure that his feet were covered and he threw him a party because he wanted to celebrate the homecoming of his son.  This son that was dead is alive, was lost and now is found.  He showers his son just like God showers us with his love. 

Just like He showered the Israelites with manna and quail He showers us.  

Just like He showered the 5,000 with two fish and five loaves of bread He showers us.  

Just like He showered the blind with vision He showered us.  

Just as He showered the diseased with healing He showers us.  God showers us.

So God strengthens us.  Then God showers us.  Last but not least God seals us.  What are you talking about preacher?  Let me show you.  The father put a ring on his finger.  And considering the fact that this seems to be a very wealthy family the ring probably had the family crest on it.  In which they would use to place their seal on letters and contracts or other important documents.  So by placing this ring on his son he was sealing in the fact that all was forgiven.  He was sealing in the fact…

You are back in your proper place.  

You are in the family again.  

You are my son.  

And I am you father.   

Just like God tells us, the past is gone. 

The old has past the new has come.  

I will be your God and you will be my people!  

God longs for us so He searches for us, He secures us, and He seals us!

There once was a man named George Thomas, pastor in a small New England town.

One Easter Sunday morning he came to the Church carrying a rusty, bent, old bird cage, and set it by the pulpit. Eyebrows were raised and, as if in response, Pastor Thomas began to speak….

“I was walking through town yesterday when I saw a young boy coming toward me swinging his bird cage. On the bottom of the cage were three little wild birds, shivering with cold and fright. I stopped the lad and asked, “What do you have there, son?”

“Just some old birds,” came the reply.

“What are you going to do with them?” I asked.

“Take ‘em home and have fun with ‘em,” he answered. I’m gonna tease ‘em and pull out their feathers to make ‘em fight. I’m gonna have a real good time.”

“But you’ll get tired of those birds sooner or later. What will you do then?”

“Oh, I got some cats,” said the little boy. “They like birds. I’ll take ‘em to them.”

The pastor was silent for a moment. “How much do you want for those birds, son?”

“Huh?? !!! Why, you don’t want them birds, mister.

They’re just plain old field birds. They don’t sing. They ain’t even pretty!”

“How much?” the pastor asked again.

The boy sized up the pastor as if he were crazy and said, “$10?

The pastor reached in his pocket and took out a ten dollar bill.

He placed it in the boy’s hand. In a flash, the boy was gone.

The pastor picked up the cage and gently carried it to the end of the alley where there was a tree and a grassy spot.

Setting the cage down, he opened the door, and by softly tapping the bars persuaded the birds out, setting them free.

Well, that explained the empty bird cage on the pulpit, and then the pastor began to tell this story:

One day Satan and Jesus were having a conversation.

Satan had just come from the Garden of Eden, and he was gloating and boasting. “Yes, sir, I just caught a world full of people down there. Set me a trap, used bait I knew they couldn’t resist. Got ‘em all!”

“What are you going to do with them?” Jesus asked.

Satan replied, “Oh, I’m gonna have fun! I’m gonna teach them how to marry and divorce each other, how to hate and abuse each other, how to drink and smoke and curse. I’m gonna teach them how to invent guns and bombs and kill each other. I’m really gonna have fun!”

“And what will you do when you are done with them?” Jesus asked.

“Oh, I’ll kill ‘em,” Satan glared proudly.

“How much do you want for them?” Jesus asked.

“Oh, you don’t want those people. They ain’t no good. Why, you’ll take them and they’ll just hate you.

They’ll spit on you, curse you and kill you. You don’t want those people!!”

“How much? He asked again.  Satan looked at Jesus and sneered, “All your blood, tears and your life.”

Jesus said, “DONE!”

And when He said done, it was finished and as long as we believe, just like those field birds we will be free!

So you see Beloved God longs for us so much that in spite of us He still sent Jesus to die for us…

So it does not matter what you’ve done we will be His people and He will be our God.

It doesn’t matter how many times we’ve messed up.

It doesn’t matter how many times we’ve fallen short.

It doesn’t matter how far we’ve gone.

It doesn’t matter how dark it looks.

It doesn’t matter how impossible it seems.

God longs for us and our satisfaction is guaranteed!

And because my satisfaction is guaranteed I’m going to give God praise.  You know why.  

Because from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same the name of Jesus is worthy to be praised.  

Oh magnify the lord with me, let us exalt his name together.  

I will enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart. 

I will enter His courts with praise.  

I will say this is the day that the lord has made.  

I will rejoice for He has made me glad.

Has He made anyone in the room and online glad today?

If so give him praise

If not give him praise anyway because your gladness is on the way!

Satisfaction Guaranteed!

I love you Lord

And I lift my voice

To worship you

Oh my soul rejoice 

Take joy my king

In what you hear

Let it be a sweet sweet sound in your ear.

Satisfaction Guaranteed!

Satisfaction Guaranteed Part 3

John 6:35

Psalms 42

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.

1 As the deer pants for streams of water,

    so my soul pants for you, my God.

2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.

    When can I go and meet with God?

3 My tears have been my food

    day and night,

while people say to me all day long,

    “Where is your God?”

4 These things I remember

    as I pour out my soul:

how I used to go to the house of God

    under the protection of the Mighty One[d]

with shouts of joy and praise

    among the festive throng.

5 Why, my soul, are you downcast?

    Why so disturbed within me?

Put your hope in God,

    for I will yet praise him,

    my Savior and my God.

6 My soul is downcast within me;

    therefore I will remember you

from the land of the Jordan,

    the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.

7 Deep calls to deep

    in the roar of your waterfalls;

all your waves and breakers

    have swept over me.

8 By day the Lord directs his love,

    at night his song is with me—

    a prayer to the God of my life.

9 I say to God my Rock,

    “Why have you forgotten me?

Why must I go about mourning,

    oppressed by the enemy?”

10 My bones suffer mortal agony

    as my foes taunt me,

saying to me all day long,

    “Where is your God?”

11 Why, my soul, are you downcast?

    Why so disturbed within me?

Put your hope in God,

    for I will yet praise him,

    my Savior and my God.

Week three, and satisfaction is still guaranteed!  Now our guiding scripture for this series has been John 6:35 when Jesus told the Jews, I am the bread of life, whoever comes to me will never go hungry and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.  I don’t know about you but to me that is the very definition of satisfaction.  

To never be thirsty again.  

To never be hungry again.

To never want for anything again.  

To never have to worry again.  

To never have to wonder again.  

To never be unfulfilled again.  

To never be in need again.  

And this proclamation is made by Jesus the son of the living God.  Meaning that it’s a promise that we can take to the bank, a check that will never bounce, and as I often say, there are sufficient fund in His account.  In other words, our satisfaction is guaranteed.  Week one I told you that our 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.  Last week I told you that satisfaction is guaranteed because God leads us.  God leads us because He has a purpose.  He has a plan.  And He made a promise.  This week I would like to flip the script a little bit.  Because this week our satisfaction being guaranteed is not based on what God does, but it is based on what we do.  This week I want you to know that our satisfaction is guaranteed because we long for God.   But here’s the thing beloved we cannot get our satisfaction until we do something.  You hear people say all the time, I’m waiting on God.  I’m just waiting on the Lord.  And the truth of the matter is that God is waiting on you.  He will supply all of our needs according to His riches in glory, but we have to do something.  

We have to get off the bench.

We have to have to get in the game.

We have to put our hand to the plow.  

We have to put in some work.  

We have to put forth some effort and He will meet us at your point of need.  So what are you saying Pastor Brian?  Let me show you.  Many of you know that I am an avid exerciser.  I used to love to go to the gym.  But COVID-19 caused me to create my own home gym.  So I am still getting it in.  It is such a part of who I am that if I don’t exercise I honestly feel bad and beat myself up about.  If you don’t believe me just ask my wife.  If I don’t workout, I feel as if I have cheated myself.  Because I understand that the odds are stacked against me as a black man, who’s genetic pool has left me with high cholesterol, glaucoma, back issues, and the possibility of high blood pressure, heart disease, and cancer.  So I am doing all that I can to live as long as I can for my wife and my children.  I was talking with David Clark last Sunday about exercise and when you start out you’re going to be a little sore, but you have to push through that, and keep going.  All of us need to take better care of ourselves through exercise and diet.  But here is the point I am trying to make.  Every morning Monday through Friday I wake up at 5:00 a.m., go to the basement or outside (weather permitting), and I run or walk about 5 miles and lift some weights.  During and after my workout I am extremely dehydrated.  I am extremely thirsty.  And I drink a ton of water.  What is your point preacher?  If I did not take the initiative to get a drink of water I would still be thirsty.  I would still be dehydrated and this would inevitably affect my health.  After workouts I long for water, and of course my Heavenly Father will provide me with clean drinking water, but I have to go and get the water.  He is not going to fill up my water bottle and bring me the water to quench my thirst.  That is something that I must do.  And I believe this is what David was talking about in Psalm 42.

This is a Psalm that describes a rough patch in the life of King David.  

David is going through.  

He feels down.  

He feels lost.  

He feels alone.  

He feels downcast.  

He feels abandoned.  

He feels low.  

He feels sad.  

Has anyone ever felt like this before.  

You felt like there was no hope.  

You felt like giving up.  

You felt like throwing in the towel.  

You felt like letting go.  

But then you remembered that you serve a God that is able to do anything but fail.  You start to go through the photo album or the scrapbook of your life and you seen and remembered all the times God picked you up and turned you around and placed your feet on higher solid ground.  And you begin to long for God.  You begin to hunger for God.  You begin to thirst for God.  This is where David is in the text.  He realized in his current situation that he needed God, but he did not just sit there and wait for God to come to him and change his situation he did something.  So what did he do?  

He remembered going to the house of God.  

He began to give God praise.  

He began to worship God.  

Because he knew as much as he longed for God.  As much as he panteth for God as a dear panteth for the water that he had to do something to get to God.  Just like the dear has to do something to get the water.  So the relevant question is if our satisfaction is guaranteed based on our longing for God, what do we have to do to quench our thirst?  What do we have to do to be satisfied?  I am so glad that you asked.

First we listen to God.  What’s that pastor?  Huh, I did not hear you.  We have to listen to God.  We have to follow his instructions.  There is a difference between hearing and listening.  I can hear someone talking but that does not mean that I know what they are saying.  To know what the person is saying you have to listen.  

You have to concentrate.  

You have to pay attention.  

You have to make eye contact.  

You have to take mental notes.

You should be able to repeat or paraphrase what a person said. 

Listening is more than just simply hearing sounds.  Listening is to give attention with the ear, attend closely for the purpose of hearing, give an ear. To pay attention, heed, or obey.  And this is how we must listen to God.  That is why Samuel told Saul in 1Samuel 15:22 to obey is better than sacrifice.  We can only obey when we listen to what God says.  We must listen to God and we do this in three ways.

We must listen to His word.  We listen to His word.  Now by now you should know how I feel and what I think about our personal devotional time.  But just in case you don’t know or you have forgotten.  We have to read the word of God on a consistent basis.  For man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.  Matthew 4:4.  So that means you have to pick up your bible, your, phone, or your tablet and read your bible every day.  

We have to chew on the word like a cow chews on the cud.  

We have to meditate on the word.  

We have to think about the word.  

We have to apply the word.  

We have to be real with the word.  

We have to analyze the word.  But here’s the wrinkle in the chitlin, we have to listen to the word of God.  We cannot be simply hearers of the word, we must be doers of the word, as James says in James 1:22.  If the word says go, we must go…

Not only do we listen to His word.  We must listen to His will.  I don’t know about anyone else in the room but I want to be in the perfect will of God for my life.  And sometimes this can be a hard thing.  I’ll give you a personal example.  When I finally accepted my call to pastor there was a church that wanted me to be their pastor, and to be perfectly honest with you this morning I really wanted to be their pastor.  

I wanted to be their pastor like a kid wants that shiny new toy.  

I started to dream about being their pastor.  

I started to vision about being their pastor.  

I started to plan how I would be their pastor.

But God never told me that I would be the pastor of that church.  And today I believe I am in the perfect will of God for my life which leads me to the third thing we must listen to God for.

We listen to God’s word.  Then we listen to God’s will.  And then we listen to God’s way.  Because I was in the word of God, I was able to know the will of God, and because I am in His will I can follow His way.  What are you saying preacher.  If I was not in God’s word I would not have realized that, that church was not for me, I would have gone against His will and became their pastor, and this would have prevented me of following His way of becoming your Pastor.  God does not make mistakes, Their are no accidents.  Because I listen to His word, listened to His will, and listened to His way I am your pastor today.  And as long as we listen to His word, His will and His way, He will order our steps every single day.  We must listen to God.

So not only do we listen to God, we learn from God.  You see  beloved when we listen we learn.  This is what I tell my students every single day.  That is why I only have one rule in my classroom.  Listen to the teacher.  Because if you do what I say you will have a good day.  God is saying if you do what I say you’ll have a good day!  If you listen you will learn.  Oh you gonna learn today!  And we can learn so much from God.  I mean, He is God, what greater teacher could their be?  We learn from God in three ways.

We learn from God’s wisdom.  You see many of us are intelligent and we have a great deal of knowledge, but wisdom is knowing how to intelligently use our knowledge.  And God’s wisdom is even greater.  That is why God was so pleased when Solomon asked for wisdom opposed to power and wealth.  And when people came to hear Solomon speak, the Bible says that they came to hear the wisdom of God, not the wisdom of Solomon.  But God’s wisdom is woven throughout His word. God’s shows us His wisdom through the Holy Spirit when He leads us and guides us.  God shows us His wisdom through the preached word of God.  All we have to do is listen and learn from the wisdom God shows us.

Not only do we learn from God’s wisdom.  We learn from God’s works.  Now I have said this time and time again, actions speak louder than words.  And I am so glad that not only do we learn from God’s wisdom, what He speaks to us.  We learn from His works, what He shows us.  Now I know that I am not the only one in the room that has seen God work.  

The fact that you woke up this morning in your right mind with the full use of all four of your limbs is the work of God.  

The fact that you can inhale and exhale, that is the work of God.  The fact that you have clean water to drink.  That is the work of God.  

The fact that you you have clothes on your back, food in your belly, and a roof over your head that is the work of God.  

And we learn from his works.  We learn how to love.  We learn how to treat one another.  We learn how to look out for one another,  we learn from the works of God.

We learn from the wisdom of God.  We learn from the works of God.  And we learn from the wonders of God.  Now the wisdom of God is God speaking to us. The works of God is God showing us.  And the wonders of God is God showing out for us.  

You see food on the table, works of God.  

Multiplying two loaves and five fish for five thousand people, wonders of God.  

Waking us up this morning, works of God.  

Healing us from cancer, wonders of God.  

Roof over our heads, works of God.  

Getting approved for the home loan, wonders of God.  

Clean water to drink works of God.  

Keeping you safe during the flood, wonders of God.  

Getting accepted into college, works of God.  

Graduating with honors, wonders of God.  

What do the wonders of God teach us.  

That nothing is impossible for God.  

That God can do anything but fell.  

That greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world.  

That we can do all things through Christ that strengthens us.  That I once was young, but now I am old, but I have never seen the righteous forsaken or His seed begging for bread.  

We learn that there is nothing that God won’t do for His children.

So because we long for God we listen to Him, because we listen to God we learn from Him, and because we learn from God we know that we can lean on Him… sometimes in our lives…. We can lean on God because He will never ever let us down.  

Your friends may let you down.  

Your coworkers will let you down.  

Your family will let you down.  

Your church may let you down.  

Your pastor may even let you down.

But your God will never let you down. 

So you can count on him.  

You can depend on him.  

You can know without a shadow of a doubt that He will always be there.  You can lean on God.  We lean on God for three reasons.

We lean on God for what He does.  We can lean on the fact that God always shows up for us.  He may not come when we want Him but He is always right on time. 

He provides for us.  

He protects us.  

He takes care of us.  

He meets all of our needs according to his riches and glory.  

He fights our battles.  

He covers us.  

He guides us.  

He leads us.  

He surrounds us.   

He watches over us.  

He loves us.  

We can lean on God for what He does.  Then we lean on God for why He does it.  Here it comes.  He does it because he loves us!  Say it with me for God so loved the world….  He does it all because He loves us, and anyone in the room knows that when you love someone you want the best for that person.  

You want that person to do well.  

You want that person to succeed.  

And I am so excited that God wants me to do well.  

That God wants me to succeed.  

That God wants the best for me.  That’s why I like that song by Marvin Sapp,  He saw the best in me when everyone else around me could only see the worst in me.

You see people see failure.

God sees success.

People see drop out.

God sees graduate.

People see bankruptcy.

God sees entrepreneur.

People see addict.

God sees potential.

People see drunk.

God sees deacon.

People see pimp.

God sees preacher.

People see promiscuous.

God sees prophet.

People see drug pusher.

God sees pastor.

People see loser.

God sees winner.

People see lost cause.

God sees hope.

We lean on why God does it, He does it because He loves us.

We lean on what God does.  We lean on why God does it.  And last but definitely not least, we lean on who God is.  Because of who you are I give you glory. Because of who you are I give you praise.  Because of who you are I can lift my voice and say.  Lord, I worship because of who you are.  Who is He?

Jehovah Jireh, the Lord will provide.

Jehovah Nissi, the Lord my banner.

Jehovah Rapha, the Lord that heals.

Jehovah Shammah, the Lord is there or is here.

Jehovah Shalom, the Lord our peace.

He is El Elyon, God most high.

He is Immanuel, God with his.

He is Yahweh.

He is the rose of sharon.

The bright and morning star.

The lily of the valley.

The balm of Gilead.

The way maker.

The mind regulator.

The will in the middle of a wheel.

The healer!

The deliver!

The refuge!

The strong tower!

The friend that sticks closer than a brother!

He is Jesus Christos!

The savior of the world!

The alpha and omega!

The father!

The son!

The Holy Spirit!

We lean on who He is!

As the deer panteth for the water

So my soul longs after You

You alone are my hearts desire

And I long to worship You.

I want you more than gold or silver

Only You can satisfy

You alone are the real joy giver

And the apple of my eye.

You’re my friend and You’re my brother

Even though you are a King

I love You more than any other

So much more than anything.

You alone are my strength, my shield

To You alone may my spirit yield

You alone are my hearts desire

And I long to worship You.

Does anybody long for God today?  

Does anybody want to worship God today?

Does anybody want to give God praise to day?

Does anybody want God in their life today?

Does anybody need God in their life today?

If so, what are you going to do about it?

Satisfaction is guaranteed because we long for God and when we long for God we will listen to God.  We will learn from God.  We will lean on God!

Satisfaction Guaranteed Part 2

John 6:35

Psalms 23

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.

23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Last week we began a series entitled Satisfaction Guaranteed and I expressed to you that if you live your life for Jesus, if you surrender all to Jesus, if you are saved, sanctified, and filled with the Holy Ghost your satisfaction is guaranteed.  Our guiding scripture for this series is John 6:35 when Jesus told the Jews who were asking for a sign, 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!  I told you last week that this 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.  I don’t know about you but I am so glad the God loves me and my satisfaction is guaranteed!  Well today I want to tell you another reason why our satisfaction is guaranteed.  Our satisfaction is guaranteed because God leads us.  One on my favorite authors, John Maxwell has said many times that everything rises and falls on leadership.  What this statement means is that something can be extremely successful or it can crash and burn before it begins and this is all based on the leadership in place.  We have all witnessed great leadership, and we have all witnessed terrible leadership.  But leadership is a tricky thing.  When everything is going well, you’re the best leader in the world, but the minute things start to fall apart you’re the worst leader in the world.  But a good leader gives credit to the team when things go well and takes the blame when things go wrong.  That’s what good leaders do. If you call yourself a leader and look behind you and no one is falling you, you are just taking a walk, according to John Maxwell.  I don’t know about you but that is not the kind of leader that I want to be.  But this is what I love about God.  He always shows us how to do the things we desire to do.  If you want to be a good leader just look at the way that God leads us.  In Psalms 23, David gives us an amazing picture of how God leads us.  And there are many examples of God’s leadership 

in the Bible, but this is the one He brought to my attention.  In this Psalm David is pouring out his heart about the leadership of his God.  He starts off by stating the Lord is my shepherd.  And what exactly is a shepherd?  A shepherd is a leader of sheep. So David is saying God is the shepherd and I am the sheep.  I could stop right there and end the sermon because if we could just get this idea, this philosophy, this truth engrained in our minds, bodies, and spirits our lives would be so much easier.  

God is the shepherd

God is the boss.  

God is the chief.  

God is the president.  

God is the CEO.  

God is the captain.  

God is the pilot.  

God is the general.

God is the the leader.  

We do not tell God what to do, He tells us what to do.  

God does not follow our lead, we follow His lead. 

The lord is my shepherd!  We are not His shepherd, He is our shepherd.  

We have too many chiefs in the kingdom and not enough indians.  Know your role and play it!  

Know your lane and stay in it!  

Back to the text.  The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want.  Because God is my shepherd I do not want for anything. He takes care of me.  He meets all of my needs according to His riches and glory.  He maketh me lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. There’s that word lead again. Even in the good times, the calm times, the peaceful times God is leading me.  Maybe that is why they are so peaceful, calm, and good, because God is leading me and I am following His lead.  He restoreth my soul:  when I’m drained and tired He restores me.  He refreshes me!  That’s what good leaders do.  They know when we need a break, and they give us time to refresh ourselves.  It’s like a coach giving the team a water break.  He leadeth me in the path of righteousness for His names sake.  

When I am down.  

When I am out.  

When I have fallen short God restores me and He leads me on the right path.  Not just for me, but for His names sake.  So that He receives the glory by what He produces in us. Yeah though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with my.  Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.  If God is leading us and we are truly following His lead, we do not have to fear anything.  He will take care of us.  He will comfort us.  Thou preparest a table for me in the presence of my enemies.  Even my enemies have to watch God bless me.  Thou anointest my head with oil.  His spirit is upon me, and my cup runneth over.  If I have His spirit the blessings are overflowing.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.  Because the lord leads me and I follow His leadership goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.  I get to spend eternity with my God and my father.  Someone say satisfaction guaranteed!  And here are three reasons why He leads us.

He has a purpose.  There is something that God wants to do in us.  There is something that God wants to do through us.  And all we have to do is surrender to His will and let the Lord use us.  Purpose is defined as the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc. 2. an intended or desired result; end; aim; goal.  There is a reason why you exist.  There is a reason that you were made.  There is an intended desired result or end and or aim for your life.  God created each and everyone of you for a specific reason.  Something that you and only you are supposed to do.  Look at your neighbor and say God created you with a specific purpose in mind! And because we have purpose God will do these three things with us.

He will proceed with us.  

Meaning He will move forward with us. 

He will go through with us.  

He will accompany us in the storm. 

He will go with us through the valley and up the mountain.  Where ever we go He will go.  

Wherever we are He is there also. 

We can make it because He proceeds with us.  

The Footprints Prayer by Mary Stevenson

One night I had a dream…

I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord, and Across the sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand; One belonged to me, and the other to the Lord. When the last scene of my life flashed before us, I looked back at the footprints in the sand. I noticed that many times along the path of my life, There was only one set of footprints.

I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in my life.  This really bothered me, and I questioned the Lord about it. “Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you, You would walk with me all the way; But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, There is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why in times when I needed you the most, you should leave me.

The Lord replied, “My precious, precious child. I love you, and I would never, never leave you during your times of trial and suffering. When you saw only one set of footprints, It was then that I carried you. He proceeds with us!

He proceeds with us.  Then He proclaims through us.  This is the essence of the great commission in Matthew 20:18-20…  Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” We are His vessels.  We are His mouth pieces.  We are His witness.  He proclaims who He is through us!

He proceeds with us.  He proclaims through us.  Then He prospers us.   Jeremiah 29:11 states, For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Prosper means to become strong and flourishing, to cause to succeed or thrive, usually financially.  Now I was hesitant to use this point because when people hear the word prosper they naturally think of prosperity.  And when people think of prosperity they think that they are going to get more money.  Now I’m not saying that God is not able to bless you with more money in which you can get more stuff.  Because God can do anything.  But this is not a name it, claim it, blab it, and grab it point.  This is if you follow God’s lead He will make you strong, He will cause you to thrive, He will make you flourish, and He will give you great success in the things of God.  What things of God are you talking about preacher.

His love!

His peace!

His grace!

His mercy!

His forgiveness!

His favor!

His anointing!

His power!

The things of God.  Our satisfaction is guaranteed because He leads us.  And because He leads us He has a purpose to proceed with us, to proclaim through us, and to prosper us.

But not only does God have a purpose, He has a plan.  Now the purpose is the end goal.  The plan is how you get there.  For example, becoming a doctor is your purpose going through eight years of medical training is the plan.  You cannot reach your purpose without having a plan.  I am so glad that God has a plan for us.  And not only does He have a plan, but he leads us though His plan.  He doesn’t just tell us to go. He leads us in the path of righteousness for his names sake.  It’s for His names sake so He wants to make sure we follow the plan to the best of our abilities so He does a few things to help us along the way.

He prepares us.  The plan is to prepare us for our purpose.  We hear so many times how people rise to the top in record breaking speeds and they soon fall because they were not ready or prepared for that level of success.  There was a plan to get them there, but there was no plan to keep them there.  Think about all the people that hit the lottery and they’re broke within a year.  Or the sports athletes that get the ginormous contracts and are broke within years of their retirement.  Think of us and how we sometimes live above our means trying to keep up with the Jones, not knowing that the Jones are trying to keep up with us.  That is why God prepares us, and He prepares us by taking us through.  This is why it is called the preparation process.  

The storm was preparing you…

The sickness

The ordeal

The set back

The drama

The bankruptcy 

The divorce

The loss

The hardship

All of these things were in God’s plan to prepare you for His purpose.

He prepares us.  Then He produces through us.  I told you last month Jesus said if I remain in you and you remain in me you will bear much fruit.  Apart from me you can do nothing.  God will produce fruit through us if we are following His lead. If you are claiming to be a child of God and you have no fruit you need to check yourself before you wreck yourself.  Because if there is no fruit you are just going through the motions.  What fruit are you talking about preacher.  Well you should be bringing people into the kingdom.  You should be touching lives.  You should be changing lives.  You should be helping people and building people up.  Fruit!  Here is a good example of having fruit.  When you’re gone people miss you.  When you are down and out, people want to help you.  When you die there are so many folks at your funeral there is no room to hold them all because you made such an impact on the world around you, and it had nothing to do with you, but everything to do with God.  God produces through us.

So God prepares us, produces though us, and then He proves us!  He proves everyone wrong that doubted us.  

He proves everyone wrong that thought we wouldn’t make it.  

He proves everyone wrong that said we would end up just like our no good daddy or our sorry momma.  

He proves the teachers wrong that told you, you weren’t smart enough.  One of my teachers actually said to me after I won the MLK scholarship, I didn’t know that you were smart. My guidance counselor told me that college was not for me and I should think of doing something else.  Well Mr. Widener, and Mr. Bowser I have a Bachelors degree in Special Education.  Hey Mr. Widener  I have a Masters degree in early childhood education. Hey Mr. Bowser I have a Masters degree in education administration.  Hey haters I have recorded 8 educational hip-hop cds.  I have a ministry certificate, I’ve earned my Church of God ordination.  I am the Pastor of the great Second Community Church on the Hilltop. And here is the best part I have two amazing kids and I have been married to the woman of my dreams for 18 years!  God proves us!

So God has a purpose, God has a plan, because God made a promise.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the lord forever. Because David knew that the Lord was leading him he could make this statement.  Because God was leading him and He leads us based on a promise.  The promise that He will never leave us or forsake us.  A promise that He made to us that He did not even make to His son.  Because He had to forsake Jesus on the cross.  But He never has, and He never will forsake us!  That’s why Joshua said not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled?  Our satisfaction is guaranteed because God leads, and He leads us because He has made a promise, which includes the following three things.

He protects us.  Is there anybody in the room today because of God’s protection?  

How many times has He guided you home after a long days work?

How many times did you not receive what you deserve?

How many times has He woke you up just in the knick of time?

How many times has He warned you about going to a certain place?

How many times has He had your back?

How many times has He covered you?

How many times has He controlled your tongue?

How many times has He kept you safe?

He protects us.

So He protects us.  Then He provides for us.  

We have the provision of God.  

We have the provision of the creator of heaven and earth.  

We have the provision of our father. 

And we all know that when daddy is involved everything is going to be alright.  

Because our daddy is a provider. 

Our daddy owns the cattle on a thousand hills.

Our daddy speaks things into existence. 

Our daddy holds the whole world in his hands.

Our daddy makes ways out of no ways.

Our daddy is the great I am that I am.

And He provides for us.  Why are you acting like you don’t know what I’m talking about?

Clothes on your back.

Food in your belly.

Roof over your head.

Job to go to.

Money in your pocket.

Full use of your body.

You’re in your right mind.

You’ve got all your marbles.

You have a pretty good life because God provides.

So God protects us, God provides for us.  Last but not least God promotes us.  The first will be last and the last will be first!  He pushes us to the front of the line. Now we all like to get promotions on our jobs.  That means a title, a better position, and hopefully more money.  

So we put in extra time for our promotion.  

We work extra hard for our promotion.  

We come early and leave late for our promotion.  

We dot all of our i’s and cross all of our t’s for our promotion.  

We train others and see them get promoted before us as we patiently wait for our promotion.  

But here is the thing about God’s promotion, there is nothing that we can do or have to do to earn God’s promotion.  He just promotes us because He loves us.  He promotes us because He has a plan and He’s leading us to our purpose because satisfaction is guaranteed.

Let me share a story with you…

The pastor’s church is called God Tabernacle. On a Saturday night several weeks ago, this pastor was working late, and decided to call his wife before he left for home. It was about 10:00 PM, but his wife didn’t answer the phone.

The pastor let it ring many times. He thought it was odd that she didn’t answer, but decided to wrap up a few things and try again in a few minutes. When he tried again she answered right away. He asked her why she hadn’t answered before, and she said that it hadn’t rung at their house.

The following Monday, the pastor received a call at the church office, which was the phone that he’d used that Saturday night. The man that he spoke with wanted to know why he’d called on Saturday night.

The pastor couldn’t figure out what the guy was talking about. Then the guy said, “It rang and rang, but I didn’t answer.” The pastor remembered the mishap and apologized for disturbing him, explaining that he’d intended to call his wife.

The man said, “That’s OK. Let me tell you my story. You see, I was planning to commit suicide on Saturday night, but before I did, I prayed, ‘God if you’re there, and you don’t want me to do this, give me a sign now.’

At that point my phone started to ring. I looked at the caller ID, 

and it said, ‘ God’. I just now got the courage today to call back.

Remember?

The reason why it showed on the man’s caller ID that the call came from ” God” is because the church phone that the pastor called from is God Tabernacle!!

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow

me.” (John 10:27)

I just want to know if there is anyone in the room today that wants God to lead them?

He will lead you out of…

Suicide!

Depression!

Grief!

Long suffering!

Unfair treatment!

Abuse!

Addiction!

Adultery!

Bad situations!

Jacked up circumstances! 

Dead end jobs!

Dead end relationship!

Unsafe environments! 

But not only will He lead you out of the bad stuff, He will lead you into the good stuff.

He will lead you into…

A great job!

A wonderful marriage!

A drug free lifestyle!

A happy home!

A promotion!

A Great friendship!

A fulfilling family!

A bright future!

A fruitful ministry!

A new business!

Another degree!

Lead me, guide me along the way.

For if you lead me I cannot stray.

Lord let walk each day with thee.

Oh lead me oh lord lead me.

We have to have a made up mind.

Where He leads me I will follow. 

Where He leads me I will follow. 

Does anybody in the room want to follow God this morning? 

Because He is patiently waiting to lead us.  

Our satisfaction is guaranteed because God leads us!

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!