Sunday, December 16, 2007

Rejoicing In the Savior’s Birth – Matthew 1:18-25

Rejoicing In the Savior’s Birth – Matthew 1:18-25
By Pastor Lee Hemen
December 16, 2007 AM

Each of the four Gospels begins differently in looking at the birth of Jesus. Matthew begins with Jesus’ family tree. Mark begins with a brief introduction followed by an account of John the Baptist’s ministry. Luke begins with the details of the Christmas story, focusing on Gabriel’s appearance to Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, and to Mary, the virgin mother of Jesus. John’s Gospel starts with a more theological introduction about the Word becoming flesh (John 1:14). Both Matthew and Luke included genealogies of Jesus, but Luke did not include a genealogy until after the record of Jesus’ baptism (Luke 3:23-38). While each is different view of Jesus’ birth, they all give us a fuller picture of the actual event.

People in our day and age look at the birth of Jesus differently also, but for different reasons than the gospel writers. Some think it is just a nice story that is related, kind of like the story of Santa and his elves at the North Pole. Others, see it as a myth or there are those who never think about it at all. Still others see the story of the birth of Jesus as one of the most significant events in human history: The Savior of mankind coming to earth to free people from their sins. For those who do it is a time of remembering who Jesus is and rejoicing in the Savior’s birth.

READ: Matthew 1:18-25

As human beings we always want things to go the way we desire them to. But life does not always go the way we desire, does it? In fact, within the story of the birth of Jesus we discover…

I. A Disturbing Situation! (Matthew 1:18-19)

1. God ways are not our ways! Matthew had already mentioned “Joseph the husband of Mary” in (v. 16), but now we learn that Mary had been engaged to Joseph. So Matthew took his readers back in time. Joseph and Mary had not had sexual relations, but Joseph had learned that his fiancĂ©e was pregnant. Betrothal was a formal Jewish agreement initiated by a father seeking a wife for his son and accepted by another father who desired the marriage of his daughter. Betrothal was as legally binding as marriage itself for the Jews. Fidelity was required during the betrothal period as it was in marriage, because during this period the couple were regarded as husband and wife. This is why sexual relations and living together under one roof were not permitted until after the marriage ceremony. Therefore, Joseph could be referred to as Mary’s husband, but Matthew emphasized Mary’s pregnancy occurred before she and Joseph had sexual relations or before they came together. This would be shocking for the family because unfaithfulness during the betrothal period constituted adultery. Betrothal could be broken only by legal divorce. Yet, we discover that Joseph was a godly man. He did not want to disgrace Mary publicly. He wanted to help Mary avoid public humiliation. According to Jewish law, a husband who discovered his bride was not a virgin on their wedding night could bring an accusation against her (Deut. 22:13-21). If the bride were not a virgin, she could be stoned to death! So, because he cared deeply for Mary in spite of what appeared to be unfaithfulness on her part, Joseph decided to quietly divorce Mary, in the sense of an out-of-court settlement. But God had other plans for Mary, for her baby, and for Joseph. God used a disturbing situation as part of His ultimate plan for all mankind!

EXAMPLE: God can take a situation that seems hopeless and make it into a wonderful thing. We never know what God can do with a life that is totally devoted to Him no matter what the circumstance. Dennis J. De Haan wrote in the devotional Our Daily Bread: “Grant Murphy of Seattle was the active type, a man who ran at full throttle. Idling and coasting were not in his nature. "One might even call him hyperactive," recalled a dear friend.
Then multiple sclerosis began to slow Grant down. First he needed crutches to get around. Then he was limited to sitting in a chair. Finally he was confined to a bed.

Near the end, he was hardly strong enough to talk. His friend recalls, however, that "he expressed only joy and thankfulness with a constant anticipation of being in the Lord's presence." Not long before he died, Grant whispered Romans 15:13 to a friend. He repeated the words "in believing," then added, "I can't do anything now."

It's when we can't do anything that God does everything. And herein lies a profound paradox of the Christian's experience. Faith is simultaneously an exercise of our will and the impartation of divine strength. And from that marvelous mixture spring joy and peace and an abundance of hope.

Are you in a totally helpless situation? Strength gone? All options exhausted? If you have trusted Jesus as your Savior, God will strengthen you to keep on believing. As you trust Him, He'll give you not only joy and peace, but also hope when all hope is gone.” Mary and Joseph were both caught in a disturbing situation that God could use. Are you?

Just when life sends us a bunch of lemons, it takes more than a lot of sugar to make lemonade. It takes some kind of direction for our lives. Within the story of the birth of Jesus we discover…

II. A Divine Direction (Matthew 1:20-23)

1. Following God means being willing to trust Him with the outcome! Before Joseph could follow through on his decision to divorce Mary, an angel appeared to him. God was in control of the situation and in fact the angel explained that Mary’s pregnancy was the result of the action of the Holy Spirit, not her unfaithfulness. This had to be a divine appointment for Joseph! Why? He had to understand why God would work in this way in both Joseph’s and Mary’s lives. Although the virgin conception of Jesus is a clear teaching of Scripture, it remains an ultimate divine mystery. We do not understand fully how it could happen, but we can accept God’s miraculous work. The angel announced that Mary’s Child should be named Jesus (Greek). This name means “the Lord saves” (literally, Yahweh saves) and is the same as the Hebrew name Joshua. Jesus’ name communicates His entire mission in life. He came to save us from our sins. Jesus’ conception and birth would fulfill Old Testament prophecy concerning the Messiah, the Anointed One to come. Matthew quoted Isaiah 7:14. The Holy Spirit inspired Matthew to understand Isaiah’s prophecy as messianic—about the birth of Jesus. Matthew recognized that Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled supremely and completely in Jesus. Isaiah’s prophecy included a reference to the Messiah as Immanuel, which means “God is with us.” Jesus’ mission involved demonstrating God’s special presence in human history. Jesus became human in every way like us but was without sin (Heb. 4:15). He is both fully God and fully man. God gave Joseph divine direction during a difficult time about his relationship to Mary and her unborn Son!

EXAMPLE: David H. Roper writes that “The gorse bush is a shrub that was imported from Europe and now grows wild in the Pacific Northwest. It has dense, dark green shoots, and in springtime it provides a dazzling display of fragrant, vibrant yellow flowers. But it's best known by hikers and fishermen for its vicious spines.

Remarkably, the flowers grow right out of the thorns.

Missionary and artist Lilias Trotter wrote, ‘The whole year round the thorn has been hardening and sharpening. Spring comes—the thorn does not drop off, it does not soften. There it is as uncompromising as ever, but half-way up appear two brown fuzzy balls, mere specks at first, that break at last—straight out of last year's thorn—into a blaze of golden glory.’”

So it is with our lives in Christ. “Just when our situation seems hopeless and hardest to bear, tiny signs of life appear that will soon burst into bloom. Take the toughest issue, the most difficult place. There, God in His grace can cause His beauty to be seen in you.” Just as God gave Joseph and Mary direction during a difficult time of their lives, so He can with you as well. The thorns of life may be tough now, but the blossoms of spring will appear. God wants to give you divine direction as well. Are you willing?

While every birth is special, especially to the parents. Some rank a little bit better than others in that the outcome produces something so grand as to almost be inexplicable. Within the story of the birth of Jesus we discover…

III. A Blessed Birth! (Matthew 1:24-25)

1. Jesus was and is more than a little baby born in a manger! Joseph obediently did exactly as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He did not divorce Mary; instead he took his wife home and loved her. We can only imagine what some of the local people must have thought about this couple, but they evidently did not care. They knew God had other plans for them and their baby. Matthew stated that Mary and Joseph did not have sexual relations until Jesus was born. The Gospel writers sometimes mention other members of the family. Mark 6:3, for example, refers to four brothers and some sisters. Mark 3:31 records that Mary and Jesus’ brothers came to see Him. We also know that his brothers James and Jude wrote two of the books of our Bible. Joseph followed the Lord’s guidance in marrying Mary, she gave birth to Jesus, the Savior of the world. It is interesting to note that Matthew did not report any resistance on Joseph’s part to the role that God had chosen for him. He too was content evidently to be God’s servant in this part of his life. At this Christmas season we should be open to God’s guidance in our lives. Christmas is such a busy season for most of us that we may not be sensitive to God’s message to us through a Sunday School lesson, through a musical program at church, through a drama, or through a chat with a friend. God probably will not send you or me a message via an angel or a dream, but He does give us direction for our lives in many other ways. What hinders you today in following what God has planned? Mary and Joseph were willing to follow God’s plan for their lives. In the blessed birth of Jesus we find eternal significance for our lives. Have you?

EXAMPLE: There seems to be a lot of “Secret Saints” for the Lord. Those who hide their faith and never allow it to be seen by others around them. This is different from those who could actually be persecuted for their faith. They have to consider the outcome of their outward actions. Should our service for the Lord always be out in the open for all to see? Or should it sometimes be kept secret to assure its success? This may seem like an irrelevant question to believers who enjoy religious freedom. But it's the kind of dilemma more and more people are facing as opposition to Christianity grows in our world today. Yet we find in the lives of those who were willing to openly follow their faith wherever and however it lead them, were always ultimately blessed because of doing so. Mary and Joseph could have suffered greatly for their decision to follow God instead of their fear of persecution. Jesus was and is more than a little baby born in a manger. He grew to be the Savior of the world. Within the story of the birth of Jesus we discover a blessed birth because of the willingness of a couple to follow their faith wherever it lead. Are you willing to?

Conclusion:

A disturbing situation, a divine direction, and a blessed birth.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Taking Seriously God’s Message – Jonah 2:10-3:10

Taking Seriously God’s Message – Jonah 2:10-3:10
By Pastor Lee Hemen
December 9, 2007 AM

Imagine you are leaving your motel room late one afternoon. You’re hungry and are meeting friends for supper. You notice a small child swimming in the motel pool. The child begins to yell for help, and you realize that the child is drowning. What would you do? If you know how to swim, you might jump into the water and try to save the child. You might extend a pole or some other object to the child who is struggling. In any case, you would do all you could to help. Emergency situations, such as a child drowning, usually evoke action. How many of us as Christians, however, feel a sense of urgency to help those who are sinking in sin?

The Bible clearly teaches that God judges sin, but many in our society ignore this teaching. Some Christians believe it to a point but doubt that God will truly condemn unrepentant sinners for eternity. Other Christians believe it absolutely but still feel no sense of urgency about helping others come to faith in the Savior. God wants, as we discover in the book of Jonah, unbelievers and believers to take seriously His message of judgment either by repenting and receiving Christ and/or by helping others receive Christ. It comes from taking seriously God’s message.

READ: Jonah 2:10-3:10

While Jonah was in the belly of the large fish, he prayed to the Lord for deliverance. The Lord answered his prayer, and the fish vomited Jonah onto dry land. Again the Lord told Jonah to preach to the Ninevites, and this time Jonah took God’s message seriously. Although Jonah apparently was not motivated by genuine concern for the Ninevites, he obeyed the Lord this time and proclaimed God’s judgment on Nineveh. What does it mean therefore to take seriously God’s message?

I. It means actually hearing the Word of God! (Jonah 2:10-3:4)

1. Hearing God’s command is more than just listening, it involves our response! While he was in the belly of the large fish, Jonah prayed to God. Jonah knew he had been disciplined by God for his disobedience and he called out to God for deliverance. The prophet soon realized that “salvation is from the Lord!” (2:9). God answered Jonah’s prayer in an unusual way. God told the fish to vomit Jonah onto dry land. Giving Jonah a second chance illustrates God’s patience and forbearance with disobedient people. God reiterates His command for Jonah to “Get up! Go.” (1:2) Believers today need to be reminded of the same command. God has not changed His mind about His people getting up and going. Previously, like we often do, Jonah had resisted God’s command, but this time he got up and went to Nineveh. Just as we should. It was not an easy thing to do. Jonah had to overcome his personal prejudice, physical hardship, and an unwillingness of heart to follow God. Jonah had been reluctant to preach to the Ninevites. God gave Jonah a second chance to share His truth in Nineveh; Jonah obeyed and warned the people of God’s judgment. If we take God’s message seriously, it means hearing the Word of God and responding!

EXAMPLE: Do you know that when my mother called me the first time to supper, she expected me to respond right away? In fact, if I was too slow in my response I often found out that she was willing to let me suffer the consequences of my actions. Surprisingly my mother saw my lackadaisical attitude as one of disrespect for her and her hard work. I now realize she was correct. The same is true for the Christian who is asked by the Lord to do His will but responds in their own timing. Taking God’s message seriously means His people, like Jonah, will actually hear the Word of God and respond to it. Have you ever taken God’s patience for granted, like I did with my mother’s? When has God given you a second chance to obey Him? Maybe this morning He is calling you to respond? If we take seriously God’s message, it means more than just listening…

Everyone needs to hear God’s message of judgment and salvation. During the Christmas season Southern Baptist churches collect an offering for international missions. This Lottie Moon Christmas Offering® helps support missionaries who take God’s message around the world. What have you done this week to help share God’s message of salvation with people of other nationalities? What does it mean therefore to take seriously God’s message? We learn from Jonah that…

II. It means paying attention to what God is telling you! (Jonah 3:5-9)

1. Paying attention to what God is telling you will lead you to a crisis of faith! The Ninevites’ response to Jonah’s message was amazing. They could have rejected this foreigner’s prophecy. They could have argued that their civilization was far superior to the Hebrew culture. In summary, the Ninevites could have dismissed Jonah and his message. Instead, the Ninevites believed in God. They reached a crisis of faith! The Ninevites demonstrated their repentance by two actions. First, they fasted. It is not the same as dieting. Second, the people put on sackcloth, a coarse fabric made of animal hair to show their mourning over their sin! As Jonah preached throughout the city, the response to his preaching was amazing! All classes of people heard his message of divine judgment and repented. They showed their repentance by their actions! Even the King was affected and urged everyone to call out earnestly to God! The result was that because the people repented of their evil ways, God relented from the disaster with which He had threatened them. “Who knows?” the king asks, “God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.” He hoped that their repentance would impact God’s decision to bring imminent judgment. Paying attention to God will lead you to a crisis of faith. It means paying attention to what God is trying to tell you!

EXAMPLE: Do you like it when the person you are talking to is not really responding to you at all? You know what I mean. They kind of shake their head in agreement, but the light is not really on. I know I am guilty of this, but aren’t we all? Think about it for a moment. If you had been in Nineveh when Jonah preached, how might you have responded to his message? In what way would you have repented? Being “sorry” for not really listening to God, does not gain any merit. The old adage that “actions speak louder than words,” holds true. The Ninevites had to do more than just listen. They had to take God’s message seriously. They had to pay attention, which lead them to a crisis of faith. How about you? Are you paying attention to God? How important is God’s message to you?

We know that God is indeed merciful and compassionate. God gave Jonah a second chance and He also wanted the Ninevites to repent. People of all classes heard, believed, and repented when they heard Jonah’s message. God wants all people to know Him. Salvation involves faith and repentance—turning to God and turning away from sin. What does it mean therefore to take seriously God’s message?

III. It means experiencing God’s wonderful mercy! (Jonah 3:10)

1. God also listen to us as we speak to Him and He responds in mercy! Notice the direct intimate response of God: “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, He had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction He had threatened.” God can see our thoughts and motives as well as our outward actions. The Lord was pleased with the Ninevites’ repentance. True repentance involves more than a temporary feeling of remorse or regret. When I was a child, I was often unhappy that my parents or a teacher caught me doing something wrong. Sometimes, however, I merely regretted that I had been caught or that I would be punished. I did not always experience true repentance. The Ninevites demonstrated their repentance by turning from their evil ways. Because Nineveh repented, God relented. He spared the people. He did not send the disaster (literally the “evil”) He had planned for them. Some Christians seem to think that God is always stern and judgmental in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament God is loving and compassionate. The Book of Jonah reminds us that God’s character is consistent. God always opposes sin but He willingly forgives repentant sinners. When we take God’s message seriously, we experience God’s wonderful mercy!

EXAMPLE: It's that time of year again when people think about God and goodwill more than they do at any other time. It seems that the nearer we get to Christmas, the more we notice that people have a willingness to express an interest in religious things. Both church attendance and church activities increase. Does this heightened religious activity really show that we honor the Lord? The Ninevites were very “religious” people, but they needed to hear a message from God. Like today, Christmas has become so transparent and commercial that the true message is perhaps lost to many who get caught up in all the hype of the season. Perhaps, like the Ninevites, we need to take God’s message seriously, repent of our sinfulness, and experience His wonderful mercy anew.

Conclusion:

What does it therefore mean to take seriously God’s message? It means actually hearing the Word of God! It means paying attention to what God is trying to tell you! It means experiencing God’s wonderful mercy!

Taking Seriously God’s Message – Jonah 2:10-3:10

Taking Seriously God’s Message – Jonah 2:10-3:10
By Pastor Lee Hemen
December 9, 2007 AM

Imagine you are leaving your motel room late one afternoon. You’re hungry and are meeting friends for supper. You notice a small child swimming in the motel pool. The child begins to yell for help, and you realize that the child is drowning. What would you do? If you know how to swim, you might jump into the water and try to save the child. You might extend a pole or some other object to the child who is struggling. In any case, you would do all you could to help. Emergency situations, such as a child drowning, usually evoke action. How many of us as Christians, however, feel a sense of urgency to help those who are sinking in sin?

The Bible clearly teaches that God judges sin, but many in our society ignore this teaching. Some Christians believe it to a point but doubt that God will truly condemn unrepentant sinners for eternity. Other Christians believe it absolutely but still feel no sense of urgency about helping others come to faith in the Savior. God wants, as we discover in the book of Jonah, unbelievers and believers to take seriously His message of judgment either by repenting and receiving Christ and/or by helping others receive Christ. It comes from taking seriously God’s message.

READ: Jonah 2:10-3:10

While Jonah was in the belly of the large fish, he prayed to the Lord for deliverance. The Lord answered his prayer, and the fish vomited Jonah onto dry land. Again the Lord told Jonah to preach to the Ninevites, and this time Jonah took God’s message seriously. Although Jonah apparently was not motivated by genuine concern for the Ninevites, he obeyed the Lord this time and proclaimed God’s judgment on Nineveh. What does it mean therefore to take seriously God’s message?

I. It means actually hearing the Word of God! (Jonah 2:10-3:4)

1. Hearing God’s command is more than just listening, it involves our response! While he was in the belly of the large fish, Jonah prayed to God. Jonah knew he had been disciplined by God for his disobedience and he called out to God for deliverance. The prophet soon realized that “salvation is from the Lord!” (2:9). God answered Jonah’s prayer in an unusual way. God told the fish to vomit Jonah onto dry land. Giving Jonah a second chance illustrates God’s patience and forbearance with disobedient people. God reiterates His command for Jonah to “Get up! Go.” (1:2) Believers today need to be reminded of the same command. God has not changed His mind about His people getting up and going. Previously, like we often do, Jonah had resisted God’s command, but this time he got up and went to Nineveh. Just as we should. It was not an easy thing to do. Jonah had to overcome his personal prejudice, physical hardship, and an unwillingness of heart to follow God. Jonah had been reluctant to preach to the Ninevites. God gave Jonah a second chance to share His truth in Nineveh; Jonah obeyed and warned the people of God’s judgment. If we take God’s message seriously, it means hearing the Word of God and responding!

EXAMPLE: Do you know that when my mother called me the first time to supper, she expected me to respond right away? In fact, if I was too slow in my response I often found out that she was willing to let me suffer the consequences of my actions. Surprisingly my mother saw my lackadaisical attitude as one of disrespect for her and her hard work. I now realize she was correct. The same is true for the Christian who is asked by the Lord to do His will but responds in their own timing. Taking God’s message seriously means His people, like Jonah, will actually hear the Word of God and respond to it. Have you ever taken God’s patience for granted, like I did with my mother’s? When has God given you a second chance to obey Him? Maybe this morning He is calling you to respond? If we take seriously God’s message, it means more than just listening…

Everyone needs to hear God’s message of judgment and salvation. During the Christmas season Southern Baptist churches collect an offering for international missions. This Lottie Moon Christmas Offering® helps support missionaries who take God’s message around the world. What have you done this week to help share God’s message of salvation with people of other nationalities? What does it mean therefore to take seriously God’s message? We learn from Jonah that…

II. It means paying attention to what God is telling you! (Jonah 3:5-9)

1. Paying attention to what God is telling you will lead you to a crisis of faith! The Ninevites’ response to Jonah’s message was amazing. They could have rejected this foreigner’s prophecy. They could have argued that their civilization was far superior to the Hebrew culture. In summary, the Ninevites could have dismissed Jonah and his message. Instead, the Ninevites believed in God. They reached a crisis of faith! The Ninevites demonstrated their repentance by two actions. First, they fasted. It is not the same as dieting. Second, the people put on sackcloth, a coarse fabric made of animal hair to show their mourning over their sin! As Jonah preached throughout the city, the response to his preaching was amazing! All classes of people heard his message of divine judgment and repented. They showed their repentance by their actions! Even the King was affected and urged everyone to call out earnestly to God! The result was that because the people repented of their evil ways, God relented from the disaster with which He had threatened them. “Who knows?” the king asks, “God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.” He hoped that their repentance would impact God’s decision to bring imminent judgment. Paying attention to God will lead you to a crisis of faith. It means paying attention to what God is trying to tell you!

EXAMPLE: Do you like it when the person you are talking to is not really responding to you at all? You know what I mean. They kind of shake their head in agreement, but the light is not really on. I know I am guilty of this, but aren’t we all? Think about it for a moment. If you had been in Nineveh when Jonah preached, how might you have responded to his message? In what way would you have repented? Being “sorry” for not really listening to God, does not gain any merit. The old adage that “actions speak louder than words,” holds true. The Ninevites had to do more than just listen. They had to take God’s message seriously. They had to pay attention, which lead them to a crisis of faith. How about you? Are you paying attention to God? How important is God’s message to you?

We know that God is indeed merciful and compassionate. God gave Jonah a second chance and He also wanted the Ninevites to repent. People of all classes heard, believed, and repented when they heard Jonah’s message. God wants all people to know Him. Salvation involves faith and repentance—turning to God and turning away from sin. What does it mean therefore to take seriously God’s message?

III. It means experiencing God’s wonderful mercy! (Jonah 3:10)

1. God also listen to us as we speak to Him and He responds in mercy! Notice the direct intimate response of God: “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, He had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction He had threatened.” God can see our thoughts and motives as well as our outward actions. The Lord was pleased with the Ninevites’ repentance. True repentance involves more than a temporary feeling of remorse or regret. When I was a child, I was often unhappy that my parents or a teacher caught me doing something wrong. Sometimes, however, I merely regretted that I had been caught or that I would be punished. I did not always experience true repentance. The Ninevites demonstrated their repentance by turning from their evil ways. Because Nineveh repented, God relented. He spared the people. He did not send the disaster (literally the “evil”) He had planned for them. Some Christians seem to think that God is always stern and judgmental in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament God is loving and compassionate. The Book of Jonah reminds us that God’s character is consistent. God always opposes sin but He willingly forgives repentant sinners. When we take God’s message seriously, we experience God’s wonderful mercy!

EXAMPLE: It's that time of year again when people think about God and goodwill more than they do at any other time. It seems that the nearer we get to Christmas, the more we notice that people have a willingness to express an interest in religious things. Both church attendance and church activities increase. Does this heightened religious activity really show that we honor the Lord? The Ninevites were very “religious” people, but they needed to hear a message from God. Like today, Christmas has become so transparent and commercial that the true message is perhaps lost to many who get caught up in all the hype of the season. Perhaps, like the Ninevites, we need to take God’s message seriously, repent of our sinfulness, and experience His wonderful mercy anew.

Conclusion:

What does it therefore mean to take seriously God’s message? It means actually hearing the Word of God! It means paying attention to what God is trying to tell you! It means experiencing God’s wonderful mercy!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Responding to God’s Call – Jonah 1:1-3; 4-12, 17; 2:1-2

Responding to God’s Call – Jonah 1:1-3; 4-12, 17; 2:1-2
By Pastor Lee Hemen
December 2, 2007 AM

Have you ever received a sign from God? Has God ever directly given you a message about what He wants you to do? A few years ago billboards in some cities had humorous yet serious messages from God. People often smiled at the idea of God communicating with us through ordinary road signs. Some people today, even some who believe that God exists, reject as absurd the idea that God wants to communicate with human beings, but we will discover that He indeed does!

Christians, in fact, know that God is real and that He communicates with us today. He speaks to us primarily through His written Word, the Bible. We also communicate with Him through prayer, a sermon, or during a quiet time alone with Him. Christians believe that God wants all people to know Him personally and that God wants to communicate through believers the good news about the salvation He has provided in Jesus Christ. Some believers, however, are reluctant to obey God in sharing His truth with people who need to hear it and respond to it. Jonah was one such individual. In these verses we will discover how we are to respond to God’s call.

READ: Jonah 1:1-3; 4-12, 17; 2:1-2

The Book of Jonah is part of the section of the Old Testament called the Minor Prophets. “Minor” referring to the size of the book, not the message they contain. There is nothing “minor” about the events in the Book of Jonah. They occurred in the eighth century B.C. and much of the story took place outside of Israel. We find that the Book of Jonah begins with the Lord’s commanding Jonah to go to Nineveh to preach against its wickedness. Jonah disobeyed God and boarded a ship headed to Tarshish. When responding to God’s call, there is a danger in…

I. Refusing God’s Leadership (Jonah 1:1-3)

1. Responding to God’s call requires our loyalty! The Book of Jonah begins abruptly. We are given very little information about Jonah. He is identified as the son of Amittai. The name Jonah means “dove” and Amittai means “true” or “loyal.” Jonah received the word of the Lord. How he received that message is not described for us. We do not know exactly how the Lord’s word came to Jonah but we do know that God communicated His message clearly to the prophet. The Lord’s message to Jonah begins with two commands. First, the Lord said, “Get up!” The Hebrew indicates a sense of urgency. Second, the Lord commanded, “Go to . . . Nineveh.” Nineveh, the greatest of the capitals of the ancient Assyrian Empire, was located on the bank of the Tigris River in Mesopotamia. And Third, God commanded Jonah to preach against the city! Can you imagine? A pious Hebrew going to a wicked city of people who hated Hebrews anyway to preach repentance! However, rather than heading northeast toward Nineveh, Jonah chose to flee to Tarshish. (Probably a seaport in Spain, about 2,000 miles west of Israel.) Jonah rebelled against God rather than following God’s leadership for his life. Jonah foolishly thought that he could flee from God’s presence. In refusing God’s leadership to witness to a lost city, it calls into question of where Jonah’s loyalty was.

EXAMPLE: We may say we love Jesus, but what excuses do people today use for not following God’s leadership in their lives in witnessing to others? Some might fear rejection by the persons they try to witness to about Jesus. Others might worry that they could not answer another person’s questions about God. Although Jonah is a classic example of someone who resisted God’s leadership, the Bible portrays others who willingly followed the Lord. At this Christmas season, consider the positive example of the young girl Mary. She quickly and openly submitted to her role as God’s servant in giving birth to the Messiah (Luke 1:26-38).

Why did Jonah disobey God? Perhaps he was prejudiced against the Assyrians, who were enemies of Israel. Maybe Jonah worried about his personal safety in the wicked city of Nineveh. Later Jonah stated that he had not wanted to go to Nineveh because he knew God would forgive the Ninevites if they repented (Jonah 4:2). Jonah wanted God to punish Nineveh rather than to forgive the city’s inhabitants! If he preached there, they might escape divine judgment. I find it humorous therefore that instead of the Ninevites facing God’s judgment, Jonah, in refusing to respond to God’s call, ends up…

II. Experiencing God’s Discipline (Jonah 1:4-12,17)

1. Discipline can come in various ways when we refuse to respond to God! Jonah perhaps thought he could get away from God, but God is Lord over all nations and all natural forces, including the wind and the sea. The storm was so violent that the ship seemed ready to fall apart. While the pagans onboard began to pray, Jonah was fast (literally “deep”) asleep! When the captain finds Jonah asleep, he urges him to pray to his God as well! The sailors assume someone is at fault and began to cast lots to discover who. God, I believe, allowed it to fall on Jonah. His disobedience was discovered! He openly confesses that he is a Hebrew running from God! Jonah’s testimony about himself and his God, startled the sailors. They were even more afraid. The storm had intensified, and the sailors’ panic was reaching new heights. Jonah volunteered to be thrown overboard. He is unwilling to go witness to pagan Ninevites, but more than willing to die for pagan sailors! Instead, they to row toward dry land, but the storm prevailed. These pagans then addressed a prayer to Jonah’s God. They acknowledged that He was in charge of the storm. When they put Jonah overboard, however, the storm stopped. Then the sailors “feared the Lord even more” (v. 16) and they worshiped Him. God is not done with rebellious Jonah though. God appointed or “provided” a great fish to swallow Jonah. Jonah began experiencing God’s discipline in refusing to respond to God’s call.

EXAMPLE: When Jonah disobeyed, the Lord disciplined him. God sent a storm to afflict the ship on which Jonah was traveling. Ultimately the prophet was cast overboard and swallowed by a great fish the Lord provided. God still disciplines His people today. Sometimes His discipline comes in the form of allowing us to suffer the consequences of our poor choices that result from the moral order He has established in the world. At other times He intervenes more directly in our lives. The writer of Hebrews noted that God’s discipline is similar to a parent’s discipline of a child (Heb. 12:7-11).

Jonah was in the fish’s belly three days and three nights. Jesus mentioned this time reference in His discussion of the sign of Jonah (Matt. 12:39-40). Our Lord compared Jonah’s time in the belly of the fish to His time “in the heart of the earth.” Jonah, like all disobedient children, needed to be disciplined when he refused to obey God’s call to witness. We find in Jonah’s example that we can either respond to God’s call or we may end up…

III. Submitting to God’s Authority (Jonah 2:1-2)

1. Confession is not just good for the soul, it helps us to respond to God! Jonah has nothing else to “focus” on but his situation! While Jonah was in the fish, he prayed. I cannot imagine what Jonah experienced but I do know about people who have turned to God in a crisis. Some do it out of sincerity, others out of desperation. Had Jonah prayed regularly to God before this time? Probably, otherwise I believe God would not have used him. Notice that Jonah called to God, and He answered. Jonah described his situation as being in the belly of Sheol. Jonah was as good as dead. His situation resulted from His own narrow-minded disobedience. However, God heard Jonah’s prayer and responds by rescuing him. Jonah had tried to run from God, but he experienced God’s discipline. We know from chapter 4 that Jonah continued to lack spiritual maturity. Nevertheless, his prayer in chapter 2 reflects a positive response to divine discipline. The Lord’s discipline led Jonah to turn to the Lord for deliverance and to submit to His will. Submitting to God means being willing to do whatever God asks us to do. God called Jonah to preach to His enemies. God might ask you to perform some other task. Whatever God asks us to do, we need to be ready and willing to respond to His call. It means submitting to God’s authority.

EXAMPLE: David C. McCasland writes that “In his book The Empty Church, historian Thomas C. Reeves says: ‘Christianity in modern America . . . tends to be easy, upbeat, convenient, and compatible. It does not require self-sacrifice, discipline, humility, an otherworldly outlook, a zeal for souls, a fear as well as love of God. There is little guilt and no punishment, and the payoff in heaven is virtually certain. What we now have might best be labeled Consumer Christianity. The cost is low and customer satisfaction seems guaranteed.’” God calls us to trust Him through faith in His Son Jesus and then to follow Him with a life of submission. Jonah needed to learn that in responding to God’s call requires us to submit to God’s authority.


Conclusion:

In responding to God’s call:
1. We are to follow the Lord’s leadership to share His truth with others.
2. We can expect the Lord to discipline us when we rebel against His leadership.
3. We are to respond to God’s discipline with submission, repentance, praise, and obedience.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

How Thankfulness Is Expressed! - Psalm 100

How Thankfulness Is Expressed! - Psalm 100
By Pastor Lee Hemen
November 25, 2007 AM

For some people being thankful is kind of like the story told about a 4-year-old daughter and her mother who were strolling through an open-air market. As the little girl stared at a large pile of oranges. A generous vendor took one from the pile and handed it to the little girl. “What do you say to the nice man?” the mother asked her daughter. The little girl looked at the orange, then thrust it toward the man and said, “Peel it!” Often, thankfulness is something we learn and grow into. How easy it is for us to respond to God’s graciousness like that 4-year-old. An attitude of being thankful is a mark of a maturing faith.

This time of year we are reminded to be thankful. What are some of the personal memories you have about Thanksgiving? Are they good ones? Perhaps we need to pause and remember what it means to truly be thankful. The Psalmist gives us a beautiful song of thanksgiving directed towards God that teaches us an example of how thankfulness is expressed.

READ: Psalm 100

I remember waking up early on Thanksgiving Day and finding that my mother had been up for hours. She would be busy heating the oven, preparing the turkey, making pies, and fussing over this and that. Dad would try to steal some tidbit of food and get his hands slapped. Ed and I would run around like the wild pagans we were. And, Laili would listen to her rock music until she was called several times to dinner. These are a few memories I have of Thanksgiving. The Psalmist teaches us that…

I. Thankfulness Is Expressed Through A Relationship With God!
1. The Psalmist recognized who God was: “It is He who made us.” David understood that “You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be..” (Psalm 139:13-16) God made us!
2. The Psalmist further recognized his relationship to God: “we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.” When he understood that God made us, the Psalmist realizes that this means we have a special relationship with Him. Jesus related, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27) Isaiah understood that God “tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young.” (Isaiah 40:11) What a beautiful picture of the relationship we enjoy with our Creator!
3. The Psalmist understood that thanksgiving also comes from knowing “that the LORD is God.” John would declare: “We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know Him who is true. And we are in Him who is true--even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” (1 John 5:20) Jesus prayed, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3) Thankfulness is expressed through a relationship with God!
EXAMPLE: Someone once said that “It’s not what’s in your pocket that makes you thankful but what’s in your heart.” Growing up, my family never had much. So it was with great anticipation when we celebrated Thanksgiving. Often, there would be very lean times but when Thanksgiving rolled around, there was always found plenty of food on the table! I never worried about it much growing up, I just knew everything would be okay. That’s what a relationship of trust does! Like the Psalmist, you are thankful because of your personal relationship with God!

Knowing about God is one thing, but knowing God is quite another truth entirely. Jesus said that you would know those who knew Him personally. (John 13:35 & 14:15) The “love” that we show the world is in how we live for God. Thankful actions come from the love that overflows in us from God Himself through Jesus Christ. The Psalmist would agree and tell us that…

II. Thankfulness Is Expressed Through Our Praise!
1. The Psalmist was willing to demonstrate his thanksgiving vocally! He asked that the whole world “shout for joy!” Psalm 32:11 tells us to “Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!” Over and over we are exhorted to “shout for joy” to the Lord in the Psalms. The word “towdah” in the Hebrew was usually used in reference to a choir singing loudly. It is kind of like when we would shout: “Ta-dah!” It is the recognition of God being in our midst!
2. The Psalmist asked his readers to “Enter [God’s] gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise.” Notice that this is a conscious choice on the part of the worshipper. They are being asked to “enter” with the perspective of “thanksgiving and praise” on their lips. It is so easy in our day and age to enter into worship with an improper attitude. Many want something from God, the worship leader, or the pastor’s message. Worship can only begin when God is recognized as the focus of our being there – and not ourselves and our needs or desires. God is worthy of our thanksgiving!
3. The Psalmist also asked that all people would “Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” Again, this is reflective of where our heart is and it calls for personal active participation. When God truly fills His people, it is with joy and gladness. Yes, there are times when we are called to worship Him in repentance and sorrow – but when it is a time of thanksgiving – it is always to be done with joy and gladness! Paul would say, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4) Why? Because “The Lord is near.” (v. 5) God draws near our thankful praise. Thankfulness is expressed through our praise!
EXAMPLE: Our Thanksgivings were full of laughter, talk, and fun. Of course there was lots of food! I grew up in a very demonstrative family. We hugged, we cried, we sang loudly. We enjoyed each other’s company. Do you know what I believe? I believe there will be a few surprised people in heaven when the rejoicing begins. Too often our worship reflects a funeral dearth rather than a wedding feast! Our actions reflect who we love. Our worship should be full of “shouts of joy,” “praise,” and “joyful songs” of thanksgiving to God our Father! Our actions speak about who we love. Thankfulness is expressed through our praise!

I honestly remember the first time I had to write a letter to Denise. It was one of the toughest yet satisfying things I ever have had the privilege to do. Here’s why – I was able to tell her just how much I cared for her. The Psalmist also teaches us that --

III. Thankfulness Is Expresses Through Our Recognition of God!
1. The Psalmist knew that God was “good.” God is good because He always seeks the best for His people. He is good because He is always holy. It is not a question of magnitude where we might ask, “Have you been good today?” Rather it is a statement of fact. God is good. That’s who He is.
2. The Psalmist knew that God’s “love endures forever.” More than being good, God also is love. And that love endures or lasts forever. Unlike our love that is quite often fickle, His remains the same and constant. The Psalmist knew that God’s “faithfulness continues through all generations.”
3. The Psalmist knew that God’s truth endures! The KJV states: “the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endureth to all generations.” God’s truth is sure. In fact Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Matthew 24:35) How marvelous to know that everything else is passing away, but God’s truth remains the same! Thankfulness is expressed through our recognition of God!
EXAMPLE: Did you ever pause and ask yourself, “What do I have to be thankful for?” In our day and age when you may have a tough time finding anything to be thankful for, you can always remember God’s character and be thankful for it. We all can get so caught up in the storms of life we forget the words: “Fear not, it is I.” We can get so concerned for the worries of unpaid bills we forget the words: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.” We can be so overcome by the sadness of the moment we forget to “Cast all (our) anxiety on Him because He cares for (us)!” As we remember God and what He has done for us, we can be thankful! Thankfulness is expressed through our recognition of God!

Conclusion:

A Slice of Life, by Edgar A. Guest

Dear Lord, accept our humble prayer
Of thanks for all thy watchful care;
For yield of field and vine and tree
Our hearts give gratitude to Thee;
Now lies the frost upon the vine,
We see another year decline;
But through the pain and strife and woe,
Thy blessings manifestly show.

Dear Lord, for laughter and for song
Which have been ours, for righted wrong,
For steps of progress we have made,
For all the works of art and trade,
For science which has conquered pain
And given hope where hope seemed vain;
For all that helps mankind to live,
This day to Thee our thanks we give.

Dear Lord, despite its pain and strife
We thank Thee for our richer life;
This is a better world for man
Than when this closing year began;
We who have suffered still can find
Proof of Thy love and mercy kind;
In all our works thy hand we see
And bow in gratitude to Thee.

The Psalmist knew how thankfulness is expressed: Thankfulness is expressed through a relationship with God! Thankfulness is expressed through our praise! Thankfulness is expressed through our recognition of God!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Three Areas of Christian Life - Colossians 4:2

Three Areas of Christian Life - Colossians 4:2
By Pastor Lee Hemen
November 18, 2007

How would you say goodbye to someone that you wanted to impart some good advice to before they left? You know what mean, kind of like when a parent sees their child off to college for the first time. What “wisdom” do you send them off with that you hope will stick in their minds for more than a nanosecond? In the verse we will look at this morning we find Paul doing just this. He is summing up his letter to the church at Colossae and wants to impart some kind of wisdom that would stick with them afterwards.

Jesus does this as well with His disciples. Jesus gave them the foundational truth for salvation and how they were to live as Christians. In a grand summation to the Pharisees, who wanted to entrap Him by asking, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus responds, not with a specific “command” but with a condensed summation: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…’ and the second is… ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments!” (Matthew 22:37-40) The Old Testament develops these two points of loving God and loving others! Meanwhile, we discover that Paul gives us a wonderful summation in three areas of Christian life. Let’s discover what they are…

READ: Colossians 4:2

Succinctness does not necessarily mean simplicity. While this verse is short, it carries with it a tremendous amount of discipline for the believer. The first area of the Christian life should be…

I. Prayer!

1. We discover that “One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When He finished, one of His disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” (Luke 11:1) Was prayer important to Jesus? I believe so. Jesus prayed at every major point in His life: At His baptism (3:21) and when choosing His disciples (6:12). He often prayed alone (5:16; 9:18) and also with others (9:28-29). He prayed for Peter (22:32), and in the garden before His betrayal (22:40-44). He even prayed on the cross (23:46)! So important was prayer to Jesus, He reminds His followers, “When you pray…” 1) Do not be like a hypocrite, 2) Do it in all humility realizing that it is a personal and private conversation with God, and 3) Do not “babble” on and on with vain words that carry no meaning for you or for God! (Luke 6:5-8) John was so impacted by Jesus’ teaching on prayer, he would write: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (1 John 5:14) Jesus taught persistent in prayer. Christians are to “seek,” “ask,” and “knock” in prayer! In fact, like a determined widow who seeks justice, Jesus asked, “Will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night... He will see that they get justice, and quickly!” He continued by asking, “However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” Meaning, will His “chosen ones” be in prayer? (Luke 18:6-8) Christians may not know exactly what to pray, but Paul teaches us that “the Spirit helps us in our weakness,” and “the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express!” (Romans 8:26) This is why later Paul would admonish his readers to “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12:12) The Christian life should be one of prayer.

EXAMPLE: Rather than prayer seekers, too many believers are prayer “plotters.” We are guilty of plotting our prayers to gain our wishes. Kind of like what James describes when he wrote, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (James 4:3) We live in a society that is motivated by what it wants rather than seeking first the kingdom of God. Selfishness rules the lives of many Christians. When I first became a believer, I wanted to be like the great Christians of the past who had made an impact for God in the world. So, I asked the Lord to make me like them. It sounded like a noble request, but I began to realize it was actually a self-centered prayer. I began to look where God was working and asking if I should join Him there. This is not an unusual thing for us to do. Often when we are young and immature we desire the prowess of others we want to emulate. It is sad however when all we desire from our prayer life is for God to become our personal. Requests for health, healing, success, or even spirituality are not wrong, but they can become selfish prayers if they do not flow from a heart determined to “seek first” His “kingdom and righteousness.” Seeking what God desires enables us to fully experience His presence as we pray. The Christian life should be one of prayer.

In this verse, Paul relates that the second area of the Christian life should be found in…

II. Being Watchful!

1. Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak. (Matthew 26:41) One of Jesus’ last requests was for His disciples to “watch and pray,” and sadly they could not and they fell asleep. It is a poignant moment but it also carries with it the reason why Christians are to be watchful. Evil desires a foot hold in your life. Jesus warned that “false prophets” would come in “sheep’s clothing,” looking and sounding good but in reality are like “ferocious wolves” on the inside. (Matthew 7:15) In fact, He related, “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.” (Matthew 24:4-5) Christians are also admonished to “keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come!” (Matthew 24:42) Which is the idea of us being aware of your faith walk and mindful that Jesus can return anytime and you “do not know the day or the hour!” (Matthew 25:13) But you are also to “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions,” (Luke12:15) because the things of this world can keep us from following Jesus. We are to “watch” ourselves concerning sin, especially if it influences others! We could cause someone to stumble and it would be better “to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around” our “neck” than to do so! (Luke 17:1-3) This is why Paul would say that as a Christian you should “Watch your life and doctrine closely,” (1 Timothy 4:16) because you can influence others with your words and actions! The Christian therefore should be watchful of their lives in Christ.

EXAMPLE: Too few Christians today stand guard over their lives. I recently asked our youth a simple question that involved physics: “If I take a roll of tape and drop it, what will happen?” I got several silly answers, until I told them to “be serious” and I continued to ask the same question over and over. Presently several of them related, “It will fall to the ground.” In fact, the law of gravity tells me that this is true. No matter how many times I dropped that roll of tape, it will fall to the ground. Some philosophers that will try to convince you that there just might be a time when it will not or that what you see is not actually what is taking place. However, no philosophical reinterpretation of the law of gravity negates the effect it has on objects. The same kind of nonsense is often tried by those who are not careful with their faith walk. Any excuse will do for them to explain their weak walk with God. This is why Jesus warned: “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father,” when He will return. We are to “Be on guard! Be alert!” Because we “do not know when that time will come.” (Mark 13:32-33) While we wait, Peter reminds us to “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) The Christian therefore should be watchful of their lives in Christ.

The third area of the Christian life should be found in…

III. Being thankful!

1. You are the light of the world…. let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16) Christians are to be the light in a sin darkened world. We do this through our attitudes and actions by allowing God’s Spirit to live through us. Paul would admonish: “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15) If Jesus’ peace rules your life, thankfulness will be evident in everything you do. “All this is for your benefit,” Paul would say, “so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God!” (2 Corinthians 4:15) Our entire life should be one that brings glory to God and praise to His name. When the Christian is outwardly thankful and generous with their lives, they receive a harvest whereby they are “made rich in every way so that [Christians] can be generous on every occasion” which “will result in thanksgiving to God.” (2 Corinthians 9:11) In fact, in the life of a Christian there should not be any “obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving,” (Ephesians 5:4) Paul knew that when an attitude of thankfulness permeated the life of a Christian, “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6) A Christian’s life should be one of thankfulness.

EXAMPLE: Many want others to be thankful to them, but few are truly thankful of the blessings they receive from others or the Lord. Thankfulness is an attitude of the heart that is a choice a person makes. You decide if you are going to be thankful or not. No one else can make you thankful nor can God change your thankless attitude unless you allow Him to. I always laugh when I read the final chapter of Jonah. In a sulky huff, Jonah goes and sits down east of the city of Nineveh that he wanted to see destroyed, but in His mercy God rescued. The sun is hot and Jonah is in discomfort from its heat, so God in His kindness grows a vine for Jonah for shade. “But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered. When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, ‘It would be better for me to die than to live.’” How pathetic is that? God reminds Jonah he has no right to be angry over something he did not create. How ungrateful! Yet, we are too often like Jonah. Angry with God and others that we did not get what we thought we “deserved.” In reality, we should be thankful for what God has given us. Our thankfulness should be expressed in all we do, think, or say. A Christian’s life should be one of thankfulness.

Conclusion:
The Christian should be found in prayer, the Christian should be found being watchful, and the Christian should be found being thankful. Are you?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Thanks—giving! - 2 Corinthians 9:6-15

Thanks—giving! - 2 Corinthians 9:6-15
By Pastor Lee Hemen
November 11, 2007 AM

Thanksgiving is about so many things in our lives. We carry with us the memories of family, friends, and loved ones whom we have spent the years with over mega meals of turkey, potatoes and gravy, and candied yams. Yet, for the believer, there is so much more to this holiday than a mere holiday feast. It should bring us to where we remember what the holiday was truly about in the first place: Thanking God for what He has done in our lives. It should be a day of thanks---giving for the Christian.

Within these few verses we will look at today is such a rich teaching on what Christianity is all about that I almost hesitate to begin. It is a daunting task but one that is sorely needed in our day and age. We live in an era whereby churches have become nothing more than emotional way stations for the unregenerate where they can come to feel good about themselves. Church is to be more than a spiritual pep rally! It should be a place whereby God’s people come together and are transformed by the renewing of their minds and are encouraged to live their lives for God. More getting than giving occurs within the walls of the average church building on Sundays. Christians have forgotten what thanks—giving is all about. Let’s find out what Paul taught on the subject…

READ: 2 Corinthians 9:6-15

Have you heard the maxim that relates: “You get as good as you give?” Well, that little ditty came from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians. It is an age old adage that you reap what you sow in life. This is true of your work ethic, school, family, and your spiritual life as well. There are many who think that their spirituality comes full blown when they come to Christ. This is simply not true. While a person is completely saved when they come to Christ, they are not completely trained to walk in Christ. In this, Paul teaches us an important lesson concerning thanks—giving.

I. In thanks—giving, we get out of it what we put into it (v. 6)!

1. Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously! The idea of reciprocity runs throughout Scripture and is a core biblical teaching. We find Jesus telling His disciples, Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38) This idea is found in not just giving your tithe, but also in your willingness to forgive others (Luke 6:37) and Psalm 37:21 tells us that “the righteous give generously!” Paul understood this principle and knew that a person who sows with a generous nature, reflects the love of God in their life. They will therefore “reap generously” from the respect of others and from the Lord. The motivation comes from a heart devoted to God. Christians are to “announce”” their giving, but in humble generosity give so that not even “your left hand know[s] what your right hand is doing.” (Matthew 6:3) Giving is not to be seen as bill paying, or as a “debt owed,” but rather a act of praise to God. If it bothers us to give regularly , perhaps we have gotten out of it what we have sown? Paul teaches us that in thanks—giving, we get out of it what we put into it!

EXAMPLE: We forget that Jesus spoke more on giving as it applies to stewardship, than anything else except heaven and hell. In fact the Bible speaks more about personal stewardship than any other subject. Don’t believe me? Let’s put it in today’s language. Scripture speaks to God’s people about ecology -- the wise use of land and animals, recycling – reusing what God has given us by meeting the needs of others, and investing by being wise with what we have been given in life. Denise and I determined a long time ago that we would give to God first. In fact, we decided we would try to increase our giving each year until we reached a place where we knew God would want us to be. I went from earning over $50,000 to $60,000 a year to earning less than $12,000 a year, after entering the ministry, but we never missed our giving to the Lord first. In our lives we have reaped what we have sown in this area. Missionaries have been able to go to the mission field, our church has been able to pay its bills on time, and we have been able to do ministry in the community. We both have learned that in thanks—giving, we get out of it what we put into it. Have you?

There are too many people who call themselves “Christian,” or consider themselves part of the “church,” yet they never give to further God’s work through His church. Fewer than 3% of regular “church attendees,” consistently tithe to the Lord. And yet these same people will want the church to provide individual ministries to them, their families, and their communities. There is no one who claims Christ that should not be giving back to Him! Why is that? Paul teaches us that…

II. In thanks—giving, grace should motivate our giving (v. 7)!

1. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver! The idea here is following up on the previous verse. Our cheerful, literally “hilarious,” attitude comes from God’s own gracious heart! How is that? The Bible teaches us that our inner motivation for giving should come from God’s mercy to the point that “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.” (Proverbs 25:21) Grace should always proceed our giving. God’s tender mercy has been richly extended toward us, how much more could we give in return? Therefore, we are to give to those in need, without announcing it or expecting any thanks for doing so. For what you treasure in life, that is where your heart will be. (Matthew 6:2-3, 21) Proverbs reminds us that anyone who takes credit for giving to God, when actuality they do not, is “Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of gifts he does not give.” (Proverbs 25:14) Jesus reminded His disciples, “Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:8) What we acquire in this life is nothing compared to what God has given us! This is why Jesus reminds us, “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26) Our joy should be made complete in our giving. We are to give thanks to the Lord for He is good, and in thanks—giving, grace should motivate our giving!

EXAMPLE: I have often said that “I have never met a dynamic vibrant Christian, that does not give to the Lord first. Never.” I have met people who have claimed they know Christ, but rarely give, begrudgingly give, or give out of guilt – and these usually are weak in their faith, struggle with their bills, only once in a while read the Word of God, and rarely pray except to ask God for some need. Harsh? I suppose, but true. I am often reminded of one elderly lady who wanted to give a gift to the church that I thought was way too much for her to give. In my “pastoral” thinking I wanted to protect her from giving more than she “could afford.” She put me right immediately and I never forgot what she told me: “Pastor, never take from someone the right to praise God through their giving. God has given me so much, what little I can give to His work is a tremendous blessing to me!” She taught me something that day I have never forgotten. It is the same thing Paul teaches here, that in thanks—giving, grace should motivate our giving.

This little lady learned something early on in her life that needs to be taught anew to today’s transitory Christian. Steadfastness in your walk with Jesus reaps rewards that the world can never measure. In fact, Paul teaches us that…

III. In thanks—giving, we receive a blessing that cannot be measured (v. 8)!

1. God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work! Is Paul talking about good deeds that save us? NO! Jesus tells us that we are not to “work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” (John 6:27) In fact we discover that “God ‘will give to each person according to what he has done.’” (Romans 2:6) Paul asks, “He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all—how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32) and the answer of course is “Yes, He will.” Notice that here in the verses I just quoted and in verse 8 in our passage today, the word “all.” “All things… at all times… having all that you need… [God] graciously gives us all we need!” WOW! And you ask, “Why giving so important to the Lord?” It reminds us of how much God gave us: “For God so loved the world that He gave...” (John 3:16) and it also reminds us how much God continues to give us each day: God “causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45) Oh how we so easily forget! In thanks—giving, we receive a blessing that cannot be measured!

EXAMPLE: Have you ever noticed that when you go to the beach, sand gets into everything? On your feet, in your clothes, on the dog, in the car, in your hair, and in places we sometimes cannot mention! What if we took all of that sand that has accumulated in all of those places and counted each grain of sand. I wonder what it would come to? Would you accept a dollar for every grain found and counted? I know I would! What if you picked up a handful of sand, placed it in a plastic bag and counted each grain -- would you accept a penny for each grain? Of course you would! Yet in all of the sand, on all of the beaches, in all of the oceans of the entire world, the amount of grains does not measure up to the blessings we receive from God when we follow Him with our lives. Those who do not, do not understand. Those who do, do. Why? This is why God told Abraham He would bless him like “sand on the seashore,” and David would be blessed “as sand on the shore,” and Israel would be blessed as “sand on the shore.” It was not just about the number of offspring each would have, but the magnificent promise of God coming true in Jesus Christ. All the blessings of heaven and earth are accumulated in Jesus. And when know Him, we enjoy every one of them! This is why Paul teaches us that in thanks—giving, we receive a blessing that cannot be measured!

Conclusion:
In thanks—giving, we get out of it what we put into it (v. 6)! In thanks—giving, grace should motivate our giving (v. 7)! In thanks—giving, we receive a blessing that cannot be measured (v. 8)!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

How Sin Affects God’s People - Psalm 6

How Sin Affects God’s People - Psalm 6
By Pastor Lee Hemen
November 4, 2007 AM

David was a man that was often vexed by troubles from his enemies. He often felt persecuted and sought to understand why this occurred in his life. We discover that David was not always the holy person God desired him to be. In fact, many of his problems were caused by his own stubbornness and guilt when he was caught in his own sin. David discovered that far too often, like most of us do, God does not like it when His people sin. We may wonder, like David did, where our grief, anger, or even frustration comes from and cry out, “How long, O Lord, how long?” However, if we take a close look at our own lives, compare it to this Psalm, we soon discover how sin affects God’s people.

What happens and what should God’s people do when they are caught in sin’s grasp? Too few people in our day understand the consequences of their sin and what sin will do in their lives. They shrug it off not realizing who they harm and what havoc they create in their lives and the lives of others around them. Here in this Psalm we discover not only what sin creates, but the answer for our lives when we are caught up in sin. Let’s take a closer look and find out how sin affects God’s people.

READ: Psalm 6

One thing I have discovered for my life that seems to be true for everyone: Sinning is easy, living a holy life is a lot tougher. Why is that? I believe it is because we hate to admit that we sin, and especially we hate to admit it to God! We fear what God might think. Here’s some news: God already knows! David gives us insight into how we all dread how God views our sinfulness, yet in David’s words we also find hope. David helps us to see that…

I. God’s people should turn back to God when they commit sin! (vv. 1-5)

1. “Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning!” Paul bluntly states. (1 Corinthians 15:34) Interestingly, in the Hebrew David actually says to God, “In Your anger, do not rebuke me or in Your wrath do not discipline me.” David fears what God thinks of his sin. This is a necessary thing for us if are truly seeking God in our lives. David’s words emphasizes the manner of the punishment. If God’s wrath against David were to continue, he could not survive. This is why he quickly asks, “be merciful to me… heal me!” Only in the “agony” of his sinful “anguish” could David find God’s mercy. We often have to look up and cry, “How long, O LORD, how long? Before we understand just how much God loves us! David then gives two reasons why God should answer: 1) The LORD should rescue him because of [God’s] unfailing love, and 2) Who praises [God] from the grave? The fact is “No one remembers [God] when he is dead. It is too late! When we sin we fear what God thinks about it, but He offers us mercy and forgiveness when we ask! David reminds us that God’s people should turn back to God when they commit sin!

EXAMPLE: “When will you learn?” was all my uncle asked me. I knew what he meant. I was on “parole” for not following through with what I had promised to do. I had not kept my word, even though others had. But more than that, I had mouthed off. Now I was suffering the results of my verbal and physical rebellion. And that is what sin truly is: rebellion. Saying “I will not” to God, and sometimes far worse: “Who are you to tell me what to do?” That’s’ what I had done. Just as my discipline came quickly, so does God’s. We wonder why these things are happening to us? “It’s not my fault!” we whine. Yet, He will not be mocked. We often wonder like David, “How long, O Lord, how long?” When we know what we should do all along. God’s people should turn back to God when they sin.

Being sorry for doing wrong is a far cry from being remorseful for our sinful condition. We are sorry for a number of reasons: For being caught, out of embarrassment, or as an excuse. Remorse carries with it a whole new meaning. David shares with us that…

II. God’s people should be remorseful for their sin! (vv. 6-7)

1. “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” Paul would wonder. (Romans 7:24) David felt the total effects of unconfessed sin when he tried to sleep at night. Have you ever felt so afflicted? Why does this happen? A godly person feels remorse when they sin. Remorse carries with it repentance. Repentance means turning from our sin and turning to God. Notice that David was “worn out from groaning.” He flooded his “bed with weeping” and his “couch with tears.” He was “weak with sorrow.” We discover the full impact on the life of one who knows what he needs to do, but finds it difficult. We are taught to “Kiss the Son, lest He be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for His wrath can flare up in a moment.” However, “Blessed are all who take refuge in Him.” (Psalm 2:12) Paul would ask his fellow Jews why “do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance? But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed!” (Romans 2:4-5) Wow! Repentance for sin must proceed forgiveness. Sin affects God’s people and we should be remorseful for our sin!

EXAMPLE: I could not just feel “sorry” for what I had done, I had to “think about it.” I hated doing that. I still can hear my mother saying, “Young man, since you are not really sorry for what you did, just sit there and think about it until you are.” Sit? Sit! Me? A full-fledged on the go boy, sit and “think” about what he did? While I did not realize what my mother was trying to teach me, I can clearly see now. She wanted me to understand that anyone could be “sorry” because they were caught, but true remorse only comes when a person fully understands the consequences of their sin. I can remember calling out to my Mom every five minutes or so, “Mom! Have I sat here long enough yet?” Her irritating reply was, “Do you understand what you did?” She would not accept my simple “Yes.” That woman knew what lurks “in the heart of a child,” and so does God. Sometimes, only “a rod of discipline” can drive it far from us. God’s people should be remorseful for their sin.

There are times when we can feel like God could not possibly love us or care for us and during these times it is easy to just give into our sin. However, this is simply not true, God does love us. Why then do we feel this way? Because we know the truth. In spite of ourselves, God does care for us, but He hates our sin! David discovered that when God’s people sin, it causes a spiritually stressful condition. Here in this Psalm we learn that sin affects the very core of our being and our immediate fellowship with God. David teaches us to see that…

III. God’s people should feel shame over their sin! (vv. 8-10)

1. “What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of?” Paul irritatingly asked. (Romans 6:21) For David, his “enemies” represented torment in his life. In reality that enemy was sin. God had “heard [his] weeping,” his “cry for mercy,” and accepted David’s confessional “prayer.” Why? When we view sin as it should be, our destructive “enemy,” then we begin to realize the consequences of our actions. David wanted nothing more to do with sin in his life and prays, “All my enemies will be ashamed and dismayed; they will turn back in sudden disgrace.” Evidently David’s foes saw his sin and were laughing at his predicament. Sin was David’s problem, not his other enemies. Sin is disgraced when we openly confess it and feel shame because of it. Only in our shame can we find ourselves cleansed. Sin should be so repulsive that we, like David, see it as the enemy of our lives. So much so that we feel ashamed of our actions and cry out to God for mercy. David would later sing, “The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles.” (Psalm 34:17) David had not originally felt shame over his adultery with Bathsheba, but when he was confronted by God, and later lost his firstborn son, he realized the extent and consequences of his actions. Later, his own children would plot to kill him. David’s shame would follow him. How glorious for us to know that “Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people” and “we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all!” (Hebrews 9:28; 10:10) David teaches us that God’s people should feel shame over their sin.

EXAMPLE: “Well, I am not sorry!” I defiantly declared, as I stood with my scrawny arms folded over my chest. (It is amazing how a five year old can be demonic in their rebellious nature.) My bottom hurt as much as my pride, and while my pride was still intact my father knew he had to get his point across. “You should be ashamed of yourself,” he quietly declared, “treating your mother that way. No young man ever treats their mother with disrespect. So, you have a choice to make. Either be treated as a young man, or lose the right.” My mother worked hard packing apples all day. Individually wrapping them to be shipped all over the world. She worked 8 to 10 hours a day in a refrigerated warehouse. It was hard, tedious work and I had made her day a whole lot tougher. I had been rude and was not very grateful for what she had prepared for supper. After being reminded of these “facts” I was ashamed of my actions. I slowly went in and told her so. David experienced the same thing and teaches us that God’s people should feel shame over their sin.

Conclusion:
The Bible reminds us that “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23) and that “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His word has no place in our lives.” (1 John 1:8-10) Now, how do you feel about your sin? God’s people should turn back to God when they commit sin! God’s people should be remorseful for their sin! God’s people should feel shame over their sin!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The King of Glory - Psalm 24

The King of Glory - Psalm 24
October 28, 2007 AM
By Pastor Lee Hemen

Looking up a family’s history has become quite an obsession for many today. Whole web sites are devoted to it and there is even a myriad of software you can purchase for you to investigate your own family’s history. Why? I believe sometimes it is because we are so dissatisfied with our own lives that we look in other places to discover some meaning. Perhaps lost royalty, a past President, bandit, or Indian chieftain that we can cling to that would bring some kind of a sense of importance to our existence. Sadly what we find is just a whole lot of reality. Now before you get your historical buns in a snit, I am not saying it is necessarily a bad thing researching your ancestors, because knowing where you come from can help in knowing who you are.

The Christian has a rich heritage indeed. We do not have to look very far afield to discover our royal roots. In fact, we soon find that we are all adopted and the lost children of the King of Glory. Who is this King of Glory? Well I am glad you asked! When we look at the Shepherd’s Psalm, Psalm 23, we often forget to go any further and read the next one in line. Here in these 10 verses of David we find our heritage and discover some wonderful truths concerning the King of Glory as we ask a few specific questions. Let find out what the answers are as we look at the King of Glory.

READ: Psalm 24

Our world today hardly recognizes anything past its own wants and desires. Life is encouraged to be lived for the moment rather than thinking about the future consequences of our present actions. When we focus on ourselves to the point where we forget whose universe this is in the first place, we will remain stunted in our worldview. David dared to ask the question…

I. Who is the King of Glory? (vv. 1-2)

1. The One in which everything belongs! The one who owns everything has exclusive rights to do with it as He wishes. David makes it plain that “The earth is the LORD’S, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it!” Far too often we, as His creation, forget the fact that God alone “founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.” David reminds us of the basis for all that exists, whether it is created physical things like planets or plants, animals or stars, mankind or moons! Herein is the intrinsic truth that in all things that exist, God’s ownership is indelibly stamped! “The King of Glory” is the not just the owner, He is the Creator of all things! The very last words Jesus left us with was His pronouncement that “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18) Jesus taught His ownership is complete in that “All that belongs to the Father is mine.” (John 16:15) and we learn Jesus was “appointed heir of all things, and through whom [God] made the universe!” (Hebrews 1:2) All things then are Christ's, in respect of creation: “Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made;” (John 1:3) and in respect of sustaining all things: “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word.” (Hebrews 1:3a) Who is the King of Glory? The King of Glory is Jesus Christ and everything belongs to Him!

EXAMPLE: It is said that Chrysostom, suffering under the Empress Eudoxia, tells his friend Cyriacus how he armed himself beforehand: “I thought, will she banish me? 'The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof.' Take away my goods? 'Naked came I into the world, and naked must I return.' Will she stone me? I remembered Stephen. Behead me? John Baptist came into my mind,” and thus it should be with everyone who claims Christ as their Savior and Lord. If He indeed is Lord of your life, then He has the rights to it. He owns it like everything else He has created. It is His alone to do with as He desires. The believer finds rest in Jesus when they realize that they are “not their own,” they are “bought with price!” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) Christians therefore must honor God with all that they are (v. 20)! Who is the King of Glory? The one who paid the price, created you, and owns all that there is – Jesus Christ!

How can one whose life is so full of filth even dare enter where a Holy God abides? The stark reality is even more arresting than that. What we might dare ask, if we were to consider the truth of our lives and the purity of God, is like David did so long ago when he asked…

II. Who can worship the King of Glory? (vv. 3-4)

1. Only those who have a right to be in the throne room! David asked two perplexing questions that the “common man,” who dares not enter into the presence of true royalty, often asks. Here it refers to the Temple: “Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in His holy place?” Who indeed? The Jews would sing this as they slowly walked up the hill to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, knowing that deep down inside they were not really worthy to even walk on the road that lead up the hill where they would worship God! The answer, perhaps echoed back in response by the priests, is that only one whose conduct is “pure” and whose worship is faithful. “Clean hands” refers to right actions, and a “pure heart” refers to a right attitude and will. Only the one “who does not lift up his soul to an idol” by corrupting their worship or those who would dare “swear by what is false!” Praise God that Jesus reminds us that “No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.” (John 3:13) He has gone before us! Hebrews relates that “After He had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” (Hebrews 1:3b) Paul would write that “In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” (Ephesians 3:12) Who can worship the King of Glory? Only those who have a right to be in the throne room! Guess what? You have that right if you know Jesus as the King of Glory!

EXAMPLE: We often hear of the salvation Jesus provided when He died for our sins, yet little is said of His continuing ministry of prayer for us! Just as Jesus prayed for Peter in a time of severe temptation (Luke 22:31-32), so also He intercedes before the Father's throne on our behalf! Robert McCheyne, a beloved Scottish minister of the 19th century, wrote, ‘If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet the distance makes no difference. He is praying for me!’ I must confess that during a deep personal crisis, I realized the truth that “Such a high priest meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.” (Hebrews 7:26-27) It was profound. When Satan seemed to be attacking me on every side, I asked Jesus to intercede for me. The very next moment the problem was resolved, and I knew it was the Lord's intervention. Never before had I been so conscious of the Savior's high-priestly ministry! Who can worship the King of Glory? Only those who have a right to be in the throne room!

The wonderful truth of salvation is not just found in the future of an eternal home. It is discovered most graciously in the here and now by our need of Him. And David most wonderfully gives us a glimpse of this beautiful truth as he asks…

III. What can we receive from the King of Glory? (vv. 5-6)

1. Only those gifts the King wants to freely give us! David promises us that “the generation of those who seek” the King of Glory, who truly “seek” His “face… will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God his Savior!” Jesus told His disciples to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well…. Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 6:33; 7:7-8) This is not some “name-it-and-claim-it” sloganeering, but the eternal truth that the King of Glory desires to give His children the blessings He has promised! Jesus told us to “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32) and that “my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:40) Paul would say, “He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all—how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32) James tells us that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17) What can we receive from the King of Glory? Only those gifts the King wants to freely give us! We receive the “blessing” of eternal life and the “vindication” of our sins from Jesus Christ!

EXAMPLE: What is the best gift you could give a child? That is a different question than, “What would you leave your children?” or “What is the best gift you have ever received?” It speaks to us of future generations. Some think that by being good stewards of the earth, we will leave an unpolluted environmentally friendly future for our offspring. Others think that by investing wisely with the fortune we have acquired will insure our inheritance will be used by those who come after us. Still there are those who think that by passing down bits of wisdom or education, that this will insure a wise and knowledgeable foundation for instructing future students. While all these are worthy of consideration, only one choice remains the definitive answer and hope for the world and its human inhabitants. Only that gift which the King of Glory has given us will have eternal significance for all time. It is truly a matter of life and death for millions of our unborn progeny. It is the gift of eternal life. What can we receive from the King of Glory? Only those gifts the King wants to freely give us! “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Conclusion:
When we answer the questions: Who is the King of Glory? Who can worship the King of Glory? What can we receive from the King of Glory? With David we can truly sing:

7 Lift up your heads, O you gates;
be lifted up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
8 Who is this King of glory?
The LORD strong and mighty,
the LORD mighty in battle.
9 Lift up your heads, O you gates;
lift them up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is He, this King of glory?
The LORD Almighty—
He is the King of glory.