A GRENADE PROOF FAITH
WHAT TIME IS IT?
The 2003 Update in View of the Space Shuttle Disaster
THE BUILDING IS SAFE!
The Remembrance and Challenge of 9/11
OF CROOKED RIVERS AND MEN
LIVING IN LOVE
THE SUPERBOWL OF LIFE
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present
your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your
reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed
by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that
good and acceptable and perfect will of God. - Romans 12:1-2.
INTRO: We are fortunate in the USA to have so many dedicated self-sacrificing
1. Whenever I am around them I marvel at their dedication and the number of
hours they work each week.
2. Every day while I was hospitalized the doctor made it back by to see how
his patient was doing even on the weekend and even on a holiday.
(1. Most days his nurse practitioner would be by as well to keep up
with my progress.
3. One evening we had waited until 10pm and the doctor had not yet come by.
My wife decided she would go to the waiting room down the hall and
find something to eat.
(1. Dr. Zuerker saw her leaving and joked, “You gave up on me didn’t
4. We talked with two older nurses that shared they had been working as
nurses for forty years.
5. After having experienced their care and level of expertise I could only be
amazed that they were still working and had such joy in their work and
not talking of retirement.
6. A much younger nurse said at the mention of the older nurses having forty
years of service, “forty years?” “Forty years?” “I can’t do this
for forty years, its too hard.”
7. I know I couldn’t do it for forty years either because it seemed to be an
extremely difficult way to make a living.
8. What made the difference between the older nurses and the younger nurses?
9. They didn’t say but reading between the lines it appears to be a sense of
calling along with a desire to serve; a sense of self-sacrifice. A
willing ness to sacrifice. Even a joy in sacrifice.
10. The two older nurses had an understanding of sacrifice because to still
be working in such a difficult profession they would have needed to
make many sacrifices.
(1. It is this type of sacrifice, and all consuming sacrifice of our
lives that the apostle Paul was speaking of in Romans 12:1.
11. Of course, we will face periods of discouragement even when we love our
career or profession. Paul was using it in terms of living our lives
as children of God.
I. I like that the apostle uses the term “reasonable.” It is only reasonable
that we experience some sacrifices in living the Christian life
(1. - we have the example of our Lord giving the greatest sacrifice
1. Any sacrifice that I can make or that you can make pales in comparison to
that of our Lord Jesus.
(1. Who suffered and died on the cross taking the weight of all sins
past, present, and future upon Himself.
(2. As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For He made Him who knew
no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of
God in Him.”
2. In light of the sacrifice of our Lord - whatever sacrifice or sacrifices
we may make with our lives in living our the Christian life is
3. Whenever we feel discouraged in our careers, or professions, or jobs I
believe it would help us to remember that our entire lives should be lived
out in sacrifice to our Lord.
4. Our lives should be “living sacrifice(s),” “holy,” and “acceptable” -
uncomformed (Romans 12:2a) to this world.
5. Our lives should be a living sacrifice to the extent that it causes others
looking at our lives to pause and marvel at our level of dedication
and service. At our sacrifice.
6. In the marveling there should be something that will indicate that we
belong to God and this is the reason for our sacrifice bringing glory to Him.
7. I do not know whether the two older nurses were Christians but I pray that
they are - they appeared to be Christians in the way they were living
(1. If they had mentioned their faith in Christ I would have readily
understood their sacrifice.
8. Let us always be willing not only to live our faith out through our
sacrifices but also through our verbal testimony whenever and wherever we
may have the opportunity (I am preaching to myself again!).
9. The apostle also wrote in the book of Romans: “For I am not ashamed of
the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for
everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek (Romans 1:16).”
(1. Which is very similar to what Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:20.
Just prior to Paul saying, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be
sin for us” -
1. Paul said, “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as
though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be
reconciled to God.”
10. Paul says he is not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Not only is
he not ashamed of the Gospel - Paul says he and we are ambassadors for
Christ - He says, “we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to
II. Paul says he is not ashamed - Have you ever been ashamed of the Gospel of
1. Maybe it wasn’t anything you said. Most likely it wasn’t anything you
said but what you didn’t say that indicates how ashamed you were of your Lord.
2. You ran into someone down here at the store you knew you should invite to
church but you couldn’t bring yourself to do it.
(1. Or, it may have been a the post office that a friend, neighbor
came in at the same time
1. but instead of grabbing the opportunity you chose to
remain silent and wait for another time to invite them to church or share
your testimony of how much Christ really means to you.
3. Silence is not the only way that indicate our being ashamed of the Gospel
although it is a close partner.
4. Think about Peter. Why Peter? Remember the rooster crowing? The denying
of Christ three times?
5. Not only did Peter deny Christ but he also tried to cover up that he was a
disciple of Jesus by the language he used.
(1. Matthew 26:73-75, And a little later those who stood by came up
and said to Peter, "Surely you also are one of them, for your speech
betrays you." Then he began to curse and swear, saying, "I do not
know the Man!" Immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the
word of Jesus who had said to him, "Before the rooster crows, you will
deny Me three times." So he went out and wept bitterly.
6. Have you ever done what Peter did? You try to cover up that you are a
Christian by acting like a Christian wouldn’t act or by cursing and swearing
hoping they will not realize you are a Christian?
7. The fact is that our lives cannot be a living sacrifice if we are ashamed
of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Don’t fool yourself!
III. Instead of being ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ the apostle Paul
makes it clear that the opposite should be the case.
1. Instead of hiding, or disguising your faith you should go beyond being
just a mere spokesperson for Christ or sometime representative of Christ.
(1. No, God expects us to do what is only “reasonable” concerning the
great sacrifice of our Lord and become His ambassador.
(2. Just as Matthew wrote in the beatitudes we need to take the
bucket off the top of the candle and let it shine.
1. Let your faith shine like a city set on a hill all lit up
2. Let’s look at those two verses in 2 Corinthians 5:20-21 again, Now then,
we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through
us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made
Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the
righteousness of God in Him.
3. The dictionary says of this word “ambassador” - A diplomatic official of
the highest rank appointed and accredited as representative in
residence by one government or sovereign to another, usually for a
specific length of time.
4. In each country with which the United States has full diplomatic relations
there is an ambassador from our country to that country.
(1. An ambassador is of the highest rank - there is no higher
representative of our country in another country then an ambassador.
5. Since the beginning of our country it has been a prestigious thing to be
an ambassador from this country to another.
(1. Relatively few people have actually had the opportunity to serve
as an ambassador of the United States of America.
6. We live in a great country but if you know Christ as your Savior your real
citizenship has already been transferred literally out of this world
and into the Kingdom of Heaven.
7. Paul writes in Philippians 3:20-21, “For our citizenship is in heaven,
from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who
will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious
body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all
things to Himself.” - our citizenship is in heaven.
Paul is proud of his Roman citizenship.
But prouder of his citizenship in Heaven.
8. Not only are you an ambassador you are a representative of the greatest
Kingdom of all. Your Lord and Master is the King of kings, and
the Lord of lords.
9. You are a privileged person! You are a blessed person! You have been
given a position of great honor!
10. When an ambassador from the United States of America visits the
government of another country - do you think that ambassador speaks with
(1. Do you think that ambassador tries to hide his credentials? Do
you think that ambassador tries to cover up by word or deed that they are
from the United States?
(2. Do you think that ambassador bows down before another countries’
leaders? Never! Never! Never! Never! Never!
11. And neither should you friend in representing the Kingdom of Heaven.
(1. When serving as an ambassador it is time to present your
(2. Let them know who you are; what you are; and Whom you represent.
12. Have no fear of them in the world (1 John 4:4) - because you are an
ambassador of the greatest of all - with the full force and authority of all
of Heaven standing behind every word you say, and everything you do.
If you are speaking and acting in the Name of Jesus.
13. The fact is that our lives cannot be a living sacrifice if we are ashamed
of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
(1. If you are not willing to be true ambassador from Heaven above to
earth below. Don’t fool yourself!
(2. Unless you are willing to stand up and speak up for the Lord
Jesus your life is not a living sacrifice. Don’t fool yourself!
IV. CODE BLUE ROOM ### CODE BLUE ROOM ### CODE BLUE ROOM ### CODE BLUE ROOM ###
1. It happened the last night of my stay in the hospital about 1am. CODE
BLUE ROOM ### The person in the room across the hall was dead.
2. They tried to revive him but it was too late and death had come. Jeanie
had spoken with the family a few times and enjoyed visiting with
(1. I never met them because I was all tied down in my bed and unabl
e to even make it to the door way without help.
3. But I had heard the family visiting across the hall. I had heard them
laughing and enjoying each other’s company. They sounded much like my own
family when we all are able to get together.
4. But now the laughter was replaced by tears, sobs. Those sobs seemed to go
on forever. I wanted to get up and extend some comfort. I wondered
where the chaplain was.
(1. All I could do was pray - and so I prayed, and prayed, and prayed
until finally about 3:30am the sobbing finally stopped.
5. My nurse shared with me a few minutes later that the chaplain was delayed
by more bad news somewhere else before arriving at our hospital.
(1. After arriving home I read of another person who had also died
that same day in that same hospital. Most likely there were others who
died as well.
6. Do you remember the death and resurrection of Lazarus?
“Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet,
saying to Him, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not
have died." Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came
with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. And He
said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to Him, "Lord, come and see."
Jesus wept (John 11:32-35).”
7. Lazarus too came from a good family. It was a family that enjoyed getting
together with some friends and having a good time laughing and
talking with each other.
(1. But in spite of the goodness of the family - death had still
8. As the Psalmist asks, “What man can live and not see death? Can he deliver
his life from the power of the grave?”
9. The fact is that unless the Lord comes in the clouds soon we will all see
death (Hebrews 9:27). Is there any person, in all the world that can deliver
themselves from death, from the power of the grave?
10. I searched to find how old the oldest person was when they died but could
not find the record for sure. I did see several people lived into
11. We know people are living longer these days and I’ve personally known of
some people who lived beyond 100 years of age.
(1. There is apparently a couple that was actually married 100 years
before the husband died.
12. I’ve never heard of anyone living into their 150s in modern times. We do
know that life can to some extent be extended by good diets, miraculous
medicines, and the grace of God.
13. We also know that in the Bible in the book of Genesis there were several
people who lived long lives. Methuselah was the longest lived
person of all. The Bible says, “So all the days of Methuselah were nine
hundred and sixty-nine years; and he died.”
(1. What happened to all these long lived people? They
14. We need to remember that we need a Savior - the world needs a Savior. We
cannot save ourselves. We need to remember that unless the rapture
occurs we shall all die.
(1. But the Good News is that we have a Savior who is supernaturally
able to give us eternal life. As Jesus said to Martha, "I
am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though
he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me
shall never die (John 11:25-26).”
15. Jesus then asks Martha the key question for her and for you, “Do you
believe this?” I’ll ask you, “Do you believe this?”
16. The apostle Paul writes of the mechanics of salvation in Romans 10 where
he says beginning in verse nine, “that if you confess with your
mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him
from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto
righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation (verses
9-10). For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved
17. Friends, none of us will make it out of this world without our physical
bodies dying. How long before our family hears something similar
to what I heard just a few short days ago?
18. CODE BLUE ROOM ### CODE BLUE ROOM ### Isn’t it time to call on the name
of the Lord?
19. Isn’t it time that we become the living sacrifices that we ought to be
and begin living like we are unashamed of our Savior?
20. Isn’t it time that we become the Ambassadors for Christ that we were
intended to be?
21. If we are not going to do it now when will we? Tomorrow, next week, next
month, next year?
(1. When do think the Lord would want you to begin really living like
a Christian? Being a living sacrifice, unashamed of the Gospel - an
Ambassador for Christ.
22. When - would the Lord have you to begin living like you know you ought to
live? Isn’t the answer today? Right now?
INTRO: BMW has a new offering for those who may believe their security6. I encourage you today to rise up and be what God intended for you to
is threatened. This vehicle can stand up to fire from an M16 rifle but
that is only one aspect of this amazing car.
1. It can also withstand the explosion of two grenades and having its
tires flattened and still travel at 50 mph.
2. You can purchase one for yourself for only a few hundred thousand
dollars. (1. Or perhaps you would prefer a Land Rover for $263,100 or a
Mercedes of comparable security for a couple of hundred thousand more?
3. For most of us that simply isn’t an option and we will just have to
face life without our armored vehicle.
4. How about your faith? How strong and tough is your faith? If your
faith took a hit, would you continue to love and serve your God?
(1. If you had all four of your tires flattened would you keep
on going or lay down and give up?
I. The apostle Paul says in, II Timothy 1:12, “For this reason I also
suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I
have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to
Him until that Day.”
1. Paul has a grenade proof faith. He’s not ashamed of his faith. He
knows whom he has believed. He is persuaded that His Lord will fulfill
His commitments to Him. He has no doubt about it.
2. Paul tells Timothy, “For this reason I also suffer these things….”
3. First, Paul says in verse 7, “For God has not given us a spirit of
fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
4. Second, Paul says in verse 8 that we should, “not be ashamed of the
testimony of our Lord” and that we should “share” “in the sufferings for
5. Third, Paul reminds us in verse 9 of “who has saved us and called us
with a holy calling.”
6. Finally, Paul says in verse 12 that he is “not ashamed” of the gospel
and that we in verse 8 should “not be ashamed of the testimony of our
II. I’ve known several people over the years who were at one time
faithful servants of God but something happened and they stopped serving
God. In fact they became bitter and angry people.
1. What happened? In one person’s life it was a combination of things
ending with the loss of a business.
2. In another person’s life it was when a Christian he looked up to
failed. In another’s it was when a loved one died.
(1. In another it was the devastating illness of a loved one.
3. Those events in the lives of some Christians appear to be even more
catastrophic than the explosion of a grenade under their feet.
4. One person’s decision to turn away from God does not just affect that
(1. It affects their family, it affects their friends,
acquaintances, and it will affect their children and their descendants.
5. The Kurdish Yezidi people group of about 100,000 people is a vivid
example of the truth of this. That your decision to turn away from God
doesn’t just affect you.
6. The Holy Scriptures of Yezidism known as the Mishaf Resor “Black Book”
(dating from the 13th century say that, “Satan is our god, and Beelzebub
is our king.” It is obvious that they at one point had a knowledge of the
One true God.
7. While the majority of the 30 million Kurds world wide follow Sunni
Islam a small percentage did not convert to Islam in the 7th
century, instead following the tenets of Yezidism.
8. Yezidis principally worship Lucifer. He goes by the name of Malak
Tawus and is known as the “peacock angel” or the “proud angel.”
9. Yezidis believe Christ came to earth only as an angel in human form.
A Yezidi who is now a Christian pastor “Milo” explains, “The Yezidi people
say God created many nations, and every nation God gave to angels. They
believe He gave our nation to Satan. Our people believe if you don’t
worship Satan, God will be angry with you. They say this is the will
(1. Milo goes on to say, “Every family must build one place
for worshiping Satan, and ever day they must pray to Satan.”
10. The religion, which also uses the sun and serpents as symbols, has
a strong cultural hold on Yezidi Kurds.
(1. Villagers regularly pay a tax to the sheik for him to perform
various rituals. 11. The most important historical figure in Yezidism is Sheik Adi, who
dates to the 12th or 13th century, whom they believe to be the
reincarnation of Satan.
12. Carvings on the monument in Shamiram depict the Iraqi city of Lalish
where Sheik Adi is buried and to which Yezidis journey to worship.
13. Inevitably these false religions from Islam to Mormonism to Yezidism
come back to one person who knows the truth or at least some of the
(1. Sheik Adi by turning to the devil because of his hatred of
God damned the destiny of his descendants and people for century after
14. The only good news about these people is that God is now making
inroads and through those faithful few who do know the Lord Jesus and
through visions and miracles some are turning to the Lord.
III. How about your faith? How strong and tough is your faith? If
your faith took a hit, would you continue to love and serve your God?
1. What if the war in Iraq goes badly? Will you continue to believe
and serve God?
2. What if there is another terrorist attack on the United States and
this time it affects you or your family? Will you continue to believe
and serve God?
3. What would happen if you suffered a debilitating disease and you asked
God several times to heal you and He said “No?”
(1. In addition you were thrown into prison a few times, beaten
with rods three separate times,
1. whipped five different times, you were stoned,
shipwrecked, went hungry, didn’t have enough clothes to keep you warm and
were bitten by a poisonous snake?
4. If that happened to you would you do as Job’s wife suggested and
just, “Curse God and die (Job 2:9b)!”
5. Those things didn’t happen to Job but they did happen to the apostle
Paul who just kept on serving and loving God more and more and more
(II Corinthians 11:22-28; II Corinthians 12:7-9; Acts 28:1-6).
IV. Sadly what is most likely to happen after we take some hit in our
life is not that we turn completely away from God.
1. What is most likely to happen is something far worse and insidious
and many of us here today (myself included) manifest some degree of that in
our Christian walk.
2. What am I talking about? When some bad thing happens to us whether it
is an illness, financial blow, or a death in our family What is our
3. For most of us if we are serving God in any way we tend to slow down
in that service. Which is understandable in the short term.
(1. But many never rise back to their previous level of
4. And so what occurs in the lives of far too many people is a downward
spiral of effectiveness.
5. We have a serious illness and we recover. After recovery we are not
(1. Someone does something that hurts us in someway. Our
effectiveness is further diminished.
(2. A loved one becomes ill or even dies and we become even
(3. We have an unexpected expense or a loss of income and we
become that much less effective.
6. I think you can see where this is going. Eventually you can have
many people in every church whose effectiveness in service to their Lord has
been nullified. They have been neutralized.
7. They may still sing the hymns, they may still come to church, they
may still pray but there is not any life in their singing, or joy much joy
in being with other believers, and little if any fervency in
prayer and there's no witnessing or helping others.
(1. You may even reach the point in prayer like one man I read
about whose prayer life consisted of looking up at the Lord’s prayer on
his wall at night said, “God those are my sentiments” and went to
8. There are many of us who have gone to sleep as far as any service to
9. Would we continue on if there were to come some persecution to this
country? Would we continue to assemble to worship together if it became
illegal to meet as a church? Would we continue on if there were an attack
on this country?
10. It is almost a joke because so many would have to start before they
could continue on.
11. So many Christians have shifted into neutral and they’ve been
coasting for years and years and years and it comes to a point where
the momentum stops and they still think they are coasting.
(1. But like Samson there’s nothing that happens when they rise
up. They might as well be like the Yezidis worshipping the devil because
they surely are no longer serving God!
(2. In fact through their example of non service, of non prayer,
of non joy, of non everything concerning the One true God.
1. They become a stumbling block to those who are trying
to serve God. And to those who might serve God.
2. They have become a whitewashed wall (sepulcre)
much like the Pharisees were accused of by the apostles.
3. A wall blocking those who would do something in
service for their God.
V. Are you that man? Are you that woman? As Nathan pointed to David and
said “Thou are the man!” Does what I have been describing hit home? Does
it describe you?
1. Well, if you say in your heart that it does. If you can admit it to
yourself there is hope that you can change.
2. That’s the number one thing that King David had going for him - when
he heard God speaking about the things he had done wrong, he tried to change.
3. If you have a desire to change, to rise up, to become again an
effective servant of the Lord your God. Then it is not too late.
4. It is not too late for you to leave a legacy of faith for your family
(1. I like the article in the Baptist Messenger by Tom Eliff.
He asks the question “Have you shared your testimony with your family?” (EXP)
5. Wouldn’t it be great if all of us in this church could rise up? Rise
up to a new level of service, go beyond where we have ever gone before.
(1. Instead of becoming less and less effective that we could
become more and more effective in service to our Lord?
6. I urge you today to rise up! I think that is what the apostle Paul
was telling Timothy. “You’ve been beaten down Timothy. Get up. Rise
up. Start moving. Do something!”
7. “God’s given you everything that you need Timothy. You can do it
because God’s provided for it and you can have a grenade proof faith”
VI. How is it that Timothy can have a such a strong and vibrant faith as
Paul is describing?
1. Paul instructs Timothy and I believe us to about how to have that kind
of faith, a grenade proof faith.
2. Paul tells Timothy in II Timothy 2:1 to “be strong in the grace that
is in Christ Jesus”
3. He’s saying, “Timothy you know, don’t you remember what a wondrous
thing you have been given? You through the unmerited mercy of God have
been given forgiveness for your sins.”
(1. “You have been freely given eternal life. Be strong Timothy
in this wondrous grace. Don’t forget how blessed you are.”
4. and Paul says “hold fast to the pattern of sound words which you have
heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus
(II Timothy 1:13).”
5. “Don’t you remember Timothy the very words of God that you have
been instructed with from me. Where’s the faith and the love that came forth
in your life as a result of the hearing the Word of God?
6. “Don’t forget Timothy about the Word of God and the faith and love
of Jesus. Hold fast Timothy! Hold fast Timothy!”
7. Paul continues to instruct Timothy and tells him, “You therefore
must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
8. “Timothy your not just a timid little boy any longer. NO! NO! Your
much more than that you are a soldier! You are a soldier in the Lord’s
army engaged in the Lord’s work”
(1. “No matter what bad or unpleasant thing that may happen
remember that you are now a soldier and you have a mission with eternal
9. And Paul says, “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with
the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier
(II Timothy 2:3).”
10. “Timothy, Timothy, you’re going to have to let go of some things
if you’re going to win the battle and see souls saved. This world you live
in is no longer the most important thing in life. Your commander has
issued his commands. That must be the focus the all consuming purpose of
11. And Timothy you can, “endure all things for the sake of the elect,
that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with
eternal glory (II Timothy 2:10).”
12. Paul warns Timothy and others to, “Flee also youthful lusts; but
pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord
out of a pure heart.”
13. “Don’t be a baby Timothy run from those things that have consumed
your life in the past. Run from them and instead put everything you have
into being righteous, having faith, being filled with love and peace and
helping others to do the same.”
14. And Timothy, “avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that
they generate strife.”
15. “You know Timothy some things are just not worth fighting about and
we ought to just avoid those things and people that are going to cause
trouble. There’s more important things.
16. If you’re going to be a servant of the Lord you “must not quarrel but
be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who
are in opposition…(II Timothy 2:22-25a).”
17. Paul reminds Timothy in 3:16 and 17 that, “All Scripture is given
by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for
correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may
be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
18. In other words - God’s provided everything you need. You just need
to step up Timothy and be a workman not ashamed.
VII. Conclusion - The apostle Paul sums it all up (II Timothy 4:17-18)
by saying, “But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the
message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles
might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And
the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His
heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!”
1. God will do the same for you and me if we will follow the instructions
and example, which has been so faithfully given to us.
2. Will we lay down those things that have pushed us down? Will we let
go of the hurts?
3. Instead of a stumbling block to the faith of others will we instead
of spiraling further down begin to spiral up in our effectiveness, in our
service to our Lord?
4. Will you rise up! Or, will you lay down? It’s your choice, just as
it was Timothy’s choice.
5. You can sulk, and moan, and complain, and be a stumbling block or you
can have a heart like Timothy’s and change.
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose
under the heaven.”
I. I preached this message in December 1998 with only one year to go before
the year 2000 asking the question “What Time Is It?
1. Yesterday another tragic event occurred that has never occurred before.
2. The Shuttle Columbia exploded on reentry from a 16 day mission. All seven
of the crew lost their lives.
(1. This is the very first time in the 42 year history of American
space flight that space vehicle has been lost on reentry.
3. Even Apollo 13 somehow made it back to earth safely. 4. Great technological advances have been made but still the lives of these
precious people have been lost. (1. President Bush said yesterday, “The Columbia’s lost. There are no
survivors. Our entire nation grieves.” (2. It seems we are becoming used to grieving as a nation.
(3. The President also said, “The cause in which they died will
continue.” “Our journey into space will go on.”
5. It was sudden and unexpected and we as Americans appear to live in a
when sudden and unexpected has become the expected.
6. We are facing a war in Iraq (and continued war in Afghanistan), nuclear
blackmail from North Korea, and the continued world-wide threat of
terrorism against all Americans, all American interests, and American
7. God said through the writer of Ecclesiastes that there is a
season, a time for everything, for every purpose.
8. What is God’s time now? What is God’s purpose now? What is His purpose
and time in your life and mine at this point in time? 9. Timing has always been a very important ingredient in God’s
program. 10. Time had a beginning and in the very first verse of the Bible we are
told, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” (1. But time also has an end. In Revelation 10:5 we are told, “The
angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted
up his hand to heaven, And sware by him that liveth for ever and
ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth,
and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which
are therein, that there should be time no longer.” (2. So there was a beginning to time but there will also be an end to
time. 5. We have to wonder and I believe it is important to know where
we are at in God’s timing. II. We look at the Biblical record plus the history of the world and
we know that much of God’s time has passed. - The world’s were created.
- Creation was corrupted when Adam and Eve sinned.
- The flood came when even the thoughts of men were evil.
- Abraham became the father of the family of faith.
- Joseph through what men meant for evil became the instrument
through which God saved His people. Page 3
- After 400 years in Egypt which eventually became slavery God used Moses to
bring His people out. - Then came the Promised Land with Judges and then great Kings. Saul, David,
Solomon. - But the kingdom became two with Israel and Judah. Both were
carried away one scattered and the other to captivity. - Then those in captivity were returned to the Holy city of Jerusalem.
- We have had the birth, death, burial and resurrection, and ascension of the
Messiah, the Savior, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. - Since our Lord’s resurrection almost 2000 years have passed.
1. Jesus in Matthew 24 has given us further information about
God’s timing for the end of time. (1. Jesus in Matthew chapter 24 is giving information needed by his
disciples then but also is looking forward, prophesying of the far off
future just as did the OT prophets. Matthew 24:5, “For many shall come in my name saying, I am
Christ; and shall deceive many.” (1. In the last half of the 20th century there was an
abundance of people who claimed to be Christ. David Koresh
being one of the more well known. (2. There are still people claiming to be Christ: On Aug. 19, 2002
- Sergei Torop, known to his followers as Vissarion, came by
horseback to a Siberian village, near the border of Mongolia, to deliver
his annual address to thousands of Russians who believe he is Jesus. Page 4
(3. Dressed in flowing red velvet robes and sporting long dark hair,
Vissarion has appeared before his growing band of followers every
year on the anniversary of his revelation in 1989 that he was Christ
returned. 1. It is reported that he has thousands of followers.
(4. There is a spirit of the anti Christ abounding
upon this world. Matthew 24:6-7a, “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of
wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must
come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise
against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: (5. We have had wars and rumors of wars. Nations have
risen against nation more so in the 20th century and into the 21st century
than ever before. (6. We have had two world wars consuming most of the
world in violence. 1. But the wars have continued and there continues to be wars
and the threat/rumor of war all across planet earth. (7. The Russians have their messy little situation in Chechnya.
1. Pakistan and India are still facing off against each other
and the battle still rages at times in Kashmir with the threat of
nuclear war in the background now. (8. There are many little wars in Africa and there are
rebellions/Civil war in Southeast Asia and South America.
Matthew 24:7(b)-8, “For nation shall rise against nation, and
kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and
pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are
the beginning of sorrows.” Page 5
2. During the 20th century we had great famines that swept across
continents. Great multitudes of people are still starving to death across the
world. (1. Pestilences have become an increasing threat in world of rapid
movement. There have been the development of new diseases such as AIDS. 1. The HIV virus is decimating Africa with over 40 million
people infected. 3. But it is not just the natural development of diseases that we have to
worry about. Now we have biological warfare. (1. We know there is a real threat to us by terrorists through the
use of anthrax or smallpox which they have available to them. (2. And we cannot even imagine what lurks in the
laboratories of some nations across the world. Germ warfare is the cheap
alternative to the nuclear bomb. (3. Of course there are threats from chemical agents such as the very
deadly VX gas. Matthew 24:9-10, “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall
kill you: and ye shall be hatred of all nations for my name’s sake.
And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and
shall hate one another. 4. Religious persecution during the 20th century and continuing into the 21st
Century has been astronomical in numbers.
(1. We have had the Nazi and Communist persecutions.
(2. Remnants of the Communist persecution remain in
Russia and China. Page 6
5. Now we have the Moslem persecution as well which appears to be
accelerating in countries with Moslem populations in the majority. (1. The violent attacks upon Christians in Pakistan have been very
disturbing. 6. But in addition to those well known persecutions we have
simply the anti-Christian pagan persecution which many of us have experienced
right here in the good old USA. Jesus says, “And then shall many be offended, and shall
betray one another, and shall hate one another.” (1. Because of the persecution by anti Christian pagans in this
country we are seeing people betrayed and hating one another . (2. In order to keep their jobs many are being quiet even
though they know they should speak up. 1. Many school leaders and administrators are
staying quiet about their faith because they are afraid of those who will be
offended by prayer and the teaching of morality. Matthew 24:11, “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall
deceive many.” 7. We are not only seeing the rise of people claiming to be Christ but also
of false prophets who are leading people astray. 8. The Raelians are those who claim to have cloned some babies in recent
weeks. (1. The Raelian headquarters includes a campground and museum, and a
sign in bold neon-green letters that says "UFOLand." Page 7 (2. It has tear-shaped buildings, designed to evoke the form of alien
spacecraft, and a billboard stating, in French and English: “The
Messiah is Alive Amongst Us.'' Matthew 24:27, “For as the lightning cometh out of the east,
shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the
Son of man be. Matthew 24:31, And he shall send his angels with a great
sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect
from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Matthew 24:40-44
Matthew 24:35-36, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my
words shall not pass away. But of that day and hour knoweth
no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” (1. The precise time of the return of our Lord no one knows but Jesus
has given us some indications here in Matthew 24 of when we can know
that time is approaching. Matthew 24:37, “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the
Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they
were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day
that Noe entered the ark, And knew not until the flood came and took
them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (1. In the days of Noah the Bible in Genesis 5:5 says this, “And God
saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every
imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” 1. We can look around at our world today and we need to ask
ourselves was the wickedness of man any greater in the days of Noah
then it is now? Page 8
(2. Are not the imagination of the thoughts of the hearts
of men now filled with evil just as much as then? III. So what time is it? We are now in the 21st Century and have witnessed
a great increase in violence and attack upon that which is good 1. We have sat and watched tragedy after tragedy. - But there are even
greater tragedies occurring with some frequency in our state, in our counties
and often in our community. 2. What are those tragedies? Whenever someone dies without Christ is that
not a great tragedy? 3. Whenever someone who knows Christ lives their lives as a practical
agnostic is that not a tragedy? 4. In the season of God’s timing for this world and even for our
individual lives isn’t it time for going, and doing, and telling? 5. Haven’t we done enough of nothing? What have we done in the year 2003 to
tell others of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? 6. Isn’t it time to risk the criticism of the anti Christian
pagans and open our mouths and tell those around us about
Jesus? 7. Every person in this room that is a true Christian knows enough
to lead someone else into a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. (EXP) (1. And if you don’t I would say to you that you need to
earnestly examine your relationship with the Lord. Do you really
know Him. (2. If you really know Him shouldn’t you be able to tell
someone else about what happened when He saved your soul? Page 9 8. Who would the Lord have you to go to and tell about Jesus?
(1. Do you have any relatives that are lost? (2. Do you have any friends that are lost? (3. Do you have any neighbors that are lost? (4. Do you work with someone that is lost? 9. And if we don’t know any one that is lost...Didn’t Jesus say
something about leaving the 99 and going out to find that one that
was lost? IV. I would submit to you that in God’s timing we are much nearer
to the end of time than we are to the beginning of time. 1. We stand on the threshold of a great unknown stretch of time, almost 2000
years since our Lord’s resurrection. 2. Ed Young share with us at the Evangelism Conference about a Christian from
Germany who had moved to our country. (1. At a meeting he had an opportunity to share about what had gone
on in his country during those terrible days of WWII.
The man from Germany shared that he had never told this story before
because he was ashamed. His church in Germany had been next to the railroad
tracks and every Sunday morning there would be another
shipment of Jews headed out on the train. The people in the church
would hear the train whistle and the rumble of the tracks and the train.
The man shared that whenever they heard the train they would sing louder and
eventually planned their worship service to try to drown out the sound of
the train. They would play the organ as loud as they could and sing to
the top of their voices to try not to hear the train and the sound of those
Jews headed to their deaths.
The trains of death are still running. Can you hear the cars passing by
home loaded with people bound for eternity in a devil's hell?
Are we still trying to drown out the sound of those hell-bound by just singing
our hymns a little louder - playing our instruments a little louder?
3. Isn’t the time for sitting, and hearing, and getting over?
(1. Isn’t it time for going, and doing, and telling?
4. Speaking of the shuttle astronauts this morning Paula Zahn on CNN spoke
with awe about the astronauts and their "Devotion to the mission"
and their "sense of discipline."
5. There is no doubt they had a great mission, a great purpose and
demonstrated great courage. But in many ways each one of us as Christians
have a greater mission. We are called to tell others about how they can have
eternal life and escape eternal destruction. If we don't do the job,
if we don't fulfill the mission - it will not be done.
6. Isn't it time for you to radically commit your life to God's mission,
God's purpose for your life? Isn't time to have a true devotion to your
mission and the sense of discipline necessary to complete your mission?
5. Isn’t it time?
INTRO: It has been almost a year since the terrible tragedy of 9/11 with over
3,000 lives lost from all three disaster sites.
1. Even though it has been a year since this terrible thing has occurred the
images of the airliners slamming into the World Trade Center Towers
are still very vivid in our minds.
2. I believe we all experienced a certain amount of fear even here in
Sweetwater far from where these attacks occurred.
3. Immediately after the attacks we had the anthrax mailings and more people
dying and most of us realized that even we could be reached by this
evil here in Sweetwater.
4. Thankfully we have been spared further acts of terrorism in this country
and things have returned somewhat to normal.
(1. There is still an uneasiness that we have and we are uncertain
about the plans of Iraq and Saddam Hussein.
5. But for many the war on terrorism has come to a virtual halt and victory
can be declared.
6. We know that to stop now before the enemy has been eradicated from the
Planet would be a mistake and would subject our country to additional threat
7. We need to continue to pray for our leaders and the members of our armed
forces during the time of uncertainty.
I. I want us to look more closely at the events of September 11 one year
ago. In particular, one 16½ minutes of time.
1. The attack on our country on 9/11 claimed the lives of 2,803 people at the
World Trade Center alone.
2. As we remember all too well the north tower was struck by the first
hijacked airliner at 8:46 a.m. (7:46 a.m. CST)
(1. I had been having my quiet time and had spent some time in prayer
and Bible reading when I turned on the TV close to 9:00 a.m. (8:00
3. It was then that I saw a streak zoom into the south tower I wasn’t sure
what I had seen the newscasters were not sure either.
(1 And some were trying to say it was only a small plane and another
was saying it was an airliner and as the film was replayed in
slower motion it became obvious that this was indeed a large airplane and it
too had hit the World Trade Center.
4. At that point the painful truth was obvious to all of us that this was no
accident and the next thought was how many other planes were there
still out there.
(1. Apparently there were at least two others one crashing after the
courageous actions of the passengers in Pennsylvania and the other
slamming into the Pentagon.
5. After the first plane crashed into the north tower of the World Trade
Center it was only 16½ minutes later when United Airlines Flight 175 slammed
into the south tower.
6. During those 16½ minutes the people in the upper floors of the south tower
made life and death decisions which resulted in their escaping with
their lives or resulted in their deaths.
7. Many saw the flames of the north tower and the horrified looks on the
faces of those who were jumping to their deaths to escape burning to death.
(1. To see that was enough for many to flee for their lives.
II. In life we have only two choices. It may seem like we have many but
really there are only two and the Bible describes those choices in a variety
1. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus describes the choices as being between
the wide gate with the “broad” way and the alternative which is
the narrow gate and the difficult way which leads to life.
2. Jesus also describes this choice as being between building our lives on a
solid rock and building our lives on a foundation of sand.
3. We have a lifetime to make our choice but sometimes that time is very
brief in which to make our choice and navigate our way to eternal safety.
4. For the people in the south tower on 9/11 they only had 16½ to make the
right decisions and find safety.
(1. It was not an easy thing to do.
5. Some 1400 people fled to safety from the upper floors of the south tower
even though the emergency speaker system was blaring that “the
building is safe!” “The building is secure!”
(1. This was followed by a statement that it was safe to return to
work in their offices.
(2. Some believed this was an order while others believed it was an
option to return to their work areas.
1. With only 16½ minutes every action was vitally important
to their survival.
6. Some immediately fled from the building. Others gathered up personal
belongings or finished up some things they were working on.
(1. Others made phone calls delaying their exit.
1. Some lost their lives while courageously trying to warn
and save others.
7. Steve Miller who worked on the 80th floor and survived said, “The
conclusion that I’ve come to is: I think I acted smart, and I think it had
almost no bearing on the fact that I survived. If you ran away, you
survived. Everybody who ran away survived.”
III. In the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24) Jesus warns of the need to flee
when “you see the abomination of desolation.” Jesus says that at that
point “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is
on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let
him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes (Matthew 24:15-17).”
1. Let’s consider for a moment the “abomination of desolation.”
2. Daniel also speaks of the “abomination of desolation” and is generally
interpreted as referring to the terrible things that were to fall on the Jews
in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes.
3. Antiochus Epiphanes caused an altar to be erected on the altar of
burnt-offering, on which sacrifices were offered to Jupiter Olympus.
(Sacrificed a pig)
(1. Antiochus reigned in Syria from 175 to 164 B.C.
(2. In Daniel 9:27 it becomes apparent that a reenactment of that
treacherous desecration will occur when the “prince that shall come” makes a
seven-year covenant with Israel.
(3. However, this “prince” who is the Antichrist breaks his covenant
after three and one-half years.
(4. There follows the period of Jacob’s trouble or the Great
Tribulation in which the temple will again be desecrated by Gentiles.
4. The “abomination of desolation” in Matthew 24 refers to the coming
5. In terms of symbolism the “abomination of desolation” is the opposite of
godliness and everything good. It is the ultimate in worldliness, sin,
fleshly desire and evil.
(1. The “abomination of desolation” becomes evil incarnate in the
6. For application to our lives in the present it is clear that we should not
wait until the Antichrist arrives on the scene to flee from what he
7. The urgency Jesus gives us in fleeing the abomination of desolation should
be the urgency in which we flee the sin and the evil of the world
8. The world is shouting in every way possible that “the building is safe and
secure” and that there is no need for God and the things of God.
(1. The world is blaring out that there is no need to flee from sin
because it is not really harmful and there is no need to panic and get
holier than thou on us.
(2. The world continues to say enjoy the finer things in life. Take
time to smell the roses. If you really have to clean up your life
well wait awhile. You don’t have to do it right now.
(3. In fact the world would tell you that hey you can wait until you
are on your deathbed and then take care of the spiritual stuff God
IV. How safe and secure is your life? What kind of foundation are you
1. Have you built your life on the rock of Jesus Christ and the things of the
Kingdom of God? Or, have you built your life on self seeking
sinfulness lusting after what the world has to offer.
2. Those who have built their lives on the shifting sands of worldliness, and
fleshly desire will find that their lives are far from secure.
3. At any moment they could very well breathe their last breath and be called
home to the Lord.
(1. And if they do not know the Lord as their Savior the fate
awaiting them is too horrible to even contemplate or imagine.
4. We know that it is Hebrews 9:27 and that the Romans 6:23
(1. The Bible tells us in Hebrews 10:31 that it is a terrible thing
to “fall into the hands of the living God.” (When you are not on
right terms with Him.)
5. Surely we should flee from the shifting sands of worldliness, and fleshly
(1. We should flee from the evil of the Antichrist. We should flee
from the abomination of sin.
6. Jesus says, “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let
him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his
house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes
7. There is an immediacy, a great urgency that is needed because of what?
Because of the great danger of delaying what we know we should do.
8. There is a great danger that we will wait too long and the evil will
overtake our lives and consume us.
9. If you play with fire long enough you will get burned. None of us know
how much time we have.
10. On 9/11 those on the south tower had longer than many but those in the
upper floors had at the most only 16½ minutes.
(1. Some saw the death and destruction, they saw the people jumping
to their deaths and they fled for their lives because that was
enough of a warning for them.
11. We think we have much more time than that left to us - but we don’t
12. The world cries out “your life is safe” “Your life is secure.”
But we have had our warnings too -haven’t we? 9/11was a warning
(1. We’ve had another one just this week with the death of Mike Mong
suddenly taken home to be with the Lord.
13. Do we think we are exempt from death? Do we think we are exempt from the
chastisement of the Lord.
(1. Even the apostle Paul said that “therefore knowing the terror of
the Lord we persuade men.”
14. Being struck blind by God tends to get a person’s attention and Paul knew
what it was like to be in the hands of the living God. It was a
terrifying thing that Paul remembered very well.
15. It doesn’t take much to miss escaping when you only have 16½ minutes.
16. Finishing a phone call as one executive did was enough to result in his
being trapped and dying.
(1. Tamitha Freeman, only 35 years old ran back to get her purse.
She told a co-worker, “I have my baby’s pictures in it.” and that
17. But some were like Charles Veneziano who was on the 84th floor of the
south tower. He didn’t even hang up the phone after the first jet hit the
(1. He threw the receiver on his desk and ran.
(Reminded of Joseph in the OT who fled the temptress.)
17. Is there some little thing holding you back from escaping the terror of
V. There were heroes too that day. Several bosses didn’t make it out because
they were warning their employees and everyone else to flee to
1. Other bosses did just the opposite encouraging employees to stay and work
until it was too late to flee.
2. One woman, Virginia Urzi wouldn’t leave her husband they both worked on
the 87th floor. They had agreed to meet if there was ever an attack or
problem on the 86th floor at Stairway C
(1. Because she wasn’t leaving the building without him.
3. That morning she ran to the rendezvous spot, crying, expect him to come
down. He didn’t.
(1. Two of her co-workers went back up to the 87th floor and told her
husband, Manny Urzi, you have to come down and help us deal with your
hysterical wife. He did and they escaped.
(Maybe it’s time for us to get hysterical about our spouse, our friends that
4. Welles Crowther, only 24 years old was one of the heroes he was an
equities trader for Sandler O’Neil on the 104th floor but he was also a
volunteer firefighter in his hometown of Nyack, New York.
5. Just after the second plane slammed into the south tower. Blood covered
Ling Young’s glasses when she regained consciousness lying
facedown on the 78th floor of the elevator lobby.
6. Young looked up and there was Welles Crowther. “I found the stairs,” he
told young. “Follow me, and help the ones that can be helped.”
7. After leading and helping several down a dozen flights of stairs Crowther
told Young, “I’m going back upstairs to help.”
(1. In the elevator lobby of the 78th floor were close to 200 people
who were injured or dead and that was where Young had been and that
was where Crowther was going back too.
8. There was smoke and fire all over but he still was going back. Crowther
tied a red bandana around his face the one he always kept in his
picket, regardless of how he was dressed.
9. Crowther found Judy Wein and Gigi Singer and led them out staying with
them for 15 floors and then again turned and went back up intending to
make a third trip.
10. Shortly after exiting the building and being placed in an ambulance. As
the ambulance pulled away with Judy Wein and Gigi Singer the south
11. It collapsed with all those people still trying to make it out including
the firefighters and including Welles Crowther. VI. We too can be and need to be heroes in the lives of those around us who
have lost their way. (We have the Word of God, we have the
tools/resources we need to be heroes.)
1. Robert Morgan tells or how Mark Sloan had lost his way.
2. Mark combined alcohol and cocaine in almost lethal amounts. After one
stay in a rehabilitation center the Morgan’s invited him to live with them.
3. For months all went well, then one morning he disappeared. Robert Morgan
says he would find him in terrible places, drunk high, hurting and
(1. Then several months passed with no word from him at
4. One day they heard he was living in a basement across town. Robert found
him and tried to get him to enter a treatment program, but he
(1. He said it was time to die. He had tried so hard to overcome his
habits but couldn’t. His eyes were glazed over, his words slurred,
and nothing Robert said fazed him.
5. Mark said, “There’s enough cocaine in this apartment to kill an elephant
and my body can’t stand much more. A day or two, then it’ll be over.
You’ll forget about me in a few weeks; we’ll all be better off. It’s meant to
be..just let it be. It’s meant to be.”
6. Robert said he was turning to leave, choking back tears, when a verse
suddenly came to him and he said to Mark, “It isn’t meant to be. The
Bible says that God is not willing for any to perish, but for all to come
7. A flicker of hope registered in Mark’s eyes. It was very faint, but
unmistakable. Robert repeated the verse and Mark listened.
8. In the years since Robert has told Mark of that moment several times. He
doesn’t remember it but Robert will never forget it.
(1. Because he is convinced that verse saved Mark’s life and
eventually led to his becoming the sober, dedicated Christian that he is today.
9. As your fleeing from the world, be a hero and take some people with you.
VII. Where is it that we should flee, where can we run to escape? Jesus
says, “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is
on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let
him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes (Matthew 24:15-17).”
1. “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”
We should run to the mountain. As the psalmist says we should run to God,
to “His holy mountain. Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth
2. The world will continue to shout that “Your life is safe!” “Your life is
secure!” “Your life is safe!” “Your life is secure!”
3. We must ignore the world and flee from the evil, flee from the sin, flee
from the fleshly earthly desires and run before it is too late.
4. Run to the Mountain, to the Holy Mountain of God and there we will find
peace, joy, and eternal safety.
I Corinthians 16:13-14
INTRO: Thursday was the first Fourth of July celebration in the United States
since the September 11th attacks.
1. With the celebration came increased security with those watching the
events being watched by those determined to prevent further terrorism.
2. In Washington D.C., our nation’s capitol, the eyes of security cameras and
police were focused on the National Mall.
(1. And the National Mall was only accessible through a couple of
dozen security checkpoints because it had been surrounded with security
3. In Los Angeles even with the increased watchfulness a man attacked workers
at Israel’s El Al ticket counter shooting and killing two people
before he was shot and killed.
(1. However, without the increased vigilance and alertness many more
people could have been killed or injured in that attack.
4. And with out the increased vigilance and alertness terrorists might have
felt it would be an opportunity to launch more attacks on the
birthday of our nation.
5. In the USA we are encouraged to be alert, vigilant, and watchful because we
are warned further attacks are inevitable.
(1. At the same time we are encouraged to continue on with life as
normally as possible.
6. President Bush encouraged the nation to celebrate freedom but at the same
time warned that we are fighting people who want to attack us because
they hate freedom.
7. The headline in USA Today stated, “USA must accept terrorism threat, Bush
8. President Bush said in a telephone interview about our current situation
in this country, “It’s a sign that we are at war. After all,
we’re fighting people who hate our freedom. And as we celebrate
freedom, we should be worried that they would want to attack us.”
9. The increased vigilance against terrorist attack in the USA is a picture
of how the Christian life is to be lived.
I. As Christians we too are in a war fighting an enemy who hates our
spiritual freedom and would like nothing better than to destroy us. I Peter
5:8, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks
about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
1. Jesus speaks of this enemy in John 10:10, “The thief does not come except
to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.”
2. As Americans it is hard for us to understand why there are those who would
want to harm our country and to kill Americans just because they are
3. After all haven’t we given millions in foreign aid to the Muslim world and
nearly every country has gotten a million or two from us in one form
(1. Didn’t we save Kuwait and Saudi Arabia from Saddam Hussein’s
attempt to take over their countries?
4. Don’t we still have troops there ready to defend them if need be?
(1. So why we ask do they hate us? Because behind our enemy is our
spiritual enemy who has inspired this irrational hatred.
5. It is a hatred that can only be explained by understanding we have a
spiritual enemy that hates us just because he hates God and God loves us.
6. As Christians I believe it is hard for those who are Christians or those
raised even in a quasi Christian environment to truly understand
that there is a spiritual enemy who wants to harm us.
II. But at the same time that we are aware of the danger of the enemy we must
not withdraw from all contact with the world.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:13-14, “You are the salt of the earth” and “Let
your light so shine before men that they may see your good works
and glorify your Father in heaven.”
1. If you remember salt accomplishes its work of preservation only through
having contact with that which it is to preserve.
2. For us to have a preserving influence we must not withdraw completely from
contact with the people of the world but at the same time we are
warned by Jesus, “but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned?
It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled under foot
3. The temptation is to either withdraw completely from the world or while we
are having contact with those in the world to disguise our Christianity
(1. In the process of hiding our light we put a lid over our light
and our salt loses its ability to preserve because we act just like
those around us act.
(2. Not only do we act like them but we talk like them as well.
4. I have to wonder what kind of shape Christianity would be in if we had to
endure the persecution that Christians endure in Muslim countries.
(1. C__ from Cheyenne has been a missionary in a Muslim country
for a few years.
5. Talking with his mother she explained that in that Muslim country you
cannot overtly witness to anyone or you would quickly be expelled from the
6. Their witnessing must be in the form of developing relationships over a
period of time where through close contact
(1. they are able to see Christianity lived out before them and have
a desire to have what the missionary or other Christians have in
7. But after these Muslims become Christians and publicly profess Christ the
(1. They are kept from having any kind of work and must depend upon
other Christians for work and support.
(2. Often if churches are begun they are in danger of having their
property confiscated, fines levied, and other penalties imposed.
8. Since we are close to losing our savor as salt now when we live in this
wonderful open society I can’t imagine that hardly any Christians
from this country would endure severe persecution.
9. There was a reason in the early church for believers to be encouraged
to “be brave, “be strong” and to “stand fast.”
(1. The reason was that there was something to be brave about doing
and to be strong against. There was pressure exerted from their
society that made standing fast a necessity.
10. In our society here in the United States the pressure is not as overt but
it is there. It is just more subtle.
11. So, we are encouraged to “be brave, be strong” “stand fast….”
III. Not only are we to “stand fast” against our enemy but we are also
to “resist him (I Peter 5:8).” Even when our “stand” results in “sufferings”
we are to “resist him.”
“Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are
experienced by your brotherhood in the world (I Peter 5:9).”
1. In I Peter 4:7-9 we are told, “But the end of all things is at hand;
therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have
fervent love for one another.” And, “Be hospitable to one another
without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one
another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
2. Jesus explains to the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane why they
should watch and pray: Matthew 26:41, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into
temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
3. We resist our enemy through being the salt of the earth and the light of
the world and through our prayers.
(1. “Watch and pray” Jesus says.
4. God has long been seeking those who would stand in the gap through
prayer. As God says through Ezekiel, “So I sought for a man among them who
would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land ,
that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.”
5. Through prayer we can make up a wall of resistance which is a wall of
protection to those around us and ourselves protecting from the evil of our
6. Would you “watch and pray” “standing in the gap?” Your prayers do make a
difference a difference for you and for many others.
(Should be praying every day for the protection of our families, those in our
realm of influence, govermental leaders, missionaries, etc.)
7. Not only should we resist the enemy through prayer but also through our
8. God says to Ezekiel (Ezekiel 3:17-19), “Son of Man, I have made you a
watchman for the House of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and
give them warning from Me: ‘When I say to the wicked, You shall surely
die, and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from
his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in
his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet, if you warn
the wicked, and he does not turn from his iniquity; but you have
delivered your soul.”
9. Too often we think we can just set back and do nothing while person after
person goes out into eternity without a saving knowledge of Jesus.
(1. However, the Bible is clear that if we know to do good, if we
know we should warn others of their eternal fate
1. but simply slide through life trying to blend in with the
world and trying not to make any waves -
(2. God is not mocked or deceived and there are consequences for our
failure to warn those around us.
10. We have a sweet spirit of love in this church but that love too many
times has not been translated into a love for the lost who are living around
(1. We have not fulfilled our responsibilities before God of warning
those around us of their eternal fate.
(2. We have failed many times because we have to live here and if we
say something others will disagree with It will make it unpleasant to
be around them.
(3. So, we attempt to avoid conversations about God and the eternal.
(4. We try to avoid talking about things that we know the other
person will not like or doesn’t agree with.
1. Essentially we try to please man instead of God.
(5. And God is not mocked and knows exactly what we are
IV. We do indeed have an enemy who is vicious and evil and we must warn
others but we must be continually watchful of our own spiritual condition.
1. Often when we are under stress and are pressed for time we tend to neglect
the spiritual disciplines.
2. If we are working many hours a week the human tendency is to try to
compensate for that by cutting out nonessentials (those things not
required to earn a living) such as church attendance, activities, and
3. It makes perfect human, common sense. But God’s sense, wisdom is rarely
in conformance with that of our human minds.
4. When we are busy with work and have stress from other things weighing upon
us those are the times when we should
(1. pray more, have a greater intake of the Word, and continue to
serve and assemble with other believers.
5. When we fail to pray what happens? Jesus says, “Watch and pray lest you
enter into temptation.”
6. In other words if you fail to pray you are just asking for trouble not
only for yourself but for everyone else that you are responsible to God for,
your personal realm of influence.
(1. And you ought to be praying for every one who your life touches
in any way.
7. If you fail to read the word of God what happens? Matthew 4:4
You run out of gas spiritually and when you try to do things which can only be
done supernaturally you begin to develop health problems and stress
(1. And how does faith come? “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by
the Word of God.”
8. So, the more we neglect the Word of God the less and less faith we will
(1. We will begin to doubt that God can do very much of anything
because we have so little faith.
9. And what happens if we stop coming to church? Hebrews 10:24-25 We stop
growing in love and slow down more and more in every way that we
10. What happens when we stop exercising those spiritual gifts of service that
we have been blessed with?
(1. Ephesians 3:20 says, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly
abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the
power that works in us.”
11. Why is the anointing of the Spirit given? For service. And if we do not
use what we have been given for service the amount of that anointing
grows less and less until we are powerless.
V. I fear that we are a powerless church made up of powerless people and in
the letters to the churches in the Book of Revelation we are told, “And to
the angel of the church in Sardis write, ‘These things says He who has
the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: I know your works, that
you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead (Revelation 3:1).”
1. We are a powerless church because we have not been watchful of our own
spiritual condition which continues to deteriorate.
2. The church at Sardis is also told, “Be watchful and strengthen the things
which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your
works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard;
hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come
upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon
you (Revelation 3:2-3).”
3. Maybe there is some life still in this church but we must immediately
strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die.
4. To strengthen that tiny spark of life still in you: Remember what you
have heard which you have received from God.
(1. Hold fast to it and repent - turn away from that which is not of
VI. I want to suggest to you today that there are few public decisions here
in this church in part because of pride.
1. Before we can stand strong and be a powerful witness without regard to
what the world will think - Before we can do that
2. We must be willing to do what God would have us to do publicly before our
fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
Page 10 3. If we can’t be obedient to God here how can we be obedient out there where
it is so much harder?
4. To strengthen that spark of life that is within you, to increase the
empowerment, the anointing upon you be obedient to the Spirit when He speaks
to you now here assembled with other believers.
5. Everytime you sense that God would have you to come forward and to pray or
to ask publicly for prayer you’re choking the spiritual life out of
6. Everytime the Spirit speaks to your heart about your need to rededicate or
recommit yourself to God and you refuse to walk down this aisle you’re
choking the spiritual life out of yourself.
7. And if you know God wants you to do something like join this church,
follow the Lord in baptism, surrender to ministry, or special service
(1. Everytime you know He wants you to do something and you don’t do
it you are choking the spiritual life out of yourself.
8. But its not just you that you are doing it to, it doesn’t just choke the
spiritual life out of you.
(1. Your choking the spiritual life out of everyone else here, your
choking the spiritual life out of this church.
9. And you are responsible before God and He is not mocked!!
10. The apostle Paul says, “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be
strong. Let all that you do be done with love (I Corinthians 16:13-14).”
11. Where do you begin? You begin with yourself with that spark of life that
you have left that has not been choked out.
12. You begin by coming forward publicly committing yourself afresh to your
13. There is no easy way in the church or outside of the church to take a
stand. But if you cannot take a stand among your brothers and sisters in
(1. If you can’t take a stand here today, then there is little hope
that you will do so when you are among those of the world.
14. Sometimes we simply have to make a decision, we have to do what is right
we have to or by our inaction we are standing not for God but for
15. I don’t know what God is speaking to you about individually today but I
know that He has and that He has called upon you to take some action - because
He always does. 16. During the invitation I simply urge you to do not what you think this preacher or
any human being wants you to do but I urge you to do what the Spirit
has spoken to your heart about.
(1. It is a simple thing. You are either committed or uncommitted.
You are either obedient or not obedient.
(2. You will move forward with God fanning the sparks that are alive
or you will grow in your deadness. 17. What does God want you to do? How has He spoken to you?
Resist the enemy today, stand fast today, be brave, be strong today by being
obedient to the Spirit’s Voice today.
I Peter 5:5-11 INTRO: How many of you have ever received a wake up call? I’ve been trying
to remember the first time that I received a wake up call. 1. I believe it was while I was working in the oilfield and we were staying
out of town that I first experienced a wake up call. 2. When we’re at home and the alarm goes off we can reach over and hit the
snooze button and go back to sleep for 10 or 15 minutes. (1. But when you are staying in a motel and receive a wake up call
usually that is the only one that you receive. 3. What happens if you don’t get out of bed when you receive your wake up
call? (1. What happens is that you fall back asleep and you either miss
what you wanted to be awake for or you are late for it. (2. Either way it can be unpleasant. I’ve slept through my wake up
call and had people pounding at my door. 1. Everyone else was ready to go and they had to wait on me.
Not pleasant in a work environment. 4. This last week our country received another wake up call. The alarm went
off. 5. This wake up call was in the form of a federal appeals court ruling that
reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools is an
unconstitutional "endorsement of religion" (1. because of the phrase "under God" that was added in 1954 by
Congress. Page 2 6. Unbelievable! Crazy! Stupid! Those are just a few of the comments about
this ruling that I’ve read or heard just from members of Congress. 7. When I started to school in the first grade I learned the Pledge of
Allegiance and I’ve always thought that the pledge had been around since the
birth of our country. 8. Surprisingly enough the pledge was originally written in 1892 by a Baptist
preacher in New York who wanted it to be a peace pledge for all
nations. (1. Instead of “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States
of America” the pledge said, “I pledge allegiance to ‘my flag’. (2. In 1924 this was changed to the present wording and the
phrase “under God” was added in 1954 after a two year campaign by the Knights
of Columbus a Catholic men’s organization. 9. Our current situation is because of a lawsuit brought by an atheist who
didn’t want his daughter even to be in the same room with other
children who recited the pledge. 10. The atheist, Michael Newdow is an emergency room doctor who has a law
degree. (2. A very intelligent man who cannot accept the spiritual fact that
there is a God, someone smarter than he is. 11. Personally I’ve never doubted that there was a God. Somehow in my heart
I always knew that there is a God. 12. I like what Abraham Lincoln said about atheism, Lincoln said, “I can see
how it might be possible for a man to look down upon the earth and be
an atheist, but I cannot conceive how he could look up into the heavens
and say there is no God.” Page 3 I. How did we ever get into this situation with the pledge thing? Is this
the first wake up call that our country has received? 1. No, this is not the first wake up call that we have received. The courts
legalized abortion and what did we do? (1. We hit the snooze button and rolled over and went back to sleep.
2. The courts have virtually outlawed prayer in school and what did we do? (1. We hit the snooze button and rolled over and went back to sleep. 3. The courts are making city, county, state, and federal governmental
authorities remove symbols of Christianity from all public property and what
have we done and are we doing about it? (1. We hit the snooze button and rolled over and went back to sleep. 4. State after state has legalized gambling and established state lotteries
and what have we done about it? (1. We hit the snooze button and rolled over and went back to sleep. 5. The courts are ruling that the Ten Commandments cannot be displayed on
public property and what have done about it? (1. We hit the snooze button and rolled over and went back to sleep. 6. Michael Newdow and many others are saying that “In God We Trust” must be
removed from our currency. (1. and any reference or inference about God must be removed from
every area of public life. Page 4 (2. What will we do about it? Probably, hit the snooze button and
rolled over and went back to sleep. 7. No longer is the Christian God consider the God of America but only one of
many gods worshipped in this country as we saw demonstrated after
September 11. (1. And what have we done about it? 8. There are now Wiccan and Muslim army chaplains and what have we done about
it? 9. What have we done about all of these affronts to Christianity, to our
faith, to our God? Very Little! (1. In effect we have hit the snooze button and rolled over and went
back to sleep. II. Why have we done nothing? Because even though we recite “one nation,
indivisible, under God” our nation is not really “under God.” 1. We as a nation do not live “under God.” The Bible says, “…humble
yourselves under the mighty hand of God.” (1. Do we really believe that this nation is humbled under God? 2. But the problem is much deeper than that. The reason we have not woke up
and said enough is enough in the past is because we ourselves do not
live our lives “under God.” (1. That’s the problem. And that’s why things continue to get
worse. That’s why there is this continuing downward spiral in morality. 3. The American people appear to be truly outraged at the thought of the
phrase “under God” being removed from the pledge of allegiance. Page 5 (1. I liked what Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa said and I hope it is
true, "This decision is so much out of the mainstream of thinking of
Americans and the culture and values that we hold in America, that any
Congressman that voted to take it out would be putting his tenure in Congress
in jeopardy at the next election." (2. After the court ruling a hundred or so Congressmen and women
stood on the Capitol steps and recited the pledge of allegiance including the
phrase “under God.” (3. President Bush and other leaders have expressed their outrage. 4. And the court is already backing down from their position. 5. But where has been the outrage from our legislators and the people of this
country at partial birth abortions which is simply cold blooded murders of babies? 6. Where has been the outrage at homosexual marriages and adoptions.
(1. Where has been the outrage that we have an openly practicing
homosexual serving in the Congress of the United States? 7. The great Roman Empire finally fell but it was a gradual thing.
Edward Gibbon, in his work, “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”
(1. noted there were five major causes for the decline and fall of
the Roman empire. 1. The breakdown of the family and the increase of
divorce. 2. The spiraling rise of taxes and extravagant
spending. 3. The mounting desire for pleasure and the
brutalization of sports. Page 6 4. The continual production of armaments to face
ever increasing threats of enemy attacks. 5. The decay of religion into many confusing forms,
leaving the people without a uniform faith. (2. And it is obvious that we have all of these elements present in
our country today. 8. Many years ago in Alexis de Tocqueville, the famous French political
philosopher, came to America to visit. (1. He came here when this nation was very young to find the secret
of the nation’s greatness. 9. He traveled from town to town, talking with people and asking questions.
He examined our young national government, our schools and
centers of business, (1. But did not find the source of our strength.
10. Not until he visited the churches of America and witnessed the pulpits of
this land “aflame with righteousness” did he find the secret of our
greatness. 11. Returning to France, he summarized his findings with this word of
warning: “America is great because America is good, and if America ever
ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” III. How will it ever change? I pray that the outrage we are seeing now is
the beginning. I pray that it will continue to grow. 1. There can be change, it took a two year campaign by a determined
organization to get those two words “under God” in the pledge. (1. We need to be just as determined to turn back the tide of
paganism, atheism and evil that keeps rising higher and higher. Page 7 2. Each of us have a responsibility before God and before there will be
change we ourselves must change. 3. Not only should our nation be “under God” but also hopefully every
Christian should consider themselves to be under God. (1. To receive Jesus as our Savior we must humble ourselves to the
point of realization and acknowledgement that we cannot save
ourselves. (2. We are therefore “under God” if we know Jesus as our personal Savior. 3. As Christians we should also be “under God” in every area of our lives. (1. Each day we make many decisions, do we consider God’s will or do
we exclude Him? (2. Are those decisions “under God” or are they under our own
personal desires. This thought can be extended to everything in our lives
from our marriages to our careers. 4. George Sweeting wrote that, “The greatest obstacle to the conversion of
Nineveh was not to be found in Nineveh. It was not the sin and
corruption of the Ninevites, although those were great. It was not the
graft-ridden police force or corrupt politicians. It was not the false
cults and religions. The biggest obstacle to the salvation of Nineveh was
found in the heart of a pious, prejudiced man named Jonah. There was
no deceitfulness in all of Nineveh like the deceitfulness in Jonah’s
heart. Jonah was the key to the salvation of Nineveh. God’s
people are the key to the spiritual climate of our nation and the world.” 5. What we need in this country is simply an old fashioned revival, a turning
of the hearts and lives of the people to God, for us to place our
hearts and lives, under the mighty hand of God. Page 8 6. R. A. Torrey wrote about how to bring that about, he says, “I can give a
prescription that will bring revival . . . Revival to any church, or
community, or any city on earth. First: Let a few Christians get thoroughly right with God. If this
is not done, the rest will come to nothing. Second: Let them bind themselves together to pray for revival until
God opens the windows of heaven and comes down. Third: Let them put themselves at the disposal of God for His use as
He sees fit in winning others to Christ. That is all. I have given
this prescription around the world . . . And in no instance has it
failed. It cannot fail.” 7. Joshua was talking about this as well when he said, “And if it seems evil
to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you
will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the
other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you
dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15).”
8. We too have a choice to make. Will we choose to serve the One True Living
God humbling ourselves under His mighty hand or will we serve
ourselves? IV. In the early 1800s a 17-year-old Hawaiian boy arrived in New Haven and
was found weeping on the steps of the University in New Haven. 1. Three years before he had watched as his parents will killed before his
eyes in that evil society. Henry Obookiah fled for his life working
on ships. 2. Some theology students found Henry on the steps, took and interest in him,
and led him to Christ. One of the students was named Hiram Bingham,
and Henry and Hiram became good friends. Page 9 3. As they studied the Bible together, they were deeply impressed with the
Great Commission as stated in Mark 16:15, “Go into all the world and
preach the gospel to every creature.” 4. Henry Obookiah died shortly afterward, and a grieving Hiram felt he should
go to Henry's homeland as a missionary. "We
can hardly fail the injunction, 'Go ye into all the world and preach
the gospel to every creature." 5. Once in Hawaii, Hiram and his fellow workers began
translating the New Testament, establishing schools, and tending
the sick and diseased. 6. As he preached the gospel, he often used his favorite text, Mark 16:15. A
typical journal entry reads: "I discoursed on the great commission given
by Christ to his disciples to proclaim his gospel to all the world." 7. He baptized his first convert in the summer of 1823, Keopuolani, mother of
the king. (1. Within five years, over 12,000 people were regularly attending
Sunday services at several stations, and 26,000 students were
enrolled in mission schools. 8. By 1838, the islands were in a state of full revival, with thousands
coming to Christ. Over 1,705 people were baptized on a single day, July 1,
1838. 9. Hiram Bingham returned home, broken in health, in 1841;
but he had been an active participant in one of the greatest
evangelistic efforts in Christian history. 10. A morally bankrupt society which had killed Henry Obookiah’s parents and
from which Henry had fled had been transformed by the power of God. Page 10 11. The fact is that if we will turn to God our country can be transformed as
well the moral decline can be turned around by the power of God. V. That is that we have been given a wake up call. What happens if we
continue to slumber, continue to sleep, continue to hit the snooze button.
1. Peter gives us the warning here in I Peter (5b) where he says, “God
resists the proud.” (exp) 2. After Peter tells us that we can cast all our cares on God because God
cares for us - (1. Peter again gives us the word of warning saying, “Be sober, be
vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring
lion, seeking whom he may devour (I Peter 5:8).” 3. If we as individuals and as a nations persist in our denial of the
spiritual realities, persist in our immoralities, persist in our ignoring the
evil that is growing stronger and stronger. 4. We will some day find as the Israelites found in the day of the Judges
that God resists those who go their own way, who live for themselves. (1. We will find that our adversary is upon us. 5. What must we do? We must as Peter says: “humble ourselves under the
mighty hand of God (I Peter 5:6a).” “Be sober be vigilant (I Peter
5:8a).” “Resist him (the devil), steadfast in the faith (I Peter 5:9a).” 6. We have a choice to make. We must choose who we will serve before it is
too late and we no longer have a choice. Page 11 7. As Joshua said, “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve,
whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the
River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as
for me and my house, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15).” 8. The choice is the same today for each of us will we place ourselves “under
God” and serve Him? 9. Or will we continue to snooze away and by our inaction find that we have
chosen to serve the enemy instead of God. 10. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. What about your
house? What about you? 11. Will “under God” continue to be just words or will it be the way you live
every day, every hour of your life. 12. The choice is up to you. But please please don’t just hit the snooze
button!! 13. Wake up!!
Of Crooked Rivers and Men
“Prepare the way of the Lord; make His paths straight. Every valley shall be
filled and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be
made straight and the rough ways smooth; and all flesh shall see the
salvation of God.” - Luke 3:4c-6.
INTRO: There is a very well known anonymous folk saying which
says, “Following the path of least resistance is what makes rivers and men
1. Doing a quick search on the Internet I found over 300 pages including this
statement and there are probably many more than that.
2. Mark Twain in his book “Life on the Mississippi” says about the
Mississippi River: "It is the longest river in the world... it seems safe to
say that it is the most crooked river in the world, since in one part of its
journey it uses up to one thousand three hundred miles to cover the same
ground that the crow would fly over in six hundred and seventy-five."
Twain goes on to say: “The water cuts the alluvial banks of the "lower" river
into deep horseshoe curves; so deep, indeed, that in some places if you were
to get ashore at one extremity of the horseshoe and walk across the neck,
half or three-quarters of a mile, you could sit down and rest a couple of
hours while your steamer was coming around the long elbow at a speed of ten
miles an hour to take you on board again.”
He says: “If you will throw a long, pliant apple-paring over your shoulder,
it will pretty fairly shape itself into an average section of the Mississippi
3. The river you see follows the path of least resistance and instead of a
straight path takes more than twice as many miles to travel what would be a
4. What is true of rivers is often true of people as well. Instead of
following a straight path through life our lives become crooked and perverse.
5. We wonder why some people do what they do and it is because they have been
following the path of least resistance for so long their way of thinking has
(1. And because their thinking is perverted or crooked their actions
are perverted or crooked.
6. For example: Maurice Gladney explained he robbed someone on the street in
St. Louis because it would help him deal with his distress following the
Rams’ losing in the Super Bowl.
(1. Now that is definitely some crooked thinking.
7. Then there is Donald Guthrie who after robbing the M&T Bank in Lock Haven,
Pennsylvania said that he needed the money to pay for the bill he owed to the
bail bondsman from his last arrest.
8. But the one that really defines crooked thinking is Douglas Harrison and
Robert Fremer who said they became robbers because they wanted to go back to
(1. Why? Because jail felt like home to them.
9. Crookedness and perverseness had become their very nature.
I. In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus tells us “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is
the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many
who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which
leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
1. To the extent that we follow the wisdom of the world, which is the “broad
gate”, we too will have crookedness in our lives.
2. So, assuming that we do not want to end up like Douglas Harrison and
Robert Fremer thinking that the best thing we can do is to commit an armed
robbery so we can go home to jail -
(1. Assuming that we want to avoid the crookedness and perverseness
that warps the lives of people just as traveling the path of least resistance
makes a crooked river.
(2. Assuming that how do we have life, a life that is straight and
true, and good?
3. In order to have salvation, to be saved we must enter in the “narrow gate”
which is Jesus Christ (John 14:6).
4. Through Jesus we find the only way of salvation, we find truth, and we
5. Jesus is not the path of least resistance. Following Jesus is not the
easy life (Luke 9:23-26) but it is the only life that will allow and empower
us to avoid the crookedness of the world.
II. Through Jesus we find salvation and we also find truth. Pilate we
remember asked Jesus “What is Truth?”
1. Because in John 18:37 Jesus responding to another of Pilate’s questions
about whether he was a king said: “You say rightly that I am a king. For
this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I
should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My
(1. And Pilate asked, “What is Truth?
2. Jesus stood alone before Pilate who in this world was his judge. Pilate
had to know the truth to decide what was true.
3. Once Pilate knew the truth he had to decide what to do with it. I think
it is interesting that after Pilate asked the question of Jesus, “What is
(1. Pilate didn’t wait to hear how Jesus would answer. Pilate
already knew the Truth.
(2. Truth was a person and Pilate knew that Truth was Jesus.
4. Instead of waiting to hear what Jesus would say he immediately went out to
the mob of people and said, “I find no fault in Him at all.”
5. Pilate had found the truth.
6. As we walk through life truth is something that we must constantly
7. We automatically determine the truth about little things on a constant
(1. Through truth we determine reality.
8. Is it true that it is cold outside or is that just my imagination.
Is it true that fire is hot and will burn you?
Is it true that if I drive on the wrong side of the road I will eventually run
into someone else driving on the right side of the road?
Is it true if I don’t get an education life will be harder?
Is it true if I don’t work I won’t be able to eat?
Is it true that obeying my parents is the best thing for me to do?
Is it true that obeying the law will keep me out of trouble?
Is it true that if I don’t obey the law that eventually there will be
Is it true that if I drink or do drugs that it will harm my body, my mind, and
possibly my children?
9. Determining the truth determines which direction we take in life. If we
fail to determine the truth we will make wrong decisions which will result in
our going in the wrong direction.
10. Make enough wrong decisions based on our failure to correctly determine
the truth and we end up with twists and turns and a crooked and perverse life.
11. So, how do we determine the truth? The very best way is to have Truth in
your life. And truth just as Pilate determined is a person.
(1. And that person is who? Jesus!
12. Jesus is Truth! Just as He said He was. If we have Truth residing
within us we will be much more likely be able to determine the truth, make
the right decision, and go in the right direction.
13. In the Gospel of John, Jesus Christ is the Word become flesh. The Word
of God, the Bible is literally the Truth of God.
14. The more we read, study, memorize, and meditate upon the Word of God the
more Truth we will have in our lives.
(1. “All Scripture” Paul tells Timothy and us “is given by
inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for
correction, for instruction in righteousness.”
(2. Jesus says in John 8:31-32, “If you abide in My word, you are My
disciples indeed, and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you
(3. And Jesus says in John 15:7, “If you abide in Me, and My words
abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”
15. Jesus makes it clear that the reverse of this is true as well if you
neglect the Truth you will be like “your father the devil.”
16. How much better it is to seek the Truth, to have the Spirit of Truth
living within us. Jesus says, “…when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, he
will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority,
but whatever He hears He will speak….”
17. When we have the Truth in our lives we won’t be making all of those
detours walking around in circles any longer.
III. Not only is Jesus the Way of salvation, and the Truth, He is also the
Life. He is the Prince of Life.
1. In Acts 3:14-15 Peter says to the Jews after God had healed the lame
man, “But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to
be granted to you, and killed the Prince of Life whom God raised from the
dead, of which we are witnesses.”
2. If we want to have life instead of deadness, if we want to be alive
instead of just going through the motions of life, wandering around in
circles then we need the Prince of Life, Jesus Christ in our lives.
3. That is why Jesus came to this earth He says, “I am come that they may
have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
4. How can we have life? Real life? We must abide in Him who is life.
Jesus says (John 15:5;7), “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who
abides in Me, and I in him, bear much fruit; for without Me you can do
“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire,
and it shall be done for you.”
5. Only through Jesus who is the Prince of Life can we have the abundant
life, quality life.
IV. I want to share with the testimony of a woman named Shari. She says:
I was raised in a Baptist Church close to where I attend now. I was raised in,
Maryland and have never left. I was baptized when I was 10 years old, after a
revival, with about 15 other children (my older brother was one of them - 11
months older). Maybe it was the excitement, maybe it was because everyone
else was doing it, maybe it was because my brother did it and I had to be "one
up" on him. At the time, I'm not sure that I realized what it meant fully.
As time passed, my parents separated, my father would not pay child support
for four children, and my mother had to work 2 - 3 jobs to make ends meet.
Therefore, we (the four children) were left home alone alot - late at night
on weekends because my mother was a bartender.
I suppose to find love in the wrong places is what led me to the drugs. I went
along for three years hanging out with the "crowd" before I actually did
anything. At 16, my brother was the one who actually got me "turned on" to
marijuana. And from there is was onto anything that anyone had to get high. I
stopped going to church (mainly because I had to sleep off whatever high I
was on the night before) and I didn't search for God (although I know He was
there the whole time.)
I wound up in an abusive relationship when I was 17 and stayed in this
relationship until 19 (almost even married him). He beat me almost every
other weekend, and I hit back. Finally, through much prayer on my mother's and
grandparent's part, and I'm sure alot of other people, I broke up with him.
This was a great relief to those who love me. But it was still not the end.
I met and married another man who was also into the drug scene. He didn't hit
me so everyone thought he was great. I lived with him for a year before we
Shortly after we were married, we decided to have a child and I became
pregnant. I smoked marijuana during my pregnancy, and luckily my first
daughter was a healthy child. She did have a low birth weight, though, and
collicky too. Because of drugs, we had to sell the trailer we lived in and
move in with his parents for about a year.
I left him (went to stay at my mother's for a couple of days). Then I found
out that I was expecting another child and went back. This time, I did not
smoke anything and had another healthy girl, higher in weight.
When our second child was only one month old, I was freebasing cocaine and
freaked out. I kept checking the girls, thinking they were going to stop
breathing, looking outside for the cops, etc. It was the longest night in my
life! I prayed to God that night that if He helped me get through the night I
would never touch any drugs again. And HE did! And I Did! (Stopped doing drugs)
I left my husband when our second daughter was only 5 months old because he
wouldn't stop doing drugs and we were in serious debt. Also, because I
wouldn't do them with him anymore, he was sleeping with another woman.
I did not date anyone until I met my present husband (after I had been
separated from my first husband 1 1/2 years). We dated for two years and
married. He was not into the drug thing. I have been married to him now 10
years. During that time, I have constantly gone to church and looked to the
Lord for guidance. It's wonderful how loving and forgiving the Lord can be
when you've spit in his face for so long.
My husband came to know the Lord in September of 1994, was baptized, and is an
active member of our church. We now have 4 daughters altogether. Our youngest
is five and she knows nothing but going to church on Sunday mornings and
evenings, and Wednesday nights. She even prays on Wednesday nights at prayer
My oldest daughter is now 15, and thinks that people who do that kind of thing
to themselves (like Shari did) are stupid, and searching for something. I
have always been honest about my past experience with my two oldest daughters,
hoping that it will help them decide not to do those things. So far, it has worked.
It's a joy to see what the Lord can do with someone who thought they weren't
worth much. I am now our Sunday School Director (4 years now), our VBS
Director (this year will make 9), and the church Secretary. And I totally
enjoy my life.
Conclusion: I think we can see very clearly in Shari’s life how constantly
making the wrong decisions brought about total chaos and death in her life.
Things becoming worse and worse.
1. Her life had become very crooked and perverse. But when she turned to
Jesus what happened?
(1. The crooked was straightened out.
2. John the Baptist quoting the words of Isaiah said “The crooked places
shall be made straight and the rough ways smooth.” Then he said, “all flesh
shall see the salvation of God.”
(1. The salvation of God is Jesus.
3. Only through Jesus can we daily deny ourselves take up our crosses and
(1. Only through Jesus can we avoid the crookedness and perverseness
of the world.
(2. Only through Jesus can the crooked be made straight.
4. There is a place in the Mississippi River that is not crooked and Mark
Twain says: The two-hundred-mile stretch from Cairo northward to St. Louis
is by no means so crooked, that being a rocky country which the river cannot
5. And Jesus is what? He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and He is the Rock.
6. Paul says of the Israelites in the wilderness, “all were baptized into
Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all
drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that
followed them, and that Rock was Christ (I Corinthians 10:4).”
7. If our life is in Christ it will be like that channel of the Mississippi
that is straight because of the rocky land. Our lives will be straight and
true as well if abide in our Lord Jesus. Who is the Rock.
8. Looking back at the path of your life do you see a path that is straight
and true or are there some curves and squiggles back there?
9. You don’t have to keep going this way, and that way, in a crooked pattern
all of your life.
10. You don’t have to keep making those wrong decisions. You don’t have to
keep on doing wrong thing after wrong thing.
11. Allow the Lord to keep your path straight and true. Follow Him. Focus
in upon Jesus (Hebrews 12:3).
12. His path is not the path of least resistance but it is the path of Truth,
Life, and eternal Joy.
I Peter 5:5-11
“Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of
you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility,
for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore
humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in
due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” - I
INTRO: Watching the Olympic skating one night this week I was surprised to
find the drama unfolding of a 16 year old unexpectedly winning the gold
1. Sarah Hughes said, "Tonight was probably my greatest skate ever. Going
into it, I didn't really think I had a chance for a medal, let alone a gold
because I know the competition is really difficult here."
2. Sarah’s competitors were excellent with years of training behind them in
preparation for the few moments of last night’s event.
3. And how about those Canadian skaters? They had already been awarded the
silver medal and the Russians had already won the gold.
(1. No chance for the Canadians to win the gold or at least that’s
what they thought, and everyone else thought.
(2. But we know that the Canadians no longer have a silver medal,
they too have the gold.
4. Over and over again in the Bible we see that those who thought they didn’t
have a chance or the world thought didn’t have a chance are blessed
and raised up by God.
5. The world laughed at Noah but he and his family were the only ones to
survive the flood.
6. Joseph was sold into slavery, unjustly thrown into prison and yet rose to
become the second most powerful person in the most powerful country of
the known world.
7. David was just a shepherd boy, even his own family thought he was
unimportant to the national drama unfolding with the Philistine giant taunting
(1. But David did what? He slew the giant Goliath and outlasted the
onslaught of King Saul to be the king of a great empire.
8. Shadrach, Mehsach, and Abednego survived the fiery furnace and were raised
9. Daniel continued to pray to God even when it was outlawed and was cast
into the lion’s den but survived through angelic intervention.
(1. Daniel the Bible says, “Prospered.”
10. Our Lord Jesus was just a poor carpenter’s son who was rejected by the
world but the world could not change the fact that Jesus was God
Incarnate, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.
11. Humble yourself under God’s mighty hand and He will lift you up. That is
a promise that we can count on.
(1. We may not be lifted up to fame and glory on planet earth but we
will be lifted up.
12. Peter says, “…and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the
crown of glory that does not fade away (I Peter 5:4).” “But may the
God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus,
after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen,
and settle you (I Peter 5:10).”
13. The world may say you do not have a chance. Your own family may say you
do not have a chance.
(1. Your own heart may say you do not have a chance. Do not trust in
14. Humble yourself under God’s mighty hand casting all your cares, burdens,
anxieties upon Him and He will lift you up in due time.
(1. That is reality, that is truth, that is the promise of God.
15. So let’s talk these things that Peter tells us we need to do in order to
have a chance in life.
I. Peter says the most about humility. He says we should submit/humble
ourselves to those who are older, we should submit/humble to each other.
1. and finally we should submit/humble ourselves to God. But part of
humbling ourselves to God is the humbling ourselves before those who are older
and to each other.
2. Pride is an insidious thing which we human beings seem to be born
3. It is just against our fleshly nature to want to be humble, it is against
our nature to submit ourselves to anyone or anything.
4. But when we do humble ourselves God promises to bless us. It is sometimes
an immediate blessing but usually it is in the eternal that we
receive the blessing.
5. Twenty-seven years ago now I was working at my second job in the oilfield
and I hated it.
(1. I liked the money, and I was glad I had a job but I didn’t like
the long, long hours and being away from home so much.
6. I was a Christian but I was not living like a Christian. I most
definitely was not submitting myself to God. I was not humbling myself before
(1. I was doing just the opposite.
7. God finally got my attention and I came to a point of decision. I could
continue on down the road I was going and things were going to
become worse and worse.
(1. Or, I could turn back. I could humble myself before God, commit
myself to follow Him and to do what He wanted.
8. I was alone in a motel room in Oklahoma City when I got down on my knees
and ask God to forgive me once again and to help me to live for Him.
9. Nothing immediately seemed to change. I was still working for the same
company. Working long hours.
(1. One job we went out early on a Friday morning and got back home
on Monday morning. There was no sleeping it was work the whole time.
(2. But we set a new company record for the amount of money made in a
10. I heard our Assistant Unit manager and one of the assistant operators
talking about a new company that was buying a new electronic inspection unit
and needed an operator.
(1. They were both applying and thought they had a good chance at the
11. It sounded like a good job but I didn’t think I had a chance because I
had only recently become an assistant operator on our casing inspection
Page 5 12. I didn’t know that much about inspecting drill pipe or the ends on pipe
which this job would be involved in.
13. A friend of ours had an answering service and had heard about the job
too. She asked if I would be interested and told the company owner about me.
14. Two weeks after I had made a commitment to God humbling myself before
Him, I had a new job.
(1. It was a job that I was unqualified for, that there was no
reasonable way to explain why I had the job, but I did.
(2. And that job was like paradise compared to what I had been doing.
15. There is a direct relationship between humbling ourselves to God and our
life here on earth.
16. If you want to have a chance at life at real life, at the abundant life
here on Planet Earth you need to humble yourself to God and be
obedient to Him.
II. There is also a direct relationship between humbling ourselves to God and
our life in eternity.
1. Before a person can be saved they must humble themselves to God.
2. This is required because before we can be saved we must agree with God
that we cannot save ourselves and that there is no other way to be saved than
the Way that God has provided.
3. What way is that? John 14:6; John 3:16
4. There is a misconception that many people have about salvation. One
misconception is that we have to be perfectly good in order to be saved.
5. But if we had to depend upon our own goodness we could never get to
Heaven. Ephesians 2:8-9
(1. For example, How many of you have ever told any kind of falsehood
whether it was a little white lie or a whopper?
(2. Have many of you have ever taken even one little thing that was
not yours. A pencil, a piece of paper…
6. So, as one preacher said it’s good to know whom I’m talking to apparently
a bunch of liars and thieves.
7. James says something that you need to hear and understand in James
2:10, “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point,
he is guilty of all.”
8. You may be obedient in God in everything except for one little thing and
it would be enough to send you to an eternity in hell.
Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23; Hebrews 9:27
9. So knowing that some people believe that it is just not possible for them
to be saved that they have “no chance” of ever making it to Heaven.
10. A man I once worked with, and was for awhile one of my bosses, told me on
the way to a job one day that he knew he didn’t have a chance of going
(1. He knew he couldn’t be good enough to go to Heaven.
(2. He was still going to go to church because that was expected but
he wasn’t counting on that to be enough to be saved.
(3. He had “no chance” he had determined and so he was even going to
try any longer.
11. I tried to talk to him about it but he had already made his decision and
he could not be swayed.
12. How many of you are like that? You don’t think you really have a chance
of going to Heaven and so you are just going to try to do what best
pleases you here on earth.
13. Oh, you aren’t going to stop coming to church, or at least you are going
to come every once in awhile.
(1. But you know that’s not going to get you to Heaven because you
know you don’t have a chance of making it.
14. I want you to know that you are wrong! My friend was wrong and is
wrong. No we can’t be good enough.
(1. But God knew that and He at great cost has provided a way for us
to be made right with Him. (EXP)
(2. If only we will humble ourselves before Him and accept His Way,
Jesus Christ as our Savior.
1. We will be saved and He will lift us up to be with Him in
eternity forever, and ever.
II. Then there are some of us who believe we have eternal life because of our
faith in Jesus but we aren’t really living for Him.
(1. We are not living our lives in Jesus.
1. Why not? Because for whatever reason we have come to believe that we can
never do anything of any importance in the Kingdom of God.
(1. And that therefore how we live doesn’t make any kind of
(2. I have one word for you. WRONG! You’re WRONG!
2. Just because you think that how you live your life doesn’t make a
difference and that you have “no chance” to make a difference doesn’t make
3. In I Corinthians 1:25-28 Paul says, “Because the foolishness of God is
wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For you see
your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not
many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the
foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen
the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;
and the base things of the world and the things which are despised
of God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to
nothing the things that are.”
4. If you feel like you don’t have a chance to make a difference, and that
you are not worthy to make a difference in the lives of others, and
that God would never use you -
(1. I’ve got one word for you! WRONG!
5. The reality is that you are just the person that God is looking for
because why? Because God chooses those whom the world says doesn’t have a
6. God chooses the weak, and the lowly that through you He may demonstrate
His power and glory.
7. God wants to make a difference in the lives of so many people in this
community and across this world.
8. And the amazing thing is that He wants to use you to do that.
(1. God chooses YOU!
9. And it all comes down to whether you will humble yourself before Him,
submit to Him, and follow Him.
10. You have a chance to make a difference in the world because God says you
# Being a godly aunt or a good uncle, mother, or father, grandparent will
make a difference.
(1. I want to share with you about a boy who some people helped along
the way. Let’s call him Dwight.
(2. Dwight was born on his mother's birthday on a small New England
(3. He was only four when his father, who was a farmer, bricklayer
and an alcoholic, died suddenly at age 41.
(4. His mother was now a widow at the age of 36 with seven children.
The oldest child was thirteen and the youngest was Dwight.
(5. Just one month after the death of the father twins were born
making nine the number of children in the family.
(6. Dwight went to school as often as he could through the seventh
grade but often was unable to attend as he had to work on
neighboring farms to help the family survive.
(1. As a result his speech was terrible and he was barely
able to read.
(7. On his seventeenth birthday his uncle in Boston agreed to let him
come and live with them and work in his little shoe store.
(8. One of the requirements the uncle made was attendance in church.
(9. Dwight didn’t like church all that much but a Sunday School
teacher Edward Kimball encouraged him.
(10. About a year after Dwight had arrived in Boston his Edward
Kimball walked into the shoe store one day where Dwight was wrapping shoes.
(11. He told Dwight he wanted to tell him how much God loved him.
Dwight soon was kneeling on the floor and praying for God to save
him. He would later say, "I was in a new world. The birds sang sweeter,
the sun shone brighter. I'd never known such peace."
(12. But his church wasn’t sure about his salvation and so he had to
wait a year before they would let him be a member.
(13. Those seem like little things don’t they that Dwight’s uncle and
Sunday School teacher did?
(14. Dwight’s uncle gave his poor nephew a place to live, a job and
made him go to church.
(15. Dwight’s Sunday School teacher was kind to him, encouraged him
and told him how he could be saved.
(16. Those two men had no idea that Dwight would become one of the
greatest evangelist the world has ever known.
(17. Today when think of the premier evangelist of the last half of
the twentieth century we think of Billy Graham.
(18. The premier evangelist of the last half of the 19th century was
Dwight L. Moody.
(19. Who would have thought being kind to a poor ill spoken, almost
illiterate farm boy would make any kind of difference for God?
(20. We know it made the eternal difference in the lives of millions
of people who have been touched by the ministry of Dwight L.
CONCLUSION: I want you to know, and God wants you to know that you do have “a
1. You do have a chance to be saved to live eternally in Heaven in the House
of the Lord.
2. You do have a chance to have the abundant life here on Planet Earth.
3. You do have a chance to make and eternal difference in the hearts and
lives of countless people across this world.
4. The world may say you do not have a chance. Your own family may say you
do not have a chance.
(1. Your own heart may say you do not have a chance. Do not trust in
5. All you have to do is humble yourself under God’s mighty hand casting all
your cares, burdens, anxieties upon Him and He will lift you up in due
(1. That is the reality, that is the truth, that is the promise
LIVING IN LOVE
1 Corinthians 13 INTRO: All of us feel somewhat helpless when we stop to think of the many
problems the world faces at this point in time.
1. We have the great uncertainty about terrorism - when and how will they
strike again and what can we do about it? Will we have to go to war again
Iraq, Iran, and North Korea?
2. Then there continues to be so many other problems. The economy, the
growing unemployment, so many that are hungry and desperate across the world.
3. These issues appear to be so overwhelming as to make any personal attempt to
resolve them seem hopeless from the start.
4. One thing we may have overlooked, however, is that there is a personal
dimension to each of these problems, and that solutions depend in great
measure on how each individual acts.
5. The truth is this: no matter how great the plan that can be developed to
deal with the world’s many problems,
(1. they will not work unless we have the qualities of life and
character which enable us to live in peace with each another.
6. Most of the problems that face the world today are only extensions of a
basic personal problem; and that is of being fit to live with.
7. Whether we are fit to live with or not is the problem for the world as a
whole and cause of most of the world’s great problems.
8. Of course, being fit to live with is the secret of a good home and a good
church. There are many ways that people in a home and in the church
frustrate and aggravate one another.
9. It is the major crises which unite the members of a family, and what we
call the "little things" that tear apart the personal bonds:
(1. Those little things of moodiness, irritability, hatefulness,
quarreling, jealousy; that is to say, those things that make people unfit to
(2. And when people are hurting or having problems that is not the
time add to their pain.
# (This illustration is from an Our Daily Bread Devotional) A Detroit
newspaper reported that a patient in a local hospital was shot and killed as he
lay in his bed recovering from a previous gunshot wound.
(1. The victim had been in fair condition prior to the shooting and
was looking forward to going home.
1. Hospital patients and employees were shocked.
(2. A spokesperson said that nothing like this had happened in the 50
years of the hospital’s existence.
(3. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could say the same for our homes
1. That in 50 years of marriage or 50 years of worship, and
2. that we had not had a single instance of a wounded family
member or church member being cut down by the unkindness of a
10. Elton Trueblood, who was a Quaker, said about this type of conflict: "The
family can be the scene of wonderful affection, and it can
also be the scene of debasing friction... A successful marriage is not
one in which two people, beautifully matched, find each other and get
along happily ever after because of this initial matching. It is,
instead, a system by means of which persons who are contentious are so caught
by a dream bigger than themselves that they work through the years,
in spite of repeated disappointments, to make the dream come
11. This principle can be extended through all of the areas of our life
(1. Just as being fit to live with is the secret of a good home, it
is the secret of good business or of having any kind of professional
or personal relationship with others.
12. As the whole world has changed with the speed of communication and travel.
The ability of nations to get along with each other has become
increasingly necessary for the world’s survival.
(1. Nation’s must be fit to live with just as individuals should
13. This is the heart of the problem: facing all the limitations and
difficulties of being human, how are we going to be fit to live with?
I. The apostle Paul was dealing with this same problem in his letter to the
little group of Christians who lived in Corinth, one of the great
crossroads of the ancient world.
1. Paul says in I Cor. 12:14, “A body is not a single organ, but many.
Suppose the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I don’t belong to the
body." It still belongs to the body! The eye cannot say to the
hand, "I don’t need you;" nor the head to the feet, "I don’t need you." On
the contrary: if one organ suffers, they all suffer together. If one
flourishes, they all rejoice together.”
2. Applied to our present situation, that picture of the body represents the
fact that tension between functions, impatience with differing
(1. or finding any little irritating thing a person does as an
opportunity to throw a fit or cause problems, or complain, or say some hateful
cuting word keeps us from living peacefully with each other
1. and keeps us from experiencing the abundant life.
When we hurt each other we are just hurting ourselves.
3. And Paul, who was facing just that kind of situation, moved directly to
his solution to the problem; that is, his great statement on love.
4. He was driven to it by the logic of the situation, because he saw that
only love can make people fit to live together.
"Love is patient, love is kind and envies no one. Love is never boastful, or
conceited, or rude; never selfish, nor quick to take offense. Love
keeps no score of wrongs; does not gloat over other’s sins, but delights
in the truth. There is nothing that love cannot face; there is no
limit to its faith, its hope, and its endurance." (I Corinthians 13:4-7)
5. You see, being fit to live with is not an oversimplification. It goes to
the basics of how we live life.
6. So how do we become fit to live with? We need to follow Paul’s logic.
7. Paul’s discussion of the relationship of the parts of the body poured out
like a river into his words about love.
8. The argument goes like this: If we are members of one body, then the
relationship which we have to one another is of vital importance.
9. # During the thirteenth century, Emperor Frederick ruled the Holy Roman
Empire. He was a man with great curiosity, and the tales of his raging quests
for knowledge are well known in literature.
10. One of the books which records some of these experiments bears the
title: "The Follies of the Emperor," which gives a pretty good indication
of what people thought of his scholarship.
11. There is one story which will shed some light on the importance of love
and communication of that love.
(1. Frederick wondered what language had been spoken in the Garden of
Eden. Had it been Hebrew? Greek? Latin? How was he to find out?
(2. He reasoned that since Adam and Eve had been left to figure out
things for themselves,
1. he need only recreate the conditions in which they had
begun to speak, and he would have his answer.
(Probably never occurred to Frederick that God may have created Adam and Eve
as adults and blessed them with speech from the moment of their creation.
(3. He decided to take a few babies at the moment of their birth and
isolate them so that they would never hear human speech until they
heard their own.
(4. To accomplish this, he arranged for several babies to be raised
by nurses who were told to maintain absolute silence.
(5. As difficult as it was for these women to keep quiet with the
children, nevertheless, they succeeded.
(6. According to the record, not one of them uttered a single word to
any of the children.
(7. And the story ends by saying: "the experimental conditions were a
success, but unfortunately the children died."
12. What was true for those children is true for us all. We need other people
in order to live; without them we perish.
II. But before we can achieve any needed relationship with others, we must be
able to communicate with them.
1. If we are members of one body, then hate will not work; vengeance,
selfishness, or slander can never solve problems caused by
interdependence. Only love can solve them.
2. This was what Paul was saying, and we need to seriously consider the
3. In order to do so, we must understand that the love about which Paul
speaks is not just a sentimental or romantic emotion, as we often think of it.
(1. And Valentine’s Day has served to perpetuate and increase this
false concept of what love is all about.
(Not that there is anything wrong with Valentine's Day.)
4. The concept of love contained in the New Testament is based upon the fact
that we are all in a relationship with each other
(1. and we must exercise understanding and creative good will, acting
in love if we are going to get along with each other.
5. For example the New Testament commands us to love, but no one can command
us to feel intimate affection for another person.
(1. That is not within the power of our will.
6. What is possible, however, is to continually practice everywhere, with
(1. whether friend or enemy, stranger or loved one, an understanding
and creative good will. We can act in love toward them.
7. Part of our misunderstanding of "love" is that it hasn’t been taken
seriously as a verb.
(1. It is simply not enough to say: "My love for you will never die!"
(2. Our love must be demonstrated as we say, "I love you." So that
the word takes on the active meaning of other related verbs; such
as: "I respect you." "I protect you." "I care about you." "I honor you." "I
forgive you." 8. Many of the descriptions of love found in the Bible reveal its active
qualities. We read: "Whatever you would like for people to do to you, do
that to them."
(1. Or, "Love your neighbor as yourself." -- "Love your enemies" is
part of the same idea.
9. The command to love our enemies does not mean that we are to feel a great
affection for them.
(1. It does, however, mean extending even to them an understanding
and creative good will acting in love toward them so that
enemies may be turned into friends.
10. It is little wonder that non-believers think that agape/Christian love is
crazy when they see it interpreted to mean emotional affection.
(1. But to extend to others understanding and creative good will—
that’s not crazy; that is the very essence of demonstrating being fit to
live with, demonstrating the reality of living in love.
11. Herman Melville, after reading the Sermon on the Mount, defined what he
(1. "a volume bound in rose leaves, clasped with violets and by the
beaks of hummingbirds, printed with peach juice on the leaves of
12. Now that sounds nice but it reduces the gospel to a sentimentalism.
13. Thomas Carlyle spoke in a similar way when he said that the gospel is
composed of "morality tinged with emotion."
14. Unfortunately, both Melville and Carlyle failed to understand the nature
of Christian/agape love.
(1. Christ on the cross is not exactly an image of "rose leaves
clasped with violets,"
(2. and the story of the martyrs of history never could have been
written if the gospel were no more than "morality tinged with emotion."
III. There is something stubborn and hard, determined and steadfast about
love. Bruno Bettelheim, an educator, wrote a book about his experiences with
hard to manage children called Truants from Life.
1. He pointed out that the first necessity in winning a difficult child to a
better response to life is to convince the child that there is love in
2. He went on to say that "the root of a child’s emotional illness is the
absence of love."
3. One boy talked about in the book, after recovering through the
experiencing of love in action said, "It was just a matter of time and little
4. It is a matter of time for love, and a consideration of little things that
makes the difference.
5. If we truly believe that love redeems and restores, while hate destroys,
then we should respond to the unlovable and the difficult with
compassion and with tenderness.
6. If we take a look at the great issues of life from this perspective—that
love can redeem and hate destroy—it is difficult to relegate love to
the realm of sentimentalism or romantic emotion.
(1. Love instead shouldbe the driving force and the creative power of
our lives. Love in action
7. Dr. Albert W. Palmer was the pastor who was involved in the building
program which resulted in the Central Union Church of Honolulu, Hawaii.
8. Just before its completion the architect asked the pastor to provide him
with an inscription to be placed high above the pulpit and the Lord’s
(1. "I want you to give me a text or motto of no more than sixteen
letters or spaces to fit that particular space," he said.
9. The pastor thought and thought about what words to use which would have
just the right number of letters and spaces and yet would be
appropriate for all occasions in the sanctuary.
10. It would have to be appropriate for weddings and funerals, for Christmas
and Easter and other seasons and events. What text would fit
best for all the changing events of the church year?
11. Then, too, Hawaii is a place where many races meet. What text would serve
for Hawaiian, Korean, Portuguese, Filipino, Chinese, Japanese, and
American birth and ancestry?
(1. Would it be appropriate to the ordinances of baptism and
observance of the Lord's Supper?
12. And so, with all these different needs in mind, Dr. Palmer chose the
text: "Love Never Fails."
13. If we want to be fit to live with, I submit that we need this basic
ingredient which was pointed out to us so long ago by the Apostle Paul.
14. There is nothing that love cannot face; there is no limit to its faith,
its hope, and its endurance.
15. Love is the motivating power of that basic quality of life that makes us
fit to live with one another.
IV. So how do we become fit to live with each other?
# (Illustration from an Our Daily Bread Devotional )There was a young woman
who lived in a home where she was very unhappy.
1. She often complained to her friends and told them how difficult it was for
her to stay there.
2. She blamed her parents and the other members of her family for her
discontent and threatened to move out as soon as she could afford to be on her
3. One day, though, her face was graced with a happy smile.
(1. Gone was her usual glum expression. Her eyes were sparkling.
There was a spring in her step.
4. When a friend noticed the difference, she exclaimed, “Things must have
improved at home. I’m so glad for you!”
5. “No,” the young woman responded, “I’m the one who’s different!”
6. Her outlook was brighter and her relationships with others were
(1. It wasn’t because her circumstances had improved, but because she
had experienced a change in her heart.
7. When we are confronted with irritating situations and we begin to feel
sorry for ourselves, we should ask these questions:
(1. Is the trouble really with others? Or could it be me?
8. As we ask the Lord to fill us with his perfect love, it’s amazing how life
begins to look better.
(1. Letting God change us is the best way to change our world. It’s
the best way to change your world!!
9. And it's the only way to live in love and to be fit to live with.
THE SUPER BOWL OF LIFE
INTRO: Whether you like football or not most of you have heard that today is
Super Bowl Sunday.
1. The New England Patriots and the St. Louis Rams are in this year’s edition
of the Super Bowl.
2. Why do people watch the Super Bowl? There are a variety of reasons.
(1. Some watch the Super Bowl because they like football and this is
the premier event in football pitting the top two professional teams.
(2. Some watch the Super Bowl because strangely enough they like to
watch the commercials.
1. I think that I’m in that category to a certain extent.
Compared to what we usually see on television the Super Bowl commercials
are in a category all by themselves.
2. You could call them the super commercials and they have a
super price tag as well.
(1. Advertisers pay as much as two million dollars
for a 30 second ad.
(2. There will be 60 commercial spots during the
Super Bowl but two of them will be anti-terrorism spots from the
3. The commercials are so entertaining that CBS aired a
special Friday night called “Super Bowl’s Greatest Commercials II.
(3. Another reason some people watch the Super Bowl is the halftime
show which always has “star attraction.”
(4. And there are probably other reasons like everyone is watching it
so I’ll watch it too. Or there’s nothing else on TV tonight. That
kind of thing.
I. Most people in the world including us will never know what it is actually
like to participate/to play in a football Super Bowl.
1. However, there is a Super Bowl that we can all participate in and in fact
participation is mandatory.
(1. You could call it the Super Bowl of Life and whether you like it
or not you are in it.
2. The apostle Paul knew that well even though they didn’t have football back
(1. And Paul wanted to win the game. He wasn’t interested in setting
on the sidelines.
3. Listen to what Paul has to say in Philippians 3:13-14 or as the old KJ
puts it: Paul is, “press(ing) toward the mark for the prize of the
high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
4. Paul was looking at the goal line and giving it everything he had.
5. Sadly most of us Christians are not like the apostle Paul in our single
6. For various reasons we get off course and life is not about giving it all
to the Lord
(1. instead we are much like the viewers of the Super Bowl and have
many different reasons for the passions we have in life.
1. Paul obviously was passionate about His Lord he says
2. Paul has only one great passion in his life and that all
consuming passion is Jesus Christ his Lord and Savior.
II. Unlike Paul we have other passions it may be that we have developed what
the writer of Hebrews calls a besetting sin or an ensnaring sin.
1. In Hebrews 12:1 the Super Bowl of Life is spoken of again as the writer
says, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a
cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so
easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set
2. Developing a besetting sin seems in this 21st century to be an
increasingly easy thing to do.
(1. Alcohol has always been available but now we have refined it and
added to its’ potency making it even more addictive and dangerous.
(2. There were always some natural drugs but now the potency of even
marijuana has been increased tenfold over what it was 30 years ago.
(3. We have methamphetamines, cocaine, heroin, rock cocaine, angel
dust, LSD, and all of the designer drugs.
(4. And we have the Internet which makes other addictions more
powerful and easier to develop.
3. Then there are others who are not involved with any sin as we would
normally think of sin.
(1. There are some who have been led astray and gotten on the wrong
path, involved with a cult or a false religion.
4. Paul speaks of some who have turned away from God in Philippians 3 (vs. 18-19).
4. However, there are so many of us that have just gotten sidetracked from
(1. We enjoy the commercials and the halftime show and the pageantry
5. We’ve gotten busy living life and making a living. It’s not that these
are bad things it’s just that they are not where are ultimate priorities
6. Many are concerned only with what is best for them and for their immediate
(1. Many are just wondering how they can cope with an illness or
situation in their life much less reaching the goal Paul speaks of.
7. Somewhere we have gotten off track. The still small voice said to do that
and instead we did something else.
(1. Once we had started down that side road more decisions followed
that made it harder and harder to turn back.
8. Finally we give up and think what’s the use, I’ll never be what or where
God wants me and so why even try.
(1. “I’ll just try to do as best I can” we think and eventually we
never even think about the priorities God would have in our lives.
(2. Those of us in that situation are probably thinking “what does it
9. The fact of the matter is that you are in the game and it does matter.
The clock is ticking, daylight’s burning and soon our time to
reach for the prize/the goal will be over.
10. It matters for you because you are living on a level far below your
privileges as a Child of God.
11. Why did Jesus come? He came that you might have life and have it more
12. When does eternal life begin (John 3:16/John 5:24). And as Peter puts it
once you are a child of God you are “aliens and strangers” here on
(1. Because your actual home is no longer here but Heaven.
III. We can have life and we can have it more abundantly just as the apostle
Paul did if we press toward the mark seeking to know Him and the
fellowship of His sufferings.
1. God does not give us eternal life and let us live here as aliens and
strangers without a purpose.
2. There is a purpose for our still being alive, there is a reason just as
Paul had a reason for living.
(1. Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is
gain.” Paul knew if He died he would be in Heaven but that wasn’t
God’s purpose for him at that point.
(2. There was still work for Paul to do on Planet Earth. And here on
earth he would have as Paul puts it in Philippians 3:10, “the
fellowship of His sufferings being conformed to His death.”
3. We to have a purpose, a reason for living. For us to live is Christ and
to die is gain as well.
4. How we live our lives makes a difference. It makes a difference for us
and for countless others we encounter in this life.
5. We cannot have and experience the abundant life without pursuing whole
heartedly the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
6. What is God’s purpose for our being here for our still being alive?
I Corinthians 3:9, “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you
are God’s building.”
7. We are God’s fellow workers. Co-laborers with God. If we are working
with God what should our priority be?
(1. Instead of looking to see where I want to work and to see what I
want to do.
(2. We should do as Henry Blackaby says and look to see where God is
at work and join Him in His work.
8. But you think “how can my work be of value to God?” The answer is in
Peter 2:11 where we are referred to as aliens and strangers.
(1. Why because when we receive Christ as our Savior and are born
again our citizenship has been transferred from this world to out of this world.
(2. We no longer belong to any earthly kingdom we belong to God and
we have been bought and paid for at a great price I Corinthians 6:19-20,
“do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who
is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you
were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your
spirit, which are God’s.”
9. Because we are God’s and are citizenship is in Heaven we become God’s
representatives. As Paul says in II Corinthians 5:20, “Now then, we are
ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us….”
10. Just as earthly ambassadors can bring glory to the governments which they
represent by their words and actions.
(1. So, can we as be represent our Lord and Savior, here on planet earth.
11. And we are not just any ambassadors. We are children of the King and our
actions, and our words speak to the hearts of those around us in ways
more powerful than we can imagine.
IV. So let me ask you, “Are you a fellow worker with God?”
“Are you by your life and actions bringing glory to God?”
“Are you actively conducting yourself as an Ambassador for Christ?”
1. Most of us probably are somewhat hesitant at saying we are 100% a fellow
worker bringing glory to God as His Ambassador for Christ?
2. So if we are not giving it 100% where are we at. Is it 90, 80, 60, 50,
40, 30, 20, 10, 5
(1. or are we on the other side dragging the very Name of Christian
through the mud bring shame to the cause of Christ?
3. How can we ever change? How can we get back on the right track? How can
we pressing toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in
4. We have to begin where Paul began. We have to move beyond where we have
been to where God wants us to be.
5. The apostle Paul was not always an apostle and he had a lot of baggage and
he considered himself the very least in the Kingdom of God.
(1. He may have actually been the one orchestrating/controlling the
execution of godly Stephen.
(2. As a result of Paul’s actions many suffered, were imprisoned, and
died terrible deaths.
6. Paul was on his way to Damascus to inflict more damage on the cause of
Christ when the resurrected Christ appeared to him in a literal blinding
7. Paul was never the same. He was no longer employed by planet earth, he
had become a representative of the Kingdom of Heaven.
(1. And what an Ambassador for God he became.
8. Paul tells us what we have to do in verse 13, “Brethren I do not count
myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which
are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I
press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
9. What person/what Christian had accomplished more for God or was more
learned about Christianity and the things of God than Paul?
(1. Most likely no one was. But Paul says “Brethren I do not count
myself to have apprehended”
(2. In spite of his service, knowledge, and godliness Paul says he
hasn’t yet arrived and never will arrive at a point where he can lay
down and point back at all the great things he has done.
(3. No, Paul says, I press on. He’s not laying down, he’s not
retiring as a co-laborer with God. As long as he has breath he’s pressing
on, he’s moving forward, there is more to do.
10. We must do the same. No matter how much we have done for God, No matter
how much we know about God it is not over until we are called to
home to Heaven.
11. The second thing we see from the example of Paul is that he says he
is “forgetting those things which are behind.”
12. Paul is not dwelling on his failures of the past. They are over, they
are past, they are done. He’s forgetting them and moving on, moving on
toward the goal line.
13. We have to do the same. We may have failed God. But there is still time
left on the clock and still work that needs to be done.
(1. And I believe God would say to you what John says in I John
1:9, “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
(2. He forgives us of those confessed sins and He remembers them no
more and puts them as far as the east is from the west.
V. Put it behind you. Let us move on. And that’s the next thing Paul says
that he is doing. He’s moving on. “reaching forward to those things
which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call
of God in Christ Jesus.”
1. We must do the same. But how do we? Paul says, (v. 18)Brethren,
join in following my example, and note those who so walk,
as you have us for a pattern.”
2. And how did Paul walk?
“(v. 7) but what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for
Christ. (v. 8) Yet, indeed I also count all things loss for the
excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have
suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ."
“(v. 10) that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the
fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.”
3. Paul’s constant goal was to know Christ, to draw closer to Him to be more
like Him, to serve Christ more fully.
4. That must be our goal as well. We must major on Christ. Focus on
Christ. He must be our all consuming passion as He was for Paul.
5. The writer of Hebrews puts it this way 12:1-3, “let us run with endurance
the race that is set before us, (v2) looking unto Jesus, the
author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him
endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand
of the throne of God. (v.3) For consider Him who endured such
hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and
discouraged in your souls.”
6. Let us know Christ, Let us look unto the author and finisher of our faith,
let us focus in on Him so that we won’t grow weary and lose heart.
7. And when we do we will find that God has us busy working beside Him being
His Ambassador, bring glory to Him.
BACK TO THE BURNING BUSH