Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Dark Side of Agape (Agapao)

Auburn IL - Abandoned Church, Northeast Corner...

I would like to share with you something that could potentially be controversial. For many years I had believed that Agape was a pure, holy, and Godly love. If you have ever done any study on the word love you will see this repeated through nearly every commentary on the subject of love. Now there is a love that is pure, holy, and godly, but the word is not Agape. Yes you heard me right it is not Agape. I was surprised by the few instances of agape and Agapao that were negative. I had been taught that agape was God's love it turns out that only God's Agape is God's love. Man's Agape (or Agapao) can be polluted by sin (like everything else that is given by God's goodness).  I know some of you are saying, but BJ you just said Agape was "a higher standard in love." Really Christ challenges us to a higher standard; the words Christ used describe this challenge (including the word agape). Stated a different way Christ is the standard and not the word itself; regardless of what the actual word we use (love in English, agape or Agapao in Greek) it is the fullness of God's love represented in the person of Christ that is the ultimate guide for love.   In the New Testament there are 12 instances that paint the ugly side of Agape. I think that it is important for us to understand these so that we can contrast them with God's perfect love!

It has helped me to understand the few times that Agape (or Agapao) is mentioned in the negative, because it explains how otherwise caring and compassionate Christian men and women can have a heart turn cold. How is it that we can so easily turn our hearts toward idols? I think that it is because we have missed the exclusive love (Agape) that God has for us and failed to return that love (Agapao or Agape) toward God or others.  Let's look at the passages:

Passage What they say about love (agape/Agapao) Agape/ Agapao

Matthew 5:46
Luke 6:32

Even sinners those that love them back Agapao

Matthew 6:24
Luke 16:13

The people of the world love money, hate God Agapao

Luke 11:42-43

Religious pride neglects love (agape)  for God and breeds desire (Agapao) for recognition Agape and Agapao

John 3:19

The people of the world love darkness, hate "The Light (Jesus)" Agapao

John 12:43

Worldly religion desires (Agapao) praise from men over praise from God Agapao

2 Timothy 4:10

Loving the world leads to desertion of a brother in need Agapao

2 Peter 2:15

False prophets love the wages of unrighteousness Agapao

1 John 2:15

Loving (Agapao) the world or the things of the world means God's love (Agape) is absent Agapao

1 John 3:18

Showing love with words only is not fulfilling the command to love. Agapao
Matthew 24:12 Persecution, false prophets, and lawlessness will cause love (agape) to fade Agape
Jude 1:12 False prophets use the Lord's Supper as an opportunity for irreverent self-indulgence Agape
Revelation 2:4 Love is abandoned Agape

Agape for good or for bad is exclusive. There is no room for double mindedness when agape is present. Loving the world excludes God and loving God excludes the world. Agape then is the love that holds it's object in higher honor, higher esteem, higher value than any other object. It is the object of our affection that makes agape Christian or moves agape down a destructive path. In Christian Agape the object is God First, and others second (Mark 12:29-31). Worldly agape can be money, praise, self-preservation, lawlessness, possession of the world, self-indulgence, darkness, or any other idol of our heart which we place above our love for God or love for people. Worldly agape and Christian agape cannot coexist according to the word of God.

Sin means that we miss the mark. To me this is most obvious in the things that we esteem the most when they are other than God. The fact that we can agape things that are not of God should shock us to attention. Lead us to self-examination. Force us into the challenging request for God to "Test me, Lord, and try me; examine my heart and mind (Psalms 26:2; HCSB)." Only then can we honestly (without double mindedness) conclude, "For Your faithful love is before my eyes, and I live by Your truth (Psalms 26:3; HCSB)."

Someone pointed out that Agape is not the same word as Agapao.  Agapao is the verb form of Agape (a noun). In English we use the same word love as a noun and a verb. In this respect I do not see Agapao as different type of love from Agape. Agapao is the action of Agape in my understanding.  Here is a verse that helps to define the connection of the words Agape (noun), Agapao (verb), and agapetos (adj). It also gives me a clearer picture of how love is supposed to "work" in our lives.

10 Love (Agape) consists in this: not that we loved (Agapao) God, but that He loved (Agapao)us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Dear friends (agapetos), if God loved (Agapao) us in this way, we also must love (Agapao) one another.
1 John 4:10-11

Lord we long to live by Your truth. Our hearts are sick with objects of affection that have replaced You. Examine our hearts and see if there is any evil way within us. Give us courage to face the difficult examination, wisdom to discern, strength to repent, and Your agape love to fill our hearts. In Jesus Name Amen


Friday, June 26, 2009

Love: Going Deeper in the Word

"? ?e�? ???p? ?st??" (God Is Love) o...

In our English translation (HCSB) the word love (in all its forms) appears more than 700 times in the Bible. Over 300 times in the new testament. And around 90 times in the Gospels. Love is good news. John 3:16 tells us that it was love that motivated God to send His son to save us. This love is available to us as a result. There is on type of love that is particularly special. That Love is Agape. Agape appears around 140 times in the New Testament. The word Agape first appears in Christ's teaching in Matthew 5:43-48 on how Christians are to treat their enemies. It is a love that is greater than the feelings of animosity that we have for the person who has treated us the worst (our enemy)! Jesus teaches in this passage that in the world it is "love your neighbor and hate your enemies, but I tell you love your enemies." We are to pray for them (no not that God would strike them dead, though we might like it if he did). He challenges Christians to a higher standard in love. He calls on us to love perfectly as God loves perfectly (verse 48). We get a glimpse of this kind of perfect love in 1 Corinthians 13. What else does the Bible have to say about this love?

It is... Passage
exclusive Matthew 6:24
to be directed toward our neighbors Matthew 19:19
Matthew 22:39
to be directed (fully) toward God Matthew 22:37
Jesus' affection for the lost Mark 12:30
doing good to an enemy Luke 6:27
giving expecting nothing in return Luke 6:35
transcendent of racial, ethnic, national and cultural barriers Luke 7:5
given as an expression of thankfulness for forgiveness Luke 7:47
God's (the Father) affection toward His Son Jesus John 3:35
Loving Jesus which is Loving God John 8:42
Sacrificial John 10:17
Compassionate at someone's loss John 11:5
Humbled to the position of servant washing another's feet (even the one that is about to betray you to death) John 13:1-6
obedient to God's commandments John 14:15
itself a commandment John 13:34
the place that God abides John 14:23
the revelation of God John 14:15
steadfast (remains) John 15:9
unity with God and other Christians John 17:23
eternal John 17:24
knowing and being known by God John 17:26
God's working out good for those that express Agape toward Him Romans 8:28
victory Romans 8:37
to be our only debt toward others Romans 13:8=9
waits on God 1 Corinthians 2:9 and Isaiah 64:4
self-sacrificing 2 Corinthians 12:15
God's favor Ephesians 1:6
Christ's sacrifice Ephesians 5:2
commanded of husbands toward their wives Ephesians 5:25-33
undying Ephesians 6:24
God's discipline Hebrews 12:6
God's reward James 1:12
believing in what is not seen (faith) 1 Peter 1:8
pure 1 Peter 1:22
keeps itself from evil 1 Peter 3:10
more than words 1 John 3:18

There is much more, but I think that will do for now ;-)

I encourage you to take this list and look them up in your Bible, Pray over them, Ask God to reveal the love of God to you hearts, and read them again. Ask God to not only reveal the love, but that love might become the evidence that He is in you. Love toward others is the greatest testimony of the Gospel there is!!!

Have a Blessed Day!


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Today's Slice: The Rest of Our Days by Jill Carattini

A table for each weekImage via Wikipedia

Today's Slice: The Rest of Our Days by Jill Carattini: "While the calendar may seem to set us up to live from one major holiday to the next, there is far more to expect from the rest of our days. Our holy days mark events that dramatically shape our worldviews, but our ordinary days give us the space to live these events out. In the repetitive rhythm of the church calendar our hearts are compelled to beat expectantly of a greater kingdom. And ordinary time is never ordinary, as God’s presence always involves the unexpected."

I saw this and in made me think about how everyday is extraordinary with God. May God richly bless you on this day!!!!!! Remember He has a plan and a purpose for you. Blessed are those that keep His Way. ~BJ


Sunday, June 21, 2009

1 Corinthians 13: What is Love?


Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. (1 Corinthians 13:1; NKJV)
How often we speak not in love, but out of some other motive. Often we speak from a point of self-centeredness. It seems that this is the easiest thing to do. "I want..." "I need..." "I..." The ego is on the throne of our hearts. When we speak from this vantage point Love is not in our hearts. Passion perhaps, desire most definitely, longing, lust, but love is missing. Selfish desire and love can not cohabitate within the heart they are incompatible. Without love our speech becomes loud and obnoxious to the hearer.

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:2-3)

Most Christians desire to do great things for God. We are thankful for the salvation from our sin. There was a young rich ruler (Mark 10:17-22) that lived in Jesus' day that wanted to be saved. He had reached the panicle of success at a young age and was ready to be great for God. Jesus informed him of the one thing that still prevented him from giving his life to the Lord.

Then, looking at him, Jesus loved him and said to him, "You lack one thing: Go, sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me." (Mark 10:21; HCSB)

Notice that Jesus "loved" him. It is an unfortunate that so many fail to realize the love of God. They miss receiving this love into their hearts and so they go away empty. Unfortunately this young man could not bring himself to give up the worldly things that held his heart. You can have all the things of world. But if you do not have the love of God in you then it profits you nothing! In his heart he loved things of this world more than God or people. Is there anything that you love more than God or people?

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7; NKJV)

Love is...

Love is not...

Kind toward others
Joyful in truth
Uplifting others
Believing in others
Self promoting
Keeping records of wrong
Happy with immorality
This is the core of Christian Love. We tend to make our walk with God much more complicated than it needs to be. Jesus said that the two greatest commandments were, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. (Matt 22:37-39; HCSB)" Looking at the list above can you say that the "Love is" list defines your relationships with others? This is one of the Christian paradoxes, that something so simple could be so hard to accomplish. In fact impossible. Perfection in this regard is impossible in human effort. We need something else to be able to accomplish this. We will study Romans 8 later, but let me share this:

For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, ?hostile? powers, height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord! Romans 8:38-39 (HCSB)

Note two things: First we cannot ever be separated from the Love of God! Second that love is "in Christ Jesus our Lord!" When we come to God and receive Jesus Christ as our Lord we have the irresistible love of God placed into our lives and nothing can change that. I believe that the key to having that love then flow out of us into the lives of others is that second part. "In Christ Jesus our Lord" we can and must demonstrate the "love of God" toward God (through obedience; see 1 John 5:1-5) and toward others (through giving to others' needs; see 1 John 3:16-17). If we love in our own human nature the ego is always there to say, "What is in it for me." When we love "in Christ Jesus" then nothing stands in the way! The love that is listed in the table above is accomplished in Christ. This means that we have to live life for God and remain in Jesus to accomplish this kind of love.

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God?God remains in him and he in God. And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him. 1 John 4:15-16 (HCSB) (See also John 15:9-17)

Remaining in God's love is one of the most blessed virtues that a Christian can have and give! It is how the world is able to determine that Christ is with us (John 13:34-35).

Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part.But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. (1 Corinthians 13:8-10; NKJV)

God's love is unending. Everything that we consider worthy or valuable in this life will vanish like dew under the warm sun. Love is one thing that we can trust to carry through from this life to the next. It is interesting that of all the things that God could allow us to take to heaven He chose love. I firmly believe that it is because love defines the very essence of God. In fact were God is, love is! (see 1 John 4:16-19). Another thing to point out that Jesus said the the rich young ruler was, "If you want to be perfect... (Matt 19:21)." Love is perfection of Christian virtue. If Love is the essence of God then love ought to define our lives. Christian love is the sign that God is in us and we are in Him.

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. (1 Corinthians 13:11-12; NKJV)

This love is much more lofty than this humble attempt to explain it. In fact it cannot be fully understood until we come to Jesus "face to face" in heaven. However through this love we have a glimpse of what heaven will be like. This love is our heaven on earth. We should cultivate it and let it grow so that it becomes the very center of our life and living. Love is the greatest!

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13; NKJV)

Next Subject Love Going Deeper in the Word


Friday, June 19, 2009

Happy Fathers Day

Here is a video explaining the origin of Fathers Day. Let our fathers know that we love them and that our Heavenly Father loves them as well.

Here is another inspiring father's day story as well.

God Bless You


Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Greatest of these is Love

An icon from icon theme Crystal Clear.

Image via Wikipedia

Love is a four letter word in the English language. The word has become loud and obnoxious to our ears. We have the need to have our love now, all is fair in love and war, we can't stand it when someone else has love and we do not. If we are lucky enough to get it then we proclaim it though our network of friends "I found my love." If that love is not shown in return we start to wonder what is in it for me, that makes me mad, and remember how that person has hurt me so that we can bring it up in a future fight. We find pleasure in moral filth (pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry for example; not into that, how about what is now considered entertaining would have been pornographic 50 years ago). Honesty? We are skeptical. We question whether true love exists. We give up when love becomes to difficult. Love ends when we "fall out of love."

What happened? Did we lose our way????? I think part of the problem is that we have lost loves meaning. Think about we use the same word "love" to describe God's passion for us, the vow that we take saying "till death do us part," the relationship we have with good friends, our pets, a car that we like, our favorite food, a special new outfit, blogs, a clever joke or saying, favorite book, favorite TV show, job, house, or song. This same word is used to describe when our enemy gets there just reward, when a spouse finds a new fling, to sell us something we really do not need, prostitution, jealousy over something that another has that you do not have, to tell someone that we don't want to do something (ie I would love to if I had the time) and on and on.

Here is the problem. Love has come to mean so many things that it has lost its meaning. No wonder a person can be unfaithful to their spouse and turn around and call it "love." It is sad to hear those words, "I just don't love you anymore." Well either you have not understood love, or you never had it. I hope that as we study 1 Corinthians 13 we can clear up some of this confusion that is so pervasive in our culture.

God Help us to know Your love! Help us to experience Your love. Help us to share Your love. In Jesus Name AMEN

Next What is love?


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Introduction to the Christian Walk: Salvation

John 3:16Image by arti47 via Flickr

John 3:16 is arguably the most popular Bible verse in the whole Bible. A recent sample taken on Bible Gateway John 3:16 was at the top of the list (The 100 most-read Bible verses at BibleGateway.com, May 15, 2009). It was actually that blog that got me started thinking about a study on the "Introduction to the Christian Walk." So the question is "what does John 3:16 mean?"

To start with we have to understand that we fall short. You probably did not need me to tell you that, but it is true. Think about your own standards of a good moral person. What are the core values of morality? Honesty? Kindness? Generosity? Friendly? Not Stealing? Not Lying? The list goes on and on. Now think about those things that you hold dear. Do you measure up? For most of us (if we are honest) it is impossible to measure up to our own standards let alone God's standards. That is a problem! When we miss the mark the Bible calls that Sin. Sin is missing the mark. The Bible says "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23; HCSB)" You see we all have missed the mark in some way. Now we tend to look at a person that has missed the mark more than ourselves and say "I am not as bad as that person over there!"
Consider this Story:
With 15 minutes to spare, he ran through the confusing terminals of JFK, sprinting from the gate his delayed flight had left him to the gate of his connecting flight. Out of breath, he reached the counter of his international flight and seeing the giant plane through the window, he breathed a sigh of relief. Unfortunately, it was a sigh prematurely taken. Complications were explained politely, though he ceased hearing much of anything after "too late to board" hit him like the 250-ton airplane at which he was staring. Frustrated beyond belief, he watched his 17-hour flight take off without him.

Needless to say, my husband's first bout with international travel did not set well with either of us. I was on the other end of that flight waiting for his arrival, and like him found myself maddened with helplessness. Being that close to making a flight, and yet missing it, left a sickening twinge in both of our stomachs.

Those who have heard his dramatic telling of Murphy's Law in action have responded similarly. In fact, everyone seems to cringe on cue, particularly at the part where he watches his plane sit for several long minutes until taking off, all from the vantage point of the airport window. Missing the flight seems incredibly intensified by the reality of being oh-so-close. And yet, it was missing the flight at all that was the problem. Whether he missed the plane by five or fifty minutes, he still missed the flight.
(From The Wrong Side of the Window)

Sin is like missing that flight. No matter how close we thing we are to meeting God's moral standards we still have missed the flight. Why is that important? When we miss the mark with God then we cannot have his favor. Sin separates us from God. What is more we cannot make it up. Missing means missing. What can we do then? That is where John 3:16 comes in. Let's take a look...

"For God loved the world in this way..."

God loves each one of us. His passion and desire (the type of love He has for us) cannot be measured. He is the very essence of love. His Compassion for our state is great. He desires that none would perish in sin.

"...He gave is one and only Son..."

Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He is the one that spoke the words of this verse. He came to the earth and lived a perfect life. He suffered and died so that we could have the forgiveness of sin. When we miss the mark then it creates a gulf between us and God. Jesus bridges that gulf. His death allows for the possibility of a restored relationship with God. His death was a sacrifice. He laid down His life because he loved us. God (the Father in Heaven) sent Jesus for this mission. He gave Jesus to the world for this purpose. Jesus also rose up from the dead. He died for three days and appeared to many. After 40 days He ascended into heaven. His victory over death into life allows us to move out from under sin's curse of death into a new life.

"...so that everyone that believes in Him..."

Believing in Jesus is an act of faith. It means that you turn your life away from sin and selfishness and wholly rely on Him. When you do this then you enter into a relationship with Him. His power over the the grave allows for you to have peace as well as victory in this life.

"...will not perish, but have eternal life."

We all will die someday. This verse is not saying that we avoid death. There is a second death which forever separates us from God. I pointed out that our sin creates a gulf between us and God. We have missed the plane and there are no other flights to make it to eternity with God. This eternal separation from God is called hell. It is a place of torment with no hope for relief. Eternal life on the other hand is called heaven. To be in heaven is to be with God. Everyone that believes in Jesus will spend eternity in this blessed life.
I remember when I received Jesus Christ. Someone asked me, "Do you want to go to heaven with God?" I said, "yes" And then they asked me to pray a prayer similar to this:
"Dear God, I know that You love me. I confess my sin and need of salvation. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins and arose from the grave. I turn away from sin and place my faith in Jesus as my Savior and Lord. I want to follow you with my life. Amen"
If you have never received the forgiveness of sin that God offers through faith in Jesus perhaps you might pray that prayer right now. If you do please let me know by leaving a comment at the bottom of this page (I would like to pray over your new commitment). If you are already in a relationship with Jesus Christ then perhaps you would take a moment to write a few words of encouragement to someone that is considering the faith, by sharing what Jesus has done in your life.

click one of the these banners for more information about a personal relationship with Christ.

Next Subject Love


Monday, June 15, 2009

Introduction to the Christian Walk: Introduction

Symbols of ChristianityImage by JL Outdoor Photography via Flickr

“Why didn't anyone tell me about that?”

He confided in me his greatest longing to please God and how he felt that he had let God down. He was feeling pretty beat up. I had just asked him if he had ever read Romans 7 and 8. I told him how these passages are given to us so that we can understand victory in Christian living. He was both excited and disappointed. He was excited for the new direction that God's Spirit had placed on his life. He was disappointed that he had not learned it two decades ago when he first became a Christian.

There are many things that I know now that I wished I knew when I was starting out in my Christian walk. I am sure there are many of you who can relate to this. If I had known these things I could have saved myself a bunch of trouble. There are some basic principles that God has reveled to me over the years from His Word that I would like to share with you! These basics have been repeated over and over through the centuries of Christian faith, so I am not doing anything new here. My hope is to organize it in such a way that it introduces new believers to this thing called Christianity, reintroduces the faithful to some basic concepts that are easily understood and timeless, non-Christians to be introduced to core values of the faith and consider taking the step of faith to become a Christian, and finally to encourage people to consider get back to studying the Bible.

My focus over the next couple of weeks will be on five main subjects that come from five important passages from the Bible. These subjects are: Salvation (John 3:16), Love (1 Corinthians 13), Origin of life (Genesis 1), Spiritual victory (Romans 8), and Comfort in times of struggle (Psalms 23). I consider this a work in progress so I appreciate any comments or critiques which will help me make this useful to others. The title of this series will be “Introduction the Christian Walk.” I also encourage you to read and study these passages. Do not take my word for what they are saying. Pray and ask God to increase your understanding and study them for yourself. My overall goal is to lead you in studying God's word. These five subjects are a core of the countless practical truths that exist in the Bible. By discovering a love of God's Word my hope is to introduce you to a lifetime of discovering the truths contained within it's pages.

Father lead us into all truth! Your Word is truth. In Jesus Name Amen

First Lesson Salvation


The usefulness of Happiness:

BeatitudesImage via Wikipedia

This is another sermon I preached a little over a year ago. It is a follow up to the usefulness of sorrow.

God has a mysterious way about Him. Amen. I cannot quite tell you why, but He has put it on my heart to preach about Happiness. It is unusual, because the last few weeks for me have been some of the most stressful that I have had. Maybe you could relate to this. I have over extended myself and have more to do than it humanly possible in one day. I have been grumpy, sorry babe, worried, stressed, depressed, and frustrated. My stress level has been so high that I have forgot about important things that I need to do. I would consider you fortunate to even have me here this evening, because the way that the last few weeks have gone it would not have surprised me to forget about this evening. Yet through it all God has put it on my heart to share with you about Happiness. I am certain that He wants to share this message with me as much as he does with you.

For those of you who were present the last time I was here you will recall I shared on the “usefulness of sorrow.” We contrasted Godly and worldly sorrow. We learned that worldly sorrow leads to death. That is contracted with Godly Sorrow leading to repentance and life. This evening I would like to share the “usefulness of happiness.”
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, because they will be comforted. 5 Blessed are the gentle, because they will inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, because they will be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, because they will be shown mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, because they will see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, because they will be called sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs. 11 “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of Me. 12 Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matt 5:3-12 (HCSB)
Jesus was establishing the kingdom life. He shares that there is blessing, gladness, and rejoicing. Often in this life it is so easy to get caught up in the circumstances of life that we are robbed of the Joy that God wants us to have. I am guilty of this as I have just shared with you. In Matt 6:25 Jesus asks a very hard question, 25 “This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing?

It is so easy to become so consumed with the worries of this life that we lose sight of the fact that God desires for us to have a Joyful happy life. What blessing we miss when we lose sight of this great truth.

There are other situations that rob us of our happiness. When we pursue happiness according to the world we trade the abundant happiness that God offers for hollow happiness. There are two examples given to us in the scriptures that I would like to share with you.
16 Then He told them a parable: “A rich man’s land was very productive. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What should I do, since I don’t have anywhere to store my crops? 18 I will do this,’ he said. ‘I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones and store all my grain and my goods there. 19 Then I’ll say to myself, “You have many goods stored up for many years. Take it easy; eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.” ’ 20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is demanded of you. And the things you have prepared—whose will they be?’ Luke 12:16-20 (HCSB)

This man’s life was successful. By the worlds standards he was rich and productive. His life was a huge success. Why did Jesus call him a “fool?” This man had a focus on building a bigger worldly kingdom for himself. He was prepared to build bigger barns, store his wealth, and live the good life. Yet he was not aware that his life was going to be over that night. Think about this man no doubt had spent many hours amassing such a wealth and tonight his life was going to be taken from him.

We can be guilty of building worldly kingdoms for ourselves. We may never be as wealthy as this man, but when we seek after material gain, when we look for happiness in the world, when we pursue the “good life,” then we are not really any different than this man. This is not a proclamation against building wealth or being rich. However, a person that is rich according to the world, but bankrupt in the heavenly kingdom is a fool. Let’s look at another example:

19 “There was a rich man who would dress in purple and fine linen, feasting lavishly every day. 20 But a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, was left at his gate. 21 He longed to be filled with what fell from the rich man’s table, but instead the dogs would come and lick his sores.
This man like the other example had the “good life.” He had the finest clothes and dined on the finest food. If he were alive today no doubt he would have had a fancy sports car and a fancy luxury car, boats, and a nice house. This is contrasted with Lazarus who had nothing. He sat at the Gate every day longing for someone to give him food.

The fact that Lazarus is sitting at the gate leads me to believe that the rich man would have seen him every day when he walked in and out. He passed him seeing his broken down condition and did what? Nothing. He was more interested in fine clothes and fine food than he was in helping others. Both of the men die. Lazarus because of his faith and trust in God is taken to Abraham’s side. The rich man was taken to a place called Hades. This is a place of holding for those that are separated from God. In Luke 6:31 it says, “But he told him, ‘If they don’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.’ ” This is a very clear reference of the New and Old covenants of God. You see this man had the opportunity to come to God and apparently had access to or heard the Old Testament law and prophets. He heard God’s word and yet failed to respond. The evidence is in his lack of compassion for the situation of Lazarus. When we hear the Word of God and fail to act we become like this man and fail to enter into God’s rest and happiness.

Perhaps you are sitting here this evening and you have never heard or understood that Jesus God’s son died so that you can enter into God’s rest. If that describes you then I ask that you do not leave tonight before asking God to come into your life and share that decision with someone else before you leave.

One more thing before moving on: The Bible is filled with examples of men who where wealthy and righteous. I would like to share a few with you: Abraham was very wealthy, Noah must have had some wealth to take on such a huge building project on his own, Jacob was wealthy and became the father of all the Israelite tribes. Job was wealthy and was consider righteous by God. Boaz from the story of Ruth was wealthy and because of his faithfulness God used him in his redemption plan for all of humanity. My point is this. It is not money that is the problem. It is the love of money that leads people astray. Let’s face it we live in a time where the main message being sold to us is that happiness comes from building up wealth. If you only build wealth and are not rich toward God then you are bankrupt. If you are dirt poor and are not rich toward God, you are still bankrupt. So how do we become rich and happy according to the kingdom of God? Let’s turn back to Matthew 5.

I am going to go through these in very quick order. The reality is that there is a lifetime of blessing in these verses and the truth that they contain must be discovered and rediscovered over the course of our lifetime.
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
Happiness in God’s kingdom begins with “poverty of spirit” we must think less about ourselves than others. We must decrease that God may increase. We have to humble ourselves before God. If we do then the “kingdom of heaven” is ours according to Jesus.
4 Blessed are those who mourn, because they will be comforted.
Mourning is blessed. That may be a hard one to swallow. Interestingly I had to take a nap when I got to this point. What can possibly be blessed about mourning? And what does mourning have to do with happiness. Typically we think of mourning about the loss of a loved one. I believe that we can all agree that there is time of extreme loss that God has comforted us. His presence has uplifted our spirit in a time that we were down. Could you imagine how gloomy life would be if he never gave that comfort. It would be robed of joy and happiness.

We can also mourn bad things that have happened or bad things that we have done. When we mourn over the circumstances of other people it draws us into a more intimate relationship with them. Those close relationships can be a blessing. We also can be come a ministry of comfort, that is to say that God can use us to comfort others. When we mourn over the sin of others we encourage them to repentance. We also watch out for ourselves so that we do not fall into the same sin. James chapter four teaches us to mourn over our own sin, which leads to restoration with God. He is saying that we should be grieved over our sin. This is an important step to spiritual freedom.

Let me just say spiritual freedom is a blessing and happiness. So mourning leads to happiness.

Blessed are the gentle, because they will inherit the earth.
Jesus is a perfect power through gentleness. Through his submission he conquered sin and death!
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, because they will be filled.
This verse is very important. The greatest path of fulfillment and happiness lies in the hungering and thirsting for righteousness. Here is the great truth in that verse. If I will, He will; If you will, he will; If we will, He will.

A Slice of Infinity: Ravi Zacharias International Ministries;

Not long ago I was in a store standing in a line that snaked its way through rows of candy. A young couple waited behind me with their daughter. The little girl seized upon some candy and asked excitedly, “Ooh, can I get this?” She was holding a tube of goo that had been colored fluorescent green. The candy makers had thoughtfully designed it so that kids could squeeze the goo right into their mouths. I have to say it was one of the least appetizing things I have ever seen. Her mother quickly responded, “No way, all that is, is sugar.”

There was a time that the sugar in a tube would have appealed to me. As children we quickly learn that sugar satisfies an appetite immediately and provides a burst of energy, not to mention a pleasing taste. We learn to recognize that sweet things are brightly colored and cleverly packaged. When we are hungry, we want whatever will satisfy us right now. It may confuse a child to hear, “That will spoil your appetite for supper,” because isn't the point of eating to satisfy your appetite? Why not just eat candy and forego supper? Anyone who has done this knows that the quick satisfaction of candy wears off just as quickly, leaving one even more hungry and weak. It is only after we learn the more lasting satisfaction of a healthy meal that we may find candy less appetizing.

But children in a checkout line rarely want to hear this and are likely to accuse their parents of being mean or stingy. I know it is tempting for us to accuse God of the same things when he denies us what we want.

It may be that there is something that you know — absolutely know — would bring you happiness. It may be hard to understand why God is denying you what you want. It may be that although God knows it would bring you a rush of happiness, he also knows the happiness it would bring is not the lasting kind. Ravi Zacharias has said, “The loneliest moment in life is when you have just experienced what you thought would deliver the ultimate, and it has let you down.” (1)

Sometimes God refuses to satisfy our hungers because if we live from sugar fix to sugar fix, we will never learn to hunger for food that satisfies. If a child is allowed to live off of candy, she will never learn to appreciate a steak dinner. That tube of goo would have been as sweet as the little girl expected it to be, but it would probably have left her sick to her stomach. If you are gazing longingly at something out of your reach, it may be that it would only spoil your appetite for the very best that God wants to offer you.i

Blessed are the merciful, because they will be shown mercy.
Recall the story of the rich man and Lazarus. In that story the rich man I said likely passed Lazarus as he sat at the city gate. This man missed the opportunity to minister to this man’s needs. When we see a need and fail to reach out to meet that ministry need then we miss the blessing God has for use. Whether it is because of business or lack of compassion we miss God plan for happiness.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, because they will see God
“Give us clean hand, give us pure hearts, let us not kneel down before another.” We know that purity comes from the forgiveness that is in Jesus Christ. That pure heart is maintained through living a life that is honoring to God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, because they will be called sons of God.
Do you want to pursue happiness in God’s kingdom? Then pursue peace with others. Happy are the Peace Makers.

Do you believe that we are in a spiritual battle? Well it is clear to me that we are locked in a battle of good versus evil. There is one thing that you can be certain of and that is if you start to pursue wealth and happiness in God’s kingdom you will be attacked. This list of blessings in God’s kingdom is followed by a dose of reality. Jesus says:
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs. 11 “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of Me. 12 Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
I was talking with a friend once after we had just helped out another member of our church. He said “BJ I am not sure that I can keep ministering. Every time I do something good it seems as if there is someone there to kick my teeth in.” Well it does feel like that sometimes. I think that Jesus knew that if we started living for him then the world and the spiritual forces of darkness would try to lead us away. He does this by either by making us miserable in a worldly sense or drawing us in to sin in the disguise of happiness. Either way the result is the same lost fellowship with God and loss of true happiness that comes only from Christ. The cure: Focus on the prize. Someday those that follow Christ will be with him in heaven. We will receive a heavenly reward that is beyond anything we can possibly comprehend. It is better than anything that this world has to offer. And is worth every hardship that we face a hundred times over. When we reflect on the greatness of the reward that awaits us in heaven then we can maintain our joy, happiness, and blessing in the midst of any circumstance this life throws our way.

God’s 8-point plan for lasting happiness is simply this:

1. Poverty of spirit
2. Mourning over losses and evil or sin
3. Gentleness
4. Hungering and thirsting for righteousness
5. Mercy on those longing to meet our savior
6. Living a life of Purity
7. Pursuing peace with others
8. Enduring the spiritual attacks for the sake of the kingdom and the heavenly reward.

Are you living out this plan? If you are then press on for great is your reward in heaven. If not, why not? Are you ready for this life altering happiness that God has in store for you? Make the commitment to live out this life tonight and you will be blessed. Lets pray.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Usefulness of Sorrow!

Inconsolable Grief, by Ivan KramskoyImage via Wikipedia

Here is a sermon I preached a little over a year ago on the topic of sorrow. The follow up sermon "The Usefulness of Happiness" will be posted in the next day or two.

For many of those that follow the culture of happiness we struggle when it comes to sorrow. We fight against sorrow at all cost. Popular psychology has created a belief that sorrow is a disorder that must be treated, avoided, and changed. Don’t get me wrong God does not call us to be gloomy people always sad and depressed. But he does state in his word in the book of Ecclesiastes chapter 3, “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven” and “A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance.” So If God declares that there is a time for sorrow then why is it that we have such a hard time with it? I believe that there are two answers to this question. First we have not learned the usefulness of sorrow. Second we have been conditioned to think that sorrow something to be avoided at all cost. You may be sitting there this evening thinking what a downer to talk about sorrow on a Sunday evening. Let me just say if you live long enough you will either learn the blessing that sorrow can bring, or you will be eaten up by it. You may be in the midst of sorrow this evening. Let me just say I believe that you can find hope in this message. Let’s pray.

2 Cor 7:5-16 (HCSB)
5 In fact, when we came into Macedonia, we had no rest. Instead, we were afflicted in every way: struggles on the outside, fears inside. 6 But God, who comforts the humble, comforted us by the coming of Titus, 7 and not only by his coming, but also by the comfort he received from you. He announced to us your deep longing, your sorrow, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more. 8 For although I grieved you with my letter, I do not regret it—even though I did regret it since I saw that the letter grieved you, though only for a little while. 9 Now I am rejoicing, not because you were grieved, but because your grief led to repentance. For you were grieved as God willed, so that you didn’t experience any loss from us. 10 For godly grief produces a repentance not to be regretted and leading to salvation, but worldly grief produces death. 11 For consider how much diligence this very thing—this grieving as God wills—has produced in you: what a desire to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what deep longing, what zeal, what justice! In every way you have commended yourselves to be pure in this matter. 12 So even though I wrote to you, it was not because of the one who did wrong, or because of the one who was wronged, but in order that your diligence for us might be made plain to you in the sight of God. 13 For this reason we have been comforted. In addition to our comfort, we were made to rejoice even more over the joy Titus had, because his spirit was refreshed by all of you. 14 For if I have made any boast to him about you, I have not been embarrassed; but as I have spoken everything to you in truth, so our boasting to Titus has also turned out to be the truth. 15 And his affection toward you is even greater as he remembers the obedience of all of you, and how you received him with fear and trembling. 16 I rejoice that I have complete confidence in you.

Sorrow: Mental suffering or pain caused by injury, loss, or despair.

The feeling starts out as a pang that radiates through your whole body. This is bad enough, but begins to settle in and creates pressure on your chest and stomach. It becomes hard to breath and you feel like you are trapped. A few minutes later you are overwhelmed with a feeling of sadness that cannot be weighed out in a single lifetime. This sadness swallows any energy and life in you. As it continues the days grow weary and you scarcely can get out of the chair when you sit or out of bed when you lay down. That is sorrow. Yet this sorrow can be in God’s hands a thing to celebrate.

When sorrow occurs we either attempt to escape it, cover it, or blame it. In a sense our worldly response to sorrow is quite natural. It is the same response that nearly every human being would have in a similar circumstance. . Let me just say that sorrow is a warning system that God has built in each one of us to alert us that something is not right in our world. Sometimes it is myself, sometimes it is others, and sometimes it is just the result of living in a fallen world. Regardless it warns us that something is not right.

Let’s examine some examples worldly sorrow

Kosmos lupe (Worldly Sorrow)
Eat, Drink, Be marry for tomorrow we die (Escapism)
The first Example is the Worldly Sorrow of escapism.
Isaiah 22:12-13 (HCSB)
On that day the Lord God of Hosts called for weeping, for wailing, for shaven heads, and for the wearing of sackcloth. 13 But look: joy and gladness, butchering of cattle, slaughtering of sheep, eating of meat, and drinking of wine— “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!”

There is a strong tendency for us to believe that sorrow is a bad thing and is to be avoided at all costs. We would think someone who says to celebrate sorrow as being a bit off. We struggle to glance at, listen to, or embrace someone’s sorrow. We are so programmed to run away, that I bet that there are some of you squirming there in your seats that such a topic would be spoken of from the pulpit. It is this unwillingness to acknowledge sorrow that in my opinion leads so many to escapism. Escapism is merely a expression of worldly sorrow. It comes in many forms (as many as the human mind can dream up). Some of the more common examples are overeating, drinking, drugs, the party life, pornography, cutting on oneself, music, entertainment, sports, and the list goes on and on. Escapism is the denial of sorrow by pouring oneself into an activity that does not necessarily glorify God.
Build bigger barns (Holding on to things)
The second example is the worldly sorrow of holding on to things.
Luke 12:16-21 (HCSB)
16 Then He told them a parable: “A rich man’s land was very productive. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What should I do, since I don’t have anywhere to store my crops? 18 I will do this,’ he said. ‘I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones and store all my grain and my goods there. 19 Then I’ll say to myself, “You have many goods stored up for many years. Take it easy; eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.” ’

20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is demanded of you. And the things you have prepared—whose will they be?’

21 “That’s how it is with the one who stores up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

This could easily be an example of escapism. This example is the desire to replace sorrow with the holding on to things. And once we have enough things then we will be … happy. Well what do I do when I have collected so many things that there is not room for it anymore? Well in this man’s case he built bigger barns. And unless we think that we are immune to such actions let me ask you a challenging question. Do any of you own or rent a storage shed that is used to store things that you have no idea if you will ever use again or have not used in several years. American’s buy into bigger is better. When we run out of room our thought is to be bigger. Well being bigger for the sake of being bigger does not glorify God, unless that we are building the kingdom. Building the kingdom is the only thing that has eternal significance. A life lived in the pursuit of things is a sorrowful life that leads to the death of the soul.

Can’t remember what he said, but he sure moved my heart. (Forgetfulness)
The Third example is the worldly sorrow of forgetfullness

I know that I have been guilty of this type of sorrow in the past and maybe you have been too. How many of you have listen to a powerful sermon and been pierced to the heart only to later in the day not even recall what the sermon was about? Let me see a show of hands. OK did you get that picture taken so we can show the pastor when he gets back. I'm Joking.
James 1:22-25 (HCSB)
22 But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his own face in a mirror; 24 for he looks at himself, goes away, and right away forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer who acts—this person will be blessed in what he does.

How easy it is to forget our sorrow than it is to acknowledge it and then do something about it. We don’t like feeling bad, but if our only goal is to not feel bad then this sorrow of forgetfulness becomes a real possibility. We do not act but rather we forget the thing that made us sorrowful.

Don’t bring me down, just let me be (denial)
The Forth example is the worldly sorrow of denial

In our quest to reach people for Christ, we must caution ourselves to never compromise the gospel's standards in order to accommodate those people who are not interested in repentance. Billy Graham's sentiments on this concern are most appropriate: "We are dangerously near to saying to the prodigal son, 'It is not necessary to return to your father and home; we can make you comfortable in the pigpen.'"i
This type of worldly sorrow fits in with the notion that I am not as bad as the next guy. It also is the sentiment that if I am basically a good person and do not do any things that are too bad or too many bad things then God will accept me. God is love. The Christian is not immune to this type of sorrow either. It usually takes the form of, “Who are you to judge me…” This type of sorrow usually attacks the source. It denies the truth and there by denies the sorrow that the truth produces.

What if… (Worry)
The fifth example is the worldly sorrow of worry.

Sorrow is a place where sadness and anxiety meet. They are good friends and dwell in the soul of those that have worldly sorrow. This sorrow of worry is best described in Matthew 13

“V3 Consider the sower who went out to sow…v7 Others fell among thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them… V23 Now the one sown among the thorns—this is one who hears the word, but the worries of this age and the seduction of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful”

Notice that the sorrow of collecting more things is right there along side the sorrow of worry. Worldly sorrow of worry leads to a choked out life that becomes unfruitful. This person hears the word of God and grows up in it, but because of the worries of the world God’s word does not produce the fruit of a Christian life. In its extreme form this worry becomes paranoia. The person begins to look for danger in everyday life. Their conception of God becomes one that see Him as just waiting to zap them for something wrong. In some cases it leads to a very legalistic life where the true motivation for obeying God’s word it to avoid punishment.

Our final example is the worldly sorrow of melancholy

It is this sorrow that we usually think about when we hear the word sorrow.
If there be a hell upon earth it is to be found in a melancholy man's heart.
Robert Burton (1577–1640)
I will not go to the verses, but will just point out two people from the Bible that were affected by the sorrow of melancholy. The first murder was committed when a Cain suffering from worldly melancholy refused to repent even when God was gracious enough to point out that repentance was needed. He continued his melancholy life and killed his brother. He ended up being a curse to himself and to the human race. The other person would be King Saul. He started out good enough, but overcome by melancholy he was led and led the people of Israel in to all sorts of evils. He even attempted to kill his son’s best friend; David had even ministered to he during his many bouts of worldly sorrow. King Saul eventually committed suicide on the battlefield rather than to face the agony of defeat. “Melancholy and sadness are the start of doubt … doubt is the beginning of despair; despair is the cruel beginning of the differing degrees of wickedness.” This includes death through suicide and murder.

Let me just summarize the forms of worldly sorrow. We have the Sorrow of escapism, the sorrow of holding onto things, the sorrow of forgetfulness, the sorrow of denial, the sorrow of worry, and the sorrow of melancholy. And now that I have made you feel sufficiently low let me build you back up. Before I do though I want to talk to you about celebrating sorrow.

Paul says in 2 Cor 7:6-9 (HCSB) 6 But God, who comforts the humble, comforted us by the coming of Titus, 7 and not only by his coming, but also by the comfort he received from you. He announced to us your deep longing, your sorrow, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more. 8 For although I grieved you with my letter, I do not regret it—even though I did regret it since I saw that the letter grieved you, though only for a little while. 9 Now I am rejoicing, not because you were grieved, but. For you were grieved as God willed, so that you didn’t experience any loss from us.

Let’s face it sorrow is not any fun. It is not something that we seek out. Oh God make me sorrowful, I really miss that feeling. “For although I grieved you with my letter, I do not regret it” Those are hard words. We are often in the business of making sure that people do not feel badly. We want people to come to God because they feel good about it. I know that those who have been in church their whole lives that came to God in a positive way growing up in a Christian home. They felt good about it. Repentance was simply continuing down the path toward God that their parents had already started them on. However, I cannot think of a single person that has come to Christ that does not pass through a valley of sorrow on the road of repentance. Sorrow is not something to be avoided. It is to be embraced and rejoiced. Why? “For the sorrow according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation!” Let’s now examine Godly sorrow.

Kata theos lupe (Godly Sorrow)
1.Weeping and mourning in the evening, but joy comes in the morning (Wrestling)
Psalms 30:5 (HCSB)
Weeping may spend the night, but there is joy in the morning.

Psalms 126:5-6 (HCSB)
5 Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy. 6 Though one goes along weeping, carrying the bag of seed, he will surely come back with shouts of joy, carrying his sheaves.

Do you ever feel like your sorrows have come to spend the night with you? Has sorrow taken up residence in your heart and life. Weeping has come to stay this evening. We know that he is not a very pleasant guest, but we welcome him just the same. Here is the hope when we endure this Godly sorrow of wrestling blessing comes in the morning. There is a new day dawning for you. AMEN

The reason a call this the Godly sorrow of wrestling is because it reminds me of Jacob wrestling with that Angel of the Lord through the night. I believe that the Godly sorrow of wrestling is the spiritual answer to the worldly sorrow of escapism. Think about it what happens at night if you are feeling down. Do you go out and party, or do you stay home and pour out your heart to God. Recall that Jacob was filled with fear and sorrow that his brother may seek to kill him the next morning. Usually Jacob would attempt to figure a cleaver way to get himself out of trouble. This time would be different. He did have a plan, but this night he would turn to God. God sent the Angel of the Lord and Jacob wrestled with Him through the night. As morning was breaking Jacob refused to let go of the Angel of the Lord until He had bless him. The Angel of the Lord gave Jacob the name Israel, blessed him and touched his hip putting it out of joint. This sorrow of wrestling is a challenge to all of us. When we look at our circumstances and believe that all hope is lost or the task at hand is too difficult what do we do? Do you turn tail and run. Do you figure some cleaver way out? Or do we do as Jacob did and turn to God and wrestle with Him until He gives us the answer that we so desperately need. Are you wrestling with Him now? DON’T GIVE UP weeping may be here this evening, you may be suffering through this seemingly endless spiritual darkness, but if you turn to God your spiritual morning will soon dawn and what a glorious day that will be. Praise God.

2.Sell all you have, give to the poor and follow me (Following)
Recall the Rich man who came to Jesus with the conviction that something was missing in his life. Jesus pointed the man to the moral teachings and the man indicated that he still did not have a fulfilled life. He had sorrow in his heart that things were not as they should be. The next part should pierce us to the heart if we should ever consider the sorrow of holding on to things, because Jesus says in Matt 19:21 (HCSB) “If you want to be perfect (or complete), go, sell your belongings and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.”

The reality is the Christian walk is filled with things that we need to give up if we are to follow Jesus. Worldly Sorrow gets hung up on the giving up stuff. That is the worldly sorrow of holding on to things. However Godly sorrow moves through this to the double blessing of giving or ministering and a closer walk with God. There is a saying that says “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” This man responded with the worldly sorrow of holding on to things. How will you respond when God through His Holy Spirit shows you things that you need to give up? I hope that you follow through to the place of following Him. This is a greater blessing than anything this world can offer. AMEN

3.Be not a hearer only, but an effectual doer (Obeying)
You might say that does not make since there is sorrow obeying. No it is the sorrow that leads to obeying. Let’s turn back to
James 1:21-25 (HCSB) “Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and evil excess, humbly receive the implanted word, which is able to save you. 22 But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his own face in a mirror; 24 for he looks at himself, goes away, and right away forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer who acts—this person will be blessed in what he does. “
Let me just hit a few key points as I do not want to preach another sermon, but I do see in these verses what Godly sorrow is to produce. First is the putting off of things ungodly. There must be a repentance of those things that grieve God. Second we must become an effective doer, which means obedience to God’s Law of freedom. We have great liberty in Christ, but we enslave ourselves again when we are not obedient to what God has revealed to us. So the next time you hear a convicting sermon, write down what it is that God wants you to do and do it. That is the Godly sorrow that leads to obedience.

4.Confess your sin and He is able to forgive and cleanse you from all unrighteousness (Confessing)
I remember that scene from the passion of Christ were Peter who has just denied Jesus three times and received the piercing yet compassionate look from Jesus. He was broken, grieved, and wept bitterly. I believe that the Godly sorrow of confession overcomes the worldly sorrow of denial. Fast forward to when Christ appears by the lake and Peter and the disciples have returned to fishing. When they realize that it is Jesus Peter cannot wait for the boat to come to shore, but jumps in the water and swims to his Savior. They have dinner together and Jesus gives Peter a chance to confess his love for Him three times. So when we are tempted to deny our sin or deny Christ we must remember, “If we confess our sins Jesus is faithful and just to forgive our sins.” And “If we confess Jesus before men then He will confess us before the God the father in heaven.”

5.Seek first the kingdom of God and these will be added to you. (Turning to God)
The worldly sorrow of anxiety has an easy cure. Melancholy is melted away in one simple move. The cure is your move to passionately seek after God’s Kingdom. You recall “seek first the kingdom of God and these things will be added unto you.” Seeking the Kingdom of God is not without its moments of sorrow. There are times when you feel defeated and beaten down. There are times that you are attacked for the faith. There are times when people reject the good that you do. What is the answer? Seek First. Sorrow should turn your heart back to God every time. When you feel it in your soul you ought to examine your life and repent of selfishness, self-centeredness and seek after God. Even when you do that soul searching and find nothing wrong, that feeling of sorrow ought to push you to the arms of God, even when you are faultless in the situation; this next story illustrates how seeking after God is the answer.

Father's Day was an enjoyable day for the Simonton family in 1990. The day that followed was not. Lee Simonton left for work with his new Father's Day wing-tip shoes and a promise to be home for lunch. At 10:40 a.m. his promise to return was broken. An irate customer stormed into the Jacksonville, Florida, General Motors Acceptance Corporation office where Lee worked and opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle and a handgun. He shot two customers and twelve employees before turning the gun on himself. Lee became a fatality, because he shielded a female co-worker from the gunfire. His tragic death brought unbearable pain to his wife and two children. The loss of both love and security were terribly frightening for them. They were hurt, scared, and angry over the lot they had received. Yet, from the pages of God's Word they found divine peace and hope. Psalm 37 gave Debra the strength to forgive the man who took her husband and replaced her bitterness with peace. Six-year-old Melissa took comfort in verse 25 of her mother's Psalm: "I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread." In Exodus 22:22-24 the little man of the house, eight-year-old Josh, claimed the promise of God to defend widows and orphans. Together they bravely walked the pathway of sorrow and along their journey they found "the peace which passes all understanding." It is only God who can provide such peace in the midst of painful sorrow.

Let me just ask you where are you tonight with regard to sorrow. Have you been stuck in the dying of worldly sorrow? Has worldly sorrow choked out the life in you? Or maybe you have just recently felt the pangs of sorrow and are wondering, “What should I do?” “Why is this happening to me?” “I hate feeling this way.” Maybe you’re here tonight and you do not know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Let me ask what each of are going to do? Will you turn to God and Wrestle with him so that he can bring an eventual end to this night of sorrow that you feel? Will you give all that you have and follow Him? Is it time for you to get serious about remembering and being obedient to the things that he had shown you? Are you ready to make a break with sin by confessing it? Are you prepared for the awesome task of confessing your love for Jesus? Are you seeking God’s kingdom in all that you do? Are you ready to throw yourself upon the Grace of God? If you do then I will rejoice, not because I made you feel sorry, but that your sorrow did not suffer loss and led you to repentance and salvation. Let’s pray!


Friday, June 12, 2009

Some days

Sorry Amy: I forgot to put out the garbage.

OK if any of you are husbands let me give you some advice. It's about the

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 28: Simon Little, the ...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Garbage!!!! Take it out!!!!

I guess what I am saying is do not let the important moments slip away by being distracted with trash. If something needs to be thrown away do it now. Don't wait. Do it now!!! Did I say do it now?

All to often we fail to notice and take responsibility on the small things. We are so focused on the "greater things" that we miss the small stuff. Often the greater things are rubbish in God's eyes and the small things are what really matters to Him.

But what things were to me gains, these I have counted, because of the Christ, loss; yes, indeed, and I count all things to be loss, because of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, because of whom of the all things I suffered loss, and do count them to be refuse, that Christ I may gain, and be found in him, (Philippians 3:7-8; YLT)

So tonight, spend some time with God and show His love to others by hugging someone you love, calling a friend, playing with the kids, or sending an email to a family member, but please please please don't forget to take out the garbage. You did not really need it anyway and you will save a trip to the dump later.

Now I get to go to the dump tomorrow. Well at least my son and I will get to have fun (he is still young enough to enjoy the dump). Plus I had fun turning it into an object lesson.

God Bless You


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Time to stop going through the motions

I just want to praise God for all that he does in my life. He is blessed me beyond what I can

God's GraceImage by tomsaint11 via Flickr

imagine or deserve. I am humbled for I am unworthy of His Grace and Mercy and yet.. He continues to bless. I will never stop in my awe and wonder of who He is. God has been showing me how to take my walk to the next level. It requires greater faith. It requires greater courage. It requires greater love. It requires greater commitment. Yet if He calling me to this walk I say AMEN. Lord Send me.

I have been talking with some friends and family. I have been experiencing God's Holy Spirit as I read the Bible. My eyes are being opened at church. I have seen the power of God working in the lives of the people that come to me for counsel. It is all amazing and humbling. That God would consider me to be a part of what He is doing in others lives. It is a blessing as well. One thing that God has shown to me is that in order to go deeper in my faith there are some things that I must become more passionate about. First is my love for God. There is no holding back. I have to give my all to this pursuit. Second loving others. Not just words, but deeds. I think of this song "The Motions".

The Matthew West gives a a strong challenge to each one of us to make a genuine life change and that is what I am talking about here. We are lost without God. So when we play God as second in our lives, then we will always be asking, “What if...?” Let me ask you. Are you ready to take it all the way with God. If you are post a comment here and then let me know as God reveals His Greatness to you. I am looking for a mighty movement of God! Are you?

Bless you all.