May 14            “ A Woman’s Grit”    Luke 18:1 – 8

Most of us remember the movie “True Grit” in either its first or second release.  What we may not realize is that the movie “True Grit” is not about Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne or Jeff Bridges) but is about a 14 year old girl named Mattie Ross (Kim Darby or  Hailee Stanfield)!

Mattie is the one who picked Rooster to help her track down her father’s murderer.  There was absolutely NOTHING going to stop this stubborn and feisty young woman from her task!

 Grit is defined as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.”

  • God wants us to pray
    • Talking builds relationships
    • God wants us to TALK with Him
    • Even if we don’t say much – listen
  • God wants us to remain hopeful
    • We so quickly turn to the dark side – what is the WORST
    • We get all bound up in the “What Ifs”
    • We rarely think the best thing is happening
  • Hope is built in our heart
    • not our eyes, hands, minds, TV shows, etc.
  • To show us the right path God used a PERSISTENT women
    • She had been a wife and was probably a mom
    • God knows the love and strength of a woman’s heart
    • Especially for her family
  • A strong woman never gives up, gives in or gives out
    • She fights for her family
    • She pushes for what is right
  • Reality:
    • MOMMA KNOWS HOW TO GET THINGS DONE!
      • Dads is still sitting in his chair wondering what’s going on WHILE Momma already got it done!
      • IF Momma’s first attempt at getting it done meets RESISTANCE…..MOMMA IS GOING TO KEEP ON TRYING!
        • Ain’t no GIVE UP in Momma
    • Jerry Clower is famous for saying “WHATEVER MOMMA WANTS…..MOMMA GETS!”
    • It is not original with him though…it comes from this text in Holy Scriptures!
  • She nagged him
    • she never let up or relented or LOST HOPE
    • even though the temptation to quit must have been there after so many attempts and so many failures
      • but she persisted
  • Because of her persistence the Judge relented
    • He figured out that if he didn’t do something she would keep coming
    • He knew she needed justice,
      • but he evidently didn’t want to be bothered.
      • Maybe heartless or maybe lazy or perhaps he didn’t see the value of wasting time on her.
      • But because she persisted he relented and helped
  • God is different than this Judge
    • God Loves You
    • God is THE Righteous Judge
    • He wants to help
    • God is on your side
    • God is OK with your continual prayers
    • NAG God all you want – BE PERSISTENT
  • Here is the question for us this text poses:
    • When the Son of Man returns WILL HE FIND ANY FAITH ON EARTH?
      • Will He find a people like the widow who perceived in faith
        • True faith continues to pray
        • With a FERVENT HOPE
        • True faith keeps its heart toward God
        • Trusting
      • Will He find people who simply gave up
        • Turned to the comforts of the world
        • Turned to the evil lies of our enemy
        • Lost hearts
  • NEVER give up on God!
  • He certainly NEVER gives up on you
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What’s it worth?

1 Corinthians 13;13 “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”  ESV

We have heard this scripture often and like the warm squishy feeling we get when reading the Word of God tell us what eternity will bring God’s Children.

Faith, Hope and Love are eternal.  Love is the greatest.

Jesus spoke often about the necessity of love in our world.  Love God first and foremost; love your neighbor as yourself.  Love is the greatest commandment.

Yet, we know that our world desperately lacks love.

Why?

Galatians 5:19 – 21  “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality,  idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions,  envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”  ESV

This is a list of the things that will keep us out of God’s planned eternity for us.  They find their roots in the Ten Commandments.

Have no false gods, have no fake gods, don’t use the real God’s name as a curse and remember to set aside a day for God.  You remember the first 4 right?  Their basic lesson is to LOVE GOD, while the next 6 speak of LOVING YOUR NEIGHBOR.

Pride of the flesh, pride of the mind and pride in your spirit.  The common denominator, and greatest of these, is PRIDE!

  • Loving yourself more than you love God.
  • Loving yourself more than you love others.
  • Loving what you have and want more than anything else.

Selfish, arrogant pride is the very opposite of faith, hope and love.

It is this pride that got Adam and Eve kicked out of the Garden.                                                       It is this pride that brought great destruction to our planet in the Flood.                                       It is this pride that sent shadrach, meshach and abednego and  into the fiery furnace.           It is this same pride that keeps people separate from God today.

What do you hold most dear? What would you stubbornly hold onto if you knew it would be a destructive force in your life or worse, your eternity?

Substance abusers choose to hold on to their desire for the substance that makes them feel good for a short time while they allow that same substance to destroy their families, friendships and even their own health and life.  They know the problem but they like the problem more than they like anything or anyone else, including their selves.

The arrogant are willing to stomp on anyone and commit any act to climb their desired ladder to their perceived success.  The ones that do rise to the top find only loneliness, sadness and disappointment.  They sold their soul for flesh pleasing achievement.

Mark 8:34 – 38   “And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.  For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?  For what can a man give in return for his soul?  For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”   ESV

The good news is that God loves you and wants to deliver you from self and sin; from the pride that prevents us from humbly receiving the gift of faith, hope and love that God has for us all.

John 3:16 – 17 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”  ESV

We have all fought prides grasp, the good news is that Jesus is not here to condemn you, but to provide you a pathway to salvation and eternal, life.  He wants you to have faith, hope and love forever.

To repent simply means to change your direction, from your way or the way the world has you traveling; and turn to God’s way and plan for your life.  In doing so you find peace, joy and safety; the results of faith, hope and love.  Trust God with your everything.

What is your soul worth?

What value do you place on the simple gifts of faith, hope and love?

God sent His only Son.

Jesus was the only person to walk the earth without sin, yet freely gave His life, shed His blood, so you could be forgiven.

There has been a great price paid for what can be received without cost to you.  Receive.

October 30th    Hope for the little guy!  When the little things become great things!  God makes MOUNTAINS out of MOLE HILLS

Luke 13:18-21 “He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it?  It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”  And again he said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God?  It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened.”  ESV

One of my frustrations in our politics and in our world is when people attempt to make people look small and weak.

A second one is when a person ALLOWS someone to make them feel small and weak!

Never let anyone push you down or marginalize you!

Most often that is just the efforts of a insecure person trying to build themselves up by making you feel small.

Now, I am not blind.  I am a big guy.  And there are folks who are built smaller than I am.  There are also folks built bigger than I am.  That is Gods business.

We need to understand that it is NOT OUR PHYSICAL SIZE that limits us, NOT is it how big or small others MAKE US FEEL that limits us!

It is OUR FAITH that limits us!

  1. Mustard Seed
    1. Tiny
    2. But not its only scripture reference
  2. Luke 17:5-6 “The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”
  3. A tiny seeds that can produce a HUGE plant when turned over to God
    1. A tiny seed brings a great change
    2. The tiny mustard seed grows to provide shelter for other, larger critters
  4. Leaven
    1. a substance, typically yeast, that is added to dough to make it ferment and rise.
    2. a pervasive influence that modifies something or transforms it for the better…..”
    3. Leaven is spread by contact
    4. Leaven is widely diffusive
      1. One little bit of leaven can leaven a whole lump
    5. Leaven changes the particles it comes in contact with into its own nature
    6. A little leaven is a small part but it can bring great change
  5. People will try to tell you or make you feel like a little insignificant person
    1. DON’T LET THEM! Reject the LIE!
    2. Because in God’s Hands a LITTLE THING is capable of GREAT THINGS!
  6. We may feel so tiny when compared to the world or the universe
    1. God has planted us here to make a BIG impact
    2. God has planted us here to do His work
    3. God can use our Little faith and move Big Mountains
      1. I am not sure what MOUNTAIN is obstructing your LIFEPATH right now
        1. But with a little faith take that MOUNTAIN to God and let Him either:
          1. Shrink it
          2. Move IT
          3. Remove it
        2. You may THINK you have little RESOURCES but with a little faith take it to God
          1. Watch God make your resources go farther than you ever thought
          2. Trust God with what you have!
        3. KNOW that when your little GRAIN OF FAITH is multiplied through Jesus Christ YOU BECOME A GIANT!

Philippians 4:13-14 “For I can do everything through Christ,* who gives me strength.”  NLT

There is hope for the little guy!  HIS NAME IS JESUS!

You cannot ALMOST be saved but you can be DECEIVED

Luke 11:24 – 26   “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’  And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order.  Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.”

We are a people who are good at starting things and making promises to start things but we really don’t follow through well.

We don’t finish well…or at all.

We have unfinished projects around the house…next month…2017

We plan and prepare but PROCRASTINATE

How many New Year’s Resolutions have you kept?

We do the same thing spiritually as well.

We come to an emotional moment with God and make promises.

“God if you deliver me from this I will……..”

We work hard changing our life, removing the bad chunks as we can.

We clean our life up.

But.

There is that word again.  We often want to live a Christian life….BUT:

But, we really don’t want to change

But, our friends will think we are weird

But, we do not follow through.

  • We plan and prepare to go pray every day…BUT
  • We plan to read our Bible for 1 hour every day….BUT
  • We prepare to be more faithful and obedient…BUT
  • But.
  • We think we have done enough.  So we stop.
  • We stop short of actual faith
  • We stop short of actual commitment
  • We stop short of a moment of conversion
  • We stop short of NEW LIFE.

WE, WE, WE, WE

Then WE learn a hard lesson.

What WE can FIX satan can easily BREAK

First, we revert back into some old patterns

Then, we gather new bad habits

    Habits made worse since we THINK we are OK with God now

But, in the end, we are in worse condition than when we started

  • Maybe we keep coming to church but feel empty.
  • Maybe we keep coming so we can FEEL faithful to…something
  • Maybe we grow dry and drift off as on a slight wind
  •             No LIVING WATER
  • Maybe we just give up and look elsewhere.

 

  • Not because God somehow failed…
  • Not because GOD is not able to save…
  • Not because God does not want to save…

But because we stopped short of allowing Him to save us.

We never receive NEW LIFE – we never accept HIM

Many, many people only THINK they are saved.

But they only straightened up for a while but soon found their lives more frustrating and messed up than before.

  • Some think they can save themselves.
  • Some think they can buy their salvation through much giving
  • Some think they can earn their salvation through much serving
  • Some think they deserve their salvation because of who they are
  • Some think they will receive salvation because God is love.
  • Some think they will get their salvation because of their family ties
  • Some just sit and HOPE they will be saved

Empty hulls waiting for something to fill them.

     God desires to fill your life

     Satan will use every opportunity to gain your empty soul

            ONE WILL FILL YOUR HEART AND LIFE

Christ or Satan?        YOUR CHOICE

Neither the church, your family’s heritage in the church nor how much you give or serve the church can save you.

You can ONLY be saved by GRACE alone through FAITH alone in JESUS CHRIST alone.

Everything else leaves you EMPTY.

Everything else leaves you VULNERABLE.

Everything else leaves you LOST.

Everything else leaves you HELL BOUND

There is a reason the musicians sing of a “Highway to Hell”  but only  “Stairway to Heaven”            They are speaking of the traffic each one is carrying to their final eternity.

God had Matthew write the concept for both these songs:

Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.  For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”   ESV

Matthew 7:21 – 23  “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Let God change you then fill all of the chasms of your heart and mind with Him!

Saying IS NOT ENOUGH – There must be the Will and ACTION of BEING a Christian actually OBEYING the Will of God!

  • FOLLOW THROUGH to TRUE FAITH!
  • Follow through with Baptism and Discipleship
  • Follow through with service and obedience

Spiritual Formation and Growth is NECESSARY for the Christian. 

Bible Study and Devotion is NECESSARY for the Christian.

OBEDIENCE is NECESSARY for a Christian

            (“IF you love Me, obey my Commands”- Jesus, John 14:15)

2 Corinthians 5:16 – 21  “From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.  Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.  For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 

Is your NEW CREATION visible and active? Has GOD changed you?

Where Joy Hides

Luke 10:17-24 “The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!”  [Look what we done did!] And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.  Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. [PFFT!  Y’all aint doing nuttin without ME!]  Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”  [You should be rejoicing in that ETERNAL LIFE and what not I gave you!]  In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children;[Don’t try to make this too complicated….I made it so easy little children can understand]  yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.  All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”  Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see!  For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”   ESV

  1. Joy Hides in Salvation
    1. Not Works – what you are doing
      1. We serve for God – not what we get out of service
    2. Joy hides when we forget or “get used to” our salvation
    3. Joy hides when we “take advantage” of what God has given us
    4. Joy hides lost when we look for it in ourselves
    5. It is God that gives the power to serve and witness
      1. You never saved anyone
      2. John 3:16-18 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
  1. Joy Hides in Simple Faith
    1. Why are kids happier than adults?
      1. Adulting is hard!
      2. We forget how to play
        1. Or just stop enjoying life
          1. Life is to be LOVED
        2. Joy is lost when we look for it in our maturity, degrees, works or flesh
  2. Joy Hides in Revelation
    1. Joy hides in the WORD of GOD
    2. Reading and pondering God’s Word
      1. We often overlook the joy of hearing God speak
    3. Looking for God in our EVERYDAY lives
    4. Joy is lost when we look for it in human knowledge
      1. Joy is lost when we separate our lives from God and His Word
  3. Joy Hides in Grace
    1. We look forward to birthdays!
      1. We get gifts we do not deserve
        1. You were not in labor for your own birth!
        2. I think you should give your Mom presents on your birthday!
      2. We are blessed to see God at work in our lived
        1. Even if we know we are not worthy
        2. Grace is God blessing us with what we DO NOT deserve.
      3. Joy is lost when we reject the Grace of God
  4. Wherever Joy is Hidden, it is hidden because we have hidden it there.
    1. God has made it so easy to FIND JOY that none of us should ever be looking
      1. We don’t look for it
      2. We don’t see the need
      3. We are afraid of it
  1. God loves you!
    1. Believe and Be JoyFULL

Took a little time today to read and ponder the arrest, trials, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Two things really hit me as I read.

  1. John 19:14-16 “Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!”  They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” So he delivered him over to them to be crucified.”   ESV
    1. I physically shuddered as I read this.
      1. The CHIEF PRIESTS denied Jesus Christ
      2. The Temple Elite were lost in their own world of flesh and religiosity.
        1. In Ezekiel 10 we read of the Glory of God leaving the Temple because of their rebellion, cruelty and disobedient
        2. All traits we are seeing here
        3. Traits we see in our world today
  • A church position does not make anyone a Christian
    1. Like sleeping in a garage will not make you a F-250 or make you a mechanic.
    2. There are “wolves in Sheep’s Clothing” in churches of all denominations across the globe
      1. Twisting the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the desires of the flesh.
      2. Preaching to tickle ears, draw crowds and become powerful
        1. All the while rejecting the very message of the Word of God
      3. There are a HERD of people out there wearing the “label” of Christianity who are no more Christian than a broken superman toy is bulletproof.
        1. They are either fakers or deceived.
      4. Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’  And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”   ESV
        1. I worry about people who are following the teachings of a man and not the Word of God
          1. How many will stand before Christ and hear “Depart from Me, I don’t know you” because they were tricked by a false teacher who made them feel good.
          2. Will you be one of these many?
        2. I found it particularly disturbing today that people in pulpits are leading people AWAY from Jesus.
      5. The reality that both soldiers and an officer of the High Priest struck Jesus with their hand.
        1. Look at your hand.
          1. Your hand is special and unique.
          2. Your hand was formed by God specifically and individually for you.
        2. They used the very hands God had given them to strike the One who made them
          1. Violent
          2. Disrespectful
        3. I am not sure how to properly explain how repugnant I believe it is to lay our hands on our Savior in such a manner.
      6. Oh how we have failed our Creator and Savior.
        1. We must come to Him with repentant hearts and seek His love and restoration.
        2. We must understand how much we truly need Jesus Christ and receive the Grace of God through Him, and Him alone.
      7. Please take some time this week and read the Gospel accounts of this week, Passion Week, and see just how much Jesus loves YOU and how far He was willing to go for YOUR salvation and eternal life.

January 24th      Available Grace        Luke 8:26 – 39

Did your parents ever call you with “that voice” and you knew you were in trouble?

I walked into the living room where my dad was holding his belt more than one and has to ask, “What did I do?” But, it wasn’t that I didn’t know I had done something wrong….I just wanted to know what they FOUND OUT ABOUT! They would say, “You KNOW what you did?”…..”yes, but what DO YOU know I did” was definitely no the right answer.

As I got older punishment changed.  I moved into the “Grounded” Phase.  Punishment became about me NOT GETTING TO GO SOMEWHERE…or anywhere.

All of us know we have messed up. We understand instinctively that we have gotten in trouble with God.

Maybe we back talked or disrespected our parents or a teacher, stole some candy, a toy or a sales lead. We lied, we gossiped, we slandered, we attacked others when we should be attacked, we cheated, we were greedy or we put ourselves ahead of others and God.

We broke the “Big Ten” or simply the “Terrific Two” ..(love God and Love Others).

God knows. Unlike our parents, we cannot hide anything from God. He knows. You are busted. Accountability is coming and today may be judgment day.

Have you made whatever it is right with God?

We talk often about God’s Grace and Mercy.

Grace- Getting what you do not deserve

Mercy – NOT getting what you do deserve.

We talk about how God has made His saving grace available to all, regardless of color, creed, financial status, origins, ancestry, language, size, intelligence level or abilities.

For God so loved THE WORLD that He gave His only begotten Son the that WHOEVER believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

  • We know the Spirit was with John the Baptist from the womb
  • We know that God’s grace was available to Saul the religious legalist
  • We know the grace of God was available to the woman with the issue of blood.
  • We know the grace of God was available to the woman caught n the act of adultery
  • We know the grace of God was available to the blind, the lame, the crippled, the broken, the sick and the despairing.
  • But, we also KNOW our evil.
  • But, we KNOW what we have messed up.
  • But, we KNOW our failures, fouls and malfunctions
  • We know we are sinners, maybe like Paul, we feel we are the leader of the sinners – the “Worst” 1 Tim 1:15
  • What about us?

But what about someone so FULL OF EVIL that they have been drive out of society?

  • Running naked
  • Homeless, living in a cemetery
  • Someone who often had to be chained and shackled for their own protection and the protection of those around him?
  • So full of demons that their name is “legion”
  • The worst, most evil person you could ever meet
    • Someone who makes Hitler look like a girl scout planting flowers

Surely there is a limit to God’s Grace and Jesus Christ just met him head on in a cemetery, the evil guys home turf.

Maybe there is a time where God moves on from trying to correct our behavior to “GROUNDING US” – it becomes about NOT GOING PLACES – like HEAVEN?????

Are you so messed up and broken that not even God can help you now?  IS it possible to be so bad you are totally hopeless?

Thankfully that answer is a RESOUNDING NO!!

There is hope as long as you have breath on this earth!

You can make that choice for God RIGHT NOW!

But I wouldn’t recommend a delay!

None of us know the day or the hour when we will be called to account before God!

  • Jesus came to Legion
    • He was not shocked there was a man full of evil there
    • He is not shocked at your failures and foul ups either
    • God knows YOUR NEED FOR HIM
      • Do You!
    • Legion came to Jesus.
      • He knew who Jesus is
      • He knew the power and authority of Jesus over him
      • He was afraid
    • FIRST Jesus dealt with the evil
      • Asked him his name
        • Legion, for we are many
        • A Roman legion had 4,000 and 6,000 soldiers
      • Got the evil out of the man
    • THEN Jesus Healed the man
      • Fully cleansed and forgiven
        • The man then sat at the feet of Jesus
        • No longer naked, but fully clothed
        • In his right mind
      • God’s grace was more than available for the worse of the worst
        • Evil defeated
        • Humanity restored
        • Salvation imparted
        • MISSION given:
          • Return to your home, and declare how much God as done for you.”
        • Obedience (If you love me obey My commands)
          • “And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus has done for him.”
        • Today is YOUR opportunity! IT is your time!  It is your turn!

This should be good news for you!

It is NOT too late!  God loves you!

  • At your worse, Jesus will come to you.
  • At your worse, Jesus is in command
  • At your worse, Jesus can bring peace
  • At your worse, Jesus can make such a change that others are startled!
    • Born Again
    • The old, Gone
    • The New, APPARENT