“The Discipline of Fellowship” (Hebrews 10:23-25 sermon)

Cheryl & I are fond of assigning “chapter titles” to different episodes of our life together, as if they would be chapters in a book. We have labeled some of them: “The Great Mouse Caper”, “The Dark Year”, or “Just Then It Began to Snow” (Maybe we can fill you in on some of those some other time!) About a year and a half ago, I gave that chapter of our lives the title, “How Trinity Baptist Saved Our Lives.” As many of you know, I had served as pastor in Southern Baptist churches for almost 30 years before stepping down from our church in Louisiana with an illness. We sold our home, 2/3 of our possessions, and moved to Norman with little hope of a future. It was a difficult time for us. But in the middle of that, we had found a church home, Trinity Baptist in Norman, where the pastor, staff, and people ministered to us, and really helped us through those dark hours. I remember one particularly bad day, when I was in bed with a migraine headache, a rag over my forehead, no job or income, and I was just calling out to God for help. Just then, I could hear the phone ring in the other room, and Cheryl answered it. I would find out later that it was the pastor of Trinity, Ronnie Rogers, calling to offer us help and prayer. And that church did help us: with prayer, financially, with friends and fellowship and so much encouragement, and opportunities to serve and preach as I recovered. I later sent the staff a note which said, “If I were to entitle this chapter of my life, ‘How Trinity Baptist Saved Our Lives” it would not be far from the truth.” Cheryl & I have come out of this experience having learned many lessons; among them an even greater appreciation than ever before for the important place of the fellowship of the church in our lives as believers.

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The Only Rock

The last phrase of Psalm 18:31 addresses just the point where many people make the biggest mistake in their lives. The verse says: “For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God?” (Psalm 18:31) The implied answer is, of course, no one! There is no God but Yahweh; there is no rock except our God. Which is where many of us miss it.

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It’s Not How Much You Read

Three little words in Hebrew fed my soul that day. I try to get a variety of scripture into my life daily, as I read from Psalms to begin my prayer time, then both an Old Testament and a New Testament reading. But as in so many areas of life, I am learning that it is not always quantity, but quality that matters. This is especially true regarding our intake of the word of God. I learned this lesson again as I began my daily reading in Psalms.

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The Precious Stewardship

In Ezra 8:24-30 Ezra tells us that he took 12 of the priests who were with him in Babylon, and weighed out to each of them a portion of the gold & silver and the costly utensils which were going to the Temple in Jerusalem. In verse 29 he gave them a commission: “Watch and keep them until you weigh them before the leading priests, the Levites and the heads of the fathers’ households of Israel at Jerusalem, in the chambers of the house of The Lord.” Here we find an example of a precious stewardship. Continue reading

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The Light in My Darkness

In Psalm 18:28 David says, “For You light my lamp; the LORD my God illumines my darkness.” That God would “illumine (his) darkness” could mean something different than we might initially think.

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“The Discipline of Scripture Memory” (Matthew 4:11 sermon)

(Preached at First Baptist, Pauls Valley, OK 9-21-14)

When I was in college I went on a mission trip to Switzerland and Germany. During the trip we also made a one-day visit to Paris, but in many ways I was disappointed by the city. It was dirty, both physically and spiritually, and after about half a day there, I sat down on the curb of one of the city’s streets, depressed. But I had recently begun to memorize scripture, and had just learned James Chapter 1. Without anything else to do, I decided to just begin reviewing that chapter as I sat there: “James, a bondservant of God, and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the 12 tribes who are dispersed, Greetings! Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance …”. The more I quoted of that chapter, the more God’s Spirit began to lift me up, until I got to :12, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance …”. By that time, I was “revived” and ready to go back at it! God had used His word to lift my spirits. This was the first of many times in which I have found scripture memory to be one of the greatest blessings of my lifetime.

This morning we are continuing our series, “The Disciplines of Disciples.” Jesus commands each of us as His disciples to deny ourselves, take up His cross daily, and follow Him. And I Timothy 4:7 tells us that we are to “discipline (ourselves) for the purpose of Godliness” as His disciples. We have seen that some of those disciplines include having a morning time with God in the “pure milk” of His word, and in organized prayer, following the Model Prayer outline that Jesus gave us, as well as continuing to walk with God all throughout each day through the discipline of spontaneous prayer. The discipline we are going to look at today is “The Discipline of Scripture Memory” — and I am going to ask each of you here today to make a special kind of commitment to it when we close our service this morning. Right now, let’s read together Matthew 4:1-11, where we find one of the best examples of the Lord Jesus using scripture memory in His own life, as an example to us:

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“According to My Righteousness”?

Psalm 18, in which David celebrates his deliverance, contains what to many would seem a questionable phrase. In the midst of His praise of God for what He has done, David says in verse 20, “He has rewarded me according to my righteousness.” That would seem to be a very self-righteous statement!

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