Promise Breakers

In I Kings 8:25 Solomon prayed: “Now therefore, O LORD, the God of Israel, keep with Your servant David my father that which You have promised him, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man to sit on the throne of Israel, if only your sons take heed to their way to walk before Me as you have walked.’” This was a fine and appropriate prayer which Solomon prayed. God could be counted on to keep His promises to David and the succeeding generations. The problem was, Israel would not. Continue reading

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Sermon: Romans 1:4 “The Meaning of the Resurrection of Jesus” for FBC Paul’s Valley, 4-20-14

When we were serving in Louisiana one of our church members was coaching a kids baseball practice just before Easter one year, and he announced that they weren’t going to have practice or a game that weekend because it was Easter. He thought he would take this opportunity to share with the kids, and he asked them what Easter was about: some of the boys immediately yelled: “Eggs!” The coach said, no, there was something else. “Easter baskets” another boy called out. “No, there is something more special”, he answered. “What is it?” He saw a boy from the church waving his arm, so he figured he would get it right, and he called on him. His answer? “I know — chocolate bunnies!”

We need to make sure that we remember what it is that we are celebrating this weekend: not bunnies or chocolate or eggs, not spring weather, food, or even family, as good as some of those things are. What we are celebrating is the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. We find one of the best references to the Resurrection of Jesus in Romans 1:4, where Paul writes:

:4 “Who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

I almost gave this message the title: “So What?” I had a seminary professor tell us once that we should look at every passage and ask, “so what?” — NOT in an irreverent or sarcastic way, but as a means of asking, “What does this mean to my life? What should I do in response to this?” As we come together this Easter Sunday, we should ask that question: “So What?” So we are marking the resurrection of Jesus from the grave — so what? What is the significance of that? What does it mean to us, and how should we respond? Let’s look together for a few minutes at this passage, and what it tells us about what the resurrection of Jesus from the dead means to us: Continue reading

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Because …

In Psalm 9:4 David prays: “For You have maintained my just cause; You have sat on the throne judging righteously.” The word “for” here is an important one. Just as in English, the Hebrew word “qi” is a small word, but it has great significance. It can be translated “for”, or “because.” Like the word “therefore”, it points the reader of this verse back to the ones previous:

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In You

In Psalm 9:2 David writes: “I will be glad and exult in You.” It is significant that he does not just say, “I will be glad and rejoice” — but, “I will be glad and rejoice IN YOU.” Those last two words are significant.

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Conditional Promises

In I Kings 3:14 God gave the newly crowned King Solomon a conditional promise: “IF you walk in My ways, keeping My statutes and commandments, as your father David walked, THEN I will prolong your days.” Notice the “IF … THEN”: “IF” he walked in God’s ways, “THEN” God would prolong his days.
It was not a “blanket promise” that Solomon could claim no matter what; he had to keep his part, then he could be confident that God would do his.

Many of God’s promises in scripture are conditional in the same way. God does indeed promise to do something — IF we will do something first. Some examples include: Continue reading

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“The Goodness of God In The Midst of Affliction” Sermon on Psalm 119:65-72 preached at FBC Bethalto IL

In February 2012, I stood to lead prayer meeting at the church I had been pastoring for 12 years in Louisiana, and the longer I stood the sicker I became. I had to leave during prayer and have one of our associates take over. That was the first evidence that something was wrong with me physically, and it would just grow worse from there. We cut back my preaching to Sunday morning only, and I went to the doctor to try to discover what the problem was. But soon I could no longer preach on Sunday morning without hanging on to the pulpit, and barely being able to make it through the service. I was granted a medical leave until they could come up with a diagnosis. After some months of testing, it was discovered that I had a little-known but increasingly popular diagnosis called POTS: “Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome.” With POTS, one’s heart rate rises whenever they stand, as if they were running in place. It causes severe fatigue, sleeplessness, nausea, migraine headaches, and more. There is no known “cure” for it; they merely treat symptoms with whatever medication works best on the individual. But after months of different medications and exercises, it became increasingly evident that I was not going to become well soon. With several vacant staff positions at our church, I felt like the church needed to call a healthy pastor, and that I should resign. I was losing my ministry, my career, my job. As a result we had to sell our home, my wife’s dream house, along with about 2/3 of our possessions. I was so sick I couldn’t even stand to pack our belongings, and after I had pastored for 27 years I would be out of the ministry. We moved to Norman, Oklahoma, where we had a small apartment, to convalesce without much human hope for a healthy future.

During that time, God’s word has been an anchor for my soul. I have heard it said that there is a Psalm in the Bible for every conceivable human emotion; one which will speak to you in whatever it is you are going through. I have always believed that, and I can certainly say that it is true for my own life, and for what our family has gone through over the past couple of years.

Some of the verses which have ministered to me the most over this time have been from the chapter you have been studying as a church, Psalm 119:65-72. As it turned out, after we moved to Norman, by God’s grace I got completely well … which is perhaps another story. But the lessons we learned, and what God did in our lives in and through this time, are invaluable. Let’s read these verses together and then talk about what they teach us about “The Goodness of God in the Midst of Affliction” …

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Kingdom-First Praying

In I Kings 3:9, David’s son Solomon, told by the Lord to ask whatever he wished God to give him, prayed his famous prayer asking God to give him an understanding heart to judge His people. In :11, God commended Solomon’s selfless, kingdom-centered prayer: “Because you have asked THIS thing and have not asked for YOURSELF …”.

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