“The Children of God” (Deut.33:3 sermon)

Not everyone pictures a relationship with a Heavenly Father as being good. I just finished reading a biography of Charles Lindbergh, the first man to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. We aren’t as familiar with him today, but he was the most famous man in the world after he made that crossing in 1927. But despite his accomplishments, Lindbergh, by all accounts, was not the best father to his kids. He was a very accomplished man, so he expected much out of his children. He was always lecturing them, and setting very lofty goals for them. One son in particular rebelled against this, and for much of his adult life, he was totally estranged from his father. 

Because of earthly relationships like this, some of us here today may have less-than-good pictures in our minds of our Heavenly Father. Maybe you think of Him as a stern lecturer, or as a heavy taskmaster. But if that’s the picture you have, we need to correct it with the word of God. One of the verses we read last Monday in Deuteronomy gives us a Biblical picture of the relationship between God and His people: 

Deuteronomy 33:3 says: “Indeed, He LOVES the people, all Your holy ones are in Your hand, and they followed in Your steps and everyone receives of Your words.”

Here we find an amazing picture of the relationship between God and His people: Continue reading

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“The Misplaced Passion of Spectator Religion” (Jonah 4 sermon)

On this Father’s Day, many of us are remembering our dads — whether they are still with us, or like my dad, have gone on to be with the Lord. I can remember my father sitting in his recliner, watching tv or reading a book. The recliner is almost a recognized symbol of a Dad in the home. And I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing: especially for a man who works hard outside his home. Home can and should be a place where a man can put up his feet and rest from his labors, and be “at home.” 

But one thing the recliner should NOT symbolize, is our walk with the Lord. Christianity was never intended to be a “spectator sport” — the “La-z-boy” should not be the defining symbol of our faith — although unfortunately it has become that for way too many of us. 

In our daily Bible  reading in the Book of Jonah last week we find a picture of such a man; whose passions were misplaced, because he let his walk with the Lord deteriorate into a “spectator religion”. And unfortunately, this misguided man looks uncomfortably similar to us in too many ways!  Continue reading

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“Little By Little” (Deuteronomy 7:22 sermon)

I have a friend whose dad recently passed away, and now he has to deal with all his dad’s “stuff”: here’s a photo he posted on Facebook of just ONE of the storage buildings of his dad’s stuff. Someone might say: “HOW did he accumulate all that stuff?” Well, you know how he did it, don’t you? He didn’t just go out there one day with a semi truck and get a bunch of stuff and fill that building up. Hardly anyone ever does that. It just happened “little by little,” didn’t it? Just a few things he picked up off the side of the road; just “a little bit” from this garage sale; “a little” here, and “a little” there. It’s the same way with those “hoarders” shows — “little by little,” it becomes a LOT! 

Which leads us to the Book of Deuteronomy this morning. Our readings there this week have been so rich; there is the Shema in Chapter 6: “Hear O Israel, YWHW our God, YHWH is one;” “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD,” and more. But one verse that addresses a principle that many of us need to understand about how God works, is found in Deuteronomy 7:22, where God tells the people of Israel through Moses how He will help them take the Promised Land. He says: 

“The LORD your God will clear away these nations before you little by little; you will not be able to put an end to them quickly; for the wild beasts would grow too numerous for you. But the LORD your God will deliver them before you, and will throw them into confusion until they are destroyed.”

That phrase in :22 is a key one: “little by little.” How would God give them the Promised Land? Not all at once in “one fell swoop;” but “Little by little.” This reveals a spiritual principle: that God often works — not only in Israel, but in our lives too — “little by little.” Continue reading

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“The Biggest Problem You Have” (Luke 5:17-26 sermon)

What is the biggest problem you have?  Most of us probably had something just come to mind. Maybe it is a health issue you have; or a relationship that is giving you trouble; or a financial burden; or a problem at work; something right now is the biggest thing in your mind; the biggest problem you have. 

But our passage today shows us that your biggest problem may not be what you think it is. It wasn’t for the people in Luke 5 — and it may not be for you either. Let’s look at what these verses teach us about our biggest problem: Continue reading

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Are You Shifting The Blame?

“The people spoke against God and Moses, ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food.” (Numbers 21:5)

Numbers 21:4 says the people of Israel “became impatient because of the journey” in the wilderness. But as people often do, they vented their anger in the wrong direction. Continue reading

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Stubbornness or Perseverance?

Reading Numbers 23 I thought, “Man, Balak just isn’t getting it … he’s already asked Baalam three times to ask God curse Israel and He said He is NOT going to do it!” How stubborn mankind can be — always struggling against the ways of God. It’s a good lesson: if God is closing a door, don’t keep trying to open it!

But then I wondered: isn’t there is a balance here somewhere? Sometimes persevering is the thing to do: keep asking; keep knocking, and so on. But at the same time, you don’t want to be found struggling against God’s will. 

So what is the difference? Continue reading

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“Testing The Fruit Of Your Salvation” (James 1:21-27 sermon)

For Mothers Day we got some things for Cheryl for the garden. She loves to garden outside — and I love to go out and walk through the garden with her for 5 minutes before I go inside to read! The other day we had just finished looking at her raised beds with the corn and squash and peppers, and we had gone over to the strawberry patch, where there are a thousand blooms, and some little green strawberries! But while we were looking, all of the sudden Cheryl saw something that wasn’t right, and she pulled up this one plant. I said, “Why’d you do that?” It had a little red berry on it. She said, “This isn’t a strawberry.” At first glance I thought it was — but when I looked at it more closely, I could see that the little red fruit on there was NOT actually a strawberry; it was something else that didn’t need to be in the strawberry patch. You could tell it wasn’t a strawberry by its fruit.

Which reminds us of an important spiritual principle. Jesus said: “You will know them (His true followers) by their fruits.” Many people want to claim to be Christians, but Jesus said that genuine Christians will bear certain fruit in their lives, and by that fruit you can tell them apart from those who just “say” they are following Jesus but are not really.

Our passage for this morning, James 1:21-27, spells out for us what some of that fruit is. Jesus said in :21 that “the word implanted … is able to save your souls.” That is, the word of the gospel can come and be “planted” into your life, and it can save you — IF it finds good soil to grow in (like Matthew 13 talks about). But how do you KNOW if the gospel has found good soil in your life? How do you know if you are really following Jesus, and not just making an empty claim to be a Christian (like so many people do)? This passage shows us at least three things that will be present in your life if you are really a Christian:  Continue reading

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