Monday, January 30, 2012

Our Birthright - Genesis 25:29-34

John 10:10 is our Bible verse this week.  Does anybody know it off the top of your head?  In it Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Some translations say “abundant life”.    Do you know of anybody that you would say is living or has lived a “full life”?  I don’t mean just somebody that is busy.  I mean somebody who is making a difference in furthering the Kingdom and the Kingdom is making a difference in their life.

It also doesn’t mean someone who has everything going for them.  Just because you are rich and successful doesn’t mean you are living a full life.  I think of guys like Paul and David who went through difficult times but their lives were rich and full, making a difference for the Kingdom.  I also think of my parents.  They are living and have lived a full life.  They are being used for the sake of the Lord and have been used all of their adult lives.

I asked Pop one day what he would do differently if he could live over again and he said he would take more chances.  He said he had no regrets in his life, though.  That’s hard for me to fathom.  I’m half his age and have at least one regret for every year.  Anybody else have no regrets in their life?  Is there anybody like me that has some regrets, some things they would like to change or at least forget?

I read a story about the son of a wealthy man who had reason to believe that his dad was going to buy him a new car for his 16th birthday.  He just knew that was going to happen and when the big day came his father handed him a box.  In that box he found a Bible.  The boy got so mad he stormed out of the house and never spoke to his father again.  Years later he was called to claim his inheritance after the old man died and he was going through all the stuff and found that Bible.  He opened it up for the first time and found that in the flyleaf his father had written about how proud he was of him and how much he loved him.  Then at the bottom of the page was taped a key to a Porsche.

I don’t know if that story is true or not and it doesn’t matter.  How many of us do things every day that we regret?  I have an idea that if we knew what blessings we forfeited through our disobedience to God, we would have many more regrets.

Now, don’t worry.  This sermon is not about trying to make you feel guilty.  I don’t want you to regret coming here today.  If you think you have made some bad decisions in your life then maybe it will make you feel better to study the king of regret, Esau, in chapter 25 of Genesis.

I have enjoyed going through the book of Genesis.  Do you realize we have been here since September?  Wow.  And the vast majority of the time we have been talking about Abraham.  We saw that God had promised Abe that he would be the father of a great nation and that he would own all the land his feet touched and that all the people of the world would be blessed through Abe. 

That’s a big promise from God and every time it looks like there is no way God is going to be able to make good on His promise, He always provides a way.  God provided him with a son, Isaac, and then blessed Isaac with two sons.  In between those births, life goes on.  In art, whether it is movies, literature, poetry, whatever, the passing of time is represented by water.  When you see waves crashing on the beach in a movie it often signifies that time is passing.  Not always, of course, but anyway this morning you can envision the waves of Lake Bridgeport crashing as Abraham passes almost everything he has to Isaac, and one generation blends into the next.

I say “almost everything” because Abe did have other sons with other women and he gave those sons some inheritance or gifts but because Isaac was the first, he got the birthright and we will talk about that in a minute.  Let’s look at the two sons of Isaac now.  Do you remember their names?  Jacob and Esau.  They were twins but hardly identical.  It says in verse 25 that Esau was first and he was a hairy baby and grew up to be hairy and a rough, outdoorsy man while Jacob was smooth skinned and liked to hang around the house.

Let’s pick up the story in verse 29 and go through verse 34.  Read.

There is a whole lot of talk here about “birthright” but what is a birthright.  I have 3 points this morning and the first thing I want to do is define the birthright.  What a son got from his father at the father’s passing would vary and had several variables.  In some households it might be a bigger deal than in others.  The first born son would get twice as much as any other son and so if the family had 2 sons, they would divide the inheritance into 3 parts and the oldest got two parts.  If they had 12 sons, they would divide it into 13 and it wouldn’t make a lot of difference but the oldest got 2 parts.

It would also make a bigger difference if the family was wealthy or not, obviously.  If the family didn’t have anything to give it didn’t matter how many parts you got you still got nothing.  But in the case of Esau and Jacob, their family was very wealthy and it would make a big difference.

We also find in other parts of the Bible that the birthright didn’t just include wealth.  The father would pass on the patronage of the family to the first born as well so there was honor and wealth to be had as the first born son.

You ladies may be wondering what happened to the girls in the family.  Well, this was another time and another place and when the nurse came out of the ob/gyn area and announced that a girl had been born everybody just quietly went home.  If it was a boy, they would throw a party.  Life never got much better for the ladies.

So, now we have defined the birthright.  Let’s look at Esau and how he devalued the birthright.  I always like to think about what it must have been like to see stories like this first hand.  It’s my understanding from researching this that for a situation like this to happen they were probably not right at the house.  They would set up a “base camp” some distance from the house and let the sheep graze and let the camels do whatever camels do and they would set up their tents to stay there for a few days.

It was at these tents that we see Jacob cooking some stew.  It was probably lentil stew.  Lentils were and are popular in that area because they grow well in that climate and they turn red when cooked.  Tough-guy Esau walks up after being out hunting.  He may have been gone several days.  I’m sure he was hungry but was he really so hungry that he was about to die?  I doubt it but we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.  I still think if Esau had walked up and just said, “Hey mama’s boy!  Give me some of that stew or I’ll dot your eye!” that Jacob would have just given it to him but who knows?  I also wonder if Jacob was really serious when he told Esau to sell his birthright.  I bet he didn’t really think he would.  That’s way too high of a price to pay for a bowl of stew.

Now Lois makes some good stew and some good soup.  In fact, if you aren’t coming on Wednesday nights you are missing out but I guarantee you nothing is worth giving up what Esau so easily gives up.  Why would he do such a thing?  Doesn’t he realize what he is giving up?  Doesn’t he see that God’s blessing to Abe could have come through him?  He could have been in line to share in what Abe and Isaac shared, the blessings of God to all the world could have come through him but he traded it for soup.  When you read in the Bible about someone describing Yahweh as the God of Abe, Isaac and Jacob, they could be saying the God of Abe, Isaac and Esau if only Esau had not devalued his birthright so.

But read that last sentence again.  “So Esau despised his birthright.”

We have now defined the birthright and we have seen how Esau devalued and despised his birthright.  Now, it is time for us as Christians to declare our birthright.  Just like you do at the airport when you bring something back you have to declare it.  You have to show it and prove what it is.

What is our birthright as Christians?  What blessings do we get from our Father?  There is no way to list them all but I’ll start with the two verses we are learning.  John 3:16 and John 10:10.  We have eternal life with God in Heaven and we have an abundant life here on earth.  I could stop right there and not mention Galatians 5:22 and all the Fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, etc.).  James 1:5 says that God is generous and wisdom is ours for the asking.

It’s time for us as Christians to tell Satan we don’t want your soup.  Satan makes a mean bowl of soup.  It will look good, smell good and probably even taste good but do you know what you get when you eat that soup?  Soup.  Instead of declaring to Satan that we have joy in difficult times we self-medicate to numb the pain and all we have is soup.

Every time we gossip to make ourselves feel better we trade peace for soup.

Every time we click on that website we are not supposed to we trade our inheritance of goodness and self-control for soup.

Every time we disrespect our parents, steal from the workplace or take God’s name in vain we devalue our birthright as children of the King and joint-heirs with Jesus to outrageous blessings, many of which we will not see this side of Heaven.

Esau never said with his mouth that he despised his birthright but his actions proved otherwise.  I’m sure if we were asked about why we despised our divine birthright we would disagree vehemently but what about the attitude of your heart and the actions of your hands?  They often prove otherwise. 

Do you want blessings from God or will you look back with regret at the memory of your soup?

Monday, January 23, 2012

"Wedding Day" Genesis 24

Have any of you ever heard that song before? I know that song as "The Eliezer Call". I have been singing that since before I could read the words and I am obviously no better at it now. My Aunt Billie would play the piano at our family reunions and the grandkids would sing that song. It brings back such good memories for me. Thank you for letting me share that.

It talks about a wedding day from the passage of scripture we are going to be studying this morning. I love to go to weddings. I really do. I have to admit, though, that I always want to get the groom off to the side and tell him that I will distract the bride if he wants to make a break for it. He will thank me later. But I don’t do that.

I can sometimes tend to be like the little girl who had just watched Snow White for the first time. She ran in to tell her mother the story of how Prince Charming had arrived on his beautiful white horse and kissed Snow White back to life. Then she asked her mother if she knew what happened next. The mother said, "Yes, they lived happily ever after."

The little girl said, "Nope. They got married."

We probably all know someone who seemed to have it as their goal in life to get married. We have all heard about the girls who go to college to get their MRS. Some people think they just won’t be happy until they are married. It is their goal in life. And hopefully that works out for them. But what if your goal in life was to get somebody else married? If your 24/7, all- the- time goal was to get the son of your boss married, you would probably take it pretty seriously.

That’s what we see in our passage this morning in Genesis 24. It is a bit long so we won’t read the whole thing and if you just scan the passage, you might wonder why this is in here at all. I mean, it’s an interesting story but hopefully we will all get some real application for our lives by studying it.

Last week we read where God fulfilled His promise to Abraham and blessed Abe and Sarah with a son, whom they named Isaac. In chapter 23 Sarah dies and in chapter 24 we see that Abe is an old man. "Old" gets older all the time. I remember thinking 40 was old but not anymore. I think almost everybody here, though, would agree that 140 years old would qualify as "old".

If Abe is 140 then Isaac is already 40 and has evidently never been married. I guess he is just waiting around for dear old dad to get him a wife as was the custom in those days. How would you like to have your parents pick out your spouse? Let’s read in Genesis chapter 24 about how Abe did this for Isaac.

Read 1-20 and 61-67.

Last Wednesday night I asked a question to the folks gathered for the Bible study. I asked what their goal in life was. Maybe you have never thought about it. Maybe it is too big of a question for you. Maybe you are just trying to survive one day and into the next. Do you have a goal? Do you have a plan? Or do you just react to what life throws you? The difference between having a goal and not having a goal can be life-changing for you and for people around you.

Eliezer had a goal. He had a mission for his life and he was going to accomplish that mission no matter what. We see here that he did accomplish the mission and God blessed his efforts. If we are going to accomplish our goals in life, there are two very simple things to notice in the passage that Eliezer had going for him. We will see those two things in just a second.

First, I want to bring out some context. We have seen for the past couple of months going through Genesis that God has promised Abe that he would be the father of a great nation and ever since God made that promise it seems to be in jeopardy at every turn. Over and over again, it looked like there was no way that promise would ever be fulfilled. Well, finally Isaac is born but Abraham is far from being the father of a great nation. Right now he is just the father of Isaac so he goes about trying to find a wife for Isaac so that Isaac can carry out the total fulfillment of that promise.

The problem is that Abe doesn’t want just any ole gal for his son. He wants a wife from their homeland. It would be like God asking you to be a missionary to some foreign country and you didn’t want your son to marry a girl from there. They might not be horrible people. You just want somebody that shares your family values. That’s why Abe tells Eliezer to go back to their homeland. He says not to take Isaac with him or Isaac may not come back. Go home and get a girl and bring her back here.

How did Abe know what to tell Eliezer? How did Eliezer know that Abe knew what he was talking about? Abe just told Eliezer to take about a 3 week trip (one way) to go find a woman and convince her to leave her family and country to marry a man she has never met. And yet it does not say that Eliezer thought Abe was crazy. He must have known that God told Abe what to do. Eliezer knew what God had told Abe in Genesis 22:17:"I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore."

That was the first thing Eliezer had going for him - the Word of God. We don’t know much about the relationship between Eliezer and God but it is obvious that Eliezer knew about Abe’s relationship with God. In fact, Abe tells El about this in verse 7. "The Lord who spoke to me and promised me…" And so that was enough for El. He vowed he would accomplish the mission after hearing this.

This vow, by the way, is interesting. Abe tells him to put his hand under Abe’s thigh and make the vow. I couldn’t find any other place a vow like this is mentioned and I don’t really know the significance but the only thing I can figure is that if you put your hand under someone’s thigh you would have to be very close and eye to eye and maybe that is part of the significance.

Don’t you wish God spoke to us today? Wouldn’t it be so much easier if God would just speak audibly to us and tell us where to go and what to do? You could say, "God, my son needs a wife." And He would say, "Don't get one from this neighborhood!" Wouldn’t that be so much easier? We will talk in a few minutes about how God speaks to us but let's look now at the other thing Eliezer had going for him to help him accomplish his mission.

Read 12-14.

Here we see El praying. Again, we don't know anything about Eliezer's relationship with God but he obviously knows Him well enough to pray. We also see him later on praying again in thanksgiving for God blessing his efforts. That's all very appropriate for us today but I do want to focus for a minute on how El prays the first time.

In verse 14 El tells God that he will know he has picked the right girl if she waters his camels as well. What El has done here is request an oracle. An oracle is a divine communication or revelation. Now, while I recommend following his decision to pray, I don't recommend telling God that He has to do something so that you will know His will.

It's one thing to pray that if God "opens the doors" you will walk through them. It is another thing to say, "Ok, God, if you put gas in my car, I'll know it is your will to go to church today. If you don't, I won't."

You have heard about the lady who told God she would know He wanted her to have a donut if she found a parking spot at the front door of the donut shop and sure enough, after 6 times around the block, there it was. Some of you may wonder why I don't recommend this since it is biblical. We obviously see it here and in other places, including Gideon, who put out a fleece. You can find his story in Judges.

This ties right into how God speaks to us today. God uses His Word, the Bible, to speak to us. He uses prayer, of course, but he also gives us His Holy Spirit to live within us when we become Christians. Because we have all those things we shouldn't expect God to speak to us the same way He did in the early Old Testament when they didn't have any of that.

Now, I'm sure you are thinking that this is a very elementary sermon. We can accomplish our mission or attain our goals if we apply God's Word and prayer. Wow, Todd. Groundbreaking. Believe it or not, I didn't even go to seminary to learn that. I'll be honest with you. When I realized this was the focus of this passage I really thought about skipping it. We know this, right, so why preach it again?

I'll tell you what God has really laid on my heart about this passage. It is important for us as individuals to have a goal for your life. It is important to know why you are here and for what reason God has put you on this earth. But it is also vital for us as a church to know the same things. Why are we here? What is our purpose? I believe it is important to state that purpose often and continually.

Most of you know that I am a pretty simple guy. I don't do things fancy and I don't usually do things that aren't necessary. The good thing is that I believe our purpose is easily figured out and is succinctly said. You can find the purpose of our church and the purpose of every church in Matthew 28:19-20. The Great Commission.

Jesus said, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

He doesn't say to go and make big churches. God will build our church if and when He sees fit. Don't worry about that. We are called to make disciples and to teach them what? Obedience! You wonder why I harp on obedience all the time. It's what Jesus told us to do.

Now, I'm going to tell you how I would state our goal and then I want to show you how we can take today's passage and apply it to help us reach that goal. Our goal could be stated as simply as "furthering the Kingdom". We are not furthering or growing FBCRB. We are growing the Kingdom of God. Whatever that means. If it means growing it here in Runaway Bay or across the globe. That's our goal. Lots of things are included in that goal: worship, discipleship, fellowship, outreach, meeting needs. All of that is part of furthering the Kingdom.

Now, I want us to have some tangible ways we can reach that goal and also have some markers along the way to know that we are still going the right way.  To do this, I want you to imagine that we are all in a rowboat and we each have two oars.  As we have learned in today’s passage, those two oars are prayer and Bible study.  So, for all of us to reach our goal of furthering the Kingdom we need to all be rowing the same way at the same time.  For at least the next 8 weeks we are going to be memorizing one scripture each week and we are all going to be praying for the same thing each week.

I know some of you have already shut me off right there.  You think you can’t memorize scripture.  I completely understand but none of these are going to be difficult.  In fact, this week’s verse is John 3:16.  The goal is not to be able to impress people with how much Bible we know.  The goal is furthering the Kingdom and we do that by knowing what the Bible says about how to become a believer.  No verse sums it up better than John 3:16.

The second part is prayer and this week we are going to be praying just that God would open our eyes to the friends, family and neighbors around us that are drowning in their sin and have no hope.  I said a minute ago that we would have some markers along the way to show us that we are going in the right direction.  If we pick up some of those around us that are drowning and get them in the boat and they start rowing with us, we will know we are going in the right direction.  If that never happens then maybe we should re-evaluate our goal and how we are getting there.  It is simple but it is going to mean you can’t just come to church and be entertained and check off the box that says “church” at the start of the week.

In Revelation 19, John talks about the marriage supper of the Lamb.  There is going to be a time when Jesus comes back to earth for His bride which is the church and there is going to be a wedding, a coming-together of those who in this life have asked Jesus to be Lord and Savior.  We will join Him in Heaven.

This past Wednesday night in our Bible study we talked about the reality of Hell.  I hope you understand that I am not trying to scare anyone into making a decision but please also understand that I would not be truthful if I didn’t ever talk about it.  There is going to be a wedding and you can be a part of it or you can continue to drown in your sin and be forever separated from God and friends and loved ones.  You can get in the boat and row or you can drown.  It’s your decision this morning.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

"What Motivates You?" Genesis 22:1-12

FBC RB 1/15/12
"What Motivates You?" Genesis 22:1-12
Do you trust me? Are you sure? I need one volunteer to prove it. One volunteer who has a one dollar bill, please come forward. Do you trust me? Do you believe that I would never do anything to hurt you? Do you believe that I want you to leave here better off than when you came? Then give me the dollar bill. You will not get it back. Still trust me? There is a big rock sitting on a chair outside the side door. Please bring the rock in here and set it on this chair.

Thank you. Well done. You passed the test. I believe you trust me. You may be seated. That took a lot of trust. Why on earth would I ask him to do such a thing? I don't know about you but trust is hard for me to give sometimes. I have trusted people before and gotten burned. I really have to know you and even then, I may be leary. Sometimes people who you think are solid as a rock will let you down and prove themselves untrustworthy and what happens? Your world is turned upside down. (Turn rock over and there is a five dollar bill.) Oh, this is for you.


Psalm 118:8 says, "
It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man." I appreciate the trust you put in me but be warned that putting your trust in people will often disappoint you. We all know that God is trustworthy and we all say we trust Him but do we really trust God? What if God asks you to do something that doesn't make sense? What if He takes away your most prized possession? What if that prized possession is your young son?

Our text for today will be in Genesis 22. As you turn there I want to remind you of what God has promised to Abraham starting in Genesis 15:5 where God says, "Look up at the heavens and count the stars--if indeed you can count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be." And that's when Abe's trouble started.

Nearly every passage after that involves that promise being threatened. Over and over again it seems that there is no way that promise is ever going to come true. Starting with the fact that Abe and Sarah are pretty old to begin with, it continues on with Sarah being barren, then she is taken twice to be the wife of somebody else, and time goes on and on and Abe and Sarah are getting very old. Then, about 25 years after God promises him a child, it says in chapter 21, verses 1-7. Read.

So, God finally comes through with His promise and all of Abe and Sarah's worries are over. And they lived happily ever after. Until...the very next chapter. Until Isaac is in his mid to late teens. Now let's pick up with our text for today which is chapter 22:1-12. Read.

Now, I know what you are thinking after reading this. Here we go again. Obedience, obedience, obedience. Abe was obedient, Isaac was obedient, the ram, the rocks, everybody was obedient. And that's true. And I would not apologize for preaching on obedience from this chapter. This chapter is about obedience. It is there to show Abe's obedience and to be a guide for us but this morning I want to also ask my favorite question. Why?

I want us to look at the motivation for Abe being obedient but I also want to look at the motivation of God to make this request of Abe and hopefully we can adjust our motivation as the application of this story. Let's start with God's motivation for asking Abe to sacrifice Isaac.

It would be easy to reflect on this passage and see all the torment Abe went through and all the work that was done and think, "Wow, God, that was just mean." But everything God asked him to do was asked for a reason. It was difficult for a reason. It was time-consuming for a reason.

God told Abe who was well over 100 years old to walk from his home in Beersheba to Jerusalem which is the equivalent of about here to Ft. Worth. He could have stopped right there. That would be hard enough. Now you might have noticed that he saddled his donkey but have you ever ridden a donkey? At 115 years old? It doesn't say he packed the trunk on the Lexus. This was a physically demanding request especially for an old man.

Then think about the mental anguish Abe must have suffered on this 3-day tour. Genesis is again painfully silent about what was going through the mind of Abe and through the mind of Isaac and even the servants. I do want you to notice that Abe started early the next day after God spoke to him. No delay. And for 3 days his brain fought every step. He fought himself. He fought Satan. He fought God. He fought Sarah, Isaac, the servants, his friends. Nobody would ever understand. Least of all Abe. But he never quit moving forward.

In verse 7 it says that Isaac spoke up and asked Abe where the lamb was for the sacrifice. Can't you imagine the thoughts going through Abe's head at that point? "God, this isn't funny! What have I done to deserve this? Why Isaac? Why not one of the slaves? Why not ME? God, take me! Why, God why?" But all he says is "Son, God will provide."

The Bible answers the question of "why" in verse 12. It's the key to the whole passage and I want to point it out right here. God's motivation for testing Abraham was to see if Abe feared God. "Do not lay a hand on the boy," he said. "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son."

Now, if God was wondering if Abe feared Him, couldn't He have just asked him? Why make Abe go through all of that? Well, the answer is that God already knew that Abe feared Him. God wanted Abe to know that Abe feared Him. He wanted Isaac to know. He wanted the slaves and Sarah to know. And He also wanted you and I to know.

If Abe was to be the father of a great nation, they had to know that they had a great father, a father who feared God more than he loved anything in this world. If Abe feared God, had awe, reverence, adoration, honor, worship, confidence, thankfulness, love, and, yes, fear, then all of his descendants would understand the importance of it as well.

God's motivation for asking Abe to do all of this was to show everyone that, as it says in Proverbs 9:10, that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

Now, let's look at the motivation behind Abe's decision. We understand why God would ask Abe to do this because it says so in verse 12 but why would Abe agree to do it? To find this answer we have to turn to the great "faith" chapter of Hebrews 11. In Hebrews 11:17 it says, "By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice." It says that it was because of Abe's faith.

And we resprect that in Abe. We know he was a man of faith but I bet all of us would say we have faith in God, right? Nobody here would say that they have no faith in God and yet if God were to ask us to give up anything more than a Sunday morning we would make excuses, much less if He asked us to give up anything precious. So what makes the difference in Abe's faith and our faith?

This is an easy sermon because that answer is right there in Hebrews 11 as well. In verse 8 it says that by faith Abe left his home. In verse 11 it says that by faith Abe was enabled to become a father. Year after year, day after day, Abe saw God proving Himself to be faithful. God proved Himself worthy of faith. All Abe's life he saw God's power. When God said he was going to provide, He provided. When God said he was going to destroy, He destroyed. Abraham had a relationship with God based on Abe's fear and faith in Almighty God.

Abraham's motivation for obeying God was based on experience with God. His friendship with God grew and developed every time God asked him to do something because when Abe was obedient, God delivered on His promise.

What is God asking you to do today? Some of you may not have a good answer for that. Some of you may feel that God just won't speak to you anymore and you may be right. You know why? Because God has already spoken to you about something and you are not being obedient to that so why should He say anything else to you? If you can't follow the basic instructions then He is not going to give you more.

When He says to keep the sabbath day holy and you go to work, don't be surprised if the Heavens seem silent. When He says to tithe 10% of your gross income and you insist that you can't afford it, don't cry that he won't reveal His plan for your job. When God says He wants you to go on a mission trip and you pretend you don't hear Him, why should He answer your prayer for a vacation on the beach?

When God told Abe to sacrifice his son, his only son, whom he loved, Abe knew that God would provide, whatever that meant. He didn't understand. He couldn't imagine but he knew that God's ways are not our ways and that His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. How about you? Do you have that kind of relationship with God through His sacrificed Son, Jesus? God's Son, His only Son, whom He loved? You can and today is the day of salvation.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Our large sanctuary is available.

Our church has a beautiful, large sanctuary that is available for use for those who need it.  We would love to share this building if you have need for a place to have a meeting or a party.  It would be great for weddings or funerals.  It can seat up to about 300 people and has a huge, professional kitchen with two of everything.  For smaller occasions our foyer can be set up with tables and can hold up to about 75.  All we ask is that you make a donation of whatever amount you feel led to pay.  We are not trying to make money but do need to cover our expenses.  Give Pastor Todd a call at 817.939.4982 or email at

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Food pantry / clothes closet

As you know, our church has had the opportunity to have Sunday evening services at Lake Bridgeport Baptist Church for a while now and that has been very exciting.  We feel God is now calling us to start a food pantry and clothes closet at this church and to kick it off we are having an inside garage sale this weekend, Saturday, January 14th starting at 8am. 

Anything that doesn't sell will be used to start that outreach.  If you have food or clothing or anything of value that you would like to donate, please call Pastor Todd at 817.939.4982.  He would be glad to pick it up or meet you at the church and help you unload it.

This is already shaping up to be the mother of all garage sales.  We have a huge amount of items donated but we have room for more so please come see us Saturday and let us know asap if you have items to donate.  Thanks so much!

Meeting a Need John 5:1-9 (@ Lake Bridgeport BC)

Sir Isaac Newton’s “First Law of Motion” states “Everything continues in a state of rest unless it is compelled to change by forces impressed upon it!”
Does that sound like you?  Sounds like me, for sure.  What kind of force does it take to impress on you the need to change?  Are you self-motivated?  Does guilt work?  Pride (good or bad)?  What if you were to see somebody that you looked up to doing something good?  Would that prod you into doing something similar?

All of my life I have seen how people look up to my dad.  He has a way of motivating people just by being there that I can only dream of.  The thing about my dad is that it is genuine with him.  Knowing him as well as I do, I can tell you that he has no ulterior motives and that he only wants to grow the Kingdom of God.  And if my dad does something with the hopes of furthering the Kingdom that way, I want to do that thing as well.  He can compell me to change just by watching him.

Turn to John 5:1-9.  As much as I love and respect Pop, he is just a man.  He is not perfect but I want to look at another man in John who was more than just a man, He was also God.  He was perfect.  In John chapter 5 Jesus heals a lame man.  We will never be able to heal like Jesus did but this passage is motivating when we see the compassion of Jesus.

Read John 5:1-9.

There are 2 things I want us to see in this passage.  First, I want us to see the mindset of the man and then the mindset of Jesus.  I am not as concerned about what was wrong with the man's body as I am his mind.  We don't know what was wrong with him physically and it doesn't matter.  It just says that he was an invalid.

Do you know why these people were laying next to this pool?  They were not working on their tans laying poolside.  There was a legend that an angel would on occasion come and stir up the waters of the pool, and the first one to enter the pool after the angel stirred the water would be healed. It was of course merely a superstition, but it was the last hope for many of these people.
They knew the odds were against them, especially the ones who were in the worst shape.  Somebody in better shape always beat them to the water.  They didn't have the medical marvels that we have today and so they just sat there, day after day, hoping for a better life.  Hoping for a miracle.
Enter Jesus.  And the way He enters is interesting.  He is entering the temple area and the Lamb of God makes it a point of entering through the "sheep gate".  He goes to the pool called Bethesda which means "House of grace".  Pretty appropriate, I say.  And Jesus goes straight to this man.  We don't know why He chose this guy, but He did and asks him if he wanted to get well.
Some people didn't necessarily want to get well because they made a good living begging but this man seemed to want to.  Jesus does not ask him if he wants to be saved or if he wants to go to Heaven.  He asks him if he wants to have his needs met.  If Jesus had asked him if he wanted to be a Christian or a believer, the guy probably would have said no.  Jesus just met a need.  The man's mindset was that he wanted a physical need met and so Jesus met that need because He could even though doing so on the Sabbath was going to get Him in lots of trouble.
Now let's look at the mindset of Jesus.  What was in it for Him?  What was in it for the Kingdom?  There is no evidence that the man ever asked Jesus to be his Savior so I don't think there was anything in it for Jesus.  He just had compassion.  Did the guy deserve compassion?  Was there anything about him that made Jesus show compassion?  No.  He just had a passion for people.  He could help so He did.  Even at His own expense.
Starting a food pantry / clothes closet here at this church is going to be a huge task.  It's not going to be easy nor will we ever get anything out of it.  The Kingdom of God may never be increased by even one but that is not our business.  Our business is not to do the growing of the Kingdom.  It's to be obedient to what God has called us to do and to do what He has modeled for us to do.  That's to be our mindset no matter the mindset of anybody else. 
If nothing else compells you to change and stop resting, I pray that the model of our Savior would. 

Justice or Mercy - Genesis 18:16-33

James 5:16 says to confess your sins to each so I’ll start and then we can go around the room. I got a ticket the other day. I was heading home and had just turned off of 380 where the speed limit is 65 and got onto 1658 where the speed is 45 for a while and then goes down to 35. Long story short, I got a ticket for doing 44 in a 35. I was slowing down but hadn’t gotten there yet.
Instead of just paying the ticket I decided to go to court to see if a judge might cut me some slack. The woman judge finally called me to stand up and she said, “I guess you want justice.” I said, “No ma’am, I want mercy.” The last thing I wanted was justice.
I knew that she had the right to fine me. I knew she legally could punish me for my sin but I was hoping to appeal to her grace and mercy. Not that I deserved it, but only because she might have compassion. Does that sound familiar to you? Have you ever had to do that? I hope you have. I don’t hope that you did it before a judge in court, but I hope you have done that before the great Judge and we are going to talk a little bit about that.
It’s hard not to go through this life and sometimes think that we have been given a raw deal. It’s hard not to say, “God, why would you do this to me? I didn’t deserve this!” But I want you to think about the day that you will finally stand before the real Creator and Sustainer, when you stand before Holy God. Are you going to demand justice or are you going to beg for mercy?
Let’s think about it this way. If you are standing before God at the end of your life and he asks you why He should let you into His Heaven, what are you going to say? “God, I want you to weigh all my good deeds and all my bad and see which weighs more. Then I want you to factor in all the pain I have been through, all the problems I’ve had, the disease, death, divorce, despair and see if I don’t deserve Heaven.”
I saw an advertisement the other day for some new game show on TV. I haven’t seen it and don’t plan to but evidently if you answer the question wrong they push a button and you fall through the floor and you’re done. I picture God with a button like that and when you come to Him and say judge me for what I’ve been through, He pushes the button.
We have taken a break from the book of Genesis for the holidays but let’s get right back to it. We left off about midway through the book so turn to Genesis 18:16-33 and we will see a God of both justice and mercy. This is an interesting passage because Abraham has a theophany. Now some of you might be thinking, “Yea, I had a theophany once but the doctor gave me a shot and it cleared right up.” No, a theophany is when God reveals Himself to man and in Genesis 18 God reveals Himself to Abraham and has a conversation with him and even shares a meal with him.
In the first part of 18, God shows up with 2 angels and Abraham doesn’t realize who it is at first but shows them great hospitality. God tells Abe he and Sarah are going to have a baby and then God says He is going to go down to Sodom and Gomorrah and destroy it. Let’s pick up in verse 16. Read.
It’s a fascinating passage where God shows up bodily and talks to Abe like a friend. Isaiah 41:8 says that Abe was a friend of God and here they have a conversation that makes me believe it. I wonder at what point Abe finally figured out that it was God. Maybe it was when God said He was going to destroy the cities. I don’t know but Abe went from “Hey pal, let me fix you something to eat” in verse 5 to “Please don’t destroy the city” really quick.
I want us to see two things in this passage. First, I want us to see what the problem was with Sodom and Gomorrah and then I want us to look at Abe’s response to it and hopefully we will see what God wants us to see for our own application today.
1) The problem with Sodom
You know you are living in a sinful place when the name of your town is forever associated with a vile and repugnant sin. Not that all sin isn’t vile and repugnant to God but sexual sin is especially so and has even worse consequences than other sin. Paul says in I Corinthians 6:18, “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.” There are physical consequences, mental consequences and spiritual consequences when we pervert God’s gift of physical intimacy.
The next chapter of Genesis is a horrific, PG-13 tale of what the men of Sodom wanted to do to the two angels who came to destroy the city. There was no shame, no remorse, no hiding or skulking around. It was not only out in the open but it was widespread. They completely indulged in every physical aberration they could think of and got mad when anybody objected.
But it doesn’t end there. Ezekiel 16:49-50 says, “Now this was the sin of Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.”
We think of Sodom as being involved only in sexual sin but that wasn’t all they did. That’s not even mentioned in Ezekiel. The passage in Ezekiel is concerned about some other things: arrogant, overfed, unconcerned. Didn’t help with the poor and needy. Whew! Aren’t you glad you don’t live in Sodom? Aren’t you glad they’re not talking about us? God, thank you that we are not like the other men. (Luke 18:11)
I don’t have time nor is it necessary to expound on all the ways the United States is the spitting image of Sodom. All you have to do is watch the news or open a newspaper. Gay marriage is becoming more and more accepted. Marriage is no longer one man and one woman. Pretty soon it’s going to include 2 men and a rock or a man, a woman and a squid. How long do you think God is going to put up with that? How long before God says the outcry against the United States is so great and their sin is so grievous that I’m going to do a Sodom and Gomorrah on them?
Planned Parenthood’s Annual Report: They got $487 million dollars in tax money and performed 329,445 abortions. Tell me some other way to read that than our government is financing infanticide. Am I blowing this out of proportion to say that? Tell me how I am. And tell me how that does not make you sick to your stomach. Now tell me how long do you think Holy God is going to allow that to continue? If it makes your stomach hurt, think how it hurts God. The real question is though, what are we going to do about it? Let’s look at what Abe did.
2) The pleading of Abraham
There was a pastor who had a parrot. All the parrot would say was, “Let’s pray, let’s pray.” The pastor tried to teach him to say other things but to no avail. He learned that one of his deacons had a parrot. The parrot would only say, “Let’s kiss. Let’s kiss.” So the pastor decided to invite the deacon and his parrot over to his house. When the deacon arrived they put the parrots into the same cage to see what would happen. The deacon’s parrot said, “Let’s kiss, let’s kiss.” The pastor’s parrot said, “Thank you, Lord. My prayers have been answered.” There’s great power in persistent prayer.
Abraham knew the value of persistent prayer. He knew what James 5:16 says: that the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. But you say he’s not praying. He’s just having a conversation with God. That’s exactly right. That’s what prayer is. You say that you couldn’t do that because Abe was obviously a lot closer to God than you are. Well, John 15 says, “You are my friends when you do the things I command you.”
It’s interesting to think about what Abe didn’t do. He didn’t picket. He didn’t write letters. He didn’t pass the buck. He didn’t assume somebody else would pray. He did everything he could and he did it immediately and he kept doing it. That’s what we need to do today. We have the same opportunity to converse with the same God that Abe did. He’s just as powerful today as he was back then which means he has the same power to destroy and the same power to be merciful. He is the same God of mercy and of justice.
The good news to all of this is that we have the answer. Do you know what the answer is to 329 thousand abortions? It’s the same answer to the problem of gay marriage. It’s the same answer to a 50% divorce rate. The same answer to child abuse. I’ll tell you what the answer is.
A little boy was in Sunday School and they were talking about animals. The teacher asked him what was the name of the furry brown animal that climbed trees, had a bushy tail and ate pecans. The boy said, “Well, I would say it’s a squirrel but since this is SS I’m going to have to say the answer is “Jesus”.
That boy was on to something. He may not be the right answer to every question but Jesus is the answer for our world today. He’s the answer for your weird neighbor, the desperate person in the prison up the road and for the poor person in Nicaragua. And He is the answer to the problem you have today. Now, I’m not saying and you know that a relationship with Jesus makes all your troubles go away but while He is a God of justice, He is also a God of great mercy.
I know some of you have realized that when studying end times in the Bible, that the U.S. is not mentioned. There is no reference to America in eschatology so we have to assume that by that time America is gone. There is a time limit on our country and only God knows the date. Now, that may not concern you because you are a Christian and you are ready for all that but it matters to your kids and your grandkids. I ache thinking about my niece and nephew growing up in this culture and we have the answer. The question is, what are you going to do about it? Petition? March? Complain? Assume somebody else is praying? Or are you going to beg God for more time and for boldness and opportunities to show Jesus to a world headed for a literal hell? Let’s do that now…