Sunday, March 25, 2012

This Means War II - Ephesians 6:10-18

For those of you that were here last week you will understand if I ask you to please make sure your cell phone is off and put away.  For those of you that might not have been here, I say that because we had an illustration here last week that was perfect and it involved a cell phone.  As a preacher I am all about a good illustration.  I try to make my sermons interesting and applicable and the best way to do that is with an illustration.  What I had not planned on was God Himself doing the illustrating. 

We saw last week who our enemy is and as the passage said our enemy is not a flesh and blood person.  The enemy is not your neighbor, your spouse, Al Quada or the Taliban.  Our enemy is spiritual and so therefore we will see how to fight those spiritual enemies with spiritual weapons and armor.
In 1993, US forces were involved in the Battle of Mogadishu.  The movie, "Blackhawk Down" was based on this conflict.  It was civil war in Somalia and the US sent Special Forces in to capture the leader of the opposition.  The entire operation was estimated to take no longer than 30 minutes.  Most of the 160 men involved did not bring all of their gear.  They thought since it was only going to last a short while during the day they wouldn't need their night vision goggles nor would they need extra food or water or even all of their ammo.  I mean, what could go wrong?
Well, right off the bat two of the Blackhawk helocopters were shot down and several others damaged.  In trying to save the soldiers in the downed helicopters, several brave men lost their lives.  Several had to wait overnight to be rescued while trying to hold off the enemy.  In what turned out to be a battle lasting 2 full days, 18 American soldiers were dead and 73 wounded.  While it may have been a poorly planned offensive, how many lives could have been saved if those soldiers had brought all of their gear to the battle?  And how much more do we need to bring all of our spiritual weapons and armor to the battle we are in?
We face a spiritual enemy that wants us to be not only spiritually but physically dead.  Did you hear what I said?  Our spiritual enemy wants us to be spiritually and even physically dead.  Now, when I say that, some of you may be thinking I'm being a bit dramatic because surely spiritual enemies only fight spiritual battles, right?
How do you think Job would answer that?  In Job chapters one and two, Satan actually approaches God and basically asks for permission to afflict Job with all sorts of physical problems.  He kills his children.  That's pretty physical.  He afflicted him with sores from head to toe.  That's pretty physical.  And he kills all of his livestock.  Those are all very physical problems.  Yes, it affected him spiritually but it was a physical attack.
What is the very first reaction of Job?  Does he curse God?  Does he make excuses?  Does he claim to know the problem or the answer?  Does he blame somebody else?  Does he allow his emotions to dictate his thoughts?  No.  The very first thing Job does is what Paul later tells us to do and that is Job buckled the belt of truth around his waist.  In Job 1:21 the first thing Job says is, "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away."
Job here is falling back on truth.  He could have justified any other response but he made the decision to, as some versions say, gird his loins with truth.  What Job is saying is that God is sovereign.  He allows all things.  All things have to cross the desk of God and get his approval.  Job doesn't lie and say it is ok or that he understands why it happened but the first thing he does is realize, believe and hold on to truth.
Turn to Ephesians 6:10-18.  I want to focus on just one part of verse 14 this morning but it is important that we read the whole passage to remind ourselves of the context in which it was written.  Read 14a again.
After reading this, I want us to see just two things:  What is truth?  And why does it matter?
I first want to think about why Paul used the Roman soldier's uniform as this analogy.  I mean, it fits perfectly but what brought this to his mind?  I have an idea that being chained between two Roman guards night and day would give you a pretty good opportunity to see firsthand what all was involved with getting suited for battle.  Paul says later in the chapter that he is an ambassador in chains.
Can you imagine getting assigned to guard Paul as a Roman soldier?  "Oh, no!  Not that guy again!  All he wants to talk about is Jesus."  Well, obviously Paul noticed how these soldiers were dressed as he was being guarded and makes use of them in this illustration.
Our idea of a belt doesn't do this word justice.  The Roman soldier's belt was actually a thick and wide leather piece that not only was used to tuck in his tunic so he could move around easily, it was also used much like a modern policeman's belt to hold some of his weapons.  It also provided support for his lower back and abdomen.  The breastplate was then fastened to the belt as well.  The belt was not just an adornment, but an essential piece of the armor that held everything else together.
It’s actually not surprising at all that the first piece of armor that we are to put on in preparation for our battle with Satan is the belt of truth. As we saw last week, Satan is a liar and his main weapon is his deceitful schemes. The truth is the primary weapon that we use to stand firm against his lies and deceit.
We have talked about this before but what is truth?  The original Greek word for this truth is "aletheuo".  It is slightly different from the word Jesus used when He said in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life..."  This "truth" means to know and speak reality.  Paul uses this exact same word in chapter 4 of Ephesians when he tells us to speak the truth in love.
Last week I quoted a poll from the Barna Research Group and I will quote them again today.  Their survey showed in 2002 that only 1/3 of Christian adults believed in absolute truth and only 9% of Christian teen-agers.  So, what am I talking about when I say absolute truth?
I remember years ago talking to a lady about how to be saved.  I told her that Jesus was the only way and that when we accept Him into our lives to be Lord he will forgive our sins and we can have a relationship with Him and spend eternity in Heaven.  I remember she said she was glad that I had that and she was sure that was true for me but she preferred to get to Heaven another way and that was her truth.
No, no, no.  I told her the absolute truth.  I told her aletheuo.  Absolute truth is truth that is true for you and for me and for everybody yesterday, today and tomorrow.  Some examples of absolute truth include
• God is the all-knowing and all-powerful creator of the universe who still rules it today;
• Jesus Christ never sinned
• Satan is real
• Salvation is received through faith in Christ, not by good deeds
• Every follower of Christ has a responsibility to share their faith with non-believers
• The Bible is accurate in all that it teaches
There are many others.  When someone comes to you and says they are living in a lifestyle that is contrary to what God approves of what do they always say?  "I do this and that BUT it's ok because of ..." or "I don't do this or that BUT it's ok because...".
I cheat on my wife because she doesn't love me.  I have to work on Sundays or I would come to church.  I had to lie to her or she would be mad.  I had to steal that because I can't afford one and he can.
I'm sure God in Heaven is saying, "Oh yea, I wrote those 10 Commandments but if you have a note from your mother I'll give you a pass.  It's not that big of a deal."  In the book of Exodus, when Moses came down the mountain with the 10 Commandments it says that the people actually backed away and told Moses to talk to them from a distance because they didn't want God to talk to them or they were afraid they would die.
Today we know what the truth is we just choose to put our fingers in our ears and say, "nanny, nanny, nanny" as we live however we want to.  We know what the truth is but it's not always easy and sometimes it makes us uncomfortable.  If I hear any more about comfort I am going to be sick.  Everybody wants to be comfortable.  We all have to make sure that nothing we say or do makes anyone uncomfortable.  Talking about Jesus in school makes people uncomfortable.  Standing up for the sanctity of life or against gay marriage makes some people uncomfortable.
You know why it makes people uncomfortable?  Because it is truth.  It is aletheuo.  And when people are living contrary to truth God allows them to be uncomfortable.  Jesus Himself said in Matthew 10:34, "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword."  Jesus didn't come to make people comfortable.  His coming brought conflict - conflict between Himself and Satan, as we have seen in this passage; conflict between His followers and Satan's followers, between light and darkness and between lies and truth.
We know what the truth is and sometimes it is uncomfortable.  Now let's look at why it matters. 
Have you ever noticed how often what is said in Sunday School directly relates to what is later said in the sermon?  And how what is said in the sermon directly relates to something we learn on Wednesday night and relates to what you are going through Friday morning?  Do you know how we do that?  Well, the Leadership Team meets every week with Bill and me and we decide what is going to be taught and what conversations are going to happen and how the music will relate to all those things and make it match up to what is happening in your life this week.
And most of you are thinking right now, "He is preaching on truth and telling a lie!"  No, we don't do that.  The Holy Spirit does that when our church preaches and teaches and sings about truth.  When it all matches up then God blesses that and uses all of that together to bless and encourage and prove what is heard.  Our very unity depends on truth.  If somebody comes in and starts teaching something that is not truth then there will be a division; something else Paul knew all too well.
Now, let me tell you another reason why truth matters.  Let's say you are studying your Bible in your quiet time tomorrow morning and you stumble across a passage that doesn't make sense to you.  So you study it and pray about it and get out a commentary or two and you realize that this verse is not true.  You read in James 5:16, for example, that fervent prayer is powerful and effective.  But in every other place that talks about prayer it says that it is only good for making you feel good or maybe it is just a ritual that we are supposed to do.  What then?
I'll tell you what happens to me.  If I find a passage, a verse or a word that is not true in the Bible, I become an Atheist.  If there is one word that is not truth, aletheuo, then how can you believe any of it?  But in my studies, I have found everything written from cover to cover to be absolute truth.  I have learned firsthand that fervent prayer is powerful and effective.  I can give you examples.  God continues to reveal to me the depth of truth in His Word and without truth everything falls apart.
Remember, Paul said this was the belt of truth.  And like a Roman soldier's belt, everything hangs on it.  Without truth then we have lost the sword of the Spirit, the breastplate of righteousness goes twisting around, the helmet of salvation is useless if the rest of us is uncovered and we might as well join the other side before we get a flaming arrow in the heart.
But when we put on the belt of truth before we do anything else we know we will be able to stand because we know that when God says there are benefits to obedience and consequences of disobedience, we know it's true.  When God says thou shalt not we don't make any excuses.  When we see the blessings of truth in our church we accept nothing that isn't.
Knowing truth doesn't mean you will be free from trouble but like Job, when trouble comes we will be able to say, "God, I don't understand.  This isn't fair.  It doesn't make sense but I know that you are sovereign.  You are in control and You love me.  And so I trust You and I will stand in the battle.  I will stand when the enemy attacks.  I will be strong in You and in Your mighty power."

Monday, March 19, 2012

This Means War!

3/18/12  FBCRB

“This Means War”  Ephesians 6:10-18

Do you see that person next to you? See them?  Now look at the other person next to you.  See that person?  That person is not the enemy.  No, I know that if you are married to that person you may sometimes think otherwise but that person is not the enemy.  If you walked in this morning and that person was sitting in your seat, you may feel like they are the enemy.  They are not.

Now think about your friends and family.  Think about your neighbors.  Think about the person you work with that seems to have it out for you.  Those people are not the enemy.  Oh, make no mistake, we are in a war and we have enemies; very real enemies that want to kill you dead.  I’m not talking about Al Quaeda or the Taliban.  I’m not talking about Iran, North Korea or Russia.  Because, honestly, even those people are not really the enemy.

The Bible tells us that our enemies are spiritual.  Now when I say that some of you relax and say, “Oh good.  I thought he was talking about real enemies.”  The word “spiritual” does not mean it’s a fairy tale.  It doesn’t mean pretend or play-like.  Barna Research Group, Ltd., of Oxnard, California conducted a poll in which they discovered the following. Nearly two out of three American adults (62%) agreed that Satan is not a living being but a symbol of evil. And even more alarming is that among evangelical Christians, 52% deny Satan’s existence! 72% of Catholics say the devil is non-existent. The conclusion we must then come to is that one of the major battlefields is taking place within the Church!

We speak a lot about peace and joy and rest and those are valid but at the same time we have to realize that the life we have been called to lead is a battle.  It is rarely easy and almost never comfortable.  It’s not supposed to be.  Christianity is hardly the “opiate of the masses” Karl Marx thought it to be.  It is a battle and we are the soldiers on the front line.

I watched a TV special on the Army Rangers training school.  It is crazy the torture these men go through to become a member of this elite group.  These are the cream of the Army crop but to become one is almost unbelievably difficult.  One of the officers said that they have to be careful what they ask these guys to do because he said there is no off button.  They will do anything they have to do or die trying.

In one part of the training they went out to do some “PT” – physical training.  To me that sounds like some jumping jacks and maybe some deep knee bends but on this day it meant several hours of continuous log-rolling;  laying on the ground and rolling over and over left and right until almost every one of them was getting sick. 

There were doctors every few feet watching them closely to make sure none of them overdid it.  I watched one doctor grab this big Baby Huey-looking kid off the ground and he got him off to the side.  The guy’s eyes were blank.  He couldn’t breathe.  He was about to literally pass out.  The doctor asked him if he knew where he was.  The guy thought about it for a second and replied, “Hash Browns?”

The doctor told him to get in the truck to go to the infirmary but Baby Huey tried to go back.  “Gotta…go…PT.”  He was half-dead but didn’t want to quit.  He thought he was at hash browns but would not stop. He wanted so bad to be a warrior on the front lines he would not quit.  He understood that war is not comfortable.  He knew it would take some sacrifice to win and he set his mind on doing it no matter what.

On the other hand I heard a guy say one time that when he was in grade school a bully took his lunch money every day so he decided to stand up to him and so he started taking karate classes.  The problem was the karate teacher wanted $5 for each class.  The guy decided it was cheaper and easier just to give his lunch money to the bully.

This morning we are going to look at Ephesians 6:10-18 where it talks about our spiritual warfare and you can decide what kind of warrior you are going to be.  Let’s read that passage.

We are going to break this passage up into more than one sermon concentrating today on verses 10-13.  In these verses I want us to see 3 things:

·         We will have conflict.

·         The conflict is supernatural.

·         The conflict is personal.

When we read verse 10 and it says “Be strong in the Lord…”, how many of you want to do that?  Most all of us would agree that we want to be strong in the Lord.  But how many of us start out strong, on the front lines, waging war, engaging in the battle and then a month or two goes by and we realize we are no longer on the front lines?  We are sitting behind a desk somewhere stationed in a comfortable base doing paperwork.

We are still in God’s army.  We still have our weapons and armor.  We are just not fighting in this spiritual war like we once were.  It is almost overwhelming when we realize that we really are going to have conflict.  Not just conflict where we expect there to be conflict, there is conflict everywhere.  Do you know what the problem is?  We are “being strong” …all wrong. 

It is important that we look closely here at the word Paul uses for “be strong”.  The original Greek word was endunamao and it literally means “to clothe oneself with power”.  In our translations we may think it refers to self-effort but it really means to accept it from God, not build it from within.  For us, if someone says we should be strong then we think we should start working out, trying harder every day to build up and get in shape.  We know there will be conflict so we start doing everything we can to build ourselves up.

But look at what it says.  Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.  It doesn’t say be strong, Todd, in your power.  It means to accept the power of God in your life which is often just the opposite of what we think of when we are told to be strong.  That same word was used of Paul in Acts when he was struck down on the road to Damascus.  He was taken to a house and there he received strength from the Lord.

In Romans 4, Paul describes Abraham as being strong in the faith; same word.  He got the strength from the Lord.  It wasn’t something he did or built or prepared.  It was not of himself that he was strong.  That may be hard for us to understand in a time where it seems that we have to look out for #1 and nobody else is going to.

But it is really a good thing that we don’t have to engage in this conflict in our own strength because while we will have conflict, the conflict is supernatural.  We will talk more about verse 11 later but go on to verse 12.  Read. 

If our conflict is supernatural or spiritual then these are the evil spirits.  These are the demons, evil angels, Satan’s minions, whatever you want to call them.  They are real.  There is a real war going on between the forces of darkness which is Satan and the forces of light which is God.  And it is waging all around us, all through the universe and it has since Satan and his angels fell from Heaven.

That first sin of Satan’s pride has led to an epic and universal war being waged and the consequence of losing the battle will be the price of your soul or your witness, not to mention your life.  With all that at stake many people still don’t believe there is even a war being waged and that is victory #1 for Satan.  If he can make you think there is no war then that means you won’t fight it.

The 10th chapter of Daniel is a perfect illustration of the spiritual warfare that is being fought.  I won’t read the whole thing but I encourage you to write it down and read it later.  We talked about this passage in depth a couple of weeks ago at Lake Bridgeport.  In Daniel 10, Daniel has been praying fervently for 3 weeks but has not heard from God.  3 weeks go by and finally an angel comes to Daniel and says that his prayer was heard the first day and that he was sent by God to tell Daniel some good news but a demon had delayed him.  Evidently the battle was so fierce between the two that the angel said he had to go back and get reinforcements.  He went back and got Michael, one of the chief angels, to help him and finally, 3 weeks later was able to come to him and tell Daniel the good news.

Satan has a well-organized army.  A thorough study of verse 12 would show a hierarchy of evil from private to general all with the goal of giving heartache and pain, despair and death, tragedy and suffering.  All of this is going on all around us.  Do you want to face that kind of power on your own?  I don’t care how strong you are.  You are not powerful enough to beat Satan.  That’s why God says to be strong in Him.

So, because there is conflict, we will be strong in the power of the Lord, recognizing that the conflict is supernatural but also seeing that the conflict is personal.  Look at verse 13.  Read.  No, now wait a minute.  That’s not it.  Hang on.  I’ve lost my place.  I’m looking for a certain verse in here.  Hang on.  You know, it’s that verse where it talks about us going on the attack; where we advance against the enemy.  But all I see is “stand” and “stand your ground”, “withstand”.  And verse 11 says about the same thing as 13.  Take up God’s armor and stand.

If this conflict is personal, when do we ever get to attack?  Don’t we get to ever shoot back or go hand-to-hand, maybe do some karate?  Let me ask you, knowing who our enemy is, do you really want to go hand-to-hand him?  I Peter says he is a roaring lion.  He is called the accuser, the adversary, the beast, the deceiver, a dragon, the enemy, the father of lies, the evil one, a murderer, serpent, tempter, thief, and wicked one. 

The Bible describes us as witnesses, children, pilgrims, sheep, believers, even athletes but when it tells us to fight it says we are to stand.  Put on the full armor of God and stand.  Just like we don’t get in shape and be strong on our own, we also don’t put on our own armor.  If we did we would mess that up. 

Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death”   Nowhere is that more literal than right here.  The devil is smarter than you.  He is stronger than you.  He has been around a whole lot longer and he will overcome you unless you do as this says.  Put on the armor of God.

Isaiah 59:16-17 Isaiah  says this about God, “He saw that there was no one,

he was appalled that there was no one to intervene;

so his own arm worked salvation for him,

and his own righteousness sustained him.

17He put on righteousness as his breastplate,

and the helmet of salvation on his head;

he put on the garments of vengeance

and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.

18According to what they have done,

so will he repay

wrath to his enemies

Do you want to fight Satan and his army of demons in your strength and in your righteousness or would you rather put on the armor that God Himself uses and then stand as God and the angels fight?  There is a conflict.  It is supernatural and it is personal but when you try to fight your battle; when you try to solve all your problems and rely on your own goodness and good looks then you sin exactly like Satan sinned that first time.  It’s the sin of pride and that’s when Satan gets a hold in your life.

He can work with pride.  He knows all about pride.  Good grief, he started it!  And when you try to figure out, scheme, connive and solve your spiritual problems or your physical problems or your economic problems, that’s when Satan wins that battle.

Instead, God wants us to come to Him and tell Him that we are humble enough to admit that we can’t do this and we need Him to do it.  When you tell God you will go where He wants you to go and do what He wants you to do and say what He wants you to say but He will have to fight the battle…that’s when God gets the glory because that is when He wins the battle.

Satan would love for you to not believe that there is a battle.  And he would love it if you thought the person next to you was the enemy.  He gets a kick out of that, I’m sure.  He also loves when church folks battle each other.  That’s one of his specialties.  But that’s not going to work here, Satan.  We know I John 4:4 says, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Be Strong and Courageous - Deut. 31:6

Adrian Rogers tells about the man who bragged that he had cut off the tail of a man-eating lion with his pocket knife. Asked why he hadn’t cut off the lion’s head, the man replied: “Someone had already done that.”

There is also the story of the little boy having trouble sleeping during a storm. After his Mother tucked him in bed, and as she was about to turn off the light, he asked with a tremor in his voice, “Mommy, will you sleep with me tonight?” The mother smiled and gave him a reassuring hug. “I can’t dear,” she said, “I have to sleep with Daddy.” A long silence was broken at last by a shaken little voice saying, “The big sissy.”
Our memory verse for this week is Deuteronomy 31:6. It is also our passage for the day. It says, “Be strong and courageous”. Is there anyone here who needs to hear these words today? No? Nobody is scared of anything? Well, I have done some scientific testing to see what scares people the most. And by “scientific testing” I mean I googled it.
And it did not take long to find out what most people feared the most. I also found in my scientific research that some people have some fairly irrational fears. FDR may have believed that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself but a lot of other people feel differently. Some of the more interesting things I read that people are afraid of are: Abraham Lincoln, chewing gum, lawn gnomes, spontaneously combusting and mermaids and mirrors.
These are intelligent adults who otherwise are very rational people but have some irrational fears. Some more common fears include flying, heights, intimacy, public speaking, rejection and death. The fear of death is understandable to most people. It falls into the category of the unknown. My niece is afraid of clowns with masks because she doesn’t know what is behind the mask. The fear of the unknown can cause all kinds of problems.
Our passage this morning is absolutely perfect for any of these fears, rational or not. God tells us as His children not to be afraid because He is with us and that should fortify you whether you are afraid of the dark or of spiders or of vacuum cleaners (like my niece, bless her heart). But I want to use it specifically today for those unbelievers who are afraid of the unknown of death.
This is the last week we will be focused in the worship service on our goal of furthering the Kingdom. We started several weeks ago focusing on this with the illustration that we all are in a rowboat and we each have two oars. One oar is scripture and the other is prayer and we are rowing toward our goal of furthering the Kingdom of God by praying about the same thing each week and by learning scripture that will help in leading people to a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ.
This last verse is also good for that. When people say they live a good life, Romans 3:23. When they say their good deeds outweigh their bad, Romans 6:23. When people say they just want to be happy in this life, John 10:10. There is more than one way to God? Not according to John 14:6. And when people talk about their fear of dying you can now remember to bring up this Old Testament passage. Let’s turn there now to Deut. 31:6.
Moses is speaking to the Israelites. He knows they are about to cross over into the Promised Land and he knows he will not be going with them and so he gives them the best advice he knows to give. He doesn’t say it’s going to be easy so don’t worry about anything. He doesn’t say that they won’t have any problems ever again. He says when difficult times come and the unknown is before them they should not be afraid because God is with them. Do you think Moses knew what he was talking about? Do you think Moses had the experience with God and the knowledge to be deserving of being listened to?
When I was in high school I went with my church youth group to go tubing down the Guadalupe River. Our first day floating the river we were having a great time and we saw some people high up on one of the banks of the river swinging into the river off of a rope. They would swing way out and let go and hit the water with a big splash. That looked like fun so we all paddled over to the bank. I was one of the last to get out of the water and by the time I got up there nobody wanted to go. It was pretty high and everybody was chickening out. So I John Wayned my way up there and said, “I’m not scared! I’ll do it”. I grabbed the rope and got back as far as I could and then took off. I swung way out over the water and way up high and let go and landed in waist deep water from about 20 feet high.
As soon as I hit bottom my left ankle just snapped. They told me later they heard it on the bank. And as I was standing there paralyzed by the electricity of pain rushing through my body I see the last guy who swung off the rope paddling his tube away and downstream. He hollers at me, “Next time go out about 2 more feet where it drops off!” Thanks for that.
I have a really cool scar from the surgery I had right after that trip but the reason I tell that story is to say that sometimes fear is a good thing. We sometimes should have a healthy respect for the unknown. If the guy had told me before I jumped how far to go then I would have nothing to fear because he had done it. He had been there. I could trust him.
And when Moses says to the people of Israel that they should have no fear because God was with them it is said by someone who had knowledge and experience about what he was talking. Moses had a relationship with God. He had talked with Him and walked with Him and God had proven Himself to Moses over and over again.
When Moses says be strong and courageous, those words in the original text mean” to take hold of” or “be secure” like a building on a solid foundation that doesn’t sway when the winds of the unknown blow. It is used in II Chronicles to describe a fortified tower and also used to describe David when he killed Goliath in I Samuel.
Are you a strong and fortified tower today? Are you victorious over the giants in your life today? As a child of God we should be. As a believer, we have the right and ability to be strong and courageous even when difficult times come because we know from our verse today that God goes with you and will never forsake you.
There is a beautiful verse in Isaiah 42:5-6. Listen closely as I read it.
5 This is what God the LORD says—
the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out,
who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it,
who gives breath to its people,
and life to those who walk on it:
6 “I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness;
I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people
and a light for the Gentiles.
Did you catch that? The same Creator who spread out the earth and gave breath to everything that lives says, “I will take hold of your hand.” That’s how we can be strong. That’s how we can be courageous. Moses isn’t telling the Israelites to be strong because they are so tough. He is telling them to be strong because the Creator is holding their hand.
God is saying whatever happens to you, happens to me. Wherever you go, I go. When somebody hurts you it hurts me but I will protect you and nothing will happen to you that I don't allow.  God is not telling us to grow up and be a man.  He is saying be still and know that I am God.  Don't be scared.  I got this.
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
What a wonderfully comforting verse!  But I do have to tell you that there is a catch.  There really is.  Read it close.  "...for the Lord your God goes with you..."  "Your God"
This verse is a comfort to believers but non-believers have no such comfort.  I told you earlier that in some situations there is good reason for fear.  Unless you have asked Jesus into your heart to be Lord of your life and to forgive you of your sins then death is one of those situations for you.  In fact, it should scare you more than it does.  I'm not trying to scare you into making a decision.  I won't do that.
But the Bible is clear that Hell is a real place and that a decision not to follow Jesus is a decision to spend eternity there.  As we talk to others in our goal to further the Kingdom, we need to always tell the whole truth.  We don't want to scare people but we can't water down the facts either.  That fact may turn some people off but the time will come when, if you care about someone you will tell them the truth.
I would love to talk to you some more about this.  I want to talk to you because I care about you.  As believers and followers of Jesus, we have the ability to be strong and courageous as we talk to others about Jesus, as we face uncertainty, as difficult times come.  But others do not have the same security.  It is your choice.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Sunday 3/4/12

This Sunday's sermon was on Revelation 3:20. "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me." 
I preached without notes for the first time and so I don't have a manuscript to share with you if you missed the service. Please enjoy some pictures of our church instead. See you next week! Pastor Todd