Saturday, December 27, 2014

Church life can be messy -- so what -- so get over it

In my years in ministry I have heard many excuses from professed Christians  for not attending church, not serving, not giving, not _____, etc... The most annoying excuse is that the church is full of hypocrites. What is lame about that excuse is that “Everyone is a Hypocrite!” I am a hypocrite. You are a hypocrite. No one lives consistently with whatever they profess to believe. Twelve Step Recovery programs encourage honesty with oneself and others. We need honesty with ourselves, God, and others.

The Bible clearly calls on Christians to be in relationship with one another in a local body of believers.
         Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV)
         24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting       to  meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

 “Let us” speaks of a community of fellowship of believers that are to encourage one another to love and good works.
“Let us” speaks against “Lone Ranger” Christianity which is the habit of some.
“Let us” speaks to how we can encourage one another. You cannot encourage someone that you do not know through a relationship. You cannot be encouraged unless someone knows and cares for you.
“Let us” live in relationship as we look forward to the Lord Jesus Returning in Glory.

A healthy church encourages those relationships. In reading the Bible the early church had relationship problems.
        Philippians 4:2 (ESV)
         I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord.
The Apostle Paul - under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit - was encouraging these two women to work through their differences to serve the Lord.

We don’t need excuses, we need honest effort to serve the Lord together - within the messiness of the human condition - through a community of faith, a Bible-believing church.

Message Outline: "Living Skillfully with Opposition” 1 Thes. 2:13-16 Dec 28th 2014

"Living Skillfully with Opposition”
1 Thes. 2:13-16
Dec 28th 2014       

How to Live Skillfully with Opposition to Your Faith

I. Receive the Word of God which is at Work in You(13)
 13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.

1 Corinthians 1:18
18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

II.  Imitate those Walking in the Word of God in Difficult Circumstances (14a)
 14a For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea.

III. Expect Opposition to  the Word of God - (Unfortunately, its Common).  14b-15a
14b For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews,
15a   who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out,                                   

We need to keep perspective as we think of the death of Christ.
1 Cor. 2:8  None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

Hebrews 2:9    But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

IV. Persevere in sharing the Word of God (15b-16a)
15b  and displease God and oppose all mankind
16a  by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved

V.  Remember the Word of God Explains the  Wrath of God  (16b)
16b—so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them at last!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Finishing Well

The following is from   -- Craig Brian Larson, "Strong to the Finish,"

   It was a hot day--Tuesday, July 20, 1993, in Washington, D.C.--as Vincent Foster sat in the Rose Garden. That morning he watched as President Clinton announced his new FBI director. Foster returned to his White House Counsel's office after the ceremony. He took care of some legal business, then talked with President Clinton, his boyhood friend, for a few moments. He ate lunch that day at his desk.

   A little after one o'clock, Foster left the office, telling his staff he would return. He pulled his Honda Accord onto the streets of Washington, D.C., and drove to a little-visited national park on a bluff overlooking the Potomac River. He got out, leaving his suit coat in the car. In his hand was an antique, .38-caliber revolver. He walked across an open field. Standing beside a cannon pointing out over the woods, Vincent Foster took his own life.

   When President Clinton heard the news, he called together his staff to console them on the loss of someone that they all loved. Then President Clinton said these words: "It would be wrong to define a life like Vincent Foster's in terms only of how it ended."

   Clinton is right in one sense. But the sad fact is that no matter how much Vincent Foster's friends, family, colleagues, and workmates try to put the end of his life out of their minds, how his life ended will always overshadow his memory. Because how a life, a ministry, a job, or a relationship ends defines and colors all that goes before it.

From Chuck:
I've had the pleasure of knowing people who have finished their lives well. That is a joy to see. I have a friend who is in his late 80's living in a care center who has a young heart to serve the Lord. While his life (like most) has had its share of disappointments, he stills prays for people, serves others, and witnesses to the grace of God in the Lord Jesus.

I've also had the disappointment of seeing others who professed to know the Lord, but for whatever reason (lost love, disappointment with God, etc...) they walked away. When I was a new Christian in my first year college, that surprised and disappointed me. Now many years later it just disappoints. Sometimes people pursue the Lord thinking that it will get them what they want (fixed relationships, a new job, happiness, etc...).  While God may give us some of those things we want, He does not owe us those things. However, God is still worthy of our worship and service for who He is, regardless of what we think we want.

Finishing well comes from pursuing knowing God better in all of the circumstances of our lives.

Message Outline: “How to Walk with The Lord” December 21st 2014

“How to Walk with The Lord”
Heb 12:1-2, 12:28, 13:12-15
December 21st 201
To walk with the Lord, Let Us....

I.  Throw off distractions and the sin which easily entangles us. (12:1a)
12:1a  Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely,

II.  Run the our individual races which were marked out for us (12:1b)
 12:1b  and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

III.   Fix our eyes on Jesus through all of life (12:2)
12:2   looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

IV.  Be thankful and worship our awesome God with our full being (12:28-9)
28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.

V.  Identify with Christ’s purpose and focus on our eternal home (13:12-14)
 12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.
13 Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured.
 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.

VI. Continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise (13:15)
15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Baby that Changed Everything

"The Baby that Changed Everything"
[story from Bruce W. Thielemann}

Did you ever read Bret Harte's story The Luck of Roaring Camp? Roaring Camp was supposed to be, according tot he story, the meanest, toughest mining town in all of the West. More murders, more thefts--it was a terrible place inhabited entirely by men, and one woman who tried to serve them all. Her name was Cherokee Sal. She died while giving birth to a baby. 

   Well, the men took the baby, and they put her in a box with some old rags under her. When they looked at her, they decided that didn't look right, so they sent one of the men eighty miles to buy a rosewood cradle. He brought it back, and they put the rags and the baby in the rosewood cradle. And the rags didn't look right there. So they sent another of their number to Sacramento, and he came back with some beautiful silk and lace blankets. And they put the baby, wrapped around with those blankets, in the rosewood cradle. 

   It looked fine until someone happened to notice that the floor was so filthy. So these hardened, tough men got down on their hands and knees, and with their hardened and horny hands they scrubbed that floor until it was very clean. Of course, what that did was to make the walls and the ceiling and the dirty windows without curtains look absolutely terrible. So they washed down the walls and the ceiling, and they put curtains at the windows. And now things were beginning to look as they thought they should look. But of course, they had to give up a lot of their fighting, because the baby slept a lot, and babies can't sleep during a brawl. 

   So the whole temperature of Roaring Camp seemed to go down. They used to take her out and set her by the entrance to the mine in her rosewood cradle so they could see her when they came up. Then somebody noticed what a dirty place that was, so they planted flowers, and they made a very nice garden there. It looked quite beautiful. And they would bring her, oh, shiny little stones and things that they would find in the mine. But when they would put their hands down next to hers, their hands looked so dirty. Pretty soon the general store was all sold out of soap and shaving gear and perfume and those kinds ... the baby changed everything. 

   That's the way it is for those of good will. That's the way it is for those who please God. The baby enters into their lives, and he slips into every crevice of their experience, until they say "Hark! Listen, the herald angels sing! God is for us. And Christmas is forever." 

 -- Bruce W. Thielemann, "Hark! The Herald Angels," Preaching Today, Tape No. 63.

See: Isa 9:6; Jn 1:14; Php 2:7.

Isaiah 9:6 (ESV)
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

John 1:14 (ESV)
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Philippians 2:7 (ESV)
7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Message Outline - 11-9-14 "Prayer that Challenges us" Luke 11

“Prayer that Challenges Us”
Luke 11:1-13
November 9th , 2014

I. Prayer that challenges us (1)
1  Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him
 “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”

II. Pray for God’s glory to be revealed and His kingdom to come. (2)
2.  And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come.

III. Pray for our Daily Needs to be Met (3)
3 Give us each day our daily bread,

IV. Pray for forgiveness - concerning our sins and our attitude toward others (4a-b)
4 and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.

V. Pray for Spiritual Protection (4c)
4c  And lead us not into temptation.”       

VI.  Pray with Importunity – the illustration of persistently nagging friend (5-8)
 5 And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, 6 for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’?
8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs.

VII. Pray with persistent asking, persistent seeking, and persistent knocking (9-10)

9 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

VIII. Pray with the expectation of spiritual enablement from your Heavenly Father (11-13) 

11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent;
12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?
13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Friday, October 31, 2014

Message Outline" “Safeguards in our Walk with The Lord” Luke 10:39-44

“Safeguards in our Walk with The Lord”
Luke 10:39-44
Nov 2nd 2014

Safeguards in our Walk with The Lord

I. Attentive faithful service to the Lord is good (38)
38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house.

II. Attentive listening to Jesus’ teaching is better (39)

39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.

III. Complaining about how others’ respond  is not helpful (40)
40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”

IV. Keep the main thing the main thing by
A. Not letting service for the Lord distract you from.....
41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things,

B. Attentively listening to the Lord to enjoy His presence now and forever

42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

In Memory of my Father and Veteran’s Day

This Veteran’s Day marks the eleven year anniversary of my father, Richard Lovelady,  dying of a heart attack in his home in Portland.  Twenty years ago I made our weekly phone calls a priority when it finally hit me that my father was getting older and had limitations. This was hard for me to accept because my dad was always a John Wayne figure. He was bigger than life at 6' 5". He was also a loner with a strong sense of responsibility and rather poor interpersonal communication skills.  His death was a surprise and it was not a surprise. Fortunately, I had obeyed an impulse from the Lord to spend  a few days with him the month before he died. My inability to get a hold of him over a 24 hr. period motivated me to call the Portland Police to do a welfare check.  The shock of his passing was compounded by the fact that his home was robbed after his death. The quick trip to Portland and working with my sister to organize the funeral are a fuzzy haze in my memory.                      

I made several trips over the next few months to settle his affairs. What I learned about my dad in sorting through his stuff confirmed what I knew through my experiences with him. My dad was a very dependable person. He always lived within his modest means and paid his bills on time.  He was also very creative with his hands. He made beautiful pieces of furniture: roll top desks, dresser with a book case, magazine rack, etc... He expressed his love for his grandchildren by making them many beautiful items:  bunk beds, toy box, jewelry box, book shelf, doll house, etc..

My dad was a retired Air Force mechanic who belonged to several veterans’ organizations. In sorting through some of his Air Force papers, I discovered that he had been awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses for his service in Vietnam. In reading through a letter of commendation I learned that he had flown 175 combat missions as a flight engineer on an AC-47 aircraft. The AC-47 “Puff the Magic Dragon” was designed for ground support with three Vulcan mini-guns out its side.  In this same letter the officer wrote that his greatest strengths were dependability and creativity. This I fully understood.

When I had asked about my dad about his experiences in Vietnam, he would mumble a few profanities about Washington politicians and then quickly change the subject. What became clear to me in going through his papers was that he had served honorably and with distinction in a difficult time because his country called on him to do it. Over the last decade our country has now called on hundreds of Utah service people and many thousands throughout the country to serve during a difficult time. The vast majority of them are serving honorably and with distinction. This Veterans Day we should honor and support them for their service and sacrifice. As with my father we may never know the depth of their service to us, our community, and our country.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

God Chooses His People

I Thes 1:4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you,

The Apostle starts this verse with what they knew. He knew and they knew that they were loved by God. When you recognize the awfulness of our sin and how it is a stench before a Holy God, you become amazed that God loves you. God does not love us because we deserve his loved. But he in his mercy and grace has chosen to love us.

Before I go into the hard part of this verse, I want you to fully recognize that no one has ever merited the kindness and love of God.

Titus 3:4-5
4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,
5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,

What does it mean for God to chose?
How does God Chose?

>Does God Choose some people for eternal life, but not others?

Here  are quotes from different evangelical commentators who comes on different sides of the issue of Election. Election is God’s Choice of People for eternal life.

In Broad, we have God’s choice and People’s Choice.

“If we choose to be in Christ, we have been chosen by God. There is nothing  arbitrary, therefore, about election. Our choice makes us his elect.”
                         David Williams, New International Bible Commentary on I Thessalonians

“He has chosen”.... This is God’s sovereign choice of certain individuals...... prior to Adam’s appearance on earth.”  
                            Robert Thomas, Expositors Bible Commentary on I Thessalonians

Two evangelical commentators with exactly opposite view.
The overall issue as we look at How God Chooses is His Sovereignty.

The Sovereignty of God.
My current favorite illustration for the te Sovereignty of God is an umbrella. God is in charge covering it all. That doesn’t rule out genuine choice and genuine accidents under the umbrella.

Chuck Swindoll put it this way...
“God's calling the shots. He's running the show. Either he's in full control or he's off his throne.”  

The Spirit working in lives in conviction. The open invitation of Eternal life to all who will believe.

I am sure many of you would like to perfectly know how God’s Sovereignty and Man’s Free Will related to each other. SO WOULD I.   But do keep that healthy tension.
It is the EXTREMES that are unhealthy.

To heavy on God’s choice leads to….  Indifference to people’s spiritual condition
"God will save the pagans in His time."

To heavy on Man’s choice leads to……manipulating people into a “decision  or Christ.”
"We need to get them saved."

My personal convictions (repeated from previous post).

>If Christians witness, more people will hear and respond to the Gospel.
>If Christians obey God, they will pray and witness more fervently.
>If Christians pray more,   more people will be saved
>If Christians pray more, more circumstances will be changed for God’s glory.
>Dee Duke:     “Little pray, little blessing; much prayer, much blessing.”

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Outline - Observations on the Christian Life. 1 Thes. 1:4-10

Observations on the Christian Life.
1 Thes. 1:4-10                                                    
October 12th , 2014

Observations on the Christian Life:

I.  God has Chosen to Love You (4)
4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you,

Titus 3:4-5
4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,
5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,

We have God’s choice and People’s Choice.

“If we choose to be in Christ, we have been chosen by God. There is nothing  arbitrary, therefore, about election. Our choice makes us his elect.”
                                                          David Williams, NIBC

“He has chosen”.... This is God’s sovereign choice of certain individuals...... prior to Adam’s appearance on earth.”  
                                                          Robert Thomas, EBC.

II. While the Gospel can be explained in Words, it must be applied by the  Holy Spirit. (5)

5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.
 You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.

It is the EXTREMES that are unhealthy.
To heavy on God’s choice leads to indifference to people’s spiritual condition
To heavy on Man’s choice leads to manipulating people into a "decision for Christ.”

My personal convictions.
If Christians witness, more people will hear and respond to the Gospel.
If Christians obey God, they will pray and witness more fervently.
If Christians pray more,   more people will be saved
If Christians pray more, more circumstances will be changed for God’s glory.
Dee Duke:     “Little pray, little blessing; much prayer, much blessing.”

III.  Our Afflictions Provide Opportunities for Experiencing God’s Grace in unique ways. (6)
6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit,

How does God using afflictions, trials, in our lives?

Considering trials...  (From Karl Payne outline)

11.     Purpose of a trial - to strengthen us, to prepare us for things to come.
James 1:2-5 (ESV)
2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

22.     Promise to hold onto during a trial

Romans 8:28 (ESV)
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

33.     Protection during trials
1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)
13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

44.     Plan for the trials
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (ESV)
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

IV. Your Life of Faith  Speaks  Louder than Your Words of Faith (7-8)
7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8 For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything.

V. Your Transformed Life is a Powerful Defense for the Gospel of Christ. (9)
9 For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,
VI. Our Great Hope is The Second Coming of Christ (10)
10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.