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Empowered to Servanthood
July 13, 2016, 6:27 pm
Filed under: Culture, God, Politics | Tags: , ,

John 14:16-21 NKJV And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— (17) the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. (18) I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. (19) “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. (20) At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. (21) He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” it is the Spirit who gives us words to say, gives us the ability to discern the truth about what is going on in the world, we have that which God has given us through His Spirit, to stand for the truth of Christ. Paraclete, the Greek is Paracletos, it means a comforter, an advocate, an intercessor. In other words, one who walks with you. There they were, Jesus had gone back to His throne, Jesus God in the flesh, was now back in His rightful place in Heaven. His disciples, were left on earth to fend for themselves, at least that is what we might think. However, looking at the verses in John 14, we see that Jesus had promised them one who would be with them forever. The Holy Spirit, the third PERSON of the Trinity, is a person just as Jesus was and is a person, just as God is a person.

We find in the book of Acts the appearance of the Holy Spirit in the 2nd Chapter of Acts we read this: Act 2:1-4 NKJV When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. (2) And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. (3) Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. (4) And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. The Spirit is God and so God now is with His people and is a part of all that happens in our lives. men and women who were his loyal followers, the Spirit appears as tongues like fire, which settle on each of them, then they begin to speak in other languages, so that all in Jerusalem that day could hear and understand.

So, what has this to do with us today? Everything! We are to be the witnesses to Christ in the world, we who claim to follow Christ, are the ones who can discern what is going on in our world and it is our task to tell the world about their need for redemption. If we do not speak, the blood of the lost in hell will be upon those who do not sound the alarm. Eze 33:2-6 NKJV “Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, (3) when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, (4) then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. (5) He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will save his life. (6) But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.’ You and I have the truth and the Spirit with us, we are able to see and understand what is happening, we must speak.

In our Sunday morning Bible Study we are studying the book of Daniel and in the 9th chapter of that book is a chilling prophecy. It deals with centuries of time, and yet it deals with us today.

Dan 9:23-27 NKJV At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision: (24) “Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy. (25) “Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times. (26) “And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined. (27) Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.”

Daniel had realized that it had been prophesied by Jeremiah that 70 years were to pass while the people were in captivity in Babylon, he realized that the 70 years were almost accomplished and he began to pray for deliverance, and as he prayed Gabriel showed up to give him the information he needed.

In the delivery of the information we read of a time span of 70 weeks, those are not in reality weeks, but rather weeks of years, each day is a year of time. The time for the 7 weeks was when the people would be allowed to return and build the city and the temple. The first period of 7 weeks began with Artaxerxes in 445 BC. That is found in Nehemiah 2:1-8, and it took 49 years to build the city and the temple. Of course that was a mere shadow of the glory of the temple of Solomon, but they had a place to worship and make offering to the Lord again.

Then 62 weeks until the time of Messiah and his death on the Cross at Calvary. 434 years would go by and Jesus would have been teaching for 3 years, then enter Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey and be declared King of the Jews. Just 5 days after that he would be arrested and then crucified. Next will come a time of the Gentiles, that is you and I and we will be the witnesses to the glory of the Kingdom and of the salvation offered by the spilling of the Blood of Christ. During this time the people of Rome, in the person of the various emperors will have completely destroyed the city and Temple one more time, Jews will be exiled into the world and only a remnant will remain. Jerusalem will be rebuilt but not with a temple, that will remain a ruin except for one wall that is known as the wailing wall where Jewish people come to pray. Now of course prophecy about the return of the people to their homeland has been fulfilled. That is for another time, but suffice it to say that the return was prophesied and fulfilled in 1947.

However we are still waiting for the coming of the 70th week of Daniel. We can see that there is much turmoil in our world, there is much hatred of Jews and in some parts of the world Christians.

We can see also that only a few of our Christian leaders are speaking out trying to change the direction of our nation, many though are the voices of those who want to sell the feel good gospel. Jesus said: Mat 24:23-25 NKJV “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. (24) For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. (25) See, I have told you beforehand.

We also see that many will be led the way they want to be led, they have itching ears, wanting to hear what they want to hear. 2Ti 4:3-4 NKJV For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; (4) and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

Just turn on any of those TV preachers and you will hear the lies. Not only that but there are many denominations today that teach false doctrine, even those who teach that fornication, homosexuality and other forms of sexual sin is OK and sanctioned by God, because they say, God is love. These are just alternative ways of living our lives. Jesus also taught that: Mat 24:6-9 NKJV And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. (7) For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. (8) All these are the beginning of sorrows. (9) “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.

There are many wars being fought today, and there are many Christians being killed and tortured across our world. In this country we are still free to worship as we will, but there is coming a time when that will not be so. Already we see that our government is trying to remove any mention of God or Jesus from the public square. In many cities the government says that they want to open with prayer, the name of Jesus may not be used in the prayer, and of course they also invite Imams to pray so as not to offend any Muslims. Have you noticed that it is also just fine that Christians are castigated, are told that they cannot hold meetings in public places, but Muslims can close down a street so that the Mosque which is not able to hold them can practice their prayers at the appointed times.

It used to be that you had to have your face shown on your state ID, driver license or state ID card. However in some states today that is no longer the case. If a woman wears a Burqa which hides everything except her eyes, she may have that as her picture on her State ID. How do you identify someone whose face is covered? There are even some cities were certain areas are off limits to non-Muslim persons. Even the police cannot enter without an OK from the local sharia court.

We are the witnesses, we are the ones that God has given the task of standing for the truth, for the gospel. We have the Holy Spirit, we are the watchmen on the wall, and we are to warn our fellow countrymen of what we know is coming. We need to offer the salvation that comes only through Jesus Christ.

 

We are empowered to servanthood, empowered to speak out and help our neighbors and friends to see the truth. Only Jesus Christ can bring you to heaven, only Jesus Christ is the way to God, he and he alone is the way, the truth and the life. The spirit of God will give us the words, we need only ask, a moment of silent prayer when you encounter a situation will suffice. Jesus said that if you ask anything in his name, it will be granted. Of course that pre-supposes that you are one who is a true follower of Christ. Joh 16:23 “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.”

We are the ones who must speak against injustice and hatred, we must stand for the truth even in the face of persecution. If we do not stand, then those who are caught up in sin, will die in their sin, and we will be the ones who are guilty. We cannot lose our salvation, but we will hear condemnation not praise from our Lord and Savior. We are the ones who should be introducing others to Jesus Christ, if we do our part he will do his, that some might be saved. If we do our part then we will hear, well done good and faithful servant.

 

 

 

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New Life – Acts 2_1-21
May 25, 2015, 1:35 pm
Filed under: Culture, God | Tags: , , ,

It seems like such a long time ago, yet it was 38 years ago when a movie came out that totally changed what we expected to see in movies. None of us had ever heard of the characters, nor the plot of the movie, it was science fiction, we expected to see something that was less than what you would see in a “normal” movie. What a surprise – like many others, I have watched Star Wars a number of times, it is still a wonderful experience.
One of the interesting things that George Lucas did with that film was to tell us that this was episode 4 in an ongoing saga. Finally, 20 years later, Episode 1 was released. Interesting fact, it was released on Pentecost. What has this to do with Pentecost? Well for one thing, Lucas incorporated an interesting spiritual note into this film. He introduced “The Force” and everything in the movie revolved around the use of the force in the lives of the main characters.
Luke Skywalker, was being raised by his uncle on their farm, he knew nothing of the realities of the outside world, and really wanted nothing to do with what was happening out there. Then he is drawn into the adventure, and finds out about “The Force,” he begins to change and to become a man in this film. He begins to learn how to tap into this mysterious force, and to become a “Jedi Knight.”
In our reading from Acts we have the beginning of the church. The disciples have spent the last several weeks with Jesus, and then he ascended into heaven, telling them to wait in Jerusalem for the coming of the gift of the Holy Spirit. This was a time of celebration for the Jewish people, they celebrated the time between Passover and Pentecost calling it the feast of weeks, then finally comes the celebration of the Wheat harvest, a sacred festival of thanksgiving to God for the harvest.

All through Jerusalem were pilgrims who had come from many different lands, some from Europe, some from Asia and some from Africa. Many different languages, and people’s could be seen in the marketplace every day. Then – it happened – the disciples were together in one place, in prayer, waiting for what Jesus had promised. Like a mighty rushing wind, awesome noise and tongues of fire lighting on each of the disciples, and they were filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit of God. They began to speak to the others in Jerusalem on that day, and they were speaking in the languages of those who were around them. People are wondering what is going on. For them the Force of God had become theirs, this was not some impersonal force, this was the power of God visited upon human beings.
They had to tell others, they had to share the gospel with those around them. As the people began to wonder and to talk among themselves, Peter stands up and speaks to them first about the prophecy of Joel, he claims this prophecy for himself and the others on this day. The he begins to say: “This Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs which God did through Him in your midst………. Him being delivered to the gentiles by your leaders, and killed….. whom God raised up” When Peter was finished speaking the people reply, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Peter tells them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, and receive remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Many did repent that day, and 3000 were added to the church on that day. Now it is true that we cannot duplicate that day. That was a one time, special event in the life of the Church. However, we can duplicate a few of the things that happened on that day, things that we must duplicate if we are to be the Church today, if we are to reach people for Jesus Christ today.
The first thing we must have if we are to be God’s people, is a Passion for the gospel, a desire that others would share with us the love of God. The early disciples fully expected something to happen, they were eager to reach the world for Christ, and so it did happen.
Tony Campolo, professor of sociology at Eastern College, tells of going to Honolulu to a Christian Conference a number years ago. On his first night there, he woke up around 3 AM, jet lag and the 6 hour time difference had gotten his internal clock messed up. He left his hotel and went in search of a place to get something to eat. He finally found a small coffee shop and so he went in and sat down. There was a heavy set man in a greasy apron and he came over and asked, “What do you want?” He asked for a cup of coffee and a donut. While he was drinking his coffee and eating the donut a number of women walked in. He soon realized that these were ladies of the evening, due to their boisterous and provocative speech.
One of the women announced that she had a birthday the next day and was going to be 39. One of the other women put her down quite severely. She said in reply, “why do you have to be so mean? I’m just telling you that’s all. Why do you have to put me down? I don’t want anything from you. I mean, why should I have a birthday party? I’ve never had a birthday party in my whole life. Why should I have one now?”
Campolo said, “When I heard that, I made a decision. I sat and waited until the woman left and then I called over to the heavyset guy and asked him”, ‘Do they come in here every night?’ ‘Yeah,’ he answered. “The one who was right next to me, does she come in here every night?” “yeah,” he said, “that’s Agnes. Yeah, she comes in here every night. Why do you want to know?”
“Because,” I replied, “I heard her say that tomorrow is her birthday. What do you say we do something special for her? What do you think about throwing a birthday party for her, right here in the diner?”
He thought it was a great idea, and he volunteered to make the cake himself. That next night at 2:30 AM Campolo came back and decorated the place, including a big sign that read; “Happy Birthday Agnes!” He said the word must have gotten out because that morning by 3:15 every prostitute in Honolulu was in that place. There was, Campolo said, wall to wall prostitutes – and me. When Agnes arrived they all jumped up and yelled happy birthday, and they even sang happy birthday to Agnes. She was so overcome with emotion her friend had to hold her up as her knees buckled under her. Then the cook brought out the cake with all the candles on it. He gruffly told he to blow out the candles and handed her a knife. “Cut the cake Agnes” he said. Campolo said that it was such a wonderful scene that he decided he had to have a prayer.
He suggested that they pray and then proceeded to lead them in a prayer and he prayed for Agnes and her salvation. He prayed for each of the women as well. When he was done Harry the heavy set guy said to him with a trace of hostility in his voice, “Hey, you never told me you were a preacher. What kind of preacher are you anyway? What church do you belong to?” Campolo says, “In one of those moments when God gives the right words, I answered him quietly, I belong to a church that throws birthday parties for prostitutes at 3:30 in the morning.”
What is it that would compel a man at 3 AM to do something like this? It is the same thing that made the disciples tell of the grace of God. It is the hope and the desire that others might repent of their sin and be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Speaking about power, that is the next thing we need. Yes the church needs people with passion, but we also need those with power, in order to reach people for Christ. When the disciples were given the promised gift of the Holy Spirit, they received power. It is hard to grasp sometimes the reality of spiritual power. Too many of us think that when the disciples received the Holy Spirit, they became somehow, supermen and women of faith. The truth is there is no such thing as instant super spiritual warrior. What they had was a compulsion. It was this compulsion that pushed these folks out into the world, they had a message to share of redemption, and they had a compulsion to share that message. They had a vision of bringing others into the kingdom, into the family of God.
How do we experience the Holy Spirit? How do we experience this power? The pastor of a large city congregation once polled his people and discovered that 92% said they believed in the reality of Christ, but only 50% said that they had experienced that reality in their lives. How about yourselves, have you ever experienced the reality of Christ?
D. L Moody once called on a man in Chicago to persuade him to accept Christ. They were seated in the man’s living room. It was winter and coal was burning in the fireplace. The man stated that he did not need the church, that he could be just as good a Christian outside the church as in it. Moody said nothing, but stepped to the fireplace, took the tongs, picked a blazing coal from the fire and set it off by itself. In silence the two watched it smolder and eventually go out. Then looked a Moody and said, “I see.”
One sure way NOT to experience the power of the Holy Spirit is to isolate ourselves. Hundreds of years ago, a church leader said, “There is no salvation outside the church.”
What he was saying was that there is no Christianity without communion. There is no love without family and there is no power without Pentecost.
Finally we must have purpose. If we are to reach people for Christ, we need people with passion and power. We also need people with a purpose. It is interesting when we look back at history we find that in the late 1800’s no business matched the financial and political dominance of the railroad. Trains were THE method of transportation. Moving both people and goods all around the country. Then along came the car.
Isn’t it amazing that the leaders of the railroad industry didn’t take advantage of their position in the society of their day, they could have continued to corner the market on transportation. In the video “The Search for Excellence,” Tom Peters points out the reason: They did not understand what business they were in. They thought they were in the train business, in fact they were in the transportation business. Had they understood their purpose, then we would be driving a different vehicle, perhaps a Gould, instead of a Ford.
The same can be said of the Swiss, they had the market in time pieces, they controlled 90% of all revenues in the time keeping industry. One of their own came along and invented a better timepiece, he invented the quartz movement and the LCD readout. They did not see the wheels and the gears and the springs, and they ignored this new timepiece. They forgot what business they were in, they weren’t in the wheel and spring business they were in the time keeping business. Today they control only 20% of the market. Seiko is the big winner in that industry.

If we in the Church forget that our purpose is making disciples for Jesus Christ, we too will become obsolete. If we lose our focus and get distracted by our tradition, our habits, our rituals and our routine, we will go the way of the trains, and the watchmakers. We must remember who we are and what our purpose is. Whenever, however, wherever, we must fulfill our purpose. As Paul said, “I have become all things to all people that I might save some.”
I want to be part of a church that is empowered by the Holy Spirit of God, a Church whose purpose is clear, to make disciples of Jesus Christ. A people of God who are going out into the streets with spiritual power granted them by their own Pentecost experience and then reinforced by their brethren in Christ. I want to be part of a Church that has a compulsion to share the gospel, and is filled to overflowing with the power of the Holy Spirit. I want to be part of the Church that Campolo said he was a part of, the one that throws birthday parties for prostitutes at 3:30 in the morning.

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Flee the Wrath to Come
February 16, 2015, 3:30 pm
Filed under: Church Stuff, God | Tags: , ,

John Wesley spoke about those who wanted to “Flee the wrath” to come. Those were the folks he wanted to bring into the Methodist Societies. These were people who knew the words of the Bible, they had heard preaching, they just did not believe it was for them. Of course there was a time when Wesley didn’t believe it either, not until his Aldersgate experience, when he became convinced that Christ had died for his sins did Wesley actually understand what faith was. It was then that he began to put together the idea that all needed to understand that the wrath of God was a terrible thing.

In the reading this morning in Numbers, we hear how the faith of the people of Israel had diminished to such a point that they were complaining about even the fact that God was providing their daily nourishment. Numbers 21:5 tells us: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.” (NKJV)

The people of God forgot who they were, they forgot that without God they would indeed have died in the wilderness, but, more importantly, they would still be slaves in Egypt. When the plague of snakes comes upon them and they begin to die in their sin, they cry out, they do not want to suffer the wrath of God, we hear them then: “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against you; pray to the LORD that He take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. (NKJV) There is an important lesson for us here. It was the people of God, not some strangers outside the camp, it was the people of God who were rebellious, and who sinned against God and Moses. Please note too that although they asked for the snakes to be taken away, God instead gave them a way out, He did not take away the snakes.

God does not remove the obstacles from the path, instead He gives a way for His people to go through those obstacles, He asks that the people look to His method of salvation instead of their own merits, their own methods. Rabbi Harold Kushner tells of a time when he was speaking in a hospital, and an Episcopal priest who was dying of AIDS asked to see him. This priest told the Rabbi how much his books had helped, then observed that he wished he could preach just one more sermon. He would tell people, “I have to tell them that what I believed is true, really is.

God is there no matter what. God is present in the doctors, nurses and caregivers, and in the friends who come to be with me. When the hospital is quiet and the room is dark, God is here then too. It is really true.” (E. Carver McGriff, Lectionary Preaching Workbook, Series VI, Cycle B, 1999-2000).

In today’s gospel reading we find that God did not send Christ to condemn the world but rather to save it. Then it goes on to state the obvious, that Jesus did not need to condemn, we have already condemned ourselves. “John 3:18-20 (NKJV) “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. “

“The State of the Church 2011” one of the Barna Research statistical measures of Christianity in the US has this to say about church folk. Adult Sunday school attendance has diminished by eight percentage points over the past two decades. On any given Sunday, about 15% of adults can be expected to show up in a Sunday school class.
The most carefully watched church-related statistic is adult attendance. Since 1991, attendance has receded by nine percentage points, dropping from 49% in 1991 to 40% in 2011. Church volunteerism has dropped by eight percentage points since 1991. Presently, slightly less than one out of every five adults (19%) donates some of their time in a typical week to serving at a church. The most prolific change in religious behavior among those measured has been the increase in the percentage of adults categorized as unchurched. The Barna Group definition includes all adults who have not attended any religious events at a church, other than special ceremonies such as a wedding or funeral, during the prior six month period. In 1991, just one-quarter of adults (24%) were unchurched. That figure has ballooned by more than 50%, to 37% today.

The Barna summary included eight beliefs that have been tracked since 1991. Among those just three experienced statistically significant change.
The percentage of adults who can be classified as born again Christians, based on their belief that they will experience eternal salvation based on their commitment to Jesus Christ, personal confession of sins, and acceptance of Christ as their savior, has risen by five percentage points. In 1991, the national estimate was 35% of adults met those criteria. Currently, 40% of adults can be classified as born again.
When asked to choose one of several descriptions of God, the proportion who believe that God is “the all-knowing, all-powerful and perfect Creator of the universe who still rules the world today” currently stands at two-thirds of the public (67%). That represents a seven point drop from the 1991 level.

The biggest shift has been in people’s perceptions of the Bible. In 1991, 46% of adults strongly affirmed that “the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches.” That has slumped to just 38% who offer the same affirmation today.
The World Changers: Baby Boomers
No generation has been as widely chronicled as the Boomers, the post-war group born from 1946 through 1964. At every stage of their existence, this generation has redefined America’s ways of life – including its faith and spirituality. Four of their six religious behaviors and two of their eight religious beliefs tracked in this study have undergone statistically significant change since 1991.

The four religious behaviors that shifted included the following.
Church attendance plummeted by 12 percentage points, dipping to 38% in 2011.
Sunday school attendance by Boomers fell by nine points, from 23% in 1991 to just 14% in 2011.
Volunteering at churches was less likely among Boomers in 2011 than was the case twenty years ago, declining from 28% in 1991 to 18% in 2011.
While the Boomers have never been the generation most likely to attend church, during the past 20 years the percentage of unchurched Boomers has risen dramatically, jumping up 18 points! At 41%, they are now the generation most likely to be unchurched, surpassing the 39% level among Busters.

The pair of religious beliefs that have yielded substantial change in the last two decades are declines in those who hold an orthodox view of God (down six points, to 67%); and a reduction in those who are strongly convinced that the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches (down seven points, to just 38%).
We have a problem with cheap grace, with the idea that we can just say we are saved and we are, then we don’t need to go to church nor do we need to read the Bible, or study with our brothers and sisters in the faith. In this nation of ours we don’t really want to flee the wrath to come, we want instead to be told that we are OK, so we can continue in our lifestyles.

We Christians just love to hear John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son, that whosoever would believe on Him, would not perish, but would have eternal life.” What we don’t want to hear, is that after God meets us where we are, He loves us too much to leave us there. That is the part of salvation that we don’t really like, we enjoy our sins, I have even been heard to say that “sin is fun.” It is, we like the positive reinforcement from our peers as we chug-a-lug another beer, or as we make that comment about the young woman walking by, or, the young man walking by. I’m sorry ladies but y’all are guilty too of looking at the opposite sex as something to be used, rather than as something or, better yet, someone who has worth in the eyes of God. We, beloved are all guilty, the Apostle Paul says it best, “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” None of us is innocent, we have all been born into a sinful world, and we are all born in the image of Adam, not the image of God. There is a piece of us that is missing, it is a God piece that needs the Holy Spirit filling to bring us back to the image of God.

God abhors sin, in all its forms, the sooner we recognize ourselves in the people of Israel, the better off we will be. Matthew 7:21-23 (NKJV) 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

Let us then hear these words and understand that we are called to a higher calling than we want to admit. I have to say also, that I would rather have 10 solid prayerful Christian persons, than 100 who never open the word, never bend the knee, and come to church only when they feel like it. The third reading today is found in Ephesians, and it speaks well to those of us who claim to be saved, just as those folks in Ephesus claimed to be saved in their day. It is by grace that you were saved, that is God’s wonderful grace, that we do not deserve. We are enemies of God, we are not God’s friends, not until we come on bended knee before the throne of grace and acknowledge our sinful state with a broken and contrite heart.

Because we are all sinners, we have the stain of sin on our lives. This stain cannot be removed by doing good in an attempt to make up for the bad we have done. All of the good works in the world won’t erase the stain of our sin. So stubborn is this stain, that there is only one substance in all the universe capable of removing it; The blood of Christ. Human effort cannot add anything to what God has already provided for the removal of our stain. When Christ said: It is Finished, He meant it! God had finished paying the price for the removal of our sin. How audacious we would be to think we could somehow improve upon what God has already finished in Christ.”

Verse 10 says the rest: For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Not only does God recreate you and I, but He has for us work to do. If we are truly His, we will hear His call upon us, we are truly created for good works that we might walk in His ways and be His people.
God loves us too much, to leave us in our sins and our trespasses. I read about this incident a few years ago: In 1992, a Los Angeles County parking control officer came upon a brown El Dorado Cadillac illegally parked next to the curb on street-sweeping day.

The officer dutifully wrote out a ticket. Ignoring the man seated at the driver’s wheel, the officer reached inside the open car window and placed the $30 citation on the dashboard. The driver of the car made no excuses. No argument ensued — and with good reason. The driver of the car had been shot in the head ten to twelve hours before but was sitting up, stiff as a board, slumped slightly forward, with blood on his face. He was dead.

The officer, preoccupied with ticket-writing, was unaware of anything out of the ordinary. He got back in his car and drove away. Many people around us are “dead in transgressions and sins.” What should catch our attention most is their need, not their offenses. They don’t need a citation; they need a Savior.

So let us all realize the wrath to come, and it will come, is for those who will not hear and obey the word of God. Whether you are a member of a church, or you don’t believe in church or God, really makes no difference, if the gospel has not changed your life, and the way you interact with your families and your neighbors, then the snakes are coming. The fiery serpents are out there, and unless we are willing to turn our eyes on Jesus Christ as savior, Lord, Brother, Redeemer, we will not escape the wrath. So, I urge you today, if your heart is not right with God, decide to “flee the wrath” decide to turn your eyes and your thoughts on Jesus, the author and perfector of your faith. Flee the wrath, accept the eternal life that is yours, by the death that was His. Let us together, walk into our future home in eternity, in the glory of God and the love of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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