Monday, July 28, 2014

Sin and Compassion 7/28/2014

"Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, 'Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?'” Matthew 9:10-11

Jesus was never popular with the religious elite of his time. There were groups of scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees, who themselves differed in some very fundamental ways, but together made up the ruling council that governed the religious and social life of the people of God. They criticized everything that Jesus said and did and were constantly seeking opportunity to shame, discredit and ultimately kill him.

The interesting thing about these groups is that what should have been their main concern, in effect, was not. Rather than seeing to the needs of the people and doing all they could to shepherd them to godliness, they were often more concerned with position, pride, pomp and circumstance. When Jesus came along clarifying and advancing the spirit of the Law rather than the letter of the Law to which they so strictly adhered, it created problems that they wanted to resolve in his death. They should have known that that is why the Messiah was to come in the first place.

So it was that when Jesus went about the business of "seeking and saving the lost," those who should have been doing just that in anticipation of his arrival, withstood him for it.

Beloved, as Christians, the people of God, if you will, we should never withstand good being done. We should never judge those who are coming to Christ. Far too often, the church, whose main mission is to seek and save the lost through love and obedience to our heavenly Father, do the opposite by creating barriers to those who would come. Stories abound about homosexuals, fornicators, drunkards, abusers, thieves and other sinners being turned away at the doors of the worship facility because they are sinners. In so doing, we are exemplifying the adversaries of Christ more so than Christ himself. This is not to say that we are to endorse sin or turn a blind eye to it. The word of God is crystal clear about the dangers of sin and the prohibition against it. If we, however, do not display love and compassion toward the lost, how can they possibly be saved? How can we call ourselves Christians? And interestingly enough, there are none of us that were not ourselves bought out of sin (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

As we model the one who saved us from our sin, let us all endeavor to be more compassionate toward those who have yet to be saved. There is plenty of time and opportunity to teach righteousness but it will not materialize if we are not first welcoming as we ourselves have been welcomed.



Monday, July 21, 2014

Jesus' Priorities For Us 7/21/2014

"Getting into a boat, Jesus crossed over the sea and came to His own city. And they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, 'Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven.' And some of the scribes said to themselves, 'This fellow blasphemes.' And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, 'Why are you thinking evil in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins'—then He said to the paralytic, 'Get up, pick up your bed and go home.' And he got up and went home." Matthew 9:1-7

Beloved, recently the Lord laid a message on my heart about the priority of the our souls over our bodies, our eternity over our present circumstances. And while all messages that the Lord provides are meaningful to me, I never know how and where they will impact others. Now and then, someone will approach me and let me know that I was preaching to them that day. We smile, hug and thank God together. Yesterday, in perhaps the most profound way that I've ever experienced, one of my brothers in Christ who happens to be a member of our congregation let me know how impactful the word of God was in his life that day. He has given me permission to share with you what he put on his Facebook page.


Steve wrote: Sometimes it seems God knows what is on our hearts and who needs scripture and places it on Lee's heart to preach.

"When you take a look at that piece of scripture [Matthew 9:1-7], it seems Jesus assessed the situation, and took action. And what I found interesting about it church, when I began to study it was that Jesus didn't do what many of us might have done. We may or may not have agreed with the order of events as Jesus performed them. I don't know about you church, but I'm just so glad to be in the hands of the Lord who helps with priorities...I'd like to talk about what Jesus knows. There's a difference between what we think, and what He knows. And then based upon what He knows, what he does." -Lee Lewis

I prayed so hard, so many days and nights for the restoration of my mom's health. Eventually, my prayers turned to "My prayer is for her to be restored, but God, your will be done. If it is your will to take her home, make it so." I fought with the feelings of why my Christian mom, who was a devout servant, could suffer for this long. What was all this for? What Gods goal? "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28 Who could this be good for?

"We sometimes stand against him...these scribes, these pharisees they represent those of us, the parts of us, that doubt and criticize. Have you ever criticized Jesus? Have you ever been in a spot and wondered why he allowed certain things to happen? Why he didn't come directly to your aide on your schedule at your time in the way you proscribed? You ever experience a little bit of doubt in your faith and your spirit?" -Lee Lewis

Yes, Lord. I have. Not a doubt in your power or existence, but a wonder of why. A wonder of direction. A wonder of the need for the suffering.

Well folks, three days after we layed my mom to rest, dad went to church for the first time in years. My prayers turn from the health of my mom, to a more fervent prayer for the spiritual health of my father. May God continue to work in my life, in ways I'll never understand until we meet in heaven.

"Jesus knows it's not about our physical healing on this side of eternity. It's about being made whole for the other side of eternity." -Lee Lewis

God knew his work with mom was done. Now he can continue to work in my life, and my fathers.

[Hear the sermon at this link]




Monday, July 14, 2014

The Gift of Time 7/14/2014

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness; but is longsuffering to you-ward, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Pet 3:9

Contextually, Peter is addressing the taunts of those who question, at worst, the existence of God and at best, the prophesied return of the Lord. He reminds his audience that God is not on man’s timetable. Before we ever existed, He created all that there is and that there was never a time that He did not exist. Citing that “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day,” he establishes that God is above and beyond time. This said, Peter further relates that God is doing us a tremendous favor by delaying the end of the age.

Beloved, there are some that are anxious for the return of the Lord. Looking as we do at the prevailing condition of this world and the people who occupy it, some are hungry for righteousness and justice to prevail and things to be set right by He who is the Master of the Universe. Others are not so anxious for the day to come due to the root cause of a lack of readiness. Regardless of one’s position, all should rejoice in the wisdom and love of the Lord. For those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, know that the delay is due to God’s fervent desire that none are lost. What could be more righteous? For those who are “not ready” you are the object of His longsuffering. His coming, however, is as certain as the fact that the past has already occurred. In that when the time comes it will take place in an instant and that we do not know when that time will come, we only have this moment to be ready. The next moment is not promised. We therefore must not delay as He has done on our behalf. Surely whatever motives anyone has for doing so are nonsensical. The time He is giving is a gift and that gift has an unknown expiration date. Better use it. Now.



Monday, July 7, 2014

Walking, Standing and Sitting 7/7/2014 (rp)

"How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!  But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night." Psa 1:1-2

Though we are taught not to judge unrighteously, you can tell a lot about a person based on how they spend their time and the company they keep.  It is easy to claim what we are all about, but unless our audio matches our video, all we are engaged in is image management.  Depending on the difference between what can be observed and what actually is, that can be a full time job.

Consider the implied admonition of the Lord.  What is walking but our manner of living?  When we are encouraged to "walk in the light as He is in the light" in 1 Jn 1:7, we are being instructed to live our lives in a godly manner.  We are encouraged to be holy as God is holy.  To walk or live according to the ways of the unrighteous is to walk the path to destruction.  Wickedness is all around us and it is easy to get caught in the current of what society not only approves, but will persecute as it relates to any lack of conformity to its deteriorating norms.

We are also encouraged to be mindful of where we plant our flags.  Our position on certain issues often define us more than anything else.  We must ensure that we are correctly positioned concerning things like abortion, abuse, sexual orientation, fornication, fidelity, gossip, morality and the love of money among many others.  It unfortunately is not unusual for the people of God to allow for positions that are inconsistent with his word.  Where we stand should be determined by looking up rather than down.

And what is it to sit but to be found resting?  By the time we have found our seat, we have found our home.  This is indicative of having chosen a position and course and being content with it.  If we have chosen to be godly, it will manifest itself in all we say, think and do, likewise if we have chosen to be ungodly.  Our walking and standing can land us in the potentially dangerous and permanent arena of sitting.

Beloved, God has promised blessings (the ultimate happiness) for those who avoid unrighteous walking, standing and sitting by being found living according to His law.  This is achieved by applying as much of our attention to His word as we do much lesser pursuits such as watching the news, sports, our favorite television programs or favorite music.  Salvation is found in none of these things, but true blessings are found in living life according to the word of God.  We need not be dragged down by society but must fulfill our mission of raising society up.  This can only be done if we are properly positioned and engaged in proper pursuits ourselves.  He has laid out the path for us.  Let us walk it earnestly.