Thursday, December 31, 2015

Resolution 12/31/2015 (rp)

“Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.  If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:14-15

Beloved, I thought I might do something different today.  Being New Year's Eve, we find ourselves on the border of what was and what will be from a calendar driven human perspective.  About this time a couple of years ago, the O'Fallon congregation embarked on a year long theme of Commitment.  That theme was launched by a sermon of preparation about resolutions as it relates to our relationship with God.  The encouragement was to resolve to become (more) committed.

Because it is good for the people of God to be ever mindful of this, I'd like to share that sermon with you today.  The links below should cause your media player to deliver the message to your computer or device.

Should you have any difficulty with the above links, you can go to and access the appropriate link at the sermon title, "Resolved."  I pray that the message will be an encouragement to you.

Have a safe and blessed new year!

Increasing in faith,


Thursday, December 17, 2015

God Speaks 12/17/2015

So Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite said:
'I am young in years,
    and you are old;
that is why I was fearful,
    not daring to tell you what I know.
I thought, ‘Age should speak;
    advanced years should teach wisdom.’
But it is the spirit in a person,
    the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding.
It is not only the old who are wise,
    not only the aged who understand what is right.'" Job 32:6-9 "

It was on the legendary occasion of Job losing all he had that he entered into a conversation with a couple of old friends.  The conversation ended up being a contentious one in which they unsuccessfully challenged much of what Job said.  Elihu, having sat quietly and listened to the older men converse, offered a perspective as well as accurate points his elders failed to make regarding Job's error.  In effect, he spoke with and as the spirit of God and was not contradicted or chastised when God later spoke Himself as were the older men.
Beloved, God communicates with His own in so many ways.  In fact we should all pray for a spirit of wisdom and discernment that we may hear His voice despite its vehicle.  Most often, He speaks through those with whom we come into contact.  It was Nathan who caused David to realize his error with Bathsheba.  It was Joshua and Caleb who, against overwhelming opposition by God's own people, warned against their faithlessness.  It was even a donkey who chastised Balaam on the occasion of his wicked mission.
Rather than being skeptical, critical and suspicious of the things we are sometimes told, particularly as it relates to our own words and deeds, we must examine the things that are being said for God's truth.  Defensiveness may cause us to miss a message meant for us.  If we would give God sovereignty over our lives and acknowledge that He is not limited in the ways He communicates with us, we will come to understand that the source of the counsel is not nearly as important its content.  Let us seek wisdom outside of our own selves and be attentive to the voice of God, Prov12:15.
Increasing in faith,


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Preservation and Restoration 12/10/15

 "For we will surely die and are like water spilled on the ground which cannot be gathered up again. Yet God does not take away life, but plans ways so that the banished one will not be cast out from him." 2 Samuel 14:14

King David committed the most grievous of sins against Uriah the Hittite by committing adultery with his wife and then murdering him.  Despite forgiving and preserving his life, God informed him that trouble and strife would never leave his household.  This involved the rape of one of his daughters by his son and the murder of that son by another.  Absalom, the murdering son, fled the country and stayed away for three years.  The bible reveals that David was both hurt and angry about what had happened but in his heart of hearts longed for the return of his boy.  The law and popular opinion prevented him from making this happen until a conspiracy was hatched between his right hand man and a hired woman to demonstrate how he should forgive and restore his son (2 Samuel 14:1-13).

Beloved, we are all guilty of sin.  At some point, in some place, in some way, we have all committed acts that are outside the will and way of God.  Though forgiveness is available and provided in the all important spiritual realm, we are likely to have suffered for those transgressions in the physical one.  When we are guilty, suffering and hurting, we have a tendency to retreat within ourselves and wrestle with our sins alone.  When we have been victimized by others, there can be the tendency to place the perpetrators into emotional and physical exile even though a part of us wants to let it go.

In either case, the words and actions of God are clear.  Whether we are guilty or victims, God performs and commands preservation and restoration. Though the Hebrews were forced to wander for forty years due to their willful and obstinate behavior in the wilderness, His plan was that they would see the promised land and they did.  Though their unfaithfulness in the promised land was punished by exile, His plan was that they would be restored to Jerusalem and they were.  Though you may suffer the earthly consequences for your sinful words, thoughts or deeds or that of others, you are God's own and He has prepared a place for you.

David received the message and, despite his son's unquestionable guilt, preserved his life, restored him to his home and ultimately to himself.  God, despite David's unquestionable guilt, preserved and restored him.  Should not you and I do likewise in view of the preservation and restoration God has made available to us?

Increasing in faith,


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Recognition, Reward and Responsibility 12/3/2015

“Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’?  Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’?  Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do?  So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”  Luke 17:7-10

These days it seems that so many of us are about ourselves.  Stars of stage, screen and athletics are highly demonstrative about their accomplishments as seen in fist pumping gestures, end zone dances and primal screams.  This is not pointed out to be critical of emotional releases after putting in untold hours of hard work and experiencing success.  It does, however, pose the question, "How much attention and credit do you want for doing what you are supposed to do?"  This is not just a phenomenon associated with celebrity.  Perhaps closer to home, we have all seen those who perform some kindness or provide some assistance to someone in need and then publish it widely to all who will listen.

The context of today's passage is that Jesus is teaching his disciples a lesson on forgiveness.  He advises that there will be situations where people trespass against us.  It is inevitable, but when those times come, our duty is to forgive and not just once but every time, even multiple times in a day.  It is interesting that subsequent to this, the apostles ask for an increase in faith.  This is surely because forgiving is not always an easy thing to do, particularly multiple times.  It is here that Jesus supplies that forgiving is the minimum expectation of a Christian and that there should be no expectations of lavish praise and reward for doing so.

Beloved we must understand that we do not serve a quid pro quo God.  We should not expect to receive every time that we give or perform.  This is not to say that God does not reward but to say that God has provided so infinitely much to us, there is no amount of giving or performing that we could ever do to even approach what He does for us constantly.  I remember as a boy wanting to be paid for mowing our lawn.  It was explained to me in no uncertain terms that I was being provided with a roof, a climate controlled environment, food, clothing and many other amenities free of charge and that the yard was my responsibility, not a service rendered for which I should expect compensation or even thanks (though I often did).  It likewise occurred to me that I didn't thank my parents for all they provided because I took it for granted and often, was too busy asking for more.

Let us never confuse voluntary service with responsibility and let us never seek recognition and praise for what we are obligated to do (Matthew 6:1-4).

Increasing in faith,