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Excerpts from Recent Sermons
 

THE FEEDING AND CARE OF A PASTOR

Here are some points to consider concerning how we welcome a new pastor and treat him after he’s been with us a while: 
 
DON’T PUT TRADITIONS ABOVE RELATIONSHIP:  There should be no sacred cows we hold onto.
DON’T EXPECT A TRANSFORMATION OVERNIGHT:  A new pastor needs time to adjust to our culture, traditions, history.  He needs to find his own path.
GIVE HIM SOME SLACK:  Allow him to make mistakes.  Let him test the waters.  It’s okay to experiment and try new things.  That’s why we hired him. 
COMMIT TO PRAY FOR HIM AND HIS FAMILY: They’re in a new situation – a strange town – facing new challenges like finding doctors, shopping, health insurance, registering their car – finding his role in the community and with his fellow pastors. 
DON’T TALK TOO MUCH ABOUT PREVIOUS PASTORS: Give him a chance to develop his own legacy without being in someone else’s shadow. 
PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR PROTECTION: The devil’s not happy about having a “new sheriff” in town. 
ALWAYS BE LOVING AND HOSPITABLE: When the newness wears off, we should still show him and his family our appreciation by word and deed.
SUPPORT HIM FINANCIALLY: the workman is worthy of his hire. 
PROTECT OUR PASTOR: Don’t let gossip or a bad report take hold.  Treat him in a loving, open-minded way.  “Love thinks no evil, rejoices  not in iniquity, and bears all things.” 1 Corinthians 13.  And if there’s an issue, try to resolve one-on-one.  Follow the admonition in Matthew 18:15-17.  
GIVE HIS WIFE TIME TO DETERMINE HER ROLE:  Let’s not put expectations on her but see how God reveals the ministry she is to follow. 
DON’T PUT UNDUE EXPECTATIONS ON HIS CHILDREN: We shouldn’t expect anything more of them than we do of our own children. 
WE NEED TO REMEMBER OUR ROLE AS WELL AS THE PASTOR’S: We’re in this boat together.  (Ephesians 4:12-14).


Daniel

In Daniel 6 we encounter the story of Daniel and the Lions Den. Because it’s so familiar, we often relegate it to a children’s Sunday School lesson rather than an actual account of a servant and prophet of God with relevant instruction for us today.

Daniel was exiled to Babylon along with others when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon conquered Jerusalem. Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were four young men chosen to serve in the king’s royal service.  In chapter 3, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were thrown into the fiery furnace for their unwillingness to bow and pray to a golden statue erected by the king.  The three were of course rescued by God.  The four were men of conviction.

Daniel would later be promoted to the position of an administrator in King Darius’ kingdom and, because he was described as “faithful, always responsible, and completely trustworthy” (Daniel 6:4 NLT), Darius planned to place him in charge of the entire empire.  Are we regarded in that way?

The other administrators and officers were jealous and used flattery to convince Darius to sign a law where no one could pray to anyone but him or the consequence would be to be thrown into the den of lions.

Daniel displays conviction by simply continuing to do what he had always done; praying to God privately in his upper room.  With the trap set with a signed law that could not be rescinded, Darius is left with no choice but to have Daniel cast into the den of lions.  God sends an angel to shut the lions’ mouths and Daniel lives but those who maliciously accused him were not so fortunate and were thrown to the lions along with their families. 

Jealousy is defined by Merriam/Webster as “hostile toward a rival or one believed to enjoy an advantage.”  Jealousy and envy show up in things we say and how we talk about others. 

James 3:6-18 (NIV) talks about the tongue as a “fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body” and being “full of deadly poison”. 

We “praise our Lord and Father, and with it curse human beings who have been made in God’s likeness….this should not be.”  Proverbs 14:30 (NIV)- “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”

We are reminded (Psalm 91:1 , 9-12) that as with Daniel in the den of lions the Lord orders his angels to protect us as we live in the shelter of the Most High and we make Him our refuge.

The Lord is challenging us to be people of character and conviction who set aside jealousy and put a renewed trust in Him. 



Change: Joshua 1;1-18

Mark Twain is quoted as saying “The only person who likes change is a wet baby.”  Someone else said “Change is movement and movement means friction.”  The ‘rub’ in chosen or unexpected change is that it usually involves loss and loss is difficult.  Without change there is not spiritual growth.  The Bible is a long story of change and bears plenty of wisdom on how to handle it.  When the Lord told Joshua to lead the people into the promise land, he gave these instructions.  Focus on the future and not on the past.  God, who never changes, promises to always be with them.  God en-courages us and commands us to be strong.  No matter how difficult the change, be a person of the Word willing to obey all of it.  When possible, be ready for the change that is coming.  Don’t go it alone, help the one next to you as you navigate unchartered waters and they will in turn help you.



Recognizing the time of His coming

When Jesus came into Jerusalem riding on a donkey he was fulfilling a prophetic word spoken 500 years ealier “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!  See, your King comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”  His kingship speaks of position.  His righteousness speaks of His character.  Salvation speaks of his purpose and gentle speaks of the attitude of His heart.  Are you subject to this King?  Do you reflect the same character of righteousness?  Are you a messenger of the gospel?  Do you display the necessary attitude of heart….humility?  He is calling you to be like Him!



Failure’s Answer

Mark 9:14-31

Matthew, Mark and Luke contain the story of the young boy possessed by a demon.  Can you imagine being a parent of a boy that could not hear or speak, would go into convulsions, clench his teeth, foam at the mouth, go rigid into seizures, be in constant danger of death by being thrown into the fire or into the water to drown?  Imagine trying to shop, attend functions or even trying to get a good night sleep.  The disciples had been asked by the desperate father but failed to set the boy free.  Jesus arrived on the scene, learned what had taken place, shared his disappointment, called the boy to himself, commanded the spirit to leave and never return and gave the child back to his father.  In a private moment the disciples, who had previously been successful, asked “Why couldn’t we cast it out?”  Jesus answered that this type of exorcism required faith maintained in an attitude of prayer.  Those who want the Lord to work powerfully through them must ever be in communion with the Source through prayer.  Do you?  Will you?



Pathway to power: Mt. 7:13-28

Right after Jesus taught his series on the beatitudes, he healed a man of leprosy.  The gospel is to be expressed both with words and with power.  Jesus declared and demonstrated the Kingdom of God while on earth.   He expected the same for his disciples.  Jesus promised “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” John 14:12-13  We are not meant to chase after signs and wonders.  They are supposed to follow us in confirming God’s Word.  Why is it that the church today lack in the demonstrations of the Spirit?  If we take a closer look at chapters 5 thru 7 you will find the overriding theme is one of humility.  Jesus was most humble and his Father chose to exalt Him.  We may want the power but how many of us want the necessary quality of true humility to demonstrate that power?



The “sex talk”

God outlines very specific sexual boundaries in Leviticus 18 and the punishments for crossing those lines in Leviticus 20.  God’s will is that sexual pleasure would be contained between one man and one women bound in a covenantal marriage for life.  Anything outside of that leads to death.  We are presently living in an over-sexualized society and the brokenness reveals itself in the daily news.  The latest tragedy involves a Doctor Nasser who molested over 250 young girls in the past.  In Proverb 5, Solomon gave his son wise counsel in this crucial area of life.  Stay as far away from the adulteress women and I would add, any questionable pop-ups on your computer, any suggestive pictures, any flirting with an office worker, etc.  His second advise to his son was to fully enjoy sexual intimacy with his wife and remain captivated by her alone.  Perhaps the best of all advise was to remind his son that the Lord’s watchful eyes are always upon him and to make choices in keeping with His will.  The world is looking for love in all the wrong places.  As Christians, let’s lead in this pathway of joy and be prepared to share why the Lord’s ways bring life.



The Basis of Every Good Relationship

Ecc.3:9-12 speaks of how two are better than one and how a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.  The author is talking about relationships and ties in (pardon the pun) the idea of a braided three-strand cord.  Science proves that if two strands can each carry ten pounds before breaking, they will carry more than twenty pounds together.  In other words the math works in their favor.  Two oxen working together in unison will far outpull their combined individual capacity.  Relationships are crucial to the Kingdom and the only way to have great relationships with others is to have a very tightly fitted relationship with the Lord Jesus.  You may know doctrinally that God loves you but ask the question “How are things, really, between you and me Lord?” and let him love you more before you try it on anyone else.



Anticipation

With the Christmas season, comes much anticipation.  People expect to be with family, travel out, give and receive gifts, having meals together and a host of other things.  The Jewish nation had long anticipated the arrival of a Messiah because they had received over 300 prophetic messages pointing to his first coming.  Micah 5:8 speaks of the ‘watchtower of the flock’ and had been interpreted by one rabbi as “the place where king Messiah will reveal Himself at the end of days.”  Interestingly, under the tower Migdal Eder which was located between Bethlehem and Jerusalem was the special birthing place of paschal lambs to be sacrificed under the old covenant.  When these lambs were birthed, they would be swaddled in cloths and placed in a manger to constrain them until “they settled down” so that they would not bruise or harm themselves to be “without defect” as the law required.  Amazingly, Jesus was birthed, swaddled and placed in that manger as the Lamb of God without defect.  When the shepherds received the news of Jesus being born, they would have known exactly where to find him as this location was well known them.  The same God that attends to such fine details does nothing less for you and me!  Anticipate God’s love to be expressed towards you today.



The Seeing Go Blind -The Blind See

John chapter 9 is a about a man who was blind from birth healed to see on a Sabbath day.  The pharisees question him but never connect the dots that Jesus is indeed the Messiah.  Part of the messianic expectation was that deaf ears would hear and blind eyes would see (Is. 29:18, 35:5, 42:6-7) yet that escaped the Jewish leadership.  On the other hand, take a look at the progression of faith of the healed man ousted from the temple.   He starts in vs. 11 by stating his name ‘Jesus’, upon further questioning, declares him a  prophet, piecing more together he says in vs. 33 ‘one from God’, then Jesus reveals himself as ‘Son of God’, and finally he responds in vs 38 ‘I believe and worships’.  Lord, we give you our stubborn hearts.  Help us to see You today!