Have you ever been deserted? No, I’m not talking about on a deserted island. You can be deserted in the middle of a shopping mall… surrounded by people.
Lots of people have been deserted. I’ve been deserted and my guess is, someone reading this has experienced that as well. Being deserted by people means losing a friend. It means someone bailing out on you when you needed them to stand by you. It means a friend… or at least, someone you thought was a friend, not being there for you in a time of need.
Being deserted… well… it drinks through a straw… to borrow a phrase my wife uses at times. But it happens and, it may happen again. I don’t mean to be pessimistic or anything but it’s true. My Dad used to say, “People will be people”… in other words, you can’t always trust people.
The apostle Paul had the same experience. Paul said in II Timothy 1:15 “As you know, everyone from the province of Asia has deserted me.”
So, when you are deserted, what do you do?
Know that even though people will let you down, God never will.
Try, try, try to keep your eyes on the Lord. This will be hard because everything in you wants to focus on the person or people who deserted you. Yes, it hurts. It may stink! You were wronged! But, with the Lord’s help put your focus on Jesus and try to walk away. It’s not going to do any good to dwell on it. It will NOT get any better… so walk away… with your eyes on the Lord.
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Do you have a clear conscience?
Lots of people don’t. Many, many people go through life with a guilty conscience because of a mistake they made, at times, years ago.
In our text, the apostle Paul told Timothy, “I thank God for you – the God I serve with a clear conscience.” So, Paul said he had a clear conscience. But, before he became Paul, he was Saul and he was persecuting Christians. Yet, years later, in spite of what he had done to early Christians, Paul could say “I have a clear conscience.” How could Paul say that? It was because Paul had asked Christ into his heart and his sins were forgiven and his life was changed.
If you have asked Jesus to forgive you of your sins, you too, can have a clear conscience. Even though you made a bad mistake? Yep. If you have asked forgiveness of your sins, your conscience can be clear.
So, if you have been living with a guilty conscience, you don’t have to. If there is some action you need to take, to clear up a wrong done, then do it. If you’ve done everything you are supposed to do, then move on. Rest in the forgiveness of the Lord.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “A good conscience is a continual Christmas. Today, ask the Lord for forgiveness and with a good conscience, move forward.
Twenty-two years ago today, the Lord gave us a beautiful-brown eyed girl, that we named “Sarah Alice.” Robert suggested the name “Sarah” and she was given the middle name “Alice” after her Mom, Holli Alice. Sarah was greeted by two brothers, Robert and Will.
For twenty-two years, Sarah Alice has brought lots of joy to our family. My mind goes back to taking her to dance, gymnastics, basketball and softball practice and piano lessons. From the beginning, Sarah LOVED to cheer. Her Mom says she didn’t care for softball much until she realized there were dug-out cheers! :)
One of my favorite memories of Sarah was when she was nine years old. I had planned a few surprises for her Mom on her fortieth birthday and one of them was Sarah singing “Thank You” by Ray Boltz. I can still see her and hear her beautiful little voice. There weren’t many dry eyes in church that day.
Today, Sarah Alice is becoming a young woman. She has one year remaining at Kennessaw State. One of the things that I am proudest of her for, is her faith in the Lord. Sarah loves her church and is very active. For years, she attended the Passion conference which is a conference for college-students. Sarah always looked forward to this.
Several years ago, Sarah baby-sat quite a bit for Jennifer Campbell in Dallas. Jennifer and her Mom, Brenda Hillhouse, really trusted Sarah… so much that Sarah was sent on errands and took the kids with her. When I learned that she did this, I knew this family trusted her very much.
Sarah Alice, your Mom and I are very proud of you. You are a beautiful girl inside and out! Love you, baby girl. Huggy hug; Kissy Kiss!
People like to impress us with the people they know. They may say, “Oh I know them; I have their phone number.” You are astonished thinking, “You must be a pretty important person, if you have their phone number.”
Well, all of us know God’s phone number. That’s right; the sovereign God of the universe. The one spoke and everything that exists came into order. We know him. His phone number is Jeremiah 33:3 which reads; “Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.” God gives us His number and encourages us to call. God says, “I will tell you great and mighty things.”
Maybe there is something weighing on your mind this morning. A decision you’ve got to make… a person you feel like you need to talk to. And you are struggling with both. You don’t like confrontation so you are kind of dreading talking to the person and you can’t seem to get direction for the decision. God says, “Call me… let’s talk.”
This morning, the sovereign God of the universe wants to talk wit you. He’s given you his number. Call him… He wants to tell us great and mighty things.
Have you ever played “the blame game?” If you are like most humans, you have. Everyone has a tendency to want to blame others when things go wrong for them.
Maybe you’ve blamed your home. Perhaps your home-life wasn’t the best and all your life, you have blamed your Dad or your Mom for failures in your life. Or, maybe you went through a divorce and you are still blaming it. Or maybe you took a hit financially and you are still blaming some person or event.
Let’s be clear; You may have had a tough home-life; you may have gotten the wind knocked out of you by a divorce; someone may have mis-treated you or lied to you financially. And, if any of those things happened, it was wrong. You had a right to feel better. But… you need to move one.. we all need to move on.
The face is, each one of us are responsible for our own sins. The prophet Jeremiah once said, “…but their children’s mouths pucker at the taste.’ All people will die for their own sins—those who eat the sour grapes will be the ones whose mouths will pucker.” Notice Jeremiah said “all people will die for their OWN sins.” That means we are responsible for our lives.
There is an old quote that deals with personal responsibility; “Every tub must sit on it’s own bottom.”
Today, if you have been playing the blame game, please stop. Decide today, with the help of the Lord, that you will take responsibility for your life. There is an old song that goes;
“It’s not my mother, not my father but it’s me O Lord,
Standing in the need of prayer.”
We are each responsible for our own lives. Start today taking responsibility and begin moving forward.
Have you ever heard of something known as “Calvinism?”
Some of you may be thinking, “I’ve heard of the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes.” Is that what “Calvinism” is about? No, but I wish it were that simple. Calvinism is a system of theology that was taught by a theologian named John Calvin. Calvin’s theology is summed up in the acrostic TULIP.
TULIP stands for;
T – total depravity of man.
U – Unconditional Election
L – Limited Atonement
I – Irresistable Grace
P – Perseverance of the saints.
I believe in two of those… I believe in the total depravity of man and the perseverance of the saints. But, I do not believe in unconditional election, limited atonement or irresistible grace.
In the book of I Timothy, the apostle Paul said, “This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth” (I Timothy 2:3-4). Notice that Paul said God “…wants EVERYONE to be saved. It is God’s desire that all men believe in His Son in Jesus. But, all men do not believe, do they? And why don’t they? It is because God gave man a free will. Man can choose NOT to believe in Christ.
I have friends who are Calvinists. I love them and enjoy fellowship with them but on this, we disagree as Christian brothers. And, someone could look at my resume and see that I graduated from Reformed Theological Seminary in Clinton. Reformed is a Presbyterian Seminary and the Presbyterian Church teaches predestination. But I do not agree with that doctrine. I attended Reformed because it was relatively close to where I was living at the time and has a reputation as a good school.
God wants all men to be saved. Our job is not to argue about whose chosen and whose not but to share the gospel with all men and give them the opportunity receive Christ or reject Christ.
When things look bad, it can be hard to have hope. We know we should have hope, but it can be a challenge.
The nation of Israel had disobeyed God. And, prophet after prophet after prophet after prophet, had warned them. They could not say “we didn’t know!” Now, they were about to be punished; they were going into exile. So, it’s over for them, right? They are getting what they should get. They had disobeyed for years now, they would be punished.
But then, the Lord says to them, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer. 29:11) God was reminding Israel that even though they had disobeyed him and were about to be punished, there was still hope. God says, “I have great plans for you… plans for good and not for bad… to give you a future and a hope.”
That verse is one of my favorites in the Bible. Just as that verse applied to Israel, it applies to us as well. Maybe you have made a mistake and you think it’s over. You can’t get up from this one. God says, “I have plans for you.” Maybe you have just gone through a divorce and you feel there is no hope.
Now, that’s not to say that your situation will improve over night. It may take some time but, God has not forgotten you and God loves you.
Several years ago, when I was a Pastor on the coast, I met a man who had gone through bankruptcy once. The man was doing fairly well. He had a nice home and was pressing on. I asked him one day how he survived. I mean, bankruptcy could just squash a man’s hopes. He said, “I never stopped going.” What he meant was, when he declared bankruptcy, he didn’t sit on his porch and dwell on the past. He never stopped. He kept moving forward.
I don’t know what you are facing today. Maybe you’ve made a mistake of gargantuan proportions. Maybe you feel like your name has been put on the front of the paper with the heading “GREATEST FAILURE IN HISTORY.” Whatever is going in your life, God knows and yes, God still loves you and God will help you move on.