It’s the first day of October.
The leaves are changing.
The air has been a little cooler.
I absolutely LOVE this time of year.
But in a about a month, maybe a little longer, the leaves will be gone. Gone for another year. But, for a few weeks, they will be beautiful.
The prophet Isaiah said, “Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind” (Isa. 64:6)
Think about that verse; “Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall… and our sins sweep us away.”
We are human and we are sinners and our sins have the potential to sweep us away.
Think about someone addicted to drugs or alcohol… their sins, their addiction can sweep them away.
Think about the person who has lived a very wild life sexually.. their sins can sweep them away.
Think about the family that has been torn apart… children can be swept away.
But none of this has to happen. The Lord loves us and will forgive us.
Are you in the midst of a time when yours sins are trying to sweep you away or, sweep away things or people you love? It does not have to happen. Please understand; it may not be easy but the Lord can keep us from being swept away.
Country musician Randy Travis sang, “The storms of life are washing me away.” The storms can wash us away but they don’t have to. Jesus Christ calms the storms in our lives. He speaks and the winds stop. He can keep us from being blown away. Make sure you are anchored to the Lord.
We live in a “what’s in it for me?” world. Sacrifice is not something many are interested in. A scene from “Remember The Titans” affirms that.
Last night, I was watching that movie for the millionth time. There is a scene during the time when the team is in pre-season camp where Julius and Berteer (sp?) are talkimg about team.
Julius says, “Why are you talking about team, you need to get your white boys to block for Peetie.”
Then Julius says, “There ain’t no team… because of that, I’m gonna get mine… I’m looking out for myself.”
Julius was frustrated and rightfully so… and because of that, Julius was looking our for Julius. There are lots of people like that… looking out for themselves. They aren’t interested in “team” or making a small sacrifice; they are looking out for themselves.
The apostle Paul addressed this in the book of Philippians. Paul wrote, “Don’t look out for only your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”
What about you? Are you a “what’s in it for me?” person? All of us have some of that in us. We are human. We are selfish by nature. We have to ask the Holy Spirit to help us have a spirit of sacrifice.
Our church and many other churches like us need this spirit. When I’m talking with people about FBC Emerson I tell them, “Our church can’t do much for you right now; we need you to join with us in revitalizing the church.” As you can imagine, that’s not a popular sales pitch. Most folks aren’t interested in helping a church.. they want to know what the church can do for them.
If we are going to be like Christ, we must be willing to sacrifice some. Paul said it clearly; “Don’t look out for only your own interests…” Don’t be like Julius… “I’m gonna get my own.” The church is a group of people working together for the glory of God. We pick one another up. We work alongside one another. We give up our chair to make room for others. We volunteer to serve even when we will miss our Sunday School class. We serve as greeters even on Sundays when it’s raining. We serve in the nursery.. getting on the floor with kids so their families can worship. That’s the spirit needed in every church. Not ‘what’s in it for me”” but, setting our interests aside and working together for the whole body… the church.
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There are times in our lives that we pray and it seems like we are getting no response from God. And, there are times when we pray and God says “no.” So, why does this happen?
There are several reasons but one of them is, there may be un-confessed sin in our lives. Isaiah 59:2 says “It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore.”
That’s a STRONG verse. “It’s your sins that have cut you off from God…” Isaiah is saying that, if our prayers are unanswered, it may be because we have un-confessed in our lives. I dealt with this in my message yesterday.
Noted author Chuck Swindoll tweeted this last week; “When we refuse to deal with our sins, our prayers are worth zilch.” He cited Psalms 66:18 which reads, “If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear.”
So, is their unconfessed sin in your heart? There shouldn’t be. If there is, confess it… get it out of your system.
You may be thinking; “I have some BAD un-confessed sin.. I don’t think God will forgive me.” I ASSURE you that’s not true. There is NOTHING God won’t forgive us.
Nope… not one thing.
Now, this doesn’t mean we may not pay the penalty if our sins were a crime. Someone may serve jail time or be sentenced to prison or even sentenced to capital punishment. But, even though they face these things, they can still be forgiven.
So, today… if your prayer life is not what you think it should be… ask the Lord to examine your heart. There may be some un-confessed sin there. If there is, confess it and trust the Lord to forgive it.
I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Experience the Lord’s forgiveness today.
We are living a sea of change. Apple recently announced a new iphone that has a program that allows you pay your bills using your iphone. That’s pretty neat
In addition to that, we can see people when we are talking with them using facetime or skype. Today, thousands of people will stream college football games to their mobile devices. I LOVE technology and all of that excites me.
With all this change taking place, it will naturally affect the church, correct? It should. Most of the churches that are growing are churches that have embraced the latest technology or the latest change as opposed to fighting it.
When confronted with the change in our modern times, someone will say, “that Bible doesn’t change!” And they are right; the Bible does not change. Our message remains the same; Jesus Christ, the Son of God gave His life on the cross of Calvary to die for the sins of mankind. Jesus loves everyone and will forgive everyone if they will repent and ask forgiveness of their sins.
THAT is our message. That’s what we are about. That message never changes but the way we get it out may change.
Let’s embrace the change… change is not a bad thing… but remember our roots. Isaiah 51:1 says, ““Listen to me, all who hope for deliverance— all who seek the Lord! Consider the rock from which you were cut,the quarry from which you were mine.”
So, we should never forsake our roots. Remember the rock from which we were cut… that rock is the Bible… that rock is the saving grace of Jesus… That’s our rock. The world changes and we embrace the change… we use the change.. but our message never does… “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son; that whosoever believes in Him would not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
In a sea of change, that’s the message that doesn’t change.
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Last night, I watched the New York Yankees play the Baltimore Orioles in what was Derek Jeter’s last game at Yankee Stadium. As you can imagine, it was a very emotional game.
Every time Jeter came to the plate, it seemed that everyone in the stadium was watching him. Every play he made on defense was celebrated. The camera’s stayed on him a lot throughout the game.
In the top of the eighth inning, the Oriole’s were making a pitching change and the crowd was chanting loudly “DER-EK JE-TER! DER-EK JETER!” Jeter, doffed his cap to the crowd acknowledging their cheer.
As I listened to the cheer and watched Jeter, I couldn’t help but draw a spiritual comparison.
Jeter was playing his last game at Yankee Stadium. He’s been a great Major Leaguer and is a sure Hall of Famer and the cheering was acknowledging that.
As I watched Jeter, I thought about the text in Hebrews 12: which reads “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us…” I can envision a Christian.. a Minister… serving the Lord faithfully. Many Sundays they taught just a handful in Sunday School. Many Sundays, the crowd was low when they preached or sang. Many times they went to the hospital to visit a family that was hurting. Then, as they enter the latter years of their life, the great cloud of witnesses begin calling their name.
The great cloud of witnesses is cheering them on. The Christian or the Minister, didn’t play in Yankee Stadium. They may have spent all their life in a small country church. They were not on TV. They never spoke at a big conference. They never received an award from the denomination.
But they were faithful. And now, the great cloud of witnesses is cheering them on!
Christian, you may think no one notices and at times, people may not notice. Christian singer, you may sing a solo before a church that doesn’t have a smile on their face. Christian Minister, you may have prepared a message, went to church and preached to one of the smallest crowds you’ve ever faced. You may think no one cares.
But the Lord does. The great cloud of witnesses care.
Listen… you hear the cheer? There are calling your name. They are cheering for you!
You were faithful, Christian; that’s what the Lord wants!
Years ago, Mac Davis wrote a song that went;
“Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble,
When you’re perfect in every way.”
You probably are familiar with the rest of the lyrics. The song was a fun song to sing along with and, the fact is, humility can be difficult but, it is the key to the Christian life.
The apostle Paul challenged us to “Always be humble and gentle.”
In order for a person to become a Christian, they have to humble themselves. They have to humble themselves and repent. They have to humble themselves and ask Jesus to come into their life. They have to humble themselves and admit, they don’t have all the answers.
Our model in humility is none other than our Lord Jesus. In the book of Philippians, the apostle Paul tells us that Jesus “humbled Himself to the point of death, even death on a cross”(Phil. 2:8).
Maybe you are struggling with humility. Maybe you have a hard time asking for help. Maybe you have a new project you are working on and you are stumped, but you don’t want to admit it. Pride is keeping you from admitting it. Maybe you have made some mistakes in your marriage and you are having a difficult time admitting it.
Today, follow Paul’a advice; be humble and gentle.” Jesus was and He provides a model for us.
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All of us have made mistakes. And, when we make mistakes, the Bible says our loving Lord will forgive us if we confess our sins to God. But even though our sins are forgiven, the devil can continually remind us of them.
Maybe you see someone and just that the sight of that person reminds you of a mistake you made. Maybe you read something or listen to a song or you see a scene on tv or in a movie… it could be a number of things… but events or people can remind us of our past mistakes. We have long since asked forgiveness of a particular sin but, the devil brings it back to mind. What do we do then?
We remember that God has forgiven us AND… God says, He will never think of them again. Isaiah 43:25 says, ““I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake
and will never think of them again.”
I LOVE that verse. God says He will forgive us our sins AND… never think of them again. What a GREAT promise.
Now let’s be honest; people can be cruel. Can be unforgiving. Oh, someone may say “I forgive you..” but every time you see them they remind you of the past.
You know everyone has made mistakes. There ain’t no perfect people, folks. There was only one (Jesus) and they crucified Him. So, we all need to not only forgive… but FORGET. If God can FORGET, surely we can.
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