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.
There is a badly mistaken idea held by many that when a person is working for the Lord they will receive encouragement and everything will go their way. I even felt like that back in the early eighties when I entered the ministry. I mean, it makes sense doesn’t it? If you are doing the Lord’s work everything is going to go your way, right? Not hardly.
Instead, when you determine to go into the ministry, you need to know from the get-go that it will be tough. And why is this? It’s because of this guy or object or thing named Satan. Satan does not want one more person to believe in the Lord. Satan doesn’t want one more dollar to be given to the Lord’s work. Satan doesn’t want one more person to go into Christian ministry.
If you are trying to learn more about Christ or do more for Christ, you will experience opposition from Satan. Paul talked about this in II Thessalonians 3:2-3 when he said, “Pray, too, that we will be rescued from wicked and evil people, for not everyone is a believer. But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.” Paul is acknowledging there are wicked people who oppose him but notice he says “But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.”
Paul tells us that the Lord will give us strength and protect us from the devil. So, are you experiencing opposition? Is someone giving you a hard time in doing the work of the Lord? Is someone discouraging you? Don’t let it get you down. The Lord has assured us that we will experience adversity but He has also promised us that He will give us strength.
Hang in there Christian and Christian worker! Remember; “Quitters never win and winners never quit!”
We are living in a time when many Christian people evidently do not see the importance of worship attendance. Most churches are experiencing a decline in worship attendance. Why is this?
There is a variety of reasons but the main one, I think, is that many Christians do not see the importance of weekly worship. In fact, the definition for being considered “active” in a church is attending worship once a month.
Think about that… a person can drop in for worship once every four weeks and they are considered “active.” Once a month! Let’s imagine you went to work one day a week? What would happen? You’d get fired and you should!
But why is worship so important? There are several reasons.
One is, when we worship, we are acknowledging the existence of Jehovah God. When we take time to worship, by our attendance, we are saying we believe that God exists.
Second, man needs to worship. In the book of Genesis, the Bible says God created everything. On the seventh day, the Bible says God rested. In doing that, God was saying that man needs a Sabbath day of rest and worship. God made us… God knows what makes us tick. Man needs to worship because man has a soul… unlike animal life.
Third, when we love something… I mean LOVE something, it becomes the priority of our lives. In Psalm 84:1 the Psalmist said, “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of Heaven’s Armies.I long, yes, I faint with longing…” The Psalmist LOVED to worship God. As Christians we should be the same. Worship attendance should not be something we HAVE to do; we should WANT to do it.
If you are a Christian and you are not worshiping as often as you once did, I encourage you to renew commitment. Make worship a priority. Man needs to worship Jesus Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.