A&D Biker Ministries "Growing the Kingdom of God . . . one Biker at a time"
June 3, 2023
Summer in the Psalms
“Disciples of Christ That Don’t Get Blown Away”
Grab your Bible, electronic or hard copy, and turn with me to Psalm 1. We are beginning tonight a new sermon series for the summer . . . and it’s going to be in the Old Testament book of Psalms.
Now, some of you may already be checking out, or at least thinking, “What am I going to get out of this? Isn’t the Psalms just a book of poetry or a hymnbook? How does that help me with my daily life? I need something more practical.”
Think of the Psalms as a book of practical poetry. It is for artists and engineers; for musicians and military; for creative thinkers and for concrete thinkers. The Psalms are for you!
Later on, we’ll talk about some of the structure and features of the Psalms, but tonight I want to just jump in with Psalm 1 . . . which is viewed by a lot of theologians / scholars as an introduction to the entire book of Psalms.
Psalm 1 (ESV)
1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law (Word) of the Lord, and on his law (Word) he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. 4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; 6 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
We can think of Psalm 1 as a song, with three stanzas and a coda:
The First Stanza, verses. 1-2, talks about The Posture of the Pilgrim.
Psalm 1 (ESV)
1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law (Word) of the Lord, and on his law (Word) he meditates day and night.
A pilgrim is someone who is on a journey, usually for religious purposes. The Psalmist is going to give us some guidance for how we can be blessed on this journey, this pilgrimage, of life in Jesus. In the Hebrew language, the word “blessed” is actually plural, so you could say, “Blessings on top of blessings” awaits the person who . . .”
Doesn’t WALK in the Counsel of the Ungodly.
Psalm 1 (ESV)
1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked . . .
If someone said to you, “How is your walk with the Lord?” - you’d know what they meant. In Ephesians 4:1 Paul says that we are to walk in a manner worthy of our calling to be a Christian. The invitation Jesus gives to us is to “follow him.” So, we have a choice:
We can either “walk with the wise and become wise” as it says in Proverbs 13:20, or we can walk in the counsel of the wicked / ungodly.
Verse 1 makes us ask the question, “Who am I listening to? Who am I influenced by? Who do I get advice from?”
Does this mean that we should only go to Christian doctors, or only have Christian friends, or shop at Christian businesses? Should our kids and grandkids only go to a Christian school and only consider a Christian college? Not necessarily. But, please do understand that the foundation of our worldview is our relationship with Jesus. There isn’t an area of our lives that the Lordship of Jesus won’t profoundly influence. Verse 1 says the man who doesn’t “walk in the counsel of the ungodly” is blessed!
The posture of the pilgrim begins with NOT walking in the counsel of the wicked / ungodly. The promise of “blessings on top of blessings” in Christ continues, for the person who . . .
Doesn’t STAND in the Way of Sinners.
Psalm 1 (ESV)
1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners . . .
If “walk” is about how we live, then “stand” is about how we fight against sin, wickedness and evil. Paul wrote to the Ephesians and said . . .
Ephesians 6:13-14 (ESV)
13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day,
Again, If someone said to you, “What do you stand for?” - you would understand exactly what they meant. What do you believe in? What do you fight for? And what do you fight against?
The Psalmist says we are blessed if we don’t “stand in the way of” (which means to stand with) sinners. “Standing in the way of sinners” means that I line myself up in opposition to God’s rule and plan for our lives. So, there are blessings on top of blessings for the one who doesn’t “stand with sinners.” Now, I want to be careful here because I think this is a place where I could be misunderstood. Are we supposed to reject sinful people? NO! We are to show the love of Jesus to ALL people, especially sinners, because we ourselves are sinners saved by God’s grace. Paul said “Christ died to save sinners, of whom I am the worst” (1 Timothy 1:15). We are not to reject sinful people, but we are to reject sinful practices.
The promise of blessings on top of blessings is for the pilgrim (disciple of Christ) who does NOT walk in the counsel of the wicked / who does NOT stand in the way of sinners, and who . . .
Doesn’t SIT in the Seat of Scoffers.
Psalm 1 (ESV)
1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
The last posture verse 1 talks about is sitting. If walking is about how we live, and standing is about how we fight, then think of “sitting” as being about where we rest.
The Psalmist says “Blessed is the man who does not sit in the seat of scoffers.” What is a scoffer? A scoffer is someone one who mocks, who tears down instead of building up. Scoffers are perpetually cynical and sarcastic. To “sit in the seat of scoffers” means that you are the most comfortable with cynicism and sarcasm. Is your resting position with those who mock / tear down instead of building up?
Ok. What’s the alternative? Look at verse 2 . . .
2 but his delight is in the law (Word) of the Lord, and on his law (Word) he meditates day and night.
The alternative is to delight in the law (Word) of God. Who delights in the law? This week, I asked a cop friend of mine, “Have you ever stopped someone for speeding, and when you told them they were going 70 mph in a 45 mph zone, did they say, ‘Oh, the speed limit is 45? That’s delightful!’” Of course NOT. It isn’t natural for us to take pleasure in following God. Even though God created us to enjoy him forever, sin has corrupted our desires so that “delighting in the law of the Lord” doesn’t feel natural to us.
Did you notice my references in this sermon from the book of Ephesians? There is a reason for that.
Nee Tuosheng was born in 1903. His mother was a Methodist convert to Jesus Christ, and Nee also came to faith in Jesus. He felt God’s call to pastor in the Chinese church. He legally changed his name to Watchman Nee . . . because he felt so strongly that his purpose was to “call out to people to avoid the darkness of sin and give their lives to Christ while there is time.”
When the Communist revolution swept over China in 1949, Watchman Nee was sent to prison, and he died in a Chinese labor camp in 1972.
He wrote a commentary on the book of Ephesians called “Sit, Walk, Stand.” It is an amazing little book. It’s only 90 pages, and you can read it in a weekend.
Here’s what he wrote in his commentary on the book of Ephesians:
“The Christian life consists of sitting with Christ, walking by Him and standing in Him. We begin our spiritual life by resting in the finished work of the Lord Jesus. That rest is the source of our strength for a consistent and unfaltering walk in the world. And at the end of a grueling warfare with the hosts of darkness we are found standing with Him at last in triumphant possession of the field.” - Watchman Nee -
Did you notice that his “Sit, Walk, Stand” is the opposite order of Psalm 1?
In Psalm 1, the ungodly walk, then stand, then sit. But Watchman Nee saw in Ephesians that the Christian begins by sitting (resting the finished work of Christ). He points out Ephesians 2 . . .
Ephesians 2:4-6 (ESV)
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved - 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus . . .
Once we are seated with Christ, then we can begin our walk with him. Just a few verses after this, check out Ephesians 2:10 . . .
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
It’s only through following Jesus, walking with him, that we know what to stand for. Otherwise, we stand for the wrong things and we wind up falling for anything.
So to sum up, the posture of the pilgrim is seated with Christ instead of seated with the scoffers; walking as children of light instead of in the counsel of the ungodly, and standing against the evil one instead of in the way of sinners. We do this by delighting in the law (Word) of the Lord. Meditating on God’s law day and night.
Let’s look now at the promises God makes to the one who delights in his law, and meditates on it day and night . . .
The Second Stanza, verse. 3, talks about The Promises to “the Planted.”
3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
There are three promises the Lord makes to the one who is in Christ:
1. Permanence: “He is like a tree planted by streams of water.” Even though a tree doesn’t live forever, it’s the closest thing we have on earth to something being permanent. In Israel, an olive tree in the garden of Gethsemane that is over 2,000 years old. That means it would have been there when Jesus was praying in the garden! Psalm 1 says that the man who delights in the law of the lord is like that tree.
2. Productivity: “that yields its fruit in season.” This is a productivity that trusts in God’s timing. As Ecclesiastes 3 says, “. . . there is a season to everything.”
3. Prosperity: Please don’t misunderstand me here. This word prosperity has been so corrupted by false prosperity gospel that we’re scared to talk about what the Bible teaches on the prosperity of the believer. But, the Bible teaches that those who are rooted and established in God’s Word, as Psalm 1 describes it, will prosper in all they do.
Deuteronomy 29:9 (ESV)
Therefore keep the words of this covenant and do them, that you may prosper in all that you do.
1 Chronicles 22:13 (ESV)
Then you will prosper if you are careful to observe the statutes and the rules that the LORD commanded Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Fear not; do not be dismayed.
I believe this means that things generally have a way of working out for the good, for those who love God and are called according to his purpose. If that sounds naïve to you, then realize that I didn’t come up with it. It is a promise from God’s Word!
The Third Stanza, verses 4-5, is all about WARNING TO THE WICKED.
4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
Just as there are promises for the planted, there are warnings for the wicked: Verses 4-5.
The wicked are warned that they will have . . . Instability in this world (v. 4). They are like chaff which the wind blows away. “The wind” is going to blow against the wicked and the righteous. The rain will fall on both the just and the unjust.
The question we have to ask ourselves is, when the testing time comes, will the chaff be blown away, or will WE be blown away? But, the wicked will be blown away when the wind comes. They have NO stability in the world.
Really think about this. It’s the title of the sermon - Disciples of Christ That Don’t Get Blown Away.
The wicked will also have . . . Insecurity for the next world (v. 5). We all WILL stand before God one day. What are YOU basing YOUR security on when you do?
Now to the coda (concluding part) of Psalm 1 . . .
The Coda, (v. 6), is about The Care of the Creator.
6 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
The Lord knows / has intimate knowledge of the way of the righteous.
Psalm 37:18 (ESV)
I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul,
Psalm 69:19 (ESV)
O God, you know my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.
Psalm 94:11 (ESV)
The LORD - knows the thoughts of man, that they are but a breath.
Psalm 139:2, 4, 23 (ESV)
You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.
Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!
Christians, disciples of Christ, who are sitting with Jesus, walking with the wise, and standing against sin - will be planted firmly in Christ, and rooted and established with him.
May 27, 2023
“God’s Will Be Done”
Pastor and teacher, Howard Hendricks, says that there are 3 stages to CHANGE:
2. Tolerance of change
3. Embracing the change
What stage are you most often in?
Today, we conclude our month of messages about CHANGE. As followers of Jesus Christ, we must always remember . . . Change Is Inevitable, But Our Growth Forward (through any change) Is Optional.
Acceptance of change comes, when we allow God’s will to become our will in our lives. The Lord’s Prayer is a prayer of acceptance.
Matthew 6:5-13 (RSV)
5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 7 And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread; 12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors; 13 and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.
As followers of Christ, we are taking this journey through life - and every change that it brings - with the purpose to arrive here . . . to arrive at acceptance!
1. ThIS Model Prayer Is A Prayer Of Acceptance
Acceptance is a part of our Christian life, in many ways. In fact, each time we pray The Lord’s Prayer we acknowledge this truth!
In this prayer, we celebrate the glory of God. We pray for God’s provision, and we look forward to God’s eventual reign among us. But, verse 10 really sticks out for me.
10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
And, just in case God didn’t hear it the first time, we say it again as we close: 13 . . . For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever.
This prayer is a prayer of acceptance. It is not our kingdom. It is NOT our will. It is NOT our power. It is NOT our glory. IT’S ALL GOD’S!
Please, hear and engage with this Prayer. When we pray The Lord’s Prayer, we do so recognizing:
Once we accept these things, then we will also recognize that it is God’s will that we do all of these things. How can anyone pray every day, “Your will be done,” and mean it, and not see the results of it?
If we say, “give us our daily bread,” and mean it, then we will accept God’s will to feed the hungry.
If we say, “forgive us as we forgive others,” and mean it, then we will extend God’s forgiveness into all of our relationships.
If we say, “lead us not into temptation,” and mean it, then we won’t put ourselves into situations that we need to be lead out of.
Does this make sense?
If we’re looking for “God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven” - doesn’t that mean we have to accept God’s will as our own? How else could it be done?
Acceptance isn’t just setting all this aside, and then doing what we want to do anyway . . . acceptance is when we allow God’s will to become our will.
2. Our acceptance is based on our faith
I know this is an awkward way to say this, but . . .
Our acceptance of change, especially change that is really difficult, can only happen when we make our decision to accept it by faith.
1 Peter 4:11 (NIV)
If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength that God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.
Notice that Peter doesn’t say, if you speak, speak on your own behalf / out of your own opinion, best thoughts, or personal preference. Or, if you serve, do it in your best own ability and nothing more. Remember last week? It’s NOT about us and our wants at all.
Peter said, “Speak as if you’re speaking the very words of God. Serve with the strength that only God provides.” WHY? “So that . . . God may be praised.”
If you’re thinking that you can make it through this accepting change thing all by yourself, you are sadly mistaken. Change, in whatever form it presents itself, requires faith. And the only place to find the faith we need is in Jesus Christ - who has “the glory and power forever and ever.”
Accepting change calls us to a higher level of faith.
3. We are called to SHOW our acceptance OF CHANGE to others
Once we’ve found a level of acceptance in change, through our faith in Jesus, THEN WHAT?
We show our acceptance to others, IN GOD HONORING WAYS! Is that always easy? NO!
But, think for just a moment . . . when a soldier is in the middle of a battle, and the only thing he can hear are the commands of his Commander, does he question it or debate it? Of course not! He follows the command. And, not because he wants to be a good soldier or because that’s what he was trained to do. He does it for his own survival! RIGHT?!
We can accept all that happens in life, when we truly believe that God doesn’t make any mistakes. We pray for HIS will to be done, and we can AND should know for a fact that God knows what his will is . . . even if we don’t!
So why do we complain and be negative and create division, when big changes come into our lives? We shouldn’t! In short, to not accept change that God has allowed to be placed before me is to say that I don’t have enough faith that God can handle it.
Acceptance of change demands our dependance on God and our integrity with others.
Is this acceptance of change thing always easy for me, or for anyone? NO.
There’s a wonderful prayer, attributed by many to the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. I learned it years ago, with my friends in a Recovery Meeting:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; taking, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to your will; so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen.
Isn’t that awesome? Acceptance of chAnge comes, when we allow God’s will to be done in our lives!
May 20, 2023
“IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU”
I am learning that in the midst of change, it is better to keep our priorities on God’s will rather than on our own will.
For the last few weeks, we’ve been talking about change. Back in March we started talking about the likely change of Fellowship Baptist Church and Harbor Rock Tabernacle - merging to form one new congregation. Since then, we have watched, from a distance, all the process both congregations have been going through to make this transition. Now, we know that this change IS happening and the new beginning starts tomorrow - as the two bodies of Christ will become one, meeting right here! Let’s pray right now for this big change / transition . . .
Heavenly Father, I pray for your best blessings on these two congregations, as the walk into the destiny in Christ. Fill Pastor Paul with wisdom, compassion, and your love. Bless Pastor David, as you lead him and Penny into your next assignment for their lives. And may your name be honored and your Kingdom grow through this big change. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.
I believe that change is almost always good. It gives people a fresh start, a chance to make amends, an opportunity to refocus on God’s vision, and a chance for recommitment.
Tonight and next week are the last two sermons of this series . . . making the most of CHANGE in our lives. Next week, we will talk about acceptance. Today, our focus is on setting priorities.
Priorities. Some people have them . . . some people don’t. Some people claim to have them, but don’t use them. Others don’t claim to have them, and how they go about living their lives speaks volumes.
Rick Warren, in his book, The Purpose Driven Life, starts the book with these words: “It’s not about you. The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness. It’s far greater than your family, your career, or even your wildest dreams and ambitions. If you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with God. You were born by his purpose and for his purpose.”
It’s a matter of priority. I suppose that most people, if asked their priorities, would list their families, their career, their health, their security, and so on - in their top-ten priorities in life. But when the Apostle Paul wrote his letter to the congregation in Rome, a predominately Gentile crowd, he wanted them to know that God and God’s will for their lives should be priority #1.
If we claim Christianity, then we walk according to the Spirit. If we claim Christianity, then we accept GOD’S ability to do things we cannot do. If we claim Christianity, then our #1 priority is to “set our minds on things of the Spirit” (or spiritual things).
Paul wrote that if we claim to be Christian, we cannot continue to live our lives as anything but. We can either walk through life focused on ourselves, our wants and supposed needs . . . or can we walk according to the Holy Spirit with God’s will in our sights.
So, how do we do that? Let’s take a look at God’s Word.
1. Walking according the Spirit (vs. 1-2)
You heard read earlier, in Romans 8:1-2 . . .
1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
We really like this verse, don’t we!
I hear people say, “There is therefore now no condemnation . . .” But, that is not the full message of that verse, is it? There’s a priority statement which follows . . . you know, the whole no condemnation thing is for those who walk according the Holy Spirit.
Which way we walk determines our priorities!
Anytime we put our will before God’s will, we walk in the flesh.
Anytime we intentionally turn a deaf ear to God’s instruction, we walk in the flesh.
Anytime we fill our minds with poor television and movie choices, we walk in the flesh.
Anytime we seek to divide instead of unite, we walk in the flesh.
Anytime we think we’re better than someone else, we walk in the flesh.
Anytime we envy others, we walk in the flesh.
Jesus said that anytime we even think about sexual impurities, we walk in the flesh.
Anytime we hate . . . anytime we inappropriately use anger . . . anytime we become selfish . . . when we spend more time with our stuff, compared to time we spend in God’s Word / in prayer / in worship and in praise . . . we walk in the flesh.
Now, we need to be thankful that we have a loving and merciful God. Right? Things could get really ugly, if we didn’t!
But the message is this:
There are only two priorities . . . either we walk in the Spirit or we don’t. If our focus in on anything but God - condemnation, sin and death, is the result.
But if our focus is on God, then we walk not with fear of condemnation, but, free from sin and death!
Which way we walk is the first determination of our priority.
2. What we couldn’t do, God did (vs. 3-4)
What about grace . . . what about love . . . what about mercy? Thankfully, after God dealt with his people - from Adam and Eve, through the times of Moses, and through the kings and the prophets - he realized that we were all a bunch of screw-ups that needed some help! Let’s go back to Romans 8:3 . . .
3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 . . .
While we were yet sinners, God still loved us enough to send a portion of himself (his Son, Jesus).
And even when we become believers, God still loves us enough to give us his Holy Spirit to lead, guide, and direct - if we will only listen.
If you want to feel God’s grace . . .
If you want to experience God’s mercy . . .
If you want to appreciate God’s love . . . then you need to set your priorities in line with the priorities of God!
We cannot do it by ourselves. Throughout human history, WE humans have tried and failed. We’ve eaten the forbidden fruit; we’ve molded golden calves at the foot of mountains; we’ve found ourselves in a foreign land conquered and captured. We’ve heard the words of Jesus . . . and still, we deny him before the rooster crows.
While John, Mary and the others stood at the foot of the cross, we all hid - afraid and bewildered.
After Jesus died, we couldn’t get up the nerve to take care of the body, so we sent the women to the tomb to take care of it.
And when Christ’s body wasn’t there, we blamed thieves and soldiers, and we huddled in a locked room . . . awaiting the same fate as Jesus.
But, what we couldn’t handle, God could! When Jesus entered that room and told us, “Peace, be still,” it was then we knew what our priority must be. Even Thomas stopped doubting!
I don’t know about you, but I’m sick and tired of waiting in a locked room. I don’t know about you, but I’m beginning to understand that this whole thing we’re experiencing, called “life,” is just a drop in the bucket compared to the joy that God has in store for us . . . in his Kingdom in heaven!
I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for God to accomplish what we’ve been unable (or maybe somewhat unwilling) to accomplish! AMEN? OH, MAN!
It’s not our way that matters. We make decisions based on very little information, compared to God’s vast knowledge. We have got to let go and let God do through us as HE desires!
Once we’ve given up our way, God is waiting for us to see it HIS way.
3. “Setting our minds” is THE key to priority! (vs. 5)
Romans 8:5 (ESV)
5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.
This leads us back to the inevitable question - HOW? How do we live according to the Spirit, as Paul wrote? The answer’s found in another one of Paul’s letters. This time to the Galatians . . .
Galatians 5:16, 22-23, 25 (ESV)
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
Is your mind set upon these things? If so, then I’d say that God is pretty close to your top priority.
If you can’t find yourself in that list, or if you’ve lost the list somewhere along the way, then I invite you to turn your life over to God. Make the decision to walk in the Spirit / allowing God to do what you could not / setting your mind on these things so that your direction may be God-centered, instead of you-centered.
Where we “set our minds” dictates our direction. Living according to the Spirit means setting our minds on the things of God’s Holy Spirit.
It’s All About God. It’s not about us.
Let me close with this story . . .
A little boy wanted to meet God. He knew it was a long trip to where God lived, so he packed his suitcase - with Twinkies and a six-pack of Root Beer (now, that’s my kind of packing!). And, he started his journey.
When he had gone about three blocks, he met an elderly man, who was sitting in the park feeding some pigeons.
The boy sat down next to him and opened his suitcase. He was about to take a drink from his root beer when he noticed that the man looked hungry, so he offered him a Twinkie.
The man gratefully accepted it and smiled at boy. His smile was so pleasant that the boy wanted to see it again . . . so he offered him a root beer.
Again, the man smiled at him. The little boy was delighted! They sat there all afternoon eating and smiling, but they never said a word.
As it started to get dark, the boy realized how tired he was and he got up to leave. But before he had gone more than a few steps, he turned around, ran back to the man, and gave him a hug. The man gave him his biggest smile ever.
When the boy opened the door to his home, a few minutes later, his mother was surprised by the look of joy on his face. She asked him, “What did you do today that made you so happy?”
He replied, “I had lunch with God.” Before his mother could respond, he added, “You know what? God’s got the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen!”
Meanwhile, the elderly man, also filled with joy, returned to his home. His wife was stunned by the look of peace on his face and he asked, “Honey, what did you do today that made you so happy?”
He replied, “I ate Twinkies in the park with God.” However, before his wife could respond, he added, “You know . . . he’s much younger than I expected.”
As we go through changes and transition, and things start coming into place, isn’t it a good time to turn away from our wants and desires and instead trust in the Lord to renew our strength - even if it’s just with Twinkies and Root Beer?
The prophet Isaiah goes as far as to say . . .
Isaiah 40:28-31 (ESV)
28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 29 He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. 30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted, 31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
In the midst of ALL change in this life, let’s keep our priorities on God’s will rather than our own.
May 13, 2023
Why Mom Made Me Say, “I’m Sorry”
To all mom’s, let me say to you this weekend - HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!
When we take an honest look at ourselves, and we are willing to forgive, and we are willing to attempt reconciliation . . . then we are being to be the people that God has called us to be. That’s why mom taught us about forgiveness!
A young boy and his mom had been shopping at Walmart, and the boy had not behaved himself. As they were driving home, he could sense his mom’s displeasure and he said, “When we ask God to forgive us when we’re bad, he does, doesn’t he?” His mother replied, “Definitely, yes.”
The boy cautiously continued, “And when he forgives us, he buries our sins in the deepest sea, right?” The mom replied, “Definitely, yes.”
The boy was silent for a while and then said, “I asked God to forgive me, but I bet when we get home, you’re going fishing for those sins, aren’t you?” The mother replied, “Definitely, yes!”
Too often, we “go fishing” for other people’s faults and sins against us, but we’re unwilling to look in our pond in our backyard and take care of what we find there.
1. Forgiveness requires taking an HONEST look at our own stuff
Do you remember the first time your mother told you to apologize? (That’s probably hard for many of us to remember.)
The words “I’m sorry” are some of the most powerful words in our vocabulary. By saying those words, relationships can be healed, grief can be alleviated, and scars of past wounds can be made smooth. But, it all begins with taking an honest look at baggage we may be carrying.
Matthew 23:12 (ESV)
“For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
- Jesus -
1 Peter 5:6-7 (ESV)
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
In taking an honest look at our own stuff is what some call “taking a moral inventory.” The first step in doing this is to take an honest look at who we are and what we have done to others.
The two scriptures we just read tell us that humility is at the core of forgiveness and reconciliation. Here’s a prayer to help get you to this point . . .
Heavenly Father, I want you to have all of me - the good AND the bad stuff. I pray that you would remove from me every single defect of character that stands in the way of me being useful to you and to others. Give me the strength, as I go on from here, to do as you would have me to do. AMEN.
2. Forgiveness requires a willingness to forgive
Recognizing our own stuff, the stuff we need to be forgiven of, is only the first step in the forgiveness process. There also needs to be a willingness to forgive.
It’s like the two little brothers, Bobby and Tommy. They had finished supper and were playing until bedtime. Somehow, Bobby hit Tommy with a toy - and crying and screaming followed. Charges and accusations were still being exchanged as their mother prepared them for bed.
She said, “Now boys, what would happen if either of you died tonight and you never had the opportunity again for forgive one another?” Tommy spoke up and said, “Well, OK, I’ll forgive him tonight. But, if we’re both alive in the morning, he’d better look out.”
How often do we hold onto our grudges . . . and choose not to forgive?!
Luke 6:31, 37 (ESV)
31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
37 Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven
Matthew 6:15, 7:3-4 (ESV)
15 . . . but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when there is the log in your own eye?
The bottom line is we need to be willing TO FORGIVE . . . or else this whole forgiveness thing is just a joke. It’s a fact: if we aren’t willing to forgive, then we do not really understand God’s forgiveness of us.
3. True forgiveness always offers reconciliation
But here’s the kicker - just offering forgiveness is not enough . . .
Matthew 5:23-24 (ESV)
23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Reconciliation is the key! Reconciliation is WHAT WE OFFER.
2 Corinthians 5:17-19 (ESV)
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
Here’s an “Oh, Man” and “Amen” statement:
If we are not humbly willing to make amends, then we shouldn’t be asking for forgiveness in the first place. Every time we say, “I’m sorry,” it should naturally be followed with a “What can I do to make it right?” AMEN? OH, MAN!
Isn’t that what we said to Jesus in the first place, “I’m sorry . . . I’ll make it right by following you?”
Doesn’t it make sense, that in turn, Christ wants us to offer this chance at reconciliation to others? YES! And, true forgiveness can only occur when a remedy (reconciliation) is offered.
So, on this Mother’s Day weekend, we are left with the question . . . Why