A&D Biker Ministries "Growing the Kingdom of God . . . one Biker at a time"

 

November 27, 2021

      Darkness
“The Night Before Christmas”
Isaiah 9:2-7
  
(First week of ADVENT)    
  
Well, it’s that time of year once again - ADVENT!  I love how Advent comes right after Thanksgiving, because over the last week there have been a lot of things for which we can be truly thankful.  Also, the attitude of gratitude from Thanksgiving helps us celebrate and be glad, and give thanks for the birth of Jesus.  If there’s one thing we should be thankful for it’s that God sent his Son to become a human; that Jesus, the Son of God, was born over 2,000 years ago and became the Son of Man; that he came to us in time and space - in history.  In fact, that’s what the word “Advent” means:  “Coming.”

So, during Advent we remember Jesus coming into the world.  But, we are also reminded that he is coming again - and maybe soon!  We look back at his first coming, and we look forward to his second coming.  With that in mind, I want begin in the Bible with Isaiah chapter 9.  First, read verses 2-7.  We’re going to keep coming back to this text throughout our Advent series.  But today, I’m going to specifically focus on verse 2 for the most part.

Isaiah 9:2-7 (NIV)
2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.

3 You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder.

4 For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor.

5 Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.

6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.  He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding     it with justice and righteousness from that time       on and forever.  The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

It’s interesting how Isaiah starts this prophesy out.  In verse 2 he says, “The people walking in darkness” and then he says, “. . . those living in the land of deep darkness”.
 
If we’re going to understand and appreciate what Advent is all about, we’ve got to understand that this world is in darkness!  It was in darkness when God created the world.  
It was in darkness during the time of Isaiah, and it was in darkness during the time of Jesus birth.  And in case you aren’t aware . . . the world is still in darkness today!  The reason this world is in darkness is because of sin.  (More on that in just a minute.)  But that is the setting for what Isaiah is about to say, and it’s going to set up everything that he will say.  He wants us to understand that the world, and everyone in it, are in darkness.  The world was plunged into darkness after humankind fell into sin.  Adam and Eve sinned against God (rebelled against him), and opened the door for sin to come flooding into this world.  We read that way back in Genesis.  By the time we get to Isaiah chapter 9, there’s been over 3,000 years of spiritual darkness in the world.  Over 3,000 years of sin and sorrow and sadness - dominating the history of humankind.  More than 3,000 years of men and women stumbling around in darkness . . . trying to find their way . . . but continually failing!

Again, we need to understand that Isaiah has been called by God to be a prophet to the people of Israel. 

And, he’s been called to prophesy during a time the people were rebelling against God - and God is about to bring judgment!  God is going to bring the Assyrians to conquer them.  Look at Isaiah chapter 1 and you’ll see it: 

Isaiah 1:1-4 (NIV)
1 The vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.  2 Hear me, you heavens! Listen, earth!  For the Lord has spoken:  “I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me.  3 The ox knows its master, the donkey its owner’s manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.”  4 Woe to the sinful nation, a people whose guilt is great, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption!  They have forsaken the Lord; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him.

So, they’re in a predicament; they’re in bad shape; they’re in darkness!  And then, if you jump ahead to the Gospels to the time when Jesus would be born, we see that the people are still in darkness.  So, from the fall of Adam to Isaiah it’s around 3,000 years - but when we get to the birth of Jesus, we’re looking at nearly 4,000 years.  And during that time, God has sent his prophets, he’s given his Word, and his Law.  He’s given little glimmers of light here and there, but the darkness of sin has remained on the earth! 

The people of Israel are in darkness.  It’s been over 400 years that God has been silent.  God’s last words to his people were in the book of Malachi and he hadn’t sent a prophet to them in over 400 years!  From Isaiah’s time, all the way to the birth of Jesus, the land of Israel had been under occupation:  from the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, and the Greeks.  Now, the Roman Empire was ruling over the land and they were oppressive pagan rulers!  In Israel itself, Herod had been appointed king of the land.  He was a wicked man, an evil, corrupt, and perverse man.  He was a cruel, murderous, vile human being!  In fact, it’s reported that Caesar Augustus once said, “I would rather be Herod’s pig, than his son.”  WHY?  Because the man had a reputation for murdering his own family members!
 
If you crossed him, or ended up on his bad side, he’d just have you killed.  Herod, of course, was the man responsible for the murder of all the infant boys in Bethlehem after Jesus was born! 
So, not only was there just this generalized sin in the world, there were these specific leaders who seemed to exude their own darkness.  The leadership was in darkness, and the land itself was darkened by sinful people.  The people themselves were more interested in their own things, than they were with God and God’s will.  They were self-centered, hedonistic, and entitled.  Even their religious leaders were in darkness.  Their religion was just a process of going through the motions, and not from the heart, so to speak.  Their “religion” was legalistic and man-centered, not rooted in truth or in love.  The overarching condition of the people and the Church was idolatry and rebellion . . . they were truly in darkness!

When you get right down to it, it doesn’t sound so different than us today in 2021 - does it?  The reality is that our world is in darkness!  And to make things even worse; the darkness not only surrounds us - IT IS IN US!

We are rebellious; we don’t understand; we are sinners . . . sinners by birth AND sinners by choice.  We are hard hearted, unthankful, unkind, unloving, estranged from God, and people don’t even know it.

In other words - OUR WORLD IS IN DARKNESS.

So, when Isaiah writes, “The people walking in darkness” and “. . . those living in the land of deep darkness” - he could easily be referring to us.

Our land is in darkness.  Corruption and wickedness in the government.  Lawlessness, hatred, immorality.  And, have you watched the news and seen what’s going on within the united Methodist denomination and other churches?  There is also darkness & corruption & wickedness in the Church.  Just think about that with me.  What I’m saying, Church, is that this is real!  It’s happening right now.  And when you walk in darkness there are always consequences.  
And that can happen to an individual, it can happen to a congregation, it can happen to an entire denomination.  For the Israelites, in the time of Isaiah, the consequence was that they would be conquered by the Assyrians.  They would be over-run by pagans who worshiped false gods, and they would be taken into captivity.  And after the Assyrians came the Babylonians, and then the Persians, and the Greeks, all the way up until the time of Jesus when it was the Roman Empire.
 
So, there’s darkness . . . spiritual darkness, and people can’t see where to go.  People can’t see the dangers that are in front of them, that are waiting up ahead.  People are getting turned around, and have no sense of direction.  We call that being lost.  And it’s obvious to many of us that something is not right.  That the world is in darkness.  Our world has serious problems and issues . . . but just because the world recognizes that it is in darkness, doesn’t mean it can fix the problem.  We try, but we can’t!

The world thinks the solution is found in things like man-made laws, man-made reforms, or man-made masks!  Some people say, “Well the problem is a lack of education” . . . so they try to teach, but the system and curriculum itself is darkness, corrupted and built on faulty foundations.  Some say, “Oh, the problem is poverty” . . . and so they offer up economic stimulus or some other plan, but it doesn’t work because it’s coming from the same darkness that everyone is in.

And when those things fail, they say, “Well, obviously they didn’t do it right.  The reason Communism failed in Russia is because they didn’t do it right.  The reason it failed in China is because they didn’t do it right . . . and in Cuba, and Argentina, and Venezuela, and everywhere else!  But when we do it, it will somehow magically work this time.”  That’s self-deception, pride, arrogance.  And when it doesn’t work, they offer up something else like false religion, Wicca, Buddhism, New Age, eastern mysticism - and it’s just this process of rebranding the same old things over and over again; calling them by new names, adding a bit more to them, and repackaging them as something new.  But, they can’t bring anyone out of darkness!  It’s like offering a flashlight without batteries - and they can’t bring anyone out of the darkness, because, like I said a little while ago . . . the darkness isn’t just all around us - it’s in us!  So it all ends up being just another way to walk in darkness.  And, mark my words - eventually it leads to hopelessness, and depression, and despair.

THIS is what Isaiah was addressing here.  And if you read through the book of Isaiah you’ll see it.  God calls out his people who have turned away from him, and he warns them of the consequences and calls them to repent.  And as they rebel against him, they find themselves walking in darkness.  BUT THEN . . . comes a promise of hope, a promise that God will send the Light!

Look with me at Isaiah, chapter one:

Isaiah 1:18 (NIV)
“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord.  “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

So, God offers a promise of hope . . . a promise of forgiveness.  He tells Israel that he will make them clean and wash away their sin.  That’s something we ALL need.  The Bible tells us that “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)  We are in darkness because of sin.  We are all separated from God because of our sin.  And because of our sin, we are all enemies of God.  So, we are born at war with God - in our hearts, and our minds, and our actions.  And what we need is peace with God.  We need to be reconciled with God.  We need to be brought out of the darkness, and we need the darkness to be removed from us.  And that’s what Isaiah tells us beginning in chapter one, all the way to our text there in chapter nine.  But, then he says, “The people who walked in darkness HAVE SEEN A GREAT LIGHT. Those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, ON THEM HAS LIGHT SHONE! ”

And we ask, “What is that Light?”   What is this Light that’s shining on those who were in darkness?  Remember verses 6 & 7 . . .

6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.  He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding     it with justice and righteousness from that time       on and forever.  The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

The Light that God sends us is a baby, born of a virgin . . . but he’s also the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  He is Immanuel - God who is with us.  And he is the Light of the World: 
 
John 8:12 (NIV)
“I am the Light of the world.  Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”   -Jesus-

I pray that you hear me today, this first week of Advent.  The only hope we have is Jesus Christ, and the Light of his glory and grace . . . the Light of the Gospel . . . the Light of the world.  We can’t dispel our own darkness.  Coming together and working harder at being better is a good thing, but it won’t dispel the darkness.  That’s behavior modification, but it doesn’t drive out the inherent spiritual darkness.  It doesn’t change the heart. 
 
Being kind and caring with one another and with your neighbor is awesome, and we should do that, but that can’t drive out the darkness.  We cannot fix ourselves.  We cannot remove our sin.  The fundamental nature of humankind has to change.  And it can only change when we are born again . . . and we are made a new creation in Christ.

That first sin was like the COVID-19 virus - it spread to us all, and we can’t get rid of it on our own!  But on that first Christmas morning, God announced that he had sent the cure for the sin virus - in the Person of his Son, Jesus Christ.  

HE is the Light that has come into the darkness, and he is the hope of forgiveness of our sins and our reconciliation to God.  On that first Christmas morning, the Light of Christ shone into the darkness and began driving it away!  It’s still driving it away.  Jesus is still shining on the hearts of men and women.  He is still shining into dark places and driving out the darkness!
 
CLELBRATE THIS WEEK THE HOPE OF ADVENT! 

 

November 20, 2021

“A THANKSGIVING PSALM”
Psalm 145
  
(A sermon series on Thanksgiving)
    
The Psalms are filled with the art of saying thank you to God, for his mighty works!  We need to know and remember the works of God in our lives and regain a heart of thanks to God for all that he has done for us . . . even in the midst of hardships and challenges of this year.

David wrote the song, known as Psalm 145, after a huge breakthrough.  Breakthrough refers to God’s mysterious and powerful way of taking us from one place to another:  from a place of brokenness to wholeness, from confusion to trust, from bondage to freedom.  Sometimes our need for breakthrough seems desperate . . . if the provision and presence of God doesn’t show up soon, we’ll be crushed under the weight of our circumstance!  Sometimes breakthrough comes as a revelation . . . the Holy Spirit illuminates in such way that what was foggy now becomes clear, and we are able to move forward in confidence.  Sometimes a breakthrough is a long time in coming.  Our need for God’s answer, his movement, or his deliverance feels like it’s late!
Whatever our situation may be, we know breakthrough is something we cannot make happen on our own.  The timing of breakthrough is determined by our sovereign God.

Many call this Psalm “David’s theme song” / his best song ever written / his number one hit of all time!   In it, he praises and thanks God for his blessings and the breakthrough in his life!

Psalms 145:1-7 (NIV)
1 I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever.  2 Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever.  3 Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.  4 One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts.  5 They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works.  6 They will tell of the power of your awesome works, and I will proclaim your great deeds.  7 They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.

•    WE NEED TO BE THANKFUL TO THE LORD FOR OUR TESTIMONIES . . . WHICH DECLARE GOD’S WORKS.
 
The power of our testimony for God is in telling others of his wonderful works in our lives!
 
Matthew 7:8
For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

Revelation 12:11
They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb
and the word of their testimony.

These two verses remind us why we need to share our testimony again and again.  And, we should always preface our testimony with this statement, “I do not share it to glorify my past (before Jesus), but to glorify God who set me free from the bondage of sin!”  Too many people today feel it’s important to have a testimony that is dramatic and full of sin.

God has given each of us testimonies which we are to share and be thankful for.  Our testimonies are given to us by God so that others can hear about the awesome work of the Lord in our lives!

In the United States, according to the center for Disease Control and Prevention, 40 percent of people have experienced a mental or behavioral health condition related to the 2020 pandemic.

•    1 in 4 people have experienced symptoms of depression which is four times higher than in previous years.

•    1 in 10 people have considered suicide at some point during the last 30 days - an increase of 100% from previous years.

•    13.3% of Americans have begun or increased substance use to cope with the stress related to the pandemic.
 
It’s an understatement to say our mental / spiritual health has suffered and we need to do something about it.  The truth is, we need to right the direction in our minds and hearts. We need to choose the path of gratitude / thanksgiving.  Back to our Psalm . . .

Psalm 145: 8-12 (NIV)
8 The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.  9 The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.  10 All you have made will praise you, O LORD; your saints will extol you.  11 They will tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, 12 so that all men may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.

•    WE NEED TO BE THANKFUL TO THE LORD BECAUSE HE IS GOOD, AND HE SHOWERS US WITH HIS GOODNESS.

The truth is . . . GOD IS GOOD!  Say it with me, out loud:  GOD IS GOOD!  Do you believe that?
 
I believe we need to be thankful that God is good to us!  Could you imagine if God was NOT good?  Seriously!  Think of the horror of that thought!  I am so thankful that God is good . . . and not evil.

What does it mean that God is good?

God is gracious - he has given us the gift of Grace.  What is grace?  Where did it come from?  These are good questions to ask ourselves, at Thanksgiving!

John 1:14-18 (NIV)
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.  15 John testifies concerning him.  He cries out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”  16 From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.        17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  18 No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.

Grace came to us by the life of Jesus Christ - the Word of God in the flesh.  To show grace is to extend favor or kindness to one who doesn’t deserve it and can never earn it.  It’s a gift given to the person who places their life in Christ - this gift is salvation / eternal life even though they don’t deserve it.  It comes to them because Jesus paid the price for their sins on the Cross.  Grace is directly related to the Cross.  When you speak of the Cross, you speak about grace.
 
Grace came as a result of the Cross; grace was birthed on the Cross by Christ’s death.  Prior to Jesus’ arrival to earth you never heard of the word grace.  Jesus birthed the word and gave it meaning.  He never used the word . . . he just modeled it (on the Cross) to a spiritually fallen world, and this new word was created.

•    WE NEED TO BE THANKFUL TO THE LORD BECAUSE HE IS COMPASSIONATE. 
 
He understands our struggles, and pain, and he has empathy and compassion on us.  How is God compassionate?  Just look at Jesus . . . because when you see Jesus you see God in the flesh!

Mark 1:40-42
40 A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”  41 Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man.  “I am willing,” he said.  “Be clean!”  42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.

Did you see it?  Mark paints the portrait of Jesus as the Son of God!  But, this picture would be incomplete if he didn’t highlight Jesus as the compassionate God.  What we find in the Bible is a compassionate God on display!

Matthew 9:35-38
35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.  36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

God shows compassion by providing workers for his Kingdom and leaders for his Kingdom . . . to help the people who are lost and hurting.  We should thank the Lord this Thanksgiving for all the helpers here at A&D - the leaders who give of their time and resources to help others in this lost world.

Workers for God’s Kingdom are a symbol of the compassion of God on a lost and hurting world.

God is slow to anger because of his mercy.  God is good because he is slow to anger.

Slow to anger.  This is a big one!  Look at the sign of the rainbow from the Old Testament in Genesis.  The rainbow is the symbol of the covenant God made with Noah, when he came out of the ark.  God said that he would never again destroy humankind by a flood.
   
The right interpretation of Genesis 9:13 seems to be that God took the rainbow, which had been a beautiful object shining in the heavens when the sun’s rays hit on falling rain, and he consecrated it as the sign of his love and the witness of his promise.  The rainbow is a symbol of Gods faithfulness and mercy.  The rainbow is a sign / a symbol of how God is slow to anger and merciful!

If I was God . . . the entire human race would have been consumed by his fire a long time ago!  Look around at our world.  Do you know what I mean?  Aren’t you glad that I’m not God!

Are you with me?  Can you relate to what I just said?  We lack grace, and mercy, and compassion.   Some of us just allow our anger to go unchecked.  But, I’m glad God is not like that!


•    WE NEED TO BE THANKFUL TO THE LORD FOR HIS FAITHFULNESS, AND HIS LOVE TO US.

How is God faithful?  I’m so glad you asked!  Let’s get back to Psalm 145, for the answer to that question.

Psalm 145: 13-21
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations.  The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made.  14 The LORD upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.  15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time.  16 You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.  17 The LORD is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made.  18 The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.  19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.  20 The LORD watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.  21 My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD.  Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever.

According to this Psalm of thanks, God does the following faithful works for us:

He keeps his promises!  He pours his love on us!  He picks us up when we fall!  He honors everyone who bows to him.  He feeds us the food we need - both physically and spiritually!  He satisfies our desires (the pure ones)!  He is near to all that call on him in honesty and in humility!  He helps deliver us from fear and he always hears our cries for help!  He watches over those who love him!

God’s faithfulness . . . Have you thanked him for it lately?  The Faithfulness of God - we need to re-discover his faithfulness and thank him for it!

Accounts of covenants (promises) between God and his people can be found about 277 times in the Bible.

Deuteronomy 7:9
Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant (promise) of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.

God is so faithful that anyone who seeks him can find him!  But, faith is a gift . . . and even a gift must be opened to be enjoyed.  As we embrace and employ our faith, we begin to realize more and more about God’s faithfulness to us!  A few more scripture truths:

1 Corinthians 1:9
God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.

1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.  And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so you can stand up under it.


2 Thessalonians 3:3
The Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.

So, what do we need to know about Psalm 145?

We need to know how awesome God is and how he works in our lives through personal / intimate ways.  We need to praise and thank him for all of his great works in our lives . . . and for his grace, compassion, mercy (lack of anger) AND faithfulness.

Why do we need to know this truth about God?

Because it’s easy to forget about all the things God has done for us in our life.  It’s easy to stop telling our testimonies in the hard times of life . . . like we have faced, since 2020.  
 
What do we need to do?
  
We need to take the time this Thanksgiving to thank God for his great works in our lives.  We really need to remind ourselves, and others, of how wonderful God is - and praise him and thank him.  We need to tell others what God has done for us!  Share your personal God stories with others this Thanksgiving - to help them see how wonderful God is.  We need to speak of his grace, his compassion, his love, and his faithfulness through tough times -  so that people will see God in a different light and perspective and get a revelation of his goodness, faithfulness and mercy!

Why do we need to do this?
 
So that others can experience the goodness of God and the grace of God.  So that others can see and meet with God - even in hard and crazy times.  So that love (God) will triumph over chaos and hate. 

 

November 13, 2021

“THANKFUL OR GRUMBLING”
Philippians 2:14-16
  
(A sermon series on Thanksgiving)
    
The attitude of thankfulness vs the attitude of complaining can make or break your life.  Thankful attitudes come with the blessing of heaven (the Promise Land of God) - but complaining will leave you in the wilderness wandering aimlessly with no joy, no contentment and the struggle of wilderness living.  Being thankful can change your life AND your perspective about life.  You can’t complain when you are being thankful and you can’t be thankful when you are complaining.  The two mindsets are opposite, and one or the other will dictate how your day will go . . . or NOT go. 

Colossians 3:17 (ESV)
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Proverbs 17:22 (ESV)
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Philippians 2:14-16 (NIV)
14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing,   15 so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.  Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life.  And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.
                 
Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things.

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.  Attitude, to me, is more important than facts.  It is more important than success, than what other people think or say or do.  It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill.  It will make or break a company, a church, a home.  The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.  We cannot change our past.  We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way.  We cannot change the inevitable.  The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.  I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.  And so it is with you, we are in charge of our attitudes.
  
- Chuck Swindoll -

By giving us the command to always give thanks, God is not rubbing salt in our wounds or calling us to set aside our ability to reason.  God knows that being thankful in all circumstances has a powerful impact on every area of our Christian life!

We need to live, approach life, work, and even play with a right attitude / mindset because it does make all the difference in our day AND for eternity.

•    ATTITUDES IMPACT US EVERY DAY EITHER IN POSITIVE OR IN A NEGATIVE WAY.

Someone said that our attitudes are like perfume or cologne we are wear.  We smell the fragrance when we first put it on, but others smell it all day long.  

The obvious question is:  HOW DO YOU SMELL?

The apostle Paul reminds us that we are to have the fragrance of Jesus . . . the attitudes we wear and put on each day should “smell” like Jesus.  These “smells” are associated with the fruit(s) of the Spirit (Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control - Gal. 6:22).  These character traits should define our attitudes at home, at work . . . everywhere!

It’s NOT God who needs our “good works” . . . it’s our neighbor that needs them!  Having the right attitude makes all the difference in the kind of witness that we are for Jesus.  

God wants to transform us in our work - and transform the world through our work!  Let’s replace our complaining attitude with a thankful one.

Case In Point:  Moses made this journal entry one day about his people: 

Numbers 11:1-3
1 Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the LORD, and when he heard them his anger was aroused.  Then fire from the LORD burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp.  2 When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the LORD and the fire died down.  3 So that place was called Taberah, because fire from the LORD had burned among them.

This journal entry by Moses tells us a lot about the people of Israel.  They fell into a habitual complaining mindset.  By the time we get to Numbers chapters 13 & 14, we see complaining and ungratefulness to God caused them to be banished into the wilderness for 40 years!
 
The result of our complaining puts us into a type of spiritual wilderness.  One scholar has said, “Those who choose murmurings (complaining) as their lifestyle will spend their lifetime in the wilderness.”

The truth is WE chose our attitude!  Nobody wants to be told their attitude problem is in the mirror, but, it is!  Until we face the truth that we choose our attitudes, life will always be like a wilderness.

In case you look at this story from Moses as only the Old Testament way of God dealing with complaining people - let’s look into the New Testament.


1 Corinthians 10:1-2; 10-11
(Warnings from Israel’s History)
1 For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea.           2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.
 
10 Do not grumble, as some of them did - and were killed by the destroying angel.  11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.

Did you hear the warning about our attitudes?  This story of the Israelites in Numbers serves as a warning to us today to not follow their patterns of thinking / their attitudes.  Attitudes are patterns of thinking formed over a period of time. 

I want to give you a few reality checks today . . .

Reality Check #1 - COMPLAINING CAN BE A SIN 
 
The word sin means “missing the mark” or “failing in regard to God’s holy standard and just demands.”  The truth about complaining is this . . . when I complain, I hurt myself first and foremost! 
 
Complaining can lead to anger, bitterness and even depression.  And these are NOT supposed to be rooted in a Christian!

When we complain, we also hurt God.  HOW?  God is impacted by my complaining because in my complaining I am basically saying to God , “YOU are failing at YOUR job!  YOU are blowing it!  YOU are making mistakes!”

In the process of complaining about circumstances (and insulting God), I hurt myself AND I can make God angry with my constant complaining!  Also, when we complain we hurt / injure the people around us.  We can and do impact people with our toxic attitude of complaining.  We will bring them down and cause them not to want to be around us!  Complaining will separate me from God so I must choose to cultivate an attitude of gratitude!

Reality Check #2 - GOD IS LISTENING TO WHAT YOU SAY
 
Maybe the worst kind of complaining revealed in Numbers 11 is when they were always complaining about adversity!  They blamed God for it and they did not understanding that everyone will experience a measure of adversity.

Reality Check #3 - GOD HATES OUR COMPLAINING

One scholar I read after, wrote . . . “God can both love us extravagantly and hate our sin passionately at the same time.  God can embrace us and forgive us eternally - but judge us in the moment because of our attitudes that are not pleasing him.  This concept may be a bit confusing to us, but it is perfectly clear to the Lord.  He loves us and he hates sin.  Both are true.” 
God wants us to be good positive witnesses, always and everywhere for him, so complaining needs to be avoided!

ACTION STEP - We need to replace a complaining attitude with a thankful attitude!
 
The truth is, a thankful spirit is a perfect replacement for complaining!  Remember the story from Jesus’ life about his healing of 10 lepers?  This story makes it clear that Jesus knows who is thankful and who is not!  And, those who express thanks to God for his grace and mercy get even another blessing from him!  The one leper was healed . . . but his faith took him to a more intimate relationship with Jesus!

So, the truth is that an unthankful / ungrateful attitude toward God will ALWAYS suppress the awareness of God in our life.

So, what can we take with us today from this Thanksgiving message?
We either have an attitude of thankfulness or and attitude of complaining and grumbling  . . . and we need to know that God does not like or reward complaining attitudes!

We need to know this truth because too many Christians believe it’s okay to complain all the time, and, they think there is no repercussion for having bad attitudes.

So, what do we need to do?

•    We need to approach life with positive attitude.  WHY?  So that we reveal the presence and love of Jesus to those we live with,  work with, associate with and connect with in our daily life!

•    We need to cultivate thankful attitudes so that we can have a healthier and happier life.

And the best way to cultivate a thankful attitude is by being prayerfully intentional in thanking God for his goodness to us each day . . . AND to make a commitment to rid ourselves of a grumbling attitude and replacing it with a thankful one.
 

 

November 13, 2021

“THANKFUL OR GRUMBLING”
Philippians 2:14-16
  
(A sermon series on Thanksgiving)
    
The attitude of thankfulness vs the attitude of complaining can make or break your life.  Thankful attitudes come with the blessing of heaven (the Promise Land of God) - but complaining will leave you in the wilderness wandering aimlessly with no joy, no contentment and the struggle of wilderness living.  Being thankful can change your life AND your perspective about life.  You can’t complain when you are being thankful and you can’t be thankful when you are complaining.  The two mindsets are opposite, and one or the other will dictate how your day will go . . . or NOT go. 

Colossians 3:17 (ESV)
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Proverbs 17:22 (ESV)
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Philippians 2:14-16 (NIV)
14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing,   15 so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.  Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life.  And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.
                 
Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things.

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.  Attitude, to me, is more important than facts.  It is more important than success, than what other people think or say or do.  It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill.  It will make or break a company, a church, a home.  The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.  We cannot change our past.  We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way.  We cannot change the inevitable.  The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.  I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.  And so it is with you, we are in charge of our attitudes.
  
- Chuck Swindoll -

By giving us the command to always give thanks, God is not rubbing salt in our wounds or calling us to set aside our ability to reason.  God knows that being thankful in all circumstances has a powerful impact on every area of our Christian life!

We need to live, approach life, work, and even play with a right attitude / mindset because it does make all the difference in our day AND for eternity.

•    ATTITUDES IMPACT US EVERY DAY EITHER IN POSITIVE OR IN A NEGATIVE WAY.

Someone said that our attitudes are like perfume or cologne we are wear.  We smell the fragrance when we first put it on, but others smell it all day long.  

The obvious question is:  HOW DO YOU SMELL?

The apostle Paul reminds us that we are to have the fragrance of Jesus . . . the attitudes we wear and put on each day should “smell” like Jesus.  These “smells” are associated with the fruit(s) of the Spirit (Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control - Gal. 6:22).  These character traits should define our attitudes at home, at work . . . everywhere!

It’s NOT God who needs our “good works” . . . it’s our neighbor that needs them!  Having the right attitude makes all the difference in the kind of witness that we are for Jesus.  

God wants to transform us in our work - and transform the world through our work!  Let’s replace our complaining attitude with a thankful one.

Case In Point:  Moses made this journal entry one day about his people: 

Numbers 11:1-3
1 Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the LORD, and when he heard them his anger was aroused.  Then fire from the LORD burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp.  2 When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the LORD and the fire died down.  3 So that place was called Taberah, because fire from the LORD had burned among them.

This journal entry by Moses tells us a lot about the people of Israel.  They fell into a habitual complaining mindset.  By the time we get to Numbers chapters 13 & 14, we see complaining and ungratefulness to God caused them to be banished into the wilderness for 40 years!
 
The result of our complaining puts us into a type of spiritual wilderness.  One scholar has said, “Those who choose murmurings (complaining) as their lifestyle will spend their lifetime in the wilderness.”

The truth is WE chose our attitude!  Nobody wants to be told their attitude problem is in the mirror, but, it is!  Until we face the truth that we choose our attitudes, life will always be like a wilderness.

In case you look at this story from Moses as only the Old Testament way of God dealing with complaining people - let’s look into the New Testament.


1 Corinthians 10:1-2; 10-11
(Warnings from Israel’s History)
1 For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea.           2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.
 
10 Do not grumble, as some of them did - and were killed by the destroying angel.  11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.

Did you hear the warning about our attitudes?  This story of the Israelites in Numbers serves as a warning to us today to not follow their patterns of thinking / their attitudes.  Attitudes are patterns of thinking formed over a period of time. 

I want to give you a few reality checks today . . .

Reality Check #1 - COMPLAINING CAN BE A SIN 
 
The word sin means “missing the mark” or “failing in regard to God’s holy standard and just demands.”  The truth about complaining is this . . . when I complain, I hurt myself first and foremost! 
 
Complaining can lead to anger, bitterness and even depression.  And these are NOT supposed to be rooted in a Christian!

When we complain, we also hurt God.  HOW?  God is impacted by my complaining because in my complaining I am basically saying to God , “YOU are failing at YOUR job!  YOU are blowing it!  YOU are making mistakes!”

In the process of complaining about circumstances (and insulting God), I hurt myself AND I can make God angry with my constant complaining!  Also, when we complain we hurt / injure the people around us.  We can and do impact people with our toxic attitude of complaining.  We will bring them down and cause them not to want to be around us!  Complaining will separate me from God so I must choose to cultivate an attitude of gratitude!

Reality Check #2 - GOD IS LISTENING TO WHAT YOU SAY
 
Maybe the worst kind of complaining revealed in Numbers 11 is when they were always complaining about adversity!  They blamed God for it and they did not understanding that everyone will experience a measure of adversity.

Reality Check #3 - GOD HATES OUR COMPLAINING

One scholar I read after, wrote . . . “God can both love us extravagantly and hate our sin passionately at the same time.  God can embrace us and forgive us eternally - but judge us in the moment because of our attitudes that are not pleasing him.  This concept may be a bit confusing to us, but it is perfectly clear to the Lord.  He loves us and he hates sin.  Both are true.” 
God wants us to be good positive witnesses, always and everywhere for him, so complaining needs to be avoided!

ACTION STEP - We need to replace a complaining attitude with a thankful attitude!
 
The truth is, a thankful spirit is a perfect replacement for complaining!  Remember the story from Jesus’ life about his healing of 10 lepers?  This story makes it clear that Jesus knows who is thankful and who is not!  And, those who express thanks to God for his grace and mercy get even another blessing from him!  The one leper was healed . . . but his faith took him to a more intimate relationship with Jesus!

So, the truth is that an unthankful / ungrateful attitude toward God will ALWAYS suppress the awareness of God in our life.

So, what can we take with us today from this Thanksgiving message?
We either have an attitude of thankfulness or and attitude of complaining and grumbling  . . . and we need to know that God does not like or reward complaining attitudes!

We need to know this truth because too many Christians believe it’s okay to complain all the time, and, they think there is no repercussion for having bad attitudes.

So, what do we need to do?

•    We need to approach life with positive attitude.  WHY?  So that we reveal the presence and love of Jesus to those we live with,  work with, associate with and connect with in our daily life!

•    We need to cultivate thankful attitudes so that we can have a healthier and happier life.

And the best way to cultivate a thankful attitude is by being prayerfully intentional in thanking God for his goodness to us each day . . . AND to make a commitment to rid ourselves of a grumbling attitude and replacing it with a thankful one.
A

 

 

November 6, 2021

“ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE”
Luke 17:11-21
  
(A sermon series on Thanksgiving)

Our Founding Father’s knew the importance of giving God thanks for his blessings and provision!  They knew the importance of having an attitude of gratitude toward God.  But, I wonder if we have - as a nation and even a4s the Church - forgotten the importance of worshipping God today.  Really,  one of the best ways to worship and praise God is through an attitude of gratitude toward Jesus.

Jesus faced an “attitude of gratitude problem” - even in his ministry.  Let’s look at a story from his life . . .

Luke 17:11-21 (ESV)
11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee.  12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.”  14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.”  And as they went they were cleansed.  15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks.  Now he was a Samaritan.  17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed?  Where are the nine?  18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”  19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”  20 Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” 
 
I imagine this story looked something like this. 10 men hear of Jesus’ ability to heal.  Their bodies were covered with scabs and rotting flesh, from a disease called leprosy.  They heard of supernatural healing miracles . . . so they go looking for Jesus to ask him for a miracle!  They find Jesus and yell out their request, from afar of course!

Leprosy is a horrible disease that is also called Hansen's disease.  It’s a long-lasting infection caused by bacteria, devastating and once feared as highly contagious.  Now, however, the disease is very rare and easily treated.  Early diagnosis and treatment usually prevent disabilities related to the disease.

The bacteria that causes leprosy grows very slowly.  It may take 2 to 10 years before symptoms appear.  Symptoms mainly affect the skin, nerves, and mucous membranes.

The disease can cause skin lesions and ulcers on the skin, severe pain, numbness of affected areas of the skin, and eye problems that may lead to blindness.

Since leprosy affects the nerves, loss of feeling / skin sensation can occur.  When loss of sensation occurs, injuries (such as burns or broken bones) may go unnoticed.  
The disease of leprosy carries not only the physical impact of leprosy, it also carries the social impact as a deadly disease.  When a person contracted leprosy they were then banished to these leprosy colonies - which were isolated from the rest of society.  They were banished from their family and friends to live in a state of lonely agony as they slowly died from this horrible disease.

Notice that in our scripture they stood at a distance from Jesus.  Why?  Because they were not allowed to be near anyone else!  (Could you imagine a life like this?  Could you imagine the emotional as well as the physical trauma?)  They cried out to Jesus, from a distance, “Please have pity on us, Jesus!”  Can you see the . . . deformed, broken and shattered?   Maybe they cried, “Please heal us.  Please, Jesus, we need a miracle to get our lives back!”  As you hear their request you see their cry of desperation - they are seeking a miracle from Jesus.


THE REQUEST 

The request was a cry for help from all 10 lepers!
 
Jesus has a heart filled with love and this scene shows it as 10 hurting people cry out for help.  They are asking for pity / for a miracle from Jesus!  

In scripture there are several instances when Jesus heals from a distance - all He has to do is say the word!  Did you hear that?  ALL Jesus has to do is say the words, “Be healed!”

Love has the power to restore all that was once lost in our lives . . . due to the disease of sin.  This is why we should be grateful to God!  This is why we should have an attitude of gratitude.  This is why we should praise Jesus and worship him!  It’s all about an attitude of gratitude!

Jesus spoke the lepers healing into existence from a distance - “Go show yourself to the priest and he will confirm that you are healed, and made whole again, and able to enter back into society.”  They could be normal people again!  No longer contagious or banished . . . but embraced by their family and friends.  

Could you imagine a moment like this in your life?  
You are banished from others - isolated from family and friends . . . and then the reunion / the love / the touch from another person!  Jesus speaks it into existence from afar!

So, 10 lepers are miraculously healed and the priest confirms the miracle, but, only 1 healed leper comes back to Jesus to say, “Thank you!”  How sad.  How thoughtless.  The Bible says we need to give God thanks for his blessings.

At this time, the people of Israel were the ones who offered up two offerings of thanks to God in the temple each day saying - “Thank You” to the Lord.  These lepers would have known the importance of giving God thanks for a miracle - especially one of this magnitude on their personal lives!  You would have thought they would have all come back to praise God and to say, “Thank You!”

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (ESV)
Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Scripture tells us to be thankful to God for his divine provision - but only 1 out of 10 go back and praise the Lord for a divine miracle!

Don’t miss the phrase in this Scripture - God’s will for your life is to give HIM thanks for all things!  God’s will is for us to have an attitude of gratitude!

“God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today.
Have you used one to say Thank You?”
- William A. Ward -

It is so ea

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