Sermon "Skill in Your Hand & God in Your Heart"

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Twas the Day After Christmas.

"And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them." Luke 2:20

I remember as a child how it seemed that it took so long for Christmas to come. In the days leading up to it, all the things my mom and dad did to prepare for it only helped to build the anticipation. We always raked the yard the week before so it would look nice. My mom made a lot of holiday candies and cookies. I went with my dad to cut down the tree on our farm. Then that holiday joy and excitement would reach its peak on Christmas Eve when I came out of my room to find what Santa had left for me.

But that feeling was fleeting because with all the happenings that happened on Christmas day, it went by really fast. Then there was the sad and somewhat depressing Day After Christmas feeling. The family and friends went back home, the toys started to get old and what was left of the turkey got cold.

Over 2000 years ago, for the small group that took part in that miraculous event, Christmas was even more exciting. For Mary and Joseph, the wise men, and the shepherds, though they may not have fully grasped its magnitude, they witnessed an event that changed the world from that point into eternity. But soon that day was over, and as we read in Luke 2:20, the shepherds went home, and Mary and Joseph had to go on with raising their baby boy.

We often look for the miraculous with our experience with God. We feel we are closest to God when our emotions are high and the experience is exciting. Whether that's in a public service in church or a private moment with the Lord. Then our tendency is to allow ourselves to grow cold in our spirit once the final song has been sung and the crowd has dispersed.  But the fact is, we have to go on and grow on living our lives for Christ.

Just remember that the miracle that was the life of Christ did not fade with the star over Bethlehem. His work had just begun. Once the Shepherds left, Jesus went on living so that one day He could die for you and for me. And now Christ gives us the power to live for Him.

So...Twas the day after Christmas. Are you still excited about the baby Jesus?

Try Jesus!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Leaning on a Limp

Acts 3:2 "And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple."

As Peter and John were entering into the temple, they encountered a man who had been lame all his life. He relied on others to physically carry him every day to the temple to beg for his existence. He was leaning on others, so to speak, to survive. This reminds me of how we lean on others in our lives as well. Maybe not in a physical sense, but in an emotional and sometimes spiritual sense. We have a limp, or place in our life where we are weak and fall short, so we search out others upon whom we can lean in those areas. The problem is... we all have a limp and are trying to find someone to lean on too. So we end up...leaning on a limp.

There is nothing wrong with relying on others,  but we should be careful not to totally lean on someone else. Ultimately they have their own weaknesses, and at some point WILL let us down. The Lord is the only one we can fully put all of our weight against and know that He is more than able to carry us.

Psalm 18:2 says "The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower." So, put all of your hope and trust in the Lord, and be careful about leaning on a limp.


Try Jesus!

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Bad Sheep, and the Good Shepherd

John 10:11 "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep."

Many people in the time and culture that Jesus lived were very familiar with sheep herding. It was a common occupation and people saw sheep all the time. So when our Lord described Himself as a shepherd, that was a comforting thought, because they knew how precious sheep were to their shepherd. But what they may have missed was that even though Jesus is likened unto the shepherd, the parable was just as much about how we are like the sheep. See, even though Christ is a good shepherd, we are often bad sheep.

Here are some similarities between us and the bad sheep:

  1. Sheep by nature are herding animals. They prefer to live and move in flocks. They find comfort and safety in numbers. We are social too. We prefer to live and move in groups. That can be dangerous because fitting in and moving with the crowd often means we have to take on the beliefs and behavior of the crowd. Many crowds in today's world are moving away from God. Are we going to move with them?
  2. Sheep are programmed to follow the leader. Whether it's the dominant ram or the eldest sheep, they will go where ever the leader goes. I read a story about a flock of 400 sheep that followed one sheep right off a cliff to their death. Most of us in some areas in our lives are followers by nature. We are constantly following, but the question is where are we being led.
  3. Sheep depend mostly on their sight. They have large eyes positioned on their heads where they can see almost 360 degrees around them. They depend on their sight so much that they are reluctant to go where they cannot see. That sounds like us. We move based on what we see, even though we know looks can be deceiving. God may be telling us to move in faith, but we want to see it first. However, a lot of what God promises us we can't yet see.

When I think about how much I am like those sheep, I realize how much I need Jesus to guide me through the briers, cliffs and wolves in my life. I need Him to make me lie down in green pastures and lead me beside still waters. I can understand what David meant when he said, thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Because I know I am sometimes a bad sheep, I am thankful that Jesus is always the Good Shepherd.

Try Jesus!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Running From a Monster of Your Own Making

Genesis 32:24 " And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day." 

When I read about Jacob, I am reminded of the tale of Frankenstein. As the story goes, Dr. Victor Frankenstein became fascinated with finding a way to create life after the death of his mother. He took various body parts and pieced them together to create a being from his own bare hands. Once alive, Dr. Frankenstein was disgusted at his creation because of its monstrous appearance. So he locks the monster away. The monster grows saddened at his confinement and longs to be set free. Finally he is able to escape, and eventually grows angry at his creator and pursues him that he may kill him. How ironic it was that Dr. Frankenstein was running from a monster of his own making.

Jacob found himself in that same predicament. He had stolen his brother Esau's birthright, which angered him so much that he vowed to kill him. So Jacob ran for his life.

Sometimes we find ourselves in trials and tribulations that are not our fault. But many times, if the truth be told, the troubles we are desperately trying to flee are the results of sins we have committed. Poor decisions, bad relationships, or wrong turns. Things that at the time seemed harmless enough, but now have grown into monsters that seek to destroy us.

Here are 3 things we can learn from Jacob:

1) God will make you stop running.  God touched the hallow of Jacob's thigh, and he had no choice to but to stop running. Sometimes we think if we can avoid our monster long enough, eventually it will go away. But it won't! You can't defeat a monster while running from it.
2) God will change you. God changed Jacob's name (meaning trickster) to Israel (Prince with God). We often pray that God will change our situation, but He is more interested in changing us. If He defeated our monster without changing us, there is a chance we only make more monsters.
3) God will change your monster. In Genesis 33:4, Esau didn't do what we would have expected when he finally caught up with Jacob. The bible says that he ran up to him, embraced his brother, and they wept. See, if we first let God change us, He will then be gracious enough to change our monster.

Let Jacob and Dr. Frankenstein be an example to you. You can never run fast or far enough. Surrender to the Lord, and you too can stop running from a monster of your own making.


Try Jesus!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Person, the Process and the Purpose

Genesis 37: 18-24 "And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him. And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh. Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams. And Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands; and said, Let us not kill him. And Reuben said unto them, Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, and lay no hand upon him; that he might rid him out of their hands, to deliver him to his father again. And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stript Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colours that was on him; And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it."

Other than his coat of many colors, there was nothing particularly special about Joseph. Among his brothers, he was not the oldest, or the smartest or the strongest. But before his life would end, Joseph came to be second in command in Egypt, which at that time was the mightiest nation in the world. However, he wasn't an overnight success. God had to take Joseph through a process to get to him to his purpose.

All of us want to know our purpose in life. In fact, we want to know what it is, and when we feel like we know, we want to jump right into it. But really, our true purpose only comes through a process. Think about those in the kingdom who have done mighty things. Moses had to go through the back side of the desert before he could deliver Israel. David had to make it through Goliath before he could make it to his throne. Jonah had to see the belly of the fish before he would go to Ninevah to call for repentance. Even Jesus had to go through the cross before He could fulfill His purpose to seek and save the lost.

Though you may think that what you are going through only serves to hold you back at best, and destroy you at worst, just think about Joseph. Before he could get to his purpose in Egypt, and in a position to be able to save his family and all of Israel from a famine, he first had to be mocked by his brothers, thrown into a pit, sold into slavery, falsely accused by Potiphar's wife, and thrown into jail. Let Joseph and his testimony be a reminder to you that, yes you are the person, but you have to go through a process to get to your purpose.

Try Jesus!

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Real Meaning of Easter.

Easter is such a wonderful celebration. The meaning behind it is beautiful in and of itself, but for it to come in the spring of the year is just great. Many of us feel closed in by the cold winter weather, and then as the temperature rises and the flowers begin to bloom, we are drawn out to partake in the newness of God's creation.

But the world has taken this Christian celebration, and transformed it to be more acceptable to their non-Christian ways. An empty tomb, a resurrected Savior, and a soon-coming King, is too much for a world that desires to live contrary to God. So, on the first Sunday following the full moon after the vernal equinox which occurs on March 21, we have Easter. Way back in history, pieces of other pagan (non-Cristian) rituals were mixed in to make it easier for the world to tolerate. The word Easter is believed to come from the pagan god Eastre who was worshiped in England centuries ago at the time of spring. The rabbit and eggs were also incorporated into those rituals as they were symbols of fertility and new beginnings. So over the centuries, the world has taken those symbols and combined them with our special time of Easter.

I am not saying that we shouldn't do the Easter bunny and candy eggs and other traditions we have. They were fun for me as a child, and I enjoy doing them with my children. But never let us forget the Real Meaning of Easter.

Jesus lived only that He may die for our sins. But He promised that after three days, He would rise again, and He did. Those close to Him went to the tomb seeking their Lord, but they found nothing but the cloths that wrapped His body. An angel appeared and said, "He is not here, for He is risen."

Jesus' resurrection is proof that His word is true, and that we serve a living God. And as He promised to rise, He has also promised to return. He will come again, but not as the lamb that was slain, but as a lion who will reign. Never forget the real meaning of Easter.

Click here to read more on the real story of Easter.
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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

You're not lucky, you're blessed!

Happy St. Patrick's day! Do you know the story behind that? Well, St. Patrick was born in Great Britain in the 5th century AD. At 16, he was captured by Irish raiders and taken to Ireland to live as a slave. He escaped, but later became a Catholic Bishop and returned to Ireland to lead the Irish to Christ.

St. Patrick used a plant common in Ireland, the shamrock (we typically know as a clover), to teach the lost souls of Ireland about the Trinity, the three persons of God in one. Through his dedication to his call to witness to the lost, and his simple, yet effective methods of sharing the gospel, St. Patrick to this day endures as the champion for taking Christianity to Ireland.

Over the centuries, people all over the world have come to celebrate the story of St. Patrick. However, it has been blended with other Irish traditions, like the folklore of the leprechaun, and the shamrock has been reduced to a symbol of luck.

If you are having a hard time understanding the concept of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three persons in one Godhead, just think of the shamrock. Remember, all we have to do is call out in faith to God, and you will have the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit on your side. The Father who is the creator of all, the Son who is the savior of all, and the Holy Spirit who gives power to all. And when you do, you will know that you are not are blessed!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

He Did It For You!

Isaiah 53:5 "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed."

Have you seen the movie 'The Passion of the Christ'? I was amazed at the lengths the producers of this film went to in order to be historically, geographically, and culturally accurate.  I think the most gripping element of the film was its portrayal of Christ's suffering which was, although graphic, very accurate. 

As I was staring at that huge screen, drawn in by the drama, watching them beat my savior, I remember thinking...why?....why would they do that?...why would He let them do that? Jesus could have stopped it at any time He wanted to. In fact, He could have avoided the whole thing if He so chose. But He didn't, and the fact is.....He Did It For You!

He was wounded, and you are spared. He was bruised and you are healed.  He was innocent, and you are guilty, yet He was punished and you are pardoned.  Doesn't seem fair, does it? Doesn't seem like justice, does it? Well, it's's grace.

God tells us in John 3:16 that He loves you so much that He sent His only Son to take all of that cruelty and pain, and ultimately death...for you. He did it so that you can go to Heaven, even though you don't deserve to. So, if you think you can stand to watch it, rent that movie, and as you see the stripes He bore, the tears he cried, the blood He shed, and the life He gave, just remember...HE DID IT FOR YOU!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Excerpt from Rev. Eric's speech on MLK Day titled..."Unity"

We are here today, not just because of the MLK holiday, but because of Dr. Kings work to bring about unity. His work was not just for African-Americans, but for all Americans, because he helped us to first see the artificial lines of separation we had drawn, and through God's word, helped us to find the courage to begin the process of erasing them.
In his short life (Jan. 15, 1929 - Apr. 4, 1968), he worked to overcome the laws and social practices that divided us. He worked to tear down the high, but thin walls of race, color and class so that we might come together as a nation, under God, in spite of our differences. Because of his work, and the work of countless others, we are here unity.

Rev. King left us the legacy of his work, not for us to rest on what he has built, but for us to finish what he started...his work of unity.

To finish that work, we need to understand...what unity is, why we need it, and how we can achieve it.

1) What is it?  Webster says that it is "the state or quality of being one: under one common purpose or goal." Unity is partly defined by what it is not . Unity is not being the same. Though many live as though they believe it, but it is not necessary for you and I to seek to be the same in order to find unity, or that if we are not the same, then we can't possibly be unified. There is beauty in the fact that we are in many ways different, yet we together can function as one unit, a family, a community, or a nation. The bible best describes in 1 Corinthians 12:12-31. Just as the hand is much different than the head, and the head much different than the ear, and the nose, and the eye, and the heart, etc. they all need each other to function as one unit called the body. So as we look at those around us, and our first thought is that we are not the same, let our second thought be that in spite of our difference, we need each other.

2) Why do we need it? Simply put, we need unity to survive. In Matthew 12:25, Jesus taught us that "every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand." If you peer through history, you will see that the greatest nations that ever were, did not ultimately fall from attacks from the outside, but from turmoil, corruption and division from the inside. And we had better read the writing on the wall, and come together lest we fall. Did you realize that there are people in many parts of the world who are of different races, colors, nationalities and ethnicities....different in many more ways than we are as Americans, but have found unity under one common ideal...Hate For America! So if we want to save our jobs, our schools, our neighborhoods, our children, our way of life...we better come together, and we better do it NOW!

3) How do we achieve it? In order to achieve unity, we must train ourselves and our children to appreciate our differences and focus on our common goals. Just think about it, there may be some here who have worked with some of the same people for years, yet you barely speak to them at work and never speak to them out in the community. And you do that because you focus on the differences you see on the outside, and assume that because they don't look the same, you couldn't possibly have anything in common. But I bet if you look closer, take the time to get to know that person, you will find they want their kids educated just like you, they want job security just like you, they have hopes and dreams...just like you. You would realize that you are not so different after all. But when we focus on our differences, it is so much easier to hate, and so much harder to find unity.  Dr. King said "Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes personality and eats away at its vital unity. Hate destroys a man's sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false, and the false with the true."  But when we focus on what we have in common, it becomes easier to love and easier to find unity.

So know what it is, you know why we need it, and you know how to all that is left to do is to go out and find it.

God Bless You and Happy Martin Luther King Day.

Try Jesus!

If you liked this blog post, you may also like "Beware of the Wedge"

Friday, January 15, 2010

I Too Have A Dream!

Today is the birthday of Rev., Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This picture is one taken during his speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, August 28, 1963. The speech was famously titled, "I Have a Dream". I have a dream too.....

I too have a dream...that one day God's people, those born again of the spirit, will rise up and not just be able to quote God's word, but also be able to live it.

I too have a dream...that one day on the red hills of Hollister, former alcoholics, drug addicts, and all of us who have fallen short of the glory will turn our backs to our sinful ways and lift up our eyes to Heaven from whence cometh our help; and the only time we look back or look down is to help our brother or sister who has fallen by the way.

I too have a dream...that one day even in Hollister, a community whose light has been dimmed by a lack of opportunity and an abundance of hopelessness, will be transformed into a beacon of hope, a lighthouse warning travelers of all the dangers toils and snares, and guiding the lost to Jesus Christ...I too have a dream.

I too have a dream...that my 2 children can live in a place where they won't be measured by the sum of their possessions, but regarded for the contents of their hearts.

I too have a dream...that one day the 17 churches in Hollister will no longer allow ourselves to be divided by the thin but high walls of skin color, denomination, and worship style, and realize that we are truly one body, under one God, with one mission. I too have a dream.

I have a dream that all our churches will come together and pray til it changes and give til it hurts so that one day we can't find a mother who has to worry how she will feed her baby, or a father who has to wonder how he will pay a bill, or a grandmother who can only wish she could buy medicine and food. I have a dream too.

Like Dr. King, I too have a dream. I may not have had to stand at the back of a bus or sit on the floor of a prison, but I have had to watch too many of my brothers, black, white and red, who have had their years stolen by the enemy. I have seen too many mommas crying over their children who will hardly come home, much less come to church. I have seen too many who have done too much and were gone too soon.

But in spite of all that, I still have a dream.

My God says that He will never leave me and never forsake me; He says that He will provide for all of my needs according to His riches in glory; He promises that there is nothing that can separate me from His love, and He says that all things work together for the good of those who love Him...and I sure do love Him.

So with that in mind I know I can dream too; and if you think about it, so can you!

Rev. Eric Evans


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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

This Sickness is Not Unto Death!

John 11:4 "When Jesus heard that, he said 'This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby."

I recently went through a brief sickness. A few weeks ago I had a sinus cold, which turned into a chest cold, both lasting about 2 weeks. The chest cold was a little bit of concern because I have asthma, but not really a big deal because I have had them many times before. The congestion got to be very deep and started to be painful. Well,  you know how it goes, when there is something wrong, and you are not sure what it is, your mind tends to fill in the blank with the worst case scenario. Not to mention, the internet didn't help because when I googled my symptoms, I got a list of various horrifying diseases that I could have possibly had. Long story short, I went to the dr and found out I had an infection that was taken care of by antibiotics.

Lazarus had gotten very sick; much sicker than I was or have ever been. His sisters Mary and Martha sent for Jesus to come and heal him, but Jesus waited. And before He could get to him, Lazarus died.  During the 2 days of Jesus' intentional delay, while Lazarus was getting sicker and sicker, and his sisters more and more worried, Jesus said something amazing. He said "This sickness is not unto death (or shall not end in death), but for the glory of God..."

While I was searching all the possible reasons why I was sick, it never crossed my mind that the reason could have been nothing about me, but that God may get some glory. Lazarus' sickness and ultimate death was not about him at all. God was using him to set up a miracle, so that Jesus could raise him from the grave, God could get the glory, and those who saw it might believe. Jesus said "...Lazarus is dead, and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe..."

Maybe someone reading this now is facing a sickness and you are asking yourself, "why me", "why this", or "why now."  Let "second-chance-at-life" Lazarus remind you that God is in control, that He very well could be using you as a vessel for a miracle, and that this sickness in not unto death, but that God may be glorified.

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Read the whole story of Lazarus