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

Friday, December 23, 2011

Peace in Your Heart

Luke 2:14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." 

Say the word "Peace". Go ahead, right where you are, as loud as you want to or as softly as you need to...slowly say the word  "Peace". Now just let it soak in; mediate on it for a moment. It has a calming affect doesn't it?

Often we think of or pray for peace, but our unspoken hope is that it will fall like dew on the world around us and change it. But really, that's not the purpose of the peace spoken of in Luke 2. Rather, God's peace is more like a salve that is to seep down into us, reaching our hearts to change us. See we want peace in the world, but the bible does not give us that expectation. In fact it teaches the opposite. In Jeremiah 6:14, it says that people will cry out "...Peace! Peace!, when there is no peace." In 1 Thessalonians 5:3, Paul writes "...they are saying 'Peace and Safety! Then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape."  The truth is that the conditions of this sinful world filled with sinful people are not conducive to peace.

The peace we can expect is not peace without, but rather peace within. Through Christ Jesus, we can have peace in our hearts; peace in the midst of...peace in spite of...peace in the face of...this world we live in. The path of Jesus was from Heaven to the manger, to the Cross, to the grave, then back to Heaven, and then, if you are a your heart. Therefore, you have God's peace right within you.

Through Christ, you will not only know what he meant, but you can feel what he meant when Isaiah wrote the words..."For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is give; and the government shall be on his shoulders; and His name shall be Wonderful, Counselor, The Might God, The Everlasting Father...The Prince of Peace!"

Merry Christmas to you, and I pray you have that Peace in your heart!

-Rev. Eric

Monday, December 5, 2011

Raise up Your Flag - A Reprise

Isaiah 59:19 "So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him."

In April 2009, I published a post titled Raise Up Your Flag! I encourage you to take a few moments to read that. It was and still is helpful for me, particularly in times when it feels like the enemy is coming in like a flood, as described in Isaiah 59. 

Recently I have been feeling that way, and the Lord brought me back to that scripture passage. Through it He reminds me that because I am a child of God, the outcome is...
I WIN. I win because Jesus ALREADY WON! No matter how the battle looks right matter how, through my eyes, it looks like the enemy is gaining ground....the outcome has already been decided. 

In order to keep reeking havoc in our lives, the enemy relies on us forgetting that fact. Even though we are not defeated, he wants us to feel defeated. Even though our lives and everything good in it is not over, he wants us to believe that it is. 

The scripture here in Isaiah 59:19 says When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him. A standard as referred to here is a flag that bares the mark or emblem of the kingdom which it represents. As I am sure you have seen in movies, during a battle, it is important to proclaim victory by taking the flag of that nation and posting it high on a hill for all to see. That lets the defeated nation know that what used to belong to them, belongs to them no more. It also lets any others who have desires to possess that land know who it is they will have to fight to get it. 

When you surrendered to Christ, and I hope you have, you became His conquered territory and forever part of His kingdom. That cross-shaped flag that now stands at the top of the highest hill of your soul lets everyone and everything that used to lay claim to you know that it doesn't any more. It lets every enemy know, whether a demon from hell or your flesh in which you still live, that to get you its going to have to fight for you. And Jesus is no push-over. Our God boldly proclaims "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD." Isa. 54:17

So if you feel like it has been a struggle for you lately to raise your flag as I have, don't worry. Christ has already raised it for you. 

Try Jesus!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Messing up a Clean Slate

Genesis 9:21 "And he [Noah] drank the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered in his tent."

The story of Noah and his Arc needs little introduction. Most of you are familiar with the Bible's description of how sinful the world had become and how it displeased God. I'm sure you know that God called Noah to build this gigantic ship when there is no evidence that he had ever built as much as a canoe; how he gathered the animals and marched them in two-by-two; how the rains came, and the waters rose and for 40 days and 40 nights and the whole earth was covered in that flood with everything destroyed except for what was on Noah's boat. It was God's way of wiping the slate clean and starting over.

Some of you may not be familiar with what happened next. Well, the Bible says that Noah started over and became a farmer. He planted a vineyard....grew grapes...turned them into wine...drank the wine....and GOT DRUNK. In fact, so drunk that he laid naked in shame in his tent. His sons had to come in and cover him up. WHAT?!? But wait a minute. The Lord just had him to take anywhere from 20 to 40 years to build a boat to survive a flood that God sent because of the sin in the world; and Noah was chosen because he was "a just man". The Lord had started over...He had wiped the slate clean...and now there was Noah messing it up again.

You know, when I think about it, I really shouldn't be too surprised. Truthfully I can see some of me in that story. I have messed up, I mean way up; beyond the point of what I could fix. But then God, in His gracious and merciful way, wiped my slate clean and gave me another chance. Then, in my sinful and selfish way, went and messed up again.

If you see yourself in this story too, I want to share a truth with you that I have to remind myself of. Here it is....There is nothing you can do to separate yourself from the love of God! (Romans 8:38,39) No matter how high your sins stack up, they will never reach the heights of God's love for you.The sum of the times you have messed up again will never be equal to or greater than the number of times that God has thought about how much He loves you.

So if you feel like you have already messed up your clean slate, just remember God still loves you and if you repent [stop doing that sin] and ask Him for forgiveness, He will wipe it clean again.

Friday, October 28, 2011

To Win A Lot, You've Gotta Try A Lot!

Bret Favre
"By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith." Hebrews 11:7

In recent years, I have come to enjoy watching sports more and more. One of the things I like about it is that there is so much about life that is similar to what is played out on the courts and ball fields. 

For example, I was reading a list of NFL records and was amazed to see the multiple records held by retired quarterback, Bret Favre. It is interesting that he holds both the record for most passes completed in a career (6,300) and most touchdown passes in a career (508). That is impressive. But you know, many overlook the fact that he also holds the NFL record for most passes attempted in a career (10,169) and the most times sacked in a career (525). Therein lies a life lesson. If you want to win a lot, you have to be willing to try a lot!

Noah was called by God to do an amazing task. Though there is no record of him having any skill or experience in even building a canoe, the Lord chose Noah to build a boat that was 450 ft long, 75 feet wide and taller than a 3 story building. I am so impressed by the fact that Noah didn't question, complain or hesitate; he just started building. AND, not only did he build it, but he trusted the Lord enough to get on it. 

You know, the Lord will call you to do some amazing things in your life that you may think you are not equipped to do. But God doesn't want you to be afraid of those big tasks or even any opposition that may come against you. He wants you to trust Him and try your best. Don't let your fear of losing steal your chances of winning. Like Bret Favre & Noah, use the skills God has given you, stand tall on His promises even in the face of opposition, and TRY! 

Learn from what Bret Favre figured out. To Win A lot, You've Gotta Try A lot!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Let Jesus Be Your Valentine!

Do you know the history of Valentines Day? Tradition has it that Saint Valentine was a Catholic priest in Rome during a time before Christianity was accepted. During that time, Roman Emperor Claudius II had made a decree that all young men were to remain unmarried. He thought that would make them better soldiers. However, St. Valentine secretly performed marriage ceremonies. When discovered, Emperor Claudius ordered him killed.

Legend has it that before his execution, Claudius offered Valentine the chance to live if he would renounce his faith in the true and living God and follow the pagan gods of the day. Valentine refused and instead tried to win Claudius's soul for Christ. Valentine was not successful and was martyred in AD 269.  Some say that Valentine wrote a note to his secret love on the night before his execution, and signed it "from your Valentine".

What a beautiful Christian story that goes untold because it doesn't sell teddy bears or chocolate hearts. But it is a story of the greatest love this world has ever known, the love that God has for us. John captured it so well in his gospel when he recorded "For God so love the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." God loves you so much that He gave what He loved the most and what you needed the most....His son the savior.

So if you really want to know about true love, let Jesus be your valentine.

Try Jesus!!