2000 Sermons

You: A Work In Progress 4/2/00

Jesus Christ said, “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4).

If that be true of Christ it is also true of us. Therefore, once His will is determined do it heartily as unto the Lord. Pour yourself enthusiastically into what you do.

It was said of Joan of Arc, the Maid of Loraine: “She discovered her path and went down it like a thunderbolt.” That is commitment. Can your lifestyle of service be so described or is it better depicted by fits and starts?

The Apostle Paul penned an exhortation to people he loved that the Holy Spirit has directed to people the Father loves. “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). Is a proof text improperly used by some who support the spurious belief that a person is saved and kept by works. “Work out your own salvation” is asserted to mean you have to devise your own means of salvation by the work you do.

The text doesn’t say work FOR or AT your salvation, but OUT.

Salvation by works makes man and God look bad. It makes man look like everything he does is to get something. It leaves no room for acts of gratitude. It makes God look bad because it makes Him look like He can be bought off.

The text is better understood when interpreted using language of the math classroom. When an equation is written out the instruction regarding the math problem is often “work it out.”

A teacher went to the chalk board and wrote out one of those long equations, such as, X to the 10th power, plus Y, etc. Then she wrote at the end “Find X.” A not so promising math student went to the board, drew an arrow pointing to the X and said, “There it is!”

To assume our text means work to earn your salvation is just as inadequate as that response to the math equation.

All the elements of the math problem were there but the teacher wanted the pupil to carry it to its logical conclusion. To do so in our spiritual life we must work throughout the period of our salvation. We are to do it with “fear and trembling,” which means with “reverence and a healthy respect.”

The Greek verb for “work out,” KATERGAZESTHAI, always has the idea of carrying to a logical conclusion. This is an appeal to “DON’T STOP HALFWAY.” Go on to the very end exercising faith and faithfulness. When exhorted to “work out our own salvation” the appeal is to carry it to its logical conclusion. That is, work through out the time you are saved to reach the end intended, to accomplish the purpose God had in mind for you.

Nearby the Dematiaceae Chapel in Florence, Italy is the Academy of Art. Florence is the location of one of Michelangelo’s most magnificent works, David. As a sculptor he produces such great works as Moses, the Pieta, and David. His highly acclaimed work is incomparable.

A large chamber in the Academy building houses what are known as Michelangelo’s slaves. They are incomplete works of art that were in progress at the time of his death.

He always started with a piece of stone which yielded to his will as his skilled hands freed from it the intended work of art. Until the moment of completion each was always an incomplete work of art in progress. These incomplete works are called “slaves” because they have not yet been completely freed from the stone.

One is of a man whose upper torso and head are complete. The lower part is still the block of unhewn stone. It appears as though the man is standing in stone. In another the lower extremities of the body are complete and the unfinished block of stone rests on the person’s shoulders. It is as though he is struggling to free himself from the stone.

These incomplete works lack the quality of the completed works principally because they are unfinished. Do they mirror your life? Have you stopped part way in your spiritual pilgrimage? Don’t stop half-way. Let our Lord finish the work he began in you the moment of salvation. Let Him free you from spiritual enslavement.

To carry your salvation to its logical conclusion God is willing to help. “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).

Pray for Him to reveal His will to you knowing He will once He sees in you the will to do it. Pray:

“Lord guide me, the sea is so big and my boat is so small.”

Often God guides through long and uncertain pathways. However, if we will follow He will guide.

Young Kurt’s world was turned up-side-down when at age 4 his dad left home. Fortunately there were Christian male role models that came into his life. Some were coaches who saw potential in little Kurt as he developed. He played football at Cedar Rapids High, and earned a scholarship to Northern Iowa where he warmed the bench for four years before becoming a fifth year starter. He got a try out with Green Bay but lasted only two weeks in preseason camp.

He went back to Cedar Rapids and took a job as a stock boy in a Hy-Vee Grocery Store paying $5.50 an hour. Their slogan is “A Smile In Every Aisle.”

While working there he got a call offering him an opportunity to play for the Iowa Barnstormers in the Arena Football League. This eight man game played indoors on a field about half the size of a normal field, but that was better than nothing for a competitor. After a few seasons he was offered a chance to play for the Amsterdam Admirals in the Netherlands.

In 1992 Kurt Warner married a Christian who stimulated his own faith. Their shared faith in God is summed up in this statement by Kurt: “I never lost hope, He had a plan for me.”

Last year shortly before the NFL season began Kurt Warner was signed by the St. Louis Rams to play back-up quarterback. His wife Brenda reminded him, “If you have faith in God’s plan, things will work out for you.”

An injury to the franchise quarterback put Kurt in the starting role. It was a fabled season. He threw 41 touchdown passes and amassed 4,353 yards to lead the leagues Number 1 ranked offense and be named the leagues MVP.

This past season at age 28, in the Georgia Dome, he led the Rams to the Super Bowl championship and became the games MVP.

In the post-game interview in the Dome and on global TV he said, “Let first things be first! I want to give all the glory and all the praise to the Lord and Savior above. THANK YOU JESUS.”

His coach, Dick Vermeil said of Kurt Warner: “He is a classic example of what we would all like to be – on and off the field. He has persistence and a deep faith.”

We can’t all be Superbowl MVP’s but we can show the same faithfulness to God’s calling upon our lives. Kurt’s example is a living appeal to pray:

“Lord, free me from the pressure of doing great
things in the world by being great in doing small things for you.
Help me to persist even though I want to give up.
Help me to keep trying even though I can’t see what good it does.
Help me to keep praying although at times I’m not sure You hear me.
Help me to keep living in a way that seeks to please You.
Help me to know when to lead and when to follow.
Help me to know when to speak and when to keep silent.
Help me to know when to wait and when to act.
Lord, please help me to hang on.
Please don’t let me give up.
Help me to remember that, like the sun in the morning,
You come when it is time.”

“It is God who works in you both to will and to do…” The same Greek word is translated “works” and “to do.” It is ENERGEIN. In it we can hear our word for energy. This word is only used in the New Testament as a reference to action of God. It is effective action because it is action of God. His actions are not to remain half-finished. Carry your salvation to its logical conclusion.

Observe, this Bible and glove.

I might say to the glove, “I want you to pick up the Bible. It is my will for you to do it!” Nothing happens.

I might appeal, “Please pick up the Bible. I really want you to.” Still no response.

I might order the glove to pick up the Bible, “Pick it up and do it NOW!” If it does —- that door is mine.

I might even demonstrate how to pick up the Bible and appeal to the glove, “Now, do it like that.” Still no action.

I might preach to it, “Pick up the Bible, it’s the thing to do. There is great joy in picking up Bible. Now is the time.” Nothing! It can’t pick up the Bible.

BUT if I put my hand in the glove —– then the will, power and ability of my hand becomes the will, power and ability of the glove. When that happens the glove can do what my hand wants to do and the Bible is picked up easily.

It is Christ who works in you both to will and to do His good pleasure.

The illustration only breaks down when it is realized that we unlike the glove have the will to resist the Hand. We in our will must be willing to say, “Thy will be done.” When we do it is done by His enabling grace.

Without your consenting help even the actions of God are not completed.

He enlightens and empowers us. He reveals His will and He gives resources for doing it. Therefore, don’t argue with God: “Do all without murmuring and disputing” (Philippians 2:14).

Instead of arguing with God work with the conviction that the promises of God are true.

A logical conclusion of our salvation is that our life should be a sacrificial life of servanthood. Paul uses his life as an illustration: “I am being poured out like a drink offering” (Philippians 2:17). This was a process used in making sacrifices by the Jews and pagans. At a time in the ceremony of worship a drink that would have been a tasty refreshing beverage was poured on the sacrifice as a sacrifice itself. Paul depicted his life as perpetually being sacrificed to and for Christ.

That depicts our biggest problem as Christians. We evidence an unwillingness to give up control of our lives, to abandon them in faith to become Christ like. We give the impression that our lives can’t be good unless we control them. Our trust of Christ must bring us to the point where we are willing to be poured out as a sacrifice knowing the future belongs to God.

Talking about abandonment is beautiful and easy. Doing it is right and responsible — but also challenging.

The statement “work out your own salvation” is an imperative moral command to be obeyed. Don’t downgrade your responsibility as some do. They refer to believers as passive objects, such as, clay and branches, forgetting the Bible also calls us ambassadors, soldiers, servants, watchmen, and children of God.

God works IN and we work OUT. Christianity isn’t a matter of ups and downs but ins and outs.

Look at the linkage in Philippians 2:12 and 13: “…work out your own salvation … for it is God who works in you both to will and to do…”

The Lord works in our thought processes. He works in us to will. We can either dismiss His thoughts and neglect them or let them become ours and result in our actions.

Make sure your thoughts are Christ’s thoughts
because they become your words.
Make sure your words are Christ’s words
because they become your actions.
Make sure your actions are Christ’s actions
because they become your habits.
Make sure your habits are Christ’s habits
because they become your values.
Make sure your values are Christ’s values
because they become your destiny.

It all begins with a thought and ends with a destiny. When inspired and aware of His will do it. Your destiny is at risk.

Thus, we are depicted as the engine and He as the fuel. Both are required if the proper function is to be performed. He is the in filling, unfailing, empowering, and enabling Source.

He is our inspiration. He provides the will, that is, the knowledge as to what to do. He doesn’t quit then. It isn’t as though He gives us a grand
revelation and not the capacity to do it. He works in us to do His good will.

A person suffering from a deadly disease may be offered an absolute cure for the disease that is certain to be fatal. However, the cure is of no effect unless the patient takes the medicine.

A mentor may have the answer to a perplexing question causing great difficulty but the solution isn’t achieved if the student stubbornly refuses the scholars wisdom.

So God offers salvation that works but it is of no effect if the persons won’t respond positively to His offer.

Whistle While You Work 9/3/00

II Thessalonians 3:10-13

JESUS CHRIST said, “I must work the work of Him that sent me…” (Acts 9:4).

He also said, “My father worketh hitherto, and I must work.” (John 5:17).

If Jesus worked, who am I to think I shouldn’t?

If Jesus worked because the Father worked, who am I that I should not emulate my Heavenly Father.

If America fails as a society it will be because a vital principle in our text is neglected. It will be because we have forgotten that all persons are responsible for their own welfare and accountable for their own moral behavior.

Not only is it important that we work but that we work with the right motive and spirit.

Recently we traveled along the Rhine River in Germany through the mountains where the legend of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs originated. That popular fairy tale became the subject of Walt Disney’s first feature length animated film in 1937. Anyone who has ever heard it has to like it. My imagination is so fertile that I could envision the little characters which never existed as though they still live in those German mountains — the Wicked Queen, the Prince, Snow White, and of course Sleepy, Bashful, Grumpy, Dopey, and all the rest. The thing that amazed me was that they whistled on their way to the mines where they worked. Remember them singing…

“Just whistle while you work… So, hum a merry tune. It won’t take long where there’s a song to help you set the pace… whistle while you work.”

That is the attitude with which we Christians should approach all of our work.

There is morality in work. God’s instructions to Adam and Eve set the standard for humanities work ethic. He told them to “dress” the garden. The Hebrew word meant to cultivate by labor. He then said “keep” it. This meant to protect it. He concluded by saying this should be done by the
“sweat of the brow.” By this is meant a living is to be earned by working.

Have you figured out why you are tired so much of the time.

The average person works 1/3 of a day, 8 hours.
That is, they work only 122 days a year.
There are 52 Sundays they don’t work.
52 from 122 leaves only 70 work days each year.
There are 52 Saturdays they don’t work.
52 from 70 leaves only 18 work days a year.
There are two weeks of vacation each year, 14 days.
14 from 18 leaves only 4 work days each year.
The average worker takes off 3 sick days a year.
3 from 4 leaves only one work day a year.

No wonder you are so tired. You are the only one working.

In the New Testament era there were believers in the church at Thessalonica who believed in the second coming of Christ so intently that they quit their jobs and sat around waiting for His glorious return. Aspirations regarding Christ’s advent is admirable. However, it should motivate action not apathy. In light of their attitude, Paul, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit issued the Thessalonian Welfare Reform Act which stated: “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” Simple isn’t it?

A good work ethic is rare today. To succeed a good work ethic is essential. The fact many don’t have a good work ethic reduces the competition for those who do. Climbing the ladder of success isn’t difficult. The challenge is getting through that muddled mass at the base of the ladder.

Ethics on the ladder are hard to find also. There are those trying to climb the ladder of success who are licking the shoes of those above them and stomping the hands of those under them. Don’t lick, don’t stomp, to succeed just climb. That is, do your job and do it well.

Some people are as lethargic at work as one girl described her blind date. She told her friend she had to slap her blind date six times. Her friend asked if he was overly aggressive. “No,” she said, “I thought he was dead.”

In appealing for a good work ethic I want to caution against becoming a work-a-holic. Don’t make life a rat race. After all if you win the rat race you are still a rat. The rat race for some persons is so demanding they are now making cheese flavored tranquilizers.

Dr. Nelson Braley, Chief of Psychiatric Studies at Lutheran General Hospital in Chicago, said, “We deplore all forms of addiction except that of the work-a-holic.” He continued, “Put enough pressure on any person and they will become an addict.”

Many people put pressure on themselves. There is a vicious cycle: we want things —- things costs money —- money costs work —- and work costs time.

When you are up to your neck in alligators it is hard to remember your job is to drain the swamp. Avoid the alligators of personally imposed pressure so you can more effectively drain the swamp.

Dr. Braley concluded: “Any change must come from within. We can attack addiction with rules about work and vacations, but the only answer is religion. A new set of values.”

Our goal of happiness is reached only when there is “godliness with contentment.”

My dear friend, Wallace Johnson, one of the co- founders of Holiday Inn was asked why with all his resources and wealth he continued to work so energetically and expressed such strong faith. He replied, “When you have them, then you know that’s not where contentment is found. It is only through Jesus Christ.”

Money will buy:
A bed but not sleep
Books but not a brain.
Food but not an appetite.
A house but not a home.
Medicine but not health.
Luxuries but not culture.
Amusement but not happiness.
A crucifix but not a Savior.

Let’s make application of this text first to the world of your career and profession, and then to your service for our Lord within His church.

Keep three things of importance in mind:


Whatever your ability is use it to the fullest to the glory of the Lord. Manifest the spirit of the magnificent sculptor Michelangelo who said: “It is only well with me when I have a chisel in my hand.” Thus, he was only happy when productive. You will also find your greatest happiness when you are productive. In the church or the working world you will never be happy and productive if all you seek are your rights and your entitlement.

God doesn’t expect you to be the best at everything you do, but to do your best at everything you do.

It is important that we notice what our text does not say before we observe what it does say.

The word translated “work” is ERGAZOMAI. It does not relate to the disabled or legitimately unemployed. It is not possible for them to work. It targets those who “will not work”. The word for this is THELO meaning they don’t “wish to work”. Thus the passage means if there are those who do not aspire, desire, or intend to work they should not be fed. It is aimed at those who are able but unwilling to work.

John Calvin writing on this verse said, “Paul censures those lazy drones who live by the sweat of others, while they contribute no service in common for aiding the human race.”

As unimaginable as it seems to industrious people there are many such people in our society. They are so far removed from the work ethic that they think manual labor is second baseman for the Mets.

Every person shall someday give an account to the Lord. Know what you are to do and do it. A teammate once told Hank Aaron that most batters held the bat in such a way as to be able to read the label. He said, “I don’t go up there to read.”

A theme text of my life is Colossians 3: 23: “Whatever you do, do it heartily as unto the Lord.” Do it with enthusiasm.

A person is capable of enjoying his or her leisure time in direct proportion to the extent they know they have earned it. That is one reason so many
people are discontent even in their leisure. They know they haven’t earned it.

You have an audience of one, the Lord. Please Him and you can be pleased yourself.


In the word “obedient” is inherent the idea of listening carefully to instructions and following them.

Work “not with eye service, as men-pleasers,” that is don’t require a lot of supervision in order to be productive. Let your attitude toward your job be: “The Lord gave me this job, therefore, I am going to perform it in a way that would be pleasing to Him.”

A person with a good work ethic needs little supervision. No amount of supervision is adequate for a person who doesn’t have a good work ethic.

Now let’s make application of the Christian work ethic to the Christian community called the church. Are there those within the church who do not work for the Lord? That is, they render no service for the Lord.

With all the service that needs to be rendered in the church, what are you doing.

As an infant I slept in a church bed I didn’t pay for. On sheets I didn’t buy. I was heated and cooled by utilities I didn’t provide. Through age 16 I contributed little or nothing to the church.

There are in every church spiritual infants who are contributing nothing. Just as someone provided for us until we had grown to the point we could contribute so we must provide for them.

READ: Ephesians 2:8, 9 and 10. We are His workmanship created to do good works. I want to call you to service. I want to call you to service with a whistle on your lips. That is, I want to appeal to you to serve the Lord with gladness.

Service for Christ’s church.

He’ll Make a Way 9/10/00

Jeremiah 29:10-13

Jesus Christ, the God who knows your load limit will limit your load. Does it ever seem He doesn’t? That is a false perception not true reality. He is able to deliver us in every situation. For years the church has sung:

“He is able to deliver thee…”

There are moments in our lives when He gives us occasion to prove we really believe that “He is able to deliver…” on His promises. Trust Him and you will see He is a God of His Word.

Ask Moses on the banks of the sea with the mighty army of Pharaoh closing in on him, “Is He able to deliver?”

Ask little David hiding in the caves of Engedi with the army of Saul thrashing the bushes looking for him to kill, “Is our God able to deliver?”

Ask Daniel coming out of the lions den, “Is He able?”

Ask Joseph in the prison, “Is He able to deliver?”

Ask Jonah in the belly of the great fish, “Is God able to deliver?”

Ask Noah in the storm tossed ark, “Is God able to deliver?”

Hear their chorus, “He is able!”

Ask the children of Israel in Babylonian captivity. “Is He able? Let’s consider their plight and find an answer that is sure to broaden our understanding of His ways.

The people of Israel had been taken into Babylonian captivity by Nebuchadnezzar. Their plight seemed hopeless. They were removed from their home land, forced into slavery, deprived of their customs, stripped of their possessions, and separated from loved ones. How does your current plight compare to theirs? Their future looked bleak, rather hopeless. Heartbroken and hopeless. Observing them in that state lets inquire of them if our God is able to deliver.

In our text it is as though God says four times “I know…”


Our King James reads, “I know the thoughts I think of you.” A modern English translation makes this more clear: “I have not lost sight of my plan for you.”

God never takes His mind off you. We think too seldom of Him, but He is ever mindful of us.

He knows the number of the hairs on our heads and every inch of our path. He knows our sorrows and our joys. They are all calculated and catalogued by Him.

God has not forgotten you nor His plan for you. He is ever mindful of what He thinks of you. He even knows our thoughts.

“The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise…” (I Cor. 3:20).

The Psalmist said: “You understand my thoughts…” (Ps.139:2).

Knowing your thoughts what does He know you think of Him?

God not only says He knows what He is going to do He knows how to do it. He never has to say: “Oops!”

In verse 11 two traits are noted. First, “thoughts of peace and not evil.” Contained in those two words are concepts made more clear in the New English Bible translation: “prosperity and not misfortune.”

While in Babylonian captivity as slaves they developed and have passed on to their descendants a commendable trait that is still associated with our Jewish friends. They went into slavery penniless and returned wealthy. They learned how to work, earn wealth, save it, and use it. That is still a virtue of the Jewish people. That attribute was developed under the harshest of circumstances. What are you learning from your adversities? Do they make you better or bitter?

A Scotchman was visiting the Holy Land. He was captivated by the beauty of the Sea of Galilee. He endeavored to hire a Jewish boat owner to take him on a ride on the sea. The Jew said that would be $100.00 for one hour. The Scotsman exclaimed he could engage a boat for a day for half that much in Scotland. The Jew explained, “Yes, but this is the Holy Land where Christ walked on the water.” The Scotsman responded, “Yes, and now I know why He walked!”

Our God is able to deliver on His promises. He schooled them in economics in slavery.

The expression “to give you a future and an end” is what is called a hen/dia/dys, that is a means whereby a complex idea is expressed in two words connected by a coordinating conjunction. Thus, the expression a “future and an end” means a “hopeful end.” In the end hope won’t be lost. Things will work out because in the things God is working.

As with His people in slavery at the moment He TODAY has us in training for a blessed and glorious future.

This hopeful ending enables us to live with a sense of optimistic expectancy.

Regardless of the appearance God had not forgotten them. Hope was not dead. Appearance may have made it look as though God wasn’t interested in their plight or even that He had forgotten them. Does that sound like a chapter out of your autobiography?

Seventy years is a long time to wait. God told them to go ahead living. He instructed them to marry and have children, to work and learn. All the time they were busy doing these thing He was busy shaping their emancipation.

A dejected teen mused, “I don’t know why God made me!” “He didn’t,” answered her pastor, “He is still at work on you.” Creatively He is still trying to construct us into the image He has in mind for us to become. His very nature is constantly being absorbed into different aspects of our lives. He is never finished with us. This is our hope.

When we begin to doubt God we lose hope. A willing acceptance of God’s discipline and patient submission to it is essential to peace of mind.

We can be like a wild bird in a cage fluttering and flying against the cage till we break our wings and fall in exhaustion. Or, we can be like the canary that accepts its plight and sits on its swing and sings knowing it is provided for.

If we begin to doubt God we become victims of despondency, impatience, and rebellion. Confidence in your doctor is part of the cure for your ailment. Confidence in our God brings peace.

Even in their bondage the Hebrews realized they were God’s people not Babylon’s slaves. They had their condition in perspective. That perspective grew, and hope flourished.

Augustine said, “Two verbs have built two empires —- to have and to be.” A personal empire built on the verb to have is an empire of things. The empire built on the verb to be is a kingdom of character, that is, Christlike qualities. These kingdoms constantly clash. This ageless conflict goes on as each seeks to subdue the other.

The reason it appears America is unraveling at the seams is our society has become a culture of to have at the expense of the virtue of to be. To which kingdom are you given.

Only when to be wins the warfare is there peace in the heart. God knows what He is doing in your life. He is trying to mold you into the likeness of His Son.

He revealed His perfect timing and it was different from mine. He is always on time every time.

A false prophet, one wanting to be popular with the people, told them they would be delivered immediately. God said, “After seventy years … I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return…”

God had a time table. He knew when He was going to act. Often our watch is not synchronized with His. Our patience runs out before the sand in His hour glass.

Peter wrote: “The Lord knows how to deliver the godly…” (II Peter 2:9).

Not only does He know how He knows when.

Against that backdrop we need to employ His instructions:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5, 6).

We start out as children on vacation asking, “Are we there yet?” When a meaningful event is scheduled our childish inquiry is, “Is it time yet?” In dealing with God we never outgrow such impatient questioning.

For nine years I prayed regarding God’s timing related to retirement. I thought I had it figured out. Through the convergence of circumstances I found my timing was wrong. God’s is always right.

God said in effect, “When my people become dependent upon Me and call on Me I will then respond.”

Here is God’s phone number: Jeremiah 33:3. It is better than 911.

Observe this further fulfillment of God’s plan as noted in Jeremiah 33:10, 11.

Only when they became dependent upon God would He show Himself dependable. In our circumstances as
in theirs God was shaping their desires. The Psalmist wrote: “He will fulfill the desires of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them” (Psalm 145:19).

God is not only omniscient, all knowing, He is omnipotent, all powerful. The might of Babylon to those slaves may well have seemed impossible to overcome. How could they ever be delivered?

In 536 B.C. God put it in the heart of King Cyrus of Babylon and he issued a decree releasing them to return to their homeland. It was exactly 70 years after their exodus.

Each of us is held in a more consuming slavery. As lost sinners we are captive to one of the two universal super powers. He is the second most powerful extraterrestrial superpower. Satan holds us in the slave market of sin from which there is no way we can extricate our selves. God has a fourfold plan for our deliverance.

“Generation” means birth. The prefix “re” means again. Regeneration means to be born again. Follow His plan carefully. It involves —-
REGENERATION This gives us a new PARENT, nature.
JUSTIFICATION This gives us a new POSTURE, standing.
SANCTIFICATION. This gives us a new POSITION, set apart.
GLORIFICATION This gives us a new PLACEMENT, heaven.

It begins with new birth and ends with a new destination.

God has a wonderful plan for your life and He is able to deliver.

The bondage of God’s people in Babylon is in some ways like that every human being experiences spiritually. As He delivered His people from slavery He desires to free us from sin. As He had a plan for them He has a wonderful plan for you.

He is constantly at work in our lives to bring us to Himself. Sometimes He has to strip us of substance and deliver us from the tyranny of things in order for us to see our need of Him. He wants to free us from the kingdom of to have and enable us to enter and enjoy the kingdom of to be.

To do as the text states and “search after God” is to educate ourselves.

God said you shall “find me” when you search for me. You can find God right in the middle of you Babylon if you search for Him.

God knew what He was doing and why it was necessary.

Check Your Life Time Warranty 10/15/00

Philippians 2:12-16

JESUS CHRIST has you under warranty. Many items come with a warranty. It is a guarantee that the product will work and perform certain intended tasks.

The Bible states your warranty — Phil. 2:13. “…it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”

In the passage before this Christ’s obedience unto death has just been spoken of. Against this background of such obedience is the appeal to “work out your salvation”. This is no reference to justification. It states “work out”, not work “for” or “at” your salvation.

An understanding of what is meant by “work out” comes from the writings of a Roman historian named Strabo who lived in the century before Christ. Writing in Greek he referred to the famous silver mines in Spain. He spoke of the “working out of the mines” and used the term employed in our text. It meant to get the full value out of that which was already in possession.

The term was also used in math and referred to working out a problem. It meant to start with the known and use the proper math formulas to reach the ultimate answer.

With this understanding that is what you are to do with regard to your salvation.

TODAY I plead with you because I know someday I will have to stand before Jesus and give an account.

Not only will I have to stand and account, you will also. I don’t want you to be able to point at me and legitimately say, “I would have been more faithful if he had been more faithful in charging and challenging me.”

I want to appeal to you to live up to your warranty.

I. WORK OUT (Vs. 12b)
Carry your salvation to its full and complete conclusion. This is an imperative command intended to be obeyed by you. Some people downplay human responsibility and refer to passages that depict Christians as inanimate objects such as clay and branches. These are good illustration of limited principles. Remember, however, that the Bible also refers to us as soldiers, ambassadors, servants, watchmen, and children of God.

Live to please the Lord and by your lifestyle appeal to others to follow Him. To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.

God “works in” you and you “work out.”

The elemental essential to complying with this charge is OBEDIENCE. Regardless of how sincerely or loudly one speaks of their faith it is non-existent unless proven by observable obedience. Search the Scripture to understand just what God expects of you. As you unfold an area of life requiring obedience pause and commit yourself to doing it. Then go out and JUST DO IT!

It has been my joyous good fortune to observe the faith and faithfulness of many. Living illustrations have been inspiring.

As a minister I am not oblivious to the fact my presence makes a difference. By walking into a room I can change the topic and tone of conversations. The spirit and facial expressions of some change. When I walk in some can be talking and laughing and upon seeing me change facial expressions and immediately say, “Pastor, I want you to pray about … uh… pray for … uh … I have a niece in Spokane who heard of a infant, no I believe it was a teenager, in Oregon, no it was Ontario, who was the niece or nephew of a man or woman or something like that, in Texas, who needs a heart transplant, no I believe it is a liver transplant. Please pray for them.”

On a more practical level thousands of us have spiritually bonded so that we are an encouragement to each other by our very presence. It is an uplift just to be around or know of the consistency of obedient children of the Father.

Paul had such a bond with the church in Philippi that he had just left when he wrote them. He appealed to them to be faithful and obedient in his absence as they were when he was present with them. He was focusing their attention on our real source of motivation. It is the unwavering, always present, Lord. It is summed up in this:

“Whatever you do, do it heartily as unto the Lord and not unto man” (Colossians 3:23). Live as though you are in the perpetual presence of one, the Lord Himself. For persons with that mentality the absence of a motivating person does not diminish the devotion and obedience to Christ.

Do it “with fear and trembling,” that is, reverence and healthy respect. This does not refer to nervous apprehension like that to prevail in the Last Judgement. The expression does not refer to alarm but awe. Maintain a sense of wonder and awe over being constantly in the presence of the Lord. Rejoice, He never takes His mind off you. Keep yours fixed on Him.

In Og Mandino’s intriguing book, The Greatest Salesman in the World, he tells the story of a man named Hafid to whom were given some very special scrolls. Reputedly these scrolls contained principles which if incorporated into life would make him the greatest salesman in the world. Principle number one was, “I will form good habits and become their slaves.” He reached this conclusion, “In truth, the only difference between those who have failed and those who have succeeded lies in the difference of their habits.”

I want to appeal to you to break some old habits and establish some new ones to which you become a slave. Such habits as:

A vibrant habit of daily Bible reading and prayer.

Systematic attendance in Bible study on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am.

Consistency in sharing my faith with friends.

Loyal attendance at Sunday night Bible study.

II. CAST OUT (Vs. 14)
Obey our Lord “without murmuring and disputing.”

Get the negatives out of your life. MURMURING (GOGGISMON) = half-concealed, half-muttered complaints and excuses.

DISPUTES – Christ gets no glory out of heated arguments.

Rid yourself of the two most popular excuses. One is IF ONLY… It implies something is lacking that keeps you from doing. God isn’t going to ask you to do anything He isn’t going to enable you to do.

Once upon a time a man allegedly said, “If only I had some extra money I would give it to God, but I have just enough to support myself and my family.” Later he was heard to say, “If only I had some extra time I would give it to God but every minute is taken.” Thereafter, he said, “If only I had some talent I would give it to the Lord but I haven’t.”

So an attentive God gave him extra money, talent, and time. The man said, “If only I had just a bit more money, a little more talent, and just a bit more time I would give it to God.” And God said, “Oh, shut up!”

III. BEAM OUT (Vs. 15)
In the midst of a CROOKED = wicked, and PERVERSE = depraved world you are to be BLAMELESS, that means you are to avoid being, divisive, fractious, grumbling, or argumentative. Free from fault or defects. Check your warranty.

Ever so gradually we backslide. Our light grows dim slowly. Many of you formerly attended worship on Sunday night, Sunday School, and many of you visited our Christ’s church. Slowly you got out of the habit. Your warranty check will call your attention back to the fact that the one who issued it said, “You are my witnesses.”

IV. REACH OUT (Vs. 16)
“Holding forth…” Like a runner with a torch. Laboring to the point of exhaustion.

REJOICE carries the image of running a victory.

RUN with a sense of urgency.

I want to present a direct challenge to you right now. I want to ask as many of you as will to commit yourself to being used of the Lord to reproduce yourself in this membership. Are you willing to let the Lord use you to bring someone into this church membership? Who joined in the past year because of you? Are you willing to extend yourself in aggressively trying to enlist someone for Christ in this year?

V. POURED OUT (Vs. 17)
“…I BE POURED OUT…” (SPENDOMAI) Poured out like a libation used to seal a sacrifice. Numbers 28:7, 8 reveals that just before a burnt offering was to be put in the fire a drink offering was poured over it. So a believer’s life is to be offered and not become an end in itself.

Are you guilty of being unwilling to give over control of your life to Christ? Are you hesitant to abandon your life in faith to the Christ-like life. If you were to be boldly clear with yourself would you have to admit you think your life can’t be good unless you control it? Would you have to confess you truly believe only you can plan and control a good life?

When you give control of your life to Christ what some people call “good coincidences” begin to happen. A coincident is when God performs a miracle and prefers to remain anonymous.

Our trust of Christ must bring us to the point of self-abandonment, a willingness to “pour out our lives,” as a living sacrifice. Make such a commitment today. Make sure that when it comes time to die all you have to do is die.

When Christ entered the stable in Bethlehem it took on a different significant. Christ in you should do the same.

The Awesome Power of Love 2/13/00

Matthew 22:34-40

JESUS CHRIST was asked a question that could have impelled him on the horns of a dilemma: “What is the great commandment in the law?” There were 613 commandments, 248 positive and 365 negative. Everybody had a favorite. Large factions defended certain ones as the most important. Jesus reached back into Deut. 6:5 and quoted an obscure one which He knew to be worthy to – Dominate our emotions – Direct our attitudes – Determine our actions.

It was part of the “shema” = the creed of Judaism. Shema means “to hear.” It was the first O.T. Scripture memorized by Jewish children. Their worship services open with the recitation of this text.

Compliance controls our temper, corrects our thinking, keeps us from temptation. It influences all of life. It gives life meaning, direction and purpose.

Love is so strong it drives certain industries in America. The U.S. Census Bureau, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, shares these insights (1997).

There are 169 businesses in the U.S. that employ a total of over 10,200 people that make chocolate products.

There are 762 companies employing 53,700 people that make candy.

There are 26,400 florists who employ 123,5000 people.

Just one country, Columbia, sold more than $300 million in flowers to the U.S.

The greeting card industry has one of its best seasons at Valentines’s Day.

Christ spoke of love as a driving force for good in all of life. He marked it as a primary attribute of His people.

We have only one word for love in our vocabulary whereas the Greeks had several. Our limited language results in there being a cloudy understanding just what it is. These following explanations by children are no less confusing than some adult comprehension.


A. Mike age 10, “They just tell each other lies, and that usually gets them interested enough to go on a second date.”


A. Lynette age 9, “It’s better for girls to be single but not for boys. Boys need somebody to clean up after them.”


A. Jan age 9, “No one is sure why it happens, but I heard it has something to do with how you smell. That’s why perfume and deodorant are so popular.”

A. Harlen age 8, “I think you’re suppose to get shot with an arrow or something, but the rest of it isn’t supposed to be so painful.”

a. PHILEO = phileal love refers to “tender affection” like a brother for a brother or a parent for a child. We hear it as a root in many words in our language. Philosophy means the love of knowledge. Philadelphia means the city of brotherly love. Philanthropy means the love of man, hence, kindness. Phileo is a beautiful word which means to value and cherish.

b. EROS = erotic is not used in Scripture. It refers to physical love which in the right context is good. Properly expressed in the right context it is of the Lord.

c. AGAPAO = agape love does not refer to our natural impulses or immediate feelings. It is conscious and deliberate, an act of the will. It means to seek God for His own sake, to have pleasure in Him, to strive impulsively after Him.

1. Does it ever seem to you that you just don’t work up an emotional thrill over loving God and your brothers and sisters. The occasional absence of this religious emotion causes some to conclude they aren’t Christians. It helps to find your way out of this dark shadow into the cheerful sunlight when you realize there are two kinds of love. One of FEELING and one of WILL. God never intended you to be a plaything of your emotions.

2. It is hard to rejoice in the Lord when suffering from a case of remoteness.

God loves you. If He had a refrigerator your picture would be on it.

If God had a wallet your photo would be in it.

He sends you sunshine every morning and flowers every spring.

Whenever you want to talk, He’ll listen.

Having the right to live anywhere in the universe He has chosen to live in your heart.

Don’t forget that Christmas present He gave you or that special outing on Easter morning.

Face it! God is crazy about you.

He has drawn near to you. Won’t you draw near to Him?

The Lord said of Israel: “Their heart is far from me.” The words don’t refer to physical distance but to likeness. It is not physical distance but dissimilarity that causes a sense of remoteness. Two creatures may be so close physically that they touch yet so unalike that they are far apart. Man and a gorilla are Exhibit A.

For this moral unlikeness the Bible uses the word, alienation. Look in your inner life for evidence of the dissimilarity. Things such as: WRONG ATTITUDE, EVIL THOUGHTS, DISPOSITIONAL FLAWS.

Sir Edmond Hillery spoke about climbing Everest. His insights regarding such a climb are applicable to the process of scaling our emotions and fixing our will to love others.

“You have to fix your mind before you leave the base camp because it has a tendency to wander in the rarified atmosphere of such heights.” Climb the Everest within you. Fix your will to love.

You can’t love God without loving people. We are exhorted to love our neighbor as we love our self. Don’t try loving your neighbor without loving God. Don’t profess you love God if you don’t love your neighbor. Don’t engage in an exercise of evasion by narrowly defining who your neighbor is. Don’t narrow the definition like the Pharisees tried to do. Pharisees considered only Pharisees as “neighbors.” Jesus explained away this approach:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:43, 44).

When we love God we love like God. Who does He love? The “whosoever” of John 3:16 and so should we.

Petty little selfish children and adolescents play games and use their friends as pawns. They play the game of “You can’t be my friend if you are going to be with —–.” They even push it to the point of “you can’t be my friend if you speak to ——.” Unfortunately some adults never grow out of it either.

Youth and adults alike, if you encounter such a person speak to them boldly about changing their attitude and if they don’t they will have identified themselves as person who does not love the Lord properly.

People who play these games are revealing themselves to you. They are showing they feel inferior to the person they are trying to alienate and shut out in that they feel inferior to that person and can’t compete with them. Their solution is to exclude that person from their world and try to get those with whom they want to be friends to do the same. It is a sure sign of inferiority.

We must learn to break down the barrier of evasiveness and stop excusing ourselves. This involves moving beyond theory to practice. Sooner or later we have got to stop quoting Scripture and start practicing it. Don’t just parrot platitudes practice principles. Here is a practical test for this kind of love:

It believes the best about a person until PROVEN wrong.

It wishes the best for others though they might not deserve it.

It refuses to accept all rumors which the bearer will not confirm with —- “Yes, you can quote me.”

It silences all gossip until TRUTH can be seen to be true.

It takes the initiative in giving the fallen repentant person another chance.

Edward Markham, the renown poet, was asked which of his many poems was his favorite. He who wrote the poem “Lincoln,” and the famous “Man with a Hoe,” replied:

“He drew a circle and shut me out,
A heretic, rebel, thing of flout,
Love and I had a will to win,
We drew a circle and took him in.”


A. Heart = KARDIA = The hidden spring of our personal being. It is our entire inner nature. It is a figurative term for our personality. Whole-hearted love is the meaning. It is a reference to being enthusiastic in our love for the Lord.

The measure of loving God is love without measure. Electricity and love have a common characteristic. Electricity can’t get into a body unless it can get out. It must have a ground. Love, the love of God, can’t get in a body unless it can get out. It is to flow though us like sound through an amplifier, like water through a river.

B. Soul = PSYCHE = Seat of purpose and will. It is the vitality of the heart animating the body. It is an act of the WILL. “In all things give thanks.” It does not say “feel thankful.” Giving thanks is an act of will, feeling thankful is an act of the emotions. Willfully give thanks and the feelings will follow.

C. Mind = DIANOIA = our faculty for knowing. This love is a knowledgeable thing. Albert Sweitzer in response to the question, “What is wrong with mankind today?” “He simply does not think.”



Life with Christ offers endless hope. Without Him it has a hopeless end.

Lech Walesa, leader in the Polish labor movement was given offices without furniture. Upon entering the vacant room, he said, “These are empty rooms, but they are full of hope.”

On the night of November 14, 1940, nearly 500 German bombers attacked the English City of Coventry. Over 600 tons of explosives and thousands of incendiaries were dropped. 70,000 homes were ruined, 400 people killed. Their magnificent 14th century cathedral was destroyed.

I have stood amid those ruins. The people have now built beside the ruins a modern new cathedral. The ruins of the old gothic structure still stands. The old walls and the new are architecturally connected. Two crosses stand on soot, blacken stone where the altar stood. One is made of charred beams taken from the ruins. A much smaller one is made from heat twisted spikes used by medieval craftsmen in constructing the roof.

A. It offers forgiveness. There is a sign carved in the wall since the war — “Father forgive.” That’s love

B. It reflects love like that of Christ for us. There is another quotation in front of the altar from Isaiah 6: “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts, heaven and earth are full of thy glory.” That reveals the basis of love.

C. It is the power enabling the ultimate victory in Christ.

The new cathedral at Coventry has much art. None more striking than the life sculpture hanging just outside the main entrance. It depicts Michael, the archangel, spear in hand, poised triumphantly over a prostrated, manacled dragon. It depicts the ultimate victory.

Ultimately God’s love triumphs. Let it do so in your daily life.