March 2, 2020 by
Taking God Seriously Matthew 6:9 “Hallowed be your name.” Before we begin: What does the word “hallowed” mean? What does God’s name represent and why does it matter so much? The Lord’s Prayer is the best-known prayer in the world.  No other prayer is known to so many people or said in so many places in so many different languages.  Every Sunday, in churches around the world-from the mud huts of equatorial Africa to the great cathedrals of Europe, Christians of every denomination recite this prayer as part of their worship experience. And no matter how long you study this prayer, the more it reveals to the earnest seeker. Though brief and simple, it is also profound-indeed, it is the most profound prayer ever prayed.  I. The word “Hollowed” Now it’s time to look at the first phrase of the first half of the prayer-"Hallowed be your name.”  I think it’s fair to say that this phrase is the one that makes the least sense to us and therefore it is the phrase we pray the least.  Almost all of us will pray “Give us this day our daily bread” and many of us will pray “Deliver us from evil.” Still others will pray “You will be done” and some will even pray “Your Kingdom come.” But few of us, if left to ourselves, will ever pray, “Hallowed be your name.”  In the first place, it simply sounds strange.  “Hallowed” is not a word we use very often. The phrase itself sounds like it belongs back in the 12th century.  We really don’t know what to do with it in the 21st century. Our other problem is that we don’t know what it means.  Since we don’t know what it means, we’re not really sure what we’re praying for.  Since we don’t know what we’re praying for, we tend to skip right over it so we can get down to the part we do understand, like “Give us this day our daily bread.” Daily bread.  Now that’s something that makes sense to us. But it’s of paramount importance to note that Jesus didn’t begin with the part we understand-like bread and forgiveness.  He starts with the part we don’t understand.  There’s a crucial point here.  Prayer doesn’t begin with our concerns; prayer begins with God’s concerns.  Or to put it in its simplest form, prayer doesn’t begin with us; prayer begins with God.  So when we pray to the Father, we are to begin by praying, “Hallowed be your name.” Let’s take the word “Hallowed.” It’s not really that difficult. The word itself means “holy (abstract)” or “sacred (concrete)(ពិសិដ្ឋ សក្ដិសិទ្ឋ).” So the prayer is this.  “Lord, may your name be treated with respect and honor because your name is sacred and holy.” You make God’s name holy when you treat it with the utmost respect. II. What’s In A Name? That immediately raises another question.  Why did he say, “Hallowed be your name?” Your name is important to you.  It may not matter to anyone else in the world, but you care about your name because it identifies who you are.  Think of how much time parents spend naming their children.  They spend hours thinking about the possibilities-discussing, debating, arguing, writing down a first name, then adding a middle name, then reversing the order or dropping one and adding another. Names mean something.  They communicate history and tradition and family heritage.  They identify us with our past, drawing across the generations a shared set of values. In the Bible, a name normally stands for the character or the basic attributes of the person who bears the name.  For example, “Adam” means “man” and “Eve” means “life-giver.” “Abraham” means “father of multitudes” and “Jacob” means “Cheater.”  In the New Testament, “Peter” means “Rock,” a reference to Peter’s rock-like faith.  In Bible times, when you called a person’s name, you weren’t just identifying him.  You were also identifying his character. We do the same thing today. We all tend to associate certain names with certain emotions.  For instance, if I mention “Pol Pot” you instantly think of Khmer Rouge and the horrors of the regime.  If I mention “Mother Teresa,” you think of her selfless work for the homeless and dying of Calcutta.  Two people.  Two names.  Two completely different emotions. The names mean something. They say something about the character of the person. What pops up on your mental screen when you hear the word “God?” The answer depends on who you are and how much you know.  For most of us, the word “God” brings up images of the stories of the Bible, how God created the world out of nothing, how he parted the Red Sea for the children of Israel, how he caused the walls to come tumbling down at Jericho, how he enabled David’s tiny stone to slay Goliath, how he shut the mouths of lions so Daniel could get a good night’s sleep.  We know God through the things he has done.  We hear the stories and then we refer back to the God who stands behind the stories.  God’s “name” is his character and his reputation.  The Bible mentions the name of God hundreds of times. Consider these examples: Psalm   8:1 “How majestic is your name, O Lord.” Psalm   20:7 “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will trust in the name of the Lord our God.” Psalm   23:3 “He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Psalm   25:11 “For your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my iniquity, for it is great.” How about this famous verse? “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."  That’s found three times in the Bible: Joel 2:32, Acts 2:21, and Romans 10:13. God’s name represents who he is.  It embodies his character.  That’s why the Third Commandment says, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” (Exodus 20:7)  To take God’s name in vain means to take it lightly or flippantly.  It’s the exact opposite of “hallowing” God’s name.  Therefore, we might say that to “hallow” God’s name means to take it seriously.  II. What Does God Look Like? Now if you pull all that together, this is what “Hallowed be your name” really means.  “Lord, may your righteous character be seen in the world so that men and women will respect you for who you really are.  May your name be made great so that your creatures will give you the honor and respect that is your rightful due.” Or you could say it this way: “O God, show us who you are.” “O God, may we see you as you are.” “O God, may we treat you as you ought to be treated.” We “hallow” the name of God because he is holy and good.  We take it seriously because God’s name represents who he is and what he does.  What does God look like?  The Bible doesn’t leave us to wonder about the answer to that question.  Nearly 2000 years ago a little baby was born in Bethlehem who forever answered that question.  If you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus.  Hebrews 1:3 calls him the “shining forth of the glory of God.” Does God have a name?  Yes.  His name is Jesus.  In him, the abstract becomes concrete.  And now through this prayer Jesus wants me to make God’s name become concrete through the way I live my life. When I look at Jesus all those theoretical ideas about God suddenly become reality.  -God now has hands. My hands. -And feet. My feet. -And eyes to see. My eyes -Ears to hear. My ears. -Lips to speak. My mouth. -God has a voice! My speech. -He speaks a language I understand. I live my life that people can know him. I see him touch a leper, and I know no one is too dirty for him. I see him pause to speak to a beggar, and I know he’s never too busy for me. I see him feed the multitudes with loaves and fishes, and I know he can supply my needs. I see him with the towel and the basin, and I know no job is too menial for him. Finally I see him hanging on the cross, suspended between heaven and earth, beaten, bruised, bloodied, mocked, scourged, spat upon, jeered, booed, hated, attacked, scorned, despised, rejected, crucified.  When I hear him cry out, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do,” I suddenly understand that Jesus has no enemies. In Jesus I discover a God who takes people seriously.  He never treats people casually.  He never brushes them off.  He never says, “You’re a loser.” He’s a God who cares enough to get involved in this ugly, twisted, unredeemed world. Conclusion: That’s who God is.  If he never took people lightly, then I must never take his name lightly. Every thing I do is to honor God’s name.

January 19, 2020 by
Gifts Given by Spirit Part 2 Romans 8:9-17 From the lesson last Sunday, let me mention again that there are many different ways of living the Christian life.  You can live by different ways, different formula, and different experiences. So by themselves alone, rules lead to legalism, formulas lead to mechanical Christianity, and experience alone leads to an emotional roller coaster. Illustration: When I working on this lesson, it reminds me of my old illustration about a poor eagle living among the family of chicken since he was hatched and never know that he is an eagle. We will see how it works out in this lesson. Rules and formulas and experience have their place. But taken alone, they lead to a sub-standard Christian life. God has given us something better than rules, better than a formula, better than experience. God has given us the Holy Spirit. With that as background, we turn to Romans 8:5-17 where we discover three gifts of the Holy Spirit that are given to every believer. Last Sunday we leaned about the first gift the Holy Spirit gave us when we became his child. Now we can learn about two more gifts. II. A New Nature (9-11) “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” Verse 9 gives us a clear definition of what it means to be a Christian. A true Christian is one who has the Spirit of Christ within him. One mark of genuine Christianity is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. He actually takes up residence inside those who know Jesus Christ. When you say, “Lord Jesus, I want you as my Savior,” the Holy Spirit answers that prayer by coming into your life. The Third Person of the Trinity comes to live within you. He becomes incarnate in your life. That’s what Paul means when he uses the phrase—"in the Spirit.” To be “in the Spirit” means that the Holy Spirit himself moves into your life. He actually and literally lives within you. These verses suggest two direct implications of this truth. 1.  First, because the Holy Spirit has given you a new nature, you actually have a brand-new life. That’s the meaning of the phrase, "your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.” The Holy Spirit makes your spirit come to life. The seeds of death have been planted in your body. That’s why it eventually wears out and dies. “The body is dead because of sin.” Your physical flesh is slowly wasting away. Yet God has placed life, eternal life, resurrection life, on the inside through the Holy Spirit. Dying on the outside, yet new life on the inside. Where death once reigned, life now reigns within. 2. Second, we have the promise of future resurrection. The Spirit who raised up Christ will one day raise up your mortal body out of the grave. Verse 11 is an explicit promise of future resurrection from the dead. The Holy Spirit who presently lives within you is like a “down payment” on God’s future deliverance. Do Christians die? Yes, we die like everyone else. But death for us is not the end. When your body is laid to rest, your spirit goes to be with Jesus. That’s not the end! When Jesus returns, your body will be raised from the dead—immortal, incorruptible, eternal, never more to die, never more to decay, never more to waste away. By virtue of the promises of God, the work of Jesus Christ, and the indwelling Holy Spirit, when you die, you will not stay dead forever. You will one day experience a glorious resurrection. We have the promise that if God raised his Son Jesus from the dead, he will by that same Spirit raise you from the dead. III. A New Identity (14-17) “Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a Spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ’Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order than we may also share in his glory.” Paul uses two different phrases to describe believers. He calls us “sons of God” and “God’s children.” There is a slight difference, although sons are children and children are sons. The term “child of God” speaks of the intimate relationship you have with God. God’s children call him “Abba"—an Aramaic term of endearment. It means “Daddy” or “Poppa.” Because we are God’s children, we can speak to God the same way little children speak to their earthly fathers. The term “son of God” refers to your official status within God’s family. It speaks of your privileged position. You have the official right to be a son of God. That’s our new identity in Christ. We are now a son of God. You are no longer in the flesh; we are now in the Spirit. You no longer live according to the world; you now live according to God’s Word. You are now a blood-bought son of God. Our text lists five privileges you have as a son of God: 1. Personal Guidance of the Holy Spirit 14 To be “led” by the Spirit is a very personal term. It means to be led by the hand, to be personally escorted by a tour guide. The Holy Spirit takes your hand and leads you through the difficulties of life. So many Christians have said, “If it had not been for the Lord, I wouldn’t have made it.” But we don’t know the half of it. When you are perplexed, you have the right to say, “Holy Spirit, please show me what to do.” “Holy Spirit, I am confused. I don’t know which way to go. I’m counting on you to lead me.” He will do it. Thank God for the leading of the Holy Spirit. 2. Freedom From Fear 15a No more slavery, no more bondage, no more abject fear, no more living in terror. All of that is gone because we have received the “Spirit of sonship.” 3. The Right to Call God “Father" 15b This is truly good news. You don’t have to scream at God to get his attention. You simply say, “Daddy,” and he hears your voice. You whisper his name in the darkness and he comes to your aid. A father knows when his children are speaking to him. The same is true with our heavenly Father. He hears the faintest cry of his children. 4. Inward Assurance 16 You as a believer have the right to expect that the Holy Spirit will give you inner assurance that you know Jesus Christ. This is the “peace that passes all understanding.” Is that important? You are a child of God.” When the devil whispers in your ear, the Holy Spirit speaks up from deep within your heart to testify that you are indeed a child of God. 5. Right of Heirship in God’s Family 17 You are an “heir” of God. We all understand what heirship means in human terms. My will specifies that my sons are my heirs. It specifies that after my death my sons will inherit all that I own. Why? Because I want to ensure that what I have worked for will be passed on to the members of my family. I don’t want my fortune, such as it is, to be given to people I don’t know and who have no relationship to me. God feels the same way. He wants the riches of heaven to go to the members of his family. When you trust Christ, he writes you into his will, so to speak. Not that God will ever die, He won’t!, but you are included in God’s family fortune because as a child of God you now share in the family wealth, which includes the riches of the universe. All that God has is yours in prospect … and some day will be yours in reality. So we have three great gifts of the Spirit, a new mind, a new nature, and a new identity. That leaves us with one great obligation. III. One Great Obligation 12-13 “Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation, but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.” These verses tell us two things about our obligation: 1. We owe nothing to the flesh. 12 Why don’t we owe anything to the flesh? One, because we’ve been set free from the power of the flesh. We are no longer “in the flesh” but “in the Spirit.” The flesh once controlled us, but now we are free. You don’t have to live in the flesh any more because you don’t owe your flesh anything. 2. We owe everything to the Holy Spirit. 13 I once heard Dr. Ryrie call Romans 8:13 the most important single verse on the spiritual life in the New Testament. He liked it because it contains a beautiful balance. There is God’s part—"if by the Spirit"—and there is our part—"you put to death.” Spiritual growth comes when we do our part as we rely upon the Holy Spirit’s enablement. True spirituality is neither entirely passive ("Let go and let God") nor entirely active ("I’ve got to do this all by myself"). This verse balances a moment-by-moment dependence upon the Spirit with a tough-minded attitude toward the flesh. Is the spiritual life dependent upon God or upon me? The answer is Yes! I cannot do it without God. God will not do it without me. Conclusion: The Christian life operates on the contact principle. Just as the Maglev train moves forward as long it stays in contact with the third rail, even so your spiritual life moves forward as you stay in constant contact with the Holy Spirit. The whole question of the Spirit-filled life resolves itself into this: Are you keeping in contact with the Holy Spirit? Your job, your only real job as a Christian, is to stay in contact with the Spirit.  

January 19, 2020 by
Gifts Given by the Spirit (Part 1) Romans 8:5-8 Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer, in his massive, seven-volume systematic theology, calls Romans 8 “the consummating (complete) Scripture.” It is that place where certain key doctrines of the New Testament find their ultimate expression. Romans 8 begins with “no condemnation,” ends with “no separation,” and in between there is no defeat for the believer. No other chapter mentions the Holy Spirit as much as Romans 8. It is the heartbeat of what the Bible has to say about living in the Spirit. How important is life in the Spirit? Dr. Robert Mounce said, “How to live in and by the Spirit is the single most important lesson a believer can ever learn.” Think about that, and about all the things you need to know as a Christian. It struck me for a moment. It certainly puts the Holy Spirit in a new light. By way of background, let me mention that there are many different ways of living the Christian life. There are seminars and there are books and there are study guides galore, each offering a different perspective. There are so many different ideas floating around out there. But first let me mention at least three faulty ways of trying to live the Christian life before we get the right ways. I. Three Faulty Ways to Live the Christian Life Many Christians have their lives trying to follow these ways. So let look at them. A. By Rules The first faulty way is trying to live the Christian life by a set of rules. “Do this, don’t do that.” There are many people whose view of the Christian life is just a list of do’s and don’ts. For some, it is simply the Old Testament law warmed over and brought into the Christian church. The problem of living by rules is that it can lead to legalism just like the Pharisee in the New Testament. Legalism is any attempt to please God on the basis of what you do in the flesh. But rules are good. After all, “Do not steal” is a rule. That’s a good rule to live by. “Thou shalt not bear false witness” is another rule worth living by. “Thou shalt not commit adultery." That’s a good rule to live by. So rules are not bad. But flesh without help from the Spirit is weak and cannot have victory with rules. B. By a Formula Second, the next faulty way is you can live the Christian life by a formula. We’ve all heard the formulas: Three steps to answered prayer, four keys to Christian victory, five ways you can walk in the Spirit. Three ways, four ways, five ways, the bookstores are just filled with formulaic admonitions for living the Christian life. But, formulas can be very helpful. You discover five ways to pray or use a Prayer book. That’s great. You discover three ways to be filled with the Spirit. Good. Formulas can be helpful. The problem with formulaic Christian life is that it can produce mechanical Christianity. (A robotic Christian).   C. By an Experience Third, some people live the Christian life by seeking for an experience. By that I mean, by seeking for a deeply moving, life-changing, earth-shattering, emotional experience with God. There’s only one problem with that. Experience doesn’t last. If you try to live according to experience, you’re going to either give up the Christian life altogether or you’re going to be on an emotional roller coaster. You feel great as long as you have an experience, but what happens when it runs out? You’re going to be down, discouraged, depressed, and you may feel as if God is angry with you. So you’ll seek for another experience, and the whole cycle starts again. You’re going to be constantly going up and down. But experience matters. There are times and places where God comes to visit his people in tremendous emotional power. Most of us who have been with the Lord for any length of time have had those moments when you’re alone or in a small group, or in a church service, or in a revival meeting, when God has met us with great power. We don’t want to ever say that experience is not important. So by themselves alone, rules lead to legalism, formulas lead to mechanical Christianity, and experience alone leads to an emotional roller coaster. Rules and formulas and experience have their place. But taken alone, they lead to a sub-standard Christian life. Why? Because they tend to lead you away from the one thing that is most important. God has given us something better than rules, better than a formula, better than experience. God has given us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the secret of living the Christian life. If you want to know where the Christian life is found, if you want to know how to live in victory, then you must learn how to live in, by and through the Holy Spirit of God. That is the secret. The New Testament tells us that the Holy Spirit is always here. Our job is to stay in contact with the Spirit. When we stay in contact with the Holy Spirit, he continuously provides the power we need for effective Christian living. With that as background, we turn to Romans 8:5-17 where we discover three gifts of the Holy Spirit that are given to every believer. These are not things that you should seek if you are a believer like what we call spiritual gifts. These are things that are given to you at the moment of conversion. You are told not to seek them, you’re told to realize that you have them and to live on the basis of the fact that they’ve been given to you. II. Three Gifts of the Spirit A. A New Mind 5-8 “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.” There are two ways and only two ways of living in this world. You can live according to the flesh which leads to death or according to the Spirit which leads to life. There is no third alternative. It’s one or the other. But people likes to create the third and I call it “Playing with God.” Those two ways of life are constantly moving in opposite directions. Let me give you three practical applications of that truth.  1. First, when you encounter Jesus Christ, he gives you a new way of thinking. There are basically only two world views. There is the secular or humanistic world view and there is the truly Christian world view. There’s a Christian way of thinking, there’s a Christian way of speaking, there’s a Christian way of acting, there’s a Christian way of approaching the problems of life. God has given you a new mind so that you might develop a thoroughly Christian way of thinking. We remember what Jesus said. The first and greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength (Mark 12:29-30). When you meet Jesus Christ, he will change the way you think. 2. Second, one part of following Jesus Christ is having your mind continually transformed. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The word in Greek is a form of the word metamorphoses, the change of shape that takes place within a cocoon whereby a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. Let a “mental metamorphoses” take place in your mind. Let the very shape of your thinking be changed by the renewing of your mind. This is the basis for all Christian education. It’s the basis for what we are doing in our Bible Study. This is why we have a Kid program. It’s why we support Christian colleges, Christian publishing, and Christian research in every field. We believe that our great calling is to go out into the world, into every field of endeavor, with truly renewed minds. How does that happen? I know of only one way in which your mind can be transformed. It must be filled with the Word of God. Spiritual metamorphoses takes place by the careful, intentional, repeated, deliberate, thorough study of the Bible. God gave us his Word so it would be a spiritual change agent in your mind. As you study the Bible, it will change the way you think. And as your thinking changes, so your life will slowly change. 3. Third, we need Christians who will serve God with their minds. If you know Jesus Christ, it ought to make a difference in every area of life. The way you speak, the way you talk, the way you write, the way you relate and yes, the way you make decisions in the public arena. If you know Jesus Christ, that will radically affect the way you approach the great moral decisions of life. Nothing will be simply private or personal. There’s no such thing as a purely private Christian faith. If it doesn’t affect all of life, how can your faith be called truly Christian? We will continue with other two gifts of the Spirit next Sunday. Or        Conclusion: For too long we who have been given new minds have been too willing to check them (get rid of) at the door as we leave church on Sunday. We think like pagans during the week but like Christians on Sunday morning. No wonder the world is little impressed with our Christianity. They’ve never seen the real thing in action. What a difference it would make if we began to “think Christianly” and “act Christianly” in the workplace, at home, or where you are this week. You were given a new mind so you could make a difference for God. God gave you a new mind so you could be a difference-maker for the kingdom of God.

July 25, 2016 by
Stop Staring at the Soup Philippians 3:12-14 We are at the 15th year in this place with this group of people. What will we be in the next 15th year. How we feel when we think about tomorrow?  “In America, worry about tomorrow has become part of our national culture. We are worried about the possible collapse of the Euro, trouble in the Middle East, the conflict of China, the problem in Cambodia, and the possibility of a global recession I can’t blame anyone for feeling a bit worried right now. But the Bible says in Matthew 6:34 “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself” You’ve got plenty of trouble right now. Why borrow trouble from tomorrow?   Our text helps us at the level of personal motivation by revealing the heart of our faith. It begins with a very frank admission.  In which way we need continue our life with this church.  Each anniversary we can do this evaluation. We have vision and we need a measurement to check our direction and our achievement. This year I also have more decision to make about my life for the next phase: my saving fund, my investment fund, my medical insurance, my life insurance, my critical illness insurance, my long term disability and long term care insurance, my activity, Medicare, money to live for the next 18 months with no income like before, my plant in my backyard to be self-watered and also may be my dog self-feeder, and last but not least my travel.   I.  A Humble Evaluation                           “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect“ (v. 12a). Before we assess ourselves, we need to learn from apostle Paul. There is a refreshing honesty about these words. If anyone had reason to brag about his accomplishments, you would think it would be the Apostle Paul. But he doesn’t do that. Despite having met the Lord on the Damascus Road, despite having preached across the eastern Mediterranean region, despite being an apostle called by God, despite writing letters inspired by the Holy Spirit, despite all that he had endured, he does not brag about anything he has said or done. None of that matters to him. He knows that he is a sinner saved by grace. In another place he even calls himself the “chief of sinners ខ្ញុំជាលេខ១ ក្នុងមនុស្សមានបាប” (1 Timothy 1:15). Despite all that he had done, he makes no claim of being perfect or having arrived in his own spiritual journey. There is no perfection in this life. But God creates out of nothing. Wonderful you say. Yes, to be sure, but he does what is still more wonderful: he makes saints out of sinners. Paul was the chief of sinners then God made him to become the chief of saints.                That fact is hard for some people to grasp. Whenever we face a difficulty in life, we must begin by saying, “It is what it is." That’s not easy to do. Often we would rather play games, make excuses, cover up, pretend, ignore the obvious, and live in fantasy land. You can’t get better until you come to grips with reality. “It is what it is.” It’s hard to admit your marriage is in trouble. It’s hard to admit your career is on the rocks. It’s hard to admit your dreams are smashed. It’s hard to admit you’re broke. It’s hard to admit you’re filled with anger. It is hard to admit we are not growing as a congregation. But there is no getting better until you say, “It is what it is.”  So it is with all the trials of life. First we begin by saying, “It is what it is.” And then by God’s grace we move on from there. The only thing that keeps us going is this. Jesus is a wonderful Savior, and he is everything we are not.   II. A Holy Aspiration                                 “But I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me" (v. 12b). Pause for a moment over that last phrase: “Christ Jesus took hold of me." The whole Christian life can be found in those six words.                         Christ found me.                         Christ saved me.                         Christ has a purpose for my life. The supreme purpose of my life is to discover his purpose for me!                         1.  It takes a lifetime.                         2.  It involves hard work and concentration (I press on....).                         3.  It leads to progressive growth in grace.                         4.  It develops the character of Christ in me.   III. A Hearty Determination                      “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead"(v. 13). Note the fierce concentration implicit in the words “one thing I do.” Here is a secret that applies across the board. To excel in any area of life, a person must say, “This one thing I do,” not “These 20 things I do.” A single-minded focus in any endeavor generally wins a great reward. Greatness in any arena comes to those who can say with the Apostle Paul, “One thing I do.” In his case, it meant looking to the heavenly goal of winning the prize. That phrase covers all that God has for us when we finally stand before Jesus Christ and hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of the Lord." Perhaps it would be good for each of us to look in the mirror and ask, “Do you know what you are doing?” We’re all good at making lists. I’m rather good at it myself. I can think that as long as I’ve got a list, I’ve got a clear purpose. But it’s not true. A list without a purpose is just a list. It keeps me busy (or at least looking busy) but what good is a list without a larger purpose? Paul clarifies his purpose with two key phrases:   A.  Forgetting what lies behind. Illustration: There was a time after the Civil War when General Robert E. Lee visited a woman who showed him the remains of a grand old tree in front of her home. There she cried bitterly that its limbs and trunk had been destroyed by Union artillery fire. She waited for Lee to condemn the North or at least sympathize with her loss. Lee paused and then said, “Cut it down, my dear madam, and forget it." Surely this is a good word for the next phase of our congregation. What are we to forget? Our worries. Our fears. Our failures. Our victories. Our defeats. The attacks of our enemies. The praise of our friends. Let us lay aside even the accomplishments of the past year, our claim to fame, our name in the lights, the good things we think we have done, the stuff we do to make the world glad that we get out of bed in the morning, all the things we brag about, all the medals and honors and all the awards. As the football coaches like to say, “Last year means nothing." How right they are. If we lost, it means nothing. If we won the Super Bowl, it means nothing. Whatever happened in the past, you’ve got to let it go. As long as we’re looking back, we can’t move forward.   B. Pressing on to what lies ahead. Illustration: When famed missionary Dr. David Livingstone returned from Africa to England, he was asked, “Where are you ready to go next?” “I am ready to go anywhere,” he replied, “provided it be forward." This must be the attitude of the child of God every single day. When people ask about the “secret” of God’s will, I tell them it begins in the morning when you say, “Lord, let me take the next step with you today."   IV. A Heavenly Inclination                                                 “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (v. 14). In the spiritual life, direction makes all the difference. True believers aren’t in heaven yet, but they aim their steps in that direction. In Paul’s case that involved both a sanctified forgetting and a resolute pushing forward. Paul said, “I haven’t arrived yet, but I’m still climbing!” If he were here today, he would say, “Press on!!!!” It’s not enough to start well. You also have to end well. Illustration: The Greeks had a race in their Olympic games that was unique. The winner was not the runner who finished first. It was the runner who finished with his torch still lit. I want to run all the way with the flame of my torch still lit for Him. Someone has commented that the chief problem of the church today is that we have too many “amateur Christians." They are like the man who jumped on his horse and rode furiously in all directions and the no flame still lit on the torch. Let me pose three questions for you to consider:             1. What is the goal of your life?             2. Why do you get up in the morning?             3. Why are you still here?  We of all people ought to be optimistic with passion as we face another phase after this anniversary. We have a great future because we have a great God.  Conclusion: So chin up, child of God. Stop staring in the soup. Pull those shoulders back. Put a smile on your face. Take your troubles, wrap them up, and give them all to the Lord.  So we launch out with great faith into the next phase of our congregation. We’ll have our share of hard times, but overriding it all is the promise of God who said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”   Lift up your head.  Be of good cheer. The Lord is with you. Fear not and Press on!

July 18, 2016 by
The Word of God Book 2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,”   We begin with the simple observation that the Bible is the bestselling book of all time. More copies have been printed in more languages and read by more people than any other book in history. It is so far out in front of every other book ever written that it stands in a category all by itself. Over six billion copies have been printed, sold, or distributed in over 2200 languages.  It is not only the bestselling religious book, it is the bestselling book of any and every category. The Bible is number one. The all-time best seller. The undisputed champion. Every Sunday it is read, studied, quoted and memorized in every nation on every continent. Why is the Bible still the all-time best-selling book in world history? What is it about this ancient book that still draws the attention of this generation? Why we are still attracted to these ancient stories? Is it just our religious background? Do we turn to the Bible because it makes us feel good in times of trouble? Or is there something more?   I.                  Every Word and All the Words For 2000 years Christians have used a particular phrase to describe what they believe about the Bible. We call it “the Word of God.” That alone sets the Bible apart from every other book. When we use the phrase “the Word of God” we mean that the Bible comes from God and records his message to us. That is, when we read the Bible, we are reading the very words of God. Sometimes Christians use the word “inspiration” to describe this truth. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that “All Scripture is God-breathed.”  Applied to the Bible, that means that God breathed out the very words of the Bible and the human authors wrote them down. Why do we believe the Bible is the Word of God and thus absolutely truthful? How can we be so sure that the Bible stands above every other book ever written? In this message we’re going to attempt to answer those questions.   II.               Its Claims In the first place, the Bible clearly claims to be the Word of God. II Peter 1:21 says, “For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” It’s not as if Jeremiah dreamed up his visions or David his psalms or Paul his letters. These men “spoke from God” as the Holy Spirit carried them along. The Greek word for “carried along” pictures a ship being moved through the waters by the power of the wind in the sails. The Holy Spirit is the real power behind the writing of the Bible. He is the divine author. Men like David, Daniel and John were human authors. That’s why the Bible repeatedly uses phrases like “the Lord says” and “the Word of the Lord came” and “the Lord spoke.” Jeremiah 1:9 puts it very plainly: “Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, ‘Now, I have put my words in your mouth.’ “This is a claim to direct, divine inspiration by God. It is important to realize too that the writers of the Scripture were not mere writing machines. God did not punch them like keys on a typewriter to produce His message. He did not dictate the words, as the biblical view of inspiration has so often been unfairly caricatured. It is quite clear that each writer has a style of his own. Jeremiah does not write like Isaiah, and John does not write like Paul. God worked through the instrumentality of human personality, but so guided and controlled men that what they wrote is what he wanted written.   III.            Its Credibility Let’s consider credibility under two headings.  1. Accuracy of transmission. After all, everyone understands that the Bible was written between 2000-3500 years ago. And everyone agrees that we don’t possess any of the original manuscripts of the Bible. How do we know that what we are reading is an accurate transmission of what the human authors originally wrote? The answer for the Old Testament is that the Jews were almost fanatical in their insistence on accuracy. When they copied a manuscript by hand, they counted the total number of letters and figured out the middle letter of the entire book. Once a scribe finished copying that book, if his middle letter of the copy was different, the entire book was presumed to be incorrectly copied and was destroyed. The scribes even counted the various letters and compared manuscripts not just word for word but letter for letter. That’s why the existing manuscripts of the Old Testament are virtually identical.   2. Consider the Bible’s amazing historical accuracy. In general, we may say that historical research has tended to confirm every major factual claim in the Bible. For many years, the critics claimed that no one named Pontius Pilate ever existed. But the archaeologists uncovered a stone tablet in Caesarea with his name on it. Chuck Colson (The Faith, p. 51) summarizes the evidence this way: Before the end of the 1950s, no less than 25,000 biblical sites had been substantiated by archaeological discoveries; there has been no discovery proving the Bible to be false. No other religious document now or in history has ever been found that accurate.   IV.           Its Consistency Two important lines of evidence establish the Bible’s internal consistency.  1. There is the testimony of fulfilled prophecy. Someone has calculated that fully one-fourth of the Bible was prophecy when it was written. The 66 books of the Bible make hundreds of specific prophecies regarding people, places, kingdoms, wars, and nations. But the greatest predictive prophecy deals with the person of Jesus Christ. The Old Testament contains over 100 predictions regarding Christ, including the place of his birth, the manner of his birth, the family into which he would be born, the scope of his ministry, the nature of his death, and the miracle of his resurrection. All of these prophecies were written down between 400-1500 years before his birth. Yet each of them was fulfilled down to the letter. Mathematician Peter Stoner calculated the odds of anyone fulfilling just eight of those predictions by chance. The odds came out to one in ten to the seventeenth power. If you took that many silver dollars and scattered them across Texas, they would cover the state two feet deep. Now take one of those silver dollars and mark it with a red X and throw it in at random into that pile of silver dollars. Then blindfold a volunteer and ask him to find the marked silver dollar on his first try. That’s the same odds that eight predictions about Christ could be fulfilled by chance. Yet Christ fulfilled over 100 prophecies! (You can read Peter Stoner’s book online.)   2. Consider the amazing unity of the Bible. We are accustomed to thinking of the Bible as one book, but it actually consists of 66 books written by 40 authors in three different languages over a period of 1500 years. Yet the Bible is one book because it contains an amazing unity of theme from Genesis to Revelation. How do we explain the unity of the Bible? The Old Testament points to the coming of Christ, the gospels to the appearance of Christ, Acts to the preaching of Christ, the epistles to the body of Christ, and Revelation to the return of Christ. Jesus Christ is the theme of the Bible. This amazing unity amid diversity is one of the great proofs of the Bible’s supernatural origin.   V.              Its Certainty Having said all that, how can we be sure the Bible is the Word of God? Consider one more line of evidence: the evidence of changed lives. History tells us that wherever the Bible goes, men and women are changed forever. Whole cultures are transformed from devil-worship, cannibalism and warfare into societies in which human life is respected and human dignity established.  The Bible has, amazingly-no doubt with supernatural grace-survived its critics. Thirty to sixty million copies are produced annually. The harder tyrants try to eliminate it and skeptics dismiss it, the better read it becomes. Voltaire, for example, who passionately sought to erase the Christian influence during the French Revolution, predicted that within a hundred years no one would read the Bible. When his home was later auctioned off after his death, it was purchased by the French Bible Society. As one pastor said, the Bible survives its pallbearers (The Faith, pp. 55-56). Is the Bible the Word of God? I cannot “prove” that to you. You still have to make up your own mind. But if you have doubts, I encourage you to read it, study its claims, observe its message, and check out the facts for yourself. I have done that and I have also read the claims of the skeptics. As for me and my house, we will stand on the Bible as the Word of God. I submit to you that the Bible will stand the toughest test and the hardest scrutiny because it is indeed the Word of God. That’s why after 2000 years it is still the best-selling book in the world. No other book in the world contains the plan of salvation. No other book in the whole history of mankind can tell you how to get to heaven.   Conclusion   Thank God for the Bible because without it, we would never know about Jesus. And without Jesus, we could never be saved. But the Bible is true and it is the Word of God. If you still have doubts, I encourage you to read it for yourself. When you do, you will discover for yourself the most wonderful truth in the world. 

July 10, 2016 by
Divine Cafeteria Exodus 20:1 We are the refugee from Cambodia that’s what we are called here. The people of Cambodia call us the go away people or the immigrant. When I got US citizenship they call me here Cambodian American and I like it because I also like to be a Khmer. I was a Buddhist and I became Christian and if they call me a Buddhist Christian I may not like it because I am not a Buddhist anymore. But I know many Cambodian may like it because they don’t understand what a Christian is? Many years ago Newsweek magazine published an article by Lisa Miller with the provocative title We Are All Hindus Nowwho believe there are many paths to God. Just as there are many ways to climb a mountain, each religion offers its own way to God. None is better than any other. It begins this way: America is not a Christian nation. We are, it is true, a nation founded by Christians. Of course, we are not a Hindu–or Muslim, or Jewish, or Catholic nation, either. A million-plus Hindus live in the United States, a fraction of the billion who live on Earth. But recent poll data show that conceptually, at least, we are slowly becoming more like Hindus and less like traditional Christians in the ways we think about God, our selves, each other, and eternity. Are we all Hindus now? Maybe we are. Let’s take a simple test and figure out the answer. How many of the Ten Commandments can you name? Suppose someone offered you $20,000 to name the Ten Commandments in 20 seconds, could you do it? Khmers Know Prahok Ktis Most Khmers can name the four ingredients of a Prahok Ktis but few of them can name the five precepts of Buddhism. Americans know hamburgers, but they’re shaky about the Ten Commandments. Maybe that’s why we are all becoming Hindus now. Not knowing what God has said, we feel perfectly free to revise his Commandments to fit our 21st-century worldview.   I.                  God Did Not Stutter And that thought brings me to what I regard as the most important part of the Ten Commandments as given in Exodus 20. I’m referring to the way the passage begins. This is Exodus 20:1.  "And God spoke all these words." In our attempt to get down to the “good stuff,” we rush right over these words we flip past the title page to get to the first chapter. But that’s a crucial mistake because these words tell who is speaking.  “God spoke all these words.” Who is speaking here?  God! What did he say?  “All these words."  So where do the Ten Commandments come from?  God! These are not “Ten Suggestions for Your Best Life Now” or “Ten Ways You Should Consider” or “Ten Habits of Highly Successful People” or “Ten Ways to Climb the Ladder” or “Ten Ideas That Might Work For You.” No!  God spoke all these words-therefore they have lasting moral authority. God spoke all these words-therefore we must take all of them with utter seriousness. God spoke all these words-therefore we must give these words our primary attention. God has spoken and he did not stutter! If you think about it, this is a profound and even radical claim. We believe that God has spoken to us in the Bible, and he spoke in such a way that we can know what he says. Illustration: I had one student in my Cultural Orientation class in Galang refugee camp in Indonesia and he was also a happy Muslim. He was cheerful and friendly and very talkative as he explained that, really, there is no difference between Christianity and Islam. “We all believe in the same God,” he said. “So what is the difference?” he said, asking me. But I decided to let him answer that question. “We believe in Jesus too.” But Mohammad is God’s prophet, he said. And Allah made everything. “We believe in God because he made everything.” I explained to him, “We believe Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross and rose from the dead.” “Jesus really is the difference.” He smiled and agreed and walked away. Jesus really is the difference. Are we all Hindus? No, and we’re not Muslims either. We are Christians who believe in the lordship of Jesus Christ.   II.               Divine Cafeteria Stephen Prothero, a religion professor at Boston University, points to American pragmatism: It’s about whatever works. If going to yoga works, great; and if going to Catholic mass works, great. And if going to Catholic mass plus the yoga plus the Buddhist retreat works, that’s great, too. More and more Americans, including a healthy chunk of evangelicals, take a “Divine Cafeteria” approach to their faith. We pick and choose what we want to believe. “Hmmm. I’ll take a serving of God’s love, but I think I’ll skip the part about hell and judgment. Give me a small serving of church and a big helping of ‘Make Me Happy’ for dessert.” Many Christians have suffered a loss of nerve because we aren’t really sure about what we believe. And under the enormous pressure to “go along to get along,” little by little we’ve backed away from the hard edges of the Christian faith. Inside each church we have members who are more Hindu than Christian. We’ve got Baptist Hindus.  We’ve got Methodist Hindus. We’ve got Nazarene Hindus. We’ve got Presbyterian Hindus. These folks come to church, sing the songs, pray the prayers, give their money, and sometimes they serve in leadership position, all the while believing on the inside that there really are many ways to God. In the 1950s the noted theologian Richard Neibuhr summarized liberal Protestant theology in words that seem as true today as they were a half-century ago: A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross. The only real solution is to teach the truth of God to fortify the souls of our people and make them strong once again. To believe in God is to believe in something that is supernatural. To believe in creation over evolution is to believe in something that is supernatural. To believe in angels, demons, heaven, hell, and the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins, is to touch that which is supernatural in its essence. We as Christians must reassert the supernatural basis of the Christian faith. It is not enough simply to say that we are Christians. It is not enough to say that we hold certain doctrines.  We must proclaim the supernatural foundation of the Christian faith. That’s important because if you remove the supernatural from Christianity, you have gutted our faith and turned it into nothing but a set of ethical instructions.   III.            All Truth Is Narrow Over and over again Jesus called people into a personal confrontation with the truth he was proclaiming.  In John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am the truth." In John 17:17 he said, “Your word is truth.” In John 18:37, standing before Pilate, he said these words, “I came into the world to bear witness to the truth. Everyone on the side of the truth listens to me.” Pilate responded in the words of a true first century relativist, “What is truth?”  What a question to ask when the truth was standing in front of him! We need once again to hear these words from Psalm 119:142, “Your righteousness is everlasting and your law is true.” Verse 151 says, “You are near, O Lord, and all your commands are true.” Verse 160 says, “All your words are true.” That leads me to make a very important point that I will come back to over and over again. All truth is narrow. Two plus two equals four, not 17. Phnom Penh is the capital of Cambodia, not Burma. A pentagon has five sides. Angkor Wat has 5 towers. Sixty seconds equals exactly one minute. All truth is narrow. If something is true, then many other things must not be true. If everything is true, then nothing is true. If truth depends on your opinion or on the latest Gallup poll, we can never know the truth about anything. That is why Christians insist on the concept of absolute truth. Without it, we have no faith to believe, only some warm, fuzzy sentimental feelings in our heart. That is not enough. We need to reassert once again to this crazy, mixed-up, confused generation exactly what the Psalmist said regarding God, “All your words are true.”   IV.           Truth Demands a Commitment I know people commit to thing they believe. When they believe on Lotto the Lotto organization get more money. When they believe on casino the casino owner get richer. When they believe on prosperity preachers those preachers become multimillionaire.  But if you are not sure about what you believe, that’s okay. You don’t have to believe on the basis of what I say. You may have some doubts about certain aspects of the Christian faith. You may even be a Christian, a member of a church, and have serious doubts about some of the things we believe. Doubt is not a sin. The only sin is refusing the search for the truth. So the best thing we can do for non-Christians is to share what we believe and why we believe it. Truth always demands a commitment.  Jesus said to Pilate, “Everybody on the side of truth listens to me.” Are you on the side of truth? It is not enough to intellectually say there might have been somebody like Jesus 2000 years ago. That is not enough. If you just say that and stop, you are not on the side of truth. You are just giving intellectual assent to certain propositions. There are only three things you can do with the truth: 1) You can deny it.  2) You can ignore it.  3) You can believe it. Those are your only options. So I ask you, what have you done with the truth about Jesus Christ? What have you done with the truth about the Bible? What have you done with the truth about salvation? I am sure you have heard of blind faith. God never asked anyone for blind faith. You have heard of a leap into the darkness. Faith in Jesus Christ is not a leap into the darkness.    Conclusion   Christian faith is standing on God’s truth and leaping from the darkness into the light. You may be in the darkness now, but there is light on the other side and it is not far away. You will never know until you take that first step. The next move is up to you.

June 26, 2016 by
Free Grace Ephesians 2:1-9 I would like to point out that my text contains the whole gospel message in just six words. If you know what these words are and what they mean, you will know the gospel. And you can share it with anyone you meet. The six words come in three sets of two words each, the first from verse 1, the second from verse 4, and the third from verse 8. You were—verse 1 But God—verse 4 Through faith—verse 8 The first two words describe our true condition apart from God’s grace. The words “you were” describe not only what we used to be, they also describe the current condition of everyone in the world who is not saved. That condition, as we will see in a few moments, is truly hopeless. The second two words tell us how grace works. The phrase “but God” announces the world’s greatest rescue mission when the Creator took on human flesh in the Person of Jesus Christ to perform the work of salvation. The final two words explain how we come into contact with God’s grace. It is “through faith” and only through faith. It is not faith plus works or faith plus anything else. It is faith alone that brings the blessings of grace to us. Rightly understood, the whole gospel is in those six words: You were…But God…Through faith. God made it simple so that anyone could understand it and so all of us could share it with someone else. My subject today is the grace of God. Perhaps a quote from the French philosopher Blaise Pascal will put things in their proper context: “To make a man a saint, grace is absolutely necessary and whoever doubts it, does not know what a saint is or what a man is.” One phrase hangs in the mind: “Grace is absolutely necessary.” If you doubt that, you don’t know what a saint is or what a man is, and I might add, you don’t know what grace is either. It is commonly said that Christianity is supremely a religion of grace. And that is certainly true. We sing about grace, we write poems about grace, we name our churches and our children after grace. Pol Pot and Mother Teresa As long as I think I am better than other people, I am not ready to be saved from my sin because I have not yet considered how great my sin really is. Jesus did not come to save “semi” sinners or “partial” sinners or “not-so-bad” sinners. To put the matter this way is not to deny the real moral differences among people. Is there no difference between Pol Pot and Mother Teresa? Of course there is. One was a killer, the other an instrument of mercy to thousands of hurting people. But from heaven as God looks down it is as if earth is a trillion miles away. What happens to the distance between us and Pol Pot? It vanishes from God’s point of view. That’s why Romans 3:22 says, “There is no difference.” And that’s why the next verse says, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” We’re all in the same boat—like it or not. At this point the words of Jesus come to mind. “I did not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). With that as background we turn to our text. Ephesians 2:1-9 is the most extensive statement in the Bible about grace. It tells us how God saves dead people.  I. Grace Needed—"You were” As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath (Ephesians 2:1-3). Why do we need God’s grace? Because all men and all women are by nature spiritually dead and separated from God. We must begin at this basic starting point for biblical theology. When God looks down from heaven, the whole world looks like a cemetery to him. All he sees are dead people. Above every corpse is a three-word epitaph: “DEAD THROUGH SIN.” In what sense are human beings “dead” even though they are alive? Because of sin we are separated from God. We are unable to know God personally and we can’t do anything about our condition. To make matters worse, we are dead and we don’t know it. To be dead is a hopeless condition. You can’t say to a dead man, “Hey dead man, get up!” and expect him to do anything. You can’t talk the dead back to life. When God looks down from heaven, he sees our world as a vast graveyard filled with the living dead. Unbelievers appear to be alive. They laugh, they talk, they plan, they fight, they marry, they dream of the future, and one day they die. But they are dead even while they are alive. This is the human condition apart from God. It is true of all people without exception. Apart from grace, we are all born dead. Which is why, when God wants to save someone, he first finds a dead person. II. Grace Given—"But God” But, because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-7). Note the two little words in verse 4: “But…God.” Our salvation hangs entirely on those two words. We were dead…But God! We were enslaved…But God! We were trapped…but God! We were self-destructing…but God! We were lost in sin…but God! Now circle three words in verses 4-5, love, mercy, and grace. Love is that in God which causes him to reach out to his creatures in benevolence. Mercy is God withholding punishment. And grace? Grace is the unmerited favor of God. Think of it this way. Imagine a vast reservoir of God’s love. As it begins to flow toward us, it becomes a river of mercy. As it cascades down upon us, the mercy becomes a torrent of grace. These two verses offer three words which answer to the desperate state of mankind: Love Mercy  Grace Here’s a good way to remember the difference between mercy and grace. Mercy is God not giving us what we do deserve: Judgment. Grace is God giving us what we don’t deserve: Salvation. The picture of a torrent of grace rushing upon us is especially apropos since grace always comes down from God to man. Grace never goes up; it always comes down. Grace by definition means that God gives us what we don’t deserve and could never earn.  III. Grace Received—"Through faith” For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). In these two verses we discover how grace is communicated to the human heart. It does not come by works, by religion, or by anything we might conceive as “earning” God’s grace. Grace saves us through faith. Nothing more, nothing less. Something in us always wants to add to God’s free grace. It’s humbling to admit that we can do nothing to earn our deliverance from sin. But anytime we add anything to grace, we subtract from its meaning. Grace must be free or else it is not grace at all. Free grace? Of course. What other kind could there be? Consider the three key words of verse 8: grace, saved, faith. Grace is the source, Faith is the means, and Salvation is the result. Or you might say that Grace is the reservoir, Faith is the channel, and Salvation is the stream that washes my sin away. And all of it is the gift of God, even the faith that lays hold of God’s grace. Even our faith is not of us. It too is part of God’s gift. As Martin Luther said, our situation is so hopeless that salvation must come from “another place.” That’s why the Reformers talked about “alien righteousness.” That means a righteousness that comes from outside ourselves. We are not saved by what we do but by what Jesus Christ has done for us. Here’s Luther on faith: “God creates faith in the human heart the same way that He created the world. He found nothing and created something.” Thus every part of our salvation is a work of God from first to last. We are saved by grace through faith: Apart from works Apart from all human “goodness” That salvation is freely given and is received by faith alone. “You and me, Jesus” Too Bad (too sinful) to be Saved? That’s why God alone gets the glory in your salvation. Jesus did all the work when he died on the cross. In the end grace means that no one is too bad to be saved. Are there any truly bad people reading this sermon? I have some good news for you. God specializes in saving really bad people. Do you have some things in your background that you would be ashamed to talk about in public? Fear not. God knows all about it, and his grace is greater than your sin. Grace also means that some people may be too good to be saved. That is, they may have such a high opinion of themselves that they think they don’t need God’s grace. They may admit they are sinners but they don’t admit they are spiritually dead. They may think they’re sick because of sin but not truly dead. God’s grace cannot help you until you are desperate to receive it.   Which brings me to my final point. How do you find God’s grace? Just ask for it. That’s all. It’s really that simple. The more you feel your need for grace, the better candidate you are to receive it. Hold out your empty hands and ask God for his grace. You will not be turned away. It’s never too late. Though your sins be as scarlet, God says they will be white as snow. This is the miracle, the wonder, the scandal, the shock of God’s grace. It truly is “out of this world” for no one in this world would have thought of something like this. Here is good news for sinners. Free Grace! Free Grace! Free Grace! Shout it, sing it, tell it, share it. And above all else, believe it, for in believing, you will be saved.   Conclusion: When we get to heaven, there will be no contest to see who was the most deserving of God’s grace. After all, we were all dead to start with. There will only be one contest in heaven. When we look back and see what we were before, when we see the pit from which he rescued us, when we recall how confused we were, when we remember how God reached out and dragged us into his family, and how he held us in his hand, and when we see Jesus who loved us and gave himself for us, the only contest will be to see which of us will sing the loudest, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.” Amen.    

June 19, 2016 by
Dad Are You a Builder Hebrews. 3:4 “For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.” All people are builders in some form or another. And probably the greatest building we do is in regard to people. We’re all building people, because we all influence people and hopefully, for God and for good in life. A Poem: A Builder Or a Wrecker As I watched them tear a building down  A gang of men in a busy town  With a ho-heave-ho, and a lusty yell  They swung a beam and the side wall fell I asked the foreman, "Are these men skilled,  And the men you'd hire if you wanted to build?"  He gave a laugh and said, "No, indeed,  Just common labor is all I need." "I can easily wreck in a day or two,  What builders have taken years to do."  And I thought to myself, as I went my way  Which of these roles have I tried to play? Am I a builder who works with care,  Measuring life by rule and square?  Am I shaping my work to a well-made plan  Patiently doing the best I can? Or am I a wrecker who walks to town  Content with the labor of tearing down?  "O Lord let my life and my labors be  That which will build for eternity!"   What Kind of builder are you?  I have learned a lot from many pastors and teachers in my life. Rev. Paul Ellison taught and mentored me for many years. Then Pastors Rick Warren, Max Lucado and others taught me a lot from their books and preaching. Brothers and sisters, those men are builder of both men and women! They taught me more about living the Christian life than just studying the Bible. I thank God for all the building they have done in life. WHAT ABOUT YOU? Do you realize that you, too, are a builder of people? It might be your children, your grandchildren but it might also be someone else’s children and others adults and young people. YOU ARE A BUILDER! Of course, I think we all realize that God is the greatest builder of all….He builds people in ways we never could! Heb. 3:4 “For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.” God is the builder of everything that is good and holy and right. And God is in the business building of good fathers as well. For Father’s Day I would like to share a few thoughts about building a father. If I could build a father.   I. BUILDING A PATIENT FATHER Illustration: There is a story about a father who became disturbed about the length of time his six-year-old son was taking to get home from school.  The father decided he would make the trip to discover for himself how long it should take a small boy to cover the distance. The father settled on 20 minutes but his son was still taking an hour. Finally the father decided to make the trip with his son.  After the trip, the father said, "The 20 minutes I thought reasonable was right, but I failed to consider such important things as a side trip to track down a trail of ants...or an educational stop to watch a man fix a flat...or the time it took to swing around a half dozen telephone poles...or how much time it took for a boy just to get acquainted with two stray dogs and a brown cat.  "In short," said the father, "I had forgotten what it is really like to be six years old." Brothers and sisters, it takes great patience to be a good father. Ephesians 4:2 “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” 1 Thessalonians 5:14 “And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.” We are admonished to be patient with all people, including our children. And there have been times in my life when I was not so patient with my children. Most of the time we forget to let kids be kids.” And to do that we must all exercise more patience with our children. If I could build a father I would build me with more patience! II. BUILDING A GODLY FATHER My grandson after the unity service baptism he insisted me to baptize him. One day after school he said please grandpa baptize me. I told him you have to believe in Jesus and he said he did. So what can I do except to baptize him in the bathtub on that day.   Certainly, this little 4-year old had learned something good from his pastor grandpa. II Thessalonians 3:6-8 “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you.” We parents and fathers do set an example for our children to follow. Be it good or bad, they often do walk in our steps.  Many young people, for example, have been raised by hard-working parents and they, too, became hard-working adults.  I Corinthians 11:1 “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” The greatest example, however, that any parent or father can set for his children is that of godliness or Christ-likeness. If I could build a father I would build me with more godliness! III. BUILDING A LOVING FATHER I Cor. 1:8 “We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” Illustration: There’s a Spanish story of a father and son who had become estranged. The son ran away, and the father set off to find him. He searched for months to no avail. Finally, in a last desperate effort to find him, the father put an ad in a Madrid newspaper. The ad read: “Dear Paco, meet me in front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your Father.” On Saturday, 800 Pacos showed up, looking for forgiveness and love from their fathers.  Dr. James Dobson said, “Loves isn’t something you buy. Your kids spell it T-I-M-E and it costs more than M-O-N-E-Y.” Illustration:  With a timid voice and idolizing eyes, the little boy greeted his father as he returned from work, "Daddy, how much do you make an hour?"  Greatly surprised, but giving his boy a glaring look, the father said: "Look, son, not even your mother knows that. Don’t bother me now, I’m tired."  "But Daddy, just tell me please, how much do you make an hour," the boy insisted. The father finally giving up replied: " Twenty dollars per hour." "Okay, Daddy, could you loan me ten dollars?" the boy asked.  Showing restlessness and positively disturbed, the father yelled: "So that was the reason you asked how much I earn, right! Go to sleep and don’t bother me anymore!"  It was already dark and the father was meditating on what he had said and was feeling guilty. Maybe he thought, his son wanted to buy something. Finally, trying to ease his mind, the father went to his son’s room.  "Are you asleep son?" asked the father. "No, Daddy. Why?" replied the boy partially asleep. "Here’s the money you asked for earlier," the father said. "Thanks, Daddy!" rejoiced the son, while putting his hand under his pillow and removing some money. "Now I have enough! Now I have twenty dollars!" the boy said to his father, who was gazing at his son, confused at what his son just said. "Daddy could you sell me one hour of your time?" The Bible tells the story of Absalom who was the son of King David. Through a series of circumstances, Absalom began to despise his father and made plans to become king in his father’s place. He sowed seeds of division and rebellion in his father’s kingdom. In the beginning he did things that did not seem to be a danger, but he was winning the hearts of the people of Israel. The day came when he saw an opportunity and openly led a rebellion against his father David in an attempt to take over his kingdom. David’s greatest fear was that Absalom would be destroyed in the battle, which is what eventually happened. When word came that Absalom had been killed, far from being happy about it, the Bible says, “The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: ‘O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you — O Absalom, my son, my son!’” (2 Samuel 18:33).  David’s heart was not to destroy his son, but to save his son, even if it meant dying in his place, in spite of what Absalom thought. Absalom wanted to be king, and the ironic thing is that David may have eventually made him a king. David was not his enemy, he was his father. He loved him in spite of his rebellion. If I could build a father I would build me with more love! CONCLUSION I Cor. 3:7 “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” Not only does God make things grow, He also builds people and builds them well. If we fathers had a prayer today, hopefully, it would be, “Father God, make me a better father; a more patient, more godly and more loving.”

June 13, 2016 by
Knowing God Intimately Jeremiah 24:7 Illustration: I am remotely on vacation everyday after retiring from my work by watching 4K youtube and HD TV but to experience the real thing is completely different. To see and to hear are not enough we have to touch, to feel, and to taste it to get the real thing.   After we know how our God is, through His “Omni” attributes, it certainly should increase our knowledge that leads us to deeper worship of our Heavenly Father. It will also promote godly living the daily life and in the congregation by exposing and helping us see our Christian duty in the light of God’s greatness. With that background, let us consider four passages that speak to the vital importance of knowing God: 1. Jeremiah 24:7 “ I will give them a heart to know me …” 2. John 17:3 “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God.” 3. Ephesians 1:17 “… So that you may know him better” 4. 2 Thessalonians 1:8 “Those who do not know God …” From these verses we may discern several important truths: 1. We were made to know God! That is our privilege, our calling, and our very purpose for existing. 2. Knowing God is the privilege and duty of every believer. It is a privilege afforded to every believer and a duty every Christian must pursue. 3. We can always know God better than we do. That’s precisely the point of Paul’s prayer in Ephesians. No one can ever claimed to have arrived at a perfect knowledge of God. 4. Those who do not know God have missed the central truth of the universe. Second Thessalonians 1 warns us that God will judge those who do not know him. In that great day, no excuses will be accepted and no substitute knowledge will suffice. Since it is possible and necessary to know God, those who do not know him face a terrible future. All true Christians know the answer to this question: “What is the chief end of man?” Answer: “To glorify God and enjoy him forever.” God put us here in order that we should know him, and in knowing him, glorify him, and by glorifying him, enjoy him forever. Thus, there is knowledge that leads to a relationship that brings glory that results in unending joy. If you want the joy, you must start by knowing God. Here are two quotes a pastor: It is not the job of the Christian preacher to give people moral or psychological pep talks about how to get along in the world; someone else can do that. But most of our people have no one in the world to tell them, week in and week out, about the supreme beauty and majesty of God … so I am persuaded that the vision of a great God is the linchpin in the life of the church, both in pastoral care and missionary outreach. Christian preachers, more than all others, should know that people are starving for God … who but preachers will look out over the vast wasteland of secular culture and say, ‘Behold your God!’ Who will tell the people that God is great and greatly to be praised? Who will paint for them the landscape of God’s grandeur? Who will remind them with tales of wonder that God has triumphed over every foe? … if God is not supreme in our preaching, where in this world will the people hear about the supremacy of God? If we do not spread a banquet of God’s beauty on Sunday morning, will not our people seek in vain to satisfy their inconsolable longing with the cotton candy pleasures of pastimes and religious hype?   I.                  Knowing God Superficially At this point I think it’s important to heed the two warnings issued of knowing God: A. It is possible to know about God without knowing God intimately. This is the danger of sterile intellectualism. It often happens despite our best efforts. Because we evangelicals love to do theology, it’s very easy for us to slip into the trap of thinking that because we have read the latest book or attended the newest seminar or listened to our favorite preacher on the radio, that we therefore have truly developed an intense relationship with God. Knowledge is good and absolutely essential, but knowing God is more than knowing facts about God. It’s like trying to get to know your wife by reading her Facebook. B. It is possible to know about godliness without knowing God intimately. This is the danger of information overload. This often happens in our “How-to” age. Every Sunday our people come to church and their message is, “Make it practical, pastor.” We want to know how to pray, how to fight discouragement, how to be better parents and so on. All these pursuits are good and worthy in themselves, but they don’t necessarily increase our knowledge of God. As a result, our spiritual state is a mile wide and an inch deep.   II.              Knowing God Intimately Let’s wrap up this message with a brief statement of what will happen to us as we increase in the knowledge of God.   A. New Perspective This is what the LORD says: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD. Jeremiah 9:23-24 We all like to brag, don’t we? We brag about our college degree or about our new car, our new house, our new clothes, or how many important people we know. It’s almost as if we have to validate our own existence by bragging about who we are to someone else. Boasting is foolish because it causes us to think that we’re more than we really are. Money is not the measure of life nor is strength or wisdom. All of it is a gift from God. It’s all on loan from him. He gave it to us, he can take it back any time, and in the end, we’ll have to answer to what we did with what the Lord gave us. In this passage God is saying, “If you brag about anything, brag that you know me!” The rest of it doesn’t matter. That brings me back to the fundamental question: Why Are We Here? Knowing God is why we are here! Settle this first. Unless you know who God is, you will never know who you are.   B. New Boldness “But the people who know their God will firmly resist him.” Daniel 11:32. Here is an amazing verse from a passage in Daniel that speaks about the difficult circumstances in the Last Days. As the world begins to crumble before Christ returns, as the Antichrist rises to world domination, the people of God will come under intense persecution. But those who know God will find the strength to take action in the midst of the most difficult circumstances. If you know God, you won’t just let your testimony slide. You’ll be strong, you’ll speak out, you’ll be bold, you’ll openly identify with Jesus Christ. You won’t fear what man can do to you.   C. New Value in Life But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ. Philippians 3:7-8 Losses and profits don’t matter. The only thing that matters in life is knowing Christ personally. For Paul, being a Jew and a Pharisee to boot was great profit, but not compared to knowing Christ. All his vast knowledge meant nothing. It was just rubbish in his mind. In the end he lost “all things” but counted it as nothing that he might gain the knowledge of Jesus Christ. This kind of evaluation comes only from knowing God personally.   D. New Contentment If you know Jesus Christ, you can face the worst life has to offer. That’s true biblical contentment. It’s possible only by cultivating a daily relationship with Jesus Christ.   E. New Humility Consider these verses of scripture: Ephesians 3:14 “…I kneel before the Father” Philippians 2:10 “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow …” Psalm 95:6 “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.” Why did Paul say, “I kneel” and why did the Psalmist call for people to bow before the Lord? Why did the 24 elders fall down before the Lamb? The answer is not hard to find. Once you know God, you then can know yourself properly. In heaven we will bow down and worship God. It’s a good thing to start now so it won’t seem strange then. Over the years I have come to understand that there are only two theologies in the world. Here they are in very simple form: There is … Big God and Little Me. or there is Little God and Big Me. When you come into the knowledge of God, you will have a Big God and a little you. But for most of us, it’s the other way around. Our view of ourselves is so big that God shrinks down to a manageable size. But the Bible has a special name for a god you can manage. It’s called an idol! Men make idols because they want a god that serves their purposes. The God of the Bible is far bigger than we imagine. He cannot be contained in any building or statue made by human hands! The bigger your God, the smaller your view of yourself, and the quicker you will fall down in worship and praise. Every Sunday morning you need to remember this, you or God is the big one.   Conclusion: I can preach and write and you can listen and read, but you’ll never fully understand what I mean until you begin to know God personally. You can’t define it fully, but when you encounter Almighty God, your life will never be the same again. Which is why Psalm 34:8 says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” He is good, but you’ll never know till you open your mouth and taste for yourself! You may be wondering where you should begin. “I don’t know the Lord at all. But I want to,” you say. Good! The first requirement for knowing God is to admit you need him. He delights to make himself known to those who want to know him.     You can have a relationship with God through his Son the Lord Jesus Christ. He came that you might know God personally. He died on the Cross to open the way to heaven. He paid the price for your sins. Will you now open the door of your heart and trust him as your Lord and Savior? “Lord Jesus, I welcome you into my heart. I believe you died for my sins and rose on the third day. Here and now I trust you as my Savior and Lord. Amen.” That’s a simple prayer but it could change your life forever. Cry out to the Savior and he will come to you. God never says no to a willing heart.

June 6, 2016 by
Is There Anything God Cannot Do Jeremiah 32:17 “Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.” When God exercises His power, He does so effortlessly. It is no more difficult for Him to create a universe than to make a butterfly. This morning, we turn now to the final “omni” attribute: omnipotence. The word means “all-powerful” and refers to the fact that God’s power is infinite and unlimited. A. W. Tozer wrote: "Since He has at His command all the power in the universe, the Lord God omnipotent can do anything as easily as anything else. All His acts are done without effort. He expends no energy that must be replenished. His self-sufficiency makes it unnecessary for Him to look outside of Himself for a renewal of strength. All the power required to do all that He wills to do lies in undiminished fullness in His own infinite being" If you prefer a simpler definition, just think of these three words—"God is able.” That’s what omnipotence means. He is able to do everything he needs to do or wants to do. God is omnipotent. He has the ability and power to do anything.   I.                  God’s Omnipotence This doctrine is assumed everywhere in the Bible. Although the word is not found in our modern translations, the concept might be truly said to be assumed on every page of the Bible. (It is found in the King James Version of Revelation 19:6, “For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.”(dºit¨BHGmÍas’d*Ca¨BH Edlman¨BHecs¶abMput ¨Tg’esayraC´eLIgehIy) To make matters easy to understand, let’s list four categories of scripture that lead us to the doctrine of omnipotence:   A. Nothing is too hard for God. “Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.” Jeremiah 32:17 “For nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1:37   B. No one can stop God’s plans. “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.” Job 42:2   C. He made all things and all things serve him. “Your laws endure to this day, for all things serve you.” Psalm 119:91   D. He does whatever he pleases. “Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.” Psalm 115:3   As a simple summary statement we may say that there are no limits to what God can do because there are no limits to GOD. Among the many titles given to God in the Old Testament is one that relates directly to his omnipotence. In Genesis 17:1 God speaks to 99 year old Abraham who has been promised a child by God. By this time his body is “as good as dead” (see Romans 4:19-22). In the face of all his very understandable doubts God reassures him by calling himself El Shaddai, which means Almighty God. It was God’s way of saying, “Don’t look in the mirror, Abraham. Look at me. If I say you’re going to have a son, it’s going to happen. Age means nothing to me. I am Almighty God.”   II.               Two Objections Two objections are often raised against the doctrine of omnipotence, one frivolous and one serious. 1. Let’s take the frivolous objection first. It is sometimes put in the form of a question: “Can God make a rock so big he can’t lift it?” Now on the face of it, that seems like a legitimate question, but it actually describes nonsense. It’s like asking if God can make a square circle. It’s a self-contradiction, a confusion of categories. If a circle is square it is no longer a circle. It’s a square. There is no such thing as a square circle or a rock so heavy an omnipotent God can’t lift it. (I do confess that when I hear frivolous questions like that, I want to reply that there is no such thing by definition as a rock so heavy God can’t lift it, but if there were, God could make it … and then he could lift it! There’s no such thing as a square circle, but if there were, God could make that, too!) As a passing note, it may be useful to know that there are at least four things the Bible says that God cannot do. He cannot deny himself (2 Timothy 2:13); he cannot lie (Titus 1:2); he cannot be tempted to evil (James 1:13); and he cannot change his basic nature (Numbers 23:19). In short, God will never act contrary to his own righteous, holy, unchanging character. “If God is All-Powerful…” 2. With that we pass on to the serious objection. Although it may be stated in many ways, it goes something like this: “If God is all-powerful, why is there so much suffering in the world?” Why do buses crash or tornadoes destroy homes? Why does God allow armies to kill innocent people? Why is there so much disease? Why do good people die of cancer? Why doesn’t God stop the suffering in the world? Before we say anything else, let us acknowledge the honesty of the question. All of us have wondered about this at some time or other, usually when we or a loved one has suffered a great tragedy. In a fallen world, it’s a very fair question. This is indeed a difficult question—especially when we are faced with a tragedy we can’t explain. Every Christian wonders “Why?” sooner or later. So we must face this question squarely: If God is all-powerful, why doesn’t he use that power to stop the suffering in the world? That’s is why God didn’t create man like He created angel, because He want perfect love and relationship. This short thing is to build thing that is fit for His love. . . What Kind of God Do We Believe In? This is an important question because it drives us back to the character of God. What kind of God do we believe in? For if God is not truly omnipotent, then evil is more powerful than God. In the end we must rest our faith on the goodness of God. More and more I am coming to see that this is the crucial issue of life. Is God good and does he care for us? Is God for us or against us? If you say No, you will soon lose your faith altogether. If you say Yes, then Romans 8:28 becomes more than a cliche. It is the heart of the Christian answer. If our God is good and if he cares for us, then we can believe he has all power, even in the face of sickness, suffering, and death itself. Over the 39 years I have been a pastor, I have discovered that your starting point makes all the difference. If you start with your trials and try to reason back to God, you’ll never make it. Start with lung cancer and it’s hard to find God. Start with divorce and it’s hard to find God. Start with rape and it’s hard to find God. Start with bankruptcy and it’s hard to find God. He’s there, but he’s hard to see when you start with your own difficulty. You’ve got to start with God and reason from what you know about God back to your trials. There is an invisible line that stretches from God to us. That line is the line of God’s goodness. We rest our faith on that invisible line. That’s why 2 Corinthians 4:18 says that “we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.” As long as you start with what you see around you, you’ll have a hard time finding God in the darkest moments of life. But if you start with God, his light will illumine your darkness.   III.            The Implications Let’s think together about two implications of God’s omnipotence.   A. No power or will can ultimately thwart his purposes. This is what Job discovered at the end of his trials. I find it interesting that, as far as we know, Job never discovered the truth about the conversation between God and Satan that started all his troubles. If you take the book of Job at face value, it ends with God interrogating Job in a most humbling fashion. “Job, where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Were you there when I put the stars in their places? By the way, have you ever tried to make a crocodile? What about a rabbit? A simple rabbit, Job, how are you at making rabbits? That’s what I thought.” In the end Job bows in silence before a God whose ways are beyond human comprehension. Omnipotence teaches us that no power in all the universe can stop God or impede his plans. Not evil men. Not natural catastrophe. Not reversal of fortune. Not fate or luck or chance. Not human error. Not even Satan can hinder God’s plan in the least. In the words of Martin Luther, the devil is “God’s devil” because he serves God’s purposes.   B. What God starts, he always finishes. This is a most comforting thought because we live in a world where all our best work is necessarily unfinished. And even when we finish something, it’s never really finished. That’s why houses must be repainted and the beds made every morning. But when God starts to do something, he stays with the job until it is completed. There is never a divine power failure, never a black out, a brown out, or a meltdown. Our eternal security rests on the truth of God’s omnipotence. We are kept by his power, not by ours. He is the God who is able to keep us from falling (Jude 24). This is a source of great encouragement to every struggling saint. That’s why you can safely cast all your cares on him. He not only cares for you, he’s got unlimited power to carry your burdens and to solve your problems. Illustration: Let’s suppose that one day as you are walking down the street, you see a huge man coming toward you. Let’s suppose he’s really big—say 35 feet tall. Let’s say he weighs in at about 1500 pounds, all muscle. And he’s bearing down on you. As you consider the situation, only one question comes into your mind: Do I know this man? If you don’t, it’s time to start running in the opposite direction. But if you know him, you wait till he comes up to you, you smile, he smiles and greets you, and together you walk side by side down the street. If you know that man, you’re going to stay close by his side and fear nothing at all. That’s why Psalm 23:4 says, “I will fear no evil … for you are with me.” If God is walking by your side, you have nothing to fear. The omnipotence of God is thus a doctrine of wonderful comfort to the believer. The all-powerful God is with me. He exercises his power on my behalf. Whenever I need him, and even when I think I don’t, he is there. He never fails. All his plans for me will come to pass. I can trust him completely.   Conclusion: One final word and I am done. First Corinthians 1:18 tells us that the preaching of the cross is foolishness to the world, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. To the world the cross was a terrible waste, a tragedy, an enormous mistake. But to those who believe it is a demonstration of the power of God. Think about that for a moment. In the very place where God seemed to be defeated, there we see God’s power. Is the all-powerful God good and does he care for us? Look to the bloody cross and judge for yourself.   If God were not omnipotent, Jesus would still be dead. But if God can raise the dead, he can do anything. Let that thought encourage you this week as you face the impossibilities of life. Just remember, you’re not alone for Almighty God walks by your side.