Friday, December 13, 2019

I Wish They'd All Been Ready

Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming. (Matthew 25:13)

These words conclude the parable of the ten virgins. Five were ready for the return of Christ and five were not. The five who were not prepared wanted something they did not have (what the five who were ready had - Jesus Christ). When the finally went to get it, it was too late. 

We must be prepared for the return of Jesus Christ. In the parable those who were prepared were allowed into the presence of Jesus Christ - those who were not ready were denied access to the banquet!

We must first be ready for the return of Christ and secondly, we must be looking and prepared for the return of Christ!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

A Look at a Successful Church - The Church Of Philadelphia

Thriving As A Christian in a Secular World
The Church of Philadelphia
Paul’s Chapel Revival — Tuesday, September 26, 2017


I want to take this opportunity to thank the fine people of Paul’s Chapel for allowing me to speak at this year’s revival and to Rev. Aaron Long thank you for allowing me to share your pulpit.
With that said let us be about the business of the Lord and join together our hearts in prayer [PRAY].

As many of you know I love to study the end times and recently at the NC Gathering our National Minister the Rev. Jim Barnes spoke on reviving a dying church. During his presentation I was drawn to how mentioned the 7 churches are a great example of what the churches are doing wrong and Jesus then tells them how to correct their mistakes. So many of us focus on the problems going on in the church instead of seeking and finding solutions to correct them. In each church when Jesus pointed out the problems of the church He always told them how to correct that problem.
Tonight I want us to focus on one of the two churches that Jesus did not find fault with, which was the church of Philadelphia. Now this may seem strange that I am focusing on a church that was only commended by Jesus and not condemned, but remember let us look at what they were doing right and not focus on the negative or what a church is doing wrong.
Turn with me to the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ and find chapter 3 and let us read beginning with verse 7 and going through verse 13. This is fascinating material for us gathered here tonight and I hope it will change each individual’s life, as well as the life of the church. Let us begin with verse 7 and I will be reading from the Modern English Version: 

To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: “He who is holy, He who is true, He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens, says these things: 8 I know your works. Look! I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it. For you have a little strength, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name. 9 Listen! I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie. Listen! I will make them come and worship before your feet and to know that I have loved you. 10 Because you have kept My word of patience, I also will keep you from the hour of temptation which shall come upon the entire world, to test those who dwell on the earth. 11 Look, I am coming quickly. Hold firmly what you have, so that no one may take your crown. 12 He who overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My own new name. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” 

The church of Philadelphia was a church that was at the epicenter of the region and it was strategically located. I come tonight to say that all churches are strategically located within their communities. So no matter where places His Church it is to be active and moving out to share the Good News with the community around them. Philadelphia was such a church. Although they were up against a lot of opposition and struggles because of their size and money issues they thrived in the sharing of the Gospel to those they came into contact. So let us look at how they were so successful and how that impacts the church today.
We think that the world when to pot during our lifetime, but if we study history the world has been evil in every generation. During the time of the church of Philadelphia society was every pressing in on the church, and there were many pagan religions competing for the people’s attention. Sounds familiar doesn’t it! 
Let us focus on one verse tonight that will explain how this church was successful and because of their faithfulness Jesus promised to keep the doors to evangelism and missions open for them. Now many churches make the excuse that they are too small and have too small of a budget. Well after looking at the church of Philadelphia we can no longer make that excuse. 
Let us look at verse 8 together:

8 I know your works. Look! I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it. For you have a little strength, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.

The first thing we notice is that Jesus knows our works! This should either scare us to death or motivate us to action and I hope we choose the latter! When we realize that Jesus is walking among His church here at Paul’s Chapel and all other churches in the world today it should motivate us to serve in with all our heart! Because of their works Jesus emphatically says, “Look” or “Behold.” Now when we see either of these words in the Word of God to start a sentence has an exclamation mark with it this should send up a red flag in our mind because something important is getting ready to be said immediately following this command! It means to look and take heed to what is being said! Jesus says, “I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it.” This is an amazing promise from Jesus to the church of Philadelphia and to the church of today. If we are faithful and spread the Gospel through our evangelism and missions then He will set before that church an open door that no one can shut! Do we trust this promise from God tonight?
Let us look at the church and how they became such an amazing church in the eyes of our Lord and Savior. The first a successful church or a successful Christian must have a passion for evangelism and mission because that is what was the first mission of the church because that was what Jesus Christ did: He reached out for the lost. Jesus spoke about His mission at Luke 19:10 where we read: For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. The angel announced to Joseph in Matthew 1:21 where he tells Joseph that Mary will bear a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins. Jesus came to save the lost. He then tells His followers and the church to do the same. Turn with me to John 20:21 and let us read this verse together: So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As My Father has sent Me, even so I send you.” We are also told in the Great Commission to…19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 *teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. The church of Philadelphia did this with fervor and a passion to reach the lost. This must be our goal today in order to be successful in a society that is moving away from God.
The second thing they did was the kept Christ’s Word. What does this mean? It means that they were faithful to the Word of God. This means that they studied the Word of God; they lived the Word of God; and they proclaimed the Word of God to believers and unbelievers alike. These three traits are instrumental for a person to be strong in their faith and a church be successful in the world today. It is not about a few doing this but it must become a passion for all of us! We are the church and we must be faithful to our Lord and Savior. How can we get to know Him if we are unwilling to study His Word? How can we witness for Him if we are unwilling to live out what His Word teaches? How can we expand the Kingdom of God with telling others about Jesus Christ? Paul gave Timothy some great advice in 2nd Timothy chapter 2 and chapter 3. Turn with me to 2nd Timothy 2:15 and let us read this together: Study to show yourself approved by God, a workman who need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.  Do we see the very first word in that sentence? It is the word study! We need to spend quality time in the Word of God! Now turn with me to 2nd Timothy 3:16 — 17 and let us read this verse together: 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. We must use the Word of God in all aspects of the church and in all aspects of our individual lives. We not only need to study the Word of God, but we need to live that Word out in our daily lives! And we need to take on the attitude of Peter when he stood before the religious authorities and was asked to not talk about Jesus again. He said and we find this in Acts 4: 18 — 31. Let us read this for our edification tonight: 18 Then they called them and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. 20 For we cannot help but declare what we have seen and heard.” 21 When they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people. For all glorified God for what was done, 22 for the man on whom this miracle of healing was performed was over forty years old. 23 On being released, they went to their own people and reported what the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they lifted their voices in unity to God and prayed, “Lord, You are God, who has made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 and who by the mouth of Your servant David said: 

‘Why did the nations rage, and the people devise vain things? 26 The kings of the earth came, and the rulers were assembled together against the Lord and against His Christ.’ 

27 Indeed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were assembled together against Your holy Son Jesus whom You have anointed, 28 to do what Your hand and Your counsel had foreordained to be done. 29 *Now, Lord, look on their threats and grant that Your servants may speak Your word with great boldness, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal and that signs and wonders may be performed in the name of Your holy Son Jesus.” 31 When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness. 

We need to share and proclaim the Word of God to all we come into contact with, whether they are our co-workers, our neighbors, our friends, or our family. We need to always be looking for opportunities to witness and share Christ!
The final point that the people within the church of Philadelphia did was they confessed Christ and did not deny the name of Christ! Now this means more than witnessing for Jesus Christ it means that Jesus Christ is the focus and center of all the lives of those who believe in Jesus Christ. It means that Jesus Christ is the focus and center of all the services, meetings, ministries, programs, and activities of the church! The church that is alive and faithful is evangelistic and mission minded; keeps the Word of Christ; and confesses Christ in all that it does, in all of its services, meetings, programs, and activities.

Does that describe this church? Does this describe your life because the church is made up of the people gathered here tonight? This is how a church can be successful — are we willing to follow the church of Philadelphia’s example? Let us pray…

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Is God With Us?

                                                           Exodus 17:1 — 7           HCSB
1 The entire Israelite community left the Wilderness of Sin, moving from one place to the next according to the Lord’s command. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 So the people complained to Moses, “Give us water to drink.” “Why are you complaining to me?” Moses replied to them. “Why are you testing the Lord?” 3 But the people thirsted there for water, and grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you ever bring us out of Egypt to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” 4 Then Moses cried out to the Lord, “What should I do with these people? In a little while they will stone me!” 5 The Lord answered Moses, “Go on ahead of the people and take some of the elders of Israel with you. Take the staff you struck the Nile with in your hand and go. 6 I am going to stand there in front of you on the rock at Horeb; when you hit the rock, water will come out of it and the people will drink.” Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 He named the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites complained, and because they tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?” 

I love certain reality shows. Not Survivor or the Bachelor, but I like the shows where people are called upon to survive in the wild such as the Alaskan Bush People and Alaska: The Last Frontier featuring the Kilchers. I also like those shows where the people live off the land and one of my favorite is Live Free or Die. If you watch many of these shows where they are living off the land you will see that there is one thing that they must have and that is water! I remember one show where one of the men made a bowl out of a certain type of wood to trade for a water barrel to catch rain water so he would not have to go to the river so much to get water. Water is essential to living.
Today is the third Sunday of Lent and we come to a time in our journey through Lent where we see the need of water. People can live without food, but people cannot live without water. Water is a life-sustaining liquid that all of us need to survive. The people of Israel have been on a journey in the wilderness that we know as the Exodus. They have had their ups and downs and have questioned God and put Him to the test numerous times. Today’s passage is another one of those times. Let us look at this passage a little closer this morning.
Read verse one along with me:

1 The entire Israelite community left the Wilderness of Sin, moving from one place to the next according to the Lord’s command. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink.

There is some really good stuff in this verse that many times we will pass over. First, we are told that the entire Israelite community got up and left the area they were staying, moving from one place to the next by being obedient to God’s command to move. Remember our sermon last week that when we are called to “Get up and go” we must be obedient to the Lord. So we learn right off that the people of Israel are being obedient to the Lord. Second, we see that they camped at Rephidim. Now in the Bible names mean something and the place they camped at was called “resting place.” That is what Rephidim means a resting place! Also it means a place to refresh. Now this was not a name that Moses gave it; the place was already there and had a name! So in this first verse we see that the people were obedient to the Lord and He brought them not only to a place of rest, but also to a place to refresh. 
Then we are told there was not any water for them to drink. So let us see how the Israelite people handled this problem. Read verses 2 and 3 with me:

2 So the people complained to Moses, “Give us water to drink.” “Why are you complaining to me?” Moses replied to them. “Why are you testing the Lord?” 3 But the people thirsted there for water, and grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you ever bring us out of Egypt to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”

I love how the Scripture speaks into our lives today. We are told that the people when they did not have water complained to Moses. When I was studying for today’s message one thing that the Holy Spirit laid on my heart was the Israelites’ attitude. Notice, although they had been obedient to the Lord in moving when He said move and He had provided for them every time they were in need, they still came to Moses with a complaining attitude. Instead of prayerfully asking Moses to seek God for help and trusting that God would provide for their needs you can hear their complaining tone when they said to Moses, “Give us water to drink. Why did you bring us out of Egypt to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” Notice their selfish mentality and their GIVE ME, GIVE ME, GIVE ME cry! Brothers and sisters aren't we a lot like that today. Instead of seeking God, following Him, and trusting Him to lead and provide we tend to look at our own weaknesses and understanding. Many times in the difficulties of life we tend to see the reality that stares us in the face and that is so understandable, but we never should forget that nothing is impossible with God. If we would sit back and reflect on the times that God has either provided or step in during a crisis or a time of chaos and turmoil in our life and lifted us up out of the Pit we would come to the realization the He is sovereign and in control of what we are dealing with. Where in your life are you without water today? Seek Him and He will provide that Living Water that will supply all our needs.
We mustn't forget Moses in this pericope. He told the people they should not be testing God, yet notice his attitude when He comes to the Lord for the people of Israel. Let us read verses 4 through 7 together:

4 Then Moses cried out to the Lord, “What should I do with these people? In a little while they will stone me!” 5 The Lord answered Moses, “Go on ahead of the people and take some of the elders of Israel with you. Take the staff you struck the Nile with in your hand and go. 6 I am going to stand there in front of you on the rock at Horeb; when you hit the rock, water will come out of it and the people will drink.” Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 He named the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites complained, and because they tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?” 

Moses immediately went to the Lord in prayer frustrated with the people, but also seeking God’s help. We call that standing in the gap. Moses was standing in the gap between God and His people. How many times during the Exodus did God want to destroy the Israelites and Moses stepped in to remind God of His covenant with Abraham? Moses, unlike the Israelite people, came to God placing his trust and focus on God to provide the answer to the situation that laid before the people of Israel. Notice that Moses attitude was one that was prayerful and not selfish or self-consuming. He knew that God had provided for His people and He would in this situation. So when God said go and strike the rock and water will flow, Moses did exactly what God asked Him to.

Today many of us are at the place the people of Israel were in our passage. We are wondering “Is God With Us?” Does He really care what I am dealing with? Can He really help me or provide for me in my time of need? We see the answer to that question in today’s text and it is a resounding YES! God desires to meet your needs and provide for you, but you must first trust Him and come to Him expecting Him to answer your prayer! So I ask which attitude do you have during the difficult times of your life: The Israelite attitude of selfishness and self-centeredness complaining to God or to others about what you need and why hasn't anyone stepped up to help you? Or is your attitude that of Moses who came to God asking and believing that God will provide. Moses knew God was with the people of Israel and today I can assure you GOD IS WITH US! Let us pray…

Saturday, June 13, 2015

A New Journey

On June 9th I began a new journey when it comes to my life. I had sleeve gastrectomy surgery and the outcome so far has been going quite well. This journey is not short-term, but life changing. I am reminded in the Scriptures found at 1 Corinthians chapter 6 verses 19 and 20 where we read, "Don’t you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body" (HCSB). I am drawn to the fact that not only am I changing my physical body, but also my spiritual body given to me by my Lord and Savior. He created me and made me! Although in life we may think we are not who we should be, I can say that the Word of God tells us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made! God wants an intimate relationship with us and whats us to seek Him in all our endeavors. I know without a doubt that the success I have had up to this point of my recovery has come about because of all the prayers being lifted up on my behalf. I look forward to this physical and spiritual life change over the rest of my life and all the glory and honor will go to my Heavenly Father and the Lord and Savior of my life!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Who Do You Blame?

Last night the NBA playoffs were in full swing.  I must admit I don’t watch hardly any sports anymore, but with the firestorm that has been going on the last few days it has piqued my interest.  I checked out the scores this morning and something caught my eye.  In one of the ballgames last night, at a very crucial time, a referee grabbed the ball from a player as he was going to shoot a free throw that would tie the game with just a few seconds left, and he went to the scorer’s table to argue with the clock keeper.  This disrupted the momentum of the game, as well as the player who was about to shoot the free throw to tie the game.  When the player finally receive the ball to shoot the free throw he missed it and the team he played for ultimately went on to lose the game. Afterwards many on the player’s team blamed the referee for the loss and their key player missing the free throw.  Even the other team was stunned by what happen.  When the player who missed the free throw was interviewed about the incident he took full responsibility for the miss and did not place the blame on anyone else other than himself.  That is so refreshing because in the world today people tend to want to blame others for their troubles, their difficulties, and they go out of their to blame others rather than looking closely at their own faults.  Jesus tells us that before we take a speck out of someone else’s eye we need to remove the log from our own.  I am reminded of Zacchaeus and how when Jesus confronted Him and asked to spend time with him at his house that Zacchaeus immediately realized he had been sinning against God and the people by over collecting taxes. Without prompting or being told he said that he would give half of my possessions to the poor, Lord! And if I have extorted anything from anyone, I’ll pay back four times as much!”[1]  Like the basketball player last night taking responsibility for his actions, so did Zacchaeus.  We can learn from their example, instead of blaming others, let us look closely at ourselves and then make a change in our lives if necessary.  Jesus loves us and desires to give us life, eternal life.  Let us live our life in a way that focuses on Him and not just our own selves. 



[1] The Holy Bible: Holman Christian standard version. (2009). (Lk 19:8). Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers.