Sermons

The Lost Book

Psalm 119 (selected)
II Kings 22:1-11; 23:1-3

How about a little Bible Trivia?

At what time of day was Adam created?
A little before Eve.

How long did Cain hate his brother?
As long as he was Abel.

What excuse did Adam give to his children as to why he no longer lived in Eden?
Your mother ate us out of house and home.

Which servant of God was the biggest lawbreaker (sinner) in the Bible?
Moses; he broke all 10 commandments at once.

Who was the greatest comedian in the Bible?
Samson. He brought the house down.

Did you know why some believe that Jesus was an American Indian?
Acts 4: refers to Him as Chief Cornerstone.

What does the word ‘Bible’ mean?
Book

How many books in the Bible?
66 – 39 in OT, 27 in NT

Which five books of the Bible are not divided into chapters?
Obadiah, Philemon, 2 John, 3 John, and Jude.

Does anyone know the longest chapter in the Bible?
Psalm 119 with 176 verses.

I took the time to count some of the nouns in the Psalm: ‘commandments’ 21 times, ‘commands’ – 22, ‘decrees’ – 22, ‘instructions’ – 25, ‘laws’ – 21, ‘regulations’ – 20 and ‘word’ appears 27 times.

All 158 of those nouns are references to God’s Word, and they are either preceded or followed by the verbs: ‘follow, guide, keep, listen, meditate, obey, reflect, rejoice, teach, and trust.’

I have chosen to read 19 of the 176 verses; trusting that these 19 provide a good representation of the entire Psalm.

1 ‘Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the LORD.’
11 ‘I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.’
18 ‘Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions.’
33 ‘Teach me your decrees, O LORD; I will keep them to the end.’
34 ‘Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions; I will put them into practice with all my heart.’
35 ‘Make me walk along the path of your commands, for that is where my happiness is found.’
35 ‘Give me an eagerness for your laws rather than a love for money!’
36 ‘Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through your word.’
66 ‘I believe in your commands; now teach me good judgment and knowledge.’
67 ‘I used to wander off until you disciplined me; but now I closely follow your word.’
97 ‘Oh, how I love your instructions! I think about them all day long.’ 
98 ‘Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are my constant guide.’
99 ‘Yes, I have more insight than my teachers, for I am always thinking of your laws.’
100 ‘I am even wiser than my elders, for I have kept your commandments.’
101 ‘I have refused to walk on any evil path, so that I may remain obedient to your word.’
102 ‘I haven’t turned away from your regulations, for you have taught me well.’ 
103 ‘How sweet your words taste to me; they are sweeter than honey.’
104 ‘Your commandments give me understanding; no wonder I hate every false way of life.’
105 ‘Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.’

Would you believe research indicates that 92% of all households in America have an average of three Bibles?

That works out to be about 306 million bibles in this country. Wow, that’s a whole lot of Bibles! However; would you also believe that 41% of those same households admit they rarely if ever open those Bibles; which means there are about 125 million Bibles gathering dust. Why? + Read More

The Back Nine

Psalm 90

A couple of weeks ago the PGA Facebook page invited golfers to submit their favorite golf jokes. Howard P. Curtis submitted the following:

Four old guys went into the pro shop after playing 18 holes of golf. The pro asks, “Did you guys have a good round today?”
The first old guy said, “Yes, but I only had three riders today.”
The second old guy said, “I had five.”
The third old guy said, “I had seven riders, the same as last time.”
The last old man said, “I set my all-time record; I had 12 riders today!”
After they went into the locker room, another golfer who had heard the old guys
talking about their game went to the pro and said, “I’ve been playing golf for a long time and thought I knew all the terminology of the game, but what’s a rider?”
The pro said, “A rider is when you hit the ball far enough to actually get in the golf cart and ride to it.” 1

According to the Psalmist, those four dudes are playing The Back Nine of their lives; where The Back Nine represents the latter years of our lives. “Seventy years are given to us! Some even live to eighty!! (Psalm 90:10)

It may be true that some of us are playing The Back Nine. According to the average lifespan of a white American male, I’ve just hit my second shot on the 15th hole; undoubtedly in the weeds or water.

Maybe that’s what the author of Psalm 90 was referencing when he said, “Even the best years are filled with pain and trouble; soon they disappear, and we fly away.” You better believe it! They fly away indeed!

It seems just yesterday that I was young; out of high school, first real job, married, kids, hopes, dreams . . . an entire slow-moving lifetime ahead. I still recall listening to a Simon and Garfunkel song when I was a teenager:

I was 21 years when I wrote this song, I’m 22 now, but I won’t be for long. Time hurries on and the leaves that are green turn to brown.”

and thinking ‘time hurries on’? 21 or 22 seems a lifetime away!

But, here it is … the “back nine” of my life and it catches me by surprise . . . it takes my breath away. How did I get here so fast? Where did the years go?

Those of you still playing the front nine (anyone under 39), let me tell you from experience, the back nine will be here faster than you think. And the truth is none of us can really be sure if we’ll even reach the back nine at all! We have no promise that we will see all the seasons of life. Some of us may have to forfeit the chance to play a full 18 holes.

That’s why the overall message of Psalm 90 is so very important: “Teach us to realize the brevity of life so that we may grow in wisdom” (12). + Read More

Pray Without Ceasing

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Two weeks ago, I preached what may have been for some of you a controversial or puzzling message about what it means to be ‘led’ by the Spirit in which I conveyed that the Spirit’s main role is to lead people to saving faith in Christ (Justification) and to begin in us the life-long process of becoming more like Christ (Sanctification).

I also cautioned us to think it through before claiming the Holy Spirit told us or led us to do anything that is outside the realm of scripture. And I quoted among others, Billy Graham:

He (the Spirit) will never lead you contrary to the word of God. I hear people saying, “The Lord told me to do this . . . The Lord told me thus and so.” I am always a little suspicious unless what the Lord has said is in keeping with His Word. God never directs us to do anything contrary to His Word. 1

For example, if you came to me to tell me that Holy Spirit led you to forgive someone who has wronged you, or to increase your giving to the church, or to join a Bible Study, I have no problem because those things have to do with our sanctification and are clearly mandated in scripture.

However; if you tell me the Spirit of God led you to tell me that I should sell my Kia and buy a Honda forgive me for being a little skeptical as I have come to believe that God did not send the promised Holy Spirit for the purpose of telling us or leading us or guiding us into anything that is outside the realm of the scriptures.

Having said that, I hope no one took/takes me to mean that God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit cannot or will not work in our lives to bring us a sense of assurance or comfort or direction or peace as a result of praying.

In fact, in today’s pericope, Paul admonishes us to pray without ceasing: “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (I Thess. 5:16-18).

What does Paul mean by ‘Never stop praying’?

Paul does not have in mind praying 24/7. No human being, no matter how saintly, could possibly pray at all times. But I think we do have to admit that Paul must mean praying often.

In NKJ of Romans 1:9, Paul writes, “For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers.” Surely Paul did not make mention of the Romans every second of every day. He prayed about lots of other things besides the Romans. But apparently there was a time when he mentioned them over and over. That’s what I believe he means by “without ceasing;” repeatedly and often.

Now to be sure praying ‘repeatedly and often’ is no small task. All of us are very busy people; most of us say we are busier now than at any point in our lives. How can we possibly pray without ceasing? + Read More

Guest Speaker: Rev. Reid Firestone – Part of the Plan

1 Corinthians 12:12-27
Romans 12:1-8

This week, Rev. Reid Firestone is filling in for Randy with a message entitled “Part of the Plan”

Led by the Spirit?

John 14:16-17, 25-26, 15:26-27, 16:5-15
Romans 8:9-14

Over the years I have known several well-meaning Christians who have boldly approached me to say something like, “Randy, the Spirit led/told me to tell you should do this or you should do that.” Sometimes it had something to do with my personal ministry; I should preach a different way or should lead the church differently. And other times it was, “The Spirit led me to tell you our church should buy something, or do something, or refrain from doing something.”

When I first got started in this business I was, Wow, that person must really be close to God if the Spirit is leading him or her to tell me something. And I wondered why I wasn’t being so led. Was I missing something; was there something lacking in my faith?

Then there are the folks who aren’t so bold to say the Spirit told them to tell me but rather, the Spirit led/told me to buy a Honda rather than a Ford, or the Spirit told me to sell my house, or the Spirit told me to quit coming to your church.

But now when people tell me the Spirit led them to use Aquafresh toothpaste rather than Pepsodent or to plant beans rather than potatoes, I tend to be a little skeptical.

For I have come to believe that God did not send the promised Holy Spirit for the purpose of telling us or leading us or guiding us into anything that is outside the realm of the Bible.

Now, if you come to me and tell me that Holy Spirit has led you to increase your giving to the church, I have no problem. Why? because that’s in the Bible. If you told me the Spirit of God told you or led you to forgive me or someone else, I would say, “Amen” because that’s in the scripture.

I say this because I believe that is what Jesus is teaching about the role of the Holy Spirit. + Read More

Unscripted

Philippians 1:1-11

As a result of time spent preparing for Ken Jones’ memorial service, this week’s message was not written in advance, and as such, there is no text version, only a recording.

Power to Witness

Acts 1:1-11

Mark Mittleberg, the author of Building a Contagious Church, writes:

We all believe in it. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who genuinely believed in the Bible but didn’t believe in evangelism. When you embrace the truth of God’s Word, it’s pretty difficult to discount its call to reach lost people. It’s on our bulletins, in our hymns, and throughout our creeds. It’s posted on our marquees and peppered through our statements of faith. It’s emphasized in our theology books, praised in our seminaries, and encouraged in our pulpits. Most Christian leaders list it as one of their ministry’s top priorities. There’s little ambiguity or doubt that this is central to what we’re supposed to be about. The irony is that while many of us are in churches and denominations that have a rich heritage and strong reputation for evangelism, in many cases precious little is actually happening.” 1

I would agree with Mittleberg’s premise that reaching people for Christ is a major thrust of most Christian congregations. Whether or not that last statement, ‘precious little is actually happening,’ is true in our ministry I will leave for God to judge.

But if it is true in our case, why would it be true? In other words, why do you suppose that some Christians are hesitant to be a witness for Christ?

And yet Jesus was very clear: “You will receive POWER when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you shall be My WITNESSES!

Notice as Jesus is about to leave them with His parting shot, His disciples are hoping He is going to leave them with something that will benefit their little-minded kingdoms. “Lord, before you go, just in case You forgot isn’t it time for You to establish Your Kingdom here on earth?”

Now, why would they say that? Oh, I don’t know, perhaps because He had earlier told them that some day they would sit at His right and left hand when He established His Kingdom? Yes, they were fancying themselves to be the Mitch McConnells and Nancy Pelosis of their day. In other words, they were still in this thing for themselves.

No boys; I’ve had a higher privilege than that to bless you with for in a few days from now I am going to send my Holy Spirit to you and when it happens you will be empowered to be My witnesses! What a blessing and honor and privilege that will be for you to point people to Me! + Read More

Spiritual Healing?

John 5:1-13
II Corinthians 12:1-10

Over my 34 years of ministry, I have been involved with a handful of situations where people prayed for others’ healing and it seemed the Spirit answered those prayers. Back in the early 90’s, a number of church leaders prayed for a woman who was facing surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from one of her kidneys; and before surgery, a follow-up CT scan revealed that tumor was gone and she never had another problem.

Then there was a very good friend, and colleague in ministry, who suffered a heart attack that resulted in his kidneys completely shutting down. In such cases, death almost always ensues. In accordance with James 5:14, Dean called on the elders of the church to pray for him, which we did. And low and behold, his kidneys came back on line and he recovered. To be sure, Dean died a few years after that from kidney failure, but like King Hezekiah, Dean received some extra time.

But the truth is that although we believe God hears all of our prayers, it cannot be denied that God doesn’t always answer our prayers in accord with our desire. For many of us have joined many others to pray for a miracle of healing for our friend, Ken Jones, but he is still lying in neurological intensive care.

These type of stories typify the mystery of unanswered prayer: Why are some healed, while others are not?

What does the New Testament have to say about healing?

+ Read More

Guest Speaker: Randy Hall – Gideons International

1 Corinthians 9:19-23
This week we welcome guest speaker, Randy Hall, representing Gideons International.

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