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June 28, 2020
“Everyday We Are Living in God’s Presence”
Scripture: Psalm 139:7-18
Introduction: God’s presence is something that we cannot escape for as long as we are living and for those of us who are bound for eternal life, we will experience the joy of being in God’s Presence eternally. God’s presence: We are in God’s presence even at the height of the coronavirus running at a record high resulting in shocking death tolls. We are in God’s presence.
According to Psalm 139, living in God’s presence is a condition and state of mind that the Christian is actively living in everyday. And whether the non-Christian acknowledges it or not, they also are living in God’s presence, too. So what is the presence of God? The presence of God can simply be defined as there is no place that God is not present. It is the omnipresence of God.
Omnipresent defined as present in all places, at all times; therefore, biblically we can derive that the omnipresence of God literally means that God is all present meaning that he is not confined, and/or restrained by any natural factors such as location, time or any dimension. It also speaks to the fact that He is present in all places at all times. While God is in Heaven on His throne, He is also present in every place. During the Old Testament time , God’s presence was amongst the people at all times. There are several scriptures in the Bible that confirm God’s presence amongst his people. Genesis 3:8; Exodus 3:2; Exodus 13:21; Exodus 40: 34; Proverbs 15:3 and Jeremiah 23:23-24. Case and point: God is close at hand; therefore, no one can hide himself from God.
Background: Within this classic passage of scripture on God’s omnipresence in Psalm 139:7-12 , the psalmist says that he can never be out of the sight of God which leads into today’s lesson. You see God’s presence was very significant then and God’s presence is even more significant today. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Heb.13:8)We serve the same God as our forefathers did.
Point 1: Acknowledging God’s presence.
Psalm 139 begins with David acknowledging the fact that God knows him completely and practices a providence of omniscience over his life. David sees and acknowledges that God is omniscient and knows his every thought, every word and every move before he can think it, speak it and/or do it! During the Old Testament the appointed leaders and the Israelites acknowledged God presence at the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle was a temporary place of convenience where God met with His chosen people. It was simply a tent of meeting. It was for use in the wilderness wandering of His people. The thing of importance is that it was God's dwelling place. It was there in the midst of His people that He took up abode and met with them between the Cherubim, on the mercy- seat. In the holy of holies God manifested His presence by means of the Shekinah glory, and His grace on the mercy seat or place of propitiation.
How do we acknowledge God’s presence in our lives today? Do we see God as the one who wakes us up in the morning , clothed in our right minds? Do we acknowledge that it was his angels of mercy who watches over us as we sleep every night? Do we acknowledge God’s presence in our lives when we make it through each day without incident! God’s presence contains, maintains and sustains us. While God has perfect knowledge of us do we have perfect knowledge of Him. When Job gave his final confession to God in Job 42: 1-6 Then Job answered the Lord and said, 2 “I know that You can do all things,And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. 3 ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” 4 ‘Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me.’ 5 “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear;But now my eye sees You; 6 Therefore I retract, And repent in dust and ashes.” Have we stopped, retracted, or repented! God has full knowledge and awareness of us.
Point 2: Activity in God’s Presence : The psalmist voices God’s presence in all of his activities. First of all, he begins by asking the 2 questions starting with “where” then views his possibilities with 5 “ifs” of possibly activities that would allow him to go from God’s presence.
Well, the saved as well as the sinner are always present before the Lord! You mean:
-If I cheat on my spouse, taxes, tithes and tests (God is there)
-If I am not a good steward over my church, home, finances, spiritual gifts and other things God has entrusted to me (God is there)
-If I am living unrighteously behind closed and /or have a double life (God is there)
- If I am gossiping, slandering, disputing, being argumentative and a busybody (God is there)
-If my activity mirrors the word of God (God is there)
Remember your activity is always being done in God’s presence. God practices the providence of omnipresence in our lives meaning God is present in all places at all times. Remember Joseph in the well, Jonah in the belly of the great fish , Daniel in the lion’s den and the 3 Hebrew Boys in the fiery furnace, Dangerous situations but God was there. Paul said in Acts 17:28, “‘For in him (God) we live and we move and exist.'” That’s simply saying you couldn’t move apart from God. You couldn’t exist without God. He’s holding it altogether, He is the cohesive force in this whole universe. And so the fact is: God is everywhere. He’s all around us. He’s always beside us. When we finally accept God’s presence, the world and all it’s activities comes to a halt. God’s desires to communicate with us! We must learn that we are his offspring. How do you see yourself as God’s offspring?
Point 3: Accepting God’s presence.
David finally accepts God’s presence asking for God to search him, to know him, to test him, to lead him. In other words, I accept your presence in my life Lord now have your way. Who wouldn’t want to turn their life over to a God who is omnipotent meaning a God of limitless power, authority and influence. We serve an almighty God. Concentrate on God’s presence and the truth of His word that’s being cultivated in you while we are yet in this pandemic plague process!
Allow God to cultivate your mind by dwelling on Him, (live in or at a specified place; think, speak, or write at length about) by listening to Him (give one's attention to a sound; take notice of and act on what someone says; respond to advice or a request; make an effort to hear something; be alert and ready to hear something) by absorbing His truth into your spirit. (intensely interesting; engrossing). (Read Psalm 62; Romans 5: 5-9 ; and I Corinthians 3:16-17)
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June 21, 2020
Characteristic 1: He was approachable.
Characteristic 2: He was forgiving.
Characteristic 3: He was faithful.
HAPPY FATHER’S DAY TO ALL OF OUR FATHERS joining us today! Today has been set aside as a day to celebrate all fathers. May you be bountifully and beautifully blessed on today as we celebrate you our positive role models one of God’s greatest gifts placed in our congregation!
So what is a father? A father, our fathers as we remember them have been our caretakers, our shoulders to cry on, our heroes helping us to fight thru battles, our rock, our strength and support when we felt like we were falling, our voices of wisdom when we were lost and needed help with navigating thru life and its troubles. Our fathers who we looked to for guidance in our decision making and could count on when needed. These are just a few of the things that some of us experienced as we hold on to those memories created with our dads and/or significant male role models in our lives. When fathers were fathers!
Background: In our scripture lesson on today, we read a parable about a father and 2 sons. Jesus often spoke in parables using memorable stories involving familiar people and situations that his audience could relate to in order to illustrate His priority, which in this case was to convey the message to the people of God’s passion to seek and to save the lost. The Bible, particularly in the parables, have told us what God is like, and so, I want you to see in this particular parable, how a father’s love was the main ingredient.
This particular parable titled “The Prodigal Son” usually focuses on the lost son but for today, we will focus on the father and 3 characteristics, which we will cover.
POINT 1: He was approachable.
The son in this parable must have believed that he could approach his father or come to him without question and ask him for anything. In this particular case he felt no fear nor remorse in asking for such a big thing as his inheritance up front and early. The son had to be confident that his father was approachable. The young man here was referred to as “The Prodigal Son.” Prodigal means spending money or resources freely and recklessly; wastefully extravagant. The boy came to his father and said, "Father, I want what is mine." Now, why in the world would that boy want to leave such an environment as that? Why would he want to leave a home where he could talk to his father and have such a relationship with his father?
Before we get too critical about that boy, however, let's look at us. Why would we, who have been blessed by God with mercy and grace not to add with so many gifts of intellect, wisdom, life, a portion of health and strength and blessings, approach God wanting more then forget about the giver, our Heavenly Father! Only to find ourselves having to run back to God for forgiveness! God is a kind Father to all his children, and gives to them all life, and breath, and all things, even to the evil and unthankful--He divided to them life. God’s giving us life is putting us in a capacity to serve and glorify him.This father, was approachable. Our heavenly father is approachable.
POINT 2: He was forgiving.
After the son got out there to find that he was a horrible steward over that which his father had given him he had to come running back for forgiveness. The son returned tattered tore raggedy and messed up full of explanation asking to be considered a servant, calling himself no longer worthy to be his son but his father interrupted him, and instead prepared a feast , a rich and royal provision made for him, according to his birth and quality, far beyond what he did or could expect. The prodigal son came home between hope and fear, fear of being rejected and hope of being received; but his father was not only better to him than his fears, but better to him than his hopes not only received him, but received him with respect.His father showed him the exact same love that God shows us.
We come to God tattered and tore some more raggedy than others, messed up, jacked up, many at a loss for words because we have lived life thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought to however, Romans 12:3 warns us against this. But God receives us with open arms ready to forgive us of our sins. When God forgives the sins of true penitence, he forgets them, he remembers them no more, they shall not be mentioned against them, but God does for those who return to their duty, and cast themselves upon his mercy, abundantly above what they are able to ask or think. Our Heavenly Father shows us that main ingredient LOVE! The love described in Psalm 103:13-14, Psalm 118:18-19, Psalm 119:65-68 and Proverbs 3:11-12.
POINT 3: He had faith.
I can imagine the father had taught his son about the Lord. (Proverbs 22:6) Now he had to trust in letting him go that the son would experience life and return. This father had a saving faith and a living faith. Dads, you cannot be the best father possible unless you have invested and instilled in your children a saving faith. Regardless of how much you love and care for your children, if you have never introduced them to Christ you fall woefully short of God's expectation for you as a father. Your children need a father who knows the Father.
Praise God, dads, if you having a saving faith. But are you living for God, does your faith stand as an emblem of security for your children? Do your children see you pray on a daily basis? When they grow up, will they remember how you lived by faith. Fathers are teachers. From our fathers, we learn that life is opportunity. It must be lived with courage. Sons and daughters learn from fathers that you can't always take the easy route. The best life requires listening to God and being obedient to His will and to His way. Hebrews 12:6-11 offers a perfect explanation on The Discipline of God as it relates to a Father and His Children.
Conclusion: The parable represents God as a common Father to all mankind, to the whole family of Adam. We are all his offspring, we all have all one God created us and one Heavenly Father. We get lost sometimes but our heavenly Father is always standing there with His arms wide open to receive us just as the Father was in the parable. We serve a true and living God our Heavenly Father who encourages each of us through our relationship with his son, Jesus Christ our intercessor, our mediator, and promotes each of us to be the best that we can be. John 3:16-17
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June 14, 2020
“It Ain’t Over Till God Says It’s Over: So Why Are You Wrestling With God?”
SCRIPTURE: Genesis 32: 24 – 32 (Wrestling With God)
Introduction: Right now the world appears to be coming apart at the seams, in a time of unrest, summertime is rapidly approaching and in our heads we ought to be doing this and we ought to be doing that. Yes, even some of us Christians are struggling with the thought of experiencing this summer season in a new way with limitations. We are struggling along with the world with how God is bringing about change through a process of unrest that appears to be stretching beyond the norms. We are in an unruffled state, a state of ugliness, a state of brokenness! But in spite of it all, I believe that God is doing something great, working a miracle yet fulfilling his promises to us. God is bringing about change and when change comes there is a shifting and a breaking process one must go through in this case all of us must go through. In life we can sometimes feel as if we are walking through valley of the shadow of death and with each step we are coming closer to our own personal demise but I want you to know that when your footsteps are ordered by God , “It Ain’t Over Till God Says It’s Over: So Why Are You Wrestling With God?”
Background: In our scripture lesson, we see that there is a struggle going on between Jacob and a man who appears to him while on his way to make reconciliation with his brother Esau. Most of us remember Jacob as the 2nd son born to Isaac and Rebekah and the twin brother of Esau who wrestled with his brother in Rebekah’s womb during her pregnancy. Throughout Scripture, he appears to be a well packed, put together man, a hard worker, a man who knew the Lord and one who did whatever it took to reach his own personal goals (even cheating). But he had a serious flaw and that flaw was self–centeredness. He was a person who did everything his own way, who sought to benefit only himself and that was the very thing that God was preparing to break in Jacob. This event was going to be life changing for Jacob for the rest of his life.
Point 1) Alone with God. Jacob was preparing to meet his brother, Esau and based on his history with him ,he knew that things could have the potential to be bad. He was prepared for the worst, sending his family forward for one purpose that he had in mind but God had a greater plan in mind for Jacob! Scripture says, ”And he rose up that night and passed over the ford Jabbok..." (Gen. 32:22-23). At the very point of Jacob being alone with God is when he heard God loud and clear. Jacob got rid of all distractions. This place called Jabbok where Jacob found himself to be alone was going to be a significant setting in relationship to the events about to take place! Jabbok which means "a place of passing over” also stands for struggle; to empty and to pour out. Jabbok was the place where Jacob was about to wrestle with the Lord. It is the place where his total surrender to God was about to take place. It is where he was going to get his new character, and his new name - Israel. It was the place where he would cast down his last idol, and win his greatest victory.The truth about himself was going to be revealed to Jacob at Jabbok. He was about to be poured out and emptied out of self.
It has everything to do with us today. For Jacob, this would represent his place of a life and death crisis - one that would lead him to absolute surrender. There can be no glorious victory over self and sin until you go to Jabbok. There comes a time we must "have it out with God". We must face ourselves and be emptied of all self desires and selfish ambitions, self evils and self sins! We are in a place of Jabbok! having to let everything go and just be alone with God. How has your time alone with God been? What has He done for you lately in this pandemic? I want you to marinate on it for just a moment. I want you to look back from when it all began in March. Did you have to wrestle with some things? Did you have to surrender some things? Did you have to look at some things in hindsight? All while being alone with God! This is quite often the best place to be and the best condition to find ourselves in. There are times when a personal, private reckoning need to take place. As it turned out, he had nothing to worry about, but he didn’t realize that at the time. We have nothing to worry about. God is going to get the Victory in all of this! (Read Jeremiah 17:9-10; Psalm 44:20-21; Psalm 90:7-8; Romans 2:16; 1Corinthians 14:25 and Psalm 91:1-2)
******************************************************************************Point 2) Wrestled with God in prayer. (VV 24-28) Jacob was left alone, where he could more fully spread his cares and fears before God in prayer. Note, We ought to continue constantly in prayer, always to pray and not to faint: frequency and persistence in prayer prepares us for God’s mercy. While Jacob was earnest in prayer, seeking God, an angel referred to as an angel of his presence. The highest order of angels stand in the presence of God known as “Angels of His Presence.” These are the angelic messengers that behold the face of God. So now Jacob and this angel are engaged in a single combat, hand to hand. Jacob was now full of fear about the interview he expected to have the next day, with his brother, and, to aggravate the trial, God himself seemed to come forth against him as an enemy, to oppose his entrance into the land of promise, and to dispute the pass with him, not suffering him to follow his wives and children whom he had sent before. Note, Strong believers must expect divers temptations, and strong ones.
Jacob wrestled: he wept, and made supplication; prayers and tears were his weapons. It was not only a corporal, but a spiritual, wrestling, by the vigorous actings of faith and holy desire; and thus all the spiritual seed of Jacob, that pray in praying, still wrestle with God. While God is breaking you he will keep you in the process! Jacob was anxious but he desperately wanted to receive from God what God had for him and in order to receive it God had to break him and change him. Jacob needed to come to the point of deciding once and for all who was going to be the authority in his life. Jacob was getting real with God. Nobody was around to see it. All the false pretenses were gone. God wasn’t looking to destroy Jacob’s personality or break his spirit. He was reminding Jacob that much more could be accomplished in God’s strength. For Jacob, the battle was long and lasted through the night. But, the length of the battle is not the issue. The issue is how we come out on the other side. The angel put out Jacob’s thigh, to show him what he could do, and that it was God he was wrestling with, for no man could disjoint his thigh with a touch. Some think that Jacob felt little or no pain from this hurt; it is probable. GOD KNOWS WHERE WE OUGHT TO BE BROKEN AND WHEN!! (Read Hosea 12:2-4; Philippians 4:6-7; Job 23:6; and Romans 8:26-27)
******************************************************************************Point 3) Victorious end result. Jacob had a night of change. He was restless and unsettled. It is not a coincidence that Jacob’s encounter took place during the night. Quite often will we find our biggest victories come in the darkest of times. Our response determines our destiny. How we respond in the darkness often determines how much we see the light.This was going to be Jacob’s new beginning at the end of the battle and he would never be the same: a) Jacob’s thigh was disjointed as the wrestling went on. This represented strength and ability; b) Jacob would never walk the same again; c) But the issue is that Jacob didn’t give up. He asked for a blessing. He realized, yes God could break him, but He could also bless him. How often do we just think that God is looking to break us down and mess us up and forget that He wants to bless us even more?; d) The blessing that God gave to Jacob far surpassed the breaking that he had to endure to get there; e) Jacob came out of this encounter much differently than he entered it; f) Name change from “Jacob” which implies a crafty deceiver, to “Israel” meaning he struggles with God. Being the people of God is not a passive thing.
When we received Jesus Christ as our personal savior, he brought us out of the dark into the marvelous light, he gives us a new walk, a new talk , a new way of thinking. You see we are not what we used to be because of the blood of the sacrificial lamb and the washing away of our sins, because of the word of God we belief and receive by faith our minds are transformed and renewed. Jesus changed us. The best change comes under the weight of adversity. (Read Luke 12:48; Psalm 119: 105; John 8:12)
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Point 1: Jesus is never too tired.
Point 2: Jesus will take control.
Point 3: Jesus is our confidence.
Here we are by God’s mercy and grace on Day 87 of the Covid-19 shutdown storm and Day 13 of the latest storm: racial and judicial inequality that seems to be sweeping throughout the nation, overtaking the world and swarming our social media! We are in a whirlwind, a never ending current, a storm tossing us to and fro but nothing that is too hard for Jesus to handle! I pray that all of you stepped out on faith this week and practiced your constitutional right to vote! Your first step towards bringing about change in a world that is currently caught up in a worldwide storm.
Background: This particular passage of scripture gives an account of how Jesus calms the sea, the wind and the waves during a storm by just speaking a word! Peace, Be Still! He rebukes the wind and rage of the water. Within this account Jesus proved an undeniable truth that
he is in control of the situation!
POINT 1: Jesus is never too tired.
During this time of Jesus’s public ministry, He and his disciples had been traveling throughout Galilee teaching, preaching, healing and ministering to the people about the kingdom of God. At this point, Jesus has drawn extremely large crowds and everyone is seeking Jesus out to meet one need or another. Whether it was the cleansing of a leper, casting out demons from a possessed man or woman, healing of a centurion’s paralyzed servant or Peter’s in fevered mother-in-law, Jesus never turned anybody away or told them that he was too tired to address their needs.
Before this storm came and shattered our sunshine! Things were calm in the world we seemed to be moving along just fine. Think about it. Easter was coming, school was about to be done, for some graduation time was drawing near with summer vacation in clear view then the coronavirus hits and we are forced to deal with this storm tossing us to and fro, taking us on an emotional rollercoaster ride. When it appears that the silver lining might come and some freedom is in the air, BOOM, we are hit with yet another storm: Social injustice, racial and judicial inequality. We feel whipped and tired not wanting to face another storm. But I know a man who is never too tired to address our storms: Jesus! The scripture says when Jesus got on the boat he went into the stern (rear end ) of the boat and went to sleep. The waters got rough, the disciples panicked and woke him up. They called on Jesus!
When we get panicked, we call on Jesus with the 911 prayers for HELP! We feel like we been in the storm too long. Jesus has forgotten us like the disciples felt in Mark 4:38.
Case and Point: Jesus cares and he is never too tired to address our needs!
POINT 2: Jesus will take control.
Jesus never promised that we wouldn’t go through fearful days and unbearable situations. Instead, he teaches us that God is present and greater than any situation we are faced with. He is in control and knowing this very thing should keep us from becoming paralyzed by the fear of uncomfortableness for this too shall pass! (I Cor. 10:13; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
The storm that they were experiencing on the boat had overwhelmed and pushed them into a panic mode. They just knew that they were going to drown to death. Waves were pushing up against the sides of the boat tossing them to and fro like our current pandemics are gripping us and throwing us into a panic. Some of us are kicking and screaming on the inside, paralyzed in our thought processes stuck, messed up emotionally, angry, wanting to act and react to what is happening, crippled by the situations and current state of affairs. I want you to understand that we don’t have to succumb to, worry or bear the burden because we have a burden bearer (Matt.11:29) and his name is Jesus!
Case and Point: Jesus is in control, so stop worrying about it and cast your cares on Him.
POINT 3: Jesus is our confidence.
Finally, Jesus has handled the storm, but he asks his disciples 2 significant questions, “Why are you so afraid and do you still have no faith?” Here they have been with Jesus as witnesses to his healing, teaching and preaching ministry all based on faith in Jesus Christ. The opportunity presents itself for them to put their faith into action and they faltered out of fear! God has given each of us a measure of faith (Rom. 12:3) and He expects us to use it to overcome our fears, worries and doubts. We have to stand in the confidence of knowing that our faith tells us we will recover, we will survive and we will be better after the storm because God is on our side and in control.
Case and Point: Because Jesus is our confidence, we know that all things work together for our good (Romans 8:28).
Conclusion: Jesus fought the battle of disease, hate, injustice, inequality, racism, bigotry, you name it, it was nailed with him on the cross! Take it to God in prayer! While the people are protesting we need to be praying! (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 and James 5:16)