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Today's Thought: In Our Downfalls,
Scripture: Habbakuk 3:17-19
1. We struggle in our listening for God’s answer.
2. We struggle in accepting God’s vision(plan).
3. We struggle to commit & trust God's way
Despite the fact that vandalism, looting, fire, violence and chaos seem to be the order of the day across the United States in several major American cities including Philadelphia, yet will I trust Him! The National coverage around the world and the breaking news in the midst of the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic is another pandemic uprise in the form of injustice, brutality and racism. At a time when the world is already at it’s wits end and feeling like there is no way out, the devil rears his ugly head with another diversion that can’t be ignored pushing us into an even further state of downfalls, disappointments and darkness! But yet in all of this we are to walk by faith, not by sight and trust God.
At the rate we are going today, it can appear as if the harder we pray the more God has turned a deaf ear to us! First, the coronavirus hits us like one of the 10 plagues causing a serious pandemic in our society then police in Minneapolis decided that they wanted to make national news headlines by taking an innocent man’s life who just so happened to be black. May Mr. George Floyd rest in peace.
Background: Within the Old Testament during a time of uncertainty, we find a minor prophet by the name of Habakkuk who had to demonstrate the true essence of faith, continuing to trust in the Lord’s wisdom and faithfulness even when it seemed like God was inactive not listening nor responding and worse of all uncaring. He was a “minor Biblical prophet” with a “major end-time prophecy.” He lived during a time of corruption in his society, he complained of oppressive violence, unequal treatment before the law, falsehood parading as truth, open robbery, perversion in the courts, strife between the political factions; witness to a law that wasn’t upheld in courts along with thieves and murderers being honored publicly while the innocent were trampled upon. God commissioned him to lead. He talked with God and was engaged in heavy conversation with God on the conditions he saw in his society. Out of this dialog came a central message of "the just shall live by faith" which plays an important role in our Christian thought today.
POINT 1: We struggle in our listening for God’s answer.
Habakkuk was positioned by God to look among the nations and watch. In his watching he got disappointed by his own expectation of how he thought God should have dealt with the people’s ongoing rebellious behavior and focused on the disappointment instead of listening for God’s answer. However, when God answered Habakkuk, he wrestled with it because he knew that only God had the answer to help him to help the people. He needed to be a hearer then a doer! (James 1:22-25) Disappointments and distress even darkness because of your own downfalls might have been a result of not listening to God!
POINT 2: We struggle in accepting God’s vision (plan).
Habakkuk was positioned by God to stand his watch and wait to see what the Lord would say. God gave him a vision in Habakkuk 2:1-4 which included 5 woes of warning to Judah. He had to be reminded that God still had a vision and a plan for his people in the midst of his disappointment and distress. God has a vision and a plan for us on today! Jeremiah 29:10-14confirms this. But he had to wait on the Lord! Isaiah 40:31 We are short sighted, God is far sighted making our perspective often different from God’s. Situations, circumstances and their disappointing outcome may be because we fail to discern God’s plan or see His hand working in our lives!
POINT 3: We struggle to commit and trusts God’s way.
At this point Habakkuk had spent a lot of one on one time with God. And was now positioned by God to kneel and see what the Lord was doing. Habakkuk may not have understood or particularly liked what he heard from God but he recognized that God was sovereign and that He can do whatever He wants to do , how He wants to do it because He knows what He is doing! Habakkuk had to trust the process, the nation of Judah was acting crazy and out of control but God was going to get them under control by his means! Habakkuk was perplexed, confused and fearful but once his perspective was changed his faith in God changed. He was able to commit to God and trust God’s way. Habakkuk trusted God for deliverance like David trusted God in Psalm 18.
Conclusion: Don’t let circumstances control you. Put your trusts in God. Choose to look to God, to listen, to learn and to move forward in God’s plan for you! Yes, these are difficult times but hold on to your faith in Jesus Christ. (Habakkuk 3:17-19)
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Scripture: Job 1:20-22
1. Trust God beyond what he could see.
2. Understand that the affliction was permitted adversity.
3. Know that God would act on his behalf.
What is an affliction? As defined in the NIV Quest Bible Dictionary, an affliction is defined as:
Point 1: Trust God beyond what he could see
The book of Job on the surface appears to be a story about a man who undergoes several afflictions in the form of adversities despite his upright, righteous character. But what Job didn’t know was that he was about to get caught up in a “spiritual warfare” just like the “spiritual warfares” we get caught up in everyday. Job was about to be tested by Satan with God’s permission sound familiar! Now instead of looking at the situation, circumstance and problem Job would have to turn his focus on God. Often times when going through our afflictions and adversities, we forget to focus on Jesus! While we acknowledge the affliction and the adversity, we fail to “gird up our loins” and put on our spiritual warfare outfit that full armor of God found in Ephesians 6:10-17 that enables us to stand up against the devil’s schemes. If God allowed his own son to be tempted and tested (Matthew 4:1-11), why should we as God’s children be exempt! Just know when going through the fiery trial, we have to trust God and look beyond what we see.
Point 2: Understand that the affliction was permitted adversity.
Job’s human mind couldn’t understand what was happening nor comprehend why it was happening. Job’s flesh questioned God and doubted the outcome but his deliverance was guaranteed with God just as ours is! It wasn’t for Job to understand the adversities he was facing. What Job didn’t know was that God and Satan had engaged in a heavenly debate. The result would be Job’s afflictions being permitted adversities at the hand of Satan with God’s permission and God’s limitations.
God was about to interrupt up Job’s world like never before just like God interrupts our world like never before. Yet, in all of this, God is seeking our heart
(Ephesians 3:16-20) and God is showing us mercy
(Psalm 103: 1- 4). I want you to understand that there is a limit to our adversities and that it is God who is working in and through the adversity to bring it to an end according to His timetable and deliverance is guaranteed!
Point 3: Know that God would act on his behalf
Isn’t it good to know that the dark periods of suffering are limited trials and tribulations. These adversities will only last as long as it is necessary for God to accomplish His purpose in us after which God will eventually provide a way of escape. (I Corinthian 10:13) On our part we have to continue to trust God and resist the devil for this too shall pass! Job finally realized that he was no match for God because God’s power and wisdom was too awesome for Job! This all became a humbling experience for Job, an enriching wake up call! He had endured a prolonged period of suffering yet Job walked by faith and not by sight seeing whole picture. He had to focus on God. We have to focus on God. He is our help (Psalm 42:5) and our salvation (Psalm 62:2). God acted on Job’s behalf blessing him even more abundantly than what he had before.
In Conclusion, Job had to learn to trust God beyond what he could see. He had to understand that the affliction was permitted adversity and he had to know that God would act on his behalf. Afflictions may arise but deliverance is guaranteed so don’t give up on God ! (Psalm 34: 15-19) Being confident of this, that he who begun a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ. (Philipians 1:6)
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Point 1: Follow his warning
Paul gives Timothy a warning of the times that he is about to experience the last days! The last days a term that is referred to by Christians as a time when marked events will occur just before the Second Coming of Christ or in Jewish history referring to prophecies of judgement and the end of time. Paul describes the world as being in a state of apostasy and rebelliousness as he specifically cites the professed Christian as being one who will deliberately reject, renounce and/or fall away from the revealed truth which is found only in Jesus Christ and the belief of the atoning work Christ did on the cross for our redemption and salvation. Paul laid out a full blown picture of the godlessness that Timothy would see just as we see today! Paul didn’t sugar coat it he laid it all out on the line! He warned Timothy that it is important for him to keep the faith as 2 Peter 3:8-9 reminds us to not forget.
Point 2: Acknowledge the truth
Paul moves on to let Timothy in on a little secret that some will learn about God but never acknowledge God in their lives. Some will say that they know God but will lack salvation due to their own non submissiveness causing them to never come to an accepted faith in Jesus Christ and live a powerless life! But say that they know God! I know God but I don’t have relationship with Him. To know God is to recognize that He is exists, creates, rules and saves. It is to know that the universe is His that He is everywhere present, all-knowing and all powerful. To know and acknowledge God in our lives, we must admit our inadequacies and submit of self to God, worshipping God according to John 4:24 not being fooled by those written of in Jude 18-19.
Point 3: Stand as a believer
The Christians conduct during these perilous times should be the same as Peter instructed the Hebrew Christians in I Peter 4:7- 11. Perilous Times, Personal Sins, A Need For Salvation!
Paul wrote to Timothy in the prior chapter 2 Timothy 2:8-13what it meant to stand as a believer in the faith. He then reiterates this same conviction to Timothy here again in our lesson 2 Timothy 3:14-15 to stand as a believer 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
So I conclude as you go through these perilous times, think about your own personal sins and how one day you needed a Savior and that Savior was Jesus Christ! Therefore, I urge you to “Don’t Give Up on God!” Amen.
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Scripture: Ruth 1:15-18
1. The relationship of a mother and daughter (in-law).
2. The relationship of a mentor & a friend
3. The relationship of being sisters in the Lord.
Happy Mother’s Day to All of the Women who have joined our Worship Service on today! We celebrate you and we honor you on today!
-When you sit back and think about it, viewing your life in retrospect. How many of you are mothers or have been a prominent female figure of encouragement in someone else’s life. How many of you have been a naturing benefactor in someone’s life other than your own.
-Think about it! How many of you have been looked up to and bestowed with honor as church mothers, as matriarchs of your families, prominent female figures. Women full of longevity of life, bearing witness to the goodness of the Lord, sharing wisdom that God has bestowed upon you, full of knowledge on what it means to have faith beyond measure and walking by that faith and not by sight according to God’s Holy Word.
-Maybe you didn’t give birth to your own child but God has placed you in a position to be an adopted parent, a sister, an auntie, a godmother, a spiritual mom, a mentor, a surrogate, a caretaker , a confidante or even a best friend! In whatever role God has placed you in, in someone else’s life as a prominent female figure, you may be the only mother or “type of mother” that some of your families, peers, students, coworkers and others may see. You don’t know why; but yet and still, God has chosen you and placed you in a position to carry on the responsibility of being a mother. A mother who makes sure that all the ends meet, that every “T” is crossed and that every “I” is dotted many times at the cost of forsaking herself. God has chosen you to act as a parent and to make some tough decisions—some risky and heart-wrenching decisions to determine one’s fate, decisions that require faith, “Demonstrating A Mother’s Love!”
1. The relationship of a mother and daughter (in-law)
In our lesson today, we find the beautiful story about 2 women, a mother-in-law, Naomi and her daughter-in-law, Ruth whose relationship was birthed out of tragedy and devastation. Naomi and her husband Elimelech along with their 2 sons moved to Moab because of a famine in Judah. While there, the sons marry 2 Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other named Ruth. Eventually, Elimelech dies, then 10 years after his death, the 2 sons die leaving their mother, Naomi, with their wives Orpah and Ruth. Orpah returns to her homeland while Ruth stays with her mother-in-law, Naomi. Ruth refuses to leave Naomi and so the two of them embark on a journey that transforms into a mother and daughter relationship. Naomi would teach Ruth all about her culture, her customs and most important her God, a new way of living. As mothers, we must do the same with those gifts (Psalm 127:3) whom God has placed in our care according to Proverbs 22:6. Ruth did just that! She trained up Ruth in the way of the Lord and advised her properly. In following Exodus 20:12, Ruth honored Naomi as her mother which will result in Ruth being blessed abundantly in the end. Our lead as mothers, should always be to Christ as we instill good morals and values in our children overall!
2. The relationship of a mentor and friend
Naomi has now gained Ruth’s trust and devotion upon their return to Bethlehem. The relationship shifts into Naomi becoming mentor and friend to Ruth preparing her for the events that were to come. Ruth was obedient and because Naomi had become like a mother to Ruth a strong bond had developed. Who are we mentoring in our homes, our communities, our churches, our neighborhoods, our jobs and our friendships? Can we say that we have helped or hindered, mended or broken, fractured or fixed those we are mentoring in our words, actions and/or deeds? Have we set the example as given in Titus 2:3-5 in preparing the next generation to live a life pleasing to God? A bond of loyalty was birthed between Naomi and Ruth just as God desires a bond of loyalty with us through His son, Jesus Christ. God assumes full responsibility for our needs when we trust and obey Him. Psalm 37:3-6
3. The relationship of being sisters in the Lord
Ruth came to know and to accept Naomi’s God. They have now become sisters in the Lord. The bond of sharing the same faith and the same beliefs, worshipping the same God allowed them to now become closer. Out of faith, Ruth walked in obedience to what Naomi instructed her to do and she was blessed. Because of Naomi’s demonstration of a mother’s love, Ruth was rewarded greatly. As a sister in the Lord, Naomi nurtured Ruth and played a major role in God’s master plan. The Lord, the God of Israel protected Ruth and Naomi and rewarded them both richly blessing Ruth with a son and Naomi with a grandson. As sisters in the Lord, they complimented one another. As sisters in the Lord, do we compliment one another or do we act like crabs in a basket pulling one another down! Do we come along side one another uplifting each other up in prayer? Do we follow James 5:16 and Ephesians 6:18?
Conclusion: In each area of their relationship Naomi demonstrated a mother’s love towards Ruth. When a child is conceived the relationship between mother and daughter starts at the time of conception in the womb. As with Christ our relationship with Christ begins immediately from the time we accept Christ as our personal Savior. Jesus becomes our mother and our father, our mentor and our friend!
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Raindrops of Rejection can
1. God wanted them to see that they were not alone.
2. God wanted them to see that they could speak to their situation.
3. God wanted them to see that spiritual restoration was coming.
As we continue to journey through these unchartered days, our storms, our tests, our trials and our tribulations can sometimes feel like raindrops of rejection from God in the form of a fine mist hitting us softly, lightly, jolting us but yet not pushing us to the point of giving up, not hurting us enough to make us crumble. Each day as we try to keep ourselves updated via the news, every report can feel like raindrops of rejection from God in the form of a steady downpour of people losing their lives to this coronavirus constantly hitting us hard with what seems to be no breakthrough, no light at the end of the tunnel! As we wake up each day feeling like this will be a better day, the constant nagging reminder that we are still limited can crash down on us like raindrops of rejection from God hitting us like a thunderstorm shattering our lives, crushing our dreams and breaking any inkling of hope we may have for a brighter day!
I want to encourage you on today that these raindrops of rejection may fall in our lives in all forms but we who are in Jesus Christ can rest assure that God has a plan and a purpose so don’t get distracted. These raindrops come to increase our faith and to let us know that even though we may feel like we are walking through the valley of the shadow of death, we don’t need to fear but to look upward for our help! God will give us the help we need. He will give us the victory in thevalley!
In the scripture lesson, we find the major prophet Ezekiel (whose name means “God strengthens”) was called by God to urge the people to hear him and to confront the issues at hand. He had to compel the people to grapple with the truth which was their current situation of being in the midst of their 70 years of Babylonian Captivity. He understood his ministry which was to keep warning the Jews of their impending danger if they did not repent; but more so he understood that God was the authority who was in control then and is in control now and that He is the only God who will allow “Raindrops of Rejection that can Bring Victory in The Valley!”
1. God wanted them to see that they were not alone.
In this vision, God took Ezekiel and sat him down in the middle of a valley, a dry desolate place where there were dry bones. At first thought, you would think this to be a scary thing, a horrifying place for Ezekiel to be sitting in this valley with what would appear to be a wasteland but this was all part of God’s master plan to show him that he wasn’t alone. Have you ever felt like that, do you feel like that right now that this thing we are all experiencing right now has brought us into a desolate place, a dark place. I want you to take heart in knowing that this valley we are in won’t last always and you are not alone. (Hebrews 13:5) God is just stripping us of those things and activities we hold so near and dear, that block our view and cloud our vision so that he might purify us and bring us back from a spiritually dead state of being like those dry bones in the valley. I believe that God already knows the place that we are in. Sometimes God has to bring devastation our way as an opportunity to draw us closer to Him. But don’t be dismayed for God will take care of you Psalm 9:9-10 says so. The Israelites were in captivity but God had not forgotten them! They were emotionally lost and scattered, disappointed and devastated but yet God had not forgotten them. He had provided them with a prophet whom God would use to speak a word to his people to bring new life.
2. God wanted them to see that they could speak to their situation.
As Ezekiel sat there, the Lord God told Ezekiel what to prophesy to that valley of dry bones and the Lord God began to perform a miracle right before the prophet’s eyes. Ezekiel spoke the Word of the Lord. We need to speak the Word of God into our present situation, we have to make a crucial decision as to whether we are going to let the devil win and stay spiritually crippled or are we going to band together and seek God’s face! As a church we need to be seeking God’s face on a daily. Don’t be discouraged, we aren’t in as great a captivity as the Israelites were so count that as a blessing! Amen! The word of God says in Romans 4:17: “(as it is written, "I have made you a father of many nations”) He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed--the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.” We who are in Christ Jesus have to take heed, gird ourselves up and out of faith believe that we can speak to situations in our lives, in this world, in this nation, in this country as if they were, not as they are. The power lies in our tongue. Out of faith we have to believe that this valley of dry bones that we are experiencing that this too shall pass. In Matthew 17:20 Jesus’s disciples lacked the faith to cast demons out of a demon possessed boy. When they approached Jesus about it 20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Have faith, trust God for that unemployment, trust God for that next meal, trust God for that stimulus check, trust God to provide all your needs take Him at His Word! Even when the disappointments come, have faith and trust that God hears your prayer and will personally respond to your needs!
3. God wanted them to see that spiritual restoration was coming.
Romans 5:1-2: 5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.
God demonstrated that the whole house of Israel would come together and stand again through the valley of the dry bones. Even though it appeared that hope was gone and they were cut off as scripture described them from the land of the living, God showed them different! We were cut off at one time from God, dead in our sins needing a touch, a healing, a deliverance. God sent His son, Jesus Christ to restore us into a right standing! I don’t know about you but when we come through these perilous times, these dark days filled with raindrops of rejection, I want to see the victory in the valley! I want to be spiritually brand new filled with a new hope, walking with the master on higher heights, filled with a stronger faith, ready to receive every blessing that God has in store for me! God will restore us according to Lamentations 5:21-22 and 1 Peter 5:10.