01
May
16

God For Everyone

The latest message from Griffith First Christian Church in Griffith, Indiana.  This message is based on Luke 5:17-32 and is the last message in our series, “God For The Rest Of Us.”

 

29
Apr
16

God’s Many Promises

Zechariah 1:7-17 (NIV)

On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, the month of Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo.

During the night I had a vision, and there before me was a man mounted on a red horse. He was standing among the myrtle trees in a ravine. Behind him were red, brown and white horses.

I asked, “What are these, my lord?”

The angel who was talking with me answered, “I will show you what they are.”

10 Then the man standing among the myrtle trees explained, “They are the ones the Lord has sent to go throughout the earth.”

11 And they reported to the angel of the Lord who was standing among the myrtle trees, “We have gone throughout the earth and found the whole world at rest and in peace.”

12 Then the angel of the Lord said, “Lord Almighty, how long will you withhold mercy from Jerusalem and from the towns of Judah, which you have been angry with these seventy years?” 13 So the Lord spoke kind and comforting words to the angel who talked with me.

14 Then the angel who was speaking to me said, “Proclaim this word: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I am very jealous for Jerusalem and Zion, 15 and I am very angry with the nations that feel secure. I was only a little angry, but they went too far with the punishment.’

16 “Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘I will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and there my house will be rebuilt. And the measuring line will be stretched out over Jerusalem,’ declares the Lord Almighty.

17 “Proclaim further: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘My towns will again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord will again comfort Zion and choose Jerusalem.’”

 

Zechariah had eight visions in one night and in chapter 1, verses 7-17 we read of the first vision. A man was astride a red horse in a valley in Israel. Red, white and brown horses were behind this man and they had returned from going throughout the entire earth on a kind of reconnaissance mission. The world was resting from war, but there was no peace for God’s people. They had been oppressed for 70 years and though the temple was being rebuilt, God’s people were still not at rest. So God reaffirmed His love for Israel in verses 14-16 and He promised that the temple would be rebuilt in verse 16. He also promised blessings on Israel in verse 17.

God’s heart beats with love for His people at all times. The Bible tells us that even His discipline is prompted by love (Hebrews 12:6). One of God’s deepest desires is that we would trust Him. He has provided over and over again. He has forgiven us over and over again. He has blessed us over and over again. Yet, we turn away from Him in pride or in fear. He is not far off, though. He is calling us back to Himself in love and mercy. He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing through Jesus (Ephesians 1:3). When we go through difficult times and when God seems furthest away, let us remember that we can rely on Him. He is faithful to His promises. He still loves us even when we don’t love Him in return.

PRAYER: Thank You for Your promises, O God. I want to trust You more. I’m going through a tough season in my life and I need to hear from You. I need Your mercy and grace to awaken my love for You again. Amen.

28
Apr
16

Escaping God’s Wrath

Zechariah 1:1-6 (NIV)

In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo:

2 “The Lord was very angry with your ancestors. 3 Therefore tell the people: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Return to me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the Lord Almighty. 4 Do not be like your ancestors, to whom the earlier prophets proclaimed: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Turn from your evil ways and your evil practices.’ But they would not listen or pay attention to me, declares the Lord. 5 Where are your ancestors now? And the prophets, do they live forever? 6 But did not my words and my decrees, which I commanded my servants the prophets, overtake your ancestors?

“Then they repented and said, ‘The Lord Almighty has done to us what our ways and practices deserve, just as he determined to do.’”

 

Zechariah was a prophet and priest who was born in Babylon when the Jews from Judah were in captivity there. When the Persians conquered the Babylonians in 539 BC, the Jews were allowed to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. About 50,000 exiles returned to Jerusalem, just as God had promised. Zechariah called God’s people to remain faithful to the Lord Almighty as they began to rebuild the temple.

In verse 2, the phrase, “The Lord was very angry…” is literally translated, “The Lord was angry with anger.” God’s people, with whom He had entered into a loving relationship, rebelled against Him and did evil in His sight. God punished His people because of their rebellion. God’s anger does not last forever. He promised that a remnant would return to Jerusalem. That is exactly what happened.

Zechariah reminded the people that God’s heart is for repentance and forgiveness, not wrath and punishment. We see this in the New Testament in the life and death of Jesus Christ. God sent His Son to call people to repentance and to take the punishment for our rebellion and sin. When Jesus went to the cross, He was the object of God’s wrath. God poured out all of His wrath on Christ on the cross.

1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 (NIV) says:

For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.

Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:1-5 (NIV):

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 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. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.

God has saved us by His grace through faith in His Son, Jesus. His wrath is reserved for those who reject Christ. Let us live to tell of Jesus and His love so that others may escape the coming wrath of God.
PRAYER: Father in Heaven, thank You for Your grace that saves us from wrath. Thank You for rescuing me through Your Son, Jesus. May I have an opportunity to share the good news of Jesus with someone today that they might hear, believe and repent and turn to You for forgiveness. In Jesus’ name, amen.
27
Apr
16

Clothed With Joy

Psalm 30

New International Version (NIV)

Psalm 30

A psalm. A song. For the dedication of the temple. Of David.

I will exalt you, Lord,
for you lifted me out of the depths
and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
Lord my God, I called to you for help,
and you healed me.
You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead;
you spared me from going down to the pit.

Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people;
praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.

When I felt secure, I said,
“I will never be shaken.”
Lord, when you favored me,
you made my royal mountain stand firm;
but when you hid your face,
I was dismayed.

To you, Lord, I called;
to the Lord I cried for mercy:
“What is gained if I am silenced,
if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
10 Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me;
Lord, be my help.”

11 You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
12 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will praise you forever.

In Psalm 30, David writes about how God was able to take his broken heart and replace it with joy.  Look at what he says:

…weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning. – Psalm 30:5b (NIV)

and

You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy… – Psalm 30:11 (NIV)

When we are in the thick of sorrow and pain, we need to cry out to God for help.  Jesus, on the night before His crucifixion, was in agony and anguish.  He cried out to His Father for help and strength.  God hears our cries and He heals our broken hearts and wounded souls.  He is able to carry us through the darkest times of our lives.  What is our response to His healing?  It is to be praise:

Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people;
praise his holy name. – Psalm 30:4 (NIV)

 and

that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will praise you forever. – Psalm 30:12 (NIV)

So when your healing comes, do not forget about the Lord.  When He forgives your sins, do not forget about the Lord.  When He shows you mercy and gives you joy, may you rejoice in the Lord.  Let us praise His holy name forever.
PRAYER: God, I need Your healing in my life. I need Your joy today. My life and situations and circumstances grieve me. I need You and I need joy. Remind me of Your faithful love and forgiveness so that I may have true joy today. In Jesus’ name, amen.
26
Apr
16

Your Enemy/Neighbor

Luke 10:25-37 (NIV)

The Parable of the Good Samaritan
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

The parable of the good Samaritan is quite familiar to Christians.  The phrase, “good Samaritan” is well-known to many who are not believers.  We associate that phrase with someone who does a kind deed for a stranger.  That’s not what Jesus had in mind.  True, the Samaritan in His story did not know the individual he helped.  They were strangers.  But they were more than strangers.  They were enemies.
The expert in the law (what we would consider to be a lawyer) was testing Jesus.  He wanted to know Jesus’ thoughts on what it takes to go to Heaven.  Jesus turns the tables on him and asks him for his opinion first.  The lawyer answers with a very good answer from the Old Testament books of Deuteronomy and Leviticus:

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

– Luke 10:27 (NIV)
Jesus commends him on his correct answer.  Then the lawyer wants to impress Jesus by asking a profound question:

And who is my neighbor? – Luke 10:29 (NIV)

Jesus, as He often did, tells him a story that we know as the parable of the good Samaritan.  We may think of this parable as a nice little story about two men who were unwilling to help a man in need and one kindly Samaritan who helped the beaten and battered man.  That is far from what was actually going on in Jesus’ day.  The priest goes by and then the Levite.  They are on their way from Jerusalem to Jericho.  They both served in the temple.  The priests were considered the most holy men of their day.  Levites were next to them in holiness since they also served in the temple.
Then the Samaritan happens to pass by.  One commentator said that Jews and Samaritans “despised” each other.  These guys are enemies.  We’re talking Packers’ fans and Bears’ fans times 10!  They hated each other!  The Samaritan, despite his peoples’ hatred of Jews, has compassion on the half dead man.  He goes above and beyond what any human being would do for someone else.  This despised Samaritan becomes the hero of the story!  What do you think was going on in the minds and hearts of those who were hearing this story?  Anger!  Blood boiling!  Teeth clenched!  Jesus asks the lawyer:

Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers? – Luke 10:36 (NIV)

The lawyer can’t even bring himself to say the word, “Samaritan.”  He says:

The one who had mercy on him. – Luke 10:37a (NIV)

Then Jesus frosts the cake with, “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37b, NIV).  Jesus tells this Jewish lawyer, “Be like the Samaritan.”  OH!  How it must have burned his ears to hear such a thing!
So what about you?  Who is your neighbor?  Who needs you to be the conduit of God’s love and mercy today?  It’s probably the person you either least expect or least want to show it to.  That’s the person Jesus wants you to love today.
PRAYER:  Lord Jesus, help me to love the people I don’t want to love today.  In Your name, amen.
25
Apr
16

Know That God Is God

Psalm 46 (NIV)

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. According to alamoth. A song.

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

 

No matter what happens, God is God.  Look at some of the things that happen in our world from Psalm 46 (NIV):
  • The earth may give way (verse 2)
  • The mountains crumble and fall into the sea (verse 2)
  • The seas roar and foam (verse 3)
  • The mountains quake (verse 3)
  • Nations are in uproar (verse 6)
  • Kingdoms fall (verse 6)
  • War (verse 9)

Do any of these sound familiar?  We hear of natural disasters throughout the earth.  We hear of nations falling in political turmoil?  There are wars everywhere.  Terrorism abounds.  Violence seems to be the order of the day.  The Sons of Korah say it twice, though:

The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. – Psalm 46:7, 11 (NIV)

We need to remember that God is with us.  He will not leave us.  He will not forsake His people.  Instead of freaking out, we must “Be still, and know that” He is God (Psalm 46:10, NIV).  Know that God is God.  Know that He will silence the nations and the violence.  He is our refuge and strength.  He is our help in our times of need.  He is our loving Father who patiently and gently deals with His wayward children.  Remember His deeds of the past.  Remember how He has carried you and held you and given you His peace.  No matter what you may be going through today, He is there.  Know that He is God and He loves you and cares for you deeply.
PRAYER: Help me to know that You are God today, O Lord.  Help me to be still and to stop worrying about every detail of my life.  Help me to remember that You are God and You are in control.  Thank You for your love, care and concern.  Amen.
24
Apr
16

God For The Christian

The latest message from Griffith First Christian Church in Griffith, Indiana.  This message is based on Matthew 4:18-22.  https://vimeo.com/120206922 is the link to the video referenced in the sermon.




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