Separated Not Secluded

                                                               

(Genesis 14:13-14)

Balance is the key to living a productive, blessed, exciting life as a follower of the Most High God.

We are; because of the transgression of our grandparents in the garden, given over to a lop-sided mentality.

We find it hard not to lean one way or the other. When it comes to our relationship with God it is no different. You find those who are against everything traditional and those who are against everything new. We find those who are so caught up in the spiritual side of things that they are spooky and those so caught up in the material side of things that they are worldly.

As we have used Abrams life as a reflection of the Christian walk, we have already seen the good the bad and the ugly. As we continue to observe the life of this man of God we see a balance based on, not tradition, morals, or own ideas, but on serving a Holy God.

  • Separated not secluded. (V13)
    • This is one of the hardest practices of the believer. Because of our addictions, our attractions, there might need to be a time period of seclusion. 
      • (Matt.10:16) Jesus told us to be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves.
    • It is not wise for an alcoholic to go into a place where drinking is prominent. Can they go in and not take part? Yes. Is it smart? No!
      • No different for the druggie, the womanizer, or the glutton. 
    • But as a general rule in our day-in and day-out living, God didn’t expect us to be isolated but insulated.
      • Jesus’ example is He went down into the valleys to teach and reach, then withdrew Himself with His disciples. Too many of us are going into the world with very little time invested in the things of God and find ourselves drowning. 
      • We don’t see the importance of fellowshipping with those whom you joined in a covenant relationship of this congregation, so we don’t gather that strength and support then go out among our old friends who are still enslaved with our old ways and we find ourselves struggling to maintain and often caving in and slipping back into the imprisonment of sin.
    • Abram had made a confederacy with some of the Amorites. He knew of the first raids (V7) and was attune to this last invasion. He had a mass herd of cattle, sheep, and things that invading army’s like to pilfer, so he was concerned.
    • It is the same with Sodom. He knew and detested what they stood for. His separation from their politics, pleasures, and principles, and even people kept him protected from them but he in no way pretended they didn’t exist.
      • He had a heavy heart for them. He had already lost a nephew to their immorality. 
      • When word came to him his nephew was taken captive Abram went into action.
      • Where was Lot his nephew? Living down in Sodom.
  • Deceived and deluded.
    • At last look, we saw Lot taking the good land near the Jordan. We took note that he pitched his tent toward Sodom. He didn’t go to Sodom, at first probably even talked about how wicked they were and looked down upon them in public while in private longed to participate or see what it was really like in this wild and wicked place.
      • When once your heart gets full of the world it isn’t long before your feet follow. 
      • (Pr 4:23) Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
      • Lot was playing with sin. He thought he could just dabble a little. So has everyone, whom sin has stolen away from their life.
    • Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom, looked toward Sodom, and then dwelt in Sodom.
      • You can almost hear the new and improved Lot. I don’t want to be like my stuffy uncle. I feel we cannot; only live around them but live among them. I am not going to make my children go to church, if they don’t want to participate then they don’t have to. On and on.
      • When once we get down in the mire we have to justify our surroundings.
      •  Sin hardens our hearts that we are no longer sensitive to the prodding of the Holy Spirit. It blinds our eyes so that we cannot see its grip on our lives. It deafens our ears that we cannot hear the voice of God warning us, calling us pleading with us not to go.
      • A little later we see where Abram rescues his nephew but instead of seeing where he had fallen to, he goes back to the same ole song.
    • Don’t know if a nagging wife was to blame? Maybe it was the smell of money to be made. Could have been the worldly need of his children.
      • Like Lot, there are a lot of men today who won’t trust God with issues because they don’t want to hear it, don’t want to argue, don’t want the fuss.
      • (Pr 27:15) ¶ A continual dropping on a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.
      • In today’s fallen world where there are many effeminate men, it goes both ways. A wimpy whinny husband is like a dreary nasty day. They both wear on you.
    • One of the greatest travesties of today is watching men succumb to family pressure.
      • They are supposed to be leading them. Not by pushing, shoving, bullying, but by being out in front, helping them see where God is at work and where they are needed.
      • They are the ones who are supposed to be praying and seeking God’s face as to wear to worship and what to get involved in. Praying with and for their children, their wife, being confident because of their relationship with God they are right smack dab in the middle of His will.
    • I pray to God for men who love their wives as Christ loves the church, for daddy’s who love their children enough to face the hard issues of raising devoted, sold out, followers of Jesus, instead of partying, playing, half-hearted, selfish sissies who jump here and there wherever the crowd is greater.  
      • May I ad I am thankful we have many of the right ones here.
  • Tempted but devoted. As in the life of the Christian after every victory, Satan slithers in with something seductive to steal away God’s peace and joy
    • Abram didn’t have an army he had servants. But if God is for us who can be against us. Abram came, saw, and took names. It was an overwhelming victory. Emotions were high, excitement filled the sky. And (V21).
      • In the flesh, Abram could have said “well God is blessing me, I deserve this and more.” But instead, we have (V22-23)
      • He was looking ahead.
    • God had provided Abram with a time of strengthening with the King of Salem.
      • You might say why did he need strengthening he had just won a victory? Because that is when we get self-sufficient, boastful and pride raises its ugly head.
    • (1Co 10:13) There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
      • God provided for Abram, He will provide for you.  Abram was able to see the provision because his heart, eyes, and ears were attuned to God. He had separated himself from the ways of the world but did not seclude himself so that he could still be used.
    • God is wanting to use you. In the youth group, in the music ministry, on the football field. In the band, at the office, in the board room.
      • If we keep hiding our face we are not impacting but being impacted.

Link to the sermon preached on 7/4/21 via Facebook live.

Weeding Your Garden

James 1:12-17

As we spoke last week about fishing being in the air this time of year, there is another thing that comes to mind which we start seeing more and more this time of year. 

Gardens. Some big. Some small. Vegetable, flowers, plants, all types. Jesus often used farming, gardening as illustrations because, unlike today, most people understood it.

Gardening is fun, even therapeutic. It provides pleasure and produces beauty and food. But gardeners have to be on guard. There are menaces to a garden.

If the soil is too wet or dry you can damage the plant and hinder the crop. You have diseases, pests of all types. Wildlife, weather. A gardener has to watch all these things.

There is a more subtle menace, one that at first glance doesn’t look harmful but in reality it robs the plant from nutrients and water. It can retard the growth of the plant and decrease fruit. WEEDS!

As we have seen over the last couple of weeks, Samson’s sad descent from God’s gift, to God’s laughing stock, we have to be aware the same trap can be used against us.

Like the gardener being on guard to protect their garden. We need to be conscious of the fact that there are many things out to deceive us and destroy our relationship with God.

Like Samson we can become proud of where and how God used us and even began to think it is us. That is why I must point out again what Paul said to the Corinthians. 1Co 10:12, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”

So what can we do? What is there for us to use to ground ourselves? To protect ourselves?

The day in which we find ourselves is a very trying time. It is easy for us to look down on others. It is easy for us to worry. Begin to doubt.

Remember. Our minds are like hotels. You cannot prevent someone from coming into the lobby, but you can prevent them from getting a room.

Look at our scripture: James 1:12-17 

  • Temptation
    • The root of temptation is a selfish desire.
      • When our desire is conceived it grows and matures until it sprouts.
    • The shoot appears. 
      • In the form of a sinful action or decision.
    • If left untouched it produces fruit.
      •  A seed pod that will reproduce the cycle again and again.
  • Our Nature
    • We have a sinful nature. That is why apart from the Holy Spirit of God we cannot understand God’s word. We cannot act on God’s word.
      • 1Co 2:14, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
    • Fact is we could shut down every “den of iniquity” 
      • From the casinos to the media outlets. From the bars to the porn shops. It still wouldn’t stop or eliminate temptation to sin.
    • Adam and Eve had a perfect world.
      •  They had the perfect environment yet they succumbed to temptation. Why?
    • Because temptation comes from an internal source.
      • The external forces are only enticements to sin.
      • The problem begins with the human heart, mind.
    • In order to overcome this propensity to sin we have to have a new nature.
      • Jesus gives us that when we submit to His will instead of ours.
    • People indulge in various sins because they think it will make them happy.
      • We sin because of the pleasure it will bring. Though it is fleeting, passing, it only lasts a moment, we cannot see past our desire to the permanent scarring and pain it inevitably causes us and others. 
  • What do we do? How do you get weeds out of your garden?
    • Some think dealing with the fruit section of the weed will take care of it.
      • For a time it seems to work but then…
      • Just like when we deal with our secret sins by addressing only the visible parts of it, it is not likely that much headway will be made.
      • Why so many fall into depression and back into the same ole grind.
    • Others like to mow the weeds down. Cutting down the shoot.
      • Once again it looks good for a while but then often it seems to spread and make matters worse.
      • Again we deal with the externals
    • The only way to eradicate weeds from your garden is to deal with root, shoot fruit and all.
      • Rather you use a herbicide, a non- chemical home remedy or pull them up, it is the only way to rid your garden of these life threatening, substance sucking, light stealing pests. 
      • To eradicate perpetual, habitual sin in our lives, we must, underscore must, deal with our innate selfish desires.
      • Call it what it is. it is not a mistake/ it is sin against a holy God.
    • That is the question. Just like succeeding. Do you want to live a life successful in the eyes of God?
      • Do you really want to rid your life of these joy stealing, life draining, light sucking parasites or do you enjoy them more than you enjoy the promises of God?
  • Here are three questions to determine if what you are thinking of doing is worth it.
    • Can I thank God for it?
      • Jas 1:17, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
      • 1Th 5:18, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
      • If you go ahead and do this can you look back and thank God for it?
    • Can I do this in the Name of Jesus?
      • Will this be like Samson? Give the lost world reason to mock God?
      • Col 3:17, “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”
    • Can I do this and give Glory to God?
      • 1Co 10:31, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”
    • I realize you have many formulas per say to help you. Truth is if you don’t invoke them, put them to use, you have what you want.
  • Make America Great Again.
    •  We have all heard the slogan. Fact of the matter many of us have shared what we believe will make America great in our minds.
      • The hope of America is not found in a revival of family values. It is not restoration of constitution law.
      •  Not a renewed respect for parents, elders or even authority though all of this is good.
      • Believe it or not it wont come from even upgrading the education system, health care system or court system.
    • What will make America great again is when Born again believers take a stand against sin.
      •  Not in the outside world but in our own lives!!
    • We need to get busy weeding out our own minds.
  • Church , this book is for you!!!
    • Today you have been given a choice.
      • To ignore these words. Chalk it up to another sermon down or REPENT.

Shaky Ground or Strong Man Down

For those who are unable to attend service, we are working on new ways to minister to you. We look forward to connect with you on social media over the coming weeks. Please reach out to us with prayer request and concerns.

Sunday March 22, 2020

10:45 Worship

Judges 13:1-5

I am aware that it would seem a good pastor would be right up there preaching up on current events that are affecting us. Namely this corona virus. Spiritually speaking I believe that is what I do every time I have the opportunity to speak God’s word. For there is nothing more current than your present standing with God.I would like to speak to you today on where we are as a Nation, a church, as individuals. I want to give you some sure footed advice to strengthen you through these upcoming days.Pastor O. S. Hawkins has been pastor at 1st Baptist Dallas for years and also president and CEO of the SBC Annuity Board. I’ve had the joy to hear him speak on many occasions. He also is an author of many books, most of which I have read and has been a great help to me in my spiritual walk. Over the next few weeks I intend to share some thoughts with y’all that I have desired to for some time, which has been generated from one of his books “Moral Earthquakes”. It is one of those things that God births in your heart years before you actually use it.Here in the great state of Florida we have not been associated much with earthquakes. Though there have been some recorded they are not as prominent here as they are other places. We deal enough with hurricanes, tornadoes, lightning, roundabouts and mosquitoes. Many of us can remember watching the horrible effects of the earthquake in China’s Tang-shan province in 1976. Mexico City in 85, and here in the God Blessed U.S.A. in California’s San Francisco area in 1989. There have been more since these but all have one thing in common, devastation and loss of many lives.When an earthquake strikes, no matter how much you have prepared, you are totally helpless. You are at the mercy of its gargantuan force of destruction. What moments before provided our greatest comfort and security is suddenly transformed into hurtling possessions and collapsing walls.Devastating as earthquakes are to this world in which we live, I believe moral earthquakes are even more shattering. It is evidenced in our society. Please understand, I am not referring to New York, England, the Islands, other faraway places, but right here in the great metropolis of Mayo.We like to pretend that everything here is fine, but in truth, all the things we have impacted our kids with and our own minds through the various media outlets have come back to haunt us. You cannot expect that when we subject our children and ourselves to shows on a regular basis where homosexuality is championed, cohabitation is the norm, sex is the chief objective to a relationship, alcohol, rebelling against authority, and children are smarter than adults and the like, that it is not going to have an effect. Add to this the humanistic teaching of our education system, the watered down, non-offending gospel that’s being preached and the “let the kid raise themselves” parenting program that’s so popular.It is affecting them and it has infected us.But there is hope! There is a solution!When the bible speaks to guide us and ground us, it hardly ever directs it to the weak but to the strong. Even those who simply perceive themselves as strong.That ought to have you take note. Awaken your spirit today. 1Co 10:12, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” Samson was a man, though very blessed by God, traded it all in. He exchanged The Truth for The lie. We can learn some very important lessons from his life to help us succeed in ours. That’s the whole question in a nutshell. Is it important to you to live a life that’s successful in God’s eyes?

  • Samson’s beginning. Judges 13:1-5
  • Samson was a promise of God. He was raised in a good family and had the advantages of a solid good moral upbringing.
  • If we read on we find that in his life, he went from hero to zero.
  • What could cause such a loss?
  • We like to blame Delilah. It’s always the woman’s fault. But like in most cases, closer examination reveals another story.
  • Earthquakes don’t just happen.
  • They come from things well beyond our sight, well beneath the surface.
  • Shifting rock plates continually moving against each other sometimes get caught or stuck on each other till one breaks and then total chaos.
  • They call these areas of contact fault lines.
  • What we see as an all of a sudden event actually has been quietly occurring beneath the surface for years, decades, centuries.
  • Though we see Delilah as Samson’s greatest fault, truth is, the root of his downfall began some twenty something years earlier.
  • He had a special calling of God. He was a Nazarite.
  • If you will look when you get home in Numbers chp. 6 you will find the law of the Nazarite.
  • You will see that a Nazarite is not to drink wine or strong drink or even touch a grape in any stage of its life.
  • They are not to cut their hair.
  • They are not to touch a dead body.
  • These were all meant to be an external symbol of an internal reality.
  • Samson’s beginning of His end. Judges 14
  • 14:1, Hanging with those he was supposed to be delivering God’s people from.
  • Who you associate with is who you become.
  • 14:1-2, Dominated by his desires.
  • Pr 25:28, “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls”
  • Samson abandoned his calling. He rejected his parents guidance and upbringing based entirely on his emotions, senses. His flesh.
  • His first lust/love story.
  • He never met her, talked to her, met her parents, and knew nothing about her except how she looked.
  • Now because he was following his heart we see one thing leads to another.
  • Jer 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
  • Where are they? Vineyards.
  • What happens? Kills a lion.
  • V8, We see he comes back and inspects the dead lion. He not only touches it but eats from it!
  • What are two things a Nazarite is not supposed to do? Touch grapes or anything dead.
  • One sin leads to another.
  • One compromise leads to the next.
  • When we say no to God in one area of our lives the fault line begins to spread throughout the rest of our life.
  • Many of us are involved in things.
  • Sinful habits, moral compromise, spiritual laziness.
  • We rationalize them as petty, trivial, and unimportant. We see them as no big deal.
  • Later we discover, often when it’s too late living our lives on such fault lines has caused incomprehensible damage to ourselves and to others.
  • Samson was no different than many of us today.
  • We get caught up in the moment. Carried by passion, emotion, ruled by our heart.
  • We know the old saying. What flows from the bucket of the mouth comes from the well of the heart. The same is true of our emotions.
  • I’m asked often; why do I feel this way or why do I act that way.
  • Simply because that is what your heart is full of.
  • We ain’t got to be Samson.
  • We don’t have to wait to the end to hopefully get it right. Today ,those here, those watching, God is speaking to you.
  • The sad descent into addictive behaviors all begin small indiscretions.
  • But end in great devastation.
  • Today it is not too late.
  • IF,IF,IF, you really want to live a life that is successful in the eyes of God. Simply because He is worth it you can do something about it today.
  • 1Jo 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
  • You are here today because the God of creation wanted you to hear this and submit, agree to it .