God Keeps His Promises

God promises us redemption, righteousness, new life, freedom from sin and death, justification, His never-failing presence, adoption as His children, deliverance from the anguish and torment of hell, the Spirit with its gifts and fruits, and a new and better life now and for eternity in a new and better body on a new and better earth.

Four things stand out as we look at our Bible reading today. First, God keeps His promises. Second, God develops patience and trust. Third, God reveals His power. And fourth, God accomplishes His purposes.

  • God Keeps His Promises
    • The promise of a son was at first very general and became more and more specific after Abraham’s call. 
      • In the first three recorded instances, for example, God merely promised Abraham many descendants (Gen 12:2; 12:7; 13:16). In the fourth and following instances, however, the promise becomes far more specific: “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son” (Gen 18:10).
    • The birth of Isaac involved much more than parental joy. 
      • His birth meant the fulfillment of God’s promise. In Scripture, it is recorded that God comforted Abraham and Sarah eight times with the promise of a son.
    • Sarah had borne the burden of childlessness for many years, a heavy burden in that culture and at that time. 
      • People must have smiled when they heard that her husband’s name was Abraham, meaning “father of a multitude.” He was the father of one son, Ishmael, but that was far from a multitude. 
      • As for Sarah herself, she had never given birth. No words can express her feelings of frustration, hopelessness, and helplessness. 
      • Only another childless woman can know what she went through all those years. But now all of her reproaches were ended, and they were rejoicing and laughing at the arrival of their son. 
    • This childless couple must have discussed the promise nearly every night.
      • I suspect hardly a moment passed without them thinking about it. And, I am sure, most nights they dreamed about the promised child.
    • (Ge 21:1) And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken.
      • The Hebrew word translated as “gracious” can also be translated as “visited.” The Lord visited with Sarah.
      • After years and years of waiting, the Lord visited with Sarah. And He did for Sarah what He promised (Gen 21:1). 
      • To make sure we don’t miss the point of this sentence, Moses tells us Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age (Gen 21:2).
    • Make no mistake about this: the child to be born to them was the child of the promise.
      • All of God’s wondrous covenant promises to Abraham were bound up in this promised child.
  • God Develops Patience and Trust
    • Way back in the Garden of Eden already God promised that the woman’s seed would crush the serpent (Gen 3:15). 
      • At first, with Eve, it is hoped that Cain is the promised seed who would destroy the serpent. 
      • Remember how Eve thought, hoped, and prayed that Cain whom she brought forth was going to crush the serpent’s head and undo the damage done in the Garden? 
      • When Cain killed Abel, it was discovered Eve was flat out wrong in thinking this.
    • In Genesis 12, it is expected the Lord will fulfill His promise through Abraham.
      •  But the suspense only intensifies. The patriarch jeopardizes his family in Egypt (Gen 12:10-20), fathers a son who will not be his heir (Gen 16), and then finally risks having Sarah bear a son with another man (Gen 20).
      • Just like a good book or movie, you start to think; “Lord, are you ever going to keep your promise of the promised seed?”
    • Do you remember how long Abraham and Sarah waited for God’s promise to be fulfilled? 
      • Twenty-five years they waited. Twenty-five years have passed since Abraham was called by God. It has now been twenty-five years since Abraham and Sarah left Haran.
    • Trusting God’s promises not only gives you a blessing at the end, but it gives you a blessing while you are waiting.
      • Just as athletes develop their skills as they practice hard long before the big event, so God’s children grow in godliness and faith as they wait for the fulfillment of God’s promises.
      • Faith is a journey, and none of us know how long is the journey, where the journey will take us, or what difficulties we will face along the way. 
      • God wants to build our patience and trust, SO He gives us promises.
    • We like the promises that I read first.
      • Redemption, righteousness, new life, freedom from sin and death, justification, His never-failing presence, adoption as His children, deliverance from the anguish and torment of hell, and the like.
      • But we tend to neglect the whole counsel of God. We like the Burger King mentality. Have it your way. Listen!
      • (Jn.15:20.) Jesus said:  They persecuted Him, they ARE going to persecute you. Paul said it like this. (2Ti 3:12) Yea and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
      • (Php 1:29) For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; what about Peters words: (1Pe 3:14) But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled.
    • James told why this also is important. 
      • (Jas 1:3-4) Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. (4) But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
    • God loves you like you are. But He loves you too much to leave you that way.
      • God is not making you into churchgoers.
      •  He is fashioning you into THE CHURCH by conforming you to the very image of His Son Jesus THE Christ.
    • If you remember, Abraham had problems with trusting God.
      •  At least, he had problems with trusting God completely. He thought, more than once, that God needed his help.
      •  So, instead of trusting in God’s protection, he lied two times about his relationship with Sarah (Gen 12 & 20). So, instead, of trusting in God’s promise about a son, he tried to make a servant his heir (Gen 15:2) and had a son with another woman (Gen 16).
      •  God had to take him over the same hurdles again and again until he learned that God did not need his help. Abraham’s strategies were always getting him into trouble, but God’s faithfulness dug him out each time.
    • How many times don’t we think and act exactly the same as Abraham?
      •  How many times don’t we try to help the Almighty? 
      • God’s promise is that salvation is by grace and through faith but we think we need to earn salvation. 
      • God’s promise is that He builds the church and the kingdom, but we act like it is completely up to us. 
      • God’s promise is that He hears and answers prayer, but we neglect prayer because we think we can do it on our own.
    • Does God have you on the here we go again plan? 
      • Try trusting Him this time.
  • God Reveals His Power
    • (Ge 18:10-11) And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him. (11) Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.
      • God didn’t just impregnate a woman but listen: (Heb 11:11-12) Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed and was delivered of a child when she was past age because she judged him faithful who had promised. (12) Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.
    • Both Abe and Sarah’s body was not able to produce, carry, and deliver a child. He did the miraculous
      • Remember God’s response to Abraham? (Ge 18:14) Is anything too hard for the LORD? 
  • God Accomplishes His Purposes (Pr 19:21) There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.
    • This crazy messed up, mixed-up time that we are living in has not derailed or dismantled God’s plan.
      • God promised Abraham and Sarah a child
    • He did not do things the way we presumed,
      • but He did it spectacularly 
    • God’s still completing His purposes.
      • He has a plan for New Hope. He has a plan for you.
      • (Pr 24:10) If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small
    • We need to remember: (Ge 18:14) Is anything too hard for the LORD? 

Hiding from God

In the book of Revelation we see in the 6th chapter that God’s wrath is finally poured out upon the wicked. What we find is (to me) very interesting. We see people of all types running, hiding looking to escape God, more willing to die than yield to the truth.

Seen this on a church sign. The truth sounds like hate to those who hate truth!

  • Just a quick side note; truth is not subjective.
    •  Contrary to the lie that has been shared since our grandparents rejected God’s truth in the garden, which had Cain kill Able. That had scores of men and women refuse forgiveness and are condemned to an eternal hell.
      •  The same lie that has captivated and confused many a mind of those who are already searching for anything that will allow them to fulfil their lust and not feel guilty.
    • Truth is truth no matter where you find it.
      • It is not my truth and your truth. It is not relative.
      • Other words changing to ones conditions.
      • If it was true then it is true now and will always be true. ( like I said, quick side note)
    • Truth is NOT subjective!

We wonder how can this be? How and why would anyone given the overwhelming evidence, reject God’s truth?

 For the period of time we are looking at the answer is found in Paul’s 2nd letter to the church in Thessalonica. In speaking on the subject of the day of the Lord he says:

And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.

2 thessalonians 2:11

For the day which we live in, it is simple. The bible tells us; men loved darkness rather than light.

Remember it is not that God is defrauding or deceiving, He is just allowing them to have what they desire. (Like those who want to believe in subjective truth?)He is removing His hand, He is turning them over to their own mind.  (Wow! that a scary place for many of us.)

Now we have many examples of mankind running or attempting to hide from God.

 We have Jonah. The illustration of the Prodigal son. To name a couple. But it all starts at the beginning. In the garden. It has been a character trait ever since.

This is why Jesus says “come unto me”. (Matt.11:28) We so busy running the other way, attempting to hide. Also “and if any man will come after me”. (Luke 9:23)  Jesus ain’t into the hiding seek thing. He says here I am.

This is what really floors me though. Have you ever experienced God’s presence? This is what revival is all about. Coming into the very presence of God.  If you have ever experienced it you know it’s an amazing place. Every day we should be, as born-again believers, should be in His presence. Life ought to be a romance.

If we were to be honest with ourselves this isn’t always the case. Why?

Look at (Genesis 3:6-9)

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

Genesis 3:6-9 KJV
  • His Presence.
    • If anyone should be able to speak about being in God’s presence it should be these two. Think of the effect that the little glimpse of God’s presence does in us.
      • Makes a drunk man sober, a stoner straight. It brings to light all the dark recesses of our heart and cleanses them. Sets us free.
      • Now think about it. God actually walking, talking on an afternoon stroll. I can’t comprehend it. How it must have been.
    • Now look at what they (Adam and Eve) are doing. Hiding.
      • From what? God’s presence. The very thing that had to be just out of this world. The very thing they come to expect, time with God. An experience that we can none testify to.
      • Walking with God. Talking about the events of the day.
  • Sins presence.
    • What caused this turn about? What could make you want to hide from the only one who created you? Who loves you? Who came purposely to spend time with you?
      • SIN!
    • When you carry sin in your life, when you justify its presence, it drives you away from the light, away from anything lovely.
      • Sin has so marred us that we see ones that love us as enemies. Ones that destroy us as desirable.  Ones that care for us as overbearing and ones that prey upon us as protectors.
      • Sin makes us hide from the only thing that can cleanse us, heal us, satisfy us.
    • What would have happened if Adam and Eve had come straight before God and repented instead of hid themselves and explain their rebellion away?
      • ( Isa 1:18) Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
      • .James said it like this; (Jas 4:8) Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
    • We could most likely conclude that life would be totally different.
      • But what our grandparents started in the garden, we carry on today. We have been hiding ever since.
  • You’re present.
    • Even today there are those who would rather hide from the truth than to confess the truth before God.
      • Sin has blinded them into thinking that God is ok with what they have done or what they are doing.
      • They continue to go through the motions but death is at work upon them.
      • Slowly corruption is eating away at their love of anything Godly. Replacing it with a self -anointed, appointed theology of service.
    • Remember when you carry, hold on to unconfessed sin in your life; it drives you away from anything of worth, anything lovely, anything of God.
      • Part of our problem is what we consider confessing. Most of us fell its telling God.
      • He already knows.
      • Confessing is actually agreeing with Gods word about the issue. Total agreement seeing it as He does reacting to it the way He does.
    • Then when we can confess we can’t help but repent.
      • Remember how David repented. If it doesn’t cost you something there is not much repenting happening.
    • We can only guess at what might have happened to creation if Adam and Eve would have repented, but we don’t have to guess about what will happen if you do.
      • (Isa 55:7) Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
      • (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.
      • Jesus said: (Lu 15:7) I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
    • Two major obstacles of repentance. Pride and fear.
      •  Fear that what we done is unforgiveable. Fear of other people opinions. Fear of rejection. Fear of the unknown.
      • The other is pride. 

Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.

Proverbs 13:10
  • If you’re struggling within come today. If you’re struggling with the words I have spoken, come.

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.

Fishing

James 3:11-12, Judges 16

This time of year we start to notice a strange behavior in both men and women. Their arm begins to casting motions. As they sit their hands start reeling an imaginary reel. Grant you there is the hearty soul who never stops through the year, but many have hung it up till the weather began to warm. Fishing is on the agenda.

Fishing is like hunting. Just because you go doesn’t mean you will be successful. We find ways to attempt to lay the odds in our favor. They have developed so many types of live worms and bugs that it’s like ordering ice cream at one of those 99 flavor spots. Then artificial! Do you want it to float, sink, dance, or do a tease? They got it all.  All of this is to tempt the fish to bite and ignore the sharp thing that will hook them. 

As we spoke about Samson last week, we noticed that though Delilah was his undoing, his end began some twenty years earlier.

  • When will we learn? Judges 16:4-5
    • Looks like Samson would have learned his lesson.
      • But the problems with the Philistines only deepened his rebellion.
    • Like many modern day saints, he claimed belief in the ways of the Lord, but didn’t act like it.
      • He disclaimed the ways of the world but then conformed himself to them at every turn.
    • By the time Samson ran into Delilah he had been indulging his rebellion, following his heart, leaning to his thoughts for twenty years.
      • When we allow our secret faults to continue un-arrested and unabated over the years, we lose the ability to exercise even the most basic elements of common sense.
      • Pr 25:28, “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls”
      • No protection just come and get it.
    • Up till now, though feeding his fleshly desires he was seen as a champion of God’s people and a scourge to the Philistines.
      • God was not blessing him in spite of his sin. Listen!
      • Ro 2:3-4, “And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?”
      • God in His enduring mercy and never ending grace was giving Samson time and time to repent.
    • We can get by for so long then, bam, the hook is set.
  • Fishing the Bait.
    • Sometimes when fishing you have to let the fish run with the bait. Meaning you let it go a little so it feels comfortable enough and secure enough to swallow it.
      • Then Wham-O! you snatch it in him.
    • Judges 16:6-14. In these verses we see Samson running with the bait three times.
      • 3 times Delilah attempts to find his weakness. Three times he spins a yarn. 
      • But as Moses spoke to the children of Gad and Ruben, be sure your sin will find you out.
    • Just like the fish that keeps trying to steal the bait Samson finally got hooked.
  • Samson exemplifies the irony of sin in the believer.
    • He knew full well the difference between right and wrong. He chose wrong.
      • Sin always takes you farther than you intend to go. Keeps you longer than you intend to stay, and costs you more than you ever intended to pay.
    • Judges 16:20-21 are some of the saddest verses in the life of Samson.
      • No such thing as a blowout. Only small leaks.
      • One time champion of God’s people. Blind, bound and belittled.
    • That is the truth of sin. It blinds us. It belittles us. It bounds us.
  • Party Entertainment.
    • The Philistines put God’s man out on display. 
      • In doing so they mocked him and mocked the God he said he served.
    • That is the sting of sin.
      • When we claim to believe the way of the Lord but don’t act like it. When we disclaim the ways of the world but conform to them at every turn. We give reason to a lost and blind world to mock the name of God who deserves the praise of all people everywhere.
    • For twenty years Samson thought he could ignore the secret fault lines that developed from his disobedience. But they couldn’t ignore him
      • Like the modern day saint, we think we can ignore our little indiscretions, our little sins, but the fact is they won’t ignore us.
  • Taking the Bait.
    • You can fish all day but wont catch nothing until the fish decides to take the bait.
      • Jas 1:14-15, “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”
      • The word enticed literally means “bait”
      • When we allow ourselves to be drawn away and enticed, when we take the bait, we eventually get hooked.
    • Sin occurs when we are drawn away from our place of security by natural desires fixed upon some unnatural end.
      • Our minds are like hotels. We cannot keep someone from coming into the lobby, but we can keep them from getting a room.
    • Do you want to succeed in God’s plan for you? Obey what you already know. 
      • You don’t have to be a Samson. Missing out on the much more.