Monthly Archives: November 2011

CONTEST WINNER!

We have a winner for the WELL ROOTED Blog 1st Anniversary Contest. I am grateful to all who read my blog at any time. For those who are regular readers – you have my deep appreciation. This blog is a significant investment of time and energy, naturally I hope Well Rooted produces a harvest that is worth the time given to it.

Before I announce the winner, let me explain how that person was chosen. I numbered all the entries and then put those numbers on small pieces of paper, which were folded and placed in a basket. After a good mixing in front of several witness in the church office, the contents of the basket were thrown in the air over an open Bible (I never did check the passage). The entry that landed at the center of the Bible was declared the winner!

And the winner is

Bill Wright who entered “Friendship” from July 13, 2011

 

Tomorrow, I will announce the favorite blog post from the past year.

STRUGGLING TO DO WHAT I LOVE

I love to read! It began as a small boy when trips to the library were an adventure; and has continued all my life. Typically I am reading from several books at a time, and my reading stack is always piled high. Over the past 30 years I’ve averaged over a book a week, that’s how much I enjoy reading. Reading is how I spend many of my evenings and how I get out from under the pressures of the day. When I go on vacation I plan what books I will take.

So why do I struggle so much to enjoy reading the Bible? Too often it feels like a chore I make myself do and while I read I don’t find the pleasure that I do with many other books.  I will gladly read 100 pages of a book I am enjoying, but then have to force myself to read a couple pages of God’s word, which He gave to reveal Himself and to bless my life. My desire is that I will enjoy God and hear God, as I read what He caused to be written for me.

I think part of the reason is that I often do not consider these things before I read; neither do I see them as I read. This is an area I am working on in my life. But if I am serious about making progress, then I need to plan and take steps in what will help me make progress. In part this means persistence with having the correct perspective; it also means my efforts will be insufficient on their own. I need God’s grace to help me where I am weak. According to the sermon I am preparing for this Sunday – I should “expect” the Holy Spirit to work in my area of need.

Sermon Leftovers: 11/28/11

 

 “A Spirit filled church, is filled with worshipers”  Acts 2:41-47

Being a worshiper is more than singing in church or the car

Worship is responding to God as He deserves 

Worship is driven by the reality of God’s worthiness. A worshiper is someone who sees their life as response to God (Romans 12:1).

Since God always deserves the response of “awe” we see in v43, a worshiper is someone who seeks to live in awe of God

We never have reason not to worship, because God never changes. All our reasons to worship remain the same

God deserves a church – a people who live in worship

The point of worship is that it is inappropriate not to exalt God above all

If we are not responding to God by exalting His will, we are idolaters, since something else is being put in the spot only God deserves

Without a worshipful heart, our view of God’s glory erodes. When God is diminished worship of self and the world increase

In the Acts 2 Church, worship brought vitality to the life of the church

We can sense their enthusiasm for the life God gave them 

Their participation in living for God was not half-hearted. They were doing their best for God, rather than doing enough to “get by”

We all struggle to have this life before God. This is why worship is not an optional part of spiritual health

This vitality kept the other church members reminded of what was important

Enthusiasm gets attention and it is contagious

We all lose sight of Christ and cool off in our intensity

Living in worship is not just private matter, it affects others

Worshipers have to work at being God exalters

It is safe to say the “awe upon every soul” in v43 was not their permanent condition

Why do we have to work so hard at being worshipers?

  • We are surrounded by God haters: Satan, our flesh, and the world
  • We are saturated with temporal experiences

Some practical steps at being more consistent worshippers   

1.  Make worship the priority of your prayer time

2.  Preach the gospel to yourself  

3.  Decide that responding to God is what makes a “good” day

4.  Focus on today:  What will today look like if God has all of me?

5.  Interact with people who love to exalt God 

When we work at worship there are significant results

1.  A worshiper is less distracted by temporal things

2.  A worshiper is not as overwhelmed by difficulties  

3.  Worship enlarges our heart for what Jesus is doing 

4.  Worships brings vitality to our outreach into the world v47:  Worship shows people without a relationship to God that His presence and power are real

In Luke 19:40 Jesus said if his people were silent, then the “rocks would cry out”. May we always fulfill this responsibility ourselves 

 

DON’T PREACH SANTA TO YOURSELF

Today begins the Christmas season, well that used to be the case. Now the Christmas season appears to follow closely on the heels of Halloween. Our family will spend today helping my mother-in-law transition her chocolate shop into Christmas mode (her store called the “Candy Box” is located on Lambs Rd in Richwood, NJ). After today most of us will start getting twinges of shopping panic; and we have no interest in hearing smug comments from those who have already finished their shopping.

As we walk through the Christmas season, Gloria Furman in her Domestic Kingdom blog, reminds us not to preach Santa to ourselves. Although I expect you to agree with that statement, you probably have the wrong idea of what she means. So read the article yourself here.

LINCOLN’S THANKSGIVING PROCLAMATION

Proclamation Establishing Thanksgiving Day

by President Lincoln: October 3, 1863

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies.  To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore.  Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things.  They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people.  I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

Can you imagine these words coming out of Washington D.C. in our generation?

MORE GOD

Yesterday, we saw the wondrous God has chosen to fill and use our life. Yet, in return, we often yawn and turn to fill our life with earthly things that even we know cannot last.

As promised, today we will look at three life focuses that will help us to fill our life with God

1.  More God comes through NOW God

Filling our life with God always begins now. If we think we need to complete something else in our life before we give ourselves more fully to God – we don’t get it!

As a believer, the Holy Spirit is always with you now

God has already shown that He wants to work in and through us now

Putting God off is a declaration that our priorities take precedence

Today is the day God wants most from you

We can only be faithful today, and we can be faithful today

2.  More God comes through ALL God

All God is when we through open the doors of our life and invite God to have His way in us

We remove all, “Yes, but . .” responses to Him; which are just another way of putting ourselves before God    All God means whatever He does with our life is received without blaming or doubting Him

All God means we have one path in our life.  Every area of our life (work, relationships and possessions etc) takes place on this path

All anxiety and fear is given to Him, because our life is all about Him

God is our contentment and joy, because for our life is all about Him

When all our life is given to God then all our life will be used well

3.  More God comes through WOW God

Wow God, is the amazement that the glorious God has come into our life

Wow God is to live in astonishment that His greatness has intersected with our life

Wow God is knowing our salvation cannot be lost, diminished or taken away

Wow God is having Him ask us, to be part of His glorious purposes

Wow God makes being His servant a great honor

Do not settle for the best this world offers, when we can have the wonder of more God!

FILLING LIFE WITH WHAT MATTERS

A.W. Tozer wrote,

“Without anything other than Himself, God can meet and overflow the deepest demands of our total nature”

Let’s consider a few general thoughts about God filling our life:

1.  God is glorious and wonderful

When our thoughts are filled with astonishment at God’s majesty, we are only glimpsing the edges of His ways and a small whisper of Him (Job 26:14). No matter how hard we try, God is simply too great to fit into our minds.  We struggle to grasp God’s ways, not because they don’t make sense, but because they are far too grand for us.

2.  God’s grace toward us is mighty

More than any chapter in the Bible, Ephesians 1 conveys the extraordinary amount of grace God has exercised toward all who trust in Christ. Here is just a sampling:

v3  He “has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places”

v4  “He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless”

v5  “He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ”

vs7-8  “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us”

vs18-19   Paul prays that we would know “the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints” and “the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe”

3.  God invites us to share life with him

How can it be, that this amazing God would want us to take part in his glorious work (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).

There is no greater work anywhere in the universe, than to represent his gospel to people who all desperately need it. When God uses us to touch someone with the gospel – we are taking part in changing their eternity. We have a part in them receiving “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places”.

So WHY we are more enamored with the passing things of this world?!  It should not make rational sense for our human intellect, let alone our eyes of faith.

Let me ask some diagnostic questions concerning how God fills your life:

What do we desire most?

What do we want more of?

How often do you have thoughts of God?

What receives our best and first energies?

What disappoints us most?

What gives us the most joy?

Are earthly things enough for us?  One puritan wrote: As adult not satisfied children’s games, neither should we be earthly pursuits”

Do we have more sorrow over our problems, or our sin?

What determines a good day versus a bad day; and does it have anything to do with our relationship to God?

Tomorrow, we will look at three life focuses that will help us to fill our life with God

SERMON LEFTOVERS 11.21.11

A Spirit filled church responds to biblical leadership

Acts 2 begins with the Holy Spirit filling the church. The chapter ends with a description of the character that filled that church. This week my message focused on v42.

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

God expects his people to be “equipped” by his leaders (Ephesians 4:11-13)

This equipping process has a two-fold purpose

1.  God wants every believer be involved in ministry to others v12

2.  God wants every believer to be in the process of maturing v13

The Acts Church responded to the leadership God gave them

To respond means action will come out of our listening. The purpose behind all biblical instruction is to have us use it

  • Every time we read God’s word, He means to draw out a response
  • Every teaching shared is meant to guide us into biblical action

“Devoting” ourselves to the teaching of our pastors means we take it seriously

  • We prepare ourselves to receive it
  • We examine ourselves by what we hear
  • We take a step based upon what we hear

This church responded to their leaders, by joining the process put in place for their growth

When v42 mentions “the” prayers and “the” fellowship, it is describing organized activities

Most Christians have some idea of what God wants us to be, but a challenge to any church is how to get the whole congregation involved in the growing process

Four ingredients that help bring about growth

1.  Be under God’s Word consistently: Spiritual maturity will never come unless we do this

2.  Work out those truths with others through discussion:  We see that it was necessary for Jesus to discuss his teachings with the disciples

3.  Personalize how these truths are working in us:  This helps move biblical truth from a good idea to godly action

4.  Be responsive to accountability from others:  If we want to be serious about growing, we have to take input and accountability seriously

Practical ways we can respond to the leaders God has given us

Pray for them, and pray with them (all faithful leaders are constantly crying out to God for the health of their church; we should share that burden with them).

Be part of the process your church has set up to help you become more fruitful

Invite input from church leaders about areas where you need to grow

When you are bothered or unsure about their leadership, talk about it with them, never complain (complaining against their leaders was a prominent sin of Israel in the wilderness, which led to severe judgment from God).

A final word to pastors and church leaders; in order to truly “lead” you need to work harder than everyone else at being response

FINAL REMINDER

Sunday is the last day you can enter the 1st Anniversary Contest for the Deeply Rooted Blog.  Choose your favorite article from my blog over the past year and you may win a $40 Amazon gift certificate. Place your entry in the comments section or send it to the blog email:  khuber.wellrooted@gmail.com

WHAT WAS MISSING AT PENN STATE?

The sad – disappointing – shocking – sickening story of the past two weeks is the terrible mess at Penn State and in the hearts of too many who worked there. The best article I have seen about the real issue involved, is found on the Gospel Coalition website. The author of the article “Love Notices Wet Hair” is Tim Henderson, who is the campus director of Campus Crusade for Christ on the Penn State campus. I hope you will take the time to read this article