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Message Monday: Finish Strong – Demonstrate Resilient Faith (Hebrews 11:32-40)

GreenvilleDriveIntro:

  • Right now we are in the buildup to the College World Series of baseball. I usually catch up with the sport around this time because the stations begin regularly covering the games. It is always more exciting when local teams are in the regionals like they are this year.
  • Just last night one of the teams I have been keeping my eyes on was edged out forcing them into an elimination game. The other team I am really watching had an okay season, but has been playing better ball now than they did this year.
  • As I have been following along with the regionals this weekend, I have been thinking that baseball is a game that can teach us many lessons about faith.
    • Baseball calls for the long view. It is a long game. It cannot be won in an inning. A team that peaks too early will almost certainly lose. God also wants us to have the long view since eternity is in the balance.
    • Baseball is a game that humbles players. Watch the pitcher for a few minutes and notice that even the best have a bad throw or two. Swing after swing; strike after strike reminds the batter about humility. Even a great hit can easily be caught by a good outfielder. God also wants humble people, so he plants both subtle and obvious reminders that we are not perfect in life.
    • Baseball is a game for generous players. Everyone might want to hit a home run, but a bunt or even a low, rolling base hit is often required to make sure that even the best teams can get a rally going. God wants us to be generous as well, giving our lives away to others like Jesus did.
    • Baseball is also a game of fundamentals. It is a game of pitch and catch; swing and hit; tagging every base. The most fundamental aspect of our faith is a day by day personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
  • In years past I often made fun of baseball saying things like
    • “I would really like baseball if it were only to last four innings.”
    • “There’s a reason we call it America’s pastime. It is a game where you’re free to look for something else to pass the time.”
    • Or “I like baseball movies more than I like baseball games.”
  • But lately I have begun to wonder, if my former dislike of baseball has more to do with how it reminds me of my life rather than helps me escape from it. The more I watch baseball now, the more I find that I not only like it, but it reminds me of how I want to live out my faith.

Hook:

  • As we close our Samson series today, I hope that this look at his life has been for you like watching baseball has been for me this year.
  • While it may not have been your first choice of characters to look at, I hope and pray that it has reminded you how to have a resilient faith.
  • As we look at this last passage where Samson is mentioned today in Hebrews 11, I pray that you will know how to Finish Strong: Demonstrating a Resilient Faith.

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Posted by on June 4, 2018 in Ministry of the Word

 

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Message Monday: Finish Strong – Give All (Judges 16:23-31)

Originally Preached 05/27/18

Intro:See the source image

  • Tomorrow, you may be enjoying some BBQ or time with your family, but around three PM stop for a moment and pray.
  • In doing so you will join generations of Americans who have set aside this day to remember those who gave their all in service to this county.
  • This holiday grew out of the grief that followed the Civil War.
    • Imagine the sort of sadness if 2% percent of today’s US population, or roughly six million people were to be taken in some kind of combat defending this nation. Some sort of remembrance would seem essential.
    • There were those buried far from the homes they fought to protect. For some families placing decorations was the only way they could honor their fallen dead.
  • Today our medical technology has advanced. More of those who receiving critical injuries in places like Afghanistan or Iraq do come home alive, but with lost limbs or life altering changes. Remembering their sacrifice seems fitting as well.
  • But remembering those gave their all, who sacrificed their lives, that is what Memorial Day is about.
  • James A Garfield, long before he was president, spoke at a “Decorations Day” memorial these fitting words:
    • I love to believe that no heroic sacrifice is ever lost; that the characters of men are molded and inspired by what their fathers have done; that treasured up in American souls are all the unconscious influences of the great deeds… …Each for himself gathered up the cherished purposes of life—its aims and ambitions, its dearest affections—and flung all, with life itself, into the scale of battle. ( https://www.whatsoproudlywehail.org/curriculum/the-american-calendar/decoration-day-address-1868 )

Hook:

  • As Christians we should be the people who understand, remember, and celebrate sacrifice most of all.
  • While our faith is not at its best a warrior faith, it is a faith of courage, conviction, and sacrifice.
  • Jesus Christ gave his very life that many might be freed from the consequence and power of sin.
  • Those who follow Him, throughout the generations of Christianity remember his sacrifice and give their own lives to advance His kingdom.
  • Today, it is my hope to remind you not only to remember godly sacrifices, but to inspire you to give your all to Jesus as well.

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Posted by on May 29, 2018 in Ministry of the Word

 

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Message Monday: Finish Strong – Grow in Discernment (Judges 16:01-22)

Image result for information ageIntro:

·         This week I was blessed to visit our state museum in Columbia on a field trip with Roslyn.

o    It has been a long time since I have been to the museum, perhaps even since I would have been in elementary or middle school.

o    I quickly realized as I began to explore with my little group from Roslyn’s class that their goals and my goals for the day were very different.

o    They did not want to read and consider the information like I did, but they were very ready to watch any movie that was playing and ready to touch and play with anything they could touch.

o    While I admit that I am a history nerd, I couldn’t help but think that in this group the difference in generations was evident.

·         Let me explain. In 1968 the first message over an internet was sent and developers were experimenting very the first personal computers. From that point the world began to change as the Digital Revolution ushered in a new Information Age. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_Age#/media/File:Rings_of_time_Information_Age_(Digital_Revolution).jpg)

o    By 1985 the foundations of the World wide Web was complete and more and more information was accessible to the masses. So for a child of the eighties like me, I can remember a time before computers and the internet.

o    In 2005 the first smart phones were launched where all the power and information of computers was placed in our hands. For those of us who grew up experiencing the digital revolution, owning a smartphone was like realizing a dream.

o    Today 47% of the global population has access to the internet. That means that for the majority of those younger than my generation, they cannot remember a world without screens, and easy access to multiple computing devices.

·         The information that was originally measured in bytes now is measured in zettabytes. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zettabyte_Era#Definitions)

o    One zettabyte is one sextillion bytes or a trillion gigabytes.

o    IF a zettabyte were to be measured in distance where each terabyte was a kilometer, a zettabyte is equivalent to 1300 round trips to the moon.

o    At current pace the world creates 5% of a zettabyte. Largely due to the increase in streaming and video services that means that by the end of a year, the world adds 18.25 zettabytes of information to that which is stored.

·         With all the available information, most of it now on video, no wonder the children in my group did not take time to read any of the information in front of them in the museum.

 Hook:

·         With the sheer volume of information, we dare not assume that all the information available is positive or able to be utilized for good.

·         Friends our need for discernment grows just as quickly as the amount of information being stored at our fingertips grows.

·         Especially for those who are graduating from the relative safety of life in your parents’ home, the world will begin to bombard you with information if it has not already begun.

·         I hope today to show you three areas in which we all need to grow in discernment. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2018 in Ministry of the Word

 

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Message Monday: Finish Strong – Surrender Is An Option (Judges 15:09-20)

Intro:Senior Woman Praying

  • Sophocles, the ancient Greek philosopher and playwright said, “Children are the anchors that hold a mother to life”.
  • From the child’s perspective, Henry Ward Beecher stated, “the mother’s heart is the child’s schoolroom.”
  • Perhaps more appropriate for us today as we consider Samson are the words of Mark Twain, who remarked “My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.”
  • Some of the best words I have read concerning mothers are those of a 19th century Presbyterian pastor who wrote a book called Homemaking. The book, written by J.R. Miller in 1882 attempts to describe the unique qualities of a Christian home. Listen to it…
    • “O mothers of young children, I bow before you in reverence. Your work is most holy. You are fashioning the destinies of immortal souls. The powers folded up in the little ones that you hushed to sleep in your bosoms last night are powers that shall exist for ever.       You are preparing them for their immortal destiny and influence. Be faithful. Take up your sacred burden reverently. Be sure that your heart is pure and that your life is sweet and clean. The Persian apologue says that the lump of clay was fragrant because it had lain on a rose. Let your life be as the rose, and then your child as it lies upon your bosom will absorb the fragrance. If there is no sweetness in the rose the clay will not be perfumed.” (108)
  • As you have read the account of Samson, have you wondered, what must his mother have thought?
    • After all, it was to her in verse 13:5 that the Angel of the Lord appeared and promised that Samson would lead Israel’s deliverance from the Philistines.
    • As we look at the disappointing events of chapter fourteen and at the beginning of this chapter, I am sure that his mother’s heart must have ached.
    • In my sanctified imagination, she must have prayed and prayed that somehow, God would keep his promise to her, and transform her son.
    • I wonder how many of the mothers and fathers in this room have repeated prayers like that of Samson. “God, change my child’s stubborn heart. Bring my child back to you. Open my child’s blind eyes. Let my child see all the good you want to accomplish through them. Help my child surrender to your will and way.”

Hook:

  • Friends, for most of us, we would say that surrender is not an option.
  • As Americans this sentiment is engrained in our thinking, so much so, that John Boulton, former Ambassador to the UN wrote a memoir with that as its title. Americans do not back down, and we certainly do not surrender to someone else’s rule.
  • But today, I want us to consider if that is the right posture when it comes to the Lord.
  • While not all of us had a believing mother, consider with me today your mother calling upon you to stop fighting for yourself and your way. Consider your mother calling you to believe that surrender is an option, because she knows that there is a better way.
  • Today, my prayer is that I can encourage you in the three points from this passage that surrender to the Lord is the preferred option for a believer.Samsonjawbone

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Posted by on May 14, 2018 in Ministry of the Word

 

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Message Monday: Finish Strong – Mismanaging Our Anger (Judges 15:01-08)

angerIntro:

  • One of my favorite television shows is called King of the Hill.
  • About a small town propane salesman name Hank Hill who loves his family, hangs out in the alley with his friends, and mows his lawn, King of the Hill appealed to me because it so often hit close to home.
  • In one particular episode, Hank falls through his kitchen floor because his friend and neighbor Dale tunneled under his house.
    • The city inspector then condemns the house as unfit due to the tunneling.
    • Understandably upset, Hank begins the repair of his home when Dale will not stop pestering him and inadvertently puts his finger in the path of Hank’s circular saw.
    • After receiving medical care Dale takes Hank to court and has him banned from repairing his house until he has received anger management classes.
    • In the end on the day Hank graduate from anger management class, he must save his friends whose tunnel under the alley was about to be collapsed by a garbage truck.
  • In perhaps the most memorable line from the episode Hank says “I don’t have an anger problem, I have an idiot problem.”

Hook:

  • While Hank may be right about his TV situation, how many of us echo Hank’s sentiment?
  • Our anger is not our fault, it is the fault of those around us.
  • The angrier we are, the easier it is to forget that we may not be able to control the response of others, but we can control our own response.
  • Though we may immediately regret our words and actions, I can tell you from my own experience that regret does not erase harsh words and deeds.
  • Asking forgiveness may give us a place to start anew, but the consequences of our angry actions linger.
  • Today my hope is to encourage us to avoid mismanaging our anger by helping us to remember two very important methods to be angry and not sin.

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Posted by on May 7, 2018 in Ministry of the Word

 

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Message Monday: Finish Strong – What Not to Wear (Judges 14:10-20)

clothe-humilityIntro:

  • Friends, as we pick back up with the account of Samson’s wedding, can I share with you again how difficult the book of Judges is to read and to consider.
  • I thought long and hard this week about how I could be faithful to what God has revealed in this book and point you towards God’s grace, not overwhelm you with sin and its consequences.
  • I covet your prayers as we continue this series. Romans 15:4 tells that the Old Testament Scriptures were written to instruct and encourage us on how we can endure by faith. My hope and prayer is that I will be able to show the plain points of each of these passage, and encourage us to endure in our faith.
  • To that end, do you remember the TLC show What Not to Wear?
    • On the show, An unsuspecting special guest, nominated by their friends and family was given a makeover by a group of fashion experts.
    • The main requirement for the special guest was that they would be humble enough to accept the help from the experts.
    • Most of the special guests when confronted with their unfashionable ways were welcoming of the fashion help.
    • But the most interesting episodes were the ones when the special guest cooperated reluctantly.
    • The two fashion experts would always shop with the special guest, but in those episodes, with reluctant special guests, sparks would fly and engaging TV occurred.

Hook:

  • I want to suggest to you that God, with the book of Judges, offers us a spiritual makeover, but only if we ae humble enough to be confronted by the ugliness of sin and our need not to wear it.
    • Sin, failure, and even our frailty as humans are ugly realities that we would rather not see; but that we must admit in order for us to see our need for God’s help.
    • In this passage particularly Samson makes a unfair wager to extort thirty fine sets of clothes from the Philistines of Timnah.
    • I believe these clothes, as a metaphor, represent all the sinful habits and activity that we should not wear.
    • But in this passage, we see that God has a better plan for Samson, and for us.
    • 1 Peter 5:5 says in the last part of the verse, “all of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
  • Today as we look at what not to wear in Judges, it is my prayer that you will clothe yourself with humility so that you will avoid wearing three spiritual disasters.

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Posted by on April 30, 2018 in Shepherding

 

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Message Monday: Finish Strong – Remember Who’s in Charge (Judges 14:1-9)

Intro:RightInOwnEyes

  • Last fall, many lauded individuals in the media culture of our country were ousted as a part of the #MeToo movement.
  • This movement encouraged women to speak up if they had been harassed by men or worse.
  • While many were accused and stepped away from their positions, the one that really caught my eye was the email apology of Food Network celebrity chef Mario Batali.
    • Like others Batali in a very veiled fashion confessed his wrongdoing and took responsibility.
    • He related the remorse he had over embarrassing and disappointing his family and fans.
    • He lamented losing the privilege of sharing Italian food with others, and included the almost obligatory line “I will work every day to regain your respect and trust.”
    • Then at the end of the email, above a picture of the same, he includes a p.s. ” in case you’re searching for a holiday-inspired breakfast, these pizza dough cinnamon rolls are a fan favorite.”
  • Almost immediately everyone quickly recognized that the recipe at the end revealed the hollowness of this apology calling it tone-deaf. http://time.com/5067633/mario-batali-cinnamon-rolls-apology/

Hook:

  • No matter what you think about this movement, or this apology, it revealed to us several aspects of our modern culture.
    • Chaos ensues in a world where morality is driven by consent alone.
    • Apologies are hollow exercises when they are viewed as the means to return life to normal.
    • Unless we answer to a Higher Authority we will always do what is right in our own eyes, like adding a tone-deaf recipe to the end of a sexual harassment apology.
  • But friends, forgetting that God is in Charge is not merely an activity of our culture.
    • Our culture makes it clear that they do not believe in God, but in the church many act as if God is not in charge of life.
    • Many Christians assume they have such a close and special relationship with God that he does not care how they live.
    • Their relationship gives them the ability do what is right in their eyes, without ever discerning through prayer and Scripture God’s will, and they will receive his pardon without ever confessing sin.
    • Heaven forbid that this be the case with any of us!
  • Friends today, I want to remind you that God is in Charge and hopefully convince you of how a believer should live from Judges 14:1-9.

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Posted by on April 23, 2018 in Ministry of the Word