Month: July, 2014

“God Provides Much”

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father…

Please pray with me…

With our son’s wedding getting closer, we‘ve had to start thinking about our responsibilities as the parents of the groom. Because I am a pastor, I get the great blessing of officiating the service, so I had to get the outline of the service written up and I’ve got that done. We haven’t even started to think about what gift to get them and then there is the rehearsal dinner.

Our choices for this have included everything from a Bar-B-Que at my sister’s house to a formal dinner at the hotel many people will be staying at. When this discussion happens, of course, money always plays a part and being we are….well, less then wealthy, we’re edging towards the BBQ.

We might have done something a little more formal but both the bride and the groom decided to have six attendants each and I know the guys that are going to be in the wedding and it takes a fair amount just to feed them. And many of them are married, we’ll have to include the families. I kind of know what the disciples felt like when Jesus told them to feed the five thousand. It would be much easier and a lot cheaper if I could just send them away to go to their village to buy their own food.

Oh that I could just lift a few loaves and a couple of fish and see it multiply. But I can’t because I am no miracle worker. Now Christ? He was a miracle worker. In our Gospel lesson He did the seemingly impossible. With 5 loaves and two fish, He fed over 5000 people, probably closer to 10,000 when you count the women and children.

This is the only miracle that Jesus performed that is represented in every Gospel. Clearly it made an impression on the disciples. They had seen many people healed, they had seen water turned into wine, they had seen waves stopped and the dead raised, but this is the only miracle all four Gospel writers agreed should be part of Christ’s story for future generations to learn from.

By the time this story took place, many things had happened. Recently, Jesus was rejected in His home town of Nazareth, they even attempted to kill Him. His disciples had just returned from a mission trip that Jesus, Himself had sent them on and Jesus had just learned that His cousin and friend, John the Baptist, had been beheaded.

A lot had happened and Jesus just needed some me time, a chance to get away from the ever growing crowds that followed Him night and day. He needed to find a solitary place to have a conversation with His Father as He grieved. Clearly not too much to ask.

So Jesus gets in a boat on His way to an isolated place where He could be alone. But the crowds followed and when He hit the shore on the other side of the Lake of Galilee He was greeted by people numbering in the thousands. His “me” time would have to wait.

Now someone else, maybe anyone else, would have probably turned the boat around or mumbled a few choice words under their breath and stepped ashore grumbling, but not Jesus.

No, Jesus had pity on them. The need was too great to ignore so instead of meeting them with an attitude of annoyance, He reached out to them in love. I guess that’s what we would expect from the Savior of mankind. He had compassion on them. He puts their needs before His own. He was the modal of Christian benevolence.

James Crane worked on the 101st floor of Tower 1 of the World Trade Center. He is blind so he has a golden retriever named Daisy. After the plane hit 20 stories below, James knew that he was doomed, so he let Daisy go out as an act of love. With tears in her eyes she darted away into the darkened hallway. Choking on the fumes of the jet fuel and the smoke he was just waiting to die … About 30 minutes later, Daisy comes back along with James’ boss, who Daisy just happened to pick up on floor 112. On her first run of the building, she leads James, James’ boss and about 300 more people out of the doomed building.
But she wasn’t through yet, she knew there were others who were trapped. So, highly against James’ wishes she ran back in the building. On her second run, she saved 392 lives. Again she went back in. During this run, the building collapses. James hears about this and falls on his knees into tears.
Against all known odds, Daisy makes it out alive, but this time she is carried by a firefighter. “She lead us right to the people, before she got injured” the fireman explained. Her final run saved other 273 lives. She suffered acute smoke inhalation, severe burns on all four paws, and a broken leg, but she saved 967 lives.
We can only imagine the feeling of impending doom the people stuck in the twin towers felt. They must have doubted they would ever see their loved ones again. But then God uses a dog to lead them to freedom and a new lease on life. God caused Daisy to see a need and she satisfied it. She put the needs of other people before her own.

The time that Jesus would have arrived on the shores where so many people had come to see Him would have been close to evening and they would be hungry. The disciples knew this so they urged Jesus to send them away to buy their own food. To them it was a win/win, the crowd would be fed and Jesus would get the down time he needed. But Jesus saw a need and He put that need above His own.

 

God has a history of this. In the desert, He provided manna and water for the children of Israel fleeing Egypt. He provided food for Elijah and the widow who lacked food in 1 Kings 17. He provided when Hezekiah was sick in 2 Kings 20 and when Job was sick with boils.

 

But the disciples still didn’t get it when Jesus told them there was no reason to send the crowds away for food. After all, why would people have to leave the One who has the power to opens His hands and supply the needs of every living creature? But the disciples are still perplexed. How are we going to feed all these people with a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish?

So Jesus does what He always does. He has compassion for His children and He provides for them. Can you imagine the look on His disciples faces when the food continued to multiply and multiply. No wonder it’s included in every Gospel. They must have been somewhere beyond awe. They had forgotten, just like we do, that Jesus was the Messiah, the very Son of God, with the power to fill every need and comfort every cry.

Patiently, Jesus asks His disciples to gather the people together, and He feeds them with a blessing. This miracle is a lesson for every disciple in every generation. The hungry, the sick, the suffering and the homeless will always be with us and God continues to do miracles.

And He still depends on His disciples to use what resources He has given them to provide. Sometimes we grumble because there is too much need. “How can we provide for all these people Lord? All we have is a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish. All we have is not enough Lord? How can you expect us to feed so many with so little? We forget, just like the disciples did, about the power the Lord has to multiply. We forget, just like the disciples did, that all things are possible with God. (Slide) In Mark 9:23, Jesus says, “If you can, all things are possible for one who believes.” Jesus wants His children to know that “He can and He will.”

 

Yes, there will always be a small band of disciples called to do the seemingly impossible. There will always be a faithful few who have to depend on God to provide for those in need. And there will always be our compassionate God. When His disciples provided the little they had He used it to feed thousands. The difference is that the thousands in Galilee had their hunger satisfied for only a little while, but the faithful today will be satisfied forever. Jesus tells us in John 6:35, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”

 

 

Make no mistake, the hungry are still with us but the people I speak of have a hunger for much more than food. They hunger for compassion when it seems they have nowhere to go. They hunger for sympathy in a world that seems to pass them by. They hunger for hope when everything they have ever put their trust in has left them. They hunger for forgiveness when they have made a terrible mistake. They hunger for healing both in body and soul when sorrow and sickness have invaded their lives. They hunger for someone to care and God provides them His only Son.

 

Our world is full of hungry people and it seems as if there is just not enough to fill the need, but we are not asked to fill this need alone. God would have that all of us pitch in to make a difference. He wants you to do the little things so that, together, these little things we do can become something great.

Though it may seem hopeless to fill all the needs that we see in the world, God would have us do what we can anyway with the faith to understand that our God is an awesome God, an ever present help in times of trouble.

Whatever the need, God will bless it. God will use His people to save His people. From the beggar on the street to the President of the United States, he has called us all to do our part.

 

In the scientist’s search for a cure, He provides the intellect to find it.

In the composer He provides inspiration, in the fireman He provides bravery, in the missionary, He provides a compassionate heart. In the homeless he provides hope. To the pastor who struggles to find the right words, He provides His Spirit.

 

Don’t worry about the little you can do, trust that God can use your little to help Him do a lot. Don’t worry about the little you can give, see how God takes that little and provides the funding for much. Don’t worry about the little you know, rely on the Spirit of God to inspire you. God will use the little you give Him to make a sizable kingdom difference. You provide the bread, let God take care of the miracle.

 

Bible Study Questions – Matthew 14:13-21

Bible Study Questions – Matthew 14:13-21

What does this story tell us about Jesus and His relationship with us?

 

When Jesus heard the news of John’s beheading, what was His response? Matthew 14:13; 23

 

Why do you think Jesus needed “me” time? How does “me” time benefit us?

How did Mark describe the multitude and what did Jesus do for them? Mark 6: 32-34

What feeding miracles do you recall from the Old Testament? Exodus 16: 4-13, 35; Numbers 11:31-34; 1 King 17:8-16; 2 King 4:42-44.

 

How many parallels can you find between Jesus’ feeding miracle in Matthew 14:13-21 and Elisha’s feeding miracle in 2 Kings 4:42-44?

 

What might the Jews who saw the parallels between Jesus’ feeding miracle and the feeding miracle of the 9th century BC prophet Elisha conclude from the comparison between the small amount left over in Elisha’s miracle and the abundance of left over bread in Jesus’ miracle?

 

How many people were fed in the feeding miracle?

 

What did the crowd think of Jesus when they witnessed the miracle? John 6:14, 30-34

 

How does their function of distributing the loaves and fishes point to the disciples’ priesthood?

What Old Testament prophecy might this be fulfilling? Deuteronomy 8:9

What similarities does the feeding of the 5000 have with the last supper? Matthew 26: 20,26

The miracle multiplication of the loaves and fishes prefigures the feeding of the Eucharist to the faithful of the world and the promise of the eschatological banquet after the “final harvest” at the end of time Isaiah 25:6; 62:8-9; 65:13-14; Jeremiah 31:12-14; Ezekiel 44:16; Revelation 19:7-9

What is the symbolism in Jesus’ feeding miracles of the food being scattered among the people and then the remains gathered together again?

When did God ask you to do something you had no resources for? How did you know he was asking that? How did you respond? What was the result?

What circumstances in your life tend to push you to rely more on, and believe in, God’s provision for you than you may in your normal course of life?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Feeding Miracle of the 5 Thousand The Last Supper
1. It was evening when the meal took place (Mt 14:15) 1. It was evening when the meal took place (Mt 26:20)
2. They reclined to eat (Mt 14:19) 2. They reclined to eat (Mt 26:20)
3. Jesus blessed the food (Mt 14:19) 3. Jesus blessed the food (Mt 26:26)
4. He broke the loaves (Mt 14:19) 4. He broke the loaves (Mt 26:26)
5. Jesus passed the food to the disciples (Mt 14:19) 5. Jesus passed the food to the disciples (Mt 26:26)

 

 

Elisha’s Feeding Miracle
2 Kings 4:42-44

 

Jesus’ Feeding Miracle
Matthew 14:13-21

Elisha was greater than the prophet he succeeded (Elijah) Jesus was greater than the prophet He succeeded (John the Baptist who came in the spirit of Elisha)
In Elisha’s miracle there was only a small amount of food (10 loaves of barley bread) In Jesus’ miracle there was only a small amount of food (5 loaves of barley bread and 2 fishes)
Elisha’s servants protested that there was not enough food to feed so many men Jesus’ disciples protested that there was not enough food to feed to many men
The small amount of food became enough to feed 100 men The small amount of food became enough to feed 5 thousand men
There was food left over There was food left over

“Do Not Be Discouraged”

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father…

Please pray with me…

An old man goes to his doctor and says, “I don’t think my wife’s hearing is as good as it used to be. What should I do?”
The doctor replies, “Try this test to find out for sure. When your wife is in the kitchen doing dishes, stand 15 feet behind her and ask her a question. If she doesn’t respond keep moving closer, asking the question until she hears you.”
The man goes home and sees his wife preparing dinner. He stands 15 feet behind her and says, “What’s for dinner, honey?” No response. He moves to 10 feet behind her and asks again — no response. Five feet, no answer. Finally, he stands directly behind her and asks, “Honey, what’s for supper?” She says, “For the fourth time, I SAID CHICKEN!”

Sometimes in life, when things don’t go as well as we had planned, we often think that God’s just not listening. We pray what we think are the greatest of prayers but it just seems sometimes that God is not picking up the other end of the line.

It’s easy to become discouraged in this world because so much is out of our control. Our happiness often depends on others to act or react in a certain way. Even when it comes down to our relationship with God, we expect the same and we become disheartened when it doesn’t happen.

In our Epistle lesson, Paul is giving us reassurance, that God does indeed listen and that His goal is to lead us from discouragement. The part we often forget as servants of Christ  is that, “For those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to His purpose.” We want our purpose in life to be God’s purpose for us and when it doesn’t seem that the two mesh, we get discouraged. So this morning, let’s focus again on God and His plans for us.

The most important thing we must understand is that regardless of our frustrations, God is bigger than anything we might have to overcome. God’s plan for us takes us all the way to salvation. He is the master planner and His designs for us were developed before we ever took our first breath on earth. Our God is almighty. His plans for us are perfect and they will sustain us all the way to everlasting life.

Even when we go through struggles and strife in this life, God is working these things together for our ultimate good. God wants us to know this. The word for “know” in the Greek is defined as learning something from instruction.

God has a plan already in place for you and for me, but we must have the willingness to learn it and to trust in God in all things so that they might work together towards His good.

Even the trials we face can become our gain when we come to understand that God is still in control, even when the lessons are hard. Even in those times we think God isn’t listening because our plans don’t go like we might have wished, He is hard at work molding and shaping us towards our ultimate good.

We have all been taught this, yet it is still hard to accept when we find ourselves in the valleys of life. God reminds us to trust in Him and in the Word He has given us. If it were not for the revelation of His Word, we would have the tendency to think that when bad things happen, it was only for evil purposes, but God tells us through Word and Spirit, that even in those times we find ourselves lost and alone, God continues to love us enough to work in our lives, turning those lost and alone times into triumph’s.

I think we’ve all experienced it at one time or another. We feel that a certain situation offers no hope, only to find later that it did for us more good than bad. A certain person finds himself a victim of addiction but overcomes the battle to help other people face their addictions. A certain girl doesn’t return the love you had for her, but you survive to find the spouse God wanted for you all along. You get laid off from your job but find one later that is even better for you. In faith, we are called to trust in God in all things because His plans for us never end.

In my own life there have been things that happened at the time that didn’t seem good. When I first started out with Aid Association for Lutherans, there were times we didn’t want to answer the phone for fear that it was just some creditor wanting money. A new business with no real clients can be daunting. At the time it was horrible, but as we look back, it worked according to God’s plan to eventually bring us to Redeemer. I can honestly say, that if I had started out pain free and burdened with too much money, I wouldn’t be here now and I wouldn’t have been nearly so satisfied with where God has placed me.

Joseph M. Stowell tells a story about his childhood. “Growing up in Hackensack, N.J., just across the George Washington Bridge from New York City, provided a variety of experiences for me. One was going to school with some of the rough kids from the neighboring town of South Hackensack. I recall one afternoon, playfully sparring with one of the southside guys and having his punch actually land on my face. The blow jarred one of my front teeth loose. Thankfully, the dentist was able to anchor the tooth again, and I didn’t lose it. In fact, I was better off–the tooth had always been crooked, so the dentist straightened it as he worked. Sometimes the blows of life have a way of taking something crooked and making it straight.”

We are told that God causes ALL THINGS to work together for our good. Those “all things” can sometimes trick us into believing that nothing works. All things include the trials and temptations we have to face due to living in a broken world. All things include the persecutions we face, especially those we face proclaiming Christ as Lord and Savior. Scripture is full of people struggling and becoming discouraged only to trust in God enough to see His plans for their lives through.

Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, wrongfully accused of rape and thrown into prison, never losing His faith that God was working all things toward his good. He was later rewarded for that faith by becoming second only to Pharaoh.

 Job lost everything. His money, his family, his home, but he endured it all through faith in God and came out of his trial in better shape than when he had started.

Daniel refused to worship anyone else but God and was thrown into the lion’s den only to be rewarded with his very life when God’s angel shut the lion’s mouth.

When the early church faced persecutions, it actually worked towards God’s good, hastening the spread of the Good News of Jesus Christ as it bound His children together in faith and trust. At first it seemed a bad thing, but good came out of it.

Whatever we are facing in life, God promises that it will work together for our good. And Verse 28 tells us that this promise is for all who are called according to His purpose. It is for every person who places their trust and faith in Him, not just a select few.

As our faith grows we will see the shackles of sin loosened. As we surrender to Christ we will find ourselves free from having to suffer alone and afraid. As we break away from being slaves to the world, we will, through faith and Spirit, find ourselves motivated to become slaves to Christ. Romans 6:22 says, “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.”

God’s ultimate plan for all of us is to see us together with all the saints in heaven. But He knows that lessons must be taught throughout our lives here on earth. As any good father would do, He often lets us make our own mistakes and face the consequences. He wants us to understand that He will never allow us to suffer more than we can handle, but that, because of sin, there will be suffering and we must endure.

One of the purposes behind God’s plan is to see us conformed to the image of His Son, to show a likeness inside us so great that people can’t help but to notice. He wants us to be transformed completely, through and through, not just superficially.

God gets us through the difficult times so that one day, we will be blessed with the same resurrection body that Jesus has. He wants us to be changed, to be different than the world. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” As the Spirit moves us, we become more and more like Christ, reflecting His glory in our lives.

Yet, too many of us are still be transformed, not by God, but by the world. Too many of us are being coaxed by the devil himself to surrender to the temptations and enticements of this cursed creation we have been forced to live in. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Yes, the world will present us with many tests in the form of trial and persuasion, but these are the things we must learn to resist. God wants to change the way we think and act. He wants to mold us and shape us into people who are willing to do what it takes to follow the path He has laid for us.

And God loves big families! He has plenty of room in heaven for all people and it is His desire that all would come to the knowledge of Him. He wants everyone to learn from Christ how to deal with discouragement, even when we have to carry our own crosses. In fact, the very reason He gave us free will was so that we could make the choice to love Him and not be forced into it because a forced love is never a true love.

I know my wife loves me because she has had countless opportunities to throw in the towel to our marriage and she has decided to put up me time and time again. It couldn’t have been easy. I’m not exactly easy to be married to sometimes. She has stuck with me through good times and bad, through relative wealth and poverty, through sickness and in health. She had a choice each time and she decided that love was stronger than the momentary trials she had to face as a result of being Mrs. Daniel Haugen.

God, too, knows our weaknesses and shortcomings, but He will never give up on us, He will never deceive us and He will never leave us to face our battles alone. His wish is for us to learn the lessons that are placed before us so that the family might be made stronger through our efforts. He yearns to turn our discouragement to encouragement.

 

God has predestined that all believers will find their salvation in Him. God decided beforehand that those who accept Jesus Christ would be conformed to His image. God approves all that are faithful.

And those He has predestined He has called. Those who accept the call are those who rise to glory. 2 Timothy 2:4 tells us that, “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.” God has called us to focus on the things we must do to gain everlasting life. Our goal in life should always be to please Him because what pleases Him are those things done that we might be with Him for all eternity. And in 1 Timothy 2:4 he tells us that He, “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Again, this message is for all people, believers and non-believers alike. The challenge has been laid before us, it would be wise for us not to let the challenges in life turn our attentions elsewhere.

 

The purpose God has behind His plan and the process behind the plan are one and the same and sometimes that means we must learn through trials and tribulations to make it work for His good. He does not want us to fail or to think that Satan has more power over us then He really has.

Pain and suffering are unfortunate realities in this world cursed by sin and as long as we live this life, it will be part of life. But all who pass the test, will go to heaven.

 

Washington Irving once said, “Great minds have purposes, others have wishes.”

We have a mighty God who will help us rise from the misfortunes of life. Don’t be discouraged; look for God’s silver lining in the cloud of distress. God loves you and He longs to welcome you into His family. You just have to make the decision to be part of it. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bible Study questions – Romans 8:28-39

Bible Study questions – Romans 8:28-39

How do verses 29-30 reflect upon verse 28?

What do verses 29-30 reveal about the meaning of “all things work together for good…”?

What is the meaning of each of these words in verses 29-30?                                                    Foreknew, Predestined, Called, Justified, Glorified

What is the relationship between our being conformed to Christ’s likeness, and Christ being the firstborn of many brothers?

What are the “all things” freely given us by the Father? Psalms 84:11; Matthew 6:31-33;             1Corinthians 3:21-23; Ephesians 1:3

What are the four events referred to in verse 34? What significance do they have in light of Paul’s purpose in these verses?

What is Paul’s purpose for quoting Psalms 44:22 in verse 36? What details in the Psalm also apply to the Romans’ situation?

What does Paul mean by stating, “in all things we are more than conquerors’ in verse 37? Conquer what? What is against us? Conquer with what result?

Romans 12:1-2 begins an application section of the book of Romans. How might Romans 8:28-39 and 12:1-2 be connected?

Romans chapter 8 highlights certain elements of Christ’s work in us now, but there are many others. Where else in Scripture can these be found? 1 Corinthians 1:30-31; Ephesians 2:18-22, 4:15-16; Philippians 2:12-13; Colossians 3:1-3; 1 Peter 1:3-5; 1 John 2:1-2

Paul mentions many things he thought his audience might believe could separate them from God’s love. What might you add to this list, in your personal life or in your Christian community?

 

“Are You A Make Believer?”

Grace, mercy and peace to you…..

Please pray with me…

I don’t like weeds. In fact, sometimes I feel very comfortable in saying that weeds are the bane of our existence. We simply wait and they appear and then we spray them and pull them out but here they come again. I especially dislike dandelions more then others because they have an especially evil way of exploding on your lawn all the while trying to look so pretty to deceive us. You pick the few in your lawn and the next morning they’ve exploded to thousands. Sometimes I think I can even hear them laugh at me as I try to rid my lawn of them once and for all.

We’ve probably had weeds since we started planting things. Weeds appear everywhere and are highly adaptable, unlike pretty much any plant that I’ve actually wanted to grow. Have you ever noticed how weeds will grow in places that you would have thought to be impossible to grow in?

And sometimes they look a lot like what you’ve planted so you end up pulling the wrong things. Weeds are evil and a great thing to use as an example in our gospel lesson for this morning.

Keep your bibles open to Matthew 13 and we’ll see how Jesus takes this all too familiar scene in everyday life and applies it spiritually as a lesson to guide us.

At VBS we learned that Jesus’ parables were designed to make us think about spiritual things in a different way and that is my invitation to you this morning. Think about what Christ is saying as we study the parable of the weeds. You’ve probably heard this parable many times before, but put yourself in the sandals of someone who is hearing it for the first time – without being given an explanation. Many of Jesus’ parables can be confusing at first. Sometimes the stories are very easy to comprehend.

Jesus would speak to different crowds uniquely in a way that would be most effective. To the Pharisees he would speak judgment. To the people He speaks in ways the curious could understand but the hard of heart would have difficulty understanding.

When listening to the parable of the weeds, remember – this is a story. Jesus is trying to paint a picture for us because the kingdom of God is simply too complex for us to fully understand. Jesus gives us parables with lots of wonderful pictures, each one from a unique perspective.

The point of this particular parable is relatively simple on the surface. In this world, Jesus has disseminated the Word of God to many, but not all understand for various reasons. Everyone is either a member of God’s kingdom (the seeds) or Satan’s domain (the weeds). God will wait patiently until every one of His “seeds” is harvested for the kingdom, and then He’ll weed out the unbelievers to a place of only sorrow and pain.

As we read this we learn other obvious lessons as well. We have an enemy that hates us, wanting to keep us from heaven to stay with him for all eternity in Hell. As we read, we also learn that God is the only way to heaven and the only way to escape hell. But if we look deeper, we can learn some not so obvious lessons being taught that have to do even with those who might call themselves Christian. Let’s think about weeds and how they are similar to some of the things we see in the church and in our own lives. I’m going to focus on some similarities that I have found but I’m sure you can come up with even more of your own.

First, Weeds confuse the appearance of who is a true believer and who is not. Jesus said in Matthew 7: 21 – “Not everyone who says to me. ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

The truth is that, in the church as a whole, there are among us those that look like believers on the outside but aren’t believers on the inside. They put on a great appearance and say the right things but its all for show.

I like to call them “make believers” because they are pretending to be Christians. We all feel like pretenders on occasion but I’m talking about those who live by how they look and not by what they believe. You can sing the songs and talk the talk, but without the Spirit of God living inside you, you won’t change who your truly are inside, your character will not be transformed because all the changes are merely cosmetic.

It can be confusing because often the only thing we see is the outside appearance and actions of a person. We have no idea of what’s happening on the inside. So when you see someone that you think is a believer acting in a way that is contrary to the character of Christ, its hard to tell if that person simply needs to grow in his or her relationship with Christ or if they really aren’t a believer at all and it is never our place to make that judgment.

And so confusion sets in and this is exactly what the Devil wants to happen. It’s like dressing up enemy soldiers in friendly uniforms. They can infiltrate the church without being detected. So what do we do? We remain committed to Christ and bring it to Him in prayer. We remain ever observant without being judgmental.

Secondly, weeds tangle the roots of good plants and stop their growth. People who aren’t living for Christ on the inside often focus on things contrary to those which they should be focused on.

People who focus on other things then Christ will tend to sway believers into bending their focus towards things that have the potential to separate a church body rather than unify them. So when someone you think is a Christian invites you to do something clearly against the will of God or hinders your growth as a Christian – resist.

Don’t become entangled in something just because someone you trust is saying it. Use the Word and what you know of Jesus’ character as a guide, not the word’s of someone else.

Next, weeds rob the soil of important nutrients. Unsaved people will generate all kinds of energy focusing on the wrong things, thus dividing a church, attacking believers and diluting the Gospel by arguing over doctrine. This often does nothing more then to distract believers by drawing them toward unGodly pursuits. All of this takes a great amount of energy and attention to ward off. So instead, focus more and more on the basics of your faith – Word, worship and fellowship – not on the things that starve us from them. Any other focus simply keeps us from getting fed and slows our growth.

Fourth, weeds produce no fruit but plenty of seeds. Usually the make believer comes to be known for who they are because it eventually becomes evident that their lack of faith has produced no change in their character that would show that they are a believer in Christ.

But like weeds, in amongst believers they scatter all sorts of seeds – seeds of mistrust, sin and indifference that, if allowed, take root in a congregation. The best way to battle this infestation is much the same as we would battle weeds in our own lawns, only instead of Ortho we poison this invasion with the Word of God. God’s Word stops the plague of sin as it attempts to germinate in the lives of believers and through prayer we kill the seedlings of conflict.

Finally, weeds dry up quickly but are always present and tend to return every year. Even when we think we have licked the weed problem, we know inside that it’s only a temporary fix. In the church also, we know that the weeds of the faith will always be among us. Make-believers will always look for fertile ground so we must keep up our guard.

To help us I have discovered a couple of values we need to adopt in light of this situation, these are patience and careful observance. When we speak of patience we simply need to look at the example that God has given us. God has shown through His Word that he never rushes to judgment until the fruit of sin has been shown. We need to make it our practice also to be patient with each other.

 

 

Maybe you’re wanting to do great things for God and seem to be getting nowhere, or maybe you’ve called out to him in your pain and it seems He’s not listening. Have patience, God may be growing fruit in you according to His will.

When I speak of careful observance, I’m not saying that we should examine each other under a microscope and judge the ones we think are not producing enough fruit and call them “weeds”. But Jesus said “you will know them by their fruit”.

 

If someone you know is growing in the Lord, it should be relatively obvious to you. And conversely, if they show no growth over an extended period of time, then maybe its time to lovingly encourage them to examine their relationship with God as, together, you begin to determine why the growth is not happening.

All this talk of weeds among us raises an important question. Why does God allow evil and bad people to stay around? What he allows is for all of us to produce good fruit, even if they are acting the part of the weed at the present time.

A true weed only produces more weeds, but wheat produces fruit that will feed the world. We need the patience of a farmer, who waits until just the right time to remove the weeds.

God will wait until the right time to remove the weeds among us. It may not happen in our time, but it most assuredly will happen. Verse 43: “Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.”If we listen carefully to the truths Christ is telling us through His Word we find that He is speaking to us in our present condition today. If we truly listen and obey, we’ll find that we will slowly begin to see His righteousness become our righteousness. We’ll find the Holy Spirit working in our hearts to be a light that will begin to shine within us that others can’t help but notice. The difference will grow between those who know Jesus and those who don’t until the difference is easy to see.

The more you work with lawns, the more the weeds are obvious. The more you give your life to Christ and let Him work through you, the more the weeds of Christian society will be apparent and the more those weeds will be held in check. Wouldn’t it be great if someone could come into a Christian fellowship of believers and see the light of Christ that is in them. I pray that this would be the case for us here at Redeemer.

In this world it seems that, to get the message of Christ out to the world, you must first wade through the weeds. This can be especially difficult if we don’t first do a little weeding in our own lives. Where are the seeds of your faith growing? Can anyone see them through the weeds?

Christ walked bravely to the cross because He wanted us to be free from the weeds of the world. Our salvation, which He won for us, is only made possible because He died to give us life. He bore our weeds so that we might bloom all the more for Him. What a glorious gift we have been given despite all the weeds. What a merciful and wonderful God we have that would love us even when our fruit is being choked out by the unwanted plants of the world.

Today Christ is giving you yet another opportunity to get rid of the weeds of your life so that you might make a difference in the weeds of the world. You have His Word to guide you, the Holy Spirit to build you up and the power of God to defend you. Do not be content to be a make-believer. Amen

Bible Study Questions – Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

Bible Study Questions – Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

Is it easy to distinguish between children of God and children of the devil? Matthew 7:21-23

How did the owner’s servant recognize the weeds?

At what stage does it become easier to distinguish between the wheat and the weeds (darnel*)?

How can we see who the weeds are? Matt 7:15-16, 13:41, 18:6-7; Romans 16:17-18; Hebrews 4:1-2;1 John 5:12

If it’s not so easy to distinguish, then how do you know whether you are a child of God?              2 Corinthians 13:5

How do we avoid becoming the weeds? John 3:5; Hebrews 3:12-14; 1Peter 5:8-11; 2 Peter 1:5-11

How do you know whether other so-called “Christians” around you are actually Christians?         1 John 3:9-10

What should be the basis of our assurance of salvation? 2 Corinthians 13:5

Even if one recognizes the weeds, what is the danger in trying to pull them out?

What is the application of the concept of not pulling them up but letting them grow together?

When will the problem of the “weeds” finally be addressed? Matthew 13:41-42,49, 25:40-41; 1 Corinthians 15:24

 

“Jesus was referring to a weed called a “darnel“, which looks exactly like wheat in its young stages and, in fact, only the expert can distinguish some species of this darnel from true wheat. Later on, the differences are remarkable. The darnel has far smaller seeds than wheat, and it is claimed that these seeds, when ground to flour, are poisonous, due perhaps to a particular fungus which develops in the seed itself!” [from Zondervan’s Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible.] An appropriate description of the devil’s seed!

“God’s Family”

Grace, mercy and peace to you……

Please pray with me….

Next week, we get the honor to witness the Baptism of Dave and Cindy’s grandchildren Paul Gordon and Margaret Joyce Addler, children of their daughter Megan and her husband Kacey. One of the very special things about any baptism, lies in the fact that at that time, the parents of an infant being baptized are, in effect, dedicating their child to Christ. They are surrendering their child over to Christ’s direction. They do this because they have faith in Him to guide them to those places and experiences He has already planned for them. It’s a great lesson for all of us.

One of the great things that happen to us when we surrender our lives to Christ is in the inheritance we receive as we become part of His family. We are then adopted children of God, heirs to everlasting life as His sons and daughters.

In the world of the Romans from which our text for this sermon comes from, adoption totally changed a person’s life. Many times, when a boy would lose his father, he would be adopted by another. There was a ceremony performed where the adoptive father would take the clothes of his newly adopted son and replace them with new ones to symbolize transference into a new family.

In Roman society, the father literally held absolute power over his children, even the power of life and death. The newly adopted son lost all rights and privileges of his past family and inherited the ones from his new family. His old life was wiped away and he was considered a blood son of the new father.

The Minnesota Vikings recently released one of the best defensive ends in football. When they originally signed him six years ago, many were questioning their decision because he had a past history of DUIs. When asked why he was different now, he said his grandfather sat him down and chastised him about soiling the family name and he vowed to his grandpa that he would never do it again and he meant it. He looked up to his grandpa and nothing could hurt him more then to see his grandpa disappointed in him.

When we belong to the family of Christ, there are some things that are important to know, some things we must understand, things that will help us stay away from those things that could bring shame to the family name. Today were going to look at a few implications of belonging to Jesus.

Turn your bibles to Romans 8: 12-17, our New Testament lesson for today. In verses 12 and 13 we see that adopted sons of God are obligated to live by the spirit.

When we were growing up our parents had a set of standards which they expected us to live by. As Parents, I hope we have done the same for our children. It is made clear in these passages that Christ expects us to live by the spirit and not by the flesh. Verse 12 reminds us of this but goes one step further. In this verse it says that as children of God we are under no obligation to live according to the flesh but that we do have an obligation to live by the Spirit. We owe nothing to the Devil and have no obligation to live according to his plan for us.

The word “obligation” denotes one who owes a moral debt. Duty would be something imposed by an outside authority. We owe God a moral debt based on all He has done for us to win our salvation. If we follow that obligation to God by living in the Spirit, we then do away with all possible obligations of the flesh.

We put to death the deeds of the flesh. As we daily remind ourselves of this obligation to God, we begin to act according to His will. Colossians 3: 5-10:

So put to death anything that belongs to your earthly nature. Get rid of your sexual sins and unclean acts. Don’t let your feelings get out of control. Remove from your life all evil longings. Stop always wanting more and more. You might as well be worshiping statues of gods. God’s anger is going to come because of those things.

That’s the way you lived at one time in your life. But now here are the kinds of things you must get rid of. You must put away anger, rage, hate and lies. Let no dirty words come out of your mouths. Don’t lie to each other. You have gotten rid of your old way of life and its habits. You have started living a new life. It is being made new so that what you know has the Creator’s likeness. 

If we continue to put to death the things of the flesh, we will continue to live by the things of the Spirit. When I lived under my father’s roof I had the moral obligation to obey him. My parents provided for all my needs. So it is with Christ. All we have is because of Him. That alone should motivate us to live for Him.

The more we live by our worldly desires, the more we erode our Spiritual growth. In verse 14 we learn that adopted sons of God are led by the Spirit. One of the reasons that it’s possible to resist the desires of our sinful nature is because we are daily being led by the Spirit of God. When we are “being led” by the spirit, it is a constant leading. A person who is led by the Spirit allows the Spirit of God to influence and lead him. When a child is adopted by a family, they are then led by that family. When we are adopted by God we are then led by God through the work of His Holy Spirit. Just as the son of an earthly father has the choice to obey the father or not, so do we with our heavenly father. If we resist, the results will not be good.

 Notice verse 14 says “for ALL who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. We see that in other places of scripture:

 John 15:10 –  If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love. In the same way, I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy will be in you. I also want your joy to be complete.

 1 John 2:3-4 – We know that we have come to know God if we obey his commands. Suppose someone says, “I know him.” But suppose that person does not do what God commands. Then that person is a liar and is not telling the truth.

Verse 15 tells us that adopted sons of God receive access to God by the Spirit. When I had a problem as a child, I would go to my parents for help. Because I was their son, I had access to them whenever I needed them. I wasn’t afraid of my parents but I respected them for who they were. When we become spiritually lost in some way, we have a spirit of fear. I believe many people get upset of the very mention of God because deep down they are fearful of Him. A slave to sin has a fear of future punishment. In this verse a “spirit” is a frame of mind, a feeling or an attitude. A spirit of slavery would be found in those who are slaves to someone or something. The spirit of adoption would be one of hope, joy and belonging.

Imagine the joy of that poor child living in the streets all of a sudden being adopted into a caring and loving family. If God is not our Father, then we have no right to expect anything from Him. As I said before, I can go to my dad for help and encouragement but I have no right to go to yours for the same.

Abba was a very intimate term used by a child to address his earthly father, similar to “dada” or “daddy”. By the time of Christ it was not limited to the speech of children but it was still a very intimate term of endearment to a father, not one the Jews would have used to address God. But Jesus used it and it’s obvious that his followers were invited to use it also to address their heavenly Father as well.

Verse 16 says that adopted sons of God have the spirit to testify as to their status with God. One of the privileges of belonging to Christ is the gift of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.. One of the many ministries of the Spirit in your life is to testify of your adoption as children of the one true God. The Holy Spirit is like your birth certificate which proves your birthright. The Spirit of God testifies with ours to God and it reminds us of the fact that we belong to Christ.

I know some of you are struggling today wondering if you’re truly accepted by God. Within you dwells the Holy Spirit to remind you of that adoption.

That is why it’s important to establish that intimate relationship with God as you find quality time together to allow Him to speak to you in a very personal way.

 Galatians 4: 4-7 – But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.

Which brings us to verse 17 where we are told that we are indeed heirs of God’s kingdom. I think many parents would like to leave a large inheritance to their children. I know my children would like it. Verse 17 continues the thought of verse 13. One of the characteristics of a son is that he is also an heir.

 2 Timothy 2: 11-12 – Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. 

The identity as God’s heirs can be seen in their inheritance.. The first clue is in how great the amount of the inheritance, which includes all the riches of an entire creation, is.

The second is that their possession of this wealth lies in the future. We are heirs, but we do not yet possess the full inheritance; we have only a foretaste of things to come (verse 23). The third clue is seen in the certainty that our inheritance will one day be ours. If you’re certain of your inheritance, it will affect how you live your life now.

I don’t know about you but I absolutely love life. I love my life and I enjoy living it. Is there some things that I would like to change? Of course, but I love the gift of life. And if we love this life, imagine how ecstatic we’ll be when we go home to heaven. We have too much to lose to go back to how our lives were before Christ. We have too much at stake not to take God seriously in our lives.

One day we will be at death door. What kind of Spiritual shape will you be in when you get there? Sometimes our standing up for Jesus will cause us to lose our earthly treasures. Are you willing to suffer those losses for the sake of Christ? Too many of us have no problem giving ourselves to Christ until it costs us something.

If you truly belong to Christ then you are a special person. When we surrender our lives to God, we have a moral obligation to give Him our all, to hold nothing back, just as He gave us His all and held nothing back from us. When we are a child of the king and habitually act that way, we will be glorified with Him when He returns.

Are you living like you belong to Christ? I hope so. Are you passionate about what He is passionate about? Is His purpose your purpose?

Learn what it means to be a child of God and act accordingly. The world needs to see what a life in Christ is to those who are blessed to be able to call on Abba Father. And may you learn to depend on your Father in heaven in all you do and say. May the glory of God and His grace be with you all. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

Bible Study Questions – Romans 8:12-17

Bible Study Questions – Romans 8:12-17

How do verses 9 to 11 provide support for the statement in verse 12?

In what way are we debtors?

What does it mean to be obligated to something? Romans 1:14, 4:4, 15:27

In your own words, what are Christians not obligated to do?

It seems that Paul never finishes the sentence in verse 12; he tells us we are under obligation not to the flesh – but doesn’t tell us who we are obligated to. Who is it, and why?

What happens to the person who lives according to the flesh? Verse 12; James 4:4, 1 John 2:15

How about those who live according to the Spirit? Psalm 1

How do we live by the Spirit? Colossians 3:2, Philippians 4:8

If a person is led by the Holy Spirit, what does that prove?

What kind of Spirit have we received from God?

How can we be sure that we are children of God? John 1:12; Acts 17:29-31; Philippians 2:14-16; 1 John 3:9-10, 5:1-2

How do we benefit from being children of God Romans 8:20-21, 9:6-8, 1 John. 3:1-2

How can we make sure that we don’t walk according to the dictates of the flesh?

What do you think it means to choose life rather than death?

If we have been adopted into God’s family as His sons, what rights and obligations do you think accompany that privilege? Romans 9:4; Galatians 4:4-7; Ephesians 1:3-10.

What does it mean to have full inheritance rights? What do we inherit?Matthew 5:5, 25:32-34; Mark 10:17; Acts 20:32; Romans 4:13-14; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 15:50-53; Galatians 5:19-23; Ephesians 1:11-18, 3:6, 5:5; Titus 3:4-7, Hebrews 1:14, 9:15; James. 2:5, I Peter 1:3-4

In what way have you been called upon to suffer because you are a child of God?

What words are used in verses 15 to 17 to describe our relationship to God?

How can you use these verses to help fellow believers?

“Burden Breaker”

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father…

Please pray with me…

Time magazine did a story back in the 1960’s on time management. In that story Time noted that expert testimony was given to a senate sub-committee on time management that predicted that advances in technology would radically change how many hours a week people would have to work at their jobs. They forecast that the average American would be working 22 hours a week within 20 years. “The great challenge,” the experts said, “would be figuring out what to do with all the excess time.” Now over 40 years later, after major advances in technology – how many of you are wondering what to do with all of the excess time on your hands?

We all would like a little more time but it seems the more we advance in technology to make our lives easier, the more things we try to cram into any extra time it might give us. Trying to find an hour and a half to teach theater during the week with 6 kids is nearly impossible because today parents schedule their kids with so many things that they don’t really have time to be kids anymore.

Today we are more burdened than ever before, and time is not the only burden we share. Many have other burdens that they must carry in life like physical disabilities, chronic sickness, and mental anguish.

Some struggle with spiritual burdens, relationship burdens, job burdens, marriage burdens, and emotional burdens. On and on it goes and nobody seems to know where it goes and too many don’t have a clue where to find relief. They try to cope the best way they can on their own, hoping not to have their burden, burden other’s. Because of this, stress is at an all-time high and anxiety seems to ruin more and more lives.

A Chinese woman lost her only son and could not find comfort for her grief so she visited a wise old man and asked what she might do to find peace. He said, “Go to a home that has no sorrow or grief, and bring back a mustard seed, and I will restore your son.” Days turned into weeks, finally the grieving woman returned to the wise old man and she said, “I have been so selfish in my grief…I have found that sorrow is common to every home.”

Yes, we all have problems, we all have fallen short, we all have something weighing on us. We don’t all have wealth or power or fame but we all share in one accord, we all have burdens. Every day in our lives presents a new opportunity for burdens to weigh us down with still more.

So, where can we find relief? Who will lift this weight off our shoulders? Who can understand the burden we are under enough to help us?

Praise be to God, there is an answer and it’s an answer we all know is there but rely on too little.  In our Gospel lesson in Matthew 11, Jesus says, Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Come to me all of you who struggle with too little time and too many responsibilities. Come to me all of you that have been crushed by the weight of the world. Come to me all of you who are suffering from sickness and grief. Come to me all of you and I will give you rest, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

God knows our every weakness and He knew that, because of sin, our lives would forever be a challenge. Sin makes life difficult for us because it’s put into our world all those things that God would have kept us from because He knew these things would bring us mounting burden upon burden. He knew that life would be difficult because now through Adam, we have come to know too much. We wanted to be like God, knowing good and evil. We wanted to know what He knows, so now we share the burden He wanted to save us from.

 

Now, we must carry our problems, our guilt and our shame. Now we are forced to deal with broken relationships, imperfect bodies and a whole host of other trials and failures.

But, though we forced these burdens upon ourselves, our God has given us relief. He sent His Son to take the greatest of these burdens upon Himself. He sent Him to teach us and His Holy Spirit to guide us. He has prepared a way that He might help us carry our load. He sent us a Savior because, alone, our backs could never stand the weight that sin has placed upon them.

A few nights ago Alex, my youngest son, called me. A couple of months had passed since he had finally made the decision to propose to his lovely fiancé Samantha. Now, this is a big step because Alex tends to overthink things and, because of this, he is afraid of commitments and this is the biggest one imaginable. He was stressed about it all, “What if I screw this whole thing up? What if I never become the guy she really deserves? What if my eyes wonder and my mind starts thinking things it shouldn’t? What if? What if? What if? He was burdened.

We had the greatest talk. First I reminded him that he comes from a long line of over-thinkers. His dad, for example, couldn’t commit to being a pastor until he thought about it real well…..for 32 years. Next, I told him that marriage is a challenge and that he was bound to make mistakes just like we all do because we are faulty people living in a faulty world.

Then I told him, as I am telling you, where to go when your burdens are heavy. It’s so curious how we so often forget about Christ and the comfort and peace that He gives. In the end, I am happy to say, he felt much better. Just a case of pre-marriage jitters all future husbands get.

 

Jesus used the lingo of the day to make His point about His ability to help us carry our load. He said that his “yoke” was easy. In those days they had different sized yoke for their oxen. On strong, sturdy animals they would place the heavier yoke. It was His way of telling us that our burdens would never be more then we could handle as long as He was the one to guide us.

 

In like manner, his yoke is made after the same pattern, the heavy end is upon His shoulders and the lighter upon ours. Christ came to earth so that He could bare the weight of the problems that sin had caused us.

Jesus is telling us, loud and clear, that we don’t have to carry the burdens of the world alone, we don’t have to let the weight of our failures stop us on our journey through life, we don’t have to let the frustrations we feel rule who we are, we don’t have to let sickness or death be the end. He offers us the chance to bring all those burdens to Him so that He might shoulder them with us. He will carry our burdens, He will lighten our loads.

 

Jesus knows our struggles more than we do and he has promised us that the burdens He will place on us will never come out of malice and will never be placed on us to the point we cannot handle them. No, He tells us that He is gentle and lowly of heart. The burdens we so often find ourselves in are usually those that we have created for ourselves. We are our own worst enemies because we try to lead our lives by carrying the heavy yoke alone. We fail to take God up on His offer to help us in our times of trouble because we would rather figure them out on our own. Meanwhile we fall deeper and deeper into the abyss of anxiety and misfortune.

Often this is caused because people don’t truly realize just what God is offering here. They see Christianity as just replacing one set of burdens with another. We might find a way to give us direction but now I’m going to be forced to be perfect all the time. To get relief, I’m going to have to pass the test. They imagine a somber life with their head hung low, never celebrating but always feeling bad we could never measure up.

 

But a life in Christ is anything but that. Jesus wants to release us from our burdens so that we might have reason to celebrate. He died so that we could hold our heads up high with our eyes turned toward heaven. He has given you every answer for the things we will be tested on in life and I would venture to say that every one of us owns the textbook where the answers might be found.

Jesus wants us to enjoy the life He has given us, so He bears our burdens and replaces them, not with the strictness of the law but with the beauty of His grace, the security of His love, the gentleness of His mercy and the tenderness of His forgiveness. In fact, he provides us with the only option that will cover the whole multitude of troubles.

 

So, am I saying that if you trust in Jesus with your whole heart that all your troubles will go away? No! We will still have the scars of sins to deal with, we will still have temptations that will attempt to drag us off the narrow path, we will still have hardships and pains. But those who put their full trust in Christ will know where to go when their burdens weigh them down. Through faith, we will understand the gift that God is offering and take Him up on His offer to carry the load with us. He has broad shoulders so that He may carry the heavier yoke.

 

This is important for us all to understand because all of us have our own burdens. Our life stories are riddled with problems and setbacks that we have tried to fight alone with little success. One of the greatest gifts I receive as your pastor is when I am blessed enough to visit you in your homes. It’s here I learn of some of the burdens you have been forced to endure in your lives, all with varying degrees of success.

 

In many stories of hardship, however, I hear another story of deliverance. I hear the same story over and over about how God has rescued you from the grips of torment, how He has released you from guilt, how He has strengthened you in faith. Beautiful stories from faithful members of God’s family. I am often inspired by what I hear, clearly getting the most benefit from our visits.

 

All of us need help now and again. All of us need to hear that we are loved and that everything will be OK in the end, all of us need to know that we don’t have to face our burdens alone from time to time.

 

Well then, let me be the bearer of Good News:

2 Corinthians 1:3-5

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.”

 Isaiah 26:4

“Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock.”

Romans 5:1

“Therefore since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Philippians 4:5-9

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Psalm 55:22

“Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.”

 

Some of you today are feeling crushed under the burdens life has given you and you may even be getting bitter towards God for not taking those burdens from you…but please realize it may be His will to lift you up, to mold you and shape you, but not to make you face anything alone. We complain because of our hardships in life never fully realizing how terrible things would be if God were not there for us, believers and non-believers as well.

Jesus wants us to come to Him in our times of trouble. He wants for us to give Him the burdens that weigh us down. He wants to free you in this life so that we might look forward to our life with Him for all eternity. Jesus takes our heavy burdens of brokenness from us, and replaces them with the burdens of caring for others, being an example to others, helping others with the burdens of life that weigh them down and the most amazing thing is that a Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bible Study Questions – Matthew 11:25-30

Jesus thanked His Father for hiding “these things” from the wise and prudent. What are some of the “things” He is referring to? Matthew 13:11, 16:17; John 14:6-7, 15:15

 

Who are the children that Jesus speaks of in verse 25? Proverbs 22:6; Matthew 19:14; Mark 10:13-16; Romans 9:8; Ephesians 5:1-2; 1 Thessalonians 3:3-6; 2 Timothy 2:2; 1 John 2:28

How do you become a child in this way? Matthew 18:3, 19:14; Acts 4:13; 1 Corinthians 1:27

What place does wisdom and intelligence have in the things of faith?

In verse 27, Jesus said, “And no one knows the Father except the Son… How does a person come to know the Father? John 14:6-10, 1 John 2:23, 5:20

 

In the Old Testament the rebellious Israelites were often accused of being “stiff-necked” by God and by His prophets Exodus 32:9; Deuteronomy 9:6; 2 Chronicles 30:8 what comparison is being made and what does “stiff-necked” refer to? Isaiah 40:10; Ezekiel 34:15-16

What is meant by the words ‘yoke’ and ‘burden’ here in this teaching of Jesus?           Lamentations 1:14; Psalm 55:22

You won’t fully understand vs. 28, if you don’t also take into consideration vs 29. What is the important demand or condition on the promise? Why is that important?

No one can find rest in Christ for his soul if he doesn’t meet the conditions that Jesus also speaks about. So what are the 3 conditions? Revelation 22:17; Luke 9:27; John 6:45; 1 Peter 2:21

 

How do these three conditions prepare us for discipleship?

 

What promise does Jesus’ make to us in His invitation to “Come to me” and to take up His yoke of obedience? Ephesians 2:13-14