On Sunday I will be teaching out of 1 Sa 7, and will observe how it took twenty years for Israel to finally miss having a relationship with God. The ark of the covenant had been sitting for 20 years in the city of Kirjath Jearim while all along the nation continued to be in bondage to the Philistines. Finally, the people of Israel were ready to listen to Samuel, and as prophet and judge, he instructed them to repent and to return to the Lord. They were to put away their foreign gods, idols that had replaced the true and living God, and to return to living lives that were pure and dedicated to Him. They had begun worshipping Baal and Astarte, pagan nature gods that were worshipped through sexual orgies and other abominable practices.
Sounds kind of like Mardi Gras, doesn't it?
Here we are in the 21st century, and God is still calling His people out of darkness! For 40 days, people will mark each day as being one day closer to Easter, and will still be missing out on what it means to be a follower of God. It isn't just denying your flesh for a short season that pleases God, it is loving Him so much that each day is simply another day of enjoying fellowship with Him, and learning to do the things that please Him.
The funny thing about doing what pleases Him is that in pleasing Him, I actually have a sense of peace and well being that results from just loving Him. Dying to the flesh is actually something that results in such blessings that it results in me saying to myself "Man, that wasn't so hard! Why didn't I do that long ago?"
When the children of Israel returned to the Lord, they immediately had a response from those who had kept them enslaved. The Philistines readied their army to attack, but God came to their rescue and they were victorious over their foes. Even so, when we decide to resist the enemy and return to the Lord with a full heart, we can expect both opposition and victory. In opposition, we gain experience and learn that the flesh never rests, but when God rises up on our behalf, we also gain the experience of knowing that our God is on our side, and we can not only survive, but be victorious! God is great, and in Him we move from glory to glory!
Have a great week end, see you on Sunday!
Friday, February 27, 2009
Thursday, February 19, 2009
As we are now in the second month of our new year, I cannot help but remain excited about what the Lord continues to do in our lives. Our church family is doing well during this season of transition, and though many have found themselves in financial strain, I have noticed that many more are holding fast to God and His promises, and are growing stronger in their faith in Him and love for His people.
We recently had a great men's breakfast here with Miles McPherson, and it was a tremendous blessing. We saw around 1,300 men in attendance, and around 100 answered Miles' invitation that he gave at the conclusion of his message. The previous night, over 120 men were here at the church preparing for the next day, and many men were here at 4:00 A.M. to get ready for the breakfast. I was so blessed to see and hear of such commitment, and I am so blessed to be part of a church with such caring people
Our women's retreat is filling up, and we will have 600 women in attendance. In a time when many are scaling back, it seems to me that our ladies are exercising faith in a very tangible way, and I am certain that as they attend the retreat, they will be met by the Lord and encouraged by Him, and this truly blesses my heart.
This year, we are going to dedicate a great portion of our Sunday night services to teaching our people how to give away their faith, as well as reasons to believe. In March we will begin a series on How to Give Away your Faith, and then are planning on a 14 week series called The Truth Project. When we finish the series on truth, we hope to spend a few weeks emphasizing missions, and I am sure this is going to produce great fruit.
We are looking to have a week of prayer soon, and I am excited about that as we see the Lord move in wonderful ways when we seek His face in prayer, and fasting. And then, we also have the Israel trip coming up as well as Easter services. These are exciting times, indeed.
As I watch what is going on here in our beautiful nation, I cannot help but look even more hopefully for the return of the Lord Jesus. I do not get overly concerned over much, but what really does cause me great concern is watching the moral decline of our beloved United States. With that in mind, I am planning on doing a series soon out of the Song of Solomon. I am looking at my calendar to see when I will be able to dedicate myself to teaching this series, and hope to be able to do so in the not too distant future. The thing is, I am not going to teach it on a Wednesday or Sunday, but am planning on teaching it on a Monday night for people who are between the ages of 18-35. The reason is because I want to speak about relationships, especially dating relationships that lead up to marriage. With so many people confused about this topic, I think Solomon gives great wisdom concerning love and its proper expression between a man and woman, and hope to be able to give a study, and then Marie and I will take questions. I will announce this study as soon as I find the dates, and can secure somebody to lead worship for the series. I am pretty excited about this, as I have wanted to teach this series for quite some time, so it looks like it may happen soon.
I am also looking to have a Friday night study for people between the ages of 26-35. It will be called The Vine, and I have someone who is hoping to be able to minister the word on that night. Again, I am awaiting music ministry but will be looking to start this ministry fairly soon.
This year, for our annual Men's Conference, we are going to have a special guest with us by the name of Gen. William G. Boykin. He is retired now, but was part of the first guys to be in what is called Delta Force, and eventually became the commander of the unit, and his faith in Jesus and testimony is going to really hit the guys. It is going to be great.
Anyway, I guess that's enough rambling for now. I will be going to central California this week-end to minister at a men's conference, but I am sure that come Sunday, God will meet many people in our services. I love you guys, God bless and I hope to see you when I return.