Saturday, July 6, 2013

Liberty Online Church Sermon 7/7/13

Link to Liberty Online Church FB Group

Good day Liberty Church!

It's a beautiful summer here in middle Wisconsin.  I love summer.  I always feel really on top of my game during the summer months.  We only get three here by the way, the rest is cold, brutal, unending snowy wastes.  The seasons that the world goes through are pretty interesting, don't you think?  Here in Wisconsin are winter is a bit longer, but there's always four seasons: summer, fall, winter, and spring.

I find that very interesting.  But, my head is always going you know?  Hopefully we can keep it going a good direction today.  Summer is like the way the garden of Eden was probably.  It was beautiful, bright, warm, comfortable and alive.  Humanity failed to keep it together in paradise, as we all are painfully aware of.  So God sent humanity out.  That's kind of like Autumn don't you think?  Everything dies, and it gets cold.  Yet it's so beautiful.  Then you have winter.  Which is kind of like man's time of testing, here on Earth.  It's through these trials and struggles we go through on Earth, the hard times, like in winter when it's cold and difficult.  Maybe it's also in our struggles that are sins are made as white as snow.  Like, through suffering and turning away from God, we learn we need Jesus Christ in our lives.  And when we accept that sacrifice as sufficient to pay for our sins, then spring comes.  And we grow from the ashes into the human being we're suppose to be.

I'd like to start out today by talking about fruit.  Nope, I'm not talking about apples or the Alex Jones radio show (sorry Alex) I'm talking about fruit the holy spirit produces in our lives.  When we accept Christ, we receive the gift of the holy spirit, and through this force, God works on us.  Maybe that's what Obi-Wan and Luke Skywalker were talking about on Dagoba. 

Galatians 5:22-23

New International Version (NIV)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

So we can rely on the holy spirit to add these things to us.  But we can't just sit back and wait for it to happen.  There are plenty of things we can do to help it along.  But the powerful work is done by God in changing us, it's one we have it that we have to maintain and grow those changes into a lifelong lifestyle of these things mentioned in Galatians.  

How do we fan the flames once God is working on us?  Well we can read our Bible regularly.  We can get to church regularly.  We can listen to audio sermons regularly.  Those are some great things to do in a daily manner.   Unfortunately there may not be a truly scriptural church in our area, but then we can find plenty online to keep us Christ-centered.  And no joke, it's hard to stay centered in this world.  Don't underestimate the power of listening to audio sermons, reading the Bible, or doing daily readings.  Our minds need maintain just like our bodies.

The stories in the Bible show us important character traits to have. I look to the great heroes of the Old and New Testament for how I should be as a man.  Let's take a look at some characteristics of Biblical heroes.  These are the traits I want to carry with me on my walk with Christ:

I want to have a singleness of purpose, like Joshua had when he lead the armies of Israel to victory after victory in the conquest of the promised land.

Joshua 1:7-9 NIV  “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

I want to have the trust in God that Abraham carried with him.  All he had was a promise from an angel that he his descendants would be as numerous as the stars.  And he had to wait years and years for that to come to fruition.  But he trusted God, and it came to be.

Galatians 3:6 NIV So also Abraham "believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."

I want to have the utter wisdom King Solomon had.  God told him he could ask for anything, and he asked for wisdom and discernment.  God was impressed, and awarded it to him abundantly.  People from all over the world went to him for wisdom, and leadership advice.  I want that.

2 Chronicles 1:10-12 NIV 10 Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
11 God said to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, possessions or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, 12 therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, possessions and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.”

I want to have the peace of Paul.  Paul was once named Saul, and persecuted the followers of Jesus the Christ.  Then Jesus came to him and changed his heart.  He went on to write more than half the New Testament.  In the end he was persecuted and thrown in jail.  Many of his writings came in letters that he sent from the jail where he was held.  The peace of his mind can be seen in these letters.  I want that kind of peace in my daily life.

Acts 16:25 NIV About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.

I want to have the passion for God that David had.  David was brutal and intense and raw with his love for God.  It was complete.  He danced before the ark of the covenant.  His psalms are some of the most beautiful poetry ever written.  

Acts 13:22 NIV After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: 'I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.'

I want to have the integrity that Jesus the Christ had.  The son of God, who never made a single sin in his life.  Of course I won't find perfection in this life, but it's something I can aspire toward.

2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

And those are things we can ask for in prayer.  I like to look at the mistakes I've made over the day and ask God to remove the defects behind those mistakes.  What are my motivations?  Am I working for God in the world or am I working for myself?  Am I being selfish?  Then I ask God to make me selfless.  Am I being inconsiderate?  God, please make me considerate and compassionate.  Step by step, day by day, God changes my heart.  And that's really where my actions start, at what's in my heart.  Let me encourage you to pray for God to change you, one thing at a time.

"O Sovereign Lord! You have made the heavens and earth by Your great power. Nothing is too hard for You!" (Jeremiah 32:17).

Is there anything too hard for God?  

The answer is no, there is not anything God can't do.  So trust that he can, and he will.  But he wants our trust and our faith.  That kind of faith empowers us, and he then works through us and on us.  It's really amazing stuff.  God is amazing.

Some Pastors tend to speak negative sermons, and just unleash on the audience.  Sometimes it looks and sounds to me like a wrestling match.  The Pastor is the one wrestler, and the audience is the other.  And the Pastor just beats up on the audience.  Jab, jab, jab of shame you ought to feel, kick kick of all the mistakes, punch punch of all the tragedies in the world, and wham an uppercut of guilt.  And the audience is down for the count.  Difficult messages have a place in every congregation, but what I've found during my time on Earth, is that love is the primary motivator in my life.  Love causes me to change and become better.  Guilt and shame, can at times, help me turn from sin.  But in the long run, a constant diet of shame and guilt leads me to giving up, because I just can't measure up.

Well I'm trying to be a good man everyday.  And that trying is enough for God.  Our debt is already paid in Jesus Christ.  He sacrificed himself and bore the weight of our sins on the cross.  This made us clean, and we can now approach God in his name, and he grants our requests.  We are restored to conscious contact with the heavenly Father.  

Phillipians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ[a] who strengthens me.

I'm not here to make you feel guilty.  I'm just not.  I'm here to encourage you to become a better and better person.  And you can.  With God, you can.  Jesus Christ made sure of that, over 2,000 years ago.  

For me, when I'm getting upset or discontented, I need to look at my basic daily maintenance.  Just like my body, which requires showering, clean clothing, food, shelter, and relationships, my mind requires maintenance, or it gets all sorts of muddy up there.  I need check and see that I'm doing my morning readings.  I need to make sure I'm praying twice a day.  I need to make sure I'm getting to my home church here in town.  And I need to make sure I'm reading the Bible regularly.  

And the last time I got discontented, I noticed that I wasn't adequately reading my Bible.  I was seeing a lot of verses on the computer, and at church but I wasn't taking the time to just sit down and read whole chapters.  So you know what I did?  I sat down and read the first three chapters of Mark.  It was a wonderful experience.  I had this epic electronic music playing in the background, and God must've been working through that because it really just jumped off the page.  It felt really epic reading it with the intense epic music in the background, and you know why?  Because it is epic.

This is a book that survived persecution after persecution.  It was secretly passed down for hundreds of years, until finally it could be in the open.  Once it was in the open though, it ended up being misinterpreted by religious leaders, who then started things like crusades and inquisitions, which I'm sure greatly upset God.  

It was like once they, and by they, I mean the powers that work against the true Christian church, once they realized they couldn't suppress it they tried to control knowledge of it.  Once the printing press was invented, they couldn't stop the spread of it, so they switched to propoganda, telling us that only Priests could read the actual Bible and intepret it.  Apparently it was "beyond our comprehension."  Well that worked for a while, but then the internet came about, and communication between individuals and groups increased.  Pretty soon the Bible was available everywhere, and true Christians were reading it all the time!  So now what do they try?  Well, it seems like their latest attempt is to hide the Bible in plain sight.  It's there, and we have access to it, but it's not "cool."  It's taboo to talk about in public.  Meanwhile the media endlessly plays on our lower nature, and tempts us at every turn.  All the while you've got an aging church in the country that has seemed to have lost all connection with reality.  

The Bible hasn't become obsolete.  However, many of the modern churches fail to apply it to modern day circumstances.  They've become the old brick buildings in town, that kind of weird people out when they see it.  People hear the out of tune bells ringing and wonder at the archaic institution of religion and how foolish people were to buy into it.  

Well, that isn't the truth.  It's just another twist of the enemy, and a way to cut God out of modern life all together.  But don't you worry, no one can keep God's people down for long.  Many new hip churches are starting, which the old Pastors immediately condemn.  But a lot of these new hip churches go straight from the Bible, instead of preaching false doctrine.  It's always good to be careful and use discernment, but watch for these wonderful churches.  There is a revival taking place.  

Christianity, the Bible, and God tend to get pushed to the side in our society.  It's quietly ignored and arrogantly looked down on.  It's kind of like during the Ron Paul presidential campaign run of 2012.  You had the news media ignoring his campaign.  You had the Republican status quo desperately trying to subdue the liberty movement.  But millions and millions were waking up to the true facts.  It was like there was a giant fire of liberty and truth burning so bright in America, and the status quo and corporate media were trying to box it in, so the general public couldn't see the glow, but it just kept shining through.  I remember those days well.  Victory after victory.  It was like God kept shining the message of peace through all their attempts to block it.  He'd win a poll, he'd speak somewhere and cause attention, he'd draw attention to an issue at the debates and it would take off, they just couldn't keep it quiet!  By the end of the campaign it was a beautiful thing.  At Ron Paul's events there were thousands of people showing up, and for the main candidates, you would see only hundreds at their events.  

I look at Ron Paul's life and I see God at work.  Ron Paul spoke on the same issues of liberty, peace, and justice for 30 years.  This was before the internet and the wide spread of that kind of information.  It was very cleverly kept quiet for all those years.  But you know what?  God saw that kind of dedication, that strict adherence to principles.  Ron had to wait all those years, struggling in the darkness.  But God rewarded that kind of determination right before Dr. Paul would retire.  Suddenly just a few years before his retirement his message took off, and with the help of activists reached millions and millions of people. 

I need to look at that and say, I'm in for the long haul.  I may not see powerful success for years and years, but I'm gonna keep being my best, and stand on my principles.  And I know, one day God will reward that righteousness with powerful victory in my life.  

Heavenly Father, please care for those who fight for the truth in the world.  Care for their hearts, and give them success in their endeavours.  Help them to spread truth, love, liberty, and most importantly the message of Christ to all the peoples of the Earth.  Grant them peace in this storm Father, please, grant them strength.  In Jesus name, Amen.  

Have a wonderful rest of your day, God be with you!