Sermons

A Christian’s Voice From Van Buren: Volume 7, September 4, 2005 Number 42

Editors Note: With the Labor Day Weekend upon us, I thought it appropriate to reprint the last Labor Day edition of A Christian’s Voice From Van Buren that my father ever wrote. He published this bulletin on Labor Day 2005 and passed from this life the following May. In it you will find, among other things, a short piece he wrote reflecting upon the tendency to travel far and wide on this holiday, but he asks us to reflect upon how much thought we give to ensuring that our surroundings are spiritually uplifting. How much planning do we put into ensuring that we will be with God’s people on the First Day of the week? Also in this issue is a poem that he wrote, Labor Day – a Christian’s View of labor. I commend it to your reading.

A Christian’s Voice From Van Buren: Man uses his voice and pen to convey thoughts. Paul mentions using words that by his voice he might “teach others” (1 Cor. 14:19). John says, “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Rev. 22:17). My aim is to challenge, inform, and invite – us all to Listen to the VOICE of God. Editor Bill Sexton. 802 Adeline Lane, Van Buren, AR 72956-3530. Phone 479-474-2617. Car phone: 479-650-8399>>> I Have Voice Mail, call me and I can pick it up

Volume 7, September 4,  2005 Number 42

 

This Week’s Challenges

We are practicing: Memory, Meditation, and Application

  1. Memorize (Isa 28:16)
  2. Meditation: Who is that foundation, searching the New Testament one will se that it is Christ
  3. Application: How wonderful to see that the foundation stone is secure, and we can and should build on it (1 Cor. 3:11; Eph. 2:19020)

 

Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody

This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody.  There was an important job to be done, and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.

Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.  Somebody even got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job.  Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.

It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

~Author Unknown~

     Labor Day weekend, how many people will be traveling, even with the HIGH gas prices, Etc.!?

This is another holiday and we Americans have the habit of traveling far and near, changing places to spend our time. How many will plan ahead about their worship of God, meeting with the saints (Heb. 10:24), studying the message from heaven to be lifted up spiritually?

It is wonderful to have the opportunity, means and freedom that we do have in our land to travel, go places and see things, and visit with relatives, etc. Yet, do we THINK as much about the type of environment we are in? THINK about the benefit of meeting our brothers and sister in the Lord, and how we SHOULD enjoy their company, and how beneficial it is to us to get to know more of our brother and sisters.

Beloved, let us see the NEED to place God first in our lives, and see the benefit of doing so (Matt. 6:33). However, in this busy work, with all the opportunities to travel, communicate, and be entertained, we are likely to spend the greater portion of our resources on the WRONG thing, in the place that is not appropriate to our spiritual growth, safety, and spiritual health. Let us be wise, loyal to the Lord and demonstrate to those observing our behavior that we are TRULY Christians, belonging to Christ. He is our Lord!

 

Labor Day – a Christian’s View of labor

 Work is a four letter word many dislike

Yet, we all know that it is necessary and good

If we are active in the right things

Then to the work, to the work, we can/do sing!

 

So let us THINK on the right tract,

See God’s word on this and other matters of fact

If we are doing the Lord’s work all will be fine

There’s plenty to do, looking in His word we find

 

Labor is wonderful to be able to do

This day we may honor by looking at it truly

God has ordained that man be busy as he could

In his daily activity, for his own good

Jn. 9:4; 1 Cor. 15:58

Bill Sexton, 8-31-2005

     Today’s Schedule for Yours Truly: !0:20A.M. Preaching at Van Buren, Sermons: The Storms Of Life Sermon –Lk. 8:22-25; Matt. 8:24-27). Tonight at 6:00 PM Singing at Van Buren

 

Excuses for departing from God’s graceful Path

In most any city one can find a number of people who began to serve the Lord some time ago, but now are out of service. Why? The reasons given may be many. In truth, however, all of them are excuses, only! There is no real reason for one to fall away (Lk. 14:15-24). Satan has a hand in each, but none can rightful blame him; each must accept personal responsibility for one’s action. Warning after warning is given (Cf.1 Cor. 10:12-13; Heb. 3:12).

Each of us needs to recognize that we may contribute to discouragement, etc., and be careful that we do not lend a hand to Satan to distract and destroy, because he has and will use every device (2 Cor. 2:11).

Each of us may be tempted to turn aside in some fashion, being influenced in one way or another, but let us be honest enough with ourselves to admit we are responsible! We’ll have to pay! There are all types of rationalizations one can make in trying to get around our personal responsibility. Yet, let us all remember that if we really want to be saved eternally, we’d better meet the standard ( Jn. 12:28; Rom. 2:16), to be recipients of God’s grace.

Perhaps there is not enough time spent on considering various factors that may influence us to turn aside, back, or around. Prayerful consideration should be given to the matter.

Likewise, there is likely not enough effort made to see that we do not discourage one another, so that Satan may deceive us into giving in to something (2 Cor. 11:1-3) that will destroy us.

Yet, we need to have indelible stamped on our brain — we DO NOT HAVE TO YIELD to any of these influences (Jas. 4:7).

Let us look at a few people who may be -instrumental in causing others to turn aside.

1. Preachers are to be examples ( 1 Tim. 4:12), but they can lead others astray –or give them cause to distrust and play into the hand of the evil one. How many people are out of service, partly, because they trusted a preacher and then had him betray their trust? Peter was instrumental in influencing Barnabas to “be carried away” with dissimulation, participate in something that deserved rebuking (Gal. 2:11-13).

2. Elders and deacons can fail to lead and serve to the extent that some members become discouraged, and think “what’s the use,” and yield to weaknesses.

3. Being overly concern with and involvement in everyday activities of “making a living,” paying the bills, educating and entertaining our children, can take us away from our duty of attending all the services, participating in Bible classes, spending time to invite others into our homes, spend valuable time with others to influence for good!

4. Family demands are many, to be sure and they are very important, yet they must not be allowed to derail our train of service to God (Matt 10:37-39; Lk. 14:25-33).

Yes, beloved, there are many avenues of influence that are away from God and His Son Jesus Christ. Let us first be convinced that we, individually are responsible because we are able capable of resisting the temptations — with God’s help and grace and mercy! (Phil. 1:12-13).

Let us look at a few things that may turn us/others aside.       1. Immorality –we may come to think that life is too dull serving the Lord, and determine to “enjoy life,” as seen through the blinders Satan provides.

2. Wealth may come to attract our attention and cause us to give too much of our time in obtaining it.

3. Laziness –we may decide we want to REST when we should be practicing our religion — attending services, helping others, taking time to teach others the gospel of Christ!                                        –William C. “Bill” Sexton

 

 

MIS-USED WORDS

There are many words which are miss-used In today’s religious world.  When teaching the truth, I am accused-And hateful, angry words are hurled.

One word, of which I speak, is “Pastor”, Used by ‘most every denomination. The way it is used is truly a disaster and causes God much consternation.

Pastor simply means “to feed”, Acts 14:23 Acts 20:17, 28 and referred to a plural group of men. I Pt. 5:1-4 The “Elders” were responsible for the “seed”, which would guard their flock from sin.(Singular)

“Reverend” is another miss-used word—It was never applied to any man. To make that application is absurd—It was never a part of God’s holy plan. Holy and “Reverend” is HIS name, And that applies only to almighty GOD. Ps. 111:9. Man’s using it for himself is a shame, For, before the almighty, man is only a clod.

When Christ said, “I will build my ‘church’ “— To a physical structure He didn’t make mention. If, the scriptures, you will thoroughly search, You will find, that was not His intention.

“Church” simple means ‘those who are called out’ I Thes. 2:12; II Thes. 2:14; Rm 8:30 .Coming from darkness, into the kingdom of light.. A “spiritual house” are all the devout,  I Pt. 2:5, 9 Who have left the darkness and sinful blight.

And, what a miss-use of the word “priest”, This, too, is such a sinful shame. With Christ the old system of priesthood ceased; Heb. 11:7-8; Rev.1:6Now, every Christian is called by that name.  I Pt. 2:5, 9; Rm.12:1

The next I would mention is the word “baptize”. It is a word which means to “immerse”.  And most do not seem to realize. Without immersion, they are under God’s curse. But it must be for the remission of sins, Acts 2:38. That, as for Paul, they would be washed away. Acts 22:16. That is the ONLY way that Christ will cleanse  Rm.6:3-5 And lead you into the light of day.  There are many such words in the bible which man, in his foolishness, miss-uses. When, in truth, he is committing libel. When, the gospel of Christ he, thus, abuses.

Oh, well meaning but foolish, religious man, Mt. 7:21-23. Please consider the use in the gospel of Christ. Don’t try to change it, but yield to His plan. For nothing else has ever sufficed –By L. B. Strawn May 11 & 12, 1998 *****

Editor’s Note: There are so many Bible words that are misused, perhaps the above will assist in keeping some of them before our mind! Let each of us labor to call Bible things by Bible names, as well as do Bible things in Bible ways! For, you see, some day we’ll stand before the Lord (Matt 7:21-23). How terrible if we have spent so much time, effort and resources misusing what the Lord  provided us with and then hear: “ I never knew you: Depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

I know that to some people this is “Legalism,” but I had rather be accepted by the Lord, even though I’m classified by man in various uncomplimentary fashions (Matt. 5:11-12), than to avoid their criticism and be rejected by the Lord.

I remember that the people Paul spoke of in (Romans 1:18-32,) professed themselves to be “wise,” when in fact they were very foolish. Shall we be as they were? Or, shall we be seen as “foolish” by man while we embrace the “wisdom of God” (Cf. 1 Cor. 1:23-25)? Beloved, I prefer to be seen as foolish by my fellow man, wordily creatures than to be thus seen and classified by my Lord and Maker. I challenge each of us to look carefully at the words used in the New Testament and let the Lord’s meaning be established in our mind.   William C. “Bill” Sexton

Reprinted from Van BurenVanGuardin 1998

 

BOOK OF 1 TIMOTHY – Chapter 2.

Introduction: In the second chapter of this book, Paul begins by expressing his desire that prayer be made for various people. Also, there are various types of prayer. God’s desire relative to all men is expressed. He points to the proper position of women, looking back to the deception of Eve.

His exhortation is that as a “first” order of priority supplication, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men. Thus we see that it is proper to pray for all persons, but each category will have different needs, and we should recognize and comply with that fact. Then he identifies one category of men: kings, and all that are in authority. We should recognize that these people affect our lives, and we should see the need to pray that they would perform so that we can receive benefit from their rule. The benefit we should desire and pray for is: “we may lead a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and honesty.” (1 Tim. 2:1-2).

The inspired apostle shows why the prayer and benefit we may receive is: “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.” For he shows that God would have all to be saved, by coming to the knowledge of truth. That involved some fundamental facts: That is only ONE God and One MEDIATOR who can legitimately and effectively come “between” God and man –Jesus Christ, who was deity and man! He gave himself a ransom for all men everywhere, to “be testified in due time.” (1 Tim. 2:3-6)

In face of the facts just stated, Paul claims that he was “ordained a preacher, and an apostle,” also a “teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.”  As he preaches the truth in Christ, he speaks of the need for men to pray, with “holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” In similar fashion, he wants women to “adorn themselves properly in “modest apparel,” and that is with shamefacedness and sobriety. The attention is not to be given by the hair, jewelry of gold, pearls and expensive clothing.  Their conduct is to manifest itself in professed godliness accompanied with good works (1 Tim. 2:7-10).

He points to the subjection of women –they should learn in respectable submission. Women are limited in their realm of teaching. She is NOT to “usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” The basis for this goes back to the early behavior of the woman, Eve. She was deceived by the serpent and persuaded her husband to be involved in “transgression,”: although he was not deceived. Yet we need to understand, woman can still be saved. One of her functions is “childbearing.” She needs to “continue in faith,” as well as in charity/love, holiness/being set aside for God’s service, and doing this with “sobriety.” (1 Tim. 2:11-15).

 

QUESTIONS:

  1. In light of what does he “therefore,” exhort be done “first” (1 Tim. 2:1)?

 

  1. Name differ kinds of speaking to God are called for and for whom (1 Tim. 2:1-2)?

 

  1. What is the aim of prayers in man’s benefit (1 Tim. 2:2)

 

  1. What is “good and acceptable” to God and His desire concerning “all men” (1 Tim. 2:3-4)?

 

  1. What is the function of a “mediator” and who meets that requirement (1 Tim. 2:5-6)?

 

  1. What is Paul “ordained’ to and his “will” for men (1 Tim. 2:7-8)?

 

  1. “In like manner” what is his will that women will “adorn” themselves (1 Tim. 2:9-10)?

 

  1. How are women to be in and manifest their “subjection” (1 Tim. 2:11-12)?

 

10.What basis is  given for this subjective position  and how is she to “continue” (1 Tim. 2:13-15)

 

_________________________________________

A Christians’ Voice

802 Adeline Lane

Van Buren, AR 72956-3530

 

 

 

Becoming the Man God Wants You To Be: Volume 3, Number 1, August 24, 2018: Integrity, Character, and Rebuilding Trust

What is Integrity and Character?

Much has been written about integrity and character. Coach John Wooden told his players, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are” (Quoted by Brian Biro in Beyond Success, p. 38).

 

The Heart of a Champion Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Colleyville, TX, that offers educators an innovative and effective approach to developing character in the lives of their students, says, “Character is the inward motivation to do what is right according to the highest standards of behavior in every situation. Character is the combination of qualities built into an individual’s life which determine his or her responses regardless of the circumstances. Character is what you do when no one is watching. And character comes from your heart …. You have the power to be a person of character; to affect your future and realize your destiny. No other person can make that happen in your life. You alone are responsible for rising to the challenge of being a true champion. Achievements, accolades, appearances, and performances will one day fade away! Ultimately, your character is the one thing that will last, and the one way people will identify you. Dive into this program and be a true champion” (Heart of a Champion Character Development Program).

 

John Maxwell in his excellent book 21 Indispensable Qualities Of A Leader says that there are four things that every person must know about character:

  • Character is more than talk
  • Talent is a gift but character is a choice
  • Character brings lasting success with people
  • Leaders cannot rise above the limitations of their character

 

How is Character Improved?

Maxwell also offers a four-step plan for improving character:

  1. “Search for the cracks. Spend some time looking at the major areas of your life (work, marriage, family, service, etc.) and identify anywhere you might have cut corner, compromised or let people down.

 

  1. Look for patterns. Examine the responses that you just wrote down. Is there a particular area where you have a weakness, or do you have a type of problem that keeps surfacing?

 

  1. Face the music. The beginning of character repair comes when you face your flaws, apologize, and deal with the consequences of your actions.

 

  1. Rebuild. It’s one thing to face up to your past actions. It’s another to build a new future. Now that you’ve identified any areas of weakness, create a plan that will prevent you from making the same mistakes again.”

(Maxwell, pp. 1-7)

 

What Responsibility Has God Charged Us With?

If we are to be the men that God wants us to be, we must be men of integrity and character. God has charged us with the responsibility of being the spiritual leaders of our families and in order to do that we must be genuine and authentic. One author likens this role to a “point man” who takes up his position on the front lines of battle. I have used this quote before in this column, but read again what he says, “It’s a Herculean task to lead a family, but with the power of God supporting you, it is a tremendous privilege. If we are willing to become the point man in our families, we can count on God’s support and power. He’s looking for men who will follow Jesus Christ and burn their ships behind them. When He finds those men, He will take extraordinary measures to buttress, bolster and carry them along in His limitless strength (2Chronicles 16:9). May we be those men! And may He give us the strength to withstand the onslaught of His blessing” (Steve Farrar, Point Man, p. 231).

 

What Do the Scriptures say about Integrity and Character?

Men face many challenges in today’s culture. Satan has many devices to hinder our ability and our desire to be that influence that desires for us to be. The Scriptures are full of passages dealing with integrity and character. Notice a few of them:

Proverbs 10:9 “He who walks with integrity walks securely, But he who perverts his ways will become known.”

1 Kings 9:4 “Now if you walk before Me as your father David walked, in integrity of heart and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded you, and if you keep My statutes and My judgments, then I will establish the throne of your kingdom over Israel forever, as I promised David your father, saying, ‘You shall not fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.’”

Job 2:3 “Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.”

Job 31:6 “Let me be weighed on honest scales, That God may know my integrity.”

Proverbs 20:7 “The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him.”

Titus 2:7 “…in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility,”

Philippians 2:22 “But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel.”

Rom. 5:3-4 “…we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

How May Integrity Be Rebuilt?

God said that David walked in integrity of heart. And yet David was tempted when he saw Bathsheba bathing, he yielded to that temptation and he sinned. So it was necessary for David to rebuild his integrity. In doing so, he asked God, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me” (Psalms 51:10-11). We can all learn from Job’s example. He said, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust at a young woman.” (Job 31:1, NLT).

 

The Bible plan for forgiveness of sin for the Christian is simple: repent, ask forgiveness from the one(s) against whom the sin was committed, and pray to God for His forgiveness and for His help in the rebuilding process (Mt. 18:15-17 and Acts 8:18-24). But when trust has been broken and the marriage relationship has been shattered, the rebuilding process becomes much more complex. During the fifty-six years that I have been a Christian, I have witnessed TV evangelists, personally known preachers and elders, and friends succumb to this sin.

 

Much has been written to help those who find themselves in such a situation. One writer suggests, “I don’t know of any assignment more difficult (but more worthwhile) than the job of regaining a wife’s trust. She trusted you enough to marry you, but the bond of trust has been broken. So many men just walk away when they have failed and broken the heart of a loving spouse…. They walk away and take their shame and the knowledge that they walked away when they most needed to step up” (Stephen Arterburn and Jason B. Martinkus, Worthy of Her Trust, p. xi) (emphasis mine).

 

Arterburn and Martinkus outline a plan for rebuilding trust that involves nine “non-negotiables.” If these aren’t present of if they’re deficient, it will be incredibly difficult for one’s relationship to be restored. These items are: Spiritual Commitment, Honesty, Transparency, True Intimacy, Accountability, Open Review of Computer/Internet Use, Sexual Integrity in the Workplace, Restitution, and No Self-Pity.

They also recommend several “tools” to assist the rebuilding process. These include: The Five-Minute Rule, T-30 Journal, Financial Accountability, Twenty-Four Hour Disclosure Rule, GPS Tracking, and Wifecam. I highly recommend this book as is an excellent resource for any man attempting to regain his wife’s trust after admitting to sexual integrity issues (e.g., pornography, affair, etc.).

One of the key concepts that resonated with me and that is repeated throughout this book is the idea of being “intentional.” For example, “When it comes to trust building, free time can be detrimental. We must begin to use our time intentionally and channel it toward a goal” (p.105). In regard to setting boundaries on the job, “Because the work environment can change our persona, we have to be diligent in preserving our sense of authenticity and self. Your new self must be careful with boundaries, intentional with words, and conscientious about how interactions can affect your wife’s heart” (pp. 110-111). In regard to a husband keeping his word they write, “It is incredibly important for you as a husband to be intentional about what you commit to and how you communicate that commitment to your wife” (p.128). And finally, “The journey you’re on is changing you from the inside out. Character and integrity are being woven into the fabric of your being. As such, things will get easier. Truth, trust, and redemption will be more natural and will flow out of who you are, rather than having to be an intentional thing that you do” (p. 191).

 

If we are to become the men that God wants us to be, we must be intentional in building integrity and character. If we stumble and fall along the way, we must be diligent in rebuilding that character and integrity. Our eternal security depends upon it! Thanks for reading and sharing this website with others.

 

–Randy Sexton

The Old Man in The Mirror

Editors Note: I just found this poem among the files on a flash drive that belonged to my father. The occasion was his 75th birthday in 2003. Looking back with much fondness now, and knowing that he would pass from this life on May 8, 2006, I am filled with great joy. For this poem embodies so much of the spirit of the man that I knew as Dad, and that others knew as “Bill” Sexton.

 

The Old Man in The Mirror

 

Seventy Five years old, surely that’s NOT me

A Short time ago, I was a boy plowing the field, it seems.

Wanting to hurry up and be a big man so others could see

As an adult I could explore the world, perhaps even sail the sea

 

Yes, when I look in the mirror, sometime I see

An old man looking back at me

I wonder how that old frame in my mirror me could be

For In my mind a younger man should be smiling  at me

 

Surely seventy Five years could not have passed so fast

Leaving the old figure in the mirror I observe when I pass

For I’m still young at heart,

From that young age I’m not ready to depart

 

How old is seventy five years anyway

When one is young that age seems so far away

Someone once said he/she is just as old as they feel

So, beloved, In my heart I’m still YOUNG enough to climb a hill

 

Please don’t write me off as being old just yet

The Lord surely knows how much time I have left

But while He allows me to live, love and laugh

I’m young in mind, enjoying youth while He allows it to last

O, yes another year is just about to end

Seems just the other day it only began

Which indicates we need to be busy all the time

Doing things, by looking back, will bring joy to our mind

 

Bill Sexton, December 23, 2003

 

 

 

December 25, 1928 —-2003

Reprints of Works by William C. Sexton

Posts in this category will be articles, sermon outlines, and various other works of William C. Sexton. Brother sexton was born in Cameron, Oklahoma on December 25, 1928 and died in Fort Smith, Arkansas on May 8, 2006.

He was a minister for churches of Christ for 49 years, serving churches in Kearney, MO; Lowell, IN; St. Joseph, MO.; Wichita, KS; Manhattan, KS; Kansas City, MO; Van Buren, AR; as well as many other communities. He was also a prolific writer, being published in brotherhood papers, Guardian of Truth, The Preceptor, Searching the Scriptures and many others. He also edited and published church bulletins for local churches with which he worked. During the latter years of his life he published an electronic bulletin that he called A Christians Voice. He emailed ACV to individual Christians and small congregations with whom he was working at the time of his death.

 

The Disciplines of Life: Discernment, Decision and Duty

This is the fourth article in our series, The Disciplines of Life. We have studied: Solitude, Discipleship and Dependability & Determination thus far. There are many disciplines that should be evident in the life of the Christian. In this article, we want to look at the disciplines of discernment, decision, and duty.

As we have been emphasizing in this series, these are called “disciplines” because they are not acquired without deliberate effort. Discipline is “Training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character” (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, p. 360). Please consider …

 

Discernment

One of the disciplines of life that we must develop is that of discernment. As we go through life, we are impacted by people, places and events. We might consider those things stimuli (i.e. something that incites to action or exertion or quickens action, feeling, thought, etc.). As Christians, it is important that we exercise discernment in determining the source of those stimuli; are they of God or of Satan?

 

The writer of the Hebrew letter tells us that we must be disciplined to discern both good and evil and that this is a work of spiritual maturity (Heb. 5:11-14). One who has not fed upon the Word of God, first with the “milk,” and then progressing to the “strong meat” (KJV) of the Word is NOT able to properly make these right decisions!

Think about the contrast we see between the actions of God vs. actions of Satan upon our lives:

Area of Influence God Satan
Our Mistakes Offers the blood of Jesus that washes whiter than snow (Isa. 1:18; 1Jn. 1:9) Takes pleasure in them, especially if his “wiles” have contributed (Eph. 6:11)
Our Motivations Points us to the pathway of self-denial and selfless service (Mt. 16:24-26 Tempts us with self-interests, physical needs, social position, etc. (Mt. 4:3, 8; 16:23
Our Perspective Exalts the present help of the Lord (Ps. 46:1). Reminds us of the promises, whereby we can hope against hope (Rom. 5:3-5). Emphasizes the past, with its mistakes and heartaches. Magnifies our problems, by showing their hoplessness, impossibility, and pail
Our Guide Walk by faith (2Cor. 5:7; Heb. 11:6). Forget the past and reach forward (Phil. 3:13-14). Walk by sight and earthly wisdom (“the counsel of the ungodly” Ps. 1:1).

 

It is so very important, as we attempt to live for Jesus here, that we focus our attention on developing the discipline of discernment. Won’t you be persuaded, dear friend, to do that?

 

 Decision

Secondly, consider the discipline of decision. In the course of a lifetime there are many decisions to be made. Some of these decisions seem very trivial at the time and others may weigh on us because of their importance in setting the future course of our lives.  The Scriptures promise guidance in these decisions to the trusting Christian (Ps. 32:8; 25:9). The “way which you should go” often become more clear after meditation and prayer! Seeking guidance from God before making a decision is never a bad thing!

Of particular interest in considering this discipline is Jeremiah 42:3-10. First consider the context of this passage. “Jeremiah lived during troubled times. He became a prophet during Josiah’s reign (640-609 B.C.). Josiah was the last faithful king in Judah’s history (2Kings 22:1-23:7). His death (2Kings 23:28-30) marked the beginning of the last years of the nation of Judah…. Jeremiah was a biblical theologian…. Whom the Holy Spirit inspired to write fresh treatments of old themes and some ideas that were new when Jeremiah penned them…. the prophet asks people over 100 times to ‘turn around’ or ‘repent.’ ” (ESV Study Bible, pp. 1364-1367).   From this passage we glean three outstanding factors that determine the discipline of decision:

  1. Willingness to ask guidance from God (vv3 and 6, Js. 1:5). They said, “Whether it be good, or whether it be evil, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God…” We have many examples in Scripture of those who were willing to seek guidance from God before embarking on an important activity: “Moses at the Red Sea, Joshua at passage of the Jordan, Ruth in the village of Bethlehem, David in the wilderness, Nehemiah in the court of the king, Jeremiah in the prison, Peter on the housetop, and Paul on board the storm-tossed sailing craft” (Erdman, p. 40)
  2. Willingness to wait for God’s guidance (v7). They had to wait for ten days for the word of the Lord to come to Jeremiah after he asked God on their behalf. There is a song by Stuart Hamblen that speaks to the need to wait for God. The lyrics of that song are as follows:

Teach Me Lord to Wait

Teach me Lord to wait right down on my knees,
Till in Your own good time You answer my pleas;
Teach me not to rely on what others do,
But to wait in prayer for an answer from You.

 

Refrain:

“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength,
They shall mount up with wings like eagles.
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.”
Teach me Lord, teach me Lorde, to wait

 

Teach me Lord to wait while hearts are a-flame,
Let me humble my price and call on your name.
Keep my faith renewed, my eyes on Thee,
Let me be on this earth what you want me to be

 

  1. Willingness to obey the will of God (v. 10). The word from Jeremiah to the people was, “If you will indeed stay in this land, then I will build you up and not tear you down, and I will plant you and not uproot you; for I will relent concerning the calamity that I have inflicted on you.” This was not really what they wanted to hear. Secretly they desired to flee into the land of Egypt where they would not see pestilence nor warfare; but they wanted God’s approval of their preference.

 

Sadly, in the following chapter we find the description of their failure to obey, “Azariah the son of Hoshaiah, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the arrogant men said to Jeremiah, “You are telling a lie! The Lord our God has not sent you to say, ‘You are not to enter Egypt to reside there’; 3 but Baruch the son of Neriah is inciting you against us to give us over into the hand of the Chaldeans, so they will put us to death or exile us to Babylon.” 4 So Johanan the son of Kareah and all the [a]commanders of the forces, and all the people, did not obey the voice of the Lord to stay in the land of Judah” (Jer. 43:2-4).

 

The question for all of us is, are we willing to obey the voice of the Lord “whether it be good or whether it be evil.”

 

Duty

“Is there delight deeper or more delectable than that of duty diligently done? To know one’s responsibility, to face its circumstances, both favorable and unfavorable, to follow the line of duty without deviation caused by difficulties or distraction, and to fulfill the task as assigned – all this brings great joy. Between finding out our task and fulfilling the same there lies the discipline of duty, often arduous and difficult, even to the point of impossibility”

(Edman, p. 247).

 

We have many Bible examples of those who responded when the will of God called them to duty. The Apostle Paul obeyed when he was called to bear witness in Rome (Acts 23:11). Abraham went when called to go out to a land that he knew nothing about and had not seen with the promise that he would inherit that land (Gen. 12). Joseph responded to God’s call to become the ruler and benefactor of his brethren (Gen. 39). Moses, though feeling unqualified followed God’s direction to lead his enslaved people from the iron furnace of Egypt (Ex. 3). David said “yes” when God called him to leave his duties as a shepherd boy to become king over Israel (1Sam. 16). Cyrus the Persian became God’s hands and feet to order the restoration of Jerusalem (Ezra 1). Mary humbled herself to become the mother of the messiah, to see the performance of those things told her from the Lord (Lk. 1:26ff).

 

Forces that may oppose our performance of Duty include the wrath of men, the waste of years, the waves of despair, and the wickedness of the Adversary.

 

  1. The Wrath of Men

They plotted to take Paul’s life the morning after the Lord called him to witness at Rome (Acts 23:12-13).  When David became King, the Philistines came up to seek him to thwart that from happening (2Sam. 5:17). When Nehemiah sought to rebuild his city, the adversaries were present with intimidation, innuendo, intrigue, and insinuation, to resist his efforts.

 

  1. Waste of Years

“Paul was taken from Jerusalem to Caesarea on his way to Rome, only to languish for an undefined and interminable period. There was no case against him, but he had no friends at court, nor would he stoop to bribery (Acts 24:26); with the result that he remained immobile in the dungeon. His soul entered into delay and darkness, caused by the negligence and selfishness of others” (Erdman, p. 250). Moses was rejected by his people and spent 40 years in the wilderness. David was hunted by an insanely jealous Saul and spent years fleeing to escape his attempts to kill him. Elijah sat by the brook when Ahab ruled the land.

 

  1. Waves of Despair

Paul did not perish in prison. He was compelled to appeal to Caesar. The indifference on the part of others comes to an end. Moses is called by God to go down into Egypt. Elijah is sent to Ahab. Paul at Tarsus is called to Antioch. “When God’s hour strikes, you will go forward into His will. Not perhaps as you had planned but in a way which He sees is best for you.” (Erdman, p. 251). The Lord often takes the storm out of the life of His children before He takes them out of the storm.

 

  1. The Wickedness of the Adversary

And then sometimes when all of the other forces have failed to hinder the performance of duty, the adversary makes a direct attack. Sometime that may come by sickness (Lk. 13:16), other times by self-pity (Mt. 16:21-25) or by self-sufficiency (1Tim. 3:6).

 

“The Discipline of Duty is not easy nor light, its performance is painful and perilous, but its culmination is delight” (Erdman. P. 253)

 

Conclusion:

Discernment, Decision, and Duty are disciplines worthy of our pursuit! Do you possess them? If not won’t you consider carefully what we have said and determine to grow by adding them to your character?

(Source: The Disciplines of Life by V. Raymond Erdman, pp. 39–43, 167–171, 247-253)

The Disciplines of Life: Dependability & Determination

Dependability and Determination are key disciplines that should be prevalent in the life of the Christian. This is the third lesson in our series, The Disciplines of Life. We have studied: Solitude and Discipleship thus far. In this lesson we want to look at the disciplines of dependability and diligence.

As we have been emphasizing in this series, these are called “disciplines” because they are not acquired without deliberate effort. Discipline is “Training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character” (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, p. 360). We have also been pointing out the exhortations found in scripture. Paul told the Corinthians, “I discipline my body …” (2Cor. 9:27). Peter wrote to those Christians who were scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, “…prepare your minds for action …” (1Pet. 1:13)

Please  Consider …

Dependability (Lamentations 3:27)

The Strength or Weakness of Mature Years is Determined Largely in the Days of Youth. This includes the following features of one’s character:

  1. The dependability or irresponsibility,
  2. The sturdiness or vacillation of character,
  3. The sunshine or shadow of personality,
  4. The strength or weakness of body

God needs strong men and women, who can bear heavy burdens in dark and difficult days; and they can do so, if they have borne the yoke in their youth”  (Erdman, p. 91).

Dependable Performance of Duties Helps Prepare for the Stirring Service of God

Though sometimes these duties may be “boring” they discipline for further service. Thought they sometimes may be outside our “comfort zones” they stimulate growth. Dependable performance of duties from a young age helps to prepare for the stern realities of life.

What it means to bear the Yoke in one’s Youth

Bearing the yoke in one’s youth means to become accustomed early to do with cheerfulness one’s share of duties, however small that may be at first. It also means to complete one’s assignment conscientiously and thoroughly, even though no one sees us. It means to profit by one’s mistakes and to take correction gratefully. It means to serve for the love of service rather than for reward. To bear the yoke in youth is to be able to bear burdens in later years, and to bring glory to God in doing so.

Bible Example: David

David had a heart that loved God (1Sam 13:14; Ps. 89:20; Acts 13:22; 1Sam. 16:7, 12). He knew his future clearly (1Sam. 16:13).

“David was faithful in the tasks assigned to him, and in the extra opportunities which were available. He was required to care for his father’s sheep, a menial and uninspiring routine. He practiced on his harp upon his own initiative; and he applied himself with good zeal to both opportunities. We know something of his faithfulness to his father in his fearlessness of the lion and bear that attacked his flock (I Sam. 17:34, 35). We need more of that devotion in the duties assigned to children and young people, devotion that will stick to the job despite lions of laziness and bears of boredom. Loyalty to parents and employers, at the risk of loss to ourselves, leads to gain over Goliaths in the large conflicts of later life (I Sam. 17:36-51).”

 Others have as well:

  1. Joseph – called to be a statesman (Gen. 37:5-11).
  2. Joshua – called to be a military leader (Gen. 27: 18-23).
  3. John – called to be a forerunner for Jesus (Lk. 1:76-77; Jn. 1:22-23)

Others did not learn until late in life (but in plenty of time for their real service):

  1. Moses at the burning bush (Exod. 3:1-10).
  2. Simon Peter on the beach of Bethsaida (Luke 5:1-11).
  3. Saul of Tarsus at the Damascus gate (Acts 9:1-6).

Whether they know their life’s calling or not, the most important consideration about the future is to do faithfully what is before them today, for the discipline of dependability demands tasks thoroughly done” (Erdman, p. 95).

Doing their duty today will not leave them in darkness indefinitely. The light will come! (Psalm 112:4; Job 22:28; 23:8-12).Faithfulness leads to fulfillment of dreams, not futility; dependability, to delight of duty.

Now consider another discipline to be developed by all Christians …

Determination (Eph. 6:13)

The story is told that Henry Ford, the pioneer auto manufacturer, was often asked by young people, “How can I make my life a success?” His response was always, “If you start a thing, finish it!” He would then illustrate with a personal example:

“Plausible reasons for quitting are always at hand. Mr. Ford told us one day that when he was making his first car in that little brick building on the alley in the rear of his home, he work away with all the ardor of young enthusiasm looking forward to great results. Then the thrill and interest simply evaporated. Why? He said he had gone far enough on that first car to see how he could build a second and a better one, and the glowing new vision got in the way of his work. What was the use of finishing the car he had started? Some untaught inner wisdom must have warned him, for he forced himself on. He soon discovered he was learning more and more about his second car by going on to complete his first…. Following faithfully on never leads anyone into permanent darkness. But for the quitter, all he is likely to get is a stronger habit of quitting and a lower place to begin again. The man who will not give up, even if he fail of his objective, is led through to another objective; the man who hangs on as if he were paid to hang on can always start again at par or better – he has strengthened himself….Quitting makes a dead end of any road—often just as it was ready to open. Transfer if you must; catch another wavelength; change your level to a higher one, but don’t quit—it is always too soon to quit.”” (“Too Soon To Quit,” W. J. Cameron, the Ford Sunday Evening Hour, January 10, 1937. Quoted by V. Raymond Edmon on pp. 137-140 of The Disciplines of Life.)

Determination to finish what we have begun is a discipline we need!

This discipline is exemplified in the life of our Lord Jesus. At an early age He was about His Father’s business (Luke 2:49). In the strength of manhood He declared, ”My food is to do the will of him that sent me, and finish his work” (John 4:34). When His earthly service was complete He could pray, ”I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do” (John 17:4); and from Calvary’s Cross rang out His triumph, ”It is finished” (John 19:30).

“Can we not follow His footsteps, filled with His Spirit, to finish the task appointed, with heart aglow and hurrying feet, with strong hands and steady mind, with shield of faith and sword of Spirit, with patience to run the race that is set before us? Can we not trust Him for grace that is sufficient, for strength that is perfected in weakness, for help that is sure, and for faithfulness that will not fail, in order that we may know the discipline of doing our duty? Then it is always too soon to quit” (Erdman, p. 141).

Conclusion:

  1. These are the fundamentals in the deep discipline of dependability”
  • A heart that loves God
  • Confidence of a future life that is in His hands
  • Faithfulness in duty
  • Fearlessness before dangers, in associations, and in the fiery trial of envy of elders
  1. Determination to faithfully run the race that is set before us is a needed discipline.
  2. Dependability and determination go hand in hand to equip the Christian for all good works! May we ever strive to develop them as part of our character.

(Source: The Disciplines of Life by V. Raymond Edman, pp. 91-99, 137-141)

The Disciplines of Life: Discipleship

There are many disciplines that should be evident in the life of the Christian. Paul told the Corinthians, “I discipline my body …” (2Cor. 9:27). Peter wrote to those Christians who were scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, “…prepare your minds for action …” (1Pet. 1:13)

In the N.T. the words connected to discipleship are applied chiefly to the followers of Jesus and describe the life of faith… Discipleship then is the whole process of accepting the call of Jesus, obeying and enrolling in His service, imitating his example, learning his teaching, and serving Him as your master!” (Dictionary of N.T. Theology, Colon Brown, Vol. 1, p.480).

Let’s consider the requirements of discipleship … 

To Be Taught By the Master and Then to Teach Others

 Discipleship means ‘discipline!’ The disciple is the one who has been taught or trained by the Master, who has come with his ignorance, superstition, and sin, to find learning, truth, and forgiveness from the Saviour. Without discipline we are not disciples, even though we profess His name and pass for a follower of the lowly Nazarene. In an undisciplined age when liberty and license have replaced law and loyalty, there is greater need than ever before that we be disciplined to be His disciples.” (Disciplines of Life, V. Raymond Edman, p. 9)

Discipleship is carrying out the Great Commission! (Mt. 28:19-20; Mk. 16:15-16; 2Tim. 2:2).

The gospels detail the 3 ½ years Jesus spent preparing His apostles. “Apart from his atoning sacrifice, the main work of Jesus on earth was to train His disciples on whom would rest the future of the Kingdom of God” (Peter Wilson).

In His prayer to His father, he said, “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which you have given Me to do” (Jn. 17:4)

When the apostles were told to “go make disciples” it brought back to their minds the 3 ½ years He had taught them.

  1. Having right priorities in life
  2. Watching out for false doctrine
  3. Being humble
  4. Not being materialistic

We too have a responsibility to the great commission.

“The invitation of Jesus was come and learn of me. The charge that followed was go and teach. Upon everyone who has learned, the Lord has placed the responsibility of telling others what he has learned. When he said to the Apostles, ‘teach them to observe all thing whatsoever I have commanded you,” the command was passed on to those who should obey the gospel. From that time, it has been the responsibility of the baptized disciple to follow that command!” (Let’s Go Fishing For Men, Homer Hailey, p. 7).

The Discipline of Conversion

We recognize our lost state (Isa. 53:6; Rom. 3:23; Gal. 3:22; Eph. 2:3, 12). This discipline is difficult for the natural heart because we don’t like to admit our sin and guilt. It takes a person with a good and honest heart to accept. Condider those who did …

  1. David did (2Sam. 12:13)
  2. Peter did (Lk. 5:8)
  3. The woman who washed Jesus feet with her tears did (Lk. 7:48, 50)
  4. The Publican did (Lk. 18:13)

When we come in faith, He will save us by His grace (Tit. 3:5; Jn. 1:12). He wants to “disciple” – teach and train – those who come to Him (Mt. 11:28-30). Without discipline we are not his sons; but as His sons we need the exhortation of Heb. 12:5-6, even though it may at the time be “grevious” (12:11).

The Discipline of Cost

 Jesus taught the importance of sacrifice in following Him (Mt. 10:37; Lk. 14:26). We must have the same attitude the Apostle Paul had (Phil. 3:8). “This denial of all, including ourselves, is the deepest discipline of discipleship. There are those who are dearer to us than life itself but they should not be dearer than the Saviour” (Eman, p. 7). Two strong illustrations about counting the cost are given by Jesus in Lk. 14:28.33.

The Discipline of Cross-Bearing

 Three things are necessary for us each day

  1. Daily food (for which we are to pray) (Mt. 6:11)
  2. Daily work (in which we are to be faithful) (1Thess. 4:11-12; 2Thess. 3:10-13)
  3. Daily cross (which we are to take up and follow Him) (Lk. 9:23; 14:27; Mt. 16:24). This cross is the denial of self, in the deepest meaning of that word, and of all that life has to offer, in full surrender to the will of God; in the spirit of Calvary’s Cross, to be sure” (Edman, p. 14)
Conclusion:

We must all understand discipleship if we are to do the Lord’s bidding. May recalling to mind the successes of the First Century Christians motivate us to “keep on keeping on!” Are you His disciple? Are you teaching others as you were taught?

(Sources: The Disciplines of Life, V. Raymond Edman; Celebration of Discipline, Richard J. Foster; Sermon Outline by Randy Sexton preached at County Line Rd, St. Joseph, MO, 5/17/1992)

The Disciplines of Life: Solitude

Jesus often separated himself from others to be alone, to pray, to spend time of quiet in the presence of His Father. This was a “discipline” that he incorporated into His earthly life.

Paul told the Corinthians, “… I discipline my body…” (2Cor 9:27) Usually when we think of bodily discipline, we think of diet & nutrition, exercise, and life style. I don’t believe this is what Paul had in mind. (See Foot Note). Peter said, “…prepare your minds for action” (1Pet. 1:13).“Discipline” is “Training the corrects, molds or perfects the mental faculties or moral character” (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, p. 360).

These words were written 70 years ago, and are even truer today than they were then, “Ours is an undisciplined age. The old disciplines are breaking down, and the foundations of society appear to be crumbling. The discipline of the home seems to be vanishing in the new psychology which teaches: parents obey your children! The discipline of the schoolroom is becoming anathema, according to the so-called Progressive Education, lest the personality of the child be thwarted by the imposition of a will higher than his own. The old academic ‘disciplines’: mathematics, ancient language, grammar, are being ignored as obsolete and unimportant. Above all, the discipline of divine grace is derided as legalism or is entirely unknown to a generation that is largely illiterate in the Scriptures. We need the rugged strength of Christian character that can come only from discipline: the discipline of spirit, of mind, of body, of society. Otherwise, the home will lose its heart as well as its hearth, the schoolroom its strength, the textbooks their exactness, the Scriptures their sanction” (The Disciplines of Life, V. Raymond Edman, Preface)(underlining is mine).

One of the disciplines that we need to incorporate into our lives is “solitude.” As I have studied men and women of faith from the Bible, I am more convinced than ever of this. One of my favorite authors, who has written about many of these men and women of faith says, “A survey of the Scriptures reveals that those God used greatly were often prepared for those exploits during periods of solitude, quietness, and obscurity” (Paul: A Man of Grace and Grit, Charles Swindoll, p.46)

Bible Examples of God Using the Discipline of Solitude in the Lives of His Servants

Moses (Ex. 2:1-4:31; Acts 7:20-43; Heb. 11:23-29). Moses was positioned to embrace a remarkable political future. As he approached the age of 40, he visited his Israelite brethren and observed one being treated unjustly (Acts 7:23-24). After murdering the Egyptian, he fled to the plains of Midian and married the daughter of a local priest (Ex. 2:11-12). He spent the next 40 years tending his father-in-law, Jethro’s sheep (Gen. 3:1; Acts 7:30). Not until he was 80 years old did God bring him out of obscurity to lead His people

David (1Sam. 16:12-13; 17:34-58 and chapters 18 – 31). Anointed king over Israel as a teen, he didn’t assume the throne until age 30. After defeating Goliath, he spent the next 13 years as a fugitive, hiding in the caves of Engedi from King Saul. During this period of solitude, he wrote some of his beloved Psalms, but mostly he lived in obscurity in the Judean wilderness.

Joseph (Gen. chapters 39 -41). Thrown in jail because of the accusations of Potiphar’s wife (39:19-20), he spent 2 years (41:1) in the prisons of Egypt. “Though his sentence was unfair, Joseph learned much in that cell of confinement” (Swindoll). At age of 30, he was made “ruler” 2nd only to Pharaoh (41:38-43).

Elijah (1Ki. 17:1-16). Elijah stood toe-to-toe with Ahab the King to boldly declare no rain or dew would fall on the kingdom for as long as it would take for them to repent! To protect him from the expected backlash, the Lord hid Elijah by the brook Cherith. During this “brookside retreat” Elijah was renewed and refreshed by God.

John the Baptist (Lk. 3:1-22; 7:18-30; Mt. 3:1-17; 11:7-15; 14:1-12; Mk.6:14-29). “He lived in the deserts until the day of his public appearance to Israel” (Lk. 1:80). … the word of God came to him in the wilderness and he spent much of his adult life preaching in the there (Lk. 3:1-3)… No distinction, no prominent place of ministry, no compelling message that appealed to the masses. Only years of solitude, silence, and obscurity, which ended when he was beheaded at the request of a silly dancing girl (Mt. 14:3-12)…. Yet, God called him to the desert. He had His reasons and John submitted to the plan” (Swindoll)

The Apostle Paul (Acts chapters 9, 22 and 26). We first meet him as a “raging bull,” persecuting followers of Christ. God interrupts his march to Damascus by striking him blind. “In less than a week, God transformed Saul from a vicious Christian-hating murderer into a passionate preacher…. God’s on-going process of preparing Saul was time away, all alone, to think through the implications of his newfound faith, to begin to know his Savior much more intimately, to come to terms with what it meant to be a messenger of grace” (Swindoll). Read Galatians 1:10-17 for Paul’s further explanation of the events that occurred during this time in his life. “Saul of Tarsus lived with the ever-imposing drive to please people. He lived for the approval of the Sanhedrin; it fed his pride. But all of that changed … Saul of Tarsus was poised to take a top leadership role in the Jewish religion but that all changed …” 9 (Swindoll).

Paul did NOT … 1) Immediately consult with flesh and blood nor 2) Go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before him.

“The Place and Purpose of Arabia – it was probably a vast expanse of desert – a barren wilderness – a thousand days spent alone thinking, praying, wrestling within, listening to God … Paul developed his theology here, meeting God intimately and deeply – “a three-year crash course in sound doctrine from which would flow a lifetime of preaching, teaching, and writing” (Swindoll).

Jesus…

  1. Inaugurated His ministry by spending 40 days alone in the desert (Mt. 4:1-11).
  2. Spent the entire night alone in the desert hill, before choosing the twelve (Lk. 6:12).
  3. Upon receiving the news of John the Baptist’s death, “withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself” (Mt. 14:13).
  4. After the miraculous feeding of the five thousand, “went into the hills by himself…” (Mt. 14:23).
  5. Following a long night of work, “in the early morning, while it was still dark, He arose and went to a secluded place, and was praying there …” (Mk. 1:35)
  6. Other instances in Mk. 6:31; Lk. 5:16; Mt. 17:1-9; Mt. 26:36-46.

The Discipline of Solitude Involves

  1. Being Alone With God Free of Distractions
  2. Meditating on the Scriptures
  3. Deliberately Setting Aside Time
  4. The Patience of Hindered Purpose
  5. The Discipline of Delay

How to Grow Deep

Slow Down and Rethink
  1. Take time to discover what really matters
  2. Focus on lifting the curse of superficiality that shadows your life
  3. Grow roots deep into the soil of those things that truly matter
  4. Rework your priorities and rethink your motives
Be Quiet and Reflect
  1. Silence is rarely tolerated in our culture
  2. As soon as you get in your car, you turn on the radio
  3. How desperately we need to push the mute button on all this noise
Be Still and Release
  1. We often battle pride and prestige and seek a place of power
  2. Richard Foster suggests the following as “steps into solitude”: Take advantage of the “little solitudes” that fill our day – “those early morning moments in bed before the family awakens … a morning cup of coffee before beginning the work of the day … the solitude of bumper-to-bumper traffic during the freeway rush hour …”

 “We can find or develop a ‘quiet place’ designed for silence and solitude.” 

“Let’s discipline ourselves so that our words are few and full. Let’s become known as people who have something to say when we speak. Let’s maintain plain speech: do what we say we will do.”

Conclusion:

Please consider the examples of Moses, David, Joseph, Elijah, John the Baptist, and Jesus. Note how they used periods of solitude to grow their relationship with the Father.

We encourage you to follow in the “footprints of Jesus that make the pathway glow “to “Follow the steps of Jesus where-e’er they go.”

(Sources: Chapter 4, “The Necessity of Solitude, Quietness, and Obscurity,” Paul: A Man of Grace and Grit, Charles Swindoll, pp. 45-60; The Disciplines of Life, V. Raymond Edman; Celebration of Discipline, Richard J. Foster, pp. 96-109)

Consider Your Ways… PROCRASTINATION (Haggai 1:2-5)

Here is the outline of a sermon I preached at Park Hill church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR on April 2, 2017. I borrowed the outline from Brother Norman Sewell. Thank you brother Sewell ….

INTRO:
1. Haggai rebuked the people of Judah for working on their own homes, but procrastinating work on the temple. Coming back from Babylonian exile, they were to rebuild the temple of God. “God tells them, “Consider your ways.”
2. But procrastination is easy—finally I’ve found something I’m really good at. Bro. Sewell’s Personal example: put off making necessary repairs in kitchen. My example: put off yard work.
3. What are YOU procrastinating?

I. LAZY PROCRASTINATION
A. Consider the ant (Proverbs 6:6-11). A sluggard is a person who is lazy.
B. One devoid of understanding (Proverbs 24:30-34). Sometimes we put off due to laziness.
C. Offering excuses (Proverbs 26:13-16). We may even imagine obstacles.

II. WRONG PRIORITIES
A. Like the Jews (Haggai 1:2-5)
1. These people had just returned from Babylonian captivity.
2. They had other things on their minds. Their job is to rebuild the temple but there were many things to do that distracted them from accomplishing God’s purpose.

B. Earthly treasures (Matthew 6:19-21)
1. This verse is NOT teaching that God expects us to live w/o planning for the future.
2. But he IS telling us don’t put all your hope in this earthly, physical world!
C. Putting man over God (Matthew 6:24)
1. Man cannot serve God and “mammon” (material things) equally.
2. Jesus asked his disciples in the following verses why they worried so much.
D. Seek FIRST… (Matthew 6:33)
1. Why do we put off things we know that we need to do to be right with God
2. We put our own desires before God

III. OTHER PROBLEMS
A. Fear/ignorance (Matthew 25:24-25)
1. We sometimes put off doing things because we are a little bit afraid
2. Sometimes we fail to think about the consequences (Matthew 25:26-28).
B. Miscalculation of time (Matthew 25:10-12)
1. In the parable Jesus tells, 5 have prepared and 5 have not.
2. The 5 who have not prepared run out of time to do the things they need to do.

C. Negligence (James 4:13-16)
1. Often we know things we should be doing but we don’t do them
2. For whatever reason: laziness, wrong priorities, fear, etch

IV. LESSONS WE CAN LEARN
A. It’s time to start (Nehemiah 2:17)
1. Nehemiah was one of those who came back to Judah after the Babylonian captivity.
2. His job was to help the people rebuild the walls around Jerusalem.
3. He urged the people to get busy. There was danger all around them.

B. Have a mind to work (Nehemiah 4:6)
1. Here is an illustration of what can happen when we decided to get busy.
2. The people “had a mind to work” and because of that amazing things happened.

C. Do what we can (Matthew 25:14-19)

1. The parable of the talents teaches us that we are accountable for doing what we can with what we have.

2. A talent was a measure of gold or silver or item of worth.

3. The point of the parable: Each one was given an amount of responsibility according to his ability.

4. Often we don’t do what we CAN do!

D. Do it now (Acts 22:16; 9:18)
1. Saul was a persecutor until Jesus appeared to him.
2. Ananias, asked Paul why he was waiting.
3. He needed his sins washed away and he needed to do it “immediately.”

CONCLUSION:
1. We offer many excuses for our procrastination; don’t know how; don’t want the responsibility, not convenient, etc.
2. But procrastination can be overcome!
3. But the consequences are eternal if we procrastinate in spiritual things. If we put off our relationship with God, the time might come when we run out of time. Are you putting off being the person you ought to be?
4. Won’t you start obeying God today? Song: “Why Do You Wait?”

(Source: Outline by Norman Sewell)

 

 

 

 

Why You Do … What You Do

Here is the outline of a sermon I preached at Park Hill church of Christ in Fort Smith, AR on April 7, 2013 …

Introduction:
1. My sons, assisted by my wife, gave me a very thoughtful (and much needed, I might add) gift for Fathers’ Day last year – a digital picture frame
a. Linda took a great deal of time to load many, many pictures onto the frame
b. She created a slide that starts the series of pictures (Slide 1)

2. This thought (“Why you do … what you do) gave me the idea for this lesson this morning – a spiritual application
a. As Christians, we engage in many activities,
b. We “go through the motions”
c. We may lose sight of WHY we do what we do

3. Consider with me 3 areas in which you must remember why you do … what you do (Slide 2):
a. In Business/School
b. In Church
c. In Family
I. In Business/School – Temptation to compromise Personal Values

A. I had the opportunity last week to share this message with a group of college seniors who will be graduating from the Florida College Business program next month (Slide 3). I told them, “As you prepare to take your place in the business world, understand that you are entering a challenging place. Your faith may be challenged. You may be challenged to compromise your personal values. You must apply Biblical qualities of character which promote high levels of individual integrity. “I also told them, “You must understand the role that your personal values should play in your decisions as business managers. It is very important that you continue to exert your personal values in the decisions that you take part in. Stand for what is right! Have your conviction reaffirmed by the positive examples of the godly leaders that you have seen at Florida College.”

B. The corporate scandals of 2001 – 2002, that included WorldCom and Enron, revealed several weaknesses in our corporate culture (Slide 4):

1. Business leaders who appeared to be men in good standing in their communities led their companies to engage in fraudulent financial practices to disguise serious errors of judgment. Bernnie Ebbers, CEO of WorldCom, was a youth basketball coach and taught Sunday school, but when put to the test, his underlying personal value system failed him.

2. Mr. Ebbers developed a business strategy that targeted rapid growth through acquisition and merger. The financing of this rapid growth soon got him into financial trouble. He took down with him the WorldCom CFO, Comptroller and Accounting Director, as they all worked to disguise the company’s decreasing earnings in order to try to maintain the price of its stock.

3. The failings at Enron were very similar. At the end of 2001, it was revealed that it’s reported financial condition was sustained substantially by an institutionalized, systematic, and creatively planned accounting fraud, known since as the Enron scandal.

C. So is today’s business environment better because of lessons learned from these and similar business scandals early in this decade (Slide 5)? Many say no. Susanna Kim, in a Dec. 1, 2011 article posted at abcnews.com, “10 Things We Didn’t Learn From Enron Scandal” points out …

1. “… much, unfortunately, has remained the same, with new frauds and excessive risk-taking exposed all too frequently…. Conflicts of interest continue to occur… Many businesses “seem too good to be true,” and so they probably are. A business should make sense. If a company is growing at a fantastic rate and no one can determine how they are doing it, if the cash flows do not match the profits, if it is difficult if not impossible to understand exactly how the firm makes money, if no one can understand how the company is valued – these things should raise “red flags.”

2. Regulators and the regulated continue to debate – is there too much or too little regulation? …

3. Some companies just are not transparent enough. Transparency is vital….. Peter Elkind, editor at large with Fortune magazine, says that companies must clearly disclose the risks they are taking and regulators need to require them to do so. Stephen Lubben, law professor at Seton Hall University School of Law says however that those disclosures are too burdensome and too complicated for investors to understand. He prefers a simpler warning that would say something simple like, “this investment is not guaranteed; you could lose all of your money.”

4. Some companies are leveraged too highly, on the false theory that “more capital is better.” Companies are still lead by individuals with questionable personal values and those values trickle down to others in leadership positions. Preferred stockholders still get preferred treatment, companies still build fragile financial structures and those who are important still make mistakes.

D. You young people are not involved in a business environment yet, but consider the school environment in “your world.” Do you sometime lose sight of “WHY you do what you do” in school (Slide 6).

1. You may get frustrated with some of the subjects you must take – thinking they will never have any application in your life! Remember, your perspective is limited – things that you are doing now are helping prepare you for life as an adult

2. You may be tempted to “slough-off” – to give less than your best – because it does not really matter. Well, it does matter – God expects you to give your best at whatever you. There are many verses in the Bible that teaches this. Consider two of them …
a. We sing a song that is based upon Colossians 3:17 which says, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

b. Consider: Colossians 3:23-24 (ESV): “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

D. What does God expect of us in our business ventures/dealings? Please consider (Slide 7):

1. 2 Cor. 6:14-18: If you are “bound together,” you must be able to exert your personal influences!

2. Prov. 6:6-11: You must be industrious, plan ahead, and whatever your hand finds to do that is good, do it with zeal and as unto the Lord!

3. Eph. 6:10-17; 1Cor. 15:58; Rev. 2:10: Stand for what is right! Don’t compromise with evil! You will receive the victory!

II. In Church (Slide 8):

A. Quarrels (1Cor 1:10-17)
1. Party spirit – who their allegiance was to – over who baptized them

2. Paul’s answer: Christ was crucified for you and it was in His name you were baptized and it was His blood that saved you from your sins

B. The Wisdom of God (1:18-31)

1. The Word of the Cross – perspective of the perishing vs. those being saved

2. The world would never come to know God of its own wisdom – it took preaching!

3. Who was called – the wise of the world or the mighty or the noble? NO – it was through the foolish, weak and base! Paul says God chose this way to shame man so that no one could boast!

C. Preaching that is:

1. Not “persuasive” words of wisdom

2. But in demonstration of Spirit and power

3. “God’s wisdom in a mystery” – not understood by rulers

4. Revealed to the apostles by God through the Spirit

D. Some may still be “infants” in Christ and still fleshly which partly explains their party spirit (3:1-9)(Slide 9)

1. Jealousy & strife among them

2. Walking like mere men

3. Workers in building churches: planters and waterers - God gives increase – workers together with God.

4. Building on the foundation – fire will test the quality of each man’s work

III. In Family:

A. My special gift for Father’s Day reinforces every day that (Slide 10) …

1. My “job” is not an “end” but rather a “means to an end”

2. My service to God, to my family and to my fellow-man is the “end”

3. Sometimes I get too wrapped up in my job, and lose sight of WHY I do … what I do.

B. I recently watched a movie that sent some compelling messages about fatherhood (Slide 11):

1. Our time is short with our children—sometimes shorter than expected—make the most of our time with them and show them the love of Christ.

2. We need to break free from past wrongs of poor or absent fathers and begin a new pattern for future generations of our family—multi-generational faithfulness. While no father on earth is perfect, there is a continual need for all of us who are fathers to repent of sins against our families—like neglect, apathy, and being a poor example and to model for them their Heavenly Father.

3. We need to decide to make a “Resolution” that we will endeavor to become the biblical fathers and husbands we need to be. In the movie, this “Resolution” was a formal document that they signed in a ceremony. Sometimes that helps add conviction and accountability to our actions.
(Adapted from http://christiananswers.net)

C. What God expects of us as fathers and husbands (Slide 12):

1. Eph. 6:4: Just as my children are expected to respect me, as their father, I am instructed not to frustrate them, but to raise them in a godly and gentle way.

2. Joshua 24:14-15: “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

3. Deut. 11:18-21: “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 19 You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 20 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.

4. Eph. 6:22-33 As a husband, I am to love my wife, as Christ loved the church!
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.[a] 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
Conclusion (Slide 13):

1. As Christians, let’s not be guilty of simply going through the motions as we engage the activities and roles of our lives.

2. Let’s not lose sight of WHY we do what we do – In Business/School – In Church – In Family – we do it to serve God, to provide for our families, to help our fellow-man.

3. Let us fight the tendency to get too involved in the responsibilities of the moment that we neglect the preparation for the eternal.