Special Words

Special Words

November 27, 2016

  • Unfathomable (Dictionary): Not capable of being fathomed;immeasurable; and impossible to comprehend.
  • Unfathomable (Bible): That which cannot be searched into, inscrutable, unfathomable; to be deep; to be surpassing or extraordinary.

“Fathom” comes to us from Old English “fæthm”, meaning “outstretched arms.” The noun “fathom “now commonly refers to a measure (especially of depth) of six feet. In one of its earliest uses, the verb “fathom” meant to encircle something with the arms as if for measuring and was also a synonym for “embrace.” The verb also developed senses synonymous with “probe” or “investigate.” It is now frequently used to refer to the act of getting to the bottom of something (figuratively speaking). People say “I just cannot fathom what they are doing!”

As Christians, we study the Bible to more fully fathom the power, the grace and the immense love of our God! A goal in this sermon was to focus on just one of the adjectives we use to describe our loving God. The adjective “unfathomable” is one of the rarely used words from Scripture to describe our God.  It’s interesting that Job used the word unfathomable:

Job 9:6-10: Who shakes the earth out of its place, And its pillars tremble;Who commands the sun, not to shine, And sets a seal upon the stars;Who alone stretches out the heavens And tramples down the waves of the sea;Who makes the Bear, Orion and the Pleiades, And the chambers of the south ;10 Who does great things, unfathomable, And wondrous works without number.”(NASB) 

Job saw God’s power and grandeur as he looked at creation. We look to the stars, like Job, and know in our innermost sprit that they were all created by God! How could anyone deny God’s power and creativity after seeing the stars? We quickly reach a place of silence and awe as we look at what God has done in His creation design. There just are no words able to capture His glory!

Romans 11:32-36: 32 For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! 34 For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? 35 Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again?  36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” (NASB) 

The Apostle Paul understood the love and forgiveness of God and stated plainly that God is the source of all mercy and glory! God offers a rich treasury of grace for us and it is available only through our Savior Jesus. Paul knew that! 

Ephesians 3:8-10: To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things;10 so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. (NASB) 

What we know is that we serve an infinite God who is Omnipresent, Omniscient and Omnipotent! These are just a few of God’s infinite attributes as He Himself is timeless and limitless in every way. God knew we were lost and had a finite or limited understanding of God’s person.  So God sent His only Son and Jesus brought a far deeper understanding of our loving God!

John 14:7-9:  “If you know Me, you will also know My Father. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.“Lord,” said Philip, “show us the Father, and that’s enough for us.”Jesus said to him, “Have I been among you all this time without your knowing Me, Philip? The one who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (HCSB)

So we see that Jesus came to reveal His Father and to bring salvation in the fullness of time. Yes, God is unfathomable, but through Jesus we now have a stronger faith and understanding of how deeply our God loves us. We may be limited by our available vocabulary but unlimited by our praise, worship and prayers! His Son on the cross-dying for me-I can only cry out ABBA Father!

The Refuge

The Refuge

November 20, 2016

  • Refuge (Dictionary): Shelter or protection from danger or distress, a place that provides shelter or protection; something to which one has recourse in difficulty.
  • Refuge(Bible): Flee for refuge; hope, hope for, expect, trust; return, retire, withdraw, depart.

I guess I have often seen the word “refuge” as a safe place-like a fortress. The re-in refuge means basically “back” or “backward.” Thus, a   refugee is someone who is “fleeing backward”. Refuge tends to appear with certain other words: you generally “seek refuge”, “take refuge”, or “find refuge”. Our individual faith is a refuge provided by the Holy Spirit.

For Christians, fleeing backwards is not running away. In fact, the word “refuge” only appears one time (see Hebrews). Rather it is running towards or returning to our firm foundation who is Jesus Christ! Like the writer of Hebrews reveals it is to renew or seize the hope we have:

Hebrews 6:18: 18So that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to seize the hope set before us.”(HCSB) 

We should remember that we are living in a God given place of refuge which is in Christ and purchased by His blood! King David knew all about the need for a refuge and saw it primarily as a spiritual place. As David aged, he understood the need for a place of refuge in his life more than ever.

In Psalm 71, David speaks about “old men.” I appreciate David’s prayer and insight as I too am nearing that, (but still not there) old man season of life:

Psalm 71:1-3: 1 Lord, I seek refuge in You; let me never be disgraced. In Your justice, rescue and deliver me; listen closely to me and save me. Be a rock of refuge for me, where I can always go. Give the command to save me, for You are my rock and fortress.” (HCSB) 

David had enemies who wanted him out of the way. As a result, he fervently sought God’s strength and refuge. He knew that God had never failed him and that he had more to do in life. Our roles often change as we age. David saw his long term role being a leader and example for the upcoming generations:

Psalm 71:15-18:  “15 My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness And of Your salvation all day long; For I do not know the sum of them.16 I will come with the mighty deeds of the Lord God; I will make mention of Your righteousness, Yours alone.17 O God, You have taught me from my youth, And I still declare Your wondrous deeds.18And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to all who are to come.” (HCSB)

They say that when an old person dies it is like a library or historical building and its contents lost to a fire. David saw part of his new role was to speak words of strength to the next generation and those who were to follow. He knew he was to be an example of how and where to seek refuge during the battles of life:

Psalm 61:1-4: ”God, hear my cry; pay attention to my prayer. I call to You from the ends of the earth when my heart is without strength. Lead me to a rock that is high above me, for You have been a refuge for me, a strong tower in the face of the enemy. I will live in Your tent forever and take refuge under the shelter of Your wings. Selah” (HCSB) 

David was a life-long witness and a testimony to others of Gods’ love and power.

Psalm 71:5-9: For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth.From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother’s womb. I will ever praise you. I have become a sign to many; you are my strong refuge.My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long.Do not caste away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone.” (NIV)

A word to the mature in age: God has much for you to do including investing in the next generations! A word to the next generations: take the time to seek wisdom and knowledge from the older folks! It will be time very well spent.

I See!

I See!

November 13,2016

  • Sight (Dictionary): Something that is seen-a spectacle a thing regarded as worth seeing —usually used in plural; something ludicrous or disorderly in appearance (you look asight).
  • Sight (Bible): Before the face of, in the presence of, in the eyes of; a spectacle, vision, that which is seen; a terrible sight, look, see, perceive, discern; vision, that which is seen.

This is the last sermon dealing with our 5 senses. It looks at the gift of sight. As Christians we have been granted both physical sight and spiritual sight. The spiritual sight is provided by the Holy Spirit’. The physical sight is simply what we see. In both cases there should be a deep appreciation of Gods’ works. Through our eyes we appreciate the beauty of a rainbow but through our spiritual eyes we also see-at the same time- the heart of our covenant God. The world around us is unable to see or have a true spiritual insight into the one true living God. Jesus knew the battles we face each day required the Spirit of Truth:

Romans 8:5-9: Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will.8 That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.” (NLT) 

However the grace of God gives us a special way to see:

John 14:16-17, 26: 16 And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. 17 He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive Him because it doesn’t see Him or know Him. But you do know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you…26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit—the Father will send Him in My name—will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.” (HCSB)

It is also true that we walk by faith and not by sight!

2 Corinthians 5:6-8: Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord—for we walk by faith, not by sight we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.” (NASB) 

There are those that we may encounter that will challenge us to prove our faith. What I hear from some who disregard the gospel is “seeing is believing.” We need not fear such challenges as we have the testimony of the Holy Spirit within us and we are heirs of the kingdom. We need to pray and give a word of hope:

Romans 8:15-17: 15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, 17 and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.”(HCSB)

People are searching all over the world to find proof of God’s existence and wondering if there really is a heaven. They join together to cry out: “If my eyes can actually see God, I will believe!” They are only seeing with their physical eyes. As a result, they create carved idols, secret clubs and man-made religion to satisfy their spiritual void.

It is all to do with God’s grace! He chooses us, brings us close to Him through the Holy Spirit and makes us into a new creation in Christ. We are granted salvation and given our unique “lifesong” as Casting Crowns reveals in the following verses:

Lifesong

I once was lost, but now I’m found
I once was lost, but now I’m found
So far away, but I’m home now
I once was lost, but now I’m found
And my lifesong sings

I once was blind, but now I see
I once was blind, but now I see
I don’t know how, but when He touched me

I once was blind, but now I see

And now my lifesong sings
And now my lifesong sings

I have always loved this song. It fit so well into my life. Perhaps you are searching for a new life and a God breathed lifesong. If that is so, and you are struggling with your faith, turn your eyes upon Jesus and surrender everything to Him. Begin to seek Him with a renewed joy and prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to refresh your spirit! He will absolutely do it!

I saw a distant light house;

Withstanding pounding waves.

My eyes were so downcast;

As I sought the God who saves.

.

 My sight was soon restored;

As I stood by that mighty sea.

I heard His quiet voice say;

My sweet child just look to Me.

Hey, I Heard That!

Hey, I Heard That!

November 6, 2016

  • Hear (Dictionary): To perceive or apprehend by the ear to gain knowledge of by hearing; to listen to with attention; heed;  give a legal hearing; to take testimony from.
  • Hear (Bible): Hear; listen to, hear favorably; prayer; hearken to; to listen attentively.

The human ear is a powerful example of engineering! Scientists are still studying our ears and many of them already know our ears have a complexity that only God could design.

I have heard it said that God gave us two ears to listen but only one mouth to speak. A quick scan of the bible indicates that the words for listening are about 3x the number used for speaking. So there may be some truth in how much we should speak!

When I considered how to study the subject of hearing, the first Scripture I thought of was Romans 10:

Romans 10:13-17:  13″ Anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.14 But how shall they ask him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? 15 And how will anyone go and tell them unless someone sends him? That is what the Scriptures are talking about when they say, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the Gospel of peace with God and bring glad tidings of good things.” In other words, how welcome are those who come preaching God’s Good News! 16 But not everyone who hears the Good News has welcomed it, for Isaiah the prophet said, “Lord, who has believed me when I told them?”[b] 17 Yet faith comes from listening to this Good News—the Good News about Christ.” (TLB)

When we read this Scripture we see the plan of Father God for a path to salvation. It is built upon the words of Jesus Christ and spoken under Holy Spirit anointing. It begins with beautiful feet and results in salvation. But the heart of the message is hearing in combination with faith.  The “messengers” are those who bring the good news and are willing to be sent. Paul was a messenger and he wrote:

Romans 1:15-17:  15 “So I am eager to come to you in Rome, too, to preach the Good News.16 For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. 17 This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” (NLT)

Paul knew the power of the words of Christ and pressed onward to preach and teach! He knew that when God sends out a worker, He sends them empowered to fulfill God’s will. God does not send out His messengers to fail! On the contrary he sends them to reveal the good news and to bring words of salvation. The words from Jesus carry a message for us this day:

Mathew 9:35-38: 35 “Then Jesus went to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness.36 When He saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them, because they were weary and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd. 37Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. 38 Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” (HCSB)

Jesus came to bring salvation to a weary and worn out world. It is no different today! What we see are people from everywhere struggling and often with no hope. We could even apply the prophet Joel’s words to the nations:

Joel 3:14: “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.” (NASB)

So, what can we do as we hear the struggles around us? We can go to the Lord and simply say:” here I am Lord, I am available to you. Please anoint and use me as a messenger of truth. Give me your ears to hear the heart of those around me.” I give you my all!

Aromatic

Aromatic

October 30, 2016

  • Aroma (Dictionary): A distinctive pervasive and usually pleasant or savory smell; the odor of a wine imparted by the grapes from which it is made.
  • Aroma (Bible): Fragrance, acceptable, accepted; savor; scent, odor; a memorial offering; odious, smell.

We have been looking at the five senses and this sermon looks at the gift of smell. At the top of your nasal passages behind your nose, there is a patch of special neurons about the size of a postage stamp. These neurons are unique in that they are out in the open where they can come into contact with the air. They have hair-like projections called cilia that increase their surface area. An odor molecule binds to a cilia which triggers the neuron and, in turn, causes you to perceive a smell.

I used to work in a multi-story office building. I recall getting on the elevators in the morning and often being deluged with perfume aromas from the ladies and aftershave smells from the men. That particular environment could easily have lead into an all day headache! That is, aromas out of control! Of course there are also many good perfume aromas and myriad of other things such as food aromas. All in all, the gift of smell is truly amazing!

God’s gift of aromas and smell is a wonderful gift! Paul recognized the power of aroma and used a metaphor to focus on that of “spiritual aromas”:

2 Corinthians 2:14-16: 14But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.  15For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; 16to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life and who is adequate for these things?” (NASB)

When we put on perfume or after shave, we are hoping to smell good to others. But God has His own aromas for His children. It doesn’t mean we need to spray a particular scent on us. In fact, our knowledge of Him is a powerful aroma” and He uses us to exude His sweet aroma of salvation to those we meet!

As we look at the 2 Corinthians Scripture above, we see that we each have the spiritual aroma Paul is talking about.  That aroma is the anointing we receive when we ask Jesus into our life and receive His great gift of salvation. Those around us see the change in us! There is a new aroma present when we are born again! Those around us hear and see the joy we have and can respond either with joy or in a negative way. One is life to life and the other is death to death.

So we see that our Christ given fragrance can actually be both sweet and repulsive at the same time. To those who know Jesus and to those who will be saved- it is sweet. To those who are lost and perishing, it is an aroma for death and judgment.

John 7:38-39: 38“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” (NASB) 

When the Holy Spirit lives in us, Jesus says it is like a stream of life. We become a sweet fragrance and produce fruit that has a wonderful aroma! The Apostle Paul spoke of this aroma to the church at Philippi in terms of a gift sent by them to Paul:

Philippians 4:18: But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God.”(NASB)

Paul also sent a letter to the believers in Ephesus:

Ephesians 5:2: and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” (NASB)

As we study the above two Scriptures, we see that a part of our God given aroma is to give just as Jesus gave Himself up to the cross. Lets us always have a Godly, desirable life aroma, wherever we are!

The Power of Touch

The Power of Touch

October 23, 2016

  • Touch (Dictionary): To feel something with a body part (as the hand or foot); to lay hand or finger on a person to cure disease; to be in contact; to change or move something.
  • Touch (Bible): To touch or play a stringed instrument; touch, handle, injure, harm; to fasten to, lay hold of.

The word touch has both a physical and perceptive meaning-like the word “taste.” The Gathers wrote a wonderful song entitled “He Touched Me” which focused on the perceptive nature of our sense of touch:

Shackled by a heavy burden,

‘Neath a load of guilt and shame.

Then the hand of Jesus touched me,

And now I am no longer the same.

He touched me, Oh He touched me,

And oh the joy that floods my soul!

Something happened and now I know,

He touched me and made me whole.

Since I met this blessed Savior,

Since He cleansed and made me whole,

I will never cease to praise Him,

I’ll shout it while eternity rolls.

He touched me, Oh He touched me,

And oh the joy that floods my soul!

Something happened and now I know

He touched me and made me whole

Touch is a word in common use. Here are some of the ways our loving God touches or has touched us in the past:

  • He touches us by His creation. Just look at the sun rise and sun set each day!
  • He touches us through the study and reading of the Word of God;
  • By preaching the Word;
  • Through the supernatural communication of the Spirit of God;
  • He touches us by the witness of believers.

Matthew 8:1-3:  Large crowds followed Jesus as he came down the mountainside.Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached him and knelt before him. “Lord,” the man said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.”Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared. (NLT)

This is a wonderful Scripture.  In Jesus time, there was no cure for leprosy and lepers were shunned and forced to live outside the city. They were also banned from the temple. Jesus looked at the leper who knelt before Him, and with compassion He touched and healed him. Jesus was not hung up on the stigma of leprosy and its power over mankind. Some may see themselves as lost in sin with little hope-like the leper. But like the leper, we always have access to healing and a new start through Jesus our High Priest. 

Hebrews 4:14-16:  14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens—Jesus the Son of God—let us hold fast to the confession.15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time. (NCSB)

As a leper, he knew he could never reach the temple and offer sacrifices to cover his sins. However he was not a man who gives hope! When we look at the leper, we see his great boldness and his faith. The reality was that the “throne of grace” was standing right before him!

The word “boldly” or “boldness” literally means “freedom, openness-especially in speech.”

When we consider the boldness of the leper we too should examine ourselves and come boldly to God through prayer.

Like Jesus, we too can touch hurting people. There are so many that need a touch of compassion such as a smile a hug, or a word of encouragement. Such a touch can have a profound impact on people! Sometimes the simplest word can push darkness away and bring hope.

Hebrews 7:22-25: 22 So Jesus has also become the guarantee of a better covenant.23 Now many have become Levitical priests, since they are prevented by death from remaining in office. 24 But because He remains forever, He holds His priesthood permanently. 25 Therefore, He is always able to save those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to intercede for them. (HCSB)

Since I met this blessed Savior,

Since He cleansed and made me whole,

I will never cease to praise Him,

I’ll shout it while eternity rolls.

Chip Dip

Chip Dip

October 16, 2016

  • Taste (Dictionary): To become acquainted with by experience); to ascertain the flavor of by taking a little into the mouth to eat or drink especially in small quantities; to perceive or recognize as if by the sense of taste.
  • Taste (Bible): In need; needy; poor; lacking; beg, request; necessity, constraint; compulsion.

I remember the day when I first tasted chip dip. I had never heard of chip dip, but with one taste, I was hooked! It was amazing and I ended up eating a whole bag of chips and a container of dip that day!

Taste is one of the 5 senses we have been gifted with by God. Taste has a physical component and a “perceptive” component. Taste perception could include statements such as:

  • She talked about the day when she first tasted the joy of flying;
  • He has tasted the frustration of defeat;
  • The distinctive quality of an experience-that poorly acted  scene left a bad taste in my mouth;
  • The flower arrangements were tastefully done.

I also remember the day I accepted Jesus into my heart and life. Like chip dip it was a new “taste” in my life. That was over 40 years ago. Chip dip may be delicious but when you first grasp or “taste” God’s grace you become totally captured by His love and for life!

The Bible also presents some wonderful “taste’ perceptions as noted below: 

Psalm 34:7-8: 7The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him,
And rescues them.O taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” (NASB)
 

This is a great Scripture as it speaks of the goodness of God and portrays the Lord as our refuge. Tasting the goodness of the Lord is to surrender all we are and all we have to Him who loves us!

Jesus used the word “taste” several times:

Matthew 5:13-16:   13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by men.14 “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden.15 No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (HCSB) 

Jesus used the words “taste/salt” when issuing a strong warning to His Disciples for those who would consider separating themselves from the Gospel. He also spoke of tasting death:

Matthew 16:28:  28 “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” (NASB) 

Scholars have studied the above Scripture for many years. It seems most likely that it is tied to the transfiguration.

Hebrews 2:9-10:  But we do see Jesus—made lower than the angels for a short time so that by God’s grace He might taste death for everyone—crowned with glory and honor because of His suffering in death.10 For in bringing many sons to glory, it was entirely appropriate that God—all things exist for Him and through Him—should make the source of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”(HCSB) 

Jesus died a horrible death on the cross and through the cross “tasted” death and suffering for all mankind. How can we ignore such love? The writer of Hebrews addresses the incredible danger of walking away from faith in God:

Hebrews 6:4-6: For it is impossible to renew to repentance those who were once enlightened, who tasted the heavenly gift, became companions with the Holy Spirit, tasted God’s good word and the powers of the coming age, and who have fallen away, because, to their own harm, they are recrucifying the Son of God and holding Him up to contempt.” (HCSB)

The use of chip dip as a metaphor is a challenge for all who seek out Jesus and the taste salvation. Those of us who surrendered our lives to Jesus have, experienced that first taste of God’s love and His ongoing grace! So, the question remains: have  you tasted His goodness? If you haven’t, then considering doing it right now.

If I had never tasted chip dip I would have missed out on a wonderful experience. But if I had not tasted Gods salvation and grace, I would have missed eternity in heaven!  And here on earth I would have missed the Holy Spirit’s gifts of peace, love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.

Psalm 34: O taste and see that the Lord is good;