Samples: Topical

Topical sermons from a series titled “Abundant Life

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ABUNDANT LIFE SERIES #1

The Most Important Thing In Life

Text – MATT. 16:13-16

What is the one thing that matters most? It is a question that was asked over 2,000 years ago. And it is a question that continues to be asked today –  “What will you do about Jesus?”

Matthew 16:13-16 says – When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Begin with your story!

My story: Something happened to me on July 24, 1970. It was 49 years-ago – but it changed my life forever. I was on a construction site on Friday after work. We often ended the work week having a few beers and cooling off. As I sat there that day, I suddenly came under deep conviction. I threw away my cigarettes – put down my drink – and drove home. I waited for Sunday AM, July 26, 1970 to drive to church so I could give my life to Jesus. That choice has since that day affected everything about my entire life.

Let me tell you the rest of the story

On Sunday morning, July 26 1970, I went to church on purpose to give my life to the Lord. I did the same thing for the next 10 weeks in a row. I’m not sure I fully understood it all – I was still struggling some ten weeks later. Finally, on the last Sunday of September, the sermon was entirely about the Crucifixion. The preacher described the crucifixion of Jesus. The horrible treatment Jesus experienced of being beaten and the stripes on Jesus’ back. He described the nails in Jesus’s hands, the nails in Jesus’ feet, and the spear in Jesus’ side. I ran to the altar and cried for over an hour. I realized that  Jesus had went through all of that In order to pay for the sins of Stephen Jordan. He paid for my mistakes so I could be forgiven. No one has ever done so much for me. I made a choice that day to serve Him for the rest of my life.

Intro: Throughout your life you have been and you will be asked many questions. Now – some questions are not really that big of a deal? You may be asked:

Paper or plastic?   • Regular or decaf coffee?  • Hot or mild sauce?     • Which do you prefer, table or booth?   • Medium or well done   • Coke or Pepsi

There are – other questions that are pretty important – Like –

  • Where are you going to college?
  • What career to you want to pursue?
  • Who are you going to marry?
  • How many children are you going to have?
  • Are you going to fight to restore that relationship or just give up?

These are all pretty important questions. But understand – there is one central question that we all must deal, wrestle, and struggle with for our entire lives.

That question is our text for today. In Matthew 16:13 – Jesus asked His disciples  “Who do people think I am?” The disciples said that some think this, others think that You are John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or a  prophet. Then Jesus asked – “Who do you think I am? ”Peter spoke for the group and answered Matthew 16:16, “YOU ARE THE CHRIST – THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD.” In other words, You are the one God sent to set us free from our sins.

We need to understand that the most important question that we will ever be asked – and the most important answer that we will ever give is – to answer that very question. Who do you say that Jesus is?

But hold everything – there is more to this most important thing in life. We need to consider two simple statements – and you may at first question these two statements but listen carefully!

(1) The first statement is – We don’t really know Jesus. Let me repeat that, “We don’t really know Jesus!” What do you think of that statement? How does it make you feel? Does it make you feel confused, angry, offended, or insecure? Do you agree with that statement?

Does it kind of tick you off that I would even say such a thing? You got up this morning and you came to church. You brought your Bibles and you sang about Jesus. You gave an offering and have done so for years. And then some guy tells you that you don’t really know Jesus.

Let me share a verse with you that describes why I make that statement. There is a man in the New Testament of the Bible. A man who had many personal encounters with Jesus Christ. A man who had totally and radically given his life for Jesus. A man who Jesus asked to personally represent Him to the Gentiles. A man who Jesus gave the power; to heal, perform miracles, and even raise the dead. A man who was willing to go without food or water, be beaten, betrayed, whipped, stoned, and put into prison. All – in order to live for Jesus. God used this man to write at least 13 books of the New Testament. This particular man said, meant, and embodied, the following statement – “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Phil 1:21)

2,000 years ago, from inside a prison cell, (yes in jail for serving Jesus) that man – the apostle Paul wrote; Philippians 3:7-9. “Whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss  compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord,  for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.”

Do you see what Paul is saying? He is saying that he has given up all the stuff that he used to do in his attempt to approach God. And instead, he now simply accepts the righteousness that comes by faith and through knowing Jesus Christ. And then – Paul continues with these words,  Philippians 3:10, “I want to know Christ – yes to know the power of His resurrection and to participate in His sufferings.”

Understand – if Paul’s life came down to one thing (and it did) – it was knowing Christ.

Paul was saying, “It is the one thing that matters the most!!!

Now – if Paul understood that despite all that he knew, that – he still didn’t really know Jesus enough, how can we say that we do? I mean – how can we say, “Christ, I already know Him!” I know all the answers. I make my own choices.

Now – don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that you don’t know anything about Jesus. And I am not saying that what you know about Him has not impacted and changed your life. I am not saying that He has not already brought you hope, peace, joy, light, and purpose, where there had been none.

Listen today – I know Jesus, but not fully enough. What I know of Him has certainly changed my life. I am not the same person today that met Jesus on July 26, 1970. And – if you are a believer you are not the same person that you were the first time you met Him either.

But listen – there is so much more to KNOWING Jesus than anyone of us could ever imagine. Yes – what you know and have experienced so far is good – But – there is so much more we need to learn!

We only learn by going through what God wants to take us through.

I have been serving Jesus for 49 years and I feel like I have been through just about everything. But I also have to say this – I don’t know all I need to know about Jesus! YES – I know Him (some) – but – there is still so much more to this; Indescribable, Uncontainable, Untamable, All-powerful – You are amazing God!

That is why I say today – It is the one thing that matters the most!!!

I continue to seek to know who Jesus really is. Coming to church is a start -but we need to seek Him through prayer. We need to dig deep into His word. We need each-others fellowship. It is a dangerous & costly thing to believe that you already have Jesus Christ all figured out.

Now – if you need proof of this, you don’t need to look any further than the Pharisees of the 1st century. I mean – these guys missed out on so much. Jesus was right there before their very eyes and they didn’t even know it. Why? because they had already in permanent marker defined the Christ in their own minds. In Luke 7 they watched as Jesus forgave the woman who anointed His feet with perfume of all her sins – but – they refused to seek that same forgiveness. Think about it! – they are in the very presence of the one  who could forgive every sin in their lives – And they don’t even ask Him. But instead they object to what He is doing. That is why we need to really know Him.

It is the one thing that matters the most!!!

(2) The second statement is – We really need to know Jesus. We really need to learn to stick with Him no matter what. Even when we don’t understand everything that is happening in our life.

In the 8th chapter of Matthew, Jesus and His disciples got into a boat, and Jesus took a nap. A violent wind came up and so the disciples woke Jesus and said, (Mark 8:35) Lord don’t you care, we are about to die?” Jesus stood and rebuked the wind and the waves. Why did that have to happen? Because they didn’t know Him well enough yet!

in the 14th chapter of Matthew’s gospel Jesus had just fed 5,000+ people with a young boy’s sack lunch. Right away, Jesus made His disciples get into a boat and start back across the lake. But Jesus stayed until He had sent the crowds away. You see Jesus cares about people more we could ever know. In verse 25, a little while before morning, Jesus came walking on the water toward His disciples. In verse 26, when they saw Jesus, they thought He was a ghost. They were terrified and started screaming. Why? They didn’t know Him well enough yet!

In Matthew 14:28,  Peter hollers, “if that’s You let me walk to you.  ”Question – why were the disciples terrified? Why did they scream? Because they did not know all about who the guy walking on the water in the middle of those crashing waves was.

It is the one thing that matters the most!!!

Somebody here needs these words – and right now, you are kind of huddled up in this boat and you feel surrounded by crashing waves of fear, doubt, and uncertainty –  You need to hear the Father say,  “I am taking you through this so you will get to know me more.” Why? – because people who know who He is realize; It is the one thing that matters the most!!! It is because we don’t really know who the guy is that is walking on the crashing waves of our lives is!

We need to pray, “Lord, I want to see Jesus. I want to see Him in ways that I have never seen Him before.” I am not talking about seeing Him with the eyes of your head, but with the eyes of your understanding.

Jesus wants to radically impact the way we live. He wants us to experience fullness of life. He wants us to have a peace that passes understanding.

IT IS THE ONE THING THAT MATTERS MOST!!!


ABUNDANT LIFE SERIES #2

Knowing God’s Will for Your Life

Text – ROMANS 12:1-2

People can often struggle with knowing the will of God in many areas of their life. Although it is difficult to be specific. Here are some basic Biblical guidelines of understanding.

Romans 12:1-2 says – “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

Intro: Everyone one of us will probably come to a place as we live out our lives, hopefully regularly, when we want to ask, “God what is your will for me in this situation?” How do we prove to ourselves what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God? It is important first of all for us to understand that God wants us to know His perfect will for us.

Notes: Let’s begin with three, what we might call, pre-qualifiers for seeking God for His will in some area of our life.

(1) We need to come to God praising Him and not questioning Him.

We need to understand that God loves us! He created this world for us! He sent His Son to die on the cross for us! Why would he not then have a purpose for us in mind? Why then would we not want to discover His will for our life? We need to understand that God wants us to follow Him and enjoy the blessings of His will for our life. Since that is true, we need to come to Him praising Him and believing Him to show us His will.

When we come to God in faith He will lead you, show you, and guide you into all truth. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything – give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” We need to understand that God definitely wants you to be blessed by doing His will. You don’t have to talk God into it!

(2) GOD wants you to know His will more than you want to know His will.

God does not like to double cross people, get them out on a limb and then just cut it off, or just let you live your life guessing. God is our Father, and God is a very good Father. God loves his children! God wants to lead you and he wants to guide you. But he can’t do it unless we put our faith and our trust in Him!

Romans 8:26-27 says, God’s Spirit also helps in our weakness. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for us according to His will.

We need to understand that God wants us to know His will, but also understand that God is the one who will choose how to do it. Our part is to praise Him and thank Him that He is going to show us. The bottom line is we need to praise Him, trust Him, walk with Him. You can trust God because He wants you to know his will.

(3) When you want GOD’s will more than you want your own will you are in God’s will.

Surely none of us would ever question the fact the God is incomparably smarter than we are or will ever be. That means that the smartest thing for us to do is to say, “God please show me Your will. I want to do this Your way Lord. I am convinced Lord that Your way is the best way!”

We need to understand that the will of God is not a place. The will of God is an attitude! The Bible says, “The just shall live by faith.” When you have the right attitude, you will find your way to the right place. We need to also understand that we can get out of the will of God by simply deciding we are going do something even though we know it is something God does not approve of. If we insist on doing something our own way in spite of what we know God would have us to do, we have placed ourselves outside of the will of God. But the moment we decide that we want God’s will above our own will then we have the right attitude. God will keep us in the right place.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the thoughts that I think towards you says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” We have to be careful not to put up barriers by insisting on our own way. The biggest difference is that we cannot see down the road, but God knows what our tomorrows are going to be like.

  • When we come to God praising Him and not questioning Him.
  • When we realize God wants us to know His will more than we do.
  • When we want God’s will more than we want our own will.

We are in God’s will.

Here are three lessons concerning understanding the will of God:

LESSON NUMBER ONE: GOD’S WORD IS ALWAYS GOD’S WILL.

Psalm 119:11 says, “Your word have I hid in my heart so that I won’t sin against You.” Think about it, if there was anything any better it would be in the Bible. God and His word are the same yesterday, today, & forever. When God tells us to do something that is in His word, we know for absolute sure that is His will. The Bible contains rules that are for everybody everywhere.

Let’s consider a list of a few examples people often ask:

Is it God’s will for a Christian to marry a non-Christian?

  • 2 Corinthians 6:14 says, “Do not be unequally yoked together with an unbeliever.”

How important is it that I participate in water baptism?

  • Matthew 28:19 says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Does God really expect me to pay a tithe on my income?

  • Malachi 3:10 says, Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house. “Test Me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the flood gates of Heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”

Note: There are many things God does not want us to do because God knows all those things are going to be hurtful to us.

Exodus 20:1-17 says, we’re not supposed to lie, we’re not supposed to cheat, we’re not supposed to steal, we’re not supposed to be unfaithful to our spouse. Again, those are things that will not be good for us. On the other hand, we are also told to put God first in our life, and honor our mother and father, because those things will result in being a blessing to us. The one who made us knows what is best for us!

When the Bible says yes – we know that is God’s will

When the Bible says no – we know that is God’s will

LESSON NUMBER TWO: GOD WANTS TO GIVE YOU THE DESIRES OF YOUR HEART.

Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

Normally, if it is not wrong, God is going to give you what you desire. If you have been:

ONE: Praising & thanking Him.

TWO: Realizing He wants what’s best for you more than you do.

THREE: Wanting God’s will more than we want our own will.

God knows us better than we know ourselves. It is acceptable for us to desire things as long as we let God lead us in the fulfilling of those things. In other words, we need to look to God to produce the results that will truly be a blessing to us. We need to do our best to be attentive to God and to trust God to lead us back if we are getting a little off track.

We should always prayerfully seek that God would prevent us from getting away from where we should be in our life. Ask God to be in the midst of our schooling, career, marriage, home-life, children, etc.

LESSON NUMBER THREE: LET THE PEACE OF GOD  RULE IN YOUR HEART.

Colossians 3:15 says, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.”

In the original Greek, the word rule, on this occasion, comes from the same word that means umpire. In other words, we need to let God call the close ones for us. We must understand that only God can give you peace. And when He gives you peace everything is okay.

1 Corinthians 14:33 says, “God is not the author of confusion but of peace.” God’s peace can keep us from running all over the place and wondering if we are doing the right thing.

When we are making decisions, we can trust God to guide us. When we study the options, we should look them over and do our best to choose what seems to be in sync with God’s word, what He has done in your life in the past, and what you feel you really should do. God will be there to guide you and give you peace in your decisions. Trust God and believe that if somewhere along the way your decision brings a test your way that before long God is going to intervene for you.

LESSON NUMBER FOUR: GOD’S WILL IS WHAT WILL BE BEST FOR YOU.

Hebrews 13:20-21 says, “Now may the God of peace make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight.”

Let’s be honest with ourselves. If I can’t carry a tune, I am probably not called to be a worship leader. If I don’t do well in certain areas that is probably not where I should seek a career. We all have a list of things we can do, and a list of things that we cannot do so well. God does not call us to live a life of total frustration.

God does however gift every one of us in some area. Where your gifts are is where you will do well and be able to bring glory to God. Healthy wholesome desires are no doubt given to us from God.

Illustration: Charles Blair for many years pastored Calvary Temple in Denver Colorado. Charles himself told the story of how when he attended college, he had a roommate who also became a pastor. As you know, Denver is a big town – Charles Blair’s friend was called to serve in a little town of about 1,000 people. One day Charles drove out to visit his college friend. His friend got up the next morning, and he took Charles with him to have him listen as he taped his daily local 50 watts radio program. The friend opened the broadcast saying, “Hello world” – He then proceeded as if he was speaking to a million people. Afterwards – Charles told his friend, “Don’t you think you’re putting it on a little bit thick. Are you acting this way because I am with you?” Charles Blair’s friend looked at him and said, “I am as honest as I can be. This is my world.” Then he went on to say, “Listen, any sissy can pastor 5,000 people in a great big town. It takes a man of God to pastor out here where we might get one visitor a year.” Even if God has placed us where not much happens, we have to be faithful anyway.

So, once again, Praise God for what you can do and seek Him to help you to become even better in those areas. Trust God that He has a purpose and a reason for all that He leads you through. Walk with God daily by reading His word and pouring your heart out to Him in prayer. By doing this we will be fulfilled within the gifts He has given us.


ABUNDANT LIFE SERIES #3

God’s Purpose In Your Life

Text – MARK 12:28-31

We have probably all wondered why God created the heavens and the earth in the first place. Also, why did God create the human race? The Bible makes it very clear that God created us to give Him glory. He also created us to help everyone else around us to know Him too.

Mark 12:28-31 says – One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked Him, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

Intro: In our text today a lawyer asks Jesus, “What is the greatest commandment?” We must remember however, these are the Pharisees and the Sadducees. They are testing Jesus. They are not interested in truth. They are trying to twist His words. But their question is our question. The substance of our lessons today.

(1) WHAT IS GOD’S MAIN PURPOSE FOR OUR LIFE?

First of all, with this one commandment, God makes it clear that He has a purpose for us. His purpose is for us to have a relationship with Him where He is pre-eminent in our life. We must understand that God sees our relationship with Him much like a marriage relationship. In fact, we, His church, are called the bride of Christ. It’s not enough to stand at the altar and say, “You’ll be my favorite girlfriend!” The words are, “Forsaking All Others.” If either spouse does not forsake all others, it usually spells destruction for the marriage.

Secondly, there is only one God, and there is one main purpose of the God who is revealed to us in the Bible. God calls us into a relationship with Him where we give Him the glory that He deserves. What does it mean to give God glory? Giving God glory is the subject of well over 400 verses in the Bible. There are actually an innumerable and nearly inexhaustible amount of ways to give God glory that are mentioned in the Bible. Consider these Biblical accounts:

  • In Exodus 16:7 – it meant for Israel to acknowledge the one true God.
  • In Joshua 7:19 – it meant for Achan to tell the truth.
  • In 1 Chronicles 16:25-29 – it meant giving God credit for His creation.
  • In Psalm 29:1-3 – it means heaven and earth worships God.
  • In Psalm 96 – it means all the earth declares the goodness of God.
  • In Jeremiah 13:15-17 – it meant repentance and confession.
  • In Malachi 1:13-14 – it meant not offering blemished sacrifices.
  • In John 9:24 – it meant telling others what Jesus had done.

Consider the acrostic given below to explain the word glory.

  • Gratitude – Grateful enough to return the favor you’ve been shown.
  • Love – Deep, tender, and warm affection and attachment to another.
  • Obedience – The action of submitting to and serving an authority.
  • Respect – To show high regard, honor, reverence, and esteem for.
  • Yourself – The emphasis is on the individual person being spoken to.

Illustration: I learned while serving in the U.S. Army, the importance of how to use a compass. If you have a compass on your person, it can almost be impossible to get lost. This is how a compass works. You hold it in front of yourself, and no matter what you do – the needle on the compass always goes towards true north. You then turn your body until the needle on the compass is on north. Now you know the direction of where everything else is. If you are anywhere in America, Canada is above you, Mexico is beneath you, the Pacific ocean is to your left, and the Atlantic ocean is to your right. Our very life needs to be like that compass needle! In this world we may get twisted in any direction at any time due to circumstances that happen all around us. But the person whose life is bound up in the glory of God will always come to a rest pointing towards Him.

Where does your mind point when it comes to rest? What is important to you? Where do you spend your free time? What do you think about? What do you long for? What are you living for? Is God the center of you life? We must never lose sight of this first commandment of giving glory to God. If we lose sight of the most important thing, we miss our purpose in this life.

Illustration: One day, a young follower of Christ became very hungry for the things of God. He knew he needed some direction. He decided that he wanted to become all that God had in store for him. So, he visited the home of an elderly Christian. He had heard that this old man from over all the years had never lost his first love for Jesus. When he got to the man’s house, the elderly man was sitting on the porch with his dog. He was taking in a beautiful sunset. The young man posed this question: “Why is it that some Christians zealously chase after God only during the first year or two after their conversion? Why do some people later fall into a complacent ritual of Church once or twice a month? Why are they no longer all that contented? Why do they become restless, disengaged, and many times end up in a state of confusion? I have heard that you are not like that. I have been told that you have fervently sought God throughout all these years. What makes you different?”

The old man smiled and replied. “Let me tell you a story: One day I was sitting here quietly in the sun with my dog. Suddenly a large white rabbit ran across the field right in front of us. Well, my dog jumped up, and took off after that big rabbit. He chased that rabbit over the hills with a passion. Before long, other dogs joined him. They were attracted by his barking. What a sight it was to see that pack of dogs running, barking, and howling. They ran through the creeks, up the steep embankments, through thickets, and through the thorns!

Gradually however, one by one, the other dogs dropped out of the pursuit. They became discouraged by the course and became frustrated by the chase. Only my dog continued to hotly pursue the white rabbit. Now, in that story young man lies the answer to your question.” The young man sat in confused silence. Finally, he said, “Sir, I don’t understand. What is the connection between the rabbit chase and the quest for God?” “You fail to understand,” answered the well-seasoned old man. “Because you failed to ask the obvious question. And that is, ‘Why didn’t the other dogs continue with the chase?’ And the answer to that question is that the other dogs had not seen the rabbit. They were only in the chase because they were following to see what my dog had seen.”

Have you seen God for yourself? Are you in a relationship with the one true God? Do you know Jesus? Are you maturing in the faith? Is your Passion for Him engrained in your very soul? Only those who have encountered Jesus for themselves. Only those who have seen the risen Lord have the commitment to continue with the chase. Only those who have encountered Jesus will persevere to finish the race and to finish well. Only then will you passionately love the Lord your God with all your heart and only then will you passionately love your neighbor as yourself.

TWO: WHAT IS GOD’S 2nd MAIN PURPOSE FOR OUR LIFE?

I love the fact that most of the time when Jesus  was asked a question, He would add more information than just the question at hand. The Pharisees only asked, ‘Which is the greatest commandment?” Jesus, in essence. answered “Put God first!” And then He added more.

Jesus added the second most important purpose God has for our life. Jesus told them there is another great commandment.

Jesus told them, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Jesus went further and said, “If you obey both you fulfill all that God desires of you.”

Our number two purpose in life is to love everyone else as much as we love ourselves. We all pretty much love to take care of ourselves. We often want the biggest piece of cake, the furniture placed where we like it, to be the first in line when we have to wait, etc. etc. Jesus’ second answer is similar to what has become known as the “Golden Rule.” Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. (Matt. 7:12)

Most of us have heard the famous  Bible verse John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.” Maybe you heard this growing up in church, or maybe you saw it at the bottom of an In-n-Out cup. Maybe you saw it on a billboard around Christmas or Easter. This verse is the essence of what Jesus was talking about. God Himself put us before Himself. God sent His son to die on the cross in our place. We are not called to die for someone or take the blame for anything they have done. But we are called to do just about everything else. We are called to care for, encourage, forgive, show grace, help, kindness, love, have mercy, pray for, restore, and win to Jesus every other human being on this planet.

Illustration: I once read about a certain man who said to himself, “I cannot speak in front of people. I don’t feel I have the talent to do anything in Christian service. But, I can put two extra plates on my dinner table every Sunday and invite two people to break bread with me.” He went along doing that for more than thirty years. He became acquainted with a lot of people who attended his church. Many of them became Christians through his personal act of service. When he died – a few days before his funeral it was made known that any of those who had become Christians through his influence would be welcomed in a special area set aside for them. A hundred and fifty people came in honor of the memory of the man who had preached to them the gospel of the extra dinner plate.

The magnitude of these words is more than a kick of caffeine. These words hold the promise of our destiny. God calls us to go into all the world and share the gospel of Jesus with everyone we possibly can. This act of loving our neighbor as much as we love ourselves completes, satisfies, redeems, and empowers us and propels us into  our destiny. It’s a love that is so grace filled, that it restores our every day into greatness. It’s a love that sees the best and wants the best for everyone around us. This love is irresistible.

We need to always remember that God has two main purposes for our life.

One: Most importantly we need to give Him glory!

Two: Love everyone else more than we love ourselves by going the extra mile to make sure that they know Jesus.


ABUNDANT LIFE SERIES #4

Getting the Most Out of Life

Text – JOHN 10:9-10

As Christians, we need to understand that God wants us to grow and develop in our faith in Him. Physical growth usually occurs naturally while spiritual growth is dependent on willing participation.

John 10:9-10 (paraphrased) “Jesus is the door, if anyone enters by Him, you will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. There is a thief who only comes to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. Jesus has come so that you may have life, and so that you may have abundant life.”

Intro: In this message, we will explore the comparison of maturing in our physical life, as a parallel to developing in our spiritual life. In life we mature through the stages of infancy, being a toddler, a child, a teenager, and then adulthood. It seems that even the Bible uses similar words to describe our growth in our life in Christ. Abundant life in Christ is only obtained as we grow, mature, and learn to relate to the authority of God.

Consider below a listing of what could be called five levels of spiritual growth. The timing can be a bit different with different individuals, but it is definitely necessary that we do mature and progress in our Christian faith.

ONE: Infancy: Everyone starts out in the womb. There may be a small difference in length of pregnancy, but eventually life begins as an infant. There isn’t much expected from an infant but to assimilate, eliminate, sleep, cry, and hopefully smile. At this point in life we are totally dependent on our parents. It is basically the same with a new believer. This level in the spiritual life is called being “born again.” (John 3:3) At this point we need to be gently fed, assured, and to be assisted with the removal of doubts, fear and frustration. (2 Timothy 3:15) We watch and we learn from the mature Christians in our life. God’s people need to always strive to reach new believers and also provide a safe haven for them.

TWO: Toddlers: It would be very unnatural to remain an infant all your life. So, before you know it, we are usually learning to walk and to talk. It is at this stage that we must now be introduced to some do’s and do not’s. Toddlers lack discernment and we must work with them constantly as they are easily led astray. If we aren’t there for them they can get injured or get lost. The Bible says we cannot stay children who are tossed back and forth and carried about with every wind of doctrine. (Eph. 4:14) It is at this age of our spiritual life we need to learn our basic Christian vocabulary. We need to understand things like: Jesus is Lord, He was born of a virgin, He never sinned, He died on the cross for us, He rose on the third day, there is power in His blood, freedom from sin, and power in the Holy Spirit. One of our biggest and most important lessons is learning to obey God in everything we do.

THREE: Childhood: It seems that this time in life carries with it a lot of discipline. We are starting to feel our own way and develop patterns that we will carry on with for the rest of our lives. The wise parent knows that if we don’t correct our children things can get out of hand. Hebrews 12:5 says, “You have forgotten the exhortation which speaks as unto children, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him, for who the Lord loves He chastens.” All corrections that come our way are ultimately for our good. If we don’t learn to obey those in leadership who we can see, how will we ever learn to obey God who we cannot necessarily see, but must serve by faith?

FOUR: Teenagers: At this time in life we really begin to develop independence. We probably now have more energy than at any other time in our life. There is a problem that can creep in now however. We often start to think we know more than others. The truth is however, we still need careful loving discipline. 1 John 2:11-12 says, “I write unto you little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake. I write to you fathers, because you have known Him from the beginning. I write unto you young men, because you have overcome the wicked one.” Life in Christ at this point needs to be more than just discipline. We need accomplishments and victories to happen to develop us at this time too.

FIVE: Adulthood: To be honest, this entire study really leads to this point. You are now the person in authority, but you are definitely still under God’s authority. What does it look like to reach this point of maturity in the Christian faith? 1 Corinthians 4:14-15 says, “I don’t write these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. For though you have ten thousand instructors in Christ, you don’t have many fathers.” Adults in the Christian faith are to be good examples of faithfulness to God. They should also be leading the way in being spiritual parents of new believers in Christ. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the hope of the world. Mature Christians should be examples of righteous living and winning the lost. Without these adults, we could be only one generation away from the extinction of the Christian faith.

Lessons: – GETTING THE MOST OUT OF LIFE

Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” The secret to success in life is putting God first in everything you do:

  • Attend Church faithfully. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
  • Be a faithful supporter of your church. (Mal. 3:8-11)
  • Avoid sin at every point along the way. (James 1:11-15)
  • Be an example to your family, friends, and new believers. (1 Tim. 4:12)

Personal applications:

  • We grow by eating – Read your Bible faithfully every day. (Psalm 119:130, Matt. 4:4
  • We grow by breathing – Learn the secret of fervent prayer. (Ephes. 1:15-18)
  • We grow by exercising – Serve God in some place of ministry. (Ephes. 2:10, Prov. 11:30)
  • We grow by learning – Enter into some personal life studies. (2 Tim. 3:16-17)

In closing: – With God, the sky is the limit:  Matt. 28:18 says, “Then Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on hearth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” Obedience and service to God is a guarantee to always get the most out of life.


ABUNDANT LIFE SERIES #5 

Living the Spirit-Filled Life

Text – Acts 2:17-18, 37-39

The Holy Spirit has been moving at least since His part in the creation of the Heavens and the earth. From that moment until this very day, He is also available as an active participant in the daily life of the people of God.

Acts 2:17-18 says – “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. and on My menservants and on My maid-servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy.

Acts 2:37-39 says – “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’ Then Peter said to them, Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.’”

Intro: The name “Holy Spirit,” means, the Spirit of God. In Hebrew the word Spirit is, Ruah, which means “God breathed.” In Greek the word Spirit is, Pneuma, which means “The wind, to breathe or to blow.” Like the wind, the Holy Spirit is invisible and yet powerful. The first mention of the Holy Spirit is found in Genesis 1:1-2. There we are told that as God spoke the world into existence, the Spirit of God went out from Him and physically performed the creative acts that were taking place. As a part of the Triune God-head, the Holy Spirit is Omnipresent, Omniscient, and Omnipotent. (Psa. 139:7, Isaiah 40:13, Micah 2:7 NKJV)

There are many mentions throughout the Old Testament of the Holy Spirit also somehow coming and touching the lives of certain people. Genesis 6:3 mentions God’s spirit dealing with man’s conscience. Numbers 24:2 mentions God’s spirit coming upon Balaam and giving prophecy through him. In Judges 14:6 God’s spirit comes upon Samson with incredible strength. In 1 Samuel 10:10 God’s spirit comes upon Saul and he prophesies. In 1 Samuel God’s spirit comes upon David. There are many other instances of God’s spirit moving upon the lives of people and circumstances.

During the time of the life of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit of God was upon Him. (Matt 3:16-17) In fact John 3:31-34 tells us that Jesus possessed the Holy Spirit of God without measure. During the final days of His earthly ministry, Jesus began to mention to the disciples that they needed to begin seeking a special touch on their lives of the Spirit of God. (Luke 24:49, John 16:7) After the resurrection of Jesus, He mentions this to His disciples again. (Acts 1:4-5) Not long after that a special event occurred that is known as the day of Pentecost. On that day the Holy Spirit was indeed poured out on not only the disciples, but all the other believers who had joined them too. (Acts 2:1-4)

We need to understand that to this very day, the Holy Spirit is still active and participating in our lives. God the Father invites us to live the Spirit-filled life. There are four major things that the Holy Spirit has the ability, and wants to do, in participation with the life of every believer.

(1) The Holy Spirit is the active agent that brings us to God: When we become a Christian by believing in the completed work of Jesus Christ dying on the cross, we do have and continue to have physical contact with the Holy Spirit. There are of course several steps of spiritual progression that bring this about. (1) Scripture says that we must be born again to enter the kingdom of God. (John 3:3) (2) Scripture also says that no one can come to Jesus unless God the Father draws him or her to Himself. (John 6:44) (3) Scripture further clarifies that it is the Holy Spirit that actually does this work. (1 Cor. 6:9-11, Titus 3:4-5)

Visual: Take around 20 to 30 – 40 feet long pieces of string and tie them together. Tie a knot in one end and leave the other ends loose. Tie the knotted end as high as you can to some point near the front of your audience. As you present these points place a string into the hands of the people near the front. Explain that this is a picture (simple example) of the Holy Spirit who comes to each of us, calls us, and connects every one of us to God.

(2) The Holy Spirit is the source of our connection to God: The Bible describes several ways that the Holy Spirit communicates to our spirit. (1) He tells us that we are God’s children. (Rom. 8:16) (2) He places Himself inside of us when we are obedient. (1 John 3:24) (3) He is an advocate to help us. (John14:15-17)

Visual: The string is a picture of God’s continued connection to us.

(3) The Holy Spirit is given to assist us: Too often, we have too much confidence in our own self. The Holy Spirit is given to give us guidance from our heavenly Father. (John 16:13-15) The Holy Spirit intercedes for us. (Rom. 8:26-27) The Holy Spirit assists us by giving us the power to be a witness. (Acts 1:8) The Holy Spirit’s assistance and guidance will lead us in the right and Godly way.

Visual: Show how the string is a picture of God’s Holy Spirit tugging on us.

(4) If we are willing, God has more of the Holy Spirit that He will make available to us: As mentioned above, near the final days of His ministry here on earth, and after the resurrection, Jesus began to tell the disciples about their need for having more of the Holy Spirit in their lives. On the day of Pentecost God sent the Holy Spirit power that Jesus had promised His disciples. (Acts 2:1-4) The Bible says in Acts 2:38-39 that this same Holy Spirit power is available to us today! (Acts 19:1-6)

Visual: Point to the string in the people’s hands and remind them that same spirit wants to bring God’s Holy Spirit baptism to us.

The Bible informs us in Acts 2:38-39 that receiving an infilling of God’s Holy Spirit is still possible today. There does not seem to be any set ritual that accomplishes getting more of the Holy Spirit in our lives. There does however seem to be common evidence that lets us know it has happened.

The Bible says in Acts 2:4 that on the day that God first poured out this new anointing of the Holy Spirit that as the people were all in one place praying they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they all began to speak in an unknown language as the Spirit of God enable them. They did not speak in a language they knew, but others who heard them verified that they were indeed speaking in a real language. (Acts 2:5-12) This experience is recorded as continuing to occur throughout the New Testament. (Acts 9:17-19, 10:44-46, 11:15-17)

There are two pre-required conditions for receiving more of the Holy Spirit:

One: The Bible says that we must walk in obedience to God. (Acts 5:32) It seems the Holy Spirit does not want to live in an unclean vessel.

Two: The Bible also says that we must have faith as a prelude to this experience. (Gal. 3:2, 14)

There are five things we can also do to make ourselves prepared for God to pour His Holy Spirit out on us.

  • Fully surrender your heart and life to Jesus. (Acts 2:38)
  • Realize you cannot earn the Holy Spirits touch it is a gift from God. (Luke 11:9-13)
  • Understand that as a Christian, the Holy Spirit is already in you. (John 7:37-38)
  • Don’t concern yourself with an obligation to speak in an unknown language. (Acts 2:4) God Himself will do this for you!
  • We need to come before God with faith and expectation that He will place more of the power of the Holy Spirit into our life. (Luke 24:49)

We need to understand: Acts 2:38-39 says, “Then Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

Living the spirit filled life: The Bible strongly emphasizes the extra effects that the Holy Spirit brings into the life of the Believer. God emphasizes the need for and makes the Holy Spirit available to everyone.

Ephesians 5:18 – “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,

I Thessalonians 5:19 – “Do not quench the Spirit.”

Hebrews 2:1-4 – “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?”

The greater the dimension of the Holy Spirit’s presence within us, the greater will be His ministry: in us, to us, and through us.

John 4:23-24 – “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Romans 8:5-6 – “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”

Philippians 3:3  – “For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,

The Holy Spirit can really enhance many areas of our spiritual life.

Making us more teachable – “John 14:26  But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”

John 16:13-14 – “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.”

Conforming us to Christ – “Galatians 5:22-25  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.  And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”

II Corinthians 3:18  – “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

Giving us strength – Psalms 51:10-13 – “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. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You.”

Isaiah 59:19 – “So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun; when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.”

Romans 15:13 – “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Giving us joy – Acts 13:52 – “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”

I Thessalonians 1:6 – “And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit,”

Romans 14:17 – “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

It is no wonder the devil would prefer we are afraid of or are just unwilling to open our hearts to all God can do through this gift.

John 10:106 – “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

God has ordained for us that we should live the spirit-filled life!


ABUNDANT LIFE SERIES #6

Being Blessed & Being a Blessing In Life

Text – 1 JOHN 1:2 – BEING BLESSED & BEING A BLESSING IN LIFE

Our finances and our health are probably, and may have always been, the two most pressing things in the life of anyone. God is just as concerned about this area of our life as any other area.

1 John:1-2 says – “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.”

Malachi 3:10-12 says – “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, so that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,’ says the Lord of hosts; ‘And all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a delightful land,’ says the Lord of hosts.”

Intro: One of several great blessings this side of heaven is the fact that God wants to bless us financially. There is a caveat however in that we must first step out in faith as a precursor to the blessings. Luke 6:38 says, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” God wants to bless us so that we in turn can be a blessing.

It is a very interesting fact that the practice of tithing was actually first mentioned in the Bible when a man named Abraham, because God had blessed him, chose to return one tenth of the blessing back to God. (Gen. 14) His grandson, Jacob, repeated this practice. (Gen. 28) It was during the time of Moses and the Children of Israel being delivered from Egypt, and becoming a nation of their own, that tithing is mentioned as an important and integral part of their economy. God promised His people that if they would be faithful in their giving, He would totally make sure they were always taken care of. In Malachi 3:10-12 we are informed that this practice still stands true today. The Bible also contains great information we will look at today as to where and when we contribute our giving. We should also bear in mind that tithing is not a “get rich” or a “Ponzi” scheme. Tithing is God’s master plan for us to partner with Him in our finances in such a way that we are guaranteed His blessing in that area of our lives. Let’s consider six things about God’s offer to bless us through the giving of a tithe.

(1) Tithing is not only fair – it’s the best deal of a lifetime: In Genesis chapter one we see that God is the designer, builder, and owner of the planet earth. God provided all the material, He made everything, and there is no record of Him ever letting go of it or selling it. Consider the following information: (1) We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. (1 Tim. 6:7) (2) We don’t own our body it belongs to God. (1 Cor. 6:19) (3) Our children, our most priceless possession, are a gift from God. (Psalm 127:3) (4) Everything in the world still belongs to God (Psalm 24:1); the heavens belong to God (Psalm 89:11); the land belongs to God (Lev. 25:2-3); all of the animal kingdom belongs to God (Psalm 50:10); all the wealth belongs to God (Hag. 2:8); even our very own soul belongs to God (Ezek. 18:4). God owns everything, and we are therefore entirely accountable to Him and should be overwhelmingly appreciative towards Him. For all of this, God only asks that we return ten percent, but then He also promises to honor our obedience by making the other ninety percent go farther than the one hundred percent would have. That is the incredibly best deal of a lifetime.

(2) Tithing is a means of showing our appreciation to God: God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, died on the cross for our sins. (John3:16) What is eternal life worth to you? 2 Corinthians 8:9 says, “though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.” What is the price that Jesus paid worth to you? James 1:17-18 says that every good gift we possess comes from God. What is the value of your spouse, family, career, house, and car worth to you? If we truly grasp the value of all that God has given us, the very least we can do is show an abundance of appreciation. God wants to bless us so that we in turn can be a blessing.

(3) Tithing reaps great rewards: 2 Corinthians 9:6 says that whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly. It goes on to say that whenever we sow generously we will also reap generously. God has set this irreversible principle in motion within His world. It is a lesson that He wants us to take to heart. 2 Corinthians 9:9 says that God is able to bless us abundantly so that in all things at all times, we will have all that we need. God encourages all of us to be very generous, so that we will be deserving of His returning generosity and blessing to us. God wants to bless us so that we in turn can be a blessing.

(4) Tithing means that we are trusting in God’s provision: When you remove one tenth of anything from the whole you now have only nine tenths left. How then can you now do more with less? Mathematically it just does not make sense that when you take something away you wind up with more. But in God’s economy it is true. Proverbs 11:24 says that one person gives freely, yet gains ever more, while another person tries to keep all that he has to himself, but winds up in poverty. Again it is a principle that God has set in motion and apparently, He is the one who makes sure it always works that way. God wants to bless us so that we in turn can be a blessing.

(5) Tithing means that we are advancing God’s Kingdom: At the conclusion of each of the four Gospels, in some way Jesus declares that God has called us to go into all the world and preach His gospel. It does not take a great deal of thought to realize that the only reason any of us have come to God ourselves is that someone who came to Christ before us assisted us. This paradigm has continued to exist since the days that Jesus’ disciples determined to obey this command. Our tithing and giving is the primary means for the gospel message to continue to reach the world for Christ to every future generation.

(6) Tithing is simply obeying God’s command: Every one of us has our own temperament, personality, and circumstances. For all of us there is some area in our lives that our Christian faith can be a challenge. We often struggle to obey in that one area more than other areas. Tithing can be that area for some people. The Bible uses strong words for those who refuse to tithe. it says that we are robbing God! (Malachi 3:6-9) Jesus taught that it is more important that we show justice, mercy and, faithfulness, but that tithing needs to be practiced faithfully too. (Matt. 23:23, Luke 11:42)

God does not force us to be a Christian or to do anything else. He does however have the right to not allow us into His heaven if we refuse to accept His loving forgiveness. It is the same with tithing. We don’t have to, but when we refuse to obey in this area of our lives then we are also not only walking away from His blessings, but also leave ourselves under the curse of the earth that came from the fall of man. (Genesis 3:17-18, Deuteronomy chapter 28)

Some personal applications:

In the Old Testament all tithing was to be given to provide for the Tabernacle system and the Levitical Priesthood (Ministers of God’s Word). In the New Testament, since the Priests rejected Christ, the ministry of the future was transferred to the Church.

  • Our tithe is to be given to the church (storehouse) where we attend. (Malachi 3:10)
  • The Bible says we should contribute the whole tithe to provide for God’s House. (Malachi 3:10)
  • Each Sunday (the Lord’s Day) is a perfect time to worship God with our giving. (1 Cor. 16:2)

Note: Share one or more personal stories where God has blessed you through your giving.

Closing thoughts:

Deuteronomy 28:13 says, “The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the LORD your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, and never at the bottom.”

God wants to bless us so that we in turn can be a blessing.


ABUNDANT LIFE SERIES #7

Enjoying Married Life

Text – Matthew 19:3-10

As a part of His creation, God created and chose to bless the world through the relationship of an enjoyable marriage between a man and a woman. God intended that children would be raised in the atmosphere of a healthy, loving, and caring family. The union of marriage may be the most devilishly attacked institution in the world today. However, God can change anything and everything if we will seek Him for His help!

Matthew 19:3-6 says – “The Pharisees also came to Jesus, testing Him, and saying to Him, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?’ And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and He said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, don’t let man separate.’”

Intro: It is my understanding that in America today:

  • There is a divorce filed approximately every 36 seconds. That’s nearly 2,400 divorces per day, 16,800 divorces per week, 876,000 divorces a year.
  • 50% of all American children will witness the divorce of their parents and almost half of them will also see the breakup of a parent’s second marriage. 
  • 43% of children growing up in America today are being raised without their father in the home. A child in a female-headed home is 10 times more likely to be physically hurt or murdered.
  • Children from divorced homes have more psychological problems, than children from which one of the parents has died.
  • Seventy percent of long-term prison inmates grew up in broken homes.
  • 75% of women and 80% of men remarry within 5 years after divorce.
  • More people are part of second marriages today than first marriages.
  • Living together prior to getting married can increase the chance of getting divorced by as much as 40 percent.

In America today:

  • 41 percent of first marriages end in divorce.
  • 60 percent of second marriages end in divorce.
  • 73 percent of third marriages end in divorce.

To anyone who has suffered the pain of divorce from any position within your family, I want you to know that I feel for you! Too often when people suffer a divorce they leave their church because they feel guilty or are made to feel unwelcome. I hope that is not the case today. One of the most difficult topics to speak on in the church today is divorce. The reason is, there is no good time to teach on it. Even within the church, at any given moment someone may be going through or coming out of a divorce within your family.

We must understand that the church must walk a fine line between helping those who are hurting and yet taking a stand on this issue. If you have been divorced, please do not feel unwelcome or attacked. There is definitely forgiveness and mercy in Jesus in every area of our lives.

Think about it – where else should we be able to get Godly help?

Listen carefully: The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 11:3, “If a tree falls to the south or north, in the place where the tree falls, there it shall be.” In other words, where you are is where you are at. We cannot change the past. Today we want to talk about the future.

Where do we go from here?

First of all, the Pharisees were not interested in truth. They only wanted to argue with Jesus.

Secondly, their question was really all about how a man could legally get rid of his wife — Notice – there’s no mention of a man’s infidelity.

Thirdly,  Jesus was not only addressing a culture that supported rampant divorce – but one that justified itself with religious beliefs.

The question of divorce and subsequent remarriage is a difficult one to deal with. It is my humble opinion that dealing with divorce itself is more of an issue that is best processed through Bible-based private counsel.

Our focus is primarily going to be on how to enjoy married life!

We need to understand that God created marriage before anything else. God instituted marriage as a part of creation. Marriage came before Church, government, work, play or anything else.

  • It is the Devil’s business to divide people.
  • God is in the business of bringing people together.
  • So we need to decide which one we are going to follow.
  • God gave a plan – God’s plan works very well.

Genesis 2:18 says – And the Lord God said, “It is not good for man to be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

Genesis 2:24 says – Therefore shall a man Leave his father and mother and be  joined (Cleave) to his wife, and they shall become (Weave) one flesh.

So we are going to talk today about how to Leave, Weave and Cleave.

  • Leave = Say goodbye Mom & Dad = Build your own family.
  • Weave = Get adjusted to your comparable helper.
  • & Cleave = Stay well connected all of your life.

I believe that God created and ordained marriage to be a fulfilling  and blessed way for people to live out their lives.

So let me begin by covering one simple subject that if both partners were to totally focus on, we may very well be able to prevent a Christian couple from divorce. Our text today states that God’s purpose in marriage was that it would be permanent.

We need to understand that marriage is a vow. What does a vow mean anyway? Sometimes a simple acrostic can get a point across.

  • Victory is possible when the vow is kept.
  • Opportunities abound to be faithful and do the right thing.
  • Work is going to be required to make the vow stand the test of time.

We serve a loving, compassionate, and forgiving God who makes vows to us with the intent of keeping his end of the deal. God’s word is full of examples that we would do well to imitate.

  • Matthew 28:20 says – Jesus said, “Lo I will be with you always, even until the end of time.”
  • Psalms 136:1-26 – (Every verse repeats His mercy endures forever).
  • Psalms 103:12 says – When we confess our sin, He removes it from His presence, as far as the east is from the west.
  • Romans 8:39 says – Nothing can separate us from His love which is found in His Son Jesus Christ
  • Matthew 11:28 Jesus himself says – “Come to me all of you with heavy burdens and I will give you rest.”

God has made a vow – 1 John 1:7 says, If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  The Scriptures make it plain and clear  that God’s arms are open to anyone who comes to Him in repentance and asks for forgiveness of their sins.

But we must always remember – The cost of forgiveness did not come cheap. God’s grace was not cheap or free. It cost the death of Jesus Christ. When Jesus died on the cross, He didn’t die with the message, “Go ahead and sin as you please – My blood will cover whatever you do.” God expects us to be faithful in our walk with Him in exchange for our salvation.

The purpose of this message today is to present God’s view of marriage. There are, of course, two viewpoints we must take into consideration. One is for those who will be getting married in the future. The other is about helping those who are already married to stay that way.

I want to share with you four ways of how divorce can be prevented – and how that we can enjoy married life instead!

(1)  A Christian should not marry someone who is not a Christian.

The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 6:14-15 – “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have  with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?”

My wife and I will soon be married 46 years. You know who gets most the credit for that? Jesus is the reason why – Because we both serve Jesus.

Almost all of our most important decisions we already agree on.

  • We are faithful to each other
  • We both really love God
  • We go to church on Sunday
  • We don’t go to bars – etc.
  • We tithe –
  • The list goes on and on

A believer should not start out entering into a marriage with an unbeliever. There will automatically be many things that you will disagree about. An unbeliever will pull you down —  This is a very important point!

Now understand This is not a commandment to divorce an unbelieving spouse. In fact – 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 – Paul encourages one who is married to an unbelieving spouse to continue with them as long as possible.

Paul says live righteously before them and you may win them to Jesus.

(2):  Even when marring a Christian – one should look for the right qualities in a mate.

When I was released from my time serving in the U.S. Army I was ready and wanted to find myself a wife. I prayed about the qualities I wanted in my mate. What are the qualities of a good mate? Here are a few to consider:

  • someone who is head over heels in love with Jesus.
  • Someone who thinks I am wonderful. (Superman)
  • Someone with an outgoing personality / I enjoy that..
  • Someone who is a willing servant in Church.
  • Someone who is honest
  • Someone who is affectionate.
  • Someone who is a good cook.
  • Someone who is pretty.
  • Someone who who could sing well.
  • Someone who could play piano.

After a couple of years. I started dropping the last three, but never the first two. When I found my wife she was all – TEN!

(3)  There should never be any kind of abuse in a marriage  or prior to a marriage. 

Abuse can come in various forms:

  • Physical,
  • Mental,
  • Verbal

And even the abuse of trust.

Let me be clear – It is my opinion that no one should ever marry a person who abuses him or her — In any form — if it happens prior to marriage, you need to run.

And if abuse starts up later – You really need to get Godly counsel – And it needs to stop!!!

(4) From the beginning it has been God’s plan that two people become as one.

A couple needs to spend time together. Too often couples fail to spend time together

I don’t know any other way to say this – When I get home at night Patricia chases me around the house. I don’t have time to have an affair.

We do most everything together.

  • We do stuff with our kids
  • We do stuff with our grandsons

Listen – a lot of things are replaceable. We need to live as though the love of your life is not replaceable!

You have made a lifetime commitment to that person you married. Cultivate that relationship or you’ll be living with a stranger. or maybe even by yourself.

Now – that’s not all – in case you have not noticed, men are different than women! We see things often from totally different perspectives.

Then add to that the fact the much of the time opposites are attracted to each other.

Now – Today I am about to get Very vulnerable with you. I have yet to meet the couple who are as opposite as my wife and I –

I am Salt                              She is Pepper

6’- 4”                                       5’- 2”

210 lbs.                                  120 lbs.

Early riser                             Late riser

Lights out @ 9                      Let’s go do something

City                                         Country

No childhood vacation       3 months every summer

Quiet                                      Never Quiet

On time                                 When we get there

Homebody                            Go somewhere

Money frugal                        It’s on Sale!

On top of all of that – God made men and women to have different needs.

What I am going to share next is based on teachings from Pastor Jimmy Evans – MarriageToday.com

There are 4 major areas of concern when it comes to the difference between a man and a woman

              MEN NEED                                   WOMEN NEED

  • HONOR/RESPECT.                      SECURITY & STABILITY
  • SEX                                                OPEN HONEST COMMUNICATION
  • FRIENDSHIP                                SOFT NON-SEXUAL AFFECTION
  • DOMESTIC SUPPORT                LEADERSHIP

This sounds great, but what does it mean? If both you and your spouse have these needs – But don’t know what they are, how can you satisfy each other? Without a definition, it’s like trying to throw a dart at a board – but you don’t know where to aim.

Let’s examine these one at a time – One for the ladies and one for the Men.

(1) WOMEN NEED – Stability & Security

Stability = The state of being in a fixed position that you can trust.

Security = Freedom from danger, care or fear.

  • Be a person of your word
  • Always be there with your feet firmly planted
  • Unshakeable –
  • Come home – leave the job @ work
  • Call if you’re going to be late
  • Be a good provider
  • Finances managed well
  • Be accountable

(2) MEN NEED – Honor & Respect

Honor = To get an award for your behavior

Respect = To show a high regard or show consideration for

  • Thank him for his hard work to provide for you
  • Don’t bemoan the time he has to be away doing his work

     (Unless abused)

  • Know and provide something he likes
  • Use manners even though you are in a daily routine
  • Communicate respect = 2 ways to communicate

Adult to Adult = reason as a peer

Adult to child = subordinate to inferior

(3) WOMEN NEED – Open Honest Communication

Open= Not closed (able to see inside)

Honest = Not lying or cheating.

Communication = To give information.

  • Usually a woman thrives on this – So be a listening ear
  • Often a woman needs to just vent – She doesn’t necessarily want you to tell her how to fix it! (I have a hard time understanding this one)

(4) MEN NEED – Sex –

Sex = Personal intimacy

  • God created the world with man in mind.
  • God created man with woman in mind (Test wires to the brain)

Five reasons why couples have difficulty with sex.

(a) Spirit of control

(b) Selfishness

(c) Rebellion

(d) Lack of forgiveness

(e) Emotional or physical abuse

(5) WOMEN NEED – Soft Non-Sexual Affection

Affection = A feeling of warm tender attachment

  • Holding of hands –
  • Touching –
  • Dreaming –

(When a couple has physical intimacy there is a one-flesh anointing in spirit that happens)

(6) MEN NEED – Friendship

Friendship = A person who knows and likes another person

  • Wife needs to be a buddy to hang around with
  • There is no room here for someone else of the opposite sex
  • Limited room for time with men
  • Friends develop common interest

 (7) WOMEN NEED – Leadership    

Leadership = To give guidance or direction (this one can be difficult)

  • Does a woman really know what she wants? What is the balance.
  • Can be different with each family
  • She cannot be led by someone who acts like a child or someone she does not trust.

(8) MEN NEED – Domestic support

Domestic = Of the home, household or family affairs

Support = to keep from falling or bear the weight of. A man’s home is his haven from a dog eat dog world. He desperately desires –

  • A peaceful environment
  • A place organized (neatness)
  • Agreement – Cooking, vacuum, dishes

     (Note to men: Sex starts in the kitchen)

In conclusion – What all of this means is that we are meeting each other’s needs. We are taking care each other. We are covering each other.

Ephesians 5:21-22, & 25 – “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives submit your-selves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord – Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

In the Greek language, the word “submit” is actually closer to our understanding of the word “cover.” It is like when one policeman says to his partner, “COVER ME!” Marriage is a place to watch out for and take care of (cover) each other. We all have strengths and weaknesses.

When a husband loves his wife like Christ loved the church and lays down his life for her, she is far more likely to be willing to submit to him.

When a wife submits to her husband’s leadership, he is far more likely to lay down his life for her.


ABUNDANT LIFE SERIES #8

Impacting the Life of Your Children

Text – Psalms 127:3-5

Having children is one of the most incredible experiences in life. Having grandchildren just might be even better. Someone has said that when your children are little they step on your toes. When they are grown up they sometimes step on your heart. Either way, the experience is still worth it.

Psalms 127:3-5 says – “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;”

Deuteronomy 6:6-8 says – “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”

Intro: “Quite often in life, couples have a sort of awakening when they have their first child. I know that I did. You see I had served God faithfully for many years. And then one day my wife and I had our first child. As I looked at our little baby girl, it dawned on me that my wife and I had together created a living soul. A soul that one day would have to make her own choice about serving God. Suddenly we became very serious about making sure we raised her to love God. We felt this again as God gave us our two sons.

Newsflash: Having a baby changes everything. A man and a woman marry and start a life together. They are usually understandably young and immature, and are fairly self-centered in their lifestyle. Then a baby comes along, and changes everything! Nothing makes you grow up quicker. Nothing changes your priorities more. Your sleep schedule changes, your social life pauses indefinitely. Your times of intimacy must alter. Your house is not as quiet, and it also smells different. Your money suddenly vanishes, and you must humble yourself to degrading tasks. So, you make changes as necessary. And – indeed, the baby does need changing every time you turn around.

The truth is: You think you are changing them, but really, they are changing you. You want to mold and shape this new life, but at least at first, only YOU are being transformed! The wife’s pride was in her hair, which she could spend hours shaping. Now it’s cut short, pulled back. She always wanted more curves, now she’s got them! The husband used to watch football in his easy chair, now he’s a gopher, running plays called by his new life coach from the sidelines. He can’t afford to drop the ball, because it’s his child which he cradles in a football hold trying to make the crying stop! Then, before you know it that all changes. Next, the baby starts pulling itself up. So the knick-knacks must be moved higher or put away.

We spend the next three years begging them to talk & to walk. Then, we spend fifteen years telling them to be quiet and sit down. Truth be told, every stage of their lives includes fascinating changes. Another thing, they are all expensive. You think the costs might go down over time? Think again! I think teenagers cost more than adults. And then they go to college. Parents are now suffering from mal-tuition! Costs gradually increase over the years until they finally reach their peak, which is the night you go bail them out of jail and bring them back to the basement you refinished for retirement. They will now live there until sometime in their 20’s-40’s! There is one thing however that doesn’t change. You love them through it all, and with every beat of your heart!

Proverbs 22:6 says – “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”

Let’s look at seven lessons on how to be a Godly parent.

(1) Dedicate your children to the Lord. In 1 Samuel there is an awesome story about a lady name Hannah. For a long time Hannah was not producing any children. Hannah prayed a most beautiful prayer. 1 Samuel chapter 1:11 says, “Then she made a vow and said, ‘O LORD of hosts, if You will give Your maidservant a child, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life,'” Our children should first belong to the Lord. He simply loans them to us.

(2) Pray for your children to come to know Jesus. Mark 10: 13-16  says – “Then they brought little children to Jesus, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.’ And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them.” We need to pray every day for our children. We specially need to pray that they will come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

(3) Train your children in the truths of God’s word. Proverbs 1: 8-9 says – “My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of  your mother; for they will be a graceful ornament on your head, and chains about your neck.” Proverbs 22:6 says – “Train up a child in the way that he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart.”

  • If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn.
  • If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight.
  • If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy.
  • If a child lives with shame, he learns to feel guilty.
  • If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient.
  • If a child lives with encouragement, he learns to have confidence.
  • If a child lives with praise, he learns appreciation.
  • If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice.
  • If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith.
  • If a child lives with approval, he learns to like himself.
  • If a child lives with acceptance and friendship, he learns to find love in the world.

There are three specific areas where our children really need our Godly instruction. We need to teach our children to:

  • Work hard: Someday your child will need to go to work. Children need fun, but they should not only play from early morning to late at night for 18 years. Don’t let them grow up to be lazy, and then suddenly expect them to face the discipline and the mundane things involved in making an honest living.
  • Be honest: If you want to teach your child something that will develop character, teach them to be absolutely honest. The worst sin of all sins, is to lie to Mom or Dad. That act should result in your child, or even your teenager, to receive the greatest punishment. If we’re teaching them that they cannot lie to us, then we must not teach them to lie for us.
  • Live a holy life: We need to train our children to walk in holiness before God. Someone has said that humans are the only animals that blush, but the truth is they’re the only ones that need to. Bill Gothard says, “We need to remember that what parents allow in moderation, their children will excuse in excess.”

(4) SET LIMITATIONS FOR YOUR CHILDREN.

It is a proven fact that boundaries actually make children feel safer. Our children need to learn the meaning of the word no. We need to be strong enough to set down some sensible rules and stick to them. Most of the time, children who get into trouble do so because their parents don’t know or possibly, don’t care what they are doing, it’s usually as simple as that.

(5) SET AN EXAMPLE FOR YOUR CHILDREN. In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul writes, – “Follow me, as I follow Christ.” Can you say that to your children? We need to pray a prayer something like this – “Lord, if I never do anything good, if I never preach a sermon worth hearing, if I never succeed in business, if I never do anything else, Lord, I want to be a good parent; and, Lord, I want to so live, that my children will believe in my faith.” I know that I have many failures. I know that there’s no such thing as a perfect father, a perfect mother, and there are no such things as perfect children. We still need to give it our very best.

(6) CHILDREN NEED CONSISTENT BIBLICAL DISCIPLINE. Ephesians 6:1-3 says – “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise: that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”

Proverbs 22:15 says – “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” That means, that if we do not teach our children some discipline, they will grow up to be rebellious children. Your child must learn discipline in the home, and learn it early. If not, they will not learn discipline in the church; in the school; or in the community. If they do not respect your authority, they will not respect the authority of God.

(7) ALWAYS SHOW YOUR CHILDREN LOTS OF LOVE.

Ephesians 6:4 says – “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”

Nobody can give our children love like a mother can. Nobody can give them the love that a father can either. Do you know why some kids misbehave? They’re misbehaving to be noticed. The reason why some kids get into trouble is because they want someone to pay some attention to them. We need to love our children, and that love needs to be demonstrative love. It needs to be the kind of a love where we pick them up, squeeze them, kiss them, hug them, and tell them that we love them. If you do, they will know for sure that you love them. You’ll be able to punish them. You’ll be able to set some limits, and they won’t mind that. Oh, how we need to express that love!

I love humor: Here are a couple of stories to throw in where you can!

A four-year-old named Amanda went to the doctor’s office with a fever. The doctor looked in her ears and said, “Who’s in there? Donald Duck? “She looked at him, and said, “No.” He looked in her nose and said, “Who’s in there? Mickey Mouse?” Again she said, “No.” He put his stethoscope on her heart and said, “Who’s in there? Barney?” Amanda raised her eyebrows and said, “No, Jesus is in my heart. Barney is on my underwear.”

Six-year-old Molly complained to her mother that her stomach hurt. Realizing it was lunchtime, Mom told Molly, “Your stomach is empty; you’ll feel better after you put something in it.” Later that evening the pastor came over for a visit. During the conversation he mentioned he had a headache. Molly piped up with the solution: “That’s because it’s empty, you’ll feel better once you put something in it.”

One day a little girl was sitting and watching her mother do the dishes in the sink. She suddenly noticed that her mother had several strands of white hair sticking out in contrast on her brunette head. She looked at her mother and inquisitively asked, “Mom why are some of your hairs white?” Her mother replied, “Well, every time you do something wrong and make me cry or unhappy, one of my hairs turns white.” The little girl thought about this revelation for a while and then said, “Oh Mommy, now I know why all of grandma’s hairs are white.”


ABUNDANT LIFE SERIES #9

Impacting the Life of a Teenager

Text – 1 TIMOTHY 4:12

Somewhere along the way, our little boys become men, and our little girls become women. It is during the teenage years that a parent realizes that your responsibility is now more important than ever. Commit yourself to be there under any circumstances. This is the worst possible time to abandon your child.

1 Timothy 4:12: says – “Don’t let anyone despise the days of their youth; be rather an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

Intro: The teenage years are often the most transitional years of a person’s life.

  • Boys will put on new suit, but fail to take it off to play basketball. They want a key ring but having nothing to lock, a wallet but need Dad to put something in it, and they want to shave but could really get by without a blade.
  • A girl doesn’t want to be like mom, but may want to borrow her clothes. She dreams of falling in love, while she sits on her daddy’s lap. She wants pretty clothes and shoes, but uses them to carpet her bedroom. She wants to spend her life with that special someone, but can’t wait for this date to end.

Experts vary on what teenager’s biggest challenges are today. Some of the following list of problems were stated by youth who live in a home with their parents, or step-parents. If these are their problems, imagine the problems of teens who may have a divorced, missing, or incarcerated parent.

Let’s consider ten areas that impact the lives of our teens so much today that they really need our help.

(1) Family instability: A youth was heard to say, “I love both my mom and dad, I just want them to get along.” A wise parent will avoid disagreements between the other parent in front of your child at any age. Settle the issues behind the scenes. Approach every challenge with a united front.

(2) Depression: Youth blame themselves for problem number one. An estimated 3.1 million adolescents in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. That means a whole 20 percent of teenagers will experience depression before reaching adulthood. A good way to strike up a conversation about this is to ask a question like, “Do you think this is a big issue at your school?” Listen to what your teen has to say.

(3) Bullying: According to research conducted by Family First Aid, 30 percent of teens in the U.S. have been involved in bullying – either as a victim or as the bully. The rise of social media use by teens has made bullying much more public and more pervasive. Talk to your teen about bullying regularly. Discuss what they can do when if they witness bullying and talk about options if they feel they are becoming a target.

(4) Sexual Activity: Based on the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance data, 41 percent of high school students reported being sexually active. That means sexual activity had declined slightly over the past decade. Fortunately, the teen birth rate has declined over the years too. Births to teens ages 15 to 19 accounted for 5.3 percent of all births in 2016. The decline in pregnancy doesn’t necessarily mean teens are using protection, however. Of the 20 million new sexually transmitted diseases each year, more than half were among young people between the ages of 15 and 24. Surveys show most parents don’t believe their children are sexually active. Talk to your teen about sex, even if you don’t think your child is engaging in sexual activity.

(5) Drug or Alcohol Use: In 2017, 6 percent of twelfth graders reported using marijuana daily. Marijuana use exceeds cigarette use is in teens now. Surveys show teens believe marijuana is less harmful now than in years past. This may be due to the changing laws surrounding marijuana. Fortunately, other illicit drug use has held steadily at the lowest levels in over two decades. Unfortunately, many teens underestimate how easy it is to develop an addiction. And they don’t understand the risks associated with overdosing.

As of 2017, alcohol use and drinking showed a significant decline among teenagers. Despite the decline, 33.2 percent of high school seniors still report drinking alcohol within the past month. It’s important to hold regular conversations about the risks of underage drinking. Educate your teen about the dangers. Alcohol can take a serious toll on a teenager’s developing brain. Express your disapproval of underage drinking. Saying you don’t approve can make a big difference in whether your teen decides to drink.

(6) Obesity: According to the National Health and Nutrition Evaluation Survey, 20.6 percent of 12 to 19-year-olds are obese. Obese children are at a much greater risk of lifelong health problems, such as diabetes, arthritis, cancer, and heart disease. Surveys show parents are bad at recognizing when their kids are overweight. They tend to underestimate their child’s size and the risks associated with being overweight. Talk to your child’s pediatrician to see if the weight and body mass are appropriate for your teen’s height and age. Inquire about the steps you can take to ensure your teen is healthy.

(7) Academic Problems: Although the high school dropout rate is decreasing on a national level, 1.2 million students drop out of high schooleach year in the United States, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. It’s no longer just the “troubled teens” who are dropping out of school. Some teens feel so much pressure to get into a good college that they’re burning themselves out before they graduate from high school. Stay involved in your teen’s education. Provide support and guidance and be ready to assist your teen if they encounter problems in this area.

(8) Peer Pressure: While peer pressure isn’t a new issue, social media brings it to a whole new level. Sexting for example, is a major cause for concern as many teens do not understand the lifelong consequences that sharing explicit photos can have on their lives. Talk to your teen about what to do if they make  a mistake. Sometimes, kids can make poor choices and may be too afraid to seek help. Encourage your teen to talk you when he or she makes a mistake.

(9) Social Media: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can be great ways for teens to connect with one another. But, social media can be problematic for several reasons. Youth often can become stimulation junkies. Advances in technology means that today’s teens are facing issues that no previous generation has ever seen. While some issues are not exactly new, electronic media has changed or amplified some of the struggles young people face. In fact, the average teen spends over nine hours each day using their electronic devices. Their social media habits and media consumption are changing the way young people communicate, learn, sleep, and exercise. No matter what precautions you take, teens are still likely to be exposed to unsavory people, unhealthy images, and sexual content online. While there are measures being put into place to reduce the risks kids face online, it’s important for parents to also attempt to protect your teenager.

(10) On Screen Violence: Teenagers are going to witness some violent media at one time or another. And it’s not just TV and movies that depict violence. Many of today’s violent video games portray gory scenes and disturbing acts of aggression. Over the past couple of decades, a multitude of studies linked watching violence to a lack of empathy. And studies show the number one factor in determining how kids relate to media is how their parents think and act. According to Common Sense Media,  the more violence parents watch, the more likely they are to think it’s OK for their kids to view. Pay attention to your teen’s media use. Don’t allow teens to watch R-rated movies or to play M-rated video games. It’s not good for them to consume that material. Talk to your teen about the dangers of being exposed to violent images and monitor your teen’s mental state. It’s also important to talk about sexual situations and racial stereotypes that your teen might see.

In closing: Years ago there was a television program called, “Little House on the Prairie.” Today’s home might be better described as the little house on the freeway. My wife and I can tell you from experience that no matter how much they put you through, you are going to miss them when they are no longer living with you. Pray for them, love them, and do all you can with them now while you can.

More importantly than anything else – pray, pray, pray for your teenager every day.

Remember: that bringing up any difficult subjects with your teen can feel uncomfortable to them. Your teen isn’t likely to respond well to a lengthy lecture or too many direct questions. But at the same time watch for every opportunity to speak positive reinforcement into their lives.


ABUNDANT LIFE SERIES #10

Impacting Life As a Senior

Text – ECCLESIASTES 7:8-10

It makes perfect sense that with age there can come wisdom. What we learn can help in two ways. We learn whether a certain process works or does not work. Either way, the experience needs to be shared so that we keep improving instead of continuing to learn all the same lessons all over again. Seniors need to be called upon to educate the rest of us with their wise insight.

Ecclesiastes 7:8-10 says – “The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride. Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools. Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than these?’  For it is not wise to ask such questions.”

Intro: Besides Moses, and maybe Joshua, David may very well have been the greatest leader in all of the Old Testament. David apparently began being a leader in battle at a very young age. He was referred to as a youth when he fought with Goliath the giant. David continued being a victorious man of battle even into his, what we might call, senior years too. He continued to lead Israel in conquering many other nations. Today we are going to look at how David’s leadership style however, changed over time. David began fighting with a sling, later he took up a sword, and then eventually placed his sword into its sheath. Let’s examine these three periods of time in the life of David.

(1) 1 Samuel 17:38-39 says – “So Saul clothed David with his armor, and he put a bronze helmet on his head; he also clothed him with a coat of mail. David fastened his sword to his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. And David said to Saul, I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them,’ so David took them off.” Most of us know the story. From there David went out and chose five smooth stones, placed one in his trusty slingshot, and took Goliath down with just one shot!

We could call this rule number one. When going up against the biggest battle of your life, it is not necessarily a good time for trying something you have never done before. Especially if your life depends on it.

(2) 1 Samuel 21:8-9 says – “And David said to Ahimelech, ‘Is there not here on hand a spear or a sword? For I have brought neither my sword nor my weapons with me, because the king’s business required haste.’ So the priest said, ‘The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the Valley of Elah, there it is, wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. If you will take that, take it. For there is no other except that one here.’ And David said, ‘There is none like it; give it to me.”’ Apparently, the time had come in David’s life that he was now willing to take a sword and fight with it instead of his sling.

We could call this rule number two: It is possible that there really is a better method of doing something. David’s job had not changed. He was still in the business of conquering his enemies. He was now going however, to use a new method.

(3) 2 Samuel 21:15-17 says –  “When the Philistines were at war again with Israel, David and his servants with him went down and fought against the Philistines; and David grew faint. Then Ishbi-Benob, who was one of the sons of the giant, the weight of whose bronze spear was three hundred shekels, who was bearing a new sword, thought he could kill David. But Abishai the son of Zeruiah came to his aid, and struck the Philistine and killed him. Then the men of David swore to him, saying, ‘You shall go out no more with us to battle, lest you quench the lamp of Israel.'” It was time for another promotion in the life of king David. He would no longer serve on the battlefield itself. He would continue however to lead through his strategical wisdom.

We could call this rule number three: Change is a normal process in life. David’s job had not changed. He was still in the business of conquering his enemies. He was now going however, to use another new method.

There seems to always be a guarantee in life that change will happen. Change is something we tend to fear and become anxious about because we do not feel in control of life. The good news is that God has a plan for your life. God has promised to give you hope, a future, and to prosper. (Jer. 29:11) If we trust in God, the change can cause us to grow and to become more like Jesus. God also promises that all things will work together for good for those who love Him and keep His commandments! (Rom. 8:28)

Life application: Something similar to David’s change in leadership happens years earlier in the life of the Israelites. A prophet named Samuel had led Israel for many years. Apparently, Samuel was eventually slowed down by his age to the point that he could no longer keep up with the “case load.”

The Israelites decided they wanted to do something different. They began to cry out to God that they wanted to be like the other nations around them and have a king instead of a prophet to lead them. In 1 Samuel chapters eight through eleven the story unfolds. They inform Samuel of their plans. Samuel initially warns them that a King will rule much differently. He will force their sons to be soldiers. He will tax them to raise funds for his Kingdom. They ignore Samuel’s warnings and insist on the change.

Samuel tells God about this, and God tells Samuel that actually that is what is going to happen. God sends Samuel to anoint a man as their new king. His name is Saul. In 1 Samuel chapter twelve – Samuel introduces their new king to them. The Israelites literally beg Samuel for one more thing – “Samuel please don’t stop praying for us!”

When you place these two stories together – you get the essence of what our message is for today.

When we become seniors, changes occur. Often, just like king David, we may not be able to physically do many things.

  • Children’s Ministry is out of the question.
  • Don’t understand how to do youth ministry.
  • Might be difficult to do an endless list of things.

But just like Samuel – WE CAN STILL PRAY!

The truth of the matter is – there is also an unending list of things we can still do!

  • We have experience and wisdom in so many areas.
  • We can give wise advice in all kinds of areas.
  • We have financial stability and can help there too.

Here me today like you have never heard anyone before.

As Seniors, you are still desperately needed in the life of so many things. You and I can still have a major impact in just about every area of our lives.

  • We can help people find the most important thing in life – Jesus
  • We can help people find God’s will for their life.
  • We can help people discover the glory of God.
  • We can help people develop and get the most out of life.
  • We can help people experience living in the Holy Spirit-filled life.
  • We can help people discover the blessing of being blessed & being a blessing.
  • We can help people learn to enjoy their married life.
  • We can help people impact the lives of their children.
  • We can help people impact the lives of their teenagers.
  • We can help impact an endless list of things as SENIORS!

In closing: Ecclesiastes 3:1 says – “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”

  • There’s a time to plant and a time to uproot
  • There’s a time to tear down and a time build
  • There’s a time to weep and a time to laugh
  • There’s a time to mourn and a time to dance
  • There’s a time to scatter and a time gather
  • There’s a time to embrace and some things we don’t embrace
  • There’s a time to search and a time to give up
  • There’s a time to keep and a time to throw away
  • There’s a time to sew and a time to rend
  • There’s a time to speak and a time to be silent

 If you are a senior – PLEASE KNOW THAT THIS IS YOUR TIME!