June 19, 2010

Eternity's Greatest Moment

Amos 4:6-13; Verse 12
People haven't changed much over the years. People back then were just like people today. Many would not listen to God. God did a number of things to get them to listen to Him, to repent, to turn to God. Yet they wouldn't repent. He sent a famine - verse 6. He sent a drought - verse 7. Crops dried up and the ground became parched, dry, dusty. Notice the phrase - "Yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD."(vs.6,8, etc.) He sent pestilence. Verses 9,10. "Ye have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD."
I believe that sometimes the only way that God can get a nation to pay attention to God, to pray, to go to church and listen to preaching, is to allow them to be plunged into war. We have seen that since Sept. 11th. Verse. 11 says, “I have overthrown some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.” Five times in our text you read, "yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD."
So, God gives a solemn exhortation - "...prepare to meet thy God." (12). "Prepare" is an important word! Our greatest weapon of defense is to be prepared. In education, educators have long said, "The way to prepare for life is to get an education." In a spiritual sense, it is a vitally important word! Everyone of us is going to meet God and must be prepared to do so!

I) WHY SHOULD YOU PREPARE TO MEET GOD?

There are 5 reasons given in the Bible:
First, God's Word demands it. God doesn't leave us without warning. Over and over He tells us that every man and woman is going to meet God someday. Isaiah 55:6 - "Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:" Note the word "WHILE". There can come a time when you cannot find God. Go to a hospital to visit an unsaved person. They're close to death. The stare of death is in their eyes. The death rattle is in their throat. You try to witness to them, but they cannot hear you. They are past finding God! The Bible says to seek Him while He may be found! Acts 17:30 - "And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:" You are to prepare to meet God because God's Word demands it.
Second, you must seek God because your lost condition demands it. "Lost". Jesus came & died because people are lost! Luke 19:10 - "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." Jesus said, "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Mt. 16:26). I remember watching a business man weep uncontrollably on Sept. 11th. His bond business was in the Trade Towers upper floors. He kept crying, "It's all lost! Over 700 of my people are lost! Lost! What am I going to do?' It is a horrible thing to be lost spiritually! Your lost condition demands that you prepare to meet God.
Third, the reality of Hell demands it. People think of Hell as nothing more than a slang word. Even some Christians have hazy thinking on the matter of Hell. They do not think there is such a place. Forget what you think or feel, because this Bible teaches that there is a literal Hell. Psalm 9:17 - "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God." Jesus said in Matthew. 25:41 - "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:" "Depart" means to be separated, cut off, from God forever. "Ye cursed" - think about having the curse of the Holy God upon you because you refused Jesus Christ. "Everlasting fire" - no end to the torment. Hell has no exits.
Fourth. the Day of Judgment demands that you prepare to meet God. It's coming! Romans 14:12 - "So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God." Revelation 20:12 - “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” Hebrews 9:27 - "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:" A group of young soldiers sat around a fire during the Civil War. One was obviously trembling and afraid. The others mocked him saying, "He's afraid to die." He replied, "No, I am not afraid to die. I am afraid of what comes after death." If you are unsaved, you have to fear what comes after death! Judgment day demands that you prepare to meet God.
Fifth, the death of Jesus demands that you prepare to meet God. Romans 5:8 - "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." If you die unsaved, Jesus died in vain as far as you're concerned! He shed His blood to save you! There is power to save you in the death of Christ! An old drunkard coal miner got saved. His home had been a brothel and a hellhole. After he got saved, he shared his faith in Christ with other miners. One day one of them asked him, "Do you really believe that you're saved?' He said "Yes." The miner then asked him, "Do you believe all the Bible?" He replied "Yes, every bit of it." The worker continued, "What about the part where Jesus turned the water into wine, believe that?” The new believer replied, "Yes, I believe it and here's why. In my case, Jesus turned beer into bread; hate into love; fighting into affection; a brothel into a paradise. If Jesus could do that for me, I know He turned the water into wine." The death of Christ and it's power to save people from sin is a reason for you to prepare to meet your God.

II) HOW SHOULD WE PREPARE TO MEET GOD?

First, repent of your sins. The Bible teaches repentance. It is not outdated. Acts 13:19 - "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out," Acts 20:21 - "Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." You cannot be saved without repentance. Unless in your heart there is repentance toward God, there cannot be faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ. That is why there are more church members than there are Christians. Many have gone thru the motions but have never truly been saved because they never repented of their sins.
Second, trust the finished work of Jesus Christ. Put your absolute trust and cast your soul entirely upon the finished work of Jesus Christ. On the cross of Calvary Jesus said, "It is finished." (John 19:30). That was a shout of victory, not defeat. He meant that the plan of salvation was absolutely complete. Isaiah 53:6 explains it - "the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." Satan will tempt your mind concerning whether or not all your sins are really forgiven. Simply point back to a finished work - a complete work. Cry with Jesus - "It is finished." It has all been paid in full. It is forever settled.
Third, not only repent, not only trust the finished work of Christ, but also reckon yourself as being His forever. You belong to the Lord! John 5:24 - “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”

III) WHEN DO YOU PREPARE TO MEET GOD?

Now is the time. Why?

First, the Holy Spirit limits His striving. Genesis 6:3 - "And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man." That’s true!
Sometimes He says, "I am no longer going to strive with that person." He may stop struggling with you to get saved!
Second, your life needs saving as well as your soul. I love seeing people get saved when they are old, but I would rather see them saved when they are young. Your life needs to be saved! Don't waste all those years in sin! You will never be able to undo them. Your influence is important! A 68 year old man got saved. He had 2 sons and several grandsons. He became concerned about them. The next Sunday morning, he went to their house & invited them to come to church with him. Their reply? "Dad, you waited until age 68. When we get that old, we will think about it too."
Third, because death is unpredictable. "Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth." (Prov. 27:1) Think about September 11th. Death is not a respecter of age! All the money in the world cannot guarantee you another breath.
Prepare to meet God right now! Why? Because Jesus invites you right now. II Corinthians. 6:2 - "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." Isaiah 1;18 says, "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."

You may say, "Not now." God says, "now." Prepare to meet thy God! Now.

April 8, 2010

Appreciating Your Church

The Lord is in the midst of His church, which is His body on earth. We show our appreciation for the Lord by valuing His body. If you don’t appreciate and value the local church, it is you who will be the loser. God has mightily blessed those who have valued their local church and who have been thankful for what they have received from the church.

I can testify to this personally during the time my children have grown up in the midst of our local church. I don’t have words to express my thankfulness to God for that privilege. My children were all helped by them. Let us learn to appreciate the tremendous protection that we and our children have in our church.

The young people will never realize how much the church has protected them from accident, danger and sin. Only when they stand before the Lord will they realize how the strict standards in the church kept them from going astray in to the world and destroying themselves. In that day they will see how something they heard in the church many years earlier protected them from danger much later. The Lord will also show us in that day how many dangers our children were saved and protected from because of what they heard in the church.

Yet, inspite of these and many other blessings, how little all of us have appreciated and valued our church or pastor.

Do you want to progress to the point where you become a blessing to others? Then, first of all, learn to be thankful to the Lord for what He has done for you and for the church He has given you. Don’t take the church for granted. Many of us are like children who realize the real worth of their parents only after their parents are dead.

Why is it that you find it difficult to value others in your church? May be you see many faults in them. When people have a problem with their eyes, sometimes, they see spots in front of their eyes all the time. It can be the same spiritually too. In the eyes of some people, every brother’s and sister’s face is spotted. If that is so with you, the problem may not be with those other brothers and sisters, because those spots are in your own eyes. Your vision will never become clear until Jesus heals your eyes.

Jesus valued the loyalty of His disciples very highly. Once He told His disciples that even though all of them were going to forsake Him, yet He would not be alone, because His Father was going to be with Him (John 16:32). He did not need those disciples. Yet He told them in Luke 22:28 that He was thankful that they had stood by Him. He was the Lord of glory. He did not need anybody to stand by Him. But even though, He did not need their support, He appreciated their loyalty.

I hope the Lord will be able to say to us too in the final day that we stood by Him and were not ashamed of Him, that we loved the local church He placed us in and gave ourselves for it, that we were not critical of the church like many others were.

May the Lord teach us to be thankful for one another in the local church now, before it is too late.