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Monday, June 13, 2016

Walk. Stand. Sit.

Monday morning sermon summary! 

We kicked things off by discussing the difference between cat people and dog people; apparently our congregation is split right down the middle! 

Then, I called attention to Psalm 1, and we looked at how this Psalm splits the entire human race into two distinct groups:  the righteous and the wicked. 

The sermon focused on the first verse, where we read, 
“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!”

We spent some time discovering the rich meaning of the words and phrases starting with the term, “walk.”  To walk in this passage refers to a lifestyle; it is used in a way to describe a pattern in someone’s life.  In this case, the person is described as taking continual counsel from the wicked.  The first aspect we are to avoid is to take in continual unwise and ungodly counsel because garbage in is garbage out. We have to safeguard our minds!  
-Thoughts. Actions. Habits. Destiny.  
Our thoughts equal our actions.  Our actions equal our habits.  And our habits equal our destiny.  Friends I implore you to safeguard your mind!


The next step of regression is a stance with sinners.  Notice that at first you are occasionally taking counsel from the ungodly, now you are “standing” with them.  This is about being comfortable.  You have went from occasionally seeking unhealthy advice to being so comfortable that you are now in association with or abiding with those that you never thought you would find a likeminded spirit.

Finally, we find the person descending to a level where there is literally no distinction between the godly and ungodly.  The person has drank the poison and now is offering it to others!  They share the same worldview and outlook on life.  They have adopted the same outlook as the scoffer.  

Walk.
Stand.
Sit. 

This was Part 1 of our exploration of Psalm 1.  

Share it if you believe it! 
I hope to see you all next week as we open God’s Word again. 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Why You Should Keep 1st Things 1st.

Good day friends!

I want to share something with you that I think you will enjoy.  It is my Monday Morning Sermon Summary!  Below is a summary of my sermon that was preached at Faith Presbyterian Church in Hermitage, Pa. 

I hope it blesses you.

This past Sunday we took a long hard look at why we should sweat the small stuff.  It is true that the small things indeed make up the BIG things!  It has been said that, “If you take care of the minutes, the hours will take care of themselves.”  Jesus taught this principle in Luke 16:10 when he said, “He that is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much: and he that is unrighteous in a very little is unrighteous also in much.” 

After establishing the point, I moved on to a leadership lesson called the, “Compass and the Clock” taught by the late Steven Covey.  The compass represents the BIG things, the things in your life that you value.  Aspects like: family, faith, friends, and career.  The clock represents the little things, how you live your actual life every day.  So if you want to be a happy person, you must first decide and then hold on dearly to the things you truly value.  Then, you must live in a way that is in alignment with that decision.  The reason why many are unhappy today is because their Compass and their Watch are out of whack.  There is not alignment with the BIG things (their values) and the small things (the way they actual live). 

During the sermon, I used an illustration with a young man that just graduated from high school.   I asked him to first fill a bowl with small rocks representing all the little things that fill our day:  text messages, emails, phone calls, TV shows, ETC.  Then, I asked him to try and add the large rocks in the bowl and he couldn’t.  The reason he could not is because the bowl was already filled with the little rocks!  This illustration powerfully shows why we must first decide on what we are going to really value in life, and then we must guard and protect those things.  If we start with the BIG rocks first, then we can order our lives around the things that matter the most. 
 


The text I used Sunday was from Luke 14. This is where Jesus is making the point that HE should be our BIGGEST rock of all.  In fact, His rock should be so BIG and so IMPORTANT, that in comparison to the other rocks; it should almost look like we hate them!  (Remember, Jesus was a great teacher and He knew how to make a point). 

In conclusion, this sermon was a real challenge for me.

Not just in the preparation, but a personal challenge to keep Jesus first in all things.  I hope it was for you too!

 

 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Why you should Stop Digging yourself into Oblivion.

"It is a good thing to follow the first law of holes; if you are in one, stop digging."

I like that quote because it is advice that you and I could use every so often.  I decided to do a quick search about the meaning of it and I discovered the following:  "The meaning behind this proverb is that if you find yourself in an undesirable situation ("the hole"), such as an argument with others, you should not ignore the situation or attempt to continue what you were doing (the "digging"), as it can make the situation worse..."

Now I will give you Anthony's UNauthoritative definition:
Know when to put down the proverbial shovel and stop burying yourself.
Why is it in life we will not quit inflicting pain on ourselves? When we know we are wrong and just continue planting our feet down, stubbornly holding onto positions that do us no good.  Some of the best advice I ever received was, if you take a bite of a poison apple, it's probably a good idea to spit.  For some reason that's too difficult, and human nature continues chomping down, bite after poisonous bite.
Interestingly, this concept is Biblical. In First Samuel chapter 12 verse 20 we read,
"Don't be afraid. Even though you have committed all this evil, don't turn away from following the Lord. Instead, worship the Lord with all your heart. Don't turn away to follow worthless things that can't profit or deliver you; They are worthless."

In the above text, the people had committed evil, however, notice the advice and encouragement  "Do not turn away from following the Lord."  You will also notice this phrase, "Do not turn away" repeated twice.  The reason for this is emphasis.  This was the message the prophet wanted the people to hear loud and clear! In other words, what was done was done. Do not let your past mistakes keep you from following the plans of God for your life!  Repent and return ... and do it quickly. It seems the wise Prophet delivering this message understood the first law of holes; when people commit wrong, the tendency is to continue committing more wrongs. No wonder my Italian grandmother used to say, "people pile sin on top of sin."
This is the tendency for most.  We stand ankle deep in our blunders and continue shoveling ourselves up to our necks when we are already know the severity of our previous actions.  If this is you, stop.  I know it sounds like there is something missing, like you need more advice, but you don't.  
Just Stop.  
Put the shovel down and return to the Lord. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

"It's because she's a mother"


Out of the French Revolution came a story of a mother who wandered through

the woods for three days with her two children, trying to survive on roots
and leaves. 

On the third day, she heard some soldiers approaching and
quickly hid herself and the children behind some bushes. The sergeant in
charge noticed the movement, so he prodded the bushes to see what was
stirring behind them. When he saw the starving woman and children, he had
compassion on them, and immediately gave them a loaf of brown bread.

The mother took the bread eagerly, broke it into two pieces and gave one
piece to each of the two children. The sergeant noted, "She has kept none for herself." 

A soldier asked, "Is it because she is not hungry?"
"No," the sergeant answered. 
"It is because she is a mother."

"A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.”

 ―Washington Irving



Thursday, May 5, 2016

Building Bridges

Once upon a time,
two brothers who lived on adjoining farms fell into conflict. It was the first serious rift in 40 years of farming side-by-side, sharing machinery and trading labor and goods as needed without a hitch.
Then the long collaboration fell apart. It began with a small misunderstanding and it grew into a major difference and finally, it exploded into an exchange of bitter words followed by weeks of silence.

One morning there was a knock on John's door.
He opened it to find a man with a carpenter's toolbox. "I 'm looking for a few days' work," he said. "Perhaps you would have a few small jobs here and there I could help with?

     Could I help you?

"Yes," said the older brother. "I do have a job for you. Look across the creek at that farm. That's my neighbor. In fact, it's my younger brother! Last week there was a meadow between us. He recently took his bulldozer to the river levee and now there is a creek between us. Well, he may have done this to spite me, but I'll do him one better. See that pile of lumber by the barn? I want you to build me a fence an 8-foot fence -- so I won't need to see his place or his face anymore."

The carpenter said, "I think I understand the situation. Show me the nails and the post-hole digger and I'll be able to do a job that pleases you."
The older brother had to go to town, so he helped the carpenter get the materials ready and then he was off for the day. The carpenter worked hard all that day -- measuring, sawing and nailing. About sunset when the farmer returned, the carpenter had just finished his job.
The farmer's eyes opened wide, his jaw dropped. There was no fence there at all.
--It was a bridge. 


-A bridge that stretched from one side of the creek to the other-

A fine piece of work, handrails and all! And the neighbor, his younger brother, was coming toward them, his hand outstretched...

"You are quite a fellow to build this bridge after all I've said and done."
The two brothers stood at each end of the bridge, and then they met in middle, taking each other's hand. They turned to see the carpenter hoist his toolbox onto his shoulder. "No, wait! Stay a few days I've a lot of other projects for you," said the older brother.
"I'd love to stay on," the carpenter said, "but I have many more bridges to build."

Ephesians 4:32
"Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."