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Monday, July 18, 2016

Mr. Destiny


Monday Morning Sermon Summary

Good day everyone!

This Sunday wrapped up our series on the first Psalm.  I opened the message reminiscing about one of my favorite movies when I was a kid, Mr. Destiny.  In the movie, Frank Burrows played by Jim Belushi had his total life altered one fateful baseball game when he struck out in the championship game during the bottom of the 9th.  With runners on base, he could have hit the ball, won the game, and then became a legend in that hometown.  This would have changed his destiny.

Like Frank Burrows we could change our destiny if we decide to do a few things.  The verses that I preached from this Sunday were:

V. 5Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
V. 6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the wicked will perish.
 
Image result for mr destiny
 
The first is to “know” God.  According to the Psalm, the, “Lord knows the way of the righteous.”  Let’s focus in on that word, “know” for a second.  In the Bible, the term “know” is often a term that brings a lot meaning.  It can mean:  Approves, or, has regard to” … Do you recall how the Bible describes Adam’s relationship with Eve in Genesis?  The Bible teaches that “Adam knew Eve.”  No need for a biology lesson here folks, the point is that they were intimate.  So when we read that, “the Lord knows the righteous” we have to understand that there is an intimate relationship established between them.  They share mutual affection.  This is a two-way street.  Step one:  get to know the Lord.

The second means to change your destiny is walking in the way of the Lord.  Notice that verse 6 uses the term, “way” twice.  The way or path one takes in life will reveal their lifestyle.  Jesus taught, Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.   See friends, at the end of the day there are only 2 destines available for you and I. You can either follow after the Lord or the lure of the world.  Jesus is clear that one road will be full while the other sparse.  The question is -what path are you currently on? 

If you circle back to verse 5 you will notice that the final destination of the wicked is bleak!  Standing in front of God will reveal whether you:   Know the Lord and have taken the narrow road.

As you read this you are like Frank Burrows standing at the plate in the bottom of the 9th, with men on base.  You have the opportunity to change your destiny!  May you thoughtfully and prayerfully consider doing so.

Monday, July 11, 2016

What are the the Habits of the Happy?

Monday Morning Sermon Summary!
This past Sunday I again preached on the first Psalm, this time focusing on verses 2 and 3. 
 
“But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.”
 
I began the sermon by talking about people’s hobbies. Hobbies are things we usually do not get paid for; still we spend exorbitant amount of time, money, and energy on them. Why? It is because we love them. We lose ourselves in them, we lose track of time when engaging them. Our Psalm sheds light on the attitude of the happy man in terms of God’s Word. Notice that he “delights” in it.
His heart finds joy in it. He finds ways to spend time in God’s Word: Church, study, daily readings… This is not work for the blessed person, notice that it is a delight and NOT a duty! This is habit #1. Furthermore, we learn that after he delights -he meditates.This is the second habit.  He is not satisfied with a cursory reading of God’s Word, rather he spends his time dwelling on, chewing on if you will, the material that he reads. For the blessed person, they are more interested to have the Word get through them rather than them getting through the Word.  In fact, the Hebrew term for meditate is literally, “Hagah,” which means, “to moan.” Ever watch someone in deep thought? Hmmmmmmmmmmm. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm. You might hear them making that sound as they ponder what they are learning. This is the idea that the psalmist is presenting to us. What we find our delight in; we will spend our days thinking about. In short, our minds will follow our hearts. Now I have to be sure to make the point that the blessed man does not do all of this as an end to itself, no, he wants to know the Word of God so that he knows the God of the Word. This is his great aim. As it should be ours.
 
 
In the next verse, we have the beautiful picture of the person that delights in God portrayed as a fruitful tree that is planted by the water that will produce in its season. Several lessons are ready for us in this verse. The first is that the tree is not dead, it is growing. It is alive! In the same way, you and I should be growing in our faith. The next lesson is that this tree is giving in its season. We learn that the tree has fruit to give. It blesses others that walk by it by giving nourishment. Friend, do you bless others? Finally, the tree is grounded. It has roots that go deep in the ground to find the water. You can’t push over this tree -it is mammoth. 
 
The conclusion of the sermon had me sharing about the person in my life that encapsulated the blessed person talked about in Psalm 1. I spoke of my Italian grandmother, Nonnon. I reminisced of being a little boy and after I had slept overnight at her house I would often walk downstairs to find her at the dining room table reading her bible in Italian and watching her mouth the Scripture audibly. She was delighting and meditating on God’s Word. And if this world ever knew a person that was a spiritual Red-Wood, it was her.

Hope to see you Sunday!  

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.