Wednesday, October 29, 2014

God has Expectations of His Servants

Scripture: Luke 19:24-27
Then he said to the bystanders, ‘Take the mina away from him and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ And they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas already.’ I tell you that to everyone who has, more shall be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence.”

Insights: Today we conclude our points from this weeks sermon and the subject today deals with God’s expectations of His servants.  Notice in today’s verses that the worthless slaves mina was taken away and given to the slave who had ten minas in his possession already.  The point of today’s verses is again quite clear.  If you are a poor servant, then you will lose what you already have.  If you are a good servant, you will gain even more than you presently possess.  Now, after making a statement like this, please do not think me as some kind of “name it and claim, word of faith” kind of preacher.  I do not fully grasp how this concept works in God’s economy.  I am also not saying that our works bring us into good or right standing before God.  Jesus’ work during the Easter event took care of all of this kind of works based theology.  What I am saying, however, is God does reward those who meet His standards of expectation.  Again, I don’t readily understand, nor know, what that actually looks like in eternity, but I hold to this principle by faith.  As a last thought, notice in the final verse what happens to those enemies of the Master.  They are slain before Him.  We know they are literally thrown into the Lake of Fire after the Great White Throne Judgment.  In other words, there is an expectation that is going to be met even by those who reject Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  That expectation is an eternity of suffering in the Lake of Fire away from the love and grace of the Lord.  Beloved, let us live a life of good service for the Lord and meet His positive expectations of His servants.  To His great name be given praise!

1.  Is your life characterized by poor service which results in loss?
2.  Is your life characterized by good service which results in gain?

Prayer: Father, I am so easily distracted in this world and make choices that result in me being a poor servant for You.  Forgive my wicked heart and allow me the pleasure of being a good servant filled with Your Spirit which results in a life of gain in You.  Amen.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

God is the Evaluator of Results

Scripture: Luke 19:14-23
But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ When he returned, after receiving the kingdom, he ordered that these slaves, to whom he had given the money, be called to him so that he might know what business they had done. The first appeared, saying, ‘Master, your mina has made ten minas more.’ And he said to him, ‘Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are to be in authority over ten cities.’ The second came, saying, ‘Your mina, master, has made five minas.’ And he said to him also, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’ Another came, saying, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I kept put away in a handkerchief; for I was afraid of you, because you are an exacting man; you take up what you did not lay down and reap what you did not sow.’ He *said to him, ‘By your own words I will judge you, you worthless slave. Did you know that I am an exacting man, taking up what I did not lay down and reaping what I did not sow? Then why did you not put my money in the bank, and having come, I would have collected it with interest?’

Insights: Today’s verses are very long, but the explanation is fairly straight forward.  There are three types of accommodations given in this passage, and unfortunately, I think most believers think they will fall into the first category.  I, on the other hand, do not feel most will fall into that category, but the second and possibly even the third.  Here are the categories: firstly, the “Well done, good slave.”  This category is known as the good accommodation and is given to those who have spent their lives to the furtherance of the Master’s kingdom.  They worked very hard and their one mina turned into ten minas.  Secondly, there is the no accommodation group.  These people serve the Lord and even help expand His kingdom, but they are not bragged upon by the Lord.  All that is said of them is, “And you are to be over five cities.”  This second group did not receive a “Well done!”  Thirdly, there is the bad accommodation or better stated the rebuked category.  This third group is told they are worthless because they did absolutely nothing with the life change Jesus brought into their lives.  Beloved, it is my hope that you are a part of the first group and God is brought glory through your lives.

1.  As you look to your eternal future, which accommodation do you think you will receive?
2.  If you do not believe you would receive the “well done,” what are you willing to do to change that outcome?

Prayer: Father, I desperately want to hear You say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  Transform my heart to one of obedience and let Your glory shine through me that all people will see Jesus and know that I serve Him.  Amen.

Monday, October 27, 2014

God is the Equipper of Gifts

Scripture: Luke 19:11-13
While they were listening to these things, Jesus went on to tell a parable, because He was near Jerusalem, and they supposed that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately. So He said, “A nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself, and then return. And he called ten of his slaves, and gave them ten minas and said to them, ‘Do business with this until I come back.’

Insights: This week we are going to be looking at the Parable of the Minas.  Before we begin, however, let me make a distinction between the Parable of the Minas and the Parable of the Talents.  In the minas parable there are ten slaves and each one is given one mina.  In the talents parable there are three slaves and one is given five talents, another is given two talents and the third is given one talent.  The point of the talents is to point to God’s part of the equation of equipping.  In other words, there are individuals out there who have been overly blessed by the Lord with gifts from Him.  They can sing and preach.  They have the gift of encouragement and so on and so forth.  These people are like the five talent slave.  Then there are those that can only do a couple of things well and they are like the two talent slave.  There are still others that can only do one thing and they are like a one talent slave.  Now we turn the page and we look at the minas for a moment.  This parable deals with our side of the equation.  In other words, no matter if you are a five talent slave or a one talent slave, what does your work ethic look like?  This question is the point of the minas parable.  As we progress this week we are going to look at the results and expectations that this Equipper of gifts has for us, but this is the starting point for us to understand this parable.  In both the Parable of the Minas and in the Parable of the Talents, the thing to remember is that it is the Lord who gives the gifts.  He is the One who equips us for the work of service to His kingdom and to His glory.  Beloved, I pray you will serve the Lord with all of your heart and that you never turn back and walk by sight.  May your faith perpetually grow in His love and His service.  If you would like more information about the Minas and the Talents, let me point you to Bruce Wilkerson’s book The Life God Rewards.

1.  Have you discovered your spiritual gift(s)?
2.  In what ways do you think the Lord has equipped you to serve Him?

Prayer: Father, thank You for equipping me with gifts.  May I never forget from where my giftedness came.  I pray I use Your blessings in my life for Your glory and point people to Your grace.  Amen.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Disciples Worship Their Teacher

Scripture: Matthew 14:32-33
When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!”

Insights: In these final verses for the week we see the disciples worshipping Jesus.  In the story of Jesus, this act of worship was the very reason He called the disciples.  He desired to be worshipped by them.  The moment Jesus walked into the boat He displayed His power and might in stopping the storm.  There was no doubt, any longer at least, that Jesus was the son of God.  It is my prayer that you are regularly brought to a place of overwhelming awe of the Lord God and that you let that awe spill over into worship.  God is regularly doing things to make us be in awe of Him.  More often than not, however, those awe moments are right in front of us and we miss it because of those storms of distraction.  Beloved, let us be intentional in our worship and let us bring Him glory as we follow obediently after Him.

1.  Are you worshipping Jesus?
2.  Are you worshipping Him only when it is convenient or all of the time?

Prayer: Father, I want my life to be known as a life of praise and worship to You.  You are th only One who is worthy of worship.  I pray You are pleased with my offerings to You.  Amen.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Disciples Fail When They Take Their Eyes Off of Their Teacher

Scripture: Matthew 14:30-31
But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and *said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Insights: These verses inform us that Peter took his eyes off of Jesus and began to sink in the water.  In Peter’s situation there was a very literal storm of rain, wind and waves.  We do not know what specifically distracted him from his focus on Jesus, but something did.  Literally, as soon as his eyes were off of Jesus, he began to sink.  We are not walking on literal water, but we face just as many storms in life.  Our storms can consist of health issues, financial issues, parental issues and the list could go on and on.  The point is Jesus desires for us to be abiding disciples of Him.  The only way we can fulfill this desire of Jesus is for our eyes to be on Him and Him only.  Brother Laurence, a monk in the middle ages, called this Practicing the Presence of God.  It is about learning how to be in such intimacy with our Lord that we immediately recognize when we are living life in contradiction to His will.  Whenever we are in opposition to His will, then we are not experiencing His presence and we will begin to sink in the midst of our storm.  This picture of keeping our eyes on Jesus is all about abiding in Him.  It is about us, His disciples, learning to live our lives in and through Him.  He is our everything.  With Him we can walk on water, but apart from Him we can do nothing.  Beloved, let us keep our eyes on Jesus, to His praise and glory!  Let me give you one last thought about these verses today.  Notice how Peter gets a rebuke from Jesus.  Also remember there is a storm raging around them.  I think Peter later told the disciples what Jesus said to him and the Holy Spirit brought it to Matthew’s mind when he was inspired to write this gospel.  I don’t think the other disciples heard the rebuke.  As I watch this scene unfold I believe Jesus pulled Peter close to Him and asked that painful question because Peter had been walking by faith.  I think the rebuke was a very redeeming and personal moment between Jesus and Peter.  I believe it was full of love and grace.  It was a special moment for Peter.

1.  Have you presently taken your eyes off of Jesus?
2.  Are you willing to repent and cry out to Jesus in order to experience His grace?

Prayer: Father, forgive me when I walk in my own sinful rebellion because of fear and doubt.  The storms of life can be very intense, but Lord I need You, as I always needs You, in the midst of these dark times.  Lord, protect me from myself and let me not falter by taking my eyes off of you.  Amen.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Disciples Succeed When They Keep Their Eyes on Their Teacher

Scripture: Matthew 14:29b-c
And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

Insights: Today’s verses bring us to one of the most beautiful pictures in the Bible.  We have no idea how long Peter walked on the water, but he DID WALK on the water.  One of the things we learned about the disciple selection process of a rabbi was that a rabbi chose a disciple based on the belief that this disciple would be able to do what the rabbi did.  This truth becomes very important and crucial at this point in the history of Jesus and Peter walking on the water.  In other words, Peter’s faith to ask the Lord to call him onto the water was based on a faith presupposition that if the rabbi is doing something, then he was able to do that very thing as well.  The rabbi was teaching the disciples how to obey through all the different journeys they took.  They were learning to trust and obey their rabbi.  Now, because of all this training, Peter now sees Jesus walking on the water and asks if he can walk out to Him.  Jesus, desiring for His disciple to obey, says, “Yes.”  The miraculous occurs—Peter steps out by faith and does walk on water.  This is not a fable or a fairytale.  Peter actually walks on water.  In this moment can you envision in your minds eye the face of Jesus.  Peter’s eyes are looking directly into Jesus’ eyes.  Jesus is not looking around.  He is not focused even on the other eleven disciples.  Now, can you see Jesus’ smile?  Even in the midst of this storm in the middle of the night, I think there was a touch of brilliance as Peter looked at His Lord and Savior.  I even imagine Jesus was saying within Himself, “I got one who gets it.  He believes in Me.”  Beloved, I long for my life to bring a smile to my Redeemer’s face.  The only way that jubilation is possible is by keeping our eyes on Jesus.  Let me again encourage you my brothers and sisters to keep your eyes on Jesus no matter what you are currently facing.  In Peter’s life he successfully walked on water when he had his eyes set on the Master.  May that same truth be said of you.  God bless you this day.

1.  Have you ever thought what kind of expectations the Lord has regarding His children?
2.  Are you presently walking with your eyes on Jesus?

Prayer: Father, I want to please You as I walk with my eyes transfixed on You.  Grant me the grace to walk humbly with You, my Lord and God.  May my life reflect Your power and bring You glory.  Amen.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Teachers Want Their Disciples to Obey

Scripture: Matthew 14:29a
And He said, “Come!”

Insights: Yesterday we learned that it was the disciples desire to obey his rabbi.  The flip side of that same coin is that the rabbi wants his disciple to obey him.  I quoted a mid rash saying that went like this Sunday, “May the dust of your rabbi be upon you.”  That statement was a statement of blessing.  The one saying that do a disciple was in essence saying, “May you walk so closely with your rabbi that his very dust from his step would fall on you as you walk behind him.”  In other words, a disciple was to hang around their rabbi so much that they learned what obedience meant.  In order to know what we ought to do, the rabbi would take his disciples on journeys.  For example, there was a time Jesus took His disciples to Ceaseria Phillipi.  Now you need to understand that Jews did not go to Ceaseria Phillipi unless they absolutely had to, but Jesus takes His disciples there.  The reason this was such a big deal was that in Ceaseria Phillipi there was a worship center to the goat god Pan.  At this temple there was a large gate.  There was a crack in the earth at this site that was thought to be the location where demons went into and out of hell.  While here, after Peter’s great confession of faith, Jesus said, “Upon this rock I will build My church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”  Jesus was a master teacher at using His environment to teach a truth.  The reason Jesus taught this way and took His disciples on journey’s like this to Caeseria Phillipi was to instill within His disciples the heart of obedience.  In other words, it was Jesus’ desire for His disciples to obey Him.  It is also for this reason at this point, Jesus tells Peter to come on out to Him on the water.  What a lovely picture of obedience and trust.  May we bring our Lord pleasure as we obey Him as He desires.

1.  Do you regularly hear the Lord telling you which way to walk?
2.  Have you grown in your walk with the Lord to such an extent that it is easy for you to discern His commands?

Prayer: Father, in so many ways I am still just a baby.  I so often find it hard to know that I have heard You clearly.  Take me through the process of sanctification and mature my faith.  Let me rest in Your glory.  Amen.

Disciples Want to Follow Their Teacher

Scripture: Matthew 14:28
Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”

Insights: On Sunday I preached a very long introduction about the process one would go through to become a disciple of a rabbi.  One of the primary realities of one who had been chosen to be a disciple of a rabbi was to follow his rabbi.  In today’s verse we see this being expressed in Peter’s statement to Jesus.  Let me set the scene briefly: Jesus has earlier that day feed the 5,000 and then sent His disciples on ahead while He sent the crowd away.  Jesus then went up the mountain to pray and at some point in the middle of the night He comes to them, in the midst of a storm, walking on the water.  When the disciples see Jesus they think He is a ghost.  Jesus, however, speaks to them and comforts their hearts.  It is at this point that Peter says, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”  This characteristic to follow the rabbi is crucial for one to be a disciple.  It reveals a humble belief and trust in his rabbi to have his best interest at heart.  When it comes down to it, this point is what is really at stake in our relationship with the Lord.  It is a faith and trust issue.  Do we really trust the Lord enough to follow Him or do we believe we know what is best?  Beloved, let me promise you that following the Lord is always best.  Follow Him this day!

1.  Would you classify yourself as one who truly wants to follow after Jesus?
2.  If you were not able to answer in the affirmative, what is preventing you from following after the Lord?

Prayer: Father, I really want to follow after You.  You are the only One who can bring about life and save me from my sinfulness.  May my life bring You glory.  Amen.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Our Purpose is Found in Jesus

Scripture: Matthew 9:16-17
But no one puts a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and a worse tear results. Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins burst, and the wine pours out and the wineskins are ruined; but they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.”

Insights: As a preacher there are times you recognize while you are preaching that you are butchering a point or a passage.  That unfortunate reality happened with this final point of the sermon Sunday.  In today’s verses we see two illustrations expressing the same point.  You are looking at the Old Covenant and the New Covenant.  The Old Covenant was wrapped up with people trying to fulfill the Law in their own power.  The New Covenant freed people of such bondage and helped them to understand the Holy Spirit within them empowered them to live a victorious life of obedience before our Lord God.  Here then is the point I was attempting to communicate Sunday: The Old Covenant was not capable of containing the truth of the New Covenant.  In other words, obedience to the Law was not going to be able to confine the Spirit’s freedom given to one who is born again in Jesus Christ.  Now, if I had not already messed that part up, I really dropped the ball when I tried to tie this final point into the results of fasting.  Because we are living under the New Covenant we now have our purpose in Jesus as well.  We are supposed to go and evangelize a world and tell them about the saving grace of God through the work of His Son Jesus on the cross of Calvary.  So, here is how everything this week fits together.  We find our pleasure in Jesus and we pursue that pleasure by displaying our passion through fasting.  While we are fasting we are growing in our relationship with the Lord Jesus and feel His compulsion to spread His good news to a lost world.  This message becomes our purpose for still being here and not with the Lord in eternity.  The more we fulfill our purpose, the more we experience pleasure in Jesus and the more we experience pleasure in Jesus the more passionate we become about our faith.  This cycle continues on and on and on.  Hopefully, I did a better job of explaining this final point in written form than I did in verbal form.  May you be blessed this week and I will see you Sunday.

1.  Does your life clearly communicate what your purpose is?
2.  Are you just going through the motions and faking your passion?

Prayer: Father, I want my purpose to be found in You and You alone.  Stir my pleasure so that I pursue my passion in order to fulfill my purpose of telling others about Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior.  Amen.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Our Passion is Found in Jesus

Scripture: Matthew 9:15b
But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.

Insights: In the second half of verse fifteen we see the definitive reality that believers in Jesus are supposed to be fasting.  I think, however, we miss the reason for this necessity of fasting at times.  The reason the disciples are fasting is because they have discovered, as we learned yesterday, that their pleasure is found in Jesus. The pleasure is what we personally receive out of the relationship.  The fasting is our part of the equation and it shows our passion for that pleasure we find in Jesus.  Remember as we discussed fasting on Monday, in Jesus’ day it was literally a forsaking of food for a time.  What the one fasting was literally saying in their heart is I want the Lord God more than I want life itself.  That kind of devotion can only be summed up with the word passion.  Jesus ought to be the object of our passion.  We ought to desire Him more than anything else in this world.  He is more important than relationships.  He is more important than hobbies and activities of pleasure.  He is more important than objects we possess.  He is more important than food; and as such, more important than life itself.  I personally want to get to the place in my walk with Jesus that I am literally consulting Him before every conversation, action, motive and habit in my life.  I want Him to be the all consuming fire within me that dictates everything I do and say.  I want my life to be characterized as one full of passion for Jesus.  It is my belief that fasting will help in that process.  Beloved, may you find your passion in Jesus and may it consume you.

1.  In what do you experience passion?
2.  Have you ever been so consumed with someone or something that that person or object was all about which you could think?

Prayer: Father, passion is an item missing in many peoples lives; and like many of the things this week, all too often true of myself as well.  Lord, place within me a passion for Jesus.  Let me want Him more than anything else in the world.  Be pleased with my pursuit of Your Son.  Amen.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Our Pleasure is Found in Jesus

Scripture: Matthew 9:15a
And Jesus said to them, “The attendants of the bridegroom cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they?

Insights: In today’s half of verse fifteen and the remainder of the passage we find three results of our fasting.  In other words, fasting drives us to these three outcomes.  The first one will be discussed today and that is: we find our pleasure in Jesus.  Jesus uses a wedding illustration of a bridegroom.  He asks a rhetorical question that has an obvious answer of no.  In this illustration Jesus is the bridegroom and He is with his disciples.  The reason the disciples are incapable of mourning is because Jesus is with them.  Here is the point we need to understand from this passage.  Our pleasure is found in Jesus.  As the disciples were with Jesus, they did not need to fast because they were right there with Him.  They were fully satisfied with the presence of Jesus in a very literal sense of the word.  But as we continue to read this verse tomorrow we are going to see the attendants of the bridegroom will fast once he is gone.  Again, we must ask ourselves, why?  The answer is simply because they know their complete pleasure is found in Jesus.  Now this type of thinking makes me wonder where we are as a church.  We are to truly find our pleasure and satisfaction in Jesus, but all too often I see people who are disillusioned with Him.  More often than not this disillusion is a result of the church not acting like the body of Christ in which Jesus told us we were a part.  On other occasions it is because the person is not truly walking with the Lord, but still wants all of the benefits without the relationship.  Either way, the end result is these types of people are not finding their pleasure in Jesus.  It is our job as fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord to point these individuals back to Jesus and help them find their joy in Him.  Beloved, it is my hearts desire as you seek out the Lord’s will for our church that you find you pleasure in Jesus overflowing to the full.  Be blessed in the Lord today.

1.  In what do you find pleasure?
2.  Have you ever experienced the total satisfaction and enjoyment found in Jesus?

Prayer: Father, I do not understand myself some times.  Having experienced Your amazing love, why would I ever desire to find pleasure in the sinful trappings of this world, yet I do.  Forgive me for this rebellious heart and grow me in Your grace to where my full dependence and desire is for You.  Amen.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Ought We to Fast?

Scripture: Matthew 9:14
Then the disciples of John came to Him, asking, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?”

Insights: We have finally made it to the New Testament on Sunday mornings.  As a church we are praying and contemplating the possibility of adding a full time associate pastor and a part time ministry assistant to our staff here at FBCBG.  In this vein of thought, therefore, it was appropriate to preach on this passage in Matthew chapter nine as a way of gaining clarity and confirmation as to whether this decision is the right decision, right now.  We at FBCBG want to walk in the center of the Lord’s will and we need His guidance continually.  In today’s verse Jesus is asked why His disciples do not fast when it is part of the practice of other religious individuals.  This question opens up the door to us to ask the same question, ought we to fast?  If we give an affirmative answer, and I think it is an affirmative answer based on the rest of the verses we will read this week, then we must ask when ought we to fast?  The list could be long, but let me list three times.  One, when you are facing a decision like the one we as a church are facing.  Two, when you are in the middle of spiritual battle.  Daniel is a good example of this kind of fasting.  Three, when you desire to strengthen your spiritual disciplines.  What ought we to fast is another good question we can ask of ourselves as well.  Fasting, in the biblical sense, is literally the abstinence of food.  We even use a term in our daily lives that pertains to this abstinence from food.  That word is breakfast.  It literally was used to describe the breaking of the fast from the day before.  With modern medicine, however, it is unwise for some to practice a complete food fast.  What then are some alternatives?  One may choose to fast a specific meal for a period of time.  One may choose to fast from a specific type of food or beverage.  Typically, this kind of specific food or beverage is something that has gained mastery over you like coffee, chocolate or ice cream.  There is still another type of fast that I would highly recommend, especially in the modern day in which we live, and that is a technology fast.  For a length of time stay off of the internet, except for work specifically related to your employment.  Continue this technology fast with the purging of television and movie watching.  Add one more to this technology fast and eliminate the listening to the radio, iPods, etc.  You would be amazed at how much of your time is consumed with technology.  The point, Beloved, is we ought to fast and the previous information is some basic guidelines about fasting.  God bless you as you fast and seek the Lord.

1.  Are you currently needing direction, fighting a spiritual battle or practicing the spiritual disciplines that make us stronger in Jesus?
2.  Have you contemplated the possibility of fasting as one of the tools God has provided in our arsenal?

Prayer: Father, all too often I try to fight this spiritual battle on my own and continually fall short time and time again.  Lord strengthen my heart to incorporate fasting into my life patterns and let me walk in such a fashion that it brings You glory and me clarity.  Amen.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

God Sends Curses

Scripture: Malachi 4:6b
so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.”

Insights: Yesterday I mentioned the second reason God desires us to love our children was found in the last part of verse six.  The second reason is because God does not wish to send a curse upon the land.  Unfortunately, I personally believe America is under a curse for this very injustice of parents refusal to love their child(ren).  Sunday I gave the following statistics about the fatherless generation.  These statistics came from three article titled, The Fatherless Generation, Statistics on Fatherless Children in America, and Prison Statistics.  Here is some of that research: 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes - 5X the average.  90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes - 32X the average.  85% of all children who show behavior disorders come from fatherless homes - 20X the average.  80% of rapists come from fatherless homes - 14X the average.  71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes - 9X the average.  75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes - 10X the average.  Children living in a 2 parent home, but who have a poor relationship with their father are 68% more likely to smoke, drink or use drugs.  Young men who grow up in homes without fathers are twice as likely to end up in jail as those who come from traditional two-parent families.  If the young man lives in a neighborhood with a high concentration of single-parent families the odds triple.  78% of the nation’s jail and prison inmates grew up in a fatherless household.  Beloved, I think you can see from this research that our land is indeed under a curse because of the lack of love for our child(ren).  I, however, concluded the sermon with this: we are not without hope.  The Lord God who has sent these great warnings can heal this nation.  The choice is ours, but it all hinges on our return to the Father and His ways.  If we, especially His children, will return to Him, which is what the book of Malachi is all about, then He will heal us and restore to us His love and blessing.  It is my prayer that this restoration begins right now and that it starts here at FBCBG.  To God be the glory!

1.  Do you recognize the curse that America us presently under?
2.  In what ways are you able to serve to break this horrific cycle?

Prayer: Father, forgive us for our rebellion.  Please be merciful to us and restore our hearts to You.  At the same time I pray this, do what is ever necessary to turn people to You and if that means a season of curses, then Lord let them do their job quickly.  Amen.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

You are to Love Your Children

Scripture: Malachi 4:6a
He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers,

Insights: In the fist part of verse six we see the second primary purpose of parents and that is to love your child(ren).  We live in a society that has increasingly lost its love.  I use that phraseology because we first lost our love for the Lord and it has increased to our lose of love for humanity.  It is my opinion that the Lord knew this to be true of people and it is for this reason He admonishes us in this first half of the verse to love our children.  One of the reasons for this earthly love between parents and their child(ren) is because if it is done properly, it helps the child(ren) recognize the Father’s love for them as they grow older.  The second reason the Lord desires for parents to love their child(ren) is because of the last part of verse six, which we will look at tomorrow.  Beloved, let me encourage you to truly love your child(ren).  One of the things that boggles my mind is people who claimed they wanted children until they got them.  Then every bit of their attitude points to the fact that the children are an inconvenience.  God forgive us if we ever get to that kind of attitude.  Let us truly love our kids and may they one day see the love of God for themselves.  Hopefully, our love for them will have been a catalyst for their recognition of God’s love.

1.  Are you loving your child(ren)?
2.  In what ways to you express this love to them specifically?

Prayer: Father, don’t let me take for granted the seriousness of loving my child(ren).  Let me, by Your mercy, display affection to them as You have done for me.  Let my love for them point them to the Love You have for them as well and let Your love transform their lives.  Amen.