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16. Our Thinking vs. God’s Promises.
a. We say- It’s impossible. God says- All things are possible with Me.
b. We- I can’t do it. God- You can do all things through Christ.
c. We- I’m too tired. God- Come to Me, I will give you rest.
d. We- I’m always worried and frustrated. God- Cast all your cares on Me.
e. We- I can’t go on. God- My grace is sufficient for you.
f. We- I can’t figure things out. God- I will direct your steps.
g. We- I’m not able. God- I am able.
h. We- It’s not worth it. God- It will be worth it.
i. We- I can’t manage. God- I will supply all your needs.
j. We- I’m afraid. God- I have not given you a spirit of fear.
k. WE- I don’t have enough faith. God- I’ve given everyone a measure of faith.
l. WE- I’m not smart enough. God- I give you wisdom.
m. We- I feel all alone. God- I will never leave you or forsake you.

 
Contributed By:
Jim Kane
 
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‘Grow as You Go.’ The first sermon in this series took us to Moses and his encounter with God. We were told that God had a role, an important one at that, for Moses and it was in line with God’s plan and story and not Moses’ plan and story. In other words, we ‘grow’ in our Christian faith and character as we ‘go’ along in life by remembering that the Christian story and faith is about God and not about us and though we have a role in that story and it is not the role of director.
Out next stop took us to 2 Chronicles 26 and the painful and tragic story of King Uzziah. We learned that Uzziah, who became King of Israel at a young age, governed well because he governed with the help of God who made him successful. But one day, due to an increasing belief in himself and a less increasing reliance on the Lord, Uzziah exceeded his authority and with a heart that was filled with pride and power, fell from power and afflicted with leprosy, and spent the remaining years of his life literally cut off from his people.
Uzziah’s story thus serves us as a powerful and important reminder that as we go and grow in our faith and character, we must pay attention to the gaps between our skills and our character because the latter rather than the former will undo us and cause us tremendous pain and disconnect with God.
This morning we move through the Old Testament to the book of Daniel and the person of Daniel and here we encounter the opposite of Uzziah. Here we see a man who says yes to the right things so that he can say no to the right things. (You heard me right, Daniel is some one who says yes to the right things so that he can say no to the right things.)
The lesson we learn from Daniel’s life as it applies to ‘growing as we go’ is, in the words of Eric Simpson, ‘what we say ‘yes’ to grants us power to what we have longed to say no to.’ Spiritual growth and development; the process of going and growing as followers of Jesus; requires us to say ‘yes’ to some things and ‘no’ to other things. Daniel’s story tells us what he says ‘no’ to, at least in this chapter of his life.
Now it is always important to place the text we examine in its context and, very briefly, here is the context of our main text this morning. Our text begins with a statement about a governmental decision being made by a new King, a new ruler, in fact a conquering king and ruler, ‘Darius the Mede.’
As we read in Daniel 5:30 and 31, the former King, Belshazzar, the last of the Babylonian kings, was overthrown and the Babylonian empire, which had overthrown the remnants of Israel, was no more. A new empire, the Persian-Mede empire was now the top dog in that part of the world.
And by this time in his life Daniel most likely was 80 years of age. He had already served two kings, often at risk to his life and those of his friends, because of their faith and their commitment that they kept saying ‘yes’ to God while saying ‘no’ to the challenges. Now he was beginning service to a third king.
So now Darius is the new ruler and he orders some administrative changes and places Daniel and two others in key leadership positions much to the jealousy and anger of others who decide to play to the pride and power of the king and get him to make a law setting himself up as god of the nation. The result is a very serious and life-threatening challenge to Daniel, his character, and his faith.
So Daniel hears the new law, ‘For the next 30 days, only King Darius is to be worshipped and anyone who does otherwise will be cast into the lion’s den,’ and he goes home. Now there perhaps is a tendency to think that Daniel was unmoved by the turns of event because he goes home. Maybe he was. Maybe he wasn’t.
Let’s suppose for a moment he wasn’t moved. Let’s suppose that he went home, to pray, ‘just as he had always done.’
Wow! What kind of faith! What kind of assured confidence in God that God, His God, whom Daniel had faithfully followed throughout the years, would take care of the situation.
What really moves me in this passage is that Daniel went home to pray ‘just as he had always done.’ This three times a day prayer was more than a religious ritual, it was a habit of the heart and soul, that God used to nourish and grow Daniel into the man of God that he was.
But what if Daniel went home, troubled and uncertain? What if this time he thought, ‘This might be it?’ And yet, he went home and prayed ‘just as he had always done.’
Well, as the story continues, Daniel is observed praying (he is easily seen through the open windows) and later he is arrested, charged with breaking the new law, and sentence to death in the lion’s den. But, God protects him and he survives and is vindicated by a very, very relieved and humbled king who orders that a new decree honoring Daniel’s god.
So while the fear of Moses and the pride of Uzziah serve as reminders of the struggles and temptations we deal with as we grow and go, Daniel serves us as a reminder of how to respond to those temptations and struggles by saying yes to certain things and no to others.
Slide 2 Daniel said yes to God over and over over again. That phrase, ‘just as he had always done,’ is one that we need to pay attention to. It indicates a habit, a priority, a practice, (and an intentional one at that) that Daniel did for many, many years.
He went home to pray not just because he was taught it or was told to do it. He went home, day in and day out, when it was easy and when it was hard, and prayed to God. He set his face and heart toward God because he believed in God and believed that God’s way was THE way.
This consistent practice of prayer shaped Daniel’s character. It enabled him to become the person that we read about in this book; a person of consistency, honesty, faith, and maturity. And because he did, God was honored and Daniel thrived through both difficult and quiet circumstances.
(Slide 2b) Daniel said yes to those things that helped him perform God’s agenda. In the first story of this book, Daniel makes the decision not to eat the rich and tasty food given to him and his friends. He did for perhaps two reasons. First, because the foods offered went against the Jewish dietary laws and second it would put himself in the position of becoming dependent on the King in ways that could leave him vulnerable later on.
(Another reason, based on the results of the different diet chosen by Daniel in verse 15, could have been was that it was simply not healthy for someone to eat.)
But whatever the reason, Daniel, even at this early age, said ‘yes’ to God’s ways and purposes so that he could say ‘no’ to whatever would cause him to compromise his faith.
(Slide 3) In saying ‘yes’ to God and God’s ways, he said ‘no’ to some things as well.
By saying ‘yes’ to God and His ways, Daniel had the power and the willingness to say ‘no’ to certain things that I believe we can safely say were a part of his life and experiences as recorded in the book of Daniel.
In our main text he said no to worship another human being as god. Now, it seems that we do a good job of such worship these days.
Think for a moment about the entertainment industry. Many people spend many hours and spend (and pay) much money to learn ‘the latest’ about an entertainment star. Paparazzi chase people and automobiles to the far corners of the world just to get ‘that picture’ that could tell a new and sordid story.
Now it’s one thing to admire someone for a meaningful performance or good character acting. But it is another thing to worship, to put before anything else, another human being, who seems to make more money and get more fame by being bad than being good. (The same could be said for leading sports figures.)
Stephen Covey believes that about 90 or so years ago our society and culture began to be more concerned with, (and I am paraphrasing Covey here) a ‘winning personality’ rather than a ‘winning character.’ Some would probably say that Moses did not have a winning personality, that he was too moody, too uncertain, and probably too old. Others would have probably not picked him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. But God used him.
Uzziah, on the other hand, had that winning personality. He was a great king who did much for his people. He was a winner! Who could ask for more in a king?
Then there was Daniel; he was probably good looking. He had talent. He could have been a bigger influence and an even bigger star if he would have joined the party more. But his character was more important than his popularity.
Daniel said ‘no’ to the very powerful and tempting offer to ‘join the crowd.’ He was more concerned about honoring God with his life than being popular and liked. He said ‘yes’ to God so that he could say ‘no’ to those things that would create the conditions for character (and spiritual) breakdown.
(Slide 3b) He said no to those things that could compromise his faith and character. As we read and re-read his story, we see Daniel consistently refusing to take shortcuts that would make life easier for him. And I truly think he did so because he had seen first hand what the wrong kind of compromise had done to his nation. A turn to chapter one reminds us that Daniel was among those taken away from his homeland and brought to the capital of the conquering nation and chosen to be education in the ways and life of the new nation.
But even while God, as the text says, gifted Daniel with the ability to understand dreams, Daniel said ‘yes’ to God and ‘no’ to the compromises his new surroundings offered him. I just wonder if the memories of his defeated homeland remained in his mind.
So, growing in our faith in and relationship with the Lord requires us to do three important things: (Slide 4)
1. Remember that we are a part of God’s story not the other way around. This is about becoming a humble person.
2. We need to shorten the gap between our giftedness and our character. This is about becoming an authentic person.
3. We need to learn and practice saying ‘yes’ to God so that we can say ‘no’ to those things that would destroy us. Jim Kane

 
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ELISHA HOFFMAN: A BURDEN TOO BIG TO BEAR

Many New Testament promises have corresponding verses in the Old Testament that reinforce their power. When Peter, for example, said, ". . . casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you" (1 Peter 5:7), he was but restating David’s words in Psalm 55:22: "Cast your burden on the Lord and He shall sustain thee: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved."

Elisha A. Hoffman loved those verses. He was born May 7, 1839, in Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania. His father was a minister, and Elisha was introduced to Christ at a young age. He attended Philadelphia public schools, studied science, then pursued the classics at Union Seminary of the Evangelical Association. He worked for eleven years with the Association’s publishing house in Cleveland, Ohio. Then, following the death of his young wife, he returned to Pennsylvania and devoted thirty-three years to pastoring Benton Harbour Presbyterian Church.
Hoffman’s pastime was writing hymns, many of which were inspired by pastoral incidents.

Hoffman lived to be ninety, preaching the Gospel, telling Jesus his burdens, and giving the church such hymns as It was down at the feet of Jesus, Down at the Cross where my Saviour died, Are You Washed in the Blood?, Leaning on the Everlasting Arms, and a thousand more.
Do you have a burden too big to bear? Why not take a few moments to tell Jesus about it. Take your burden to the Lord, then leave it there by faith, casting all your concerns on Him, for He cares for you. After all, He is still God, even in the valley!

(From a sermon by Darren Rogers, 08 The Valley of Reoccurrence, 1028/2009)

 
Contributed By:
Pat Cook
 
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Christian author Neil Anderson wrote a list he called The Twenty Cans of Success. These are based on what the NT says is true of Christians. These are promises, claimed by believers through the centuries. Allow God to speak to you through these assurances.

1. Why should I say I can’t when the Bible says I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13)? 2. Why should I lack when I know that God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19)? 3. Why should I fear when the Bible says God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7)? 4. Why should I lack faith to fulfill my calling knowing that God as allotted to me a measure of faith (Romans 12:3)? 5. Why should I be weak when the Bible says that the Lord is the strength of my life and that I will display strength and take action because I know God (Psalm 27:1; Daniel 11:32)?

6. Why should I allow Satan supremacy over my life when He that is in me is greater than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4)? 7. Why should I accept defeat when the Bible says that God always leads me in triumph (2 Corinthians 2:14)? 8. Why should I lack wisdom when Christ became wisdom to me from God and God gives wisdom to me generously when I ask Him for it (1 Corinthians 1:30; James 1:5)? 9. Why should I be depressed when I can recall to mind God’s lovingkindness, compassion, and faithfulness and have hope (Lamentations 3:21-23)? 10. Why should I worry and fret when I can cast all my anxiety on Christ who cares for me (1 Peter 5:7)?

11. Why should I ever be in bondage knowing that there is liberty where the Spirit of the Lord is (2 Corinthians 3:17)? 12. Why should I feel condemned when the Bible says I am not condemned because I am in Christ (Romans 8:1)? 13. Why should I feel alone when Jesus said He is with me always and He will never leave me nor forsake me (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5)? 14. Why should I feel accursed or that I am the victim of bad luck when the Bible says that Christ redeemed me from the curse of the law that I might receive His Spirit (Galatians 3:13-14)? 15. Why should I be discontented when I, like Pau...

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Rodelio Mallari
 
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GOD CALLS BUSY PEOPLE

In the Bible, God never goes to the lazy or the idle when He needs men (or women) for His service. He goes to those who are already at work — the busy person:

— Moses was busy with his flock at Horeb.
— Gideon was busy threshing wheat by the winepress.
— Saul was busy searching for his father's lost beasts.
— David was busy caring for his father's sheep.
— Elisha was busy plowing with twelve yoke of oxen.
— Nehemiah was busy bearing the king's winecup.
— Amos was busy following the flock and raising sycamore fruit.
— Peter and Andrew were busy casting a net into the sea.
— James and John were busy mending their nets.
— Matthew was busy collecting customs.
— Saul was busy persecuting the friends of Jesus.

— Adapted by David C. Cook — (Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations)

 
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REWARD FOR DOING RIGHT

Joseph told Israel of his brother's evil doings. He was faithful to reveal rather than conceal the matter. Certainly it took a great deal of courage to do what he did. The exercising of that courage showed forth faithfulness. He also was faithful to his job requirements. There is no indication that he was just a tale-bearer, but instead he is seen to have a sensitive spirit to that which is wrong and most likely told the evil report with the hopes that his father could deal with it to the son's good. Yet, we will find that this was to be added to those things that would cost Joseph for doing right. Time will prove that God will honor him for doing right.

As it did with Joseph, it may cost you to do right. Yet, it may also be said, "That it pays to do right." When doing right and facing criticism for having done so, you may be tempted to "back off" from doing right. Like the Book of Hebrews, we should heed what Hebrews 10:35 says: "Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward." The Lord will reward us when we do right.

When I was in the sixth grade, I reported a theft of fifty cents from the "snack box." Ann and I had been given the responsibility of taking care of the "store." I turned my back and then quickly turned back around and saw that the fifty-cent piece had been stolen. I went home after I saw that she had taken the money and told my mother. My mother then told me that I needed to tell my sixth grade school teacher.

I went the next day and told my teacher that I had something private to tell her. We stepped out into the hall and then I told her. She went and told the principal. Instead of the principal removing or disciplining the one who had taken the money, he removed us both. That nearly crushed me, because it made me look guilty, also. It bothered me for many years when I thought about it.

Over twenty-five years later, I walked into a funeral home to preach a funeral and saw my sixth-grade school teacher. The first thing that she said was, "Max, I won't ever get over what that principal did to you. You were doing right in reporting the theft of that money, and he treated you just as though you had taken it.” I had never mentioned this incident to my sixth-grade teacher and had wondered if she thought that I had taken some money, but when she told me that, I felt a sense of relief in knowing that she knew that I had done right… That made my day.

I think of how when we do right and feel that it is not being rewarded, that just as it was with my teacher, one day the truth will come forth. Some of you hearing this may have faced trial or persecution for just doing right. Just wait. One day the truth will come out…

Source: From W. Alderman’s Sermon: The Dreamer

 
Contributed By:
Glenn Durham
 
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Phillip Keller drew from his many years as a shepherd to write, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, a book many Christians find beneficial. In one place he describes “cast” sheep: “This is an old English shepherd’s term for a sheep that has turned over on its back and cannot get up again by itself…. Even the largest, fattest, strongest and sometimes healthiest sheep can become ‘cast’ and be a casualty…. A ‘cast’ sheep is a very pathetic site. Lying on its back, its feet in the air, it flays away frantically struggling to stand up, without success. Sometimes it will bleat a little for help, but generally it lies there lashing about in frightened frustration. If the owner does not arrive on the scene within a reasonably short time, the sheep will die. This is but another reason why it is so essential for a careful sheepman to count his flock every day…. If one or two are missing, often his first thought is, ‘One of my sheep is cast somewhere. I must go in search and set it on its feet’” (54,61).

Keller reminds us that though the image of God’s people as sheep is common in the Bible, it is not completely complementary. From all accounts, sheep are helpless animals of limited intelligence. They are timid and can be startled by the slightest sound; but at other times they are so stubborn that nothing moves them. Pastor John MacArthur observes that “sheep are the most helpless, defenseless, straying, and dirty of animals. They require constant oversight, leading, rescue, and cleaning or they will die. Being a shepherd was good training for leading people.”

In spite of the negative connotations, however, God identifies us “sheep” and himself the “shepherd.” Calling us “sheep” might not feel like a great complement; but being the “good shepherd” greatly exalts God’s care and compassion. The Good Shepherd leads us to the green pastures and cool waters of heaven.

 
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Nathan Hale, a great American patriot during the Revolutionary War, was captured and hung by British soldiers. His now famous final words were, "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." He was willing to die for his nation and its freedom. Not long ago, a mother in Philadelphia went back into a burning building to rescue her children who were trapped inside. After saving two, she died in the flames trying to save the other two. The mother was willing to die for her children. In the ancient empire of Persia, a law was passed making it a crime punishable by death to pray to anyone but the emperor. One aged government official refused to obey the edict. It was his habit to pray three times daily to the one true God. As a result, he was cast into a den of lions. Even though God saved Daniel, Daniel was still willing to die rather than give up his habit of prayer. Most things in our life that are important require sacrifices in order to do them. If you have hobbies or extra-curricular activities that you enjoy doing you may be willing to sacrifice time, ...

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ONE PERSON MAKES A DIFFERENCE

Many people believe that one person cannot truly make a difference. Yet, history teaches us better.

The story is told that in days past the state of Rhode Island was electing a state legislature. There was a thrifty Federalist farmer who started for the polls late in the afternoon, and on the way he heard the squealing of a pig. He looked around to see the pig with its head caught in the mesh of an old wire fence. The farmer knew that hogs would often kill and eat a trapped pig. So the farmer stopped, rescued the pig, and was too late to cast his vote.

Now the story gets interesting. The Federalist farmer was too late to vote, and the election was decided by one vote in favor of the democrats. "IF" the farmer had voted, the Democrat would not have been elected.

But the irony does not stop here. In those days, the legislature selected the person who would be the US Senator for the state. By a one-vote margin, a democrat was sent to the Senate from Rhode Island. When arriving at the US Senate, the motion was placed forth about going to war with England, which passed by one democratic vote. You still with me?

Following this train of thought, the Revolutionary War was fought because in Rhode Island, a pig got caught in a fence. Whether all of this story is true or not is certainly debatable, but parts of it are entirely accurate. In American history, more than that you care to count, ONE VOTE--one person--made a tremendous difference.

Today we have read in God's word about two men who teach us that one man can and does indeed make a huge difference in life. These two men exert a great influence on you and me today. They both are Symbols, Patriarchs, and even Fathers. Scripture calls them the "First Adam" (Adam of the Garden) and the "Last Adam" (Jesus of Gethsemane); we know them as the Man of Sin and the Man of Salvation.

(Source: from a sermon by Jerry Watts, "A Tale of Two Men" 7/14/08, SermonCentral.com)

 
Contributed By:
Gregg Rustulka
 
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Jesus is Better than Santa!

Santa lives at the North Pole. JESUS is everywhere.
Santa rides in a sleigh. JESUS rides on the wind and walks on the water.
Santa comes but once a year. JESUS is an ever present help.
Santa fills your stockings with goodies JESUS supplies all your needs.
Santa comes down your chimney uninvited . JESUS stands at your door and knocks. And then enters your heart.
You have to stand in line to see Santa. JESUS is as close as the mention of His name.
Santa lets you sit on his lap. JESUS lets you rest in His arms.
Santa doesn't know your name without looking on his list, so it is said.
JESUS knew our name before we did. Not only does He know our name, He knows our address too. He knows our history and future and He even knows how many hairs are on our heads.
Santa has a belly like a bowl full of jelly. JESUS has a heart full of love.
Santa offers a HO HO HO. JESUS offers health, help and hope.
Santa says "You better not cry". JESUS says "Cast all your cares on me for I care for you" ... and its okay to cry.
Santa's little helpers make toys. JESUS makes new life, mends wounded hearts, repairs broken homes and builds mansions.
Santa may make you chuckle but JESUS gives you joy that is your strength. Jesus gives us a merry heart ... full of laughter and glee.
While Santa puts gifts under your tree. JESUS became our gift and died on the tree, then came back to life and is preparing a place in heaven for all who believe.

 
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