Today is the third Sunday of Advent, and we are glad you’re here journeying with us through this season. If you haven’t been with us the past couple of weeks, we have been walking through the season of Advent. It’s a season of preparation and expectation and purposeful focus as we move toward the celebration of Christmas and of Christ’s arrival.
Our guiding symbol through the season is the star. Just as that Star of Bethlehem drew the wise men toward the Savior thousands of years ago, the star guides our focus on a spiritual journey of hope, love, joy, and peace that all connect us to the Morning Star, the light of the world, Jesus.
As we continue to follow the star toward Christmas, it leads us today to focus on a journey of joy. Joy can be the fuel that brightens our journey, and it is a fascinating concept. Joy is often misunderstood. It is often confused with happiness. And it regularly shows up in situations where it may be least expected.
This week, part three is probably my personal favorite of all four of the messages. We’re going to deal with the very popular cultural belief that it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you don’t hurt anyone.
The reality is God never said that and our actions matter a lot.
We love offering little nuggets of advice, support, or sympathy. They come in handy when we want people to feel better. But what if the guidance you’re giving or receiving just isn’t true? What if God Never Said That?
This four-week series tackles common myths about God, like “God wants you happy” or “God never gives you more than you can handle,” and how those myths keep us from having a deeper relationship with Him.
Part 1, we’re going to talk about what may be the most popular misbelief about God in our western version of Christianity. That is that God wants you happy.
I would love with all my heart to be able to tell you, above all else, God wants you happy. Above all else, God wants you to enjoy your life. Above all else, God only wants good things to happen in your life, and God never wants anything bad to happen in your life, because for you, the bottom line is: God wants you to be happy.
Do you ever get discouraged? Don’t answer that, because I already know the answer. Of course you do, you’re human. Encouragement is something we all need. Thank God it is something He has promised to every one of us. I’d like you to first see that the word, “encouragement”, is not used in the King James Version of the Bible. Instead, you’ll see the word “comfort” which is used 10 times in this passage from 2 Corinthians. It is also translated “consolation” and used to describe the Holy Spirit who is called the Comforter (John 14 & 15). I want you to know the sweet encouragement that only our Savior can bring. And once you receive that gift, to pass it on, thereby allowing the Holy Spirit to fill you up again and again.
God is the One who encourages us so that we may be able to comfort others. This is the purpose of encouragement! We are blessed that we might be a blessing.
This Sunday, we look to God to bring us encouragement so we can pass it on to others!
A Rededication of Mt. Zion Church!
Nehemiah 12:27 (NKJV)
Nehemiah Dedicates the Wall
27 Now at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought out the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings and singing, with cymbals and stringed instruments and harps.
The purpose of this grand occasion is to celebrate the dedication — the dedication of the walls, that is! This Sunday, we RE-DEDICATE Mt. Zion Church To the service of the Lord!
In our rededication ceremony, four things will emerge here that I want us to see.
I. CONSECRATION OF THE BUILDING
II. CONSECRATION OF THE PULPIT
III. CONSECRATION OF THE BAPTISMAL
IV. CONSECRATION OF THE LORD’S TABLE
God has come down in blessing…the Holy Spirit has descended upon His people so that their hearts and their souls are entirely for one thing: to serve the Lord. “This one thing I do.” Maybe that’s what the book of Nehemiah is saying to us, that too often our lives are halting between two opinions. Too often our affections are too divided. And, oh! For the work of God’s Spirit to come down and take hold of us, so that we might be out and out for God. May God so grant it!
“How Big Is Your God?”
How big is the God you serve? The question really is, how big is your concept of God? Is the God you serve big enough to perform miracles in your behalf. Or does your faith limit what God is able to do for you? Today’s message from the life of Israel gives us some important principles to remember.
This week, we see that the Lord is doing the fighting. We are told the Lord routed them (v10), the Lord chased them, and the Lord struck them down. Think of the excitement of realizing that God is fighting for you. We have all been decimated by the enemy, beat up by circumstances and wearied with our obligations. How wonderful it would be if God came to our rescue, took up our cause and defeated our enemies.
God fights for us too. If He were not constantly taking our side in the conflicts of life, we would have been overwhelmed long ago. Sin would have already defeated us and destroyed the last vestige of character. God still fights for His people and part of the wonder of Heaven will be to learn just how much God has protected us fought for us.
Don’t Be Deceived
Have you ever been deceived? I have, a couple of times.
The Gibeonites lived nearby, in the territory of Canaan, designated for destruction according to the Word of God, because of their wickedness.
• They are enemies of Israel, not to be friends of Israel. But they came disguising themselves and seeking to make peace.
• This is not the plan of God but Israel fell for it. They are deceived into thinking these people come from a far country.
It wasn’t just Joshua being fooled. The Bible says the men of Israel were there.
• They are likely the leaders of Israel, which includes the leaders of the tribes, plus the priests and elders. Joshua AND his leaders were cheated.
• Having more people does not necessarily ensure a right decision. Being leaders (knowledgeable and likely with certain experience) do not necessarily mean you will make good decisions.
Why were they gullible? What caused them to fall into this trap? We don’t have to guess. The Bible tells us plainly and a matter-of-factly.
This Morning – “Joshua – A New Beginning” – Part 6
F. W. Robertson is quoted as making a statement which ties in beautifully with what we’ll be looking at in chapter 8: “Life, like war, is a series of mistakes, and he is not the best Christian nor the best general who make the fewest false steps. Poor mediocrity may secure that; but he is the best who wins the most splendid victories by the retrieval of mistakes. Forget mistakes; organize victories out of mistakes.”
When we have made a mistake and suffered a defeat what we do is now up to us, we can live in that defeat or we can by God’s grace learn from it and go on.
Though we should never seek to fail, failure can be a backdoor to success if we are willing to seek the forgiveness of God and deal with our sin in the way that God has prescribed. This week we look to Joshua Chapter 8 for 5 secrets for getting back on track after a defeat.
“THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A SECRET SIN”
The seventh chapter of Joshua opens with the ominous word “but.” The use of the little conjunction of contrast is designed to drive home the reality that victory is often followed by the threat of defeat. Suddenly we are presented with a series of failures that stand in striking contrast to the victories of the past six chapters. Israel had just experienced a miraculous victory over Jericho, “but” now they are going to experience defeat. When Joshua sent out the troops to take Ai he was unaware of Achan’s sin or of God’s displeasure. I have to wonder that if he had consulted with the Lord before making his plans if he would not have learned about both. Likewise many of our personal failures could be avoided if we first took our plans and concerns to God in prayer. Christian would do well to spend time consulting with God before making decisions that may have a major impact both their own lives and the lives of others.
Five Principles For Spiritual Victory
Joshua 5: 13- 6:21
Many of the present generation may not remember that Sergeant Alvin York was the most famous soldier of World War I. Neither do they realize that Alvin C. York was a most unlikely man to become a legendary hero.
York felt that his Christian faith barred him from killing anyone, even in war. After being drafted, York went home on a ten-day leave and considered the scriptures a Christian captain had shared with him.
Finally in a crisis of faith, God showed York that he could obey God and defend the helpless in Europe at the same time. He wrote, “As I prayed there alone… I knew that He was there. He understood I didn’t want to be a fighter or a killing man… He took pity on me and gave me the assurance I needed… It was His will and that was enough for me.”
Sgt. York had to win the war in his mind before he could win the battles that lay ahead of him in the trenches of France and so it was with Joshua.