Things We Need

Scripture text: Psalms 138, NLT

1 I give you thanks, O LORD, with all my heart; I will sing your praises before the gods. 
2 I bow before your holy Temple as I worship. I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness; for your promises are backed by all the honor of your name. 
3 As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength.
4 Every king in all the earth will thank you, LORD, for all of them will hear your words. 
5 Yes, they will sing about the LORD ’s ways, for the glory of the LORD is very great. 
6 Though the LORD is great, he cares for the humble, but he keeps his distance from the proud. 
7Though I am surrounded by troubles, you will protect me from the anger of my enemies. You reach out your hand, and the power of your right hand saves me. 
8 The LORD will work out his plans for my life— for your faithful love, O LORD, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me.

INTRODUCTION

We are driven by our needs, it is human nature. When we come to church, we aren’t thinking about others or even the LORD, we are centered on our needs. This is what makes “Seeker” churches so successful. They use market place skills and they target the needs and desires of this current generation. They have thousands each Sunday while we have hundreds.

Tonights sermon is seeker friendly: I want to talk about our needs and how the LORD is ready to meet those needs.

I. FIRST OF ALL, WE NEED A POSITIVE ATTITUDE 

{Biblically speaking, a positive attitude is a thankful heart}

 I give you thanks, O LORD, with all my heart; I will sing your praises before the gods. 
2 I bow before your holy Temple as I worship. I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness; for your promises are backed by all the honor of your name. 

Note first of all that David had a thankful heart. I am an Alabama fan and I have been convicted about the amount of anxiety I have over such silly things. I did a lot of praying last week and God answered my prayer and I am thankful. I didn’t watch the game {Iron Bowl} and I didn’t lose any sleep. I was thrilled with opportunity to preach Sunday night and I was focused on Sunday’s activities. That’s not me folks, that is God’s grace. You probably think I should be embarrassed to talk with the LORD about such trivial things as ball games: I am not. I talk to HIM about everything. There are worse things than being an Alabama fan such as gossip, slander, a critical judgmental spirit, greed and on and on but I just felt it was time for me to move on and from. Yesterday moring, I woke up giving thanks. All Alabama fans have more to be thankful for than we do to regret. Think about all the Teams that have never made it to a final four, or a National Championship. Why can’t I celebrate what the LORD has already done? That’s it, I can. I know everything is not perfect in your life but you can still be thankfull.


There is a man in this church who will remain nameless that was helping me a few years ago. He was giving me his time and his undivided attention. Later that week, I found out what was going on at his house. He was dealing with a problem that made mine look like a scratch. I went an appologized. I reprimanded him, “You should not have been helping me, you have problems of your own.” He shook it off with a grin. This is the kind of attitude that we need. We need a GRATEFUL HEART, a THANKFUL SPIRIT. If our heart is filled with gratitude to the LORD, our attitude will be POSITIVE.

II. WE NEED CONFIDENCE WHICH MEANS WE NEED A QUIET TIME

{David was not a perfect man but he was a praying man}
3 As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength.
David was a great leader because he had a positive attitude and a bold confidence. Where did these two strengths come from? David tells us in verse 3, his strength came from the LORD. As he relates later in the Psalm, “It was the power of God’s right hand that saved him.” {v.7}
Early into Jesus ministry, His disciples associated His strength with His quiet time. This was made obvious when they came to him and said, “LORD, teach us to pray.” Note, they did not say, “LORD, teach us to preach, to heal, to cast out demons, etc.” They ask Him to teach them the art of prayer because they associated His power with His prayer life. There was one black man in my seminary class. He was a tall, dignified, astute and gracious man. He peached one night at the Seminary chapel and he preached on prayer. He said one thing I have never forgotten–“Where there is much prayer, there is much power, where there is little prayer, there is little power.” The reason I have seen so little power in my life and ministry is that I have done so little praying.
Folks, I need my quiet time. I need it as much as I need a place to sleep or something to eat. I go to bed at night thinking about my QT the next morning. My confidence and strength does not come from within me, nor do I draw from my experience, althought that helps. THE LORD IS MY STRENGTH AND MY SALVATION. He is the bubbling spring that I drink from.
David could not have accomplished what he did without confidence. A leader must have confidence. If you lose your confidence, it is over. David was surrounded by enemies. The Jebusites still lived in the land along with six other nations, most of them Canaanites in orgin. These people did not want a united kingdom, a strong Israel. They wanted a divided and weak kingdom so they could do as they pleased.
We too are surrounded by enemies, the world, the flesh and Satan. His goal is to destroy our confidence and he was use whomever is available to do the job. All God’s servants have to be wise as serpents. The serpent’s enemy is mankind: 99% of the people you met hate snakes and the other 1% are devil worshippers {just kidding}. Snakes are still around in abundance because they know how and when to stay out of sight. They have mastered the art of hiding.
Criticism is like the ice that builds up on the wing of a plane: if you don’t do something about it, learn to defrost or deflect it, it will bring you down. Your wings are your confidence: when the devil is able to destroy your confidence, your flight is over, you are coming down. This is exactly what he did to Elijah. He used Jezebel to accomplish his mission. Elijah got so discouraged that he quit. His only assignement after the Jezebel fiasco was to find and anoint his replacement. NO ONE CAN AFFORD TO LOSE THEIR CONFIDENCE and the LORD is the source of our strength and our confidence.

III. WE ALL NEED HOPE 

{We need the ability to look beyond our present circumstances}
4 Every king in all the earth will thank you, LORD, for all of them will hear your words. 
5 Yes, they will sing about the LORD ’s ways, for the glory of the LORD is very great. 

David lived among pagans. They worshipped idols and idols were everywhere. Idols were repulsive to David, He knew that God deserves all the worship and praise. Although God was not being praised by other kings in David’s day, David was able to look beyong his present circumstances to a day when all kings would praise God. As we look back over history, we learn that since David’s time, there have been fewer and fewer pagan kings. This move away from pagan worship has been accelarated since the Reformation. Most of Europe’s kings have been Christians, as least in name. But there is coming a time when every king will give God glory.

IV. WE NEED ASSURANCE

6 Though the LORD is great, He cares for the humble, but he keeps his distance from the proud. 
Though I am surrounded by troubles, You will protect me from the anger of my enemies. You reach out your hand, and the power of your right hand {Jesus} saves me
8 The LORD will work out His plans for my life— for your faithful love, O LORD, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me.


I love CHRISTMAS and I wanted to preach a Christmas message but to this point the LORD has not given me a new one. But meditating on the verses above brought the incarnation to mind.
  • David is right: THE LORD IS GREAT, infinitely great, greater than any of us or all of us together can imagine. You could put every great intellects in the world along with all the great scupturers and they would not be able to make a image in God’s likeness or anything close. God is transcendent, like the Stars but moreso. There is an infinite gap between who He is and who we are. The earth itself is but a speck to God which would make us a microspeck, yet….
  • GOD REACHED OUT HIS HAND. He sent His son, born by Mary. The Word became flesh and pitched His tent among us. Wow! The incarnation blows my mind…God becoming one of us to save us from our sin and the destruction that come with our sin.
  • THE POWER OF HIS RIGHT HAND SAVED ME. Who is seated at God’s right hand? Psalm 110:1….”The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.” Peter repeated mentioned the fact that Jesus is now seated at the right hand of the father seven times[Acts 2:25,33,34; Acts 3:7, 5:31, 7:55,56]. Paul said in Romans 8…Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Jesus has interceded in our behalf…He has taken a position between us and hell and He is the only one capable of keeping us safe and secure.
  • THE LORD WILL WORK OUT HIS PLANS…and He has a plan for your life. Jeremiah 29:11 comes to mind, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” David Livingston the great missionary believed in the PLAN, he said, “I am immortal until the will of God for me is accomplished.” We need this same assurance; it would relieve us of a lot of useless anxiety.

CONCLUSION

To wrap it up: we need, desperately need:

  1. A Grateful Attitude
  2. A Strong Confidence
  3. A Vibrant Hope
  4. A Bold Assurance

God can give us these things, if we humbly asked. The greatest miracle, other than our atonement just may be prayer.

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What Do I Know?

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:1-10

1…For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands.
2…We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing.
3…For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies.
4…While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life.
5…God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.
6…So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord.
7…For we live by believing and not by seeing.
8…Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.
9So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please Him.
10…For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.

INTRODUCTION

Paul begins by saying, “We know”. The Greek word for ‘know’ is oida and it means; to know, to get knowledge of, understand, perceive. What exactly is it that Paul understands? What are his perspectives? Notice all the words of assurance in the text: “We know” [v.1,6], “Guarantee” [v.5], “Confident” [v.6,8]. The word confident means to be of good courage, bold, very confident.

TRANSITION

So what is it that Paul knows? What is he fully and always confident of?

I. FIRST: HE KNOWS THAT THESE EARTHLY BODIES ARE TEMPORARY

  • Paul using two metaphors in reference to the body, one for the present and one for the future. Presently, we live in a tent. Tents are temporary dwelling places. They are inexpensive and unattractive. They always have the tendency to wear out. The building Paul mentions awaits us: already there, “We have a house.” Prepared by God Himself and eternal in nature.
  • These earthly bodies can be the source of pain and grief. Paul said, “We groan and sigh.” Someone said, “Aging is not for sissies,” and there is some merit to the statement. Growing old brings about loss and loss produces grief. Our human bodies are frail and they will grow feeble in time. We lose our sight, our hearing, our taste, and sometimes our minds. We get to a point where normal activities are stressful. Simple things like getting in and out of the shower.
  • BUT in all honestly, aging has some advantages. As we lose confidence in these earthly bodies, we gain confidence in the LORD. The passage of time had changed Paul’s perspective. When he wrote 1 Corinthians, he was confident that he would be here for the parousia but now and especially in 2 Timothy, he is confident that he will die for Christ sake.
  • For the Great Apostle, in was a win/win. Either way, he would be free of the shackles of this human tabernacle which has more and more problems with the passing of time.
  • Let me say, THE PASSAGE OF TIME is a great teacher. I know things, I understand things that my children don’t understand. Why don’t I enlighten them? You can’t, these things we have to learn by experience and respecting our elders is one of them.

II. SECOND: HE KNOWS THAT ETERNAL BODIES AWAIT US

  • Everyone wants to know, “What kind of bodies will we have?” I am not going to lie, God has created a lot of beautiful female bodies. I am not attracted to men and thankful for it but God has made some beautiful women. So are we going to have male and female bodies. Jesus said, “We will be like angels”and it is my conviction that God is going to replace sex with something much better. This is one of those things that the PASSAGE OF TIME will help.
  • Will we be recognizable? Yes, definitely yes. Peter, James and John recognized Moses and Elijah on the mount of transfiguration.
  • Will you be you? Yes, the real you, your personality will not be destroyed. You and I will relate to Jesus but we will not be clones. Jack will be Jack for eternity but without the sin and all the things that accompany sin.
  • Our heavenly bodies will not be subject to pain, age, or death.
  • We know we are not going to be a disembodied spirit, we will not be naked souls. God has a body waiting for us. The term Paul uses in verse 4…”Rather, we want to put on {ependyomaito, to put on over}  our new bodies.”  F.F. Bruce believes the new bodies will go on like and overcoat, meaning there will not be a time when the soul is naked.

III. THIRD: HE KNOWS THAT GOD IS SERIOUS ABOUT HIS PROMISES

God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee [arrabōn] he has given us his Holy Spirit.

[v.5] Ar-hrab-ohn’; of Hebrew origin; a pledge, i.e. part of the purchase-money or property given in advance as security for the rest:—earnest. The NLT translates it guarantee. So does the NKJV, ESV and NIV. Holman translates it ‘down payment.‘ NASB renders it ‘pledge’. Some believe the word was used in relation to an engagement ring but I could not find evidence to support this but it is a great illustration of the truth.

When a guy gives a girl a $2,000 ring; he is serious, earnest, means business. Paul point is that the indwelling Holy Spirit is the origin of the sighing, longing for the new body. As F.F. Bruce points out, “The resurrection principle is already at work in us. The indwelling Spirit is the seed of the resurrection. Christ is being formed in us at present. This presence should be very obvious.” Herein lies our assurance that we are children of God and that everything He has promised awaits us. The Holy Spirit is our guarantee, pledge, down payment.

IV. FOURTH: HE KNOWS THAT TO BE ABSENT FROM THE EARTHLY BODY IS TO BE PRESENT WITH THE LORD

6…So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord.
7…For we live by believing and not by seeing.
8…Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.
  • Since God is omnipresent, He is everywhere. Whatever point of departure you choose, He can bid you farewell. When you arrive at your destination, He can welcome you.
  • Paul said to the Philippians…1:22-23…For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. The NASB says “I desire to depart.” The word depart means to loosen like the ropes of a tent, or a ship. It is a kin to the word Paul uses in 2 Timothy 4:6 ‘analysis.’ A word we all recognize. It means to unloosen, dissolve into separate parts [body and soul], to depart. It could refer to ships leaving port, Armies breaking camp or the process of the earthly body separating from the spirit.
  • We know the presence of Christ now in the person of the Holy Spirit but it is not a visible or manifest presence. We will be more greatly comforted by the visible presence of Jesus which Paul was looking forward to and so am I.
  • In the presence of Jehovah
    God Almighty, Prince of Peace
    Trouble vanish, hearts are mended
    In the presence of the King.

    V. FIFTH: HE KNOWS THAT HIS AIM IS TO PLEASE CHRIST WHETHER IN THIS BODY OR THE NEXT

    9…So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please Him.
    10…For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.
  • I have altered my life purpose statement slightly. I have decided to use 2 Corinthians 5:9…. Whether in this life or the life to come, my aim and ambition is to please Christ.
  • Paul had learned to simplify life, to narrow your focus, you goals. I have been reading and reviewing material on addiction recovery. There was one thing I figured out before we got started in the process…to recover, you have to narrow your focus to one thing, recovery. Very few people are in recovery by choice: many of them are under court order but the principle is the same…they have no outside responsibilities, everything they do has to do with their recovery.
  • One of the things that made Paul a powerful and dynamic figure in history is his ability to narrow the focus. He didn’t mess with anything that was related to the gospel.
  • I cannot speak for Paul but as for myself, verse 10 was a compelling motivation for years…For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. Folks, I believe in accountability and I have great respect for the JUDGE [Jesus]. I spent last Monday evening in the Court House. I saw two judges and I treated both with much respect. First of all, I needed their help and secondly I respect their power and they do have power. I may have a little influence but I have no power other than what little has been delegated to me. The Judges have real power but nothing in comparison to Jesus.

CONCLUSION

Can you imagine standing before a Judge who can see right through you. He knows every little dirty secret in your life and He even knows every dirty thought you’ve ever processed in your mind. There will be no argument in His presence. You are guilty as charged. We don’t have a leg to stand on. I am afraid that too many people have misunderstood grace, it is not a license to sin. Some would protest… He has no way to judge us since we are under grace…are you sure. What if He does not say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” It may not mean hell but I fear it will be a judgment in and of itself. I so want to please Him. To displease HIM will be a harsh judgment for me.

Profession Without True Faith

Matthew 7:21-23, NLT 

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

I profess to be a Christian and have done so since I was 9 years old. I made my profession of faith in March of 1958. We were in revival at my home church, the Sardis Springs Baptist Church in the central part of Limestone County. John Crawford was my pastor and John Ingolf was the visiting evangelist. I have been blessed indeed. Bro. Crawford was an encouragement to me right up till his departure in 2011. Bro. John Ingolf is a retired IMB missionary and a member of Central Baptist Church in Decatur. I have tremendous respect for both men.

Jesus made it clear that professing to be saved and being saved are two different things. The passage above has always unsettled me. It appears that Jesus is discounting grace and a lot of emphasis is being placed on works…Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter…and… We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name. You do recognize of course, that the works below were not accepted and that includes exorcism and miracles which of course I cannot perform. I use to think, “These people did miracles and could not get in so how will I get in?”

So what is Jesus thinking? What is He communicating? Do we earn our way to heaven by being perfectly obedient to the Father? If that is true, who other than Jesus can be saved? I have always wanted to know what Jesus was saying or what He meant and recently the LORD gave me an insight that has really helped me get a grasp of this passage. Before I share this simple insight, as to what it takes to get into the kingdom, let me tell you what will not work.

I. LIP SERVICE WILL NOT GET US INTO HEAVEN

Knowing the language of Zion will not be enough. Empty profession will not get the job done. According to polls, 78% of Americans consider themselves Christian. This includes Mormons, Jehovah Witness, Catholic, Greek Orthodox and many others. Simply stated, the 78% includes those who do not attend church but they identify with the Christian church. Their parents may have been Christians and basically what many of them are saying is, “If I were going to attend a church, it would be a Christian Church.” You and I both know that 78% of Americans are not Christians. Not even 78% of those who attend Christian churches on a regular basis are not Christians.

Being a pastor of a church on a main thoroughfare, we have folks drop in wanting money for gas, this, that and the other all the time. To be frankly honest, I have a hard time being kind to these folks. Some believe that profiling is wrong but I cannot help it and I have a profile on these folks:

  1. They all smoke cigarettes or use some form of tobacco. They may be pulling an oxygen tank behind them but they smoke.
  2. They all have cell phones. I don’t look to see if they are Apple or Smart Phones but I assure you they have a cell phone.
  3. At least 98% of them have cable TV somewhere: they may live in a camper, they may live in the back seat of their car but they have a TV and Cable.
  4. About 95% claim to have some kind of physical disability which is why they can’t work.
  5. All of them are Christians…All…I have not talked to a beggar in years that professed to be lost, they all tell me without hesitation, “O, I am a believer” and I have even had them quote me scripture. I dealt with one a decade ago who knew bible better than I did. I was quoting him a verse and he interrupted me and said, that is not how it goes and he proceeds to quote it verbatim. I had to think fast. I said, “Yea that is King James, I was quoting New American Standard.”

Profession is important but profession alone will not save us.

II. WORKS, EVEN CASTING OUT DEMONS AND DOING MIRACLES WILL NOT GET US INTO HEAVEN

For years I struggled with assurance. One preacher would preach and I would think I was saved and then another would preach and I would think I was lost. I just could not get solid assurance that I was saved. I was trying to gain assurance by the things I did for the LORD. I thought, if I can witness to another person, that will prove I am saved but that doesn’t work. You will never get assurance through what you do in Christ behalf. Unfortunately, many have build their assurance on their works. You are not going to heaven because you taught Sunday School for 40 years. You are not going to heaven because you preached the gospel for so many years. You are not going to heaven because you tithed. Some folks keep detailed records of all they have done for the LORD but it will not matter. You are not going to heaven because of what you have done for the LORD. You go because of what He has done for you.

III. TO GO TO HEAVEN…YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN [a radical change in nature]

True conversion is marked by repentance and faith. Repentance of sin and faith in the LORD Jesus Christ. The result of true conversion is a radical change of nature. Before we are converted, we have the rebellious nature of a goat. When we get saved, we have the nature of a submissive sheep. I believe that this is exactly what Jesus is talking about in Matthew 7 when he says that the ones who will be saved are those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.

A young man in our church has been struggling with assurance. He has been under attack. The devil is shooting those fiery darts of doubt and one minute he feels OK and then next he feels horror thinking that maybe he is not saved. In a recent conversation I asked him, “Do you have a desire to please Christ? Do you have a desire to obey Him?” Some people trust Jesus to save them from hell but do not trust Him on a daily basis. That would be like having insurance on a car that does not run. God cannot be mocked: He does not provide insurance on a faith that doesn’t work. If your faith isn’t working; it is time to get a new faith. It is possible to have a car with insurance that runs. The spirit of obedience is in every child of God.

Dr. Adrian Rogers once said, “I can sin all I want but I don’t want to sin.” I agree, I do sin but I don’t want to sin. The difference between being saved and being lost is that they we cannot sin without it a making us miserable. I can sin but I cannot enjoy sin. Deep down I want to please Christ not grieve Him. What Jesus is saying in the sermon on the mount is that all God’s children have that desire to be obedient. If we are not serious about obedience, we are not saved. If you say in your heart, “I will do as I please”, you are not saved. When you have the spirit of a rebel, you are not saved. You should not have a goats nature. Listen to what Paul says to the Ephesians…

Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. 2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. 3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.

4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) 6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. 7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

If you are still ruled by the spirit of disobedience, you are not in Christ.  If you have burning desire to do the good things He planned for you, to be obedient to Christ, to honor and love Him, you are saved. So examine your heart tonight. It is not about decision in a revival or VBS, it is not about an experience whether it be a vision, dream or goose bumps. The question is: Do you have a desire to obey Christ? You either do or don’t and that is the issue.

CONCLUSION

  1. Is there a deep desire in your heart to please and to honor Christ?
  2. Have you put your faith/trust is something other than Christ? [an experience, feelings, good deeds, baptism, church membership, etc]
  3. Is Jesus Christ LORD of your life?

Caution Flag! Jesus is not an insurance plan to keep us out of hell. If He saved you from something [Hell] He is saved you to something [Heaven] and for something [Humble servanthood].