Sunday, September 18, 2011

Ready For Change

Ready For Change

Intro.:I don't know if any of you were able to see the movie Amazing Grace.

  1. It was the story of John Newton, a former slave trader and author of the hymn “Amazing Grace”, who was converted to Christ and spent his final years fighting slavery in England.
  2. We grew up hearing the story of how America ended slavery with the fighting of a civil war and the death of what could arguably be called America's favorite President. During our childhood, our teen years, and even now, we watched the descendents of those former slaves still fight for equality – occasionally even in our own communities.
  3. But the fight for freedom from the constraints of slavery predates our civil war and the fight to end slavery in England nearly a century earlier. One of the earliest fights is recorded in the book of Exodus in the Old Testament.
Read: Exodus 1:1-22
Trans: I like a good story.
  1. And so did the author of Exodus.
  2. And like any good story, it has an introduction
  3. Exodus 1 serves as the introduction the rest of the story:
  4. It introduces us to some of the people and situations which the people of Israel with need to deal with as we move through the book of Exodus.

T.S. In the next few minutes I want to look at the circumstances that defined Israel as God began to prepare them for freedom from slavery.

  1. God did bless the people in Egypt. (Exodus 1:1-7)
    1. When I think of Israel in Egypt, I think of slavery, I think of abuse, I think of mistreatment.
    2. But that was not always so.
    3. Joseph had led 70 people (his father and brothers and their families) into Egypt. They fit well in the Egyptian culture. They were blessed -
    4. But blessing came not only in how they did, but they began to grow, they became not just a family – in the 400 years between when Joseph brought his family into Egypt and when Moses would appear on the scene – they became a people. They became a nation within a nation.

(Appl.) It was not home, it was not where they wanted to be, it was not what felt comfortable, at least at first – but God blessed them. Just as God blessed the Israelites in a strange land, he can bless us when we find ourselves in places we do not want to be, he can bless us when we do not feel comfortable.

(Ill.) Let me give you an illustration. How many of you like to be out in a rain storm. I don't – I get wet, I get cold. But you know something, unless there is a rain storm, I cannot see a rainbow. God can, God does, bless us when things seem most out of hand. I was reminded of a picture I received of some relatives this week with the kids dancing in a Texas rain. Why? Because it had not rained for months - God can bring blessing even in the midst of difficult times.

    1. The Israelites began their journey to Egypt – both to receive a blessing and be a blessing.
  1. People can change (Exodus 1:8-14)
    1. But thing change –

(Ill.) Someone has said, “The only constant is change.”#

    1. it started with the people, specifically it was a new King or Pharoah.
    2. Scripture says it was a King “who did not know Joseph” - that is only half the story – this same King also did not know God.
    3. And that is the real problem that the Israelites will be facing.
    4. The King begins to restructure society – he begins to impose slavery – and descendents of Jacob become his slaves. The build cities Pithom and Raamses are mentioned in particular. Raamses is Pharaoh Northern home – located on one of braches that form the Nile River delta as it pours into the Mediterranean Sea.
    5. And it was hard work – making the mortar and bricks.
    6. They still were a part of the community – but they now were outcasts from the culture. They were now given the brunt work of the community. They were forced to the jobs that nobody else wanted to do.

(Ill.) I think it interesting, as the Jews begin to prepare to move to the promised land they are forced into SLAVERY. 1500 years later, there would again be a new King and they would again be required to become slaves. But not with human masters this time – listen to Paul, “Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle and singled out for God's good news --” Or James, the brother of Jesus Christ, “James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ ...” When we give our lives to Christ, we too become slaves of Jesus Christ. As believers we are slaves of Jesus – we are expected to obey. Jesus is our Lord

    1. A new King brought the Israelites into slavery.
    2. But slavery was not the worse of their problems.
  1. Situations can change (Exodus 1:15-22)
    1. This same King put new rules in place – the midwives who were helping the Jewish women have children were now expected to kill every male child.
    2. But they refused to do so -
      1. They just couldn't do it – the life of a child was too precious, too important. They let the male children live
      2. But they went one step further, they also told the Egyptians that the Hebrews women gave birth faster – after all they were hard working slaves, they were in good shape, and when it came time to give birth – well they did. (Hey, I didn't make that up – it's right there in scripture.)

(Appl.) Over the last few weeks, I have heard you discuss the changing situations you find yourself in here at Royal Gardens:

  1. New fire alarms
  2. New roofs
  3. New bathrooms
  4. New windows
And for some the transitions have gone smoothly, for some it has been a challenge. Changing situations are a part of life.

Conclusion: God was preparing to meet the challenges that were facing this young Jewish nation.

  1. He would deal with the people that did not know Joseph, that did not know God.
  2. He would deal with the changing situations that faced this young nation.
  3. And he will step into our lives and meet our needs as well.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

World's Apart

Worlds Apart

Intro.: Two significant events contributed to much of my thinking this week.

  1. The first, in some ways, was uniquely mine. It may have been shared by some others, but I doubt if it was anyone here.

  2. One of the books I have been reading this week was a short one entitled “Kisses From Katie”. Now, you probably have not heard of “Kisses From Katie” - in fact it will not be published until October 4 – I was lucky enough to get my hands on a pre-publication galley proof so I could write a review of the book.

  3. The book is the story of an 18 year old high student. Katie Davis is the Senior Class President, the Homecoming Queen, and the Class Valedictorian. She makes a week long mission trip to Uganda during her Christmas vacation of her senior year – in the process she begins to fall in love with the country and its people.

  4. Her parents are planning for her to go to college, but she convinces them to allow her delay her education for a year while she works in a Kindergarten in Uganda.

  5. Over the course of the next year, she find more and more of her life being integrated into the African culture in which she lives.

  6. Now, four years later, as she writes, she has adopted 14 Ugandan girls. She is known as “Auntie Kate” to a couple of hundred other girls.

  7. She feels herself torn between her old home in Tennessee and her new home in Uganda. “Kisses From Katie” follows her life as she makes that transition.

  8. She finds herself living out the words of Matthew 28:

Read: Matthew 28:18-20


Intro: But there is another event that captured my thoughts this week – an event that has probably captured much of your time this past week.

  1. It was ten years ago today that four planes were hijacked with the purpose of destroying our country.

  2. Two of the planes hit their targets, the twin towers that defined the New York skyline and accomplished their task. I cannot but think that the plane that hit the Pentagon did far less damage than was desired. And the passengers of Flight 93 were able to overcome the hijackers – and minimize the damage that occurred.

  3. The assumption on all the news networks is that we each remember where we were when we heard of those events. I know I do – I was sitting in my office at Roberts Wesleyan and could follow the events of September 11, 2001, throughout the day. I helped set up TVs in our classroom building so students could also keep current with the news as they moved from class to class.

  4. I expect the same would be true for each of you.

  5. The church's response at the time ran the gammit – there were those preachers who condemned the US of its sin – we deserved whatever evil we got.

  6. There were those who pointed out the evil of the Muslim faith.

T.S. In the next few minutes, I would like to spend some time thinking about how God might have us respond to the events of 9/11; and, more importantly, how he would have us respond to a world that does not know God.

  1. Whatever our response, it must begin by trusting Jesus

    1. There is a stark contrast between these two events.

    2. The one is rooted in hate and had generated a great deal of hate.

    3. The other has come from the love that a young woman has for and has felt from God.

    4. We each have choices to make – bad things will happen to us, as a country, as a community as a family, and as individuals.

    5. David understood the response – he suffered under Saul, because of his sin, and because he was human – but in the end he got it right:

      Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

      (Psalm 37:3-4 ESV)

(Ill.) D. L. Moody put it this way: "Trust in yourself, and you are doomed to disappointment; trust in your friends, and they will die and leave you; trust in reputation, and some slanderous tongue may blast it; but trust in God, and you are never to be confounded in time or eternity.”i

(Ill.) We need only remember the words of the hymn:

'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,

and to take him at his word;

just to rest upon his promise,

and to know, "Thus saith the Lord."

  1. Whatever anger we may feel for the wrong that is done to us, our response will need to be rooted in God's love.

    1. Do you ever wonder why the church is often teaching its children over and over the words of John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

    2. Let me suggest two reasons -

      1. First, because every bit of theology has this as its foundation. God love us. God loves this world. God loves you. On my shelves, back before the advent of computers, I have an 800 page theology textbook. But it gets worse – it starts each section with normal size font giving some principle. Then using a smaller font, it explains that principle. Finally, it brings in illustrations and quotations in tiny, tiny fonts. That even 37 years ago I had to use a magnifying glass to read. It was written by a Baptist, but that does not matter. What does matter is that those 800 pages of theology are not just theology, but they are an explanation of how God demonstrated and showed His love for you and me.

      2. But there is another reason that we begin teaching our kids with John 3:16 – it is because that is what God expects from us:

  • You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”

  • And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

    1. We tend to think of love as something tender and sweet – but God asks us to love, even when we don't feel so sweet, even when we are angry.

    2. You know this world that God loved when He sent His Son – it is the same world that tortured His Son with whips, that put a crown of thorns on His Son's head, that spat on him, that made fun of Him as He was dying on the cross. This was the world that God loved – the world that he wants us to love. “For God so loved this world, the one that killed His Son, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in should not perish but have eternal life.”

    3. If God loved this world, can we do any less?

  1. We need to tell this world of God's love, we need to show this world God's love.

    1. God did it on a cross, we need to do it with our lives and with our words.

Read: Matthew 5:13-16



iAMG Bible Illustrations. 2000. Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.

Sunday, September 04, 2011



Intro.: Rochester has a unusual historical note in its history – is the place where Super Glue was invented. Earlier this year we purchased a small tube of Super Glue

  1. Now, I mention this because earlier this year we purchased a small tube of Super Glue.

  2. Nothing major broken – in fact our need for the Super Glue was a stupic mistake on my part.

  3. I was trying to dig a shirt out of the clothes hamper and kicked box on the floor.

  4. In that box was a mug from our mug collection. And when I looked in the box, I found I had broken the handle off side of the mug.

  5. Now the amazing thing is that though we were quick to buy what we needed to in order to repair the mug – but we still have not completed the repair.

Read: Romans 3:21-26


  1. If there is one thing true throughout scripture, it is the brokenness of all mankind.

    1. With the exception of Jesus, there is not one person, man or woman, in scripture that is even pictured without evidence of his or brokenness.

    2. Think of the great men of scripture – starting with Adam, Abraham, Isaac, Moses, David, Solomon, the prophets – and the apostles: each of them fell short.

(Ill.) It has been said that Peter was the most important disciple – the rock upon which the church was built, but he had some of the greatest failures on the way getting there. Peter fell into the water when his faith wavered. Even after calling Jesus to task telling Peter that he would do it, he denied Jesus three times. And Paul, he called himself, “the chief of sinners.”i

    1. Really nothing new – I have said it before. It is as true for these men as it is for you and me.

    2. And it is where we have to begin – admitting that we are broken, admitting that we are fallen.

    3. David understood when he wrote: The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.

    4. It was what David had to do, it was what Peter had to do, it was what Paul had to do.

(Ill.) If you have ever been part of a twelve-step group, this is also where they start. I am powerless, I have no control over alcohol, drugs, gambling – or sin.

  1. Though we are broken, God offers restoration

(Ill.) When we purchased the Super Glue, our goal was to repair the broken mug. There are all kinds of ways to repair those things that are important to us – it might involve glue, varnish, tape, wires – anything that will restore some of the value of an item.

Yet I am told that if you or I restore an antique, we might also be decreasing its value. You see, we may know something about restoration, but we don't have the whole picture.

    1. But God has the whole picture – regardless of how we are broken we are God is the one who is in total control

    2. Restoration comes in many forms

    3. For some it will be physical healing – but, as a writer recently said, “What good is an arm or a leg that is healed when the mind is still broken.”ii

    4. Somewhere in each of us there is a broken part that needs healing – healing that cannot be touched by a carpenter or electrician, healing that cannot be touched by a doctor or nurse. Healing that cannot be touched by a dentist or a nutritionist.

    1. We each need a restoration of the heart

    (Ill.) And that gives two points –

    1. First, we want to get healing from the one who can cure us – I won't go to a carpenter for a broken leg. I won't go to a doctor to get an upgrade to my bathroom.

    2. Second, we each have a heart that needs to be healed.

      1. And God is in the business of healing hearts.

      2. Restoration begins with Rest – both literally and figuratively.

      3. Remember the words of Jesus: Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

      4. Paul put it this way: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

    (Ill.) Fresh out of Oxford, John Wesley was perplexed over England’s complicated social problems: slavery, economic uncertainties, corruption, drunkenness, gambling, and prostitution. This deeply religious, sensitive soul became a parish minister and, subsequently, a missionary to American Indians along the coast of Georgia. His ministries were far from successful. Disappointed and discouraged, he returned to Britain.

    During the voyage, his ship was raked by a raging storm. Wesley was unashamedly frightened. In fact, the only calm persons aboard were Moravian missionaries. Noticing their behavior, Wesley asked if they were not afraid. “Why should I be afraid,” one answered, “I know Christ.” Then, with disarming directness, he asked, “Do you know Christ?” Wesley was uncomfortable, for in his heart he now realized he did not know Christ.

    Back in London, on Wednesday evening, May 24, 1738, John Wesley attended a society meeting and worship at Aldersgate Street and listened to a reading of Martin Luther’s preface to the Book of Romans. The rest is history. According to Wesley, “About a quarter before nine.… I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for my salvation.”

      1. Here is a man whose heart was healed.

      2. Each of us here has a heart that needs to be healed.

        1. A heart that has baggage that we have been holding

        2. – baggage that we need to give to God

        3. baggage that God is ready to carry.



    iDavis, Katie with Clark, Beth (2011). Kisses From Katie: A Young Woman's Journey of Faith. Howard Books: New York.

    iiRubart, James (2011). The Chair. B & H Publishing Group: Nashville.