Archive for April, 2012
That’s thread, isn’t it? We’ve been talking about that. Jesus is woven into the very fabric and framework of who we are. Today, I’m, I’m soaking wet. And this is what happened when I was baptized years ago. And this covering is simply a microcosm of my life, because I’ve been clothed, and washed, and cleansed, and covered in Jesus. That’s how I should live my life. I should have this fashion sense. I should have this passion to be clothed in Christ.
How do I know if I’m clothed in Christ? How do I know if I’m wearing him? I have to look in the mirror. What’s the mirror? The mirror is the Bible. And what does the Bible tell me? The Bible tells me after I become a Christian, after I’ve clothed myself in Christ, I’m to get baptized.
So don’t hesitate, liquidate. Don’t get punked, get dunked. Go H2O. I’m rhyming today. Rhyme on the dime, every time!
Owen Goff, come out if you would? [Owne Goff – Fellowship Church’s ministerial care Pastor, comes out on stage.] I want to demonstrate on Owen [how we baptize], because people ask this mechanics question, Owen, all the time don’t they? You know what, we’re going to baptize today. The Bible says in Acts Chapter 2, read it, that 3,000 were baptized when? That day. When? That day. When? That day!
So we’re going to baptize at Fellowship Church “that day.” I like that. That day. That day, Owen.
“Well, man, I didn’t come prepared for baptism.” We have prepared for you. We’ve got free shorts, these cool shorts. You know, long shorts are in. It’s not the 80’s any more. Those short shorts, no.
Every time God constructs something in our lives, what happens? We’re surrounded by the right they. But the wrong they always shows up. Who are the wrong they? Well, the wrong they are the people we think are everybody in our minds, but in reality they’re just a few, just one or two usually. The wrong they or the right they.
How do you find the right they? And how do you deal with and process the wrong they. Speaking of the wrong they, the wrong they didn’t like Nehemiah’s success did they? They didn’t like the blessings of God on his life. The wrong they questioned the motives. Nehemiah was leading the right they, and the wrong they came out and began to mock and abuse and tear down and rip Nehemiah and the right they apart.
So, the principle is whenever we step up and step out and allow God to build stuff in our lives, what happens? The right they surrounds us; then the wrong they will come around and mock us and talk behind our back and abuse us. That’s just the way it is.
Turn to Nehemiah 4:12. The right they are now going to get really intense with the wrong they. The right they talked to Nehemiah, and Nehemiah writes in verse 12, “The Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times, ‘They will come up against us from every place where you turn…”
They, they, they, they. The sway of they , the wrong they.
“Man they feel, they said, they believe; they’ve been coming to me, they’re attacking us Nehemiah. They’re big, they’re bad, they’re powerful.”
Look at Nehemiah 4:14. “When I saw their fear…”
What is fear? False evidence appearing real. That’s what fear is. We all deal with fear. I have to deal with fear, so do you. 365 times the Bible says, “Fear not.” There’s a “fear not” for every day of the year, isn’t that cool? We’ve got to face our fear. And so often we allow “they” to prey on us and to keep us locked and frozen in fear.
Gluttony. Man, these are very positive, aren’t they? Envy, gluttony, pride, anger… Okay, gluttony. What is gluttony? Gluttony is just eating too much stuff, basically. Too much food and drink. God has given us food. Food’s great. I mean, isn’t it fun to have different tastes and things like that? God could’ve made everything to taste like Styrofoam, but he didn’t! It’s a sin, though, when we eat too much or drink too much.
And so often, we’re feeling down or we’re hurt so what do we do? We’re like a bunch of blue sharks in a feeding frenzy. Our eyes roll back in our heads and we just go to town!
I often fight that every weekend. After speaking four or five times, I’m exhausted emotionally. I’ll eat anything in sight!
But I think God wants balance in our lives. He didn’t want us to freak out or go overboard about diet. I mean, we should live by the 90/10 principle. 90% of the time we should eat pretty clean and healthy. The other 10% you can have some nachos with cheese, a little milkshake now and then, a little Ben & Jerry’s. That’s okay. But why do we stuff our faces? That’s a good question. That’s the thing to think about.
Slothfulness. I didn’t say sloppiness. Slothfulness. That’s another stump.
What’s slothfulness? Slothfulness is saying, “I don’t know, whatever.” Maybe at work you’re going and going and making deals and doing all this stuff. But then with your marriage and family you say, “I don’t care really. It just kind of handles itself.”
Or maybe you’re into the marriage and the family and all that. But then at work, you’re lazy. Slothfulness.
Slothfulness can really hurt us spiritually. It can hurt us eternally. In Acts 24:25 Paul was talking to a man named Felix. Felix was convicted, and Scripture says that Felix said, “Well, Paul, I feel ya. (he didn’t say “I feel ya”—that’s my paraphrase) But I want to call for you at a more convenient time.”
After that, he found himself in the temple and he saw something he did not dig. He saw something that made him angry. That’s right; Jesus was not some pale, frail, blue eyed white boy. No, no, no, no, he was a man’s man. Someone who displayed his emotions perfectly. He was perfectly disciplined. He was per, perfectly aggressive, he perfectly got angry, he perfectly got sad, he perfectly cried, he perfectly had joy.
Jesus though was angry because some people had turned the temple, the temple courtyard to be specific, in a casino. He didn’t like that. He got angry. Well, what did he do? He did something that we need to unpack. Now most of us read this verse and we skip right over the important parts. But, this, this stuff is deep right here, there’s a phrase that’ll, that’ll, mess you up. John Chapter 2 verse 15, so he what? Read it with me. (audience participates) Right, he made a whip. This is Jesus. See, again, we, we, have this whacked view of him, many of us here do. Jesus when he saw what was unfolding he got angry and he made a whip. He drove all from the temple area.
Sheep, baaa, baaa, and cattle, moooo (Ed making animal sounds) he scattered their coins of the money, money, money (Ed singing like Trump’s Apprentice show opening) money changers and overturned their tables. Ah, something leaps right out at me right quick. Jesus did not whip the people. I hope you know that. He whipped (Ed making whip sounds) the cattle, got them out of the temple, threw the money, money out of the temple because he knew when he got the cattle out and the money out people would follow, you know. But a phrase we just read over, we skipped over, had you repeated it, but most of us don’t think about it.
The omnipresence of God, that He wants to fulfill in your life, if you will let Him. So picture God with a giant comforter saying, “Here is My grace, here is My power, here is My peace that surpasses all understanding even when you are going through the deep, dark valley, I am here. I am right here.” There is a comforting aspect.
Another implication of the omnipresence of God, He is a companion in every situation. If you can, turn over to John 14 and I will read verses 16 and 17. While you are turning to this scripture reference, let me again make reference to my Israel trip. Once we touched our feet on the soil of Israel, we were met by a thirty-one year old guide by the name of Elan. And Elan, you’re talking about a companion in every situation, he went with us to every place from Tel Aviv to Tiberias, the Sea of Galilee, the Dead Sea, Masada, the Garden Tomb.
He even played basketball one night with us on the streets of Jerusalem. The man was a companion. He spoke three different languages. And I always felt confident and safe because he was a companion. He watched for the group, he made sure we were together at every meal, at every turn, at every place it was really crowded he watched for the pickpockets. He was right there.
You know when I face a challenge, I don’t want to face it alone, do you? There is something about having someone there, even if the person can’t really help, you want to have someone with you, a buddy. At least this person is there with me to give me moral support. Think of the support that we have with Jesus.
About six days ago I was in the valley of the shadow of death in Israel. Our guide told us that we were looking at the valley referred to in that Psalm. Talk about a serious valley, I mean we are talking straight down. I have never been to the Grand Canyon but surely it can’t be any more imposing than this. And we looked at this and we though, that is what David is talking about in the twenty-third Psalm. I walk through this valley of the shadow of death. An encouraging word to you and to me. When we walk through a valley, a dark time, a depressing time, we are not walking alone. And we should allow the Lord to comfort us. He is waiting to comfort us. He is everywhere and that is why we should come clean in regard to our sin. You know, when you confess your sin to God and say “God, hey, forgive me for lying”, God is not going to respond, “Oh I didn’t know you lied, unbelievable. You mean you lied, Ed, unbelievable, wow that’s a new one on me. Thanks for telling Me”. He doesn’t do that. God knows it. All we are doing when we confess our sins to God, is saying “God, hey, I am agreeing with what You already know. I blew it. I confess my sin, I turn from my sin and realize Your comforting grace.
A couple of years ago the staff gave Lisa and I a comforter for our king size bed. We love this comforter. It is a down comforter. And it comforts us when it gets cold. It is cozy. It is warm. And it has a great feeling to it. You take that feeling and you multiply that to the trillionth power and that is the comforting nature of God.
Then, we kind of lost all of our brainpower and reasoning. We lassoed the shark’s tail, and we began to drag this thrashing shark into the boat.
When this nine or ten foot bull shark hit the deck of the boat, we scattered. We all said this in unison, “I wonder what it’s like to be eaten by a fish?” Well, today, we’re gong to meet someone who knew the answer to that question. His name was Jonah. Jonah was eaten by a fish, and, amazingly, he lived to tell about it.
Jonah’s story is preserved for us in the Old Testament. And, I believe, God has given it to us in order to show us the do’s and the don’ts of negotiating the storms of life. I’m in a series called “The Perfect Storm.” We’ve said throughout this series that life is full of storms. What happens, though, when we cause the storm? What happens when, because of our behavior, a storm strikes? And, then, what happens when we do the wrong thing in the midst of the storm? Where is God? What’s He thinking? Do we have another shot at the deal, or what?
Let’s get up close and personal with Jonah. I think we can learn some things and download some things that can revolutionize our lives and the way we handle these storms.
If you have your Bibles, turn to the book of Jonah Chapter 1, and I’ll begin to read, “The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai.” We’re not sure by what medium or how this word came to Jonah. But God spoke to him. We’ve all felt God speaking to us. We’ve all felt the word of the Lord coming to us, maybe through a message, a song, a drama, a quiet time, or prayer. I don’t know, but we’ve all felt it before.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by sharks. Even before it was popular, before Jaws swam onto the silver screen, I loved these fish. During my lifetime, I’ve had the opportunity to swim with sharks, actually hold live sharks, and even catch several sharks.
And speaking of catching sharks, about fifteen years ago I went fishing with a close friend of mine, Bob Craig, from Houston. He had a boat called the Action III. We were off shore maybe seventeen or eighteen miles. We anchored next to a shrimp boat called The Chuck Wagon. After three hours on the ocean, it became the “Upchuck Wagon,” but that’s a whole other story.
Anyway, we were catching fish in the eight to twenty pound range, like the King Mackerel and Bonito. Being a shark lover, I brought my big game shark outfit with me. I took one of the fish we were catching, put in a couple of hooks, and chunked the entire fish overboard. I just had a feeling that there were sharks in the area.
This fish floated in the water for thirty minutes. We kind of forgot the fish was there, until, suddenly, the reel began to scream. We picked the reel up from the rod holder, strapped my harness on my back, hooked it into the reel and I was locked into a behemoth of a shark.
I’m not sure if you’ve ever stood up and fought something stronger than you. But this fish was so big that I had my uncle actually hold me from behind, so I would not go overboard. We fought this fish for well over an hour in the triple degree Texas heat. Finally, we got it close to the boat. And, to my amazement, my friend Bob Craig pulled out a gun and began firing shots at this big bull shark, subduing it somewhat.