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The Three C’s of Life

December 13th, 2014 Posted in sermons | No Comments »

We have all heard of the story, Alice in Wonderland. It was written by Lewis Caroll. In it, Caroll writes:
“Alice came to a fork in the road.
‘Which road do I take?’ she asked.
‘Where do you want to go?’ responded the Cheshire Cat.
‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered.
‘Then,’ said the Cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.'”

According to the Bible, there are two roads we can take in life. One road is narrow, the other wide. One is hard, the other much easier.

The Bible also tells us there are two foundations in life that we can build our lives on. One will sustain when the storms come, and the other will not.

We decide what road and what foundation we will build our lives on. That will ultimately determine where we will spend eternity.

Again, there are two choices. . . they are Heaven and Hell.

That is what I spoke about this past Sunday at Harvest Riverside and Orange County in my message, “The Three C’s of Life.” You can watch the archive now »

The Nonbeliever’s Favorite Verse

December 6th, 2014 Posted in sermons | 4 Comments »

So, which one do you think it is? If you guessed, “Judge not lest you be judged” (Matthew 7:1), you got it right!

So, why is that the nonbeliever’s favorite verse? It’s because they don’t want you as a Christian to, at least in their view, “push” your views on them.

So, what did Jesus even mean when He said, “Judge not, lest you be judged”? Does that mean that as Christians we are never to make evaluations and judgments?

That’s what I talk about in my message. I think you may be surprised by what we discover together.

Watch the archive here »

When God Cried

December 3rd, 2014 Posted in sermons | 1 Comment »

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled.
— John 11:33
At the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus surveyed the scene. Mary, Martha, and the others were all weeping and mourning. And Jesus wept. Tears rolled down His cheeks.

Jesus wept tears of sympathy for Mary and Martha and for all of the sorrow caused by sin and death through all the long centuries of human existence. The Bible says that He was “a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). When you have lost someone you love, He knows and understands the pain and hurt deep inside your soul. Maybe other people never will completely understand, but Jesus has wept with you.

His tears also were tears of sorrow for Lazarus. Those tears were for one who had known the bliss of heaven and now would have to return to a wicked earth where he would have to die all over again.

Jesus also wept tears for the unbelief of the people: “Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled” (John 11:33). Jesus was troubled. And He was angry.

The ravages of sin in the world He had created stirred deep emotions in His heart. His wonderful, original plan, His perfect creation, had been deeply marred by sin. Death was a part of the curse, and it angered Jesus to see the devastating effect sin had on humanity.

Some may wonder, Well, why doesn’t He do something about it? He has. He went to the cross of Calvary and died for our sins so that death doesn’t have to be the end. There is life beyond the grave for the Christian. There is something beyond . . . something we can look forward to.

And it’s all because He laid down His life to rescue us.

Some Thanksgiving Thoughts for You Today

November 27th, 2014 Posted in sermons | 1 Comment »

Often at this time of year, we put a lot of emphasis on Christmas.
As merchants compete for our attention, we start becoming preoccupied with putting up the lights, trimming the tree, buying presents, and so on. In the process of it all, we can very easily forget the beautiful holiday called Thanksgiving. Proclaimed as a national Thanksgiving Day in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln, it initially was a religious holiday and, more to the point, a Christian holiday.

At this particular time of year we can sometimes forget about how thankful we ought to be. We need to never forget that God has blessed us to live, in my opinion, in the greatest country on the face of the earth, the United States of America. We have so many privileges here. We have a lot to give thanks for.

Certainly the Bible urges us to give thanks to the Lord. We are told in Psalm 106:1, “Praise the Lord! Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever” (NKJV). Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (NKJV). Then in Hebrews 13:15, we read, “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (NKJV, emphasis mine).

Sometimes worship and thanksgiving can indeed be a sacrifice. Why? Because we don’t feel like it. It may be because we are down or depressed or things aren’t going all that well for us. Maybe we are experiencing hardship or a tragedy has struck, and we don’t want to thank God. But Psalm 106:1 doesn’t say, “Give thanks to the Lord because you feel good.” It says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.”

We are quick to ask for help, but we are slow in returning thanks. Yet we should be just as definite in giving thanks to God as we are in requesting help from Him. As a result, there are at least three things about giving thanks that we Christians need to know.

First, to give thanks, we must recognize that God is in control of all circumstances surrounding our lives, both good and bad. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (NKJV). God is paying attention to what is going on in our lives. And He knows what you are going through right now.

Second, we must realize that God loves us and is always looking out for our eternal benefit, even if what we are presently going through is difficult. As 2 Corinthians 4:17–18 says, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (NKJV).

Third, we must realize that God is wiser than we are. He is always dealing with us for our best eternal good, where in contrast, we are always interested in what is for our temporary good. But sometimes what is good for us eternally is not easy for us temporarily. God will make that determination and work in our lives accordingly.

When is the last time you said, “Lord, thank You that you have allowed me to live in the United States of America…. Thank You for my church and allowing me to be a part of it…. Thank You for the freedom to openly worship You without fear of harassment, persecution, arrest, or torture… Thank You for sending Your Son to die on the cross for my sins… Thank You that He rose again… Thank

You that my life, which was once filled with guilt, is now filled with Your purpose and peace and joy… Thank You that no matter what happens, You are coming back again for me”? There is so much to give thanks for. Have you been thanking God? Let’s not wait until the fourth Thursday of November. Because for the Christian, every day should be Thanksgiving.
May you all have a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving today!

What It’s Like to Live with Sin That Is Not Dealt With

November 18th, 2014 Posted in sermons | 3 Comments »

“Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Day and night Your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. Interlude. Finally, I confessed all my sins to You and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, ‘I will confess my rebellion to the LORD.’ And You forgave me! All my guilt is gone” (Psalm 32:1–5 NLT).

Psalm 32 describes the futility and misery of sin that is unconfessed.

These words were written by David, the King of Israel. Here is a man who had walked and talked with God since his childhood. He had known God’s blessing and power in his life. But for 12 months, he had fought the conviction of the Holy Spirit and was not experiencing God’s presence as he had before.

That is because he had fallen into an adulterous relationship with another man’s wife. To make matters far, far worse, he had that man effectively murdered. Yet David would not confess his sin to God.

David was in a relationship with god, but he was clearly not in fellowship with Him.

He described it, saying, “My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. Interlude.”
“Interlude” or “Selah” means to pause and think about it: “There! What do you think about that?”

God will simply not allow His child to get away with sin. The discipline and conviction in David’s life was a sign that he was a child of God.

Hebrews 12:8, 11 says, “If God doesn’t discipline you as He does all of His children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really His children at all. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way” (NLT).

If you start to go the wrong way and roadblocks are placed in your way, if conviction kicks in, and if guilt follows your sin, rejoice. These are indicators that you are indeed a child of God!

If you have a sin to confess, I urge you do to it today.

Last Sunday at Harvest Riverside and Orange County

November 16th, 2014 Posted in sermons | 1 Comment »

Have you ever sinned and gotten away with it?
Has it caused you to think you may always get away with it?
I need to warn you, there is a biblical law called “sowing and reaping.”
I want to talk about how that played out in one man’s life and how God also gave him a second chance in life, in my message today at Harvest Riverside and Orange County.
The message title is “You Da Man!”
Click here for the archived HD webcast »

Imagine a World without America.

October 31st, 2014 Posted in sermons | 6 Comments »

What is going on in the world? It seems like chaos is reigning.

We have a terrorist army of Islamic radicals, hell-bent on our destruction, known as ISIS.
We have what are described as “lone wolf” attacks in New York City and Canada from those who adhere to the terrorist principles of ISIS and others.
Then there is the spread of Ebola.

These are scary times.

A recent poll pointed out that voters believe “America has spun off its axis and is out of control.”

The answer for all of this is found in the book that most of us have in our homes—it’s called the Bible. The Bible is the one book that dares to predict the future—not once or twice, but hundreds of times—with 100 % accuracy.

The Bible tells us that in the last days (which I believe we are in), there will be “distress of nations,” with no way out.

This nation of ours, against all odds, was formed in 1776. It was founded with a faith in the God of the Bible, and that faith provided our foundation. It was from that foundation that our freedom was born.

Patrick Henry, ratifier of US Constitution, wrote, “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason, peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.”

Growing from humble beginnings, we came close to destroying ourselves in the Civil War. But recovering from that, we emerged in time as the reigning superpower on earth.

Imagine a world without America. If there had been no America, Hitler would most likely have won and wreaked havoc. After the collapse of France, for a time, the relatively small nation of England fought alone. But when America entered the war, most knew that, in time, we would prevail.

It was America that stood against the “Evil Empire” of the Soviet Union and prevailed.
It was America that hit back when attacked by terrorists on 9/11, and continues to do so.
It is America that sends humanitarian aid to troubled nations all around the globe. People from other nations expect America to do that.

Yes, imagine a world without America—because that day is coming.

I say that because in the last-days scenario, the United States of America is nowhere to be found. Israel is mentioned, as is Iran. You can make a good case for China and Russia being mentioned too. But there is no mention of the reigning superpower of the world, the USA.

In our absence, imagine a world where evil is allowed to spread unabated. A world that ultimately pledges its loyalty to a man who will make Hitler look like a lightweight. He is called the Antichrist.
That is what is coming, perhaps soon, to Planet Earth.

We sing, “God bless America, land that I love, stand beside her, and guide her, through the night, with the light from above.” We are in that night in America right now and we desperately need that “light from above.” Not some nebulous, “whatever you conceive God to be” spirituality. We need to turn back to the true and only God. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The God who gave us His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross in our place.

For if America does not turn back to the true God, I fear that His judgment is coming. Billy Graham said, “If God does not judge America, He owes Sodom an apology.” Listen to God’s assessment of their sin: “But now I see that the prophets of Jerusalem are even worse! They commit adultery, and love dishonesty. They encourage those who are doing evil so that no one turns away from their sins. These prophets are as wicked as the people of Sodom and Gomorrah once were” (Jeremiah 23:14 NLT).

God zeroes in on specific sins in Sodom. According to Ezekiel 16:49, “Sodom’s sins were pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door.”

If these are not descriptions of our country, what are?
The “pride of Sodom” was a nationalistic one. Sodom was a city-state, its own kingdom. They felt strong, indestructible. But God’s judgment fell in full force upon them. They were destroyed on the outside because of the breakdown on the inside.

Historian Will Durant, in his book on Rome’s history, Caesar and Christ, said, “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within. The essential cause of Rome’s decline lay in her people [and] her morals.”

Rome crumbled and the people just wanted to be entertained. A roman satirist named Juvenal said of Rome in AD 100, “The people who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions—everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses!”

That reminds me of America today: “Who cares if ISIS is on the march and there is a moral meltdown? What’s on TV tonight?” Bread and circuses.

In his new film, America, Dinesh D’Souza points out the following.

• The American Revolution was a struggle for the creation of America.
• The Civil War was a struggle for the preservation of America.
• World War 2 was a struggle for the protection of America.
• Our struggle is for the restoration of America.

I could not agree more.

Is there any hope for America?
Are things going to just get worse?
Will our streets ever be safe again?
Will we ever see good prevail over evil?
Or are we doomed to failure?

It is my belief that our country has two choices before it. The first one is judgment; the other is revival.

Look, judgment is coming to this earth, and it may be sooner than we think. We are praying for at least one more revival in our country before that happens.

The greatest revival in human history happened in the great city of Nineveh. The population of Nineveh was probably around 1 million. Yet this great awakening swept through the entire city.

“Is anything too hard for the Lord?”

ISIS vs. Jesus

October 22nd, 2014 Posted in religions | 11 Comments »

I read the horrific story today of a young woman being stoned to death by a group of men—including her own father. She was accused of adultery, led to a hole in the ground, and placed there with a rope tied around her neck, pleading for her life.

This horrific event was captured on video, and according to the article, “Because the leader of the mob is the woman’s father, the man most shamed and humiliated by his daughter’s alleged transgressions, he is awarded the group’s highest honor: the biggest stone to cast and deliver the death blow. The video fades to black before the father releases the stone.”*

These men were ISIS militants, a group that has become infamous for beheading journalists and performing acts of terror.

As this poor young girl called out to her father, begging him for forgiveness, he coldly replied, “Don’t call me father!”

Have we heard a story like this before? As a matter of fact we have, but it took place 2,000 years ago.

Instead of ISIS militants, there were religious Pharisees, who cast a woman caught in the act of adultery before Jesus Christ. Jesus quickly surveyed the self-righteous and bloodthirsty group of men. Then He did the following.

“Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground” (John 8:6–8 NIV).

What do you think he wrote?

No one can say with certainty, but my suggestion would be that Christ wrote the “secret sins” of these men, starting with the oldest, and ending with the youngest. That is why they then left.

That’s probably because the oldest guys had more to confess than the younger ones. Whatever the reason, all of the would-be rock-throwers left the scene after Jesus said, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

So, here was this woman, left alone with Jesus. He did not pick up the biggest stone and execute her like the man in the news story I quoted. Instead, He forgave her.

“At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’

‘No one, sir,’ she said.

‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin'” (John 8:2–11 NIV).

The Bible doesn’t say much about this woman’s background or character. She might have fallen into sexual sin for the first time that day. Then again, she might have had a reputation for being easy and sleazy. Either way, she was now facing the stark consequences of her action.

What she needed in that moment wasn’t a critic, a judge, or the cold curious stares of those who looked on.

She needed a Champion.
She needed a Rescuer.
She needed a Savior.

And she found that, and more, in Jesus.

Maybe you have had to face the consequences for your actions of late.

Perhaps, as the Bible says, “Your sin has found you out.”

That unplanned pregnancy.
That addiction.
That wrong thing that you did.

Jesus does not want to condemn you, but He will convict or convince you of your sin so you can find real and lasting relief.

If you will turn from your sin and ask His forgiveness, He will forgive you of all your sin and then say to you, “Go now and leave your life of sin!”

You might ask, “When did this woman believe?” Probably right after Jesus turned away her accusers. She had never met anyone like Him before.

He said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” That word, “woman,” probably wasn’t the word she was expecting. She’d most likely been called a lot of things in her life—hooker, whore, slut, trash—but never “woman.” The word as Jesus used it was a polite term of respect. It would be like saying, “Ma’am,” or “Lady.” In fact, it’s the same term He used to address His own mother as He hung on the cross. So He said to her, “Woman, lady, where are those accusers of yours?”

Why did He say that? She certainly hadn’t been acting like a lady. No, but He didn’t just see her for what she was in the moment. He saw her for what she would become. He knew that her life was going to change. He knew who and what she would be as the years went by.

God sees the same in you right now. Not just what you are or what you were, but what you can be when you put your faith in Him.

He said to her, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” In the New King James Version He tells her, “Go and sin no more.”

Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we can now personally know and walk with the God who created us. Because of what Jesus did, we can now refer to God almighty as “our Father who art in heaven.”

In contrast to the man in the story who said to his daughter, “Don’t call me father!” your Father in heaven wants to hear from you.

*Here is the article from the NY Post that I referred to.

What If It Were Illegal to Pray?

October 20th, 2014 Posted in sermons | 5 Comments »

Let me ask this: What if a law were passed that said you could no longer pray?

What would you do?

That is exactly what happened to Daniel. He was in a place of great influence with the king of Babylon.

He advised the king well, and the king listened. The other advisers of the king were jealous and wanted to bring Daniel down.

They googled his name, but could not find anything negative about him. So they said to each other, “The only way we will bring him down is if we find something about him and his God.”

They knew that Daniel had a habit of always praying to God openly. He did this three times a day.

So these jealous advisers got the king to sign a decree that no one could pray to any god except him.

So in effect, it was illegal to pray. What did Daniel do?

“When Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God”
(Daniel 6:10 NLT).

Do your enemies know you pray?

Sometimes we feel weird about praying publically—say, in a restaurant.

But 1 Timothy 2:8 says, “I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.”

Daniel “knelt down as usual” and prayed “three times a day,” as he always had done.

And what was his prayer? Personal petition? “God help!”

No, it was “giving thanks to his God.” Scripture reminds us to “give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good.”

It is important in prayer to remember first that God is on the throne and is in control. We call this the sovereignty of God.

Our sovereign, powerful, good God is in control!

So, no matter what, we are to pray and give thanks.

And yes, because Daniel broke the law that should never have been decreed in the first place, he was thrown into the den of hungry lions. But you know how the story ends, right?

Daniel survived that night with the lions and he lived a long life. And those men that devised this wicked plan ended up being thrown into that same lion pit, but this time, the lions’ mouths were not shut.

Nick at Night

October 13th, 2014 Posted in sermons | 1 Comment »

The Bible tells the story of the famous religious leader Nicodemus coming to have a conversation with Jesus. He came at night, most likely because he did not want to be discovered.
Jesus told the famed leader he needed to be “born again” (John 3:3).

There is no indication Nicodemus made a commitment to Jesus that night, but clearly a seed was sown in the leader’s heart. But with the passing of time, the once timid Nicodemus did believe.

Nicodemus might have been somewhat sheep-like in the beginning, but in the end he turned out to be one of the bravest followers of Jesus. You have to start somewhere! Some have an outwardly impressive beginning in the faith, only to deny Him or wander away from Him later in life. Nicodemus was just making his way into the kingdom while Judas Iscariot was seemingly a full-fledged apostle in good standing. In the end, Judas betrayed our Lord for 30 pieces of silver, and then went out and hung himself. Nicodemus, however, came out publicly and stood for Christ.

In John 19, we read these words:
“After all this, Joseph of Arimathea (he was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, because he was intimidated by the Jews) petitioned Pilate to take the body of Jesus. Pilate gave permission. So Joseph came and took the body.
“Nicodemus, who had first come to Jesus at night, came now in broad daylight carrying a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. They took Jesus’ body and, following the Jewish burial custom, wrapped it in linen with the spices. There was a garden near the place he was crucified, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been placed. So, because it was Sabbath preparation for the Jews and the tomb was convenient, they placed Jesus in it.”
(John 19:38-42, MSG).

I love the fact that it points out that Nicodemus came out publicly for Christ in the end. He may have first come to Jesus at night, but in the end he identified with Jesus in broad daylight. It’s so much better to have a feeble beginning and a strong finish than a strong beginning and no finish.