A Nation Blessed By The Lord—Psalm 33:1-22



Many Christians have a bittersweet feeling about our nation. On the one hand, we are happy to live in America. We delight in our freedom, especially our freedom to worship as we choose.


On the other hand, the last several decades has seen the decline of Christianity and morals in our land. We are saddened by the movement away from the Lord in America. 


Maybe you can relate to the experience of Gladys Aylward, a missionary from England to China. She was forced out of China in the 1950’s after the Communists expelled all missionaries. Thinking that she would stay in areas like Hong Kong and Taiwan to be near the people that she loved, she decided to return to England after attending a prayer meeting, where, she wrote, 

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Living In The End Times—1 Peter 4:7-11



7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. 8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. 9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging. 10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:7–11)


We, as Christians, do and should believe that the end is near, but how should we act in response to this belief? Christian history is full of believers who responded in fervent but foolish ways. The Millerites were just such a group of Christians.


In the early 1800’s, a deist named William Miller set about studying the Bible to answer questions about the existence of God. He ended up, after two years, becoming convinced that he knew the year of the return of Christ—about 1843. For years he kept quiet about it, but in the 1830’s, he started to preach it strongly and started to gather a following. In 1838, he published a book, Evidence from Scripture and History of the Second Coming of Christ, About the Year 1843.


At the beginning of 1843, he announced that Christ would return between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844. Thousands of people joined him. The Millerite Movement was in full swing. And boy, was it ever. Men quit their jobs. People sold their homes (Why? Did they need the money in Heaven?), others gave away their belongings. Many donned white robes. There are unverified reports that some went up on hilltops or climbed trees to be closer when Jesus came.


Of course, they were disappointed. Christ did not return on March 21. Nor did he come on the recalculated date of October 22.


And, because people don’t learn from history. The very same thing happened in recent years with a man named Harold Camping who predicted that Christ would return on May 21, 2011 and then recalculated for October 21, 2011. 


How would you respond if you were convinced that the end would come on a specific date? Would you dress in white robes?

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What Does It Mean To Be A Man?



Let me start this Father’s Day message with a story about a mother, one that I think we can relate to in our rural, farm and ranch, culture. John Piper writes,


When I was a boy growing up in Greenville, South Carolina, my father was away from home about two-thirds of every year. And while he preached across the country, we prayed—my mother and my older sister and I. What I learned in those days was that my mother was omni-competent.


She handled the finances, paying all the bills and dealing with the bank and creditors. She once ran a little laundry business on the side. She was active on the park board, served as the superintendent of the Intermediate Department of our Southern Baptist church, and managed some real estate holdings.


She taught me how to cut the grass and splice electric cord and pull Bermuda grass by the roots and paint the eaves and shine the dining-room table with a shammy and drive a car and keep French fries from getting soggy in the cooking oil. She helped me with the maps in geography and showed me how to do a bibliography and work up a science project on static electricity and believe that Algebra II was possible. She dealt with the contractors when we added a basement and, more than once, put her hand to the shovel. It never occurred to me that there was anything she couldn’t do…


But it never occurred to me to think of my mother and my father in the same category. Both were strong. Both were bright. Both were kind. Both would kiss me and both would spank me. Both were good with words. Both prayed with fervor and loved the Bible. But unmistakably my father was a man and my mother was a woman. They knew it and I knew it. And it was not mainly a biological fact. It was mainly a matter of personhood and relational dynamics.


When my father came home he was clearly the head of the house. He led in prayer at the table. He called the family together for devotions. He got us to Sunday School and worship. He drove the car. He guided the family to where we would sit. 


He made the decision to go to Howard Johnson’s for lunch. He led us to the table. He called for the waitress. He paid the check. He was the one we knew we would reckon with if we broke a family rule or were disrespectful to Mother. 


These were the happiest times for Mother. Oh, how she rejoiced to have Daddy home! She loved his leadership…


The question that we are going to ponder today is: What does it mean to be a man? One way of answering that question would be to look at some stereotypical traits, such as:


Men are competitive.

Men are goal-driven.

Men are hunter-gatherers.

Men are risk takers.

Men refuse to ask for directions when they’re lost. 


But another way is the biblical approach, Starting from the Bible and developing the definition from it instead of what we’ve always heard or seen.

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In Suffering, Commit Yourself To Your Faithful Creator—1 Peter 4:12-19



There are a lot of ways to suffer in life:


You can hit your thumb with a hammer. 

You can have a stroke or heart attack or get cancer.

You can fall off a horse, get into a car accident, or break a leg falling out of a tree.

You can suffer the ravages of war, famine, and plague. 

You can writhe in the shame of remembered guilt.

You can feel the deep hurt of what someone said or did to you.

You can lose your health, wealth, family, and reputation like Job. 


Some of our suffering comes from the corrupted creation that we live in. Things break. Diseases happen. Tornados spin up and touch down.


Some of our suffering comes from other people—who are sinners—who do things, intentionally or not, to hurt us.


Some of our suffering comes from the choices that we make ourselves—angry words, vengeful actions, or simply sticking our foot in our mouths. Our tongue is often a source of our suffering—if we could just not say dumb things…


The suffering that Peter refers to in this passage, however, is the suffering that can happen because you are a Christian. Jesus warned us that identifying with him could cause others around you to hate you. “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18).


Some Christians, especially Christians in western nations like the United States, are unfamiliar with this sort of suffering. Christianity has been a part of our culture and, as long as you weren’t “going overboard on the religion stuff,” you hardly even got teased.


But that is changing in our country. Being Christian isn’t necessarily safe anymore. Christian companies like Chick-fil-a and Hobby Lobby have experienced legal pressure and worse. Christian bakers and photographers and florists have been taken to court because they refuse to act against their conscience.


Some Christians are stunned at this turn around in our country. But Peter has an important reminder for us in verse 12. He says, “think it not strange concerning the fiery trial…as though some strange thing happened unto you.” 

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Settle Your Account With God Before It’s Too Late—Luke 12:54-59



54 And he said also to the people, When ye see a cloud rise out of the west, straightway ye say, There cometh a shower; and so it is. 55 And when ye see the south wind blow, ye say, There will be heat; and it cometh to pass. 56 Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time? 


57 Yea, and why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right? 58 When thou goest with thine adversary to the magistrate, as thou art in the way, give diligence that thou mayest be delivered from him; lest he hale thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and the officer cast thee into prison. 59 I tell thee, thou shalt not depart thence, till thou hast paid the very last mite. (Luke 12:54–59)


The general theme of this part of Luke 12 has been to be alert and to be ready for the Master’s coming. As the chapter closes, we see Jesus bring this to a head with the people. Israel, as a whole, had failed to recognize their Messiah, Jesus Christ.

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