Sunday, November 20, 2011

November 21, 2011

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." Matthew 6:24

What Is the Problem?

You have to live out you commitment to a spiritual kingdom in a material world! Will these spiritual principles work in a world driven by greed and consumerism?

A young woman brought her fiancé home to meet her parents for thanksgiving dinner. After dinner, her mother told her father to find out about the young man. The father invited the fiancé to his study for a talk.

"So what are your plans?" the father asked the young man. "I am a biblical scholar," he replied.

"A Biblical scholar. Hmmm," the father said. "Admirable, but what will you do to provide a nice house for my daughter to live in?"

"I will study," the young man replied, "and God will provide for us."

"And how will you buy her a beautiful engagement ring, such as she deserves?" asked the father.

"I will concentrate on my studies," the young man replied, "God will provide for us."

And children?" asked the father. "How will you support children?"

"Don’t worry, sir, God will provide," replied the fiancé.

The conversation proceeded like this, and each time the father questioned, the young idealist insisted that God would provide.

Later, the mother asked, "How did it go, Honey?" The father answered, "He has no job and no plans, and he thinks I’m God!"

You can’t be quite that niave!

CHALLENGE – Use material things according to Kingdom principles for Kingdom purposes!

On April 28, 1999, just eight days after the Columbine shooting, shock rock singer Marilyn Manson was scheduled to perform a concert in Iowa City, Iowa. And since Manson’s music was prominent in the lives of Columbine killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, there was a lot of emotion surrounding his concert. Mark Forstrom, a local Youth Minister in the area wrote about what happened.

He wrote, "The police, the media, and the community began to prepare for angry protests and ugly brawling between Christians and Marilyn Manson supporters."

Suddenly, something totally unexpected happened. Emerging thru the vehicle of e-mail, another local movement suddenly sprang to life— that the only way to truly change our moral climate is to soften hard hearts. (The hearts of Manson fans have been hardened bytheir perception that Christians are mean-spirited, hateful, and judgmental.) Thus, the idea was birthed to unravel that stereotype by encouraging Christians to show the pure LOVE of Christ to these fans in tangible ways.

Concert day finally arrived, and tension filled the community. The media geared up for an ugly battle between Manson fans and the Christian opposition. Instead, what they observed here was an amazing testament to the power of and love of Christ! Scores of Christians from churches all over Linn County and as far away as Des Moines (2 hours away) converged on the sidewalks outside the Five Seasons Center, to do two POSITIVE things: pray, and to show unmistakable love. It was a sight to behold.

* Groups conducted "prayer walks" around the arena.

* People prayed in huddles on the sidewalk.

* Churches around the city held special prayer meetings.

As for showing LOVE to the fans,

* One church purchased 100 pizzas, which were freely given away to the fans in line and bystanders.

* Cookies and over 1,200 cans of soda were purchased or donated and distributed.

* Someone made turkey & cheese sandwiches and gave them away.

* One pastor asked Manson fans who passed by how he could pray for them--about 20 shared specific things & were prayed for on the spot.

* After the concert, about $200 in cash (collected mostly by a local youth group) was given out to pay for parking in the parking ramp.

The Christians involved said, "We’re Christians and we’d like to show you God’s love by paying for your parking tonight." The immediate results of this love in action were phenomenal:

* People continually asked, "Why are you doing this?" and then listened to the answer.

* Two "live" radio reporters (one inside the stadium and one outside) discussed--on the air--how preferable it was to be outside with the generous Christians.

* At least 3 people gave their lives to Christ through the loving care of the Christians.

* At least one other fan that we know of chose not to go to the concert, ending up in church the following Sunday.

* After getting the pizza, one kid commented, "Wow, Marilyn Manson never gave me anything!"

* A Marilyn Manson web-site, reporting on our Christian response admitted, "so maybe those Christians aren’t half bad!"

As for the concert itself, we saw God work a miracle there as well. After only an hour, Manson abruptly ended the concert early. He suddenly flew into a rage: he threw his microphone to the ground, and stormed off the stage, never to return!

So to summarize the totality of Marilyn Manson’s visit to Cedar Rapids, we might say this: many fans came to the concert convinced that Christians were irritating and that Marilyn Manson was impressive and many left the concert feeling that Marilyn Manson was irritating and that Christians were impressive! Think of how much closer to the kingdom thousands of kids might be as a result of this unforeseen outreach event.


November 20, 2011

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money."  Matthew 6:24

A 16-year-old named William left home to seek his fortune. His earthly possessions were tied in a bundle carried in his hand. One day he met an elderly canal-boat captain who listened to his story that his family was too poor to keep him, and the only skill he had was making candles and soap.

The old captain knelt and prayed for the boy’s future and afterward gave him some advice.

“William, someone will be the leading soap-maker in New York. It could be you. Be a good man, give your heart to Christ, pay the Lord all that belongs to Him, make an honest soap, give a full pound, and I’m certain you’ll be a prosperous and rich man.”

The 16-year-old who listened to godly counsel was William Colgate, who not only prospered beyond his wildest dreams but was able to give millions of dollars to the Lord’s cause.

William Colgate found great success in life and was able to bless many with his generosity because early in life he committed to putting first things first.

The blessing comes down even to us today. Some of you used soap made by Colgate this morning in the shower. Or, some of you used toothpaste made by Colgate. Either way – we are blessed this morning because William Colgate put first things first!

I would not be a good pastor if I completed a sermon series about stewardship and failed to remind you of the importance of putting first things first. I want you to find blessing in your life like William Colgate did!

Actually, my goal has been to take you beyond stewardship to a bigger idea – LORDSHIP! And Lordship requires that you put God first in every area of your life and keep Him there by keeping first things first.

What Is the Point?

There was a man the side of the road hitch hiking on a very dark night in the middle of a storm. It was late at night and no cars were passing. The storm was so strong he could hardly see a few feet ahead of him. Suddenly, he saw a car coming towards him and stop. Without further thought, he got in the back seat of the car, closes the door and, when he turns to thank the driver for stopping for him, he realizes there’s nobody behind the wheel. The car starts slowly down the road again. The guy looks at the road ahead and sees a curve coming his way. Scared, he closes his eyes and starts to pray for his life. Just before the car reaches the curve, a hand appears thru the window and turns the steering wheel. The guy, paralyzed with fear, watches how the hand appears every time they come to a curve in the road. Gathering his strength, he leaps from the car and runs to the nearest town. Wet and in shock, he goes to a cafe and asks for a cup of stiff coffee. He quickly drinks his coffee and starts telling everybody about the horrible experience he’s just been thru. A silence envelopes the cafe when the man begins to weep like a baby out of sheer fright from the experience he has been through. About half an hour later, two guys walk into the same cafe and one says to the other, "Look Bob, there’s that guy who got in the car when we were pushing it down the road"

The first thing you must do is make sure you have chosen to be in the right kingdom. Everyone belongs to a kingdom. You are either in the kingdom of God or the kingdom of evil. You are either in the kingdom of light or the kingdom of darkness. No one is without a kingdom.

Jesus makes it clear which Kingdom you need to be in!

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

If you are a Christ-follower today you have chosen to enter the Kingdom of God. When you made that decision you chose to live under the LORDSHIP of Christ or the KINGSHIP of God – two ways of saying the same thing.

The question is – do you?

How do you know?

A missionary in the New Hebrides watched some native killing hogs. These natives cut off the hogs’ tails and put them over in a pile. When the missionary asked the natives why they did this, they replied, “The meat is for us, the tails are for our gods.” Some Christians are just as foolish and sinful. They take everything for themselves and give God the leftovers, if anything.

If God is the King of your life and if Jesus is the Lord of your life – YOU DON”T GIVE HIM THE LEFT OVERS! You give Him the first AND the best of EVERYTHING:

1) Your Passion – What you love

2) Your Pay Check – What you earn

3) Your Pastime – What you do with your time

4) You Possessions – What you have

5) You Priorities – How you make your decisions

In other words, as a Christ-follower  – you live like He is the KING of your life!