“Who Will Go?” – Isaiah 6:1-8 – Trinity Sunday

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Word: sermon devotions-week-of-6-3-2012    PDF:   sermon devotions-week-of-6-3-2012
 
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  1 Samuel 16:7 
 
The sermon this week focuses on Isaiah’s call to prophetic ministry. In the midst of a vision where he saw the throne room of God, he heard the call. In his vision, Isaiah finds himself confronted with the holiness of God verses his own human sinfulness. Romans 3:23 reminds us that all of humankind is sinful and cannot stand up to God’s glory and holiness. But it is not God’s desire for us to remain in that state of unworthiness. Again, referring to Isaiah’s vision, God provided a cleansing for Isaiah, to equip him for service.
 
As we hear God call us to serve, we often feel unworthy and inadequate. The reason for those feelings is born out of truth. However if God could only call those who were worthy, no one would be called. Instead, God calls all sorts of people, sometimes even the most unlikely candidates, to serve in His church and to build His Kingdom. In the eyes of man, David was the least likely of Jesse’s sons to be anointed as King of Israel. God, however, saw something in David’s heart that nobody else could see. God sees something in each of us that perhaps we cannot even see ourselves. Yes, we are sinful, but in Christ, through the power of His cleansing blood, we are made worthy to serve.
 
The bottom line in Isaiah’s call is this: God offered reconciliation and cleansing and called the prophet. Isaiah recognized God at work in his life and responded with a “Yes!”  Do you hear God calling you to serve? Are you aware that you are not worthy for service in the Kingdom? Will you allow the blood of Christ to cleanse you and His Spirit to equip you? The only correct way to respond to God is by saying, “Here am I. Send me.”

This Week’s Challenge: 

Go where God calls you!

 You can now listen to this week’s sermon message by clicking on the Online Sermons link at www.myfairhopeumc.net.
Fairhope United Methodist Church – www.myfairhopeumc.net

“Power” – Acts 2:1-21, Luke 24:45-53 – Pentecost

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Word: sermon devotions-week-of-5-27-2012    PDF:   sermon devotions-week-of-5-27-2012
 
But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, to Israel his sin. Micah 3:8 
 
“This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit’, says the Lord Almighty. Zechariah 4:6
           Power! People fight and strive to gain it. Some will go to great lengths to obtain it. It is craved because it can lead to wealth and fame. The hunger for power comes naturally to most people and in many cases when folks get it they abuse it. There are also different kinds of power; there is power that is granted with a position of authority, there financial power that comes with wealth, there is spousal, parental and other forms of relational power. There is really only one type of power that the church should deal in or even consider: The power of the Holy Spirit!

Before He ascended to Heaven, Jesus gave instructions to His followers; “I am going to send you what my Father has promised;but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49) On the day of Pentecost, the power from on high showed up in a very dramatic way. The picture of the early church we find in the book of Acts is a picture of a church that was growing by leaps and bounds, thousands of people at a time. The first century believers were all about sharing the good news concerning their Savior, everything that they did and said was focused on building God’s Kingdom in Christ. These weren’t people who had seminary degrees, they didn’t know anything about running programs and campaigns, they didn’t have a clue regarding church finances, and they hadn’t take courses in church planting. The first century church was totally and utterly dependent on the power of the Holy Spirit; and they grew!

May God richly bless you as you dig into His Word this week!

This Week’s Challenge: 

Let go of your need to control and depend on the power of the Holy Spirit!

 You can now listen to this week’s sermon message by clicking on the Online Sermons link at www.myfairhopeumc.net.
Fairhope United Methodist Church – www.myfairhopeumc.net

“Praise God and Win!” – 2 Chronicles 20:20-25 – 7th Sunday of Easter

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Word:  sermon devotions-week-of-5-20-2012   PDF:   sermon devotions-week-of-5-20-2012
 
I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders. I will be glad and rejoicein you; I will sing praiseto your name, O Most High. My enemies turn back; they stumble and perish before you . . . Sing praises to the Lord, enthroned in Zion; proclaim among the nations what he has done. For he who avenges blood remembers; he does not ignore the cry of the afflicted.  Psalm 9:1-3 & 11-12

           In the text for the sermon this week we find God’s people gaining victory through praise. King Jehoshaphat consulted with God and the people and as they moved toward their enemies, men were appointed to sing praises to God. An amazing thing happened; the enemies of the Israelites were ambushed and killed. When Jehoshaphat’s army reached the place where the battle would take place, they found their enemies slain. Wow! Is it possible that by praising God we can be victorious? Well, with trumpets and voices the walls of Jericho were destroyed. (Joshua chapter 6) When Paul and Silas found themselves chained up in prison, they sang and praised God and they were set free. (Acts 16:25-26)

In our spiritual battles, we need to learn that our most powerful weapon is praise and thanksgiving. When we sing praises to our God and Savior the enemy has to fall back. Satan cannot stand in the presence of praise. That’s why Satan tries to keep us from giving thanks and praising God. Our enemy wants to keep us focused on problems and conflict in an attempt to prevent us from giving thanks and praise. One of the most vital ministries of the church is our worship ministry, because it is in praise and worship that we are strengthened for the battle.

There are lots of ways to praise God and in fact, we should give praise and thanks to God with everything we are and everything that we do. Music, however, is probably the most powerful form of worship. King David was a musician and in the psalms we are told to praise God with singing and with instruments. The style and form of our praises is not what matters, God is blessed and we are strengthened when our songs are lifted in spirit and in truth. (John 4:21-24)

May God richly bless you as you dig into His Word this week!

This Week’s Challenge: 

Be people who praise God ALWAYS!

 You can now listen to this week’s sermon message by clicking on the Online Sermons link at www.myfairhopeumc.net.
Fairhope United Methodist Church – www.myfairhopeumc.net

“Spiritual Victory” – 1 John 4:1-6 – 6th Sunday of Easter

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Word:   sermon devotions-week-of-5-13-2012  PDF:   sermon devotions-week-of-5-13-2012
 
Click here for the:   Spiritual Growth Assessment Tool
 
“You are my King and my God, who decrees victoriesfor Jacob.Through you we push backour enemies; through your name we trampleour foes. I do not trust in my bow, my sword does not bring me victory; but you give us victory over our enemies, you put our adversaries to shame.”  Psalm 44:4-7
 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”  Romans 8:35-37

 There are battles being fought in the church, in our nation, around the world, in families and on many, many fronts. It is not necessarily physical in nature, although sometimes it plays out that way, but the spiritual warfare that is going on is very real and sometimes it seems like we are losing. Take heart church! Satan cannot win the war, God assures us victory. In the text for the sermon this week we are encouraged to pay attention to the voices that we hear and make sure that we are hearing God. Also in the midst of the text we are given the assurance that the Spirit of God living in our hearts will overcome the spirit of the enemy that lives in the world.  (I John 4:4)

The theme of spiritual warfare is one that is recurrent in scripture and one that for me has been ever-present in my spiritual journey. When we find ourselves in times of conflict we need to remember who our enemy is; it is not that person or persons with whom you are struggling, our conflict and struggles are the outward manifestations of the battle between good and evil. There is a verse that I try to keep in mind whenever I find myself in conflict with someone; Ephesians 6:12says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” You see, when we are in conflict with each other it takes the focus off of the one who causes the conflict in the first place. As long as Satan can keep us fussing with each other, we will forget to stand against him.

So how can we realize victory? Believe! “Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” I John 5:5

May God richly bless you as you dig into His Word this week!

This Week’s Challenge: 

Believe and Win!

 You can now listen to this week’s sermon message by clicking on the Online Sermons link at www.myfairhopeumc.net.
Fairhope United Methodist Church – www.myfairhopeumc.net

“Clothe Yourself With God’s Identity” – Colossians 3:12-17 – 5th Sunday of Easter

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Word:   sermon devotions-week-of-5-6-2012  PDF:   sermon devotions-week-of-5-6-2012
 
Click here for the:   Spiritual Growth Assessment Tool

Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the LORD’s anger.    Zephaniah 2:3
 
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  Galatians 5:22-23
 
 Taking on an identity is an intentional thing. In order to be identified as a soldier, an athlete, student, parent, etc. there is work that must be done to deserve being identified as such. The same is true of being identified as a Christian; steps must be taken to truly be identified as a follower/disciple of Jesus Christ. If you want to take on a new identity in Christ you must let go of the old and become new. (Ref. II Cor. 5:17) You will also need to learn what it means to be identified as a Christian. To be a doctor, a teacher, a lawyer, pastor, cop, E.M.T. and in many other professions, one must be educated in that field before they can wear that title.
 
So, the question is: Do you want to be identified with God? Do you want to be known as a disciple of Jesus Christ? Are you willing to be labeled as a Christian? If you answered “yes” to those questions; what are you doing to gain that identity? Be careful here, it is not about earning or purchasing your identity. Rather it is a process of receiving the gift of life and learning to walk in faith and grace. It all starts with humbly confessing that you are a sinner in need of God’s grace. Having acknowledged your sin and need you then ask for forgiveness and begin your journey. From that point forward you can be identified as a Christian and begin practicing your faith and growing and becoming more like the One with whom you identify.
May God richly bless you as you seek to clothe yourself with Christ!

This Week’s Challenge: 

Clothe Yourself With Christ!

 You can now listen to this week’s sermon message by clicking on the Online Sermons link at www.myfairhopeumc.net.
Fairhope United Methodist Church – www.myfairhopeumc.net

“Children Matter” – Mark 10:13-16 – 4th Sunday of Easter

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Word:  sermon devotions-week-of-4-29-2012   PDF:   sermon devotions-week-of-4-29-2012
 
Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.  1 Peter 2:1-3

 “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, red, brown, yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.”*

I don’t remember much from my childhood Sunday School, but I remember that song. It is a song that states a simple truth; Jesus loves kids! All of the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark & Luke) include the story of Jesus calling the children to Himself after His disciples had tried to dismiss them. He said, “Let the children come to me . . .” and told us that in order to be a part of the Kingdom, we would need to receive the Kingdom like a child, with child-like faith, or we can’t get in. I’m thinking that this means that we need to take a look at children and how they receive the Kingdom. For the past few weeks I have talked in sermons about how difficult it can be to believe some of the things of our faith. Adults tend to approach matters of faith with skepticism and doubt. Children receive the stories of miracles and God’s power with absolute trust. Children have an innocence that allows them to be accepting and to trust God and expect great things.

As we mature and experience the world we become jaded, cynical and skeptical. We take on the responsibilities that come with adulthood and we begin to believe that we have to control everything. Children have an ability to trust and believe that we would do well to emulate. They accept God’s truth at face value, while we doubt and question.

Let’s look here at what Jesus said; “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:14-15) Do you want to enter the Kingdom? Jesus tells us very clearly what is required.  It is time for the church to desire “child-like” faith.

* Words by C. Herbert Woolston

May God richly bless you as you seek to know Him with childlike faith!

This Week’s Challenge: 

Come To Jesus Like A Child!

 You can now listen to this week’s sermon message by clicking on the Online Sermons link at www.myfairhopeumc.net.
Fairhope United Methodist Church – www.myfairhopeumc.net

“Heartburn” – Luke 24:13-35 – 3rd Sunday of Easter

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Word:  sermon devotions-week-of-4-22-2012   PDF:   sermon devotions-week-of-4-22-2012
 
Additional resources:  the-wesleyan-quadrilateral
 
On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine —the best of meats and the finest of wines. On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken.  Isaiah 25:6-8

In the days following Jesus’ resurrection, as He appeared to His followers in various places, one of the things that came to light was the fulfilling of prophesy. When He talked with the two disciples on the Emmaus road, He rebuked them saying, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” Jesus knew that He was talking with people who had studied the scriptures and heard the Messianic Prophesies. Even though they had heard the words of the prophets, they found it hard to believe the reports of a Risen Lord. I love that Luke tells us that Jesus then took the time and patiently unpacked the scriptures for these two. Our Lord is so loving and patient with us, even when we don’t “get it.”

The Emmaus Road disciples finally did recognize Jesus when He broke bread with them, and they asked one another, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us when He was teaching us on the road?” Even though they acknowledged the feeling they had at hearing the Lord speak, they had successfully ignored what they felt until He broke bread with them.

One of the questions people often ask me is, “How will I know if God is speaking to me?” The best answer I can give is this, “You’ll just know.” That answer is based in my experience of feeling something in my heart when God speaks to me; something inside of me resonates with the truth when God speaks. I think that’s what Cleopas and his partner meant when they spoke of the burning in their hearts. Maybe we could call it “Holy Heartburn.” How often do we hear the Lord speak and ignore the “heartburn?” God speaks in many ways, He always speaks the truth and He wants us to recognize Him. So listen for His voice, expect Him to join you on the road and don’t ignore the feeling that He is speaking to you; He is!

May God richly bless you as you seek to listen to God!

This Week’s Challenge: 

Expect To Encounter Jesus!

 You can now listen to this week’s sermon message by clicking on the Online Sermons link at www.myfairhopeumc.net.
Fairhope United Methodist Church – www.myfairhopeumc.net