December 16, 2019
Short messages that have a long-lasting impact.
Faith Sees Victory!
From a sermon by Elvido Ortiz, a minister of the Apostolic Faith Church in the Bronx, New York.
Faith motivates us to seek God, but we have to let our faith carry us into the victory. We need to let faith work.
Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Some come seeking God for salvation, sanctification, or the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Others have physical needs, troubling family situations, or a variety of other problems. In each instance, there is a trust that if we put ourselves into a position to reach out and touch God, He will meet us and answer our prayers.
Abraham is an illustration of faith at work. God told him to take his son Isaac to a mountain and sacrifice him there for a burnt offering. God’s command could be summarized like this: “Two of you are going to make the trek to the mountain, but only one will return.” The thought of sacrificing his son must have been a difficult instruction for Abraham to follow! However, he obeyed.
On the third day, when Abraham saw the appointed place afar off, he told his servants, “Wait here.” Sometimes when we are seeking to follow God, others cannot come with us. Even when our friends are well intended, they may not be able to come along.
I love what Abraham said next: “I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you” (Genesis 22:5). To paraphrase his words, he asserted, “We are going up, and we will worship, and we will come back to you.” What a steadfast faith—believing that while God had said one thing, He would provide a solution that was not yet apparent. Situations can come into our lives where we have a natural view and reaction. But there comes a time when we have to lay aside our natural view and use the eyes of faith. What we see in the natural is not what we see in the spiritual. In the natural it seemed that Abraham would come back from the mountain alone, but in the spiritual, Abraham saw them both coming back because he believed God.
Trust God! He is able. He will perfect His work in your life as He has done in the lives of many others. The Apostle Paul said, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17). When he said these words, Paul was going through some difficult tribulations, but his mind was set on things above—on the victory that was ahead of him.
We must not let our situations blur our looking to God. We need to step out in faith and believe what God is able to do. We want to look at the victory that is ahead of us. We can move forward, believing and trusting in God that what is happening in our lives is by His design for us. By faith we can see the victory ahead.
A Lesson on Humility
From a sermon by Josephine McElveen, District Superintendent of Southern and Eastern United States Work.
In the time when Jesus lived, people often wore sandals and traveled on dusty roads that were shared with animals. Therefore, when a visitor came into the home, it was customary for the host to make sure the visitor’s feet were washed. This task was not given to just anyone. The Jewish servants in the home could not be compelled to do this. Rather it was done by the most menial slaves, usually Gentile slaves.
However, the night before Jesus went to Calvary, He did something new. The Bible says, “He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water in to a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded” (John 13:4-5). He wanted to show His disciples an example before He went to Calvary.
Prior to this, the disciples had eaten supper. Feet were usually washed when travelers first arrived, but Jesus was doing this after they had eaten. They were talking following the meal, as some of us do when we eat, and the Gospel writer Luke says that a strife came up—the disciples were arguing about who was going to be the greatest in God’s Kingdom. Jesus was talking about a spiritual kingdom, but they thought it was going to be a natural kingdom, and they wanted to know who would have the best seat. Their lack of understanding did not discourage Jesus; He did not even rebuke them. Instead He started teaching the right attitude by example.
When Jesus came to Simon Peter, he protested. I believe Peter was boisterous in his objection: “Not my feet; You’ll never wash my feet!” But Jesus had an answer for Peter. He said, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.” That touched the heart of this fisherman, because he wanted to have a part with Jesus, no matter what it took. Simon Peter submitted, even though he did not understand.
When I was saved and came into this Gospel, I had not been raised to know all the church policies and guidelines. I did not think some of it was relevant. However, an experienced Christian in the church told me, “If you obey, God will bless you.” We do not have to understand everything. God will bless us for just being obedient.
Jesus was entrusting the Gospel to these men that God had chosen. For the Gospel to carry on, these men had to receive the truth. Even though they did not know it, Jesus knew that one day they would give their lives for the Gospel. However, until then, they needed to work together.
We also need to work together. We need to humble ourselves to one another, to submit to one another, not worrying about who is going to have precedence. When we humble ourselves, that brings the unity of God’s Spirit. Our motives must be pure first, and then we want the best for our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Jesus wanted the disciples to have a spirit of loving humility. And going forth, they did. Jesus left that for us as an example as well. Every now and then, we need to be reminded that we need one another.
Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them” (John 13:16-17). Obedience brings blessing.
Peter did not understand what Jesus was doing, but one thing he did know is that he wanted to be a part. We want that attitude. “Lord, I want to be a part of Your Gospel. Whatever You are calling me to give up, however You are asking me to humble myself, I want to do it.” When I was saved, I asked God for the truth, and He led me to this Gospel. Whatever there was to give up does not compare to what I’ve already received, and God has more in store yet.
As we come in humility and submission and love to one another and obey God’s instructions, He will bless us.
Where Are You?
From a sermon by Jeong Min Kim, District Superintendent of South Korea Work.
In the third chapter of the Bible, we read this, “And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?” (Genesis 3:9). Adam had taken of the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and then hid from God with a heart of fear and shame. God’s question, “Where art thou?” shows His warm heart toward man who had sinned.
This question was not about Adam’s location. Do we think that God had no idea where Adam was so He asked this question? Of course not. God was asking Adam what his status was, what condition he was in. This question by God is important for us today as human beings who are born as sinners. Even now, the question of God for us is, “Where art thou?”
The Bible tells the original state of Adam. It says that “God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). Beginning with the creation of light, God made everything that was needed for mankind. When Adam was created, he was in a perfect state. There was only one thing that was forbidden—he was told not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
The Bible says that the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil were in the middle of the garden. The question might be asked, “If they were forbidden to eat of the fruit, why didn’t God put that tree on the edge of the garden, so it was hardly noticeable?” The reason is very simple, but it is also very important. It was a matter of choice.
We also have a choice. The question “Where art thou?” challenges us to look inside ourselves and see what our status is with God. Our choice is between Jesus Christ and the temptations of the devil. When temptation comes, we must not forget that Jesus Christ is with us. We want to make the right choice and yield our hearts fully to God.
My son loves playing baseball. When he was small, he would practice in the living room with his plastic bat. One day when I was in my office, I heard a loud sound from the living room. I jumped up and discovered that the television screen was broken. My son looked more shocked than me, and he said, “Dad, the TV just fell from the table, and right away I put it back up.” He was hiding the plastic bat behind his back. I said, “Well, it looks as if something hit the TV; don’t you think so?” Big tears were forming in his eyes. Then I said, “God was watching this. Where would the one be who did this?” My son started crying and said, “I did it. I’m so sorry.” I gave him a big hug and forgave him, asking if he was hurt, and reminding him that I love him.
God loves us even more than we love our children. He asks each soul, “Where art thou?” If there is sin in your heart, come to God. Repent and give your whole heart to Him. If you feel alone or are suffering from difficult circumstances, remember that Jesus is near to help you. If you hear God’s voice saying, “Where art thou?” raise your heart to Him and say, “God, here I am.” He is calling in love, and He will heed your cries.
It Is Worth the Work
From a sermon by Chet King, a minister of the Apostolic Faith Church in Portland, Oregon.
God’s Word is true and full of positive statements. One of them is in Proverbs 30:33: “Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter.” Many people have never witnessed this process and have no idea of the statement’s reality. But I can say that I have seen it happen.
When I was growing up we had a cow, and one of my jobs was to milk her and take the bucket of milk to the house. Mom would pour the milk through a cheesecloth and then put it in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, there would be thick cream at the top of the milk.
Some of this cream went into the butter churn, and I would sit at the dining room table and crank the churn’s handle to make butter. I had to crank and crank and crank! I would use my right arm, and then switch to my left arm. It seemed as if the process took forever and was getting harder and harder. Mom would come to encourage me and say, “Keep going! You’re almost there. You’ll make it.” Sometimes the neighborhood children were outside playing Kick the Can, Red Rover, or some other game, but I had to keep turning that handle. No matter what distractions there were, I needed to keep doing my job.
Then, just as promised, suddenly there was the butter! When the cream started clumping together, it happened quickly. For my reward, Mom would give me a slice of homemade bread right out of the oven and covered with fresh butter and jam. Oh, the reward was good!
When you are praying or seeking for something from God, there may be some distractions. Don’t quit! Keep on “cranking the handle”—keep praying. Maybe your left knee will hurt and then your right knee will hurt, and maybe your elbows too. But keep on praying. The reward will be absolutely wonderful. Just as surely as the churning of cream makes butter, God’s promises are true. They are worth working and waiting for.
Light in the Tunnel
From a sermon by Olusola Adesope, pastor of the Apostolic Faith Church in Pullman, Washington.
Light and darkness cannot coexist; it is impossible. That is true in the physical realm and also in the spiritual. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). Spiritually, to be in the light is to have our sins forgiven, and to be in darkness is to remain in sin. When God saves us, He calls us out of darkness and into the marvelous light of His love and salvation.
Light reveals what darkness conceals. Perhaps we think we have done a good job of cleaning the house and dusting the furniture. But what happens when the sun shines in? It reveals what was missed. God’s light will reach the depths of our hearts and reveal what we need to yield to God.
God’s light provides guidance. Life is full of many unknowns and situations that are just not explainable. We need God’s direction. Jesus is the Light and He will lead us along if we wholeheartedly desire to follow Him.
Darkness can never overcome the light. And spiritually, the darkness of the evils of this world will never overcome or extinguish God’s light. His light continues to shine regardless of what the devil may do. Maybe you are going through a difficult time in your life. There is a common saying that “there is light at the end of the tunnel.’ However, God’s Word lets us know that there is light for us in the tunnel! The Lord does not just wait until we get to the end of the tunnel; He will stand by us every step inside the tunnel.
We remember the three Hebrew children, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. The king commanded that everyone bow down, but those three young men had been taught the way of God, and they refused to bow down. Christians, the devil presents many things for us to bow down to today, but we do not need to give in. The light of Jesus will help us stand true.
The king offered these men another chance to bow, but they refused. The furnace was heated seven times hotter than normal, and these men were thrown into it. Those who threw the three into the flames died. But when the Hebrew boys were cast into the fire, Jesus was not a “light at the end of the tunnel,” He was right there with them! The king said, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God” (Daniel 3:25). The light overcame the darkness.
Whatever your situation, let Jesus the Light of the world give light to your life.
What Does Your Record Say?
From a sermon by Andy Chasteen, a minister of the Apostolic Faith Church in Medford, Oregon.
God keeps records. He has a record of you and one of me—there was a man, there was a woman. We find a number of personal records alluded to in the Word of God. For example, John 3:1 begins, “There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus...” The Bible says Nicodemus “came to Jesus by night.” Nicodemus had heard or seen something that rang true in his heart. Something had caught his attention; this Jesus had something he wanted to know about, and he came asking.
The Lord has a way of getting right to the important issue. He sees into our hearts. When we come to Him seeking an answer, He might say, “Let’s talk about forgiveness” or “Let’s talk about restitution” or “Let’s talk about your attitude.” He addresses the important issues, not because He wants to condemn us, but because He wants to help us. He told Nicodemus that it was necessary to be born again to see the Kingdom of Heaven.
“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John” (John 1:6). Jesus said that there was no one like John the Baptist, “notwithstanding, he that is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he” (Matthew 11:11). Attaining Heaven is the greatest achievement, and Jesus made that possible. However, getting to Heaven will take commitment, dedication, and endurance. Don’t despair, God will help. In every step, God will be there. We just need to call to Him and He will come to our rescue.
“There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job” (Job 1:1). Job was “perfect and upright,” but hard things came his way. He lost his belongings, his family, and his health. It would seem he had every reason to give up his faith in God, but the Bible says that he arose, tore his mantle, shaved his head, and fell down to the ground and worshipped. In all that he endured, he found it was best to worship God.
Job had a history and a relationship with God, including that he prayed and sacrificed for his children.
This reminds me of my employment with the Medford School District as a supervisor in the maintenance department. We are trying to move toward planned maintenance. Much of what we currently do is reactive—making repairs that were not anticipated. Yet, some maintenance can be done ahead in order to prevent difficulties later. Job had done “planned maintenance,” and his reaction to the trials was evidence of that. When hard things came his way, he knew what to do: he went to God and worshipped. He had confidence that the Lord would be there, and God was. When Job could not find God, and his heart was heavy, he said, “He knoweth the way that I take” (Job 23:10). God knows the way that you take as well, whether or not you are serving Him. He can lead you to Himself, and then lead you all the way to Glory.
Luke 13:11 says, “And, behold, there was a woman...” This woman had an infirmity, but eighteen years of suffering came to an end when she met Jesus. The Lord can set us free from our infirmities, whether they are sin, sickness, doubt, fear, or anything else.
“And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus...” (Luke 19:2). This man climbed a sycamore tree because he sought to see who Jesus was. Jesus saw him and called him, and Zacchaeus “made haste” to respond. When the Lord calls us, we want to be quick to answer.
What is your story? “There was a man...” “There was a woman...” Does your account include the Lord? If Jesus tarries, what will your record show in coming days?
Trials and difficulties will come, but don’t give in or give up. Persevere! God will be there to encourage you when you are discouraged, to lift you up when you are weary, to help you when you need help. He is the giver of strength, and He is on your side.
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