Cheney United Methodist Church
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World

Sermon Recaps

Sermon Recap September 17, 2017 
“Does God Care About...My Thirst?” 
John 4:6-15

 
Today I ask the question, “Does God Care About: My Thirst? My needs?” For me the answer is a resounding Yes! Because of God’s great love for you and me, He naturally cares about your needs. He has gone out of His way to make your salvation possible. And His love for you doesn’t stop with your salvation. The Lord want us to trust in Him for our daily needs, for trials, burdens, heart-ache and everything. For me our greatest need is our salvation. Other needs are secondary, to knowing where and how you will spend eternity.

I want to answer this question Does God Care About My Thirst, by looking at Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well

Jesus and the disciples have traveled about 40 miles on foot in a day and a half, and he is tired. It’s noon time, the disciples have gone into the nearby town to buy some food. Jesus is leaning against the stones of the well. The normal time for women to get water was either early morning or later in the afternoon, when it was cooler. The well was a place where women gathered to talk as they filled their water pots. We can’t say for sure why this woman came to the well at noon, but it may be that because of her immoral life, she was not liked by the other women. Jesus was bold enough to ask her for a drink of water. Now I want you to know that in that culture, the Jews avoided the Samaritans, and it wasn’t socially acceptable for a Jewish man, let alone a rabbi, to speak to a woman in public. It is even more shocking that Jesus would direct the conversation toward spiritual things.

It wasn’t that this woman said, “Sir, you look like a teacher.. I’m hungry to know your God. Can you tell me how to do that?” She was just going about her daily chores, minding her own business, when this stranger asked her for a drink and then steered the conversation into spiritual matters. She wasn’t seeking to know God. Her guilt over her current live-in boyfriend and her five marriages, which had probably ended because of her multiple affairs, caused her to keep her distance from God. The only explanation for this story is that Jesus was seeking a sinner who wasn’t even seeking Him.

Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost? Was it the heartache and brokenness that made her want to listen to Jesus? What do you suppose made the soil of your heart fertile or ready to hear the good news of the Gospel? Do you remember what made your heart ready to hear the Good News?

Was it coming to Sunday School as a child? Were you brought up in the church? Or did tragedy and hardship help you to turn to God? Who or what put the questions in your heart?

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” I hope you notice that Jesus uses the term gift and give. And he said to her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, “Give Me a drink,” you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.’” John 4:14: “But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” It’s a gift, not a reward!

One of the most common spiritual errors is that we get into heaven by our good works. Every religion, except for biblical Christianity, operates on the principle that you must work for or earn salvation. The Bible states (Rom. 4:4-5): “Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.” Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” The gospel is not good news if it requires that you must keep a bunch of rules, do an unspecified number of good deeds, and hope that someday God might let you into heaven on that basis. But it is wonderfully good news if God offers it to you as a free gift, which He does!

So, Jesus tells this woman (4:14): “But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” By “living water,” Jesus is referring to the eternal life that the Holy Spirit gives. As Jesus said (John 7:37-39a), “‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, “From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” But this He spoke of the Spirit....” “Living water” is the same thing as the “new birth,” but just a different analogy. In that hot desert climate, water was essential for life. It was always welcome and refreshing. “Living” water referred to water flowing from a spring or fountain, as opposed to that which was collected in a cistern. Jews familiar with the Scriptures knew that the Lord Himself is the spiritual fountain of living water. In Jeremiah 2:13, the Lord rebukes His sinning people: “For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

In him shows that true Christianity is not primarily a matter of rituals and ceremonies, but rather an inward, personal relationship with the living God. It must be in each person’s heart. The picture of this living water springing up points to the continual source of life that the indwelling Holy Spirit supplies to believers. It’s active and always flowing. There may be times of greater and lesser flow, but it never dries up.

When Jesus says that “whoever drinks of the water that I give him will never thirst,” He means that we who have drunk this living water are satisfied with Him in the sense that we know that He has rescued us from sin and judgment (Rom. 8:1). He has given us eternal life and that nothing can separate us from His love (Rom. 8:31-39). We’re His children, under His loving care in every situation (1 John 3:1). He has given us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph. 1:3). We have His Word, which is like water to our soul. Jesus does not mean that our thirst is forever quenched in the sense that we cease to long for more and more of Him. We still hunger and thirst after righteousness (Matt. 5:6). Our hearts still pant after God like the thirsty deer pants for the stream. (Ps. 42:1). We still pray (Ps. 63:1), “O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; my soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”

So, how do we get this living water of salvation that Jesus freely offers to all?

Jesus invites this sinful woman to ask Him to give her this living water that will forever quench her spiritual thirst. Again, it’s important to know that salvation is not a matter of keeping rules and rituals, but rather of new life through the Spirit that brings us into a relationship with the living God. And it’s important to know, as Jesus emphasizes, that it’s a gift.

To have faith in Christ, you need to know who He is. The fact that Jesus was tired and thirsty shows that He is human. As a man, He can sympathize with our weaknesses (Heb. 4:15). He asked this woman for a drink. By being willing to drink out of her container, He was putting Himself on her level. He didn’t make her feel that He was superior. He didn’t put her down. He came across to her as He truly was, a tired, thirsty man.

The fact that Jesus is able to give living water to thirsty sinners shows that He is God. The woman asked (4:11) how Jesus could get this living water out of the well, since it was deep and He had nothing to draw with. Then she challenged Him (4:12), “You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You ...?” The answer, of course, is, yes, He is much greater than Jacob! He is probably the angel of God who wrestled all night with Jacob! And the answer to where He can get the living water is, He has it within His own divine nature to supply it to as many sinners as ask for it. He has an endless supply of grace for all.

Jesus says (4:10), “If you would have asked, I would have given it to you.” To ask, you have to recognize that you’re thirsty and that you can never satisfy that thirst by yourself. But if you come to Jesus and ask, He will give it. All you have to do is drink and drink of Him until you’re satisfied. But the only condition that Jesus states is, “Ask.” If you ask, He will give you an endless supply of living water.

So, have you asked Jesus for the living water of eternal life? Do you have the evidence of being satisfied with Jesus? You can continually drink from the world’s sources, but you’ll thirst again (4:13). But one drink from Jesus and you’ll never thirst again. So, why don’t you ask? Is your thirst satisfied?

May the Lord bless and keep you,
Doug Hasty

Sermon Recap September 10, 2017 
“Does God Care About...My Dream?” 
Ezekiel 37:1-10

 
Do you have a dream? Is it a big dream? Is it big enough that you think about it everyday, I mean all the time? Maybe some of you are living your dream? Are you still excited and wild about it? My hunch is that some of you are struggling to see your dream? You have faced challenges and set backs and you are frustrated and losing hope that your dream will ever come.

God knows something about dreams. He has a dream for you! God is always working on something to bless you. In His great love for you, God desires to bless you! God showed Ezekiel a dream, or vision of a valley of dry bones. Kind of a ghoulish vision when you realize that it's skeletons, a bunch of human bones. Ezekiel is standing in the middle of dry, white sun baked bones.

From God’s perspective the valley of dry bones might have represented disappointment, failure, and disobedience. A nation of people who turned their backs on the Lord, followed other god's, worshipped idols, and rebelled against God!
Now this is a terrible picture a valley of dry bones. But it's important to understand that in the Jewish culture of that day, anyone who was not properly buried was thought to have died under a curse. Shameful!

But God had a reason to show Ezekiel the valley of dry bones. The Lord asked him, “Can these bones live?” The question sounds absurd. Bones are disconnected and there are just so many of them. I love his answer, “Lord Yahweh, only you know the answer to that.” God how am I supposed to respond? It seems impossible! However, his training as a priest, tells him that God is the Lord of the living and the Lord of the dead. Faith is a big factor. The Lord said, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6 And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.” Notice that he tells the bones to hear the word of the Lord! No magic. No sensationalism. Ezekiel simply speaks the “living word of the living Lord” and things begin to happen! If God promised you a miracle, your miracle is not going to happen until Jesus gives the word. But you have to be ready when he speaks.

What’s happening with your dream? Can you see God at work on it? Maybe you are working really hard at it-- you’re trying to make something big and grand happen and you are doing it in your own strength. It could be that God is waiting for you to ask for help! Or it could be that God is not helping because God wants you to have a different dream. Either way you need to seek the Lord.

I want to introduce you to a Grander Vision, Dick and Terri Greenly were ready to act when Jesus spoke. These are our neighbors to the south, they live in Oklahoma, and own a company called “Pumps for Oklahoma”. I shared some of their story in this month’s “Communicator.” Dick and Terri started their own business and had a small safe dream: to work hard, make some money and one day retire in modest comfort. They went to church regularly, read the scriptures, tithed, and lived a good life. One day they were invited to go to the Global Leadership Summit, where they heard they could make an impact for the world. They thought, “that’s nice.” When it was over they went back to their comfort zone.

Sometime later, a young man came into their shop in need of some help with a water pump. Dick recognized the young man, and said, “I haven’t seen you for a while. Where have you been?” He answered, “I’ve been church planting. It’s really very fascinating.” Just to be polite Dick said, “It’s always sounded exciting to do a short-term mission and help somebody in need.” Three months later Dick and Terri and this young man were on a plane. What most of the new church starts needed was a source of water. Water for the church, water for the village. Dick had been working with water pumps and irrigation for more than 20 years. He helped the locals dig a well, less than 70 feet down they found water. Next, he set up a solar panel to provide electricity to run the pump. There was such a feeling of joy when so many strangers came to shake his hand or hug him for making the water so abundant and free. The excitement and joy really got me.

Now ten years later, because they slowly stepped into a Grander Vision of what God was calling them to do and be they are the founders of Water4. Through the ministry of Water4 they have now helped empower local
 leaders to build and maintain over 7,000 wells in areas that are desperate for clean water. It is estimated that over 1 million people have benefited from these wells. Watch the YouTube: Solving the water crisis through Africa Entrepreneurs

They have traveled the world, they have spent some of their own money, and they have partnered with others. They have been thrilled and excited by where God has taken them and what they have seen and whom they have met. It has been amazing. They still have their business, they have the same home, and attend the same church and can soon retire with the same dream, but they are not the same. They will never be the same because God matched them with a dream they didn’t even know they had that blessed them far more abundantly than all that they could ask or want. They saw the glory of God and helped build His church. They have been truly blessed.

When you think of your dream right now do you see something that reminds you of the valley of dry bones? Is your dream dying? Or do you see something alive, and exciting, something that moves you and you won’t stop until it comes true!

As a church we have a dream, it’s about a multi-purpose building, something for the glory of God. It’s a beautiful dream it can house the Good News Club, and special benefit dinners, young and old can shoot hoops, it could be a place where a 1,000 tennis-shoes are collected and given to needy school children, it could be filled with music--we don’t know yet what all God plans for His glory. But it starts with you and me being ready when Jesus speaks the miracle into existence. It’s time to start dreaming of something bigger than just for ourselves. God is big, He honors big dreams. He wants us to dream of something that is far reaching and has the potential to impact the world and change lives.

Ezekiel looked and bones began to connect, the muscles and ligaments began to form and then they were covered with skin and tissue until they looked like human bodies. But there was no life in them. Verse 9, “Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great host.”

God showed Ezekiel a beautiful picture of the resurrection, a picture of God’s love and compassion, the promise and hope of redemption. God breathed life into them and they instantly stood up--an incredible number, and they were alive!

I say to you, no matter how bleak, or shattered your dream. God is saying to you--give me what you have, your skills and knowledge, your passion and desire, the surrender of your life, and He will give you a dream, better than you imagined. If He could do it with the valley of dry bones-- He can breathe life into your dream. Nothing is impossible with our amazing God!

May God truly bless you!
Doug Hasty

Sermon Recap September 3, 2017 
“Does God Care About...My Vocation?” 
1 Peter 2:11-20

 

Well it’s Labor Day weekend, and it seemed like a good idea to give some thought to the issue: Does God Care About My Work, the job that I do? I believe the answer is a resounding Yes! Of course, God cares, like any good parent cares about the career path and vocation of their children. Yeh, but does it really matter to God what I do for a living? I mean, does God want everyone to serve Him somehow, like be a missionary, or a pastor, or a Christian Day Care Director, a Medical Missionary, or a teacher in a private Christian School? Does God want you to do something that sounds spiritual to make Him happy?

As long as what you are doing isn’t illegal; God could be happy with your vocation. I can’t make a blanket statement that God is happy with your work--because I don’t know what your work ethic is like. Nor do I know if you are in the vocation that God desires for you.

The key verse I want us to look at this mornin comes from Colossians 3:17, “17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” What you do in word, the attitude you bring to work, the energy, the manner in which you do things, can add to your witness as a child of God, or it can detract from that witness.

In my daily devotions, back on August 26, the day was dedicated to A Godly Work Ethic, with the verse from Colossians 3:17. Dr. Richard Lee, writes: “Engrained in the American spirit is the work ethic of the Puritans, who believed that all of life is to be lived in relation to God. They therefore valued work as a vital part of their worship and service to God.”

I want to lift up three things from the Puritans. First, they believed that God is at the center of life. They didn’t divide in their thinking that there was a spiritual life and a secular life, God is over all and in all. Richard Baxter, wrote, “Living daily in the shadow of eternity gives the Puritans a deep appreciation for living every moment on this earth to the fullest for God.”

Second, Puritans spoke of two callings in one’s life. The first calling is the general calling by God of every Christian to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. The second calling is the particular calling to a God given vocation. It was the Puritan view that God is the one who calls people to work, so that the worker becomes a steward who serves God. So it didn’t matter to God if you are a dishwasher or preaching the word of God-- what mattered was the heart and how you go about your work.

The third thing from the Puritans is that all of life is God's. If God be God over us, then He must be over us in all things. Psalm 24:1 seems to fit here: “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”

So if we take from the Puritans what became the Protestant Work Ethic, you had a workforce that was highly motivated to work hard, do a good job that would reflect their faith in God and be a light that points up to God! [That’s a good thing!] What’s your work ethic?

This gives us the opportunity to look at how we live our lives by Godly principles. Do we align our lives to match the word of God? How are we doing at living Biblically?

I want to begin to look at the reading from Peter. To give us some context, Peter is writing about our new life in Christ. Earlier in chapter 2 he tells his readers that they are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, privileged to fellowship with God. He wants to prepare them that they are called to lowly service. Even though we are God’s royal people we are also called to be servants. We should have same attitude as Jesus who said, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mk 10:45

Called as Children of the Light, Christians are free. Our freedom, however, binds us to our calling. We are free in our bondage to God. The dark blindness of sin and selfishness has been crushed, broken and taken away. So we are free to love. We are free to honor unbelievers as God’s creatures and to respect the role of authority given to each one.

It probably sounds like this section from Peter is going against the grain; it might feel like it rubs the wrong way. Peter call the believers, “Sojourners and exiles” as though earth is not our home. We should think of Abraham who was promised a home and was like a pilgrim, who never had a permanent residence. In verses 11-12, Peter is encouraging us to exhibit good conduct in all that we do so that when they “see your good deeds they will glorify God.” [because Jesus is coming soon.]

The next section has to do with submission to authorities God has placed over you. ‘“Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing right you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. 16 Live as free men, yet without using your freedom as a pretext for evil; but live as servants of God. 17 Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.”

God has established a general principle of submission and He has established different institutions to help give order to our lives. So He has set up governments, and families, a means of commerce and business to help make our lives, safe and productive and to give us a platform to witness. We are to recognize that in their general character such institutions are in harmony with God’s will for ordering human life. So Christians for the Lord’s sake should be outstanding citizens. For the Lord’s sake, means we voluntarily, deliberately chose to submit to that authority--not because you have to but they freely choose to be submissive.

For the Lord’s sake provides the proper Christian motive to work hard, or be a good citizen. There are three possible applications to the motive: 1. Because as Christians we recognize such institutions as being divinely ordained; therefore, our submission is directed to the Lord not the institution per se. 2. Because as Man, the Lord Himself was submissive, therefore we ought to follow his example. 3. In order to commend Christ to others we want to behave in a way that doesn’t bring reproach on His name, or blemish His glory.

This teaching was extremely unique. Consider, Christians are called to serve others, go the extra mile, to suffer injustice without demanding their rights, knowing they have an assured status before God, and that He will vindicate them at last.

So, Peter is saying the King was chosen by God, his representatives, governors and other officials act on his behalf, with the knowledge, or understanding that God expects them to carry out certain functions. The King, the government will judge between right and wrong and punish those who do evil. They will also publicly commend and reward those who do well. It would follow that the civil government is responsible not only for the citizens material well being, but also for their moral well being. This can only be promoted and preserved if vice is punished and virtue is encouraged.

Verse 16, “Live as free men, yet without using your freedom as a pretext for evil; but live as servants of God.” Here again is the emphasis that you have been set free from sin, you are a Child of the Light, a member of God’s holy family, so don’t use that position as a cover for wrongdoing. Be thankful you have job. Work as unto the Lord.

Next, let’s look at verse 17, “Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” Honor all men, is like show respect with those whom you work with or meet on the job, treat them right. Love the brotherhood is a reference to showing love and honor to other believers but more directly the church where you worship. Fear God, remember from Proverbs, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Notice it doesn't say, fear the emperor, but to honor and esteem the emperor.

We will close this section with verses 18-20
"Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to the kind and gentle but also to the overbearing. 19 For one is approved if, mindful of God, he endures pain while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it, if when you do wrong and are beaten for it you take it patiently? But if when you do right and suffer for it you take it patiently, you have God’s approval.”

Servants, here means members of a household, domestic servants, including freemen as well as slaves. The word for masters is a very strong expression for complete ownership and power. Having said that, masters are recognized by two types, some are good and gentle, or considerate and the other type was crooked and perverse or unfair, and awkward to deal with.

Peter encourages uncomplaining persistence in submissive loyalty even when it involves the painful endurance of unjust treatment. He says there is no advantage to patiently suffer when you were in the wrong. Twice Peter brings God’s Grace to bear on a worker's attitude and effort. God looks with favor or grace upon one who patiently endures unjust treatment and in verse 20, “You have God’s approval” or favor, or a gracious thing.

Our vocation is an opportunity to give honor to God and that is a very important thing! How we go about our work can be a positive light that points to the glory and Grace of God! We can worship God at work: and I’m not suggesting singing and preaching and you have experienced today, but by the attitude of your heart and giving the day to the Lord, thinking of Jesus as you work, offering prayers for strength, or discernment, and thanking God when you finish a task or seal a deal. Let the joy of the Lord be in you and radiate out from you as you go about your work. If you are retired, or unemployed, much of the same attitude should apply to how you go through your day.

Give thanks to the Lord for the productive work that filled up much of your life, or for the job that is one prayer away. Then let the power of God’s grace bless you!

Grace and Peace be multiplied to you,
Doug Hasty

Sermon Recap August 13, 2017
“Do You Need a Break Through?”
Jeremiah 33:1-9

Here in Jeremiah 33:3 We have a great call to prayer! Here is the Lord inviting you and me to call on Him. “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things.” What a privilege you and I have to approach the King of the universe in prayer. He invites you to Call to him, when He sees you need a break through! Maybe you are stuck in a rut. Maybe you are overwhelmed and plagued by some heavy burden--then you need a break through! The “Breakthrough” comes when we call to him, when we pray believing His word is true: Pray and I will answer you.

Let’s look at the prophet Jeremiah. God called him to be a prophet during hard times, and he had a hard message to hear. God wanted Jeremiah to point out the King’s and the people's unfaithfulness, and disobedience. As you might imagine, they didn’t want to hear it. Jeremiah was beaten and thrown into prison, people despised him for his words and his message. He was discouraged, and his spirit was low. God knew Jeremiah needed to hear good news. He needed something to lift up his soul.

Let’s take a moment and compare what was happening in Jeremiah’s day and what is going on today. The similarities might surprise you.

Jeremiah was a prophet for 42 years from 626-585 B.C. During that time there was:

1. Widespread idolatry.

Jeremiah 2:5-6, This is what the Lord says: “What fault did your ancestors find in me, that they strayed so far from me? They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves. 6 They did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord, who brought us up out of Egypt and led us through the barren wilderness.” Likewise, there is widespread idolatry in the United States. Our idolatry might be expressed in that we worship stuff, materialism. We worship status. I could name pleasure, escapism. People worship everything except the One True God, including worship of self.

2.Rampant Immorality

Jeremiah 6:15, “Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when I punish them,” says the Lord.” It’s pretty bad that when people were confronted with shameful immoral acts they didn’t even know how to blush. Blushing is like a reflexive action. Today, they say 1⁄3 of all Americans have an STD. 20 million new cases are reported every year.

3.Unparalleled Military Decline

The Kings of Judah had allowed the military to dwindle to the point they were no match for the Chaldeons. The Chaldeons invaded Judah and broke through their lines as early as 588 BC. Jerusalem and the Temple fell in 586 BC. The King allowed the military to shrink because he didn't want to spend the money on extra troops. He wanted the tax money to be spent on him.

The United States military picture has changed since the breakup of the Soviet-bloc countries; the perceived need of our military strength has changed. Some experts claim that we don't have the assets on hand to deal with two major offensives at the same time. It will take years to crank out new ships, planes and tanks etc.

4.The Failure of God's Spokesmen

The prophets and priests spoke what the people wanted to hear. Jeremiah 5:30-31, “An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule at their direction; my people love to have it so, but what will you do when the end comes?”

5. Judah experienced total societal collapse.

Back to Jeremiah, he was discouraged and the Lord knew it. For a second time while in prison the LORD speaks to Jeremiah. Yahweh, spoke to him once, but didn't tell him all that he wanted him to hear. The Lord desires people who are looking up to Him. People who are reaching out to Him. People leaning towards Him and listening!

This is one reason prayer is so important! We can learn from Jeremiah that we need to slow down and listen for what God wants us to hear, or what he wants to show us! What does the verse say? “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”

Do you want a break through? Call on God, and listen to Him, for he promises to answer. Listen for Him until He reveals some hidden thing. God wants you to trust in Him, and he will show some insight, or reveal the next step of His plan.

To encourage Jeremiah during a time that he has only seen rejection of his message, and the king and nobles down to the common person live as though God’s Word was impotent and that The Lord was powerless to do anything about it. Now the Lord would reveal the restoration of Israel and Judah. Things that will happen and come true in the future.

The Babylonians surrounded Jerusalem and began to cut off their supply lines, they taunted and harassed them for months, until they overpowered the city, ransacked the city and set it on fire. The Temple was destroyed and thousands of people died, and thousands more were exiled to Babylon, including Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.

It would be easy to be overwhelmed by the circumstances--and that is why the Lord said to Jeremiah, “Call to me and I will answer, ...” In the book of Jeremiah the LORD had pronounced that the exile would last 70 years listen to Jeremiah 29:10-11, 10 This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (NIV)

Now let's look at what God promises for the future here in chapter 33, beginning verse 6: Behold, that is, God wants your attention, as he speaks he is referring to Jerusalem and Israel. God promises a future of health and healing, security and prosperity and joy--that far exceeds the present death and terror, deprivation and sorrow. No matter what you are going through right now, God's future for you will be filled with His joy. 10 times better than what you can imagine! This vision is pronounced for both Judah and Israel and it includes a word of divine forgiveness. God is good--all the time!

The false prophets spoke of security and prosperity but denied that Babylon would defeat them. Jeremiah pleaded with the people to repent and come back to the One true God. God used the Babylonians as his instrument to get their attention. They refused to heed the Word of the LORD and for their disobedience they were led into exile. God is the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow. I believe that we the church are in the in between time. We know the promises are future, but our current reality would suggest that the church needs to be the church now more than ever. We need to be the kind of church that is offering our community the love of Christ, and building relationships among one another so as to bear one another’s burdens, forgiving each other and demonstrating grace and mercy. A time will come when we will need to huddle together to feel the support, to know you have someone to call at 2 am and they will come to you and listen and put their arms around you and you will know you are not alone; and you be encouraged by their prayers and the Word of God. We are made stronger by knowing the amazing, wonderful, exciting future God has planned for us. By knowing where we are going and having faith and confidence in that future can help us through our trials today. Call on Him, and tell God the breakthrough that you need? Call to Him and listen for the answer--then let the vision of the future change how you see today. This isn’t pie in the sky empty promises! God has promised--follow him, obey his prescribed methods, trust in his word and you will experience God breaking through in new and marvelous ways to impact your life.

Know who you are, and know where you are going.

About two weeks ago I heard a message on the radio, I don't know who was talking, I would like to close with this story they told: It seems Reverend Billy Graham was invited to a special banquet in his honor. Because of health concerns he was reluctant to come. The planners of the banquet persuaded him to come by promising him he wouldn't have to prepare a big elaborate speech; they just wanted to have an opportunity to show their appreciation and gratitude.

So the night of the banquet came. There were many lovely speeches and wonderful accolades for Billy Graham’s faith and witness. When the speeches were all finished, he decided to share a few words. He came to the podium and said, “I'm reminded of a story about Albert Einstein. Einstein was on a train going to a certain destination so that he could receive an award. He saw the conductor punching tickets. He reached into the front breast pocket of his jacket, no ticket. He looked in the other inside pocket, then the other pockets on the jacket. By the time the conductor came and asked for the ticket, Albert Einstein was searching his briefcase-no ticket. The conductor said, ‘Dr Einstein, I know who you are. I know you are an honest, upright man. You wouldn't be on this train if you didn't buy a ticket. You don't have to show me a ticket. Dr. Einstein said that was very kind and gracious of him. The conductor moved to other passengers, when he got to the door, he looked back and now Albert Einstein was down on his hands and knees frantically looking for his ticket. So, the conductor went back and said, “Dr. Einstein, we know who you are-- you don't have to show me a ticket!” Dr. Einstein looked up from the floor and said, “I know who I am, I don't know where I am going.”

Billy Graham said, “My family thought I was getting a little slovenly in my old age, so I went and bought a new suit (I will wear it twice) for this occasion, and for me to be buried in. Then he said with confidence, “Tonight, I know who I am. And I know where I am going!” Do you?

May God richly bless you,
You are loved,
Doug Hasty

Sermon Recap August 6, 2017

Hi Everyone, 
I was privileged to go on vacation to see family in Texas, we left on Friday July, 28, and came
home on Sunday, August 6. I would like to share some thoughts from my daily devotional book, “In God We Still Trust,” by Dr. Richard G. Lee

Taking Risks
“Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14 Persian King Ahasuerus had made a decree that if carried out would bring the destruction of all the Jews living in the empire. But God used Queen Esther to prevent the king’s deadly plan. Although God’s name is not mentioned even once in the book of Esther, His influence and character are evident throughout: By His intervention the orphaned Jewish girl Esther becomes queen of Persia. In spite of great personal risk, Esther and her cousin Mordecai serve as God’s agents to bring deliverance to His people. The victory of Ester’s fear of God over her fear o man results in freedom for her people.

American journalist Robert Parry has noted: “From Lexington Green to the Normandy beaches, from the Sons of Liberty to the Freedom Riders, it has been part of the American narrative that risks are taken to expand freedom, not freedoms sacrificed to avoid risk.” Over the 200 plus years of the American republic, liberty has been protected only by the sacrifices of men and women who “more than self their country loved,” as the patriotic hymn reminds us. Patriot’s Prayer: “Lord God, be at work in my heart so that I will have the courage to take risks for You and Your kingdom work. When I have the opportunity, may my courage be rooted in my knowledge of You and my motivation be my commitment to serve You as Lord. Patriot’s Promise: “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Psalm 118:6.

Grace and peace be multiplied to you,
Doug Hasty
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Sermon Recap July 23, 2017

 
"Is Your Confidence In the Lord?"
Psalm 37:1-7

I would like to say more about being a Disciple of Jesus Christ. Discipleship is a day by day walk with the Lord, learning to trust in Him. In any lasting relationship trust is a necessity. Today I want to explore what it might mean to trust God.

The key verse I want to look at is verse 3: “Trust in the LORD, and do good...”
Trust in the LORD, trust is to “lean on, rely upon, have confidence in.” So I ask the question?
“Is Your Confidence In the LORD?” Now before you answer that, I want to tell you who the LORD is. In the Scriptures whenever you have the word LORD all in capitals, that is God’s name, Yahweh! David is exhorting us to trust in Yahweh!

When I hear the word “Yahweh” I think of Moses and the burning bush. You know, take off your sandals, you are on holy ground--Yahweh! Moses wanted some assurance for the mission God had given him, so he asked, “What is your name?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” Yahweh is the “Great I am!” With a powerful outstretched arm Yahweh redeemed the people of Israel from the power of Egypt. Yahweh divided the Red Sea and held the waters back with the power of His breath; then the Israelites walked on dry ground to safety.

Yahweh is a powerful God, he caused the walls of Jericho to come crashing down. He saved Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from the fiery furnace. He stopped up the mouths of hungry lions when Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den. He gave David’s rock deadly aim
when he faced the giant Goliath.

This is God, Yahweh who speaks then acts for the good of his chosen ones. Do you trust in the LORD? Yahweh has a certain way about Him. When you watch someone you know, you recognize they have a certain way about them. Maybe they are high energy, a warm out- going personality--you like to be around them. Yahweh has a way about Him, His holiness, his moral purity and integrity always show up so that you know, he speaks the truth, what He says, he will do, what he says will always happen. He has to be true to His character. That is why I can say God loves you; because God is love. God loves you with an unconditional love; you can’t earn his love so that he will love you more than he does right now, and no matter what you do you can’t lose his love. No matter what sin you commit, or how many times you do it, God will not love you less than he does right now. God is in love with you!

So let me ask you, do you think you could trust Yahweh? Can you see yourself putting your whole trust in Him? You can trust him to get you through a financial crunch? Or to build a stronger relationship with your daughter, or son? Can you trust him with your health and believe he can heal you? In your mind is God bigger than the problem at work? Whatever the burden you bear, the problem that confronts you every waking moment can you trust the LORD to handle it for you! 

So you have prayed and told God all about your situation, and you are confident that He will act. Now while you are waiting for some change to happen--do good. Open your eyes and the first available thing you see to help someone, the next opportunity to do something good, do it! “Trust in the LORD, and do good...” God is good and he wants His people to do good!

The conviction that God rules the world is the dominate theme of Psalm 37. God is in control. Much of the Psalm is a contrast between what you see in the present reality and what God has promised for His chosen ones in the future. This particular Psalm is future orientated, God is acting soon, Jesus is coming back soon. Your situation is going to change.

I think it is helpful to know that in the Psalms there are often times two groups of people tha are opposed to each other. For example, in Psalm 1, verse one, The man that is blessed b God does not seek the counsel of the wicked, but his delight is in the law of the LORD. As you read in the Psalms you will notice references to the righteous and the evil doers or the wicked. In Psalm 37 God’s chosen people are called the “Meek,” the “upright,” the “blameless,” and the “righteous.”

I know it sounds harsh to refer to a group of people as the”wicked” or “evil-doers” or the “ungodly”. In the Psalms they are people who do not follow Yahweh. God is not very high on their priorities and they seldom if ever think about consulting what God might want them to do in their circumstances. That isn’t to say that they don’t have a conscience, or that you would never see them do a nice thing for a neighbor or a co-worker. 

Picking up from last week: a Disciple would “trust in the LORD, and do good..” You would go about your business, wanting to be a growing Disciple. Remember our definition of a Disciple: “In response to God’s loving invitation a Disciple is a follower of Jesus Christ who is committed to Being part of the body of Christ; Becoming more like Jesus; and Joining Jesus in ministry. Keep that in mind as we move forward through the Psalm

“Fret not yourself because of...” A key question this first section [ vs.1-11] ask is When you see the evil- doer get a promotion, or you hear that they won $5,000 from the lottery--How are you supposed to react? Why does it sometimes seem that the wicked prosper, when God’s people struggle to get by?

David, the Psalmist says, “Fret not yourself...” Don’t fret. To fret is to be anxious, or worry, or preoccupied. In section 1, verses 1-11 Fret not occurs 3 times, verse 1 and vs. 7 and again in vs.8. Let’s read verse 8,“Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.” Verse 8 is describing someone who is really worked up about it! Your anger is getting worked up, you are steamed, red in the face and contemplating some kind of violent action. Then that last part is a warning: When you fret and stew about it long enough it lead you to evil. You will do something that is wrong, and something that you will regret

The point is Christ’s Followers should not react to the “evil-doers with their own weapons. We should not play their games. Instead, we should cultivate faithfulness and do good. Do the things that keep you connected to God’s people, and develop your confidence in the LORD. Confidence in God will begin to show you the promises of God. Our confidence is made strong when we know who holds the future!

The LORD assures us the flourishing of the wicked is only temporary. “They will soon fade like the grass. But the promise of this section is that there is a just outcome for God’s people: verse 11, “But the meek shall possess the land, and delight themselves in abundant prosperity.” Jesus picked up this promise in the Beatitudes, Matthew 5:5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” That is part of our Trust and Confidence--God is looking out for you. In this passage the righteous will be vindicated- it will be visible so people can see it, it will be in the light, as in the noon day bright sun.

The contrast in this Psalm between the present and the future helps provide a way to understand the imperative exhortations: (Fret not... and Trust in the LORD, Take delight, Commit your way) and the attached promises. The people of God live their lives not on the basis of present appearances or perceived reality-- but based on what God has promised for the future. God’s coming Kingdom and ultimate triumph fill us with faith and hope. I am reminded of 2 Corinthians 4:17, “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!” NLT.

Let’s read verse 8,“Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.”

Verse 8 is describing someone who is really worked up about it! Your anger is getting worked up, you are steamed, red in the face and contemplating some kind of violent action. Then that last part is a warning: When you fret and stew about it long enough it lead you to evil. You will do something that is wrong, and something that you will regret

The point is Christ’s Followers should not react to the “evil-doers with their own weapons. We should not play their games. Instead, we should cultivate faithfulness and do good. Do the things that keep you connected to God’s people, and develop your confidence in the LORD. Confidence in God will begin to show you the promises of God. Our confidence is made strong when we know who holds the future!

The LORD assures us the flourishing of the wicked is only temporary. “They will soon fade like the grass. But the promise of this section is that there is a just outcome for God’s people: verse 11, “But the meek shall possess the land, and delight themselves in abundant prosperity.” Jesus picked up this promise in the Beatitudes, Matthew 5:5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” That is part of our Trust and Confidence--God is looking out for you. In this passage the righteous will be vindicated- it will be visible so people can see it, it will be in the light, as in the noon day bright sun.

The contrast in this Psalm between the present and the future helps provide a way to understand the imperative exhortations: (Fret not... and Trust in the LORD, Take delight, Commit your way) and th attached promises. The people of God live their lives not on the basis of present appearances or perceived reality-- but based on what God has promised for the future. God’s coming Kingdom and ultimate triumph fill us with faith and hope. I am reminded of 2 Corinthians 4:17, “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!” NLT.

Trust in the LORD, vs 4, Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Take delight, here, delight carries the idea of God’s provision of resources for your life. God’s providence can be trusted. Vs. 5 Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. Here we have the imperative exhortation to Commit our way to the Lord, and the promise is Yahweh will act!

In the Psalms, faith and hope are inseparable and they both imply and expectation of something to happen. To live with an eye to the future, eschatologically means not only to live for the future but also to live by the future. Living by faith and hope has a profound impact on the present in terms of emotions and behavior. As people rooted and grounded in a faith in God we are not ruled by our feelings. I’m not feeling inspired today so I won’t have my private time with God. I don’t feel very close to Jesus, so I’ll just do my own thing. I’m feeling mad at the world so I don’t have to help anyone.

No our response is Fret not yourself... Trust in the LORD, and do good... Do good not because you will be blessed, but because you will be drawn closer to the LORD! Trust in the LORD, and prove to yourself that God’s word is true. You will be amazed

May God bless you,
Doug Hasty
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Sermon Recap July 16, 2017

"Do You Want to Go Fishing?"
Matthew 4:17-22          

God has a sense of humor, after all He invented fishing. There were two people...

 First: This theory about fish being brain food is all nonsense."

 Second: Why do you say so?"

     First: "Because the greatest number of fish are eaten by the very people who are dumb enough to sit out all day waiting for them to bite."
Do you want to go Fishing? Or do you just want to go catching?

It has been awhile since I have gone fishing. It was a pretty big thing in our family when I was growing up. We would take day trips to the lake with Grandpa & Grandma.  As a kid it was pretty exciting, digging for worms, and my brother and I would practice casting for two days before we went.  There is something special about catching that first fish of the day.  It doesn’t matter the size, it could be a bluegill or a catfish--it really feels good to reel it in.

Now before I go to the Fishing story about catching fishermen I want to share some information. Bishop Ruben Saenz said when he was elected Bishop of the Great Plains Annual Conference he was given a report card.  He wished he could say it was filled with A’s, It wasn’t, it indicated that there are some strengths and good resources, but it also indicated that there is some serious work to do.

Here are a few highlights from the report he passed on to us was from 2015.  In 2015 there were 1030 churches in the Great Plains Annual Conference: the breakdown is as follows: 612 churches average less than 50 in worship, 216 churches average between 50-99, 121 churches average attendance is 100-199, Cheney UMC so far this year is averaging 136; 81 churches average 200-- and above. In 2015 averaging all the churches attendance on any given Sunday only 40 % of the members attended weekly worship. Membership is declining, Sunday School is declining, and in the last two years looking at the whole annual conference there were 30% fewer small groups than in 2014.

I’m not meaning to depress you or make you feel guilty.  I do want to let you know our Bishop is leading us to reclaim our mission field, there is good reason for the Cheney UMC to be on this corner for 134 years. He wants to help every church empower the Laity for ministry and service-- together we can be the hands and feet of Jesus and make a tremendous impact in our community. Together you are a powerful resource, your potential has not yet been realized. We don’t know yet what all God can and will do through us.

Nothing has the potential to impact our world for good like the local church! I love the church; I love this local church.  I know I don’t say it enough, but I love all of you.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, so Jesus chose to create the church, to proclaim His message, carry out his love and demonstrate what the abundant life could look like for those who join him in ministry.

Healthy things grow. Jesus desires for you to grow and for the congregation to grow more than you realize. Jesus’ plan for you is bigger than what we are now experiencing. (It’s bigger.)  The focus on growth for any church is not for growth’s sake; rather, for the sake of being effective in our mission and vision of reaching people who need to know the love of Christ in their lives.  What is our redemption potential?

Church growth is important because the world is at its best when the church is at its best! (the world is at its best when the church is at its best!)

Jesus came to the shores of Galilee with some serious fishing to do. Can you imagine Jesus getting excited to go fishing for his 12 disciples?  Now this is going to be fun!  12 individuals, some were brothers, some fishermen, a tax collector, political zealots, different personalities, and different temperaments-- bringing them all together to work closely with him for a great mission, for the greatest cause the world has ever known!


First he saw Simon, who we know as Peter, and his brother Andrew.  They were professional fishermen, that was their trade, and they were busy casting a net into the sea. Our key verse is #19, “And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’” For many of you this is a familiar verse.  I want to unpack this verse. This verse is more than Jesus calling Peter and Andrew to be his disciples.  There are three things from this verse that are of great importance to the church.  There are three things Jesus was inviting them to do: #1. Follow me, Jesus said. It was an invitation to join him, to make a commitment to being a follower. Jesus wants you to join the body of Christ. To follow implies a declared decision, a movement or a change.

#2. Jesus said, “I will make you”.  Jesus was going to teach them. What he wanted them to learn was how to imitate him, how to be like him.

#3. Jesus invites them to be “fishers of men.”  In other words he invites them to join him in his ministry!

Peter and Andrew dropped everything and followed him. It doesn’t even say they pulled in the net, hauled in their catch or anything! “Immediately they left.” Jesus, Peter and Andrew now go on down the shore line and they come upon the sons of Zebedee, James and John.  They were in a boat, mending their nets.  This time it just says, “he called them. Immediately they left the boat, and their father, and followed him.” Now slow down, what were Peter and Andrew doing? They were grinning, waving, jumping up and down, “Come on! Come join us, this is going to be great!”

They were excited to follow Jesus!  This was going to be life changing! Life altering! They gave up a lot! They walked away from their careers, spent a lot of time away from their family. Their routine and everything they knew for certain was going to change. And their lives and the message they shared, changed the world!

Jesus is still calling people to follow him.  It might not be to drop what you are doing, give up everything, leave your job and leave your family--but he is calling you and me to be the church!

You are called to be a Disciple. Here is the definition I would like for you to consider:
     In response to God’s loving invitation:
          A Disciple is a follower of Jesus Christ who is committed to: 
          
Being part of the Body of Christ and becoming more like Jesus and Joining Jesus in Ministry.
That is the definition I would lift up.  And I would add these points: Discipleship is not just about learning about Jesus. It is about becoming like Jesus.  Discipleship is not just about education. It is about transformation.  Discipleship is not just about gaining knowledge. It is about changed behaviors.                 

I am looking forward to a time when people will be drawn to our fellowship, because they encounter people who are living as Disciples of Jesus Christ.  The easiest way for me to illustrate it is to see people living the abundant life.  I long to see you living in the joy of your salvation, where your life is characterized by peace in spite of your circumstances, your faith gives you a bold spirit and your generosity reveals a great love and sense of compassion. In John chapter 10,vs 10 Jesus said, “I came that you might have life and have it abundantly.”  I would pray that all of us would desire to experience the abundant life that Jesus wants to give you!  What I’m trying to say is that when people watch you and observe what you do and how you respond, and then they say, “I want what you’ve got.”  That’s the net that I am throwing out today, believing in a big catch!  I’m not there yet, but God is working on me how about you?  Does your life have that quality that people want what you have got?

Can you believe that the mission and ministry of the Cheney United Methodist Church is moving into something bigger and better than anything we have ever done?  Stop looking back!  Our best days are still ahead of us! Our vision is forward.  God is doing something now!  God is stirring in the hearts of people to try new things, dream bigger, believe with your whole heart and walk by faith!

Are you excited to follow Jesus? Don’t you want to be there for the next big catch?  The challenge is big enough it’s going to take all of us. Don’t you see the twinkle in Jesus’ eye-- as He calls us to follow Him. He knows we are in for a fun ride!  Won’t you step up and come along?

Peace and grace to you with the blessings of God,
Doug Hasty

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July 9, 2017 Sermon Recap

Genesis 3:1-13
“Would You Like to Live In a Garden Called Paradise?”

Sometimes in the Summer I wished I lived in a garden where the temperature never got warmer than 85 degrees, with a cool breeze and all kinds of fresh food to eat. Would anybody like to join me in this garden?

Now I want you to appreciate what the Garden of Eden might have been like. Remember it never rained until you get to the story of Noah, so some scholars think that there was a canopy over the Garden and that it was watered by underground springs and a heavy morning dew. Life was easy, grab a cluster of grapes, raspberries, and cherries and may be some apples and blueberries and crawl back into a hammock.

Life was less complicated no clock to punch, no appointments to keep, no bad news blasting in your ears every half hour.

Then Paradise was lost!

Genesis 3 is one of the most important chapters in the Bible. It is the foundation of everything that comes after it. Without it, little else in Scripture or in life itself would make sense. Genesis 3 explains the condition of the universe and the state of humanity. It explains why the world has so many problems. It helps explain why bad things happen to good people. It explains why we need a Savior. In other words the truth revealed in Genesis 3 is the necessary foundation for a true and accurate world view.

Because of sin, nothing in creation including humanity now exists as God originally intended. “For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. (Romans 8:20-21). When God created the earth and the plants and the trees, the birds of the air and all animals God said, “This is good!” And when God created Adam and Eve on the the sixth day, God said, “This is very good!” However, the good creation filled with good creatures intended to live in the presence of God forever, now groans with pain and suffering. What happened?

Genesis 3 begins with the words: “The serpent was more cunning than any beast...” By comparing scripture with scripture, we learn that the serpent was really Satan masquerading as a snake like creature.

Let's look for a moment at 2 Corinthians 11:3, “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent‘s cunning, your mind may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” Then a few verses later in vs. 14, “For Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.”

Another name for Satan is Lucifer, which means, “shining one.” Lucifer was created as one of the cherubim whose role was to lead heavenly worship. In fact he may have been the highest ranking of the archangels.

Lucifer became full of pride and intended to usurp the throne of God. It is said when the devil was kicked out of heaven he took a third of the angels with him.

Satan appears on the scene ready to use all of his tools of deception. We might think that it sounds odd that Eve doesn’t seem alarmed or confused that a snake would talk to her. In fact that is when the trouble begins, because of Eve’s curiosity.
 
Satan's primary tool is to lie and twist the truth, for he is the father of lies (John 8:44). Satan presents Eve with a dilemma. “Has God really said?” His question casts doubt on the Word of God. The thrust of all temptation is to cast doubt and subject it to human judgment. Are you sure that's what God said? Maybe that's not what God meant!

Satan's question ignored the positives of God's creation and stressed the negative. Satan placed the emphasis on the freedom to disobey instead of the blessings of obedience. Satan's strategy was to lie. Satan's questions were intended to create doubt and portray God as narrow, strict, limiting and depriving. Satan's plan was to make human freedom apart from God to sound more appealing than the freedom that was in the Garden. Satan tried to allure Eve by getting her to think that she could become equal to God if she would eat from the tree of knowledge.

Nothing has changed in all these years Satan's strategy is still to tempt us to sin, and get us to disobey God. James 1:13-15 says that God cannot be tempted but that we can be tempted and drawn away from God by our desires. That happened to Eve. Sin in the mind goes to work in the emotions. That stirs up the will which then yields to the act of sin.

Today I brought an apple with me, the apple has been used before to represent the forbidden fruit; though I don’t believe it was an apple; because I have eaten my share of apples and they haven’t made me any smarter! Look at it, nice and red, juicy, and full or large enough to fill my hand. Doesn’t it look tempting?

Don’t you wish you could have one?

Eve saw three features about the forbidden fruit, which made it, seem desirable and that enticed her.
     1. It look good to eat--”the tree was good for food.”
     2. It was beautiful to look at--”it was pleasant to the eyes.”
     3. It was appealing to her intellectual appetite-- “a tree desirable to make one wise.”

So Eve was seduced by the “lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” As doubt and desire grew in Eve the inevitable happened--she sinned and then invited Adam to join her, which he did. Eve was deceived and Adam disobeyed God deliberately. Sin entered humanity through Adam who is blamed for the fall. Adam’s sin came from disobedience and caused not an immediate death, but separation from the presence of God; they were kicked out of the Garden. Ever since then we have been trying to regain what was lost but we can’t. In our own strength and power we can’t bridge the gap, we can’t get across the chasm of separation!

It would be tragic if the story ended with no way for us to ever be reconciled to God. No way to ever regain the trust and harmony and peace that was lost. But God, (But God) extends His love to you and me and offers us the promise and hope of a Redeemer.

Now catch this: God said to Satan: I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Gen. 3:15

A descendant of Eve would strike a death blow to Satan, all the while the snake would only bite the heel of Jesus--it wouldn’t be fatal. Jesus Christ represents the seed of the woman like no one else ever could.

Jesus defeated Satan by being obedient to the Father’s will, obeying every command, and following every word of instruction. Jesus lived a perfect live, and he became the perfect sacrifice on the cross willingly dying in your place that sin and death could be conquered and secure your salvation. As Jesus died with his arms stretched out on the cross, his perfect life and love for you enables him to bridge the gap of separation and now we can come to Father God in perfect harmony.

I have Good News! There is a way back to Paradise, the perfect Garden and perfect relationship with God that will last forever! Jesus wants you to know his love, trust his way, and experience harmony with him that makes life smooth! Don’t you want to get back to Paradise? We may not be there yet, but there are signs that He is coming soon In the Christian life we live in the mystery of the already and the not yet.
 
Already you are called a Child of God if you have been adopted into the family, sealed by the Holy Spirit and saved by grace; but not yet do we fully realise our inheritance and our place in God’s kingdom and fullness of God’s blessings!. Even now it’s not too late; Jesus said in his letters to the seven churches: “

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” Won’t you open the door for Jesus to have peace, knowing your sins are forgiven, joy for your salvation and a place in Paradise, harmony because Jesus walks with you every day. Peace, Joy, Love and Harmony with God what more could you want?

Grace and peace to you,
Doug Hasty
 

July 2, 2017 Sermon Recap

 Matthew 9:35-10:1-8a
“Is the King Calling You?” 

The American Revolution has been on my mind all this week. I was thinking Jesus was setting out a campaign to “preach the gospel through the whole region of Galilee and then to move to Judea. You could say, Jesus wanted to start a Revolution—not to overthrow a government, but to change the human heart. This was a huge task and would take a lot of people committed to the vision. So he went out and recruited 12 Minutemen, and eventually he had a small militia of about 70 men. Of course I’m talking about the 12 disciples and the 70 that Luke records that Jesus matched them in two’s and sent them to preach in the nearby villages.

MINUTEMEN were citizen soldiers in the American colonies who volunteered to fight the British at a "minute's" notice during the years before the American Revolution. The most famous minutemen were those who figured in the battles at Lexington and Concord, though minutemen militias were organized in other New England colonies as well. The Minutemen were for the most part, people of faith, and deeply committed to the ideas of a free and independent nation. They were ready to defend their family and property and the cause they believed in.

Now I have to admit, Jesus didn’t take the disciples and make them go through Basic Training. He never taught them how to march on a Parade Field, and he didn’t make them polish their sandals. But, he did train them. He trained them when he said, “Follow me” as they watched and observed all that he did; when he pulled them aside and taught the meaning of a parable. He was training them as he taught them the Scriptures. He let them see many healings, and casting out demons, he calmed the raging sea; and all the while he was building their faith.

He was helping them discover who he is, and that they could trust him and they could believe more about God than they had experienced before..

I like what Matthew does in his Gospel. Back in Matthew 4:23 he tells us what Jesus was doing. “ And he went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every infirmity among the people.” Matthew tell us four things that Jesus was doing: He went about, he got out. He went to where the people were. He was teaching and his starting point was the synagogue. He was preaching the gospel of the kingdom. And number 4, he was healing. Jesus healed the people of every disease and every infirmity; that is very impressive.

Next, Matthew takes chapters 5, 6 and 7 (the Sermon on the Mount) to give us an example of his teaching. Then chapters 8 and 9 are a combination of healings and demonstrations of the power that belongs to Jesus, calming a raging storm and restoring life to a dead girl. Praise the Lord! Then Matthew 9:35 restates almost word for word what we read back in 4:23, Let me read it here, “ And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every infirmity.” It’s like two bookends and Jesus is now, ready to do something new.

But I have to ask this question: Jesus came to teach them about the gospel of the kingdom; they were the chosen One’s descendants of Abraham, didn’t they already know about the kingdom? Was something of the Kingdom missing in their lives and in their experience? Jesus came from God’s kingdom, and he could tell them of great things. He knows all there is to know about the kingdom. He had a way of showing them there is more to life than this reality. Is something missing in your life? Do you know that Jesus came that you might have life, and live it to the fullest? Is God’s life filling you fully? Do you need a new reality?

Matthew records for us: “36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” When Jesus saw the crowds his heart was moved because he knew the Father had planned something better for them. The Greek phrase, “he had compassion on them,” is a very strong word, it means to “be moved in his guts.” He was stirred deep down inside. Jesus was moved to action--he had to do something. I think the church today could be more like Jesus. Now, I’m not singling out the Cheney UMC. I’m saying the collective church could be, should be more like Jesus. We, myself included, we need to feel compassion down in the pit of our stomachs and be moved into action!

The crowds were harassed and helpless...What does that mean? Jesus saw the situation: people were tormented, exhausted and led astray. You could say it is similar to today: people living beyond the margin, over booked and over committed, constantly on the go, bombarded with news and information, who can keep up with technology, or what’s happening in our world, news from health-care legislation, the latest political news and it goes on and on. People are looking for an identity and meaningful purpose for their lives. This is our key motivation for missions, to see the need of those who are perishing outside the kingdom. Motivation comes when you see people harassed by pressures, exhausted by the pace of life, going nowhere, and being led astray by half truths and empty promises.

“The harvest is plentiful,” Jesus said, “but the laborers are few” vs. 37. Notice this, Jesus tells the disciples to pray that the Lord of the harvest would send out volunteers, then in the next verse Jesus sends the Minutemen out on a strategic mission. They were ready and eager! He gives the disciples the authority they need to cast out demons. He gives them authority to cure disease, and he sends them out to find the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Now catch this, Jesus knows that the disciples will experience personal inner growth if they engage in missionary action. They have received enough training it’s time to do something! So Jesus shoves them out and into the public square with the command to proclaim the good news of the kingdom, cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, and cast out demons.

The Minutemen were made of people from all walks of life, some were farmers, merchants, millers, tinsmiths, blacksmiths, bankers, teachers etc. He sent them out to risk their lives for a greater cause! Jesus recruited common folks to help with the Shepherding. Four were fishermen--blue collar workers. Two had Greek names, Philip and Bartholomew, who were probably Diaspora Jews-their families scattered after the Exile and then returned to Israel generations later. Two, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, may have been zealots from Galilee who plotted to disrupt Roman colonial rule. Included in the group was Matthew, a tax collector, Thomas who asked questions, and James and Thaddeus, about whom we know very little. But together they “mutually pledged to each other their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.”

As Jesus sent them out, and later after the resurrection when they would go on their mission--we should remember that when we were baptized or at our confirmation, we were commissioned to the same calling. This very day the King is calling you. It’s a call to arms. The time is urgent! We have work that we can do to help advance the kingdom of God! We also have a message to proclaim and healing work to do.

We have to ask what it might mean to be a harvester and a healer in our setting today. Going into the harvest today is not about making cookie--cutter Christians, people in the same mold who would look like you and talk like you. Going out into the harvest is about meeting people where they are--finding out about them, hearing their stories, feeling their pain. You find out about them and identify their need. Then you respond to them in their pain, in their frustration, and in their lostness; by demonstrating God’s love in personal and tangible ways.

One way to think about it, is what are they hungry for? Try and figure out what is missing in their lives, what needs to be filled, what is aching for satisfaction? Then our job is to take steps to satisfy their hunger in the name of Jesus. Their deepest spiritual need is to connect with Jesus, but they may not respond to that until their hunger need is met.
 
Next, let me point out that sheep without a shepherd are rarely quiet sheep. They can make a lot of obnoxious noise. Sheep without a shepherd are not happy sheep. They are confused and anxious. Sheep without a shepherd are hungry sheep. They need someone to build a relationship with them, so they can trust them, as you attempt to lead them to “green pastures and still waters.”

The calling of the Minutemen was hard work and serious business; but where would our Country be without them? The call to be a disciple is one of the most challenging and difficult task that I know of, but it is necessary and vital to our mission of making disciples for the transformation of the world. In this challenging time that we live in, if we would step up to the call of our King, I can promise you this: You will have the power of the Holy Spirit, the authority to cast out demons, the words to speak about the kingdom of God and the power to heal the sick. In the power of Jesus name, you could touch lives that impact eternity! Jesus is calling you! I can’t imagine a more rewarding and satisfying challenge, will you step up? Will you? And You? And You?

May God Bless You,
Doug Hasty 
 

June 13, 2017 Sermon Recap

The Promise of Presence
John 14: 15-21, 25-27

 

There is so much going on in our world today. If you listen to too much news you could get depressed. So many things seem uncertain. At Annual Conference, Bishop Saenz said, “We have not chosen this day, but we are here. The challenge is big! We are ambassadors of God's great love and faithfulness. We will move forward in unity, hope and love. We are called to proclaim God's love and faithfulness.” That's why I want us to learn how to engage the power of the Holy Spirit--it can keep our hearts calm and overcome our fears. 

I want to set the stage for our Gospel reading in John chapter 14. Back in chapter 13, Jesus demonstrated the heart of a servant by washing the disciples feet. Then he instituted the Lord’s Supper, taking the familiar Passover meal and giving us new symbols for our redemption, that our salvation comes from the personal sacrifice of Jesus laying down his perfect life to pay the penalty for our sin. Judas Iscariot has already left to betray him and turn him over to the guards of the High Priest. 

Jesus’ love and affection for his disciples wants so much to comfort them and shield them from despair that he begins to prepare them for what is coming next. “Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. John 14:1-3

The overall theme of John 14 is: “Let not let your hearts be troubled.” There are some among us that need to hear, Jesus’ love and compassion for you. You are loved. Jesus wants you to receive help and be comforted. “Let not let your hearts be troubled.” Jesus’ answer is believe. You believe in God, believe also in me. Here the simple word believe carries the idea of trust. Put all your weight, all the strength you can muster into the faithfulness of God and the faithfulness of the Word made flesh.

In trust Jesus goes on to tell the disciples that In my Father’s house are many rooms. He is going to prepare a place for them, trust him. Now the biggest goal of every disciple is to dwell in the presence of God forever. I want to live with God forever! (say that with me!) Now let me say it this way. God’s goal for you is to live with Him forever! Do you realize that? When I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

That language is very relational. Jesus and the Father. You and me and Jesus. We are all relating and we are all connected. They were about to face the biggest challenge of their lives, so imagine it like this: Peter might loose his grip on Jesus, but Jesus would never let go of Peter. Jesus is urging the disciples to trust in the faithfulness of God so that when failure comes, when the trials are too difficult they will turn to Jesus for help and not to emptiness and bad choices.

Then my favorite verse of chapter 14, Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.” Jesus is not threatening, or bragging or warning. He simply states the truth. In this one statement, Jesus was summing up what he had already taught the disciples.

This statement brings us to the very center of the Gospel, the Incarnation. We can grasp that Jesus is human, but struggle to fully understand how Jesus can be God. But here in chapter 14, Jesus said, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” (vs.9)

That is a bold radical declaration. We believe that Almighty God Himself--the ultimate “I Am” behind all reality--has spoken for himself in Jesus Christ! If you want to know who God is, take a look at Jesus.

[Karl Barth, a well known theologian, was once asked, “Sir, don't you think God has revealed himself in other religions and not only in Christianity? He answered, “No, God has not revealed himself in any religion, including Christianity. He has revealed himself in his Son. That is it!”]

Let us now focus on what we can learn about the Holy Spirit. “And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever,” With these words Jesus begins to teach the Disciples about the ministry of the Holy Spirit in their lives. The teaching emphasizes the relationship that is already present and real. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” We trust Christ because we love Him, and loving and trusting Him, we follow Him. But the trust relationship has two sides. We trust, but the question that naturally follows is: what does God do? The other side of the relationship is “the Father will give you another Counselor. ..” The Holy Spirit is coming from both the Father and the Son. 

The Greek word translated as “Counselor,” is “parakletos” which means “the one who is called alongside, a companion or counselor. Para, means alongside, and kletos means to call. Parakletos also has the sense of being a Helper, Advocate or Comforter. I like the image of the Comforter, warm and compassionate, understands your feelings and emotions and is there with you. The Holy Spirit, the Comforter connects you with God’s reality. The Holy Spirit, the Comforter all wrapped around you, knows how to give you peace and sees you through troubled times.

Moving on to verse 18, 18 “I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you.” Desolate sounds strange to me the Greek actually means desolate or lonely like an orphan. By this promise Jesus recognized the disciples would feel lost after his crucifixion. As he deals with their fears he promises “I will come to you.” I think Jesus meant they would see him in the resurrection; and that the Holy Spirit would come to dwell in them forever.

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Here we have the intricate relationship of the trinity mentioned, the Counselor, which is the Holy Spirit, given or sent by the Father in the name of Jesus. Here we learn that the Holy Spirit will teach us truth, help us recall things we have learned from Jesus, and help us remember scriptures that you have studied and they will come to you in a timely manner.

Let not let your hearts be troubled.” We don’t have to be troubled because the Holy Spirit is present in us. He has taken up residence in our hearts--and it’s as if Jesus is always with you. So as his last thought, Jesus told the disciples: 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you;” Peace because we are not

alone. Peace because you have the very power of God who dwells inside you. Peace because it is the Promise of Jesus for those whom He has called. Peace because it is one of the fruits the Spirit will grow in you.

There will be troubled times, we know that. But Jesus has made sure that we have resources and power to help see us through trials and challenges. The Comforter, the Holy Spirit will help us overcome. He is the Living presence of Christ in you! Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Grace and peace be with you,
Doug Hasty 


June 4, 2017 Sermon Recap

Pentecost Sunday
Acts 1:4-5, 8 Acts 2:1-4, 14-21

I played a Youtube video: “Sounds of a Tornado”

I hope the sounds of a tornado didn’t scare you or stir up some unpleasant memories. I wanted to use it to give us a fresh sense of the power of God. Jesus told the disciples to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the Promise of the Father. So they are in the upper-room waiting, and praying. “What does God have in store for us? How will our lives change? Will the Promised Holy Spirit make that much difference? What was the promised gift of the Father?

When you look at the Old Testament you will see that the Covenant God made with Israel was constantly being broken. God promised that one day He would make a “New Covenant” with His people. Jeremiah 31: 33 tells us, For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Unlike the Law the New Covenant would be internal instead of external. The prophet Ezekiel tells us God will put His Spirit in our hearts, listen to Ezekiel 36:26-27, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”

Jesus goes on to explain the promise of the Father will be the Holy Spirit indwelling in the hearts of believers, through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. John the Baptist said that the One coming would baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire; in this case fire is understood to be power!

Vs. 2 Suddenly a sound came from heaven, from heaven is an important phrase. The sound was like the rush of a mighty wind. God was putting His power on display. God doesn’t do something halfheartedly! This was power. Pure attention getting power!

That’s not all, there was more. Let me try and present a sense of the precision and providence of God. First. in Acts 1:15, Luke tells us that there were about 120 gathered in the upper room; now that number is significant in that Jewish custom held that the minimum number of men to establish a new community was 120. God was about to do a new thing! Second, the festival of Pentecost was the second harvest festival and it came seven weeks, or 49 days plus one, or 50 days after Passover. It was also said, that God gave Moses the Law on Mt. Sinai at Pentecost 50 days after the Exodus from Egypt. Jewish tradition tell us that on Mt. Sinai God revealed himself in three ways: in a mighty wind, in fire and they heard his voice!

The 120 in the Upper Room experienced these three phenomena (wind, fire and speech) but in a supernatural way. The noise was not wind, but sounded like it; the sight was not fire but resembled it; and the speech was in languages, but not in an ordinary manner. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and with power! Group of 8, share a taste of Pentecost!

The Promise of the Father had arrived! 120 people speaking at once and giving praise and glory to God, “We hear them in our own tongue telling the mighty works of God. Vs. 12, What does this mean? Now to some it might have seemed like confusion--and a small minority supposed that they were drunk. Peter, now emerging as a leader of the Apostles stands up to address the crowd. He tells them, we are not drunk it’s only the 3rd hour of the day--translates to 9:00 am. He is quick to give credit to God as having foretold this would happen by the prophet Joel: 17 ‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams;

Peter’s powerful sermon, announces that with the coming of the Spirit so also the last days have come. The giving of the Holy Spirit was not a sparse sprinkling nor a mere shower but a generous downpour; for the Lord has promised to pour out His Spirit on all, who will believe. Peter was declaring that the Messianic era was upon them and us, that time between the first Advent of Jesus and His second coming, this is the Age of the Spirit and his ministry is one of abundance.

Peter’s message is powerful in that he doesn’t hold back, that God had performed mighty deeds and wonders through Jesus, and everyone agreed, yet they all helped deliver him to be crucified. But God raised him from the dead.

Let me read another portion of his message: Beginning in verse 29, 29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand,35 until I make your enemies your footstool.”’ 36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Peter comes back again to the promise of the Father, Jesus received it from the Father than he poured out the Holy Spirit upon them and made it available to us. Let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ-- the anointed one, the Messiah, this Jesus whom you put to death!

This great crowd was listening and they cried out--they were cut to the heart, Peter, what must we do?

Peter response is beautiful! “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

What does it mean to repent? Repent means to turn away from the sin. Turn and walk away from the wrong in your life. You turn from following your own desires and pleasures and you believe in Jesus. You receive the Holy Spirit by inviting Him into your life and you are filled with the Holy Spirit by submitting to the Holy Spirit. It takes a humble attitude, setting aside your need to be in control and you yield yourself to the Holy Spirit to guide you, teach you, and give you the power to complete a task that God has placed on your heart.

On the Day of Pentecost the Spirit came in such power, touching hearts and changing lives that 3,000 people gave their life for Christ that day. The power of the Holy Spirit is put on display as you read the book of Acts. Story after story, page after page is the retelling of how the Holy Spirit was moving in the lives of people to spread the Gospel and build the church. 
 
The Apostles would have been lost and helpless to pick up the ministry and mission of Jesus Christ without the Holy Spirit. That is also true for you and me. I want you to know the power of the resurrection has not faded, the power that raised Jesus from the dead is unlimited. And God gives us power through the Holy Spirit so that we can carry on the mission of Jesus Christ. Are you ready to engage the power of the Holy Spirit? Have you ever invited the Holy Spirit to baptize you and to come and live and dwell in your heart? Without the Spirit there is no power. Real power to change your heart and transform your life. Won’t you invite Him in? What are you waiting for--The Father wants you to have this gift!

Grace and peace be multiplied to you,

Doug Hasty
 

May 21, 2017 Sermon Recap

"Be Strong and Courageous!"
Joshua 1:1-9.
 
Today is a special day to recognize accomplishments, a goal met, a milestone in your life. You worked hard, and I hope you had some fun and meaningful experiences along the way. Of course you didn’t do it by yourself, your families and especially your parents did their part to help you. I could mention the schools and specific teachers, and coaches and friends, and even the church that have helped, but the one I really want to mention is God. I want you to hear this, “Behold, before you were even born, Jesus could see you walking across the stage to receive your diploma. He already knew you would be here. However hard the struggle and the challenge you have faced, because of His love for you, he was there.
 
If there is one thing I would want to persuade you to believe it is true, it would be this Jesus loves you and he will never leave you! Do you believe it? Do you know from your experience that it is true? If so, one of the great things we celebrate today is that “You are a child of God!” That puts you in God’s family with certain joys, privileges and responsibilities.
 
Let’s look at our passage from the book of Joshua. Joshua worked closely with Moses, I might call him a Lieutenant; someone that Moses helped groom for leadership and someone he could depend on. Joshua was with Moses for 40 years, getting ready to lead, when Moses was gone.
 
When Moses died, the whole nation of Israel mourned his death for 30 days. They cried, and they wept and they cried some more. One of their best leaders ever was gone. Moses lived to be 120 years old and he died.
 
Vs. 2 The Lord said to Joshua, “Moses my servant is dead.” Why did God say that, Joshua knew he was dead, he spent 30 days crying and remembering all the good things Moses did. Why did he need to be told, Moses is dead?
 
Well, Joshua for 40 years always had Moses to lean on, to turn to and help him out of a jam; now he would have to lean on God and trust him. So let me state the obvious: “School is over.” School is over; what does that mean to you? It means you are an adult now, things will change. It may not be obvious until the end of summer, when you go to College, or your friends leave for college and you go to work. You put so much time and energy into something, like school, sports, relationships, a routine and now it’s going to change!
 
Let me make sure everyone is listening; maybe someone you love has died, maybe a job or a long time task is over, a door has been closed, something major in your life has stopped or changed! Listen to what God said to Joshua, “Be strong and courageous.” Three times God said, “Be strong and courageous! Each time he said it with more emphasis and on the third time is this promise: “Yahweh, your God will be with you wherever you go.” God will always be with you.
 
This is what I believe God was saying to Joshua, and some of it applies to you. Moses my servant is dead, and it is up to you to lead this vast number of people into the land I have promised. Be strong--I have looked into your heart and you have the character I am looking for. You might think you are not ready for so great a task, that is why I want you to trust in me. Be courageous--each day I will equip you with what you need to accomplish what I have called you to do. You have gone through the training ground and proven to me that you can do it! I’m not saying it will be a piece of cake, or that you have landed on easy street--the tough lesson we all have to learn is how to walk with God each day.
 
So you have graduated from High School, or College, or you have just been promoted to the 9th Grade and your life is going to change. Maybe your life is changing due to a death, you recently have moved, or you lost a job--whatever your situation, God, the Lord of the universe is saying Be strong and courageous… He has you in his care, he has a plan for you, and he will supply your need, train you and equip you to do what it is that He has entrusted to you. Will you trust Him?
 
Now I want to move in a different direction, to share part of the larger picture of one way to look at the book of Joshua. The 40 year journey through the wilderness can symbolize the life of the unbeliever. The people of Israel wandered aimlessly from place to place, never satisfied, always grumbling and complaining, and never believing or coming to faith, in spite of God’s faithfulness and demonstrations of great power. In contrast the movement to conquer the Promised Land and push out the Canaanites is symbolic of the Christian faith and life. Let me say it more simply: The wilderness represents our life before Christ, you experience discovery, grumbling and rebellion. The Promise Land represents our Salvation; you have to receive it.
 
God was giving Israel the land, it was a free gift. Yet you cannot enjoy the benefits of the land unless you accept it. You have to step into it, you have to exert yourself to reach out and take what God desires to give you.
 
God was telling Joshua to get ready, step up and lead this vast number of people into the Promise Land. No one knew how long it would take? Would it take four years to push out the Canaanites out, or ten or twenty years. To occupy the land would require a military campaign. For a period of years they were constantly engaging the enemy. Our enemy the Devil doesn’t want you to get comfortable in your salvation. He will use weapons like deception, lies, vain philosophies and the allurement of worldly pleasures to trip you up. If you are moving on to college or a trade school, that is your training ground for something bigger and better. I want to urge you as you are developing study habits to achieve your goals and make good grades; why not include developing the habit of meeting with God each day. Seek out Christian fellowship, find someone to pray with once a week, by all means go church shopping; find a place in a college town that has a strong college ministry, that will help you grow spiritually, and build your relationship with God.
 
Let’s look at verse 5, 5 No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.” This is a bold promise by God. God was saying, Joshua and Israel, wherever you go God will give you the victory, and something else to hold onto: “I will not fail you or forsake you.” The Christian can plant their feet on the same promise. Because you belong to Christ--you and I need never suffer defeat. No enemy can vanquish us though we are weak in the flesh; our faith in Christ is our strength.
 
Consider, it took strength and courage, for Joshua to go to the people of Israel, and tell them that God was going to give them a victory over the fortified city of Jericho. All they had to do was march around the city, blow their trumpets and give a loud shout and the walls would come tumbling down. You say, it sounds too easy! The first step of courage was for Joshua to believe it to be true. For six days they dressed for battle and marched around the city once. On the seventh day they marched around the city 7 times, 7 priests had trumpets and they blew them as they marched around the city, on the seventh time around the priest gave a special long blast on the trumpets and all the Israelites let out the loudest shout of praise they could muster--and the walls came tumbling down!
 
God gave them the victory! When they were faithful and obeyed God they won battle after battle. When they disobeyed they suffered defeat. It took much longer to push the Canaanites out of the Promise Land than they expected. Even when Joshua was old and ready to stop there were still pockets of Canaanites still entrenched in various places. In the Christian Life, the battle against sin continues long after we have given our lives to Christ. While we live in this world our enemies look for ways to knock us down, defeat us and destroy us. But we hold on to the promises of God. Vs. 9 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous; Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged; for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” We lean on Jesus and rely on him to lead us, and protect us, and come what may help us endure until we come home.
 
One last thought, God promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob a land that would be theirs. As Moses was sent by God to redeem his people and lead them to a Promise Land, it was described as a broad land flowing with milk and honey. God renewed that promise with Joshua,saying Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, as I promised to Moses. How can I describe the boundaries of the Promise Land? Here is a description I came across;
          Starting in the south the Promise Land stretches from Red Sea, around Eilat, as the southern tip. West to the Mediterranean Sea at a point south of Gaza at the Wadi of Egypt. From there north up the coastline at least as far north as Sidon in Lebanon, to form the western boundary. From Sidon angle north and eastward to the Euphrates River; which forms the northern boundary. P Eastern boundary landmarks are harder to identify because of the Eastern Desert, so south and east from the Euphrates River to a line east of Aroer, then to the Salt Sea, or Dead Sea, then south to Eilat.
 
The point I would lift up is that the Israelites never occupied all of the Promise Land, for me that represents the promise of Heaven--it is something still yet to come. God promises are always bigger than what we have imagined. His promise for you is bigger than anything you have experienced so far in your life. He is asking you to trust him. When times get tough Be strong. When life is overwhelming, a paper is due and a test is tomorrow, Be Courageous the Lord is at your side, He will see you through, God has promised, you can trust His word.
 
Congratulations!
 
Grace and peace be multiplied to you,
Doug Hasty