Sunday, August 3, 2003

God's Family

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” I John 3:1.

“Then the Lord said to Joshua, ‘This day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.’ Therefore the name of the place is called Gilgal to this day.” Joshua 5:9.
Now, you need to remember this word Gilgal! It is very important to our lesson today.

We have gathered here these few days because we are family. God, in His divine wisdom, knew that we would be a part of this family way before we were born. Even those of us who are a part of this family by marriage.

God made you for a reason. He also decided when you would be born and how long you would live. God also planned where you would be born and who your parents would be. God, in His wisdom, knew what family you would fit into best. God made us a part of this family, but there is something greater than being a part of this family!Just as God set in motion circumstances that made you a part of this family, He also made it possible by the death of His only Son Jesus that you could be a part of His spiritual family by adoption. (Galatians 4:1-7)

We were created to be God's children! Nothing more and nothing less! Until we come to the point in our lives where we realize this, we can never find happiness!

Now with this thought we go to the book of Joshua for a family lesson. Remember I asked you to remember the word “Gilgal”? Now, you say, Darrell, what in the world does Gilgal have to do with being a family? That's what I want to talk to you about!

Gilgal was a place where God's family were gathered together after forty years of wondering in the wilderness. The word “Gilgal” means, “The reproach has been rolled away.” Gilgal became a base of operations. Just as the corss is a base of operations for us! Gilgal was where God taught the children of God many lessons about life.

It was a place of remembrance, a place of revelation, a place of renewing, a place of realization, and a place of rewards.

I want us to look at it as a place of remembrance this morning. If you look at the fourth chapter of Joshua , verses 1-9, you will read that the Lord gave directions concerning the building of a monument.

And it came to pass, when all the people had completely crossed over the Jordan, that the Lord spoke to Joshua, saying: “Take for yourselves twelve men from the people, one man from every tribe, and command them, saying, ‘Take for yourselves twelve stones from here, out of the midst of the Jordan, from the place where the priests' feet stood firm. You shall carry them over with you and leave them in the lodging place where you lodge tonight.’”

Then Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the children of Israel, one man from every tribe; and Joshua said to them: “Cross over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of Israel, that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it corssed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial forever.”

And the children of Israel did so, just as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones from the midst of the Jordan, as the Lord had spoken to Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them to the place where they lodge, and laid them down there. Then Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place were the feet of the priests who bore the ark of the covenant stood; and they are there to this day.

They were to build a monument about how God had blessed them with His presence and how he had led them to the Promised Land, that when their children asked, “‘What do these stones mean to you?’ That you may answer them...”

There has been a monument built, about how God has blessed this family. We can't see twelve stones this morning but nevertheless there is a monument being built that started years ago. This week we have heard lots of stories about the family and how it started. Books could be written of all the memories through the years. We are here today building more memories. But the memories that are the greatest are the spiritual ones because we are the Family of God. These are the memories that are the most important that we pass on to our children and grandchildren! Memories of how God answered prayers for sickness and needs. But more important is how God manifested Himself through the years.

With the cross as our Gilgal and the Holy Spirit as the ark of the covenant we have, and we are, and we will continue to build memories about how God has led us.

I want you to see a trend here! It's not about us and how great this family is, but rather it's about God and how great He is!!! It's about the presence of God through the years to those who obey Him! It's about how God answered prayer through the years to those who obey Him! It's about how God manifested Himself through the years to each one who obeyed Him! It's about the power of God!

These are the memories we must pass on!

We can say like Samuel of old, “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.”

Just as God has made you a member of your earthly family, more importantly, he made us a part of His family! I say to you today, let's continue the tradition of being a family that is built on the foundation Jesus Christ, that those who come after us may know Him as well or better than we do! Let's live a life that is pleasing to Him and pass on the spiritual blessing that He has given us: blessings of love, blessings of grace, blessings of mercy.

Friday, July 4, 2003

Did you know...?

...The history of the United States of America began long before the Colonists declared their independence. The Magna Carta, written in 1215 in order to try to convince King John of England to give the people certain rights, is considered to be the touchstone of liberty, upon which later documents are based.

...That only nine of the thirteen colonies voted for the Declaration. The delegates from New York and Delaware abstained while the delegates from South Carolina and Pennsylvania voted no.

...That the Liberty Bell carries an inscription from Leviticus 25:10: “Proclaim Liberty throughout all the Land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”

Did you know that the inscription on the plate at the base of the Statue of Liberty reads, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” Emma Lazarus (1849-1887).

You do know that Christ has set us free from sin & death.
“The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.” (Romans 8:2. The Message.)

“Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.” (Galatians 5:1. The Message.)

Tuesday, April 1, 2003

Renewal

Song of Solomon 2: 12,13: “The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle dove is heard in our land; The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell.”
We, here in the foot hills of the Ozarks, are experiencing a beautiful spring. The trees are putting on new foliage and the daffodils and the irises are blooming. The redbud trees and the fruit trees are all putting on new color. The dogwood trees are in full bloom. The whole land is coming back to life after a long winter.

We awake with the singing of the birds. Late in the evenings the whippoorwills are singing for the closing of the day.

I remember last fall how the trees and things began to lose their foliage. God gave us beautiful colors to look at. Then, before long, the leaves began to fall, and the trees became ugly. Isn’t it amazing how God gives nature the ability to renew itself? The old passes away and now, in the spring, the new comes out.

When I look out my bedroom window I am reminded of the faithfulness of God. He always sends us just what we need when He thinks we need it most. He is faithful in doing things for us.
At Ozark View Chapel we have just closed Revival time. God come in each service and spoke to each of us. The Lord led our evangelist to bring good solid simple messages to us each night. As I was bidding the people good night after the closing of each service some were telling me how much they received from the services.

“God spoke to me tonight.”

“Wasn’t that a good message?”

“Just what I needed.”

“God is helping us.”

Isn’t God great to be faithful to renew our hearts when we obey Him? ...like the coming of the seasons ...like the sunshine after the rain ...like daytime following the night.
Psalm 119:89,90: “Forever, O Lord,Your word is settled in heaven. Your faithfulness endures to all generations; You established the earth, and it abides.”
Eugene H. Peterson paraphrased it in The Message like this:
“What you say goes, God, and stays, as permananent as the heavens. Your truth never goes out of fasion; It’s as up-to-date as the earth when the sun comes up, Your word and truth are dependable as ever.”
No wonder the Psalmist wrote:
Psalm 92:1-2: “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to your name, O Most High; To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, And your faithfullness every night.”
God will never fail!

Thomas Chisholm wrote the song that we all know so well.
“Great is thy faithfulness, O God, my father;
There is no shadow of turning with thee.
Thou changest not; Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.

Summer amd winter and spring-time and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold withness
To thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!”

Friday, February 14, 2003

Expressions of Love

February the 14th is a day everyone likes to remember. It’s the day when love is in the air.

The school where I work gets so many flowers, balloons, and stuffed animals that they stop taking things at 11 a.m. just so they can get them all given to the children by 3:30 p.m. I drive a school bus and it had about 50 or more such things on it. I couldn’t see all the children because there were so many balloons on it.

Between the florists, the jewelers, and Wal-Mart, there are millions of dollars spent on Valentines Day each year.

I guess there are lots of ways to express love. One sign I saw said that roses were only $50.00 a dozen. I guess that was a deal. I am sure other places had roses a lot higher. One friend told me that he had gone to a candy store to get his wife some candy, only to find that the chocolate that she wanted cost $40.00 for a two pound box. He said to me, “I went to Walmart and got a $6.00 box.” It’s not how much you spend, it’s how much you love. Right?

As you read this, Pallie Sue and I will have celebrated our 38th anniversary together on March 5th. Thanks, Pallie, for loving me!

We have had a wonderful marriage with the help of the Lord. God gave us five wonderful children and 7 wonderful grandchildren that we think are the greatest . Through the years we have learned that we don’t have to buy something for each other to express our love just because it’s a special occasion, but rather we show each other day by day. We have learned that love is strong and deep-seated in the heart and not in the billfold. There have been times when on special occasions we haven’t had money to spend on each other, but we still were able to express our love to each other. We never let a day go by without saying to each other, “I love you!” (Pallie Sue, you are the greatest!)

Paul, the apostle, gives many ways to express love in I Corinthians 13 . Let me give you a short version from “The Message”
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end,
Love never dies.
My prayer is that the Lord would help me to love, like Paul is talking about in this chapter, in a greater way.

The scripture shows us how God expressed His love for us.
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, His one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.” (John 3: 16. “The Message”)

Jesus also loved us.
“As the Father loved Me, I also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commmandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” (John 15:9-10)
The scripture tells us how we are to love one other.
Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and have Himself for her.”
So what is the conclussion from The Message?
“My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love - so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about--not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.” (I John 4:7-11)
Now! That’s an expression of Love! Lord, help me to learn to express my love for God more.

Saturday, February 1, 2003

Sunrise

For days I have been seeing the most beautiful sunrises. Each day has been like watching a movie, only a movie could not have such beautiful colors in it. I don’t think that any artist can dupicate the colors that God has. As I drive along, I watch the landscape changes and I get to see different views of the sunrise. Each day I couldn’t wait to see what colors God would use just for me..

The other day I said to Pallie Sue, “I want you to go with me to see the sunrise.” She seemed to be very glad to do it, so early on a Saturday morning we went chasing the sunrise. I had forgotten that the sun would rise earlier each morning, so she didn’t get to see the brilliant colors that I had been seeing, but I did buy her breakfast.

From time to time I have thought a lot about God’s handiwork in nature and how we get to enjoy it. The thing that I noticed about the sunrises was that they were never the same. Not one morning duplicated the others that I had seen. The sun would always be in a different spot in the sky and the colors would always be different. As I would drive along I might go down in a valley or I might drive behind some trees, the scene changing all the time. But regardless of where I was, behide a hill or behind some trees or even if clouds covered the sun, it was always there! Each morning I would leave my home anticipating the sunrise. I didn’t always get to see it, but the next day I would look for it again.

Life is like the sunrise. Each morning brings a new day. Each day brings new things. It keeps changing. About the time we think we have seen everything, God brings new colors in our lives. We can choose to see the trees and the clouds or we can look for new colors. We can choose to begin each day with dread and gloom or we can start our day wondering what painting God will show us for this day.

It’s been amazing to me of late how in my morning devotions that I am seeing new things that I had never see before from God’s word. It’s been amazing to me that when I look to the SON He begins to reveal His beauty and glory. I choose to begin each day with Him and to go anticipating the colors he will show me.
The Secret
I met God in the morning, When my day was at its best.
And His presence came like sunrise, Like a glory in my breast.
All day long the presence lingered, All day long he stayed with me.
And we sailed in perfect calmness O’er a very troubled sea.
So I think I know the secret. Learned from many a troubled way,
You must seek Him in the morning. If you want Him through the day.
If you are behide some obstacle, or if your day is cloudy, just keep looking, the sun will shine again.