Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Surviving Temptation (Knowing God: David pt 3)

The story of David and Bathsheba is the story of forbidden lust; er, I mean, forbidden love. All because David and Bathsheba did not survive temptation.
Today I want to give you 3 steps for surviving temptation. They are road markers as you walk through your life. You will need to keep this near you every year. If you follow these steps, you will increase your chances of surviving your next encounter with temptation.

David should have been leading his army as most kings did, but he neglected his military responsibility.
Step #1, Be where you are supposed to be
This means when you’re supposed to be at work, be there. When you’re supposed to be with your family, be there. When you’re supposed to be at our worship gathering, be there. When you’re supposed to be at our worship gathering, be there! (you get it) When you’re supposed to be at school, be there! When you are supposed to be in a place of Bible study and prayer, be there. This is so important. David wasn't leading his people as their King as he was supposed to be leading his people. He was laying on his bed, idle, and then walking out on his rooftop.
Discipleship Journal surveyed the most common sins amongst their readers. They found the most common ones were:
1-Materialism, 2-Pride, 3-Self-centeredness, 4-Laziness, 5-Tie between a) Sexual lust, and b) Anger/Bitterness, 6-Envy, 7-Gluttony, 8-Lying
They also found that 81% of survey respondents noted temptations were more potent when they had neglected their time with God; 57% when they were physically tired.
On resisting temptation: 84% said that resisting temptation was accomplished by prayer; 76% said avoiding compromising situations; 66% said with Bible study; 52% said by being accountable to someone.
Are you using your position and free time to be where you are not supposed to be? If so, you are preparing yourself to fall into sin.
Be where you’re supposed to be.

Step #2, Think what you are supposed to think
David’s 2nd problem was that he was not thinking what he was supposed to be thinking. If you’re not where you should be, then neither will your mind be where it should be.
He was restless. In v. 2, he was so restless he got up out of bed and wandered around. That’s when he found trouble.
Has that ever happened to you? Your mind wanders? Late at night, trying to sleep? The best advice I can give you if you can’t sleep is this: If you can’t sleep, don’t count sheep, talk to the shepherd.
David only had to look and a woman was bathing down below. Bathsheba knew she was in the king’s sight, probably in an open courtyard on their property. She had placed herself within David’s sights. Also, in v. 4, we’re told she had purified herself from her uncleanliness, which according to the law meant that she was available.
2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
There will always be a Bathsheba, out in the open, setting a trap for you to fall into. There will be something you want that you know you shouldn’t have, right within your reach!
Christian men, you’d better set up walls of Bible verses around your mind or your unwalled city will be invaded! Christian women you'd better set up walls around your mind or your unwalled city will be invaded. Proverbs tells us a man without self-control is like a city without walls.
At this point, David should have sent someone to Bathsheba and said, “Don’t bathe outside where I can see you!” But what does he do? He sent someone to get her so he could have her. C. S. Lewis writes, in The Screwtape Letters, when speaking of how the devil can conquer believers, “The long, dull monotonous years of middle-aged prosperity or middle-aged adversity are excellent campaigning weather.”
You will be tempted sometime in the future to let your mind wander, and if you do, it probably will not land in a safe place.
Satan is the Master of the suckerpunch, disguised as an angel of light. He will lie to you. And you will convince yourself that you are innocently bringing glory to God! But then you will discover guilt, shame, and pain!
Proverbs 5 warns against the temptation of sin saying, “Keep to a path far from her, do not go near the door of her house, lest you give your best strength to others and your years to one who is cruel, lest strangers feast on your wealth and your toil enrich another man’s house. At the end of your life you will groan, when your flesh and body are spent. You will say, ‘How I hate discipline! How my heart spurned correction! I would not obey my teachers or listen to my instructors. I have come to the brink of utter ruin in the midst of the whole assembly.” You’ll say “I blew it! I wasted my life!” Don’t waste your life. Think what you are supposed to think.
God’s purpose for your mind is for you to be transformed by the renewing of your mind, one Bible verse at a time. Today, it’s 2 Cor 10:5. When you memorize that, move onto another one.

So here we go: Be where you're supposed to ___, and Think what you're supposed to ___, and step #3, in surviving temptation is Do what you are supposed to ___. That's right, do.
David violated all three principles. The author of 2 Samuel 11 records 4 times where David sent for something. In Hebrew, it is the word sha-lah, “to send, or dispatch,” a right of the King or authority figure. The excitement of sin filled David and he used the authority of his position to satisfy his lust and cover up his sin.
You want to yell into the cedar walls of David’s palace, “Stop! Don’t do it!” But he did it. David fell headfirst into sin.
One of my pastor friends in Mexico, Pastor David, and I would go out for supplies sometimes. And whenever we saw a pretty girl, short David in his high pitched voice would nudge me and say, “Fuego, fuego!” “Fire, fire!”
Not this David. He got burned.
Notice how quickly King David acted. He didn’t consult anyone, or spend time romancing Bathsheba, but it was a one night stand, based on what he could get out of it. God had told Samuel that David was a man after His own heart. Up until now, in Scripture he was a godly man. 4 chapters earlier, God made a permanent promise with him that he would always have an heir on the throne. David defeated the giant Goliath and thousands of Philistines and was the most feared warrior king in the middle east! Yet he could not conquer himself.
Here he was, showing he was also a depraved sinner, even though he was used by God. After discovering that Bathsheba was pregnant with David’s child, David had her husband killed, and for 9 months lived a lie.
I watched this second hand many years ago. One of my friends fell morally about 10 years ago, and I’ll never forget walking with him through the process of public confession and removal from his ministry.
Have you given into sin? Have you followed David’s bad example? You can say you don’t feel bad, but that’s just a cover up. If you believe in God, and are a follower of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit lives in you and has been needling you.
David wrote about his experience of torture in Psalm 32, saying, “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.”
You will be tempted to cover up your sin. The greatest tool for unplugging Christians from church is secret sin.
But there is Good news:
1st piece of good news—There is a way out. I love it how for everything bad that the world offers the Bible has good news to counter it! There is good news for temptation and sin today!
It’s called Doing what you’re supposed to do. 1 Cor 10:13 says, “but God is faithful, Who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with every temptation will provide a way of escape so you can bear it.”
God has always has a fire exit for His people! He always has a lifeboat that you can find! You can never say, “God abandoned me!” He will provide a way of escape. Awesome!
When tempted you need to look for the way of escape. Next time, Pray for the way out!
I’m not here this morning to beat you up because of your sin, because I have sinned too. I will sin sometime in the future too.
2nd piece of good news—2 Samuel 12, when David was met by God through his servant Nathan the Prophet. David finally did what he was supposed to do.
Your sin can be forgiven. In 2 Samuel 12:13, David says, “I have sinned against the Lord.” What was God’s response? “The Lord has taken away your sin.” There were consequences, but God had taken away his sin.
Doing what you need to do means saying to God “I have sinned,” and you will find that God is “slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness.” God word says, “as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” God’s word says, “Come, let us reason together, though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” God’s word says, “if we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness!”
David sent and used his authority, but God sent His word by His authority through His prophet to talk about God’s omnipotence! All powerful! He can forgive any sin, as many times as you commit it. If you need to feel clean and healed, and get back on your feet, God sent Jesus to die for not one, two, three, four, 20, 100 of your sins, but all of your sin! And He will forgive you. Do you believe this? In Psalm 32, David didn’t end on a bad note. He writes, “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’—and You forgave the guilt of my sin.” Come to God this morning. Be where you should be, Think, and Do what you are supposed to think, and do. Come to God.

A Heart of Obedience (Knowing God: David pt 1)

Where is your heart? A boy in children’s hospital, was very disobedient. The nurses couldn’t’ control him. One day a visitor had the idea to use positive reinforcement. She said, “If you are good for a week, I’ll give you a dime when I come again.” A week later, she stood before his bed. The boy was hiding underneath his covers. “I’ll tell you what,’ she said, “I won’t ask the nurses if you behaved. You must tell me yourself. Do you deserve the dime?” After a moment’s pause, a small voice from among the sheets said, “Gimme a penny.”

Today we're looking at David, but you can’t fully appreciate King David until you know about King Saul. So, I want to tell you a summary of the end of King Saul’s reign and the beginning of David’s, and then some principles we can glean from this story.

The main idea as you scroll down this blog is right here: If you obey God, it shows you have a heart for God, and you will be blessed by God.

Meet Saul.

1 Samuel 9 describes him as “an impressive young man without equal among the Israelites—a head taller than any of the others.” In the original language this communicates the idea that Saul was great, and the language in 9:1 for Kish being a “man of standing” most likely means wealthy, successful, prosperous—a powerful man. Saul too was impressive. Unusually tall. He was outwardly everything Israel wanted in a king. Money, power, strength, easy to look at.
At the 2009 Political Awards, I mean “Academy Awards,” this was the same tone as when Sean Penn talked about his admiration of the newly elected president Barak Obama, calling him an articulate man and other compliments, gaining applause from the audience. He looks good, acts good, and we can physically follow him.
Saul had the opportunity to be Israel’s greatest king, but he blew it. He was anointed by God, and told by Samuel in 1 Samuel 10:8, “Go down ahead of me to Gilgal. I will surely come down to you to sacrifice burnt offerings, but you must wait seven days until I come to you and tell you what you are to do.” After his anointing, Saul was filled with the Spirit and prophesied, and 11:6, “the Spirit of God came upon him in power,” and Saul led God’s people to victory!
Disobedience #1, But Saul disobeyed God!
How? He Offered sacrifices instead of waiting for Samuel (1 Sam 13:11–14)
What’s the big deal? That was Saul’s response. He said, “When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Micmash, I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the Lord’s favor.’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.”
Principle #1 Sometimes you don’t understand why you should obey God. But you still should obey Him.
At this point, Samuel rebuked Saul and said, “the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”
Disobeying God costs you.

Disobedience #2: He spared the evil King instead of obeying God and being God’s instrument of judgment (1 Sam 15:20–23)
Principle #2, obedience is more important to God than sacrifice
Sometimes you won’t see the reason to obey God. But you should anyway. Saul’s actions showed he didn’t value the things God values; he accepted the anointing by God, but then ruled for his own reasons. Again, in 1 Samuel 15:20–21, Saul made excuses for his direct disobedience.
Matthew Henry, in his comment on this passage, gives one explanation of why people swat away God’s commands and disobey Him. “God bade him kill all, and yet he puts in among the instances of his obedience that he brought Agag alive, which he though was as good as if he had killed him. Thus carnal deceitful hearts think to excuse themselves from God’s commandments with their own equivalents.”
Read 1 Samuel 15:22–23
When you disobey God, you reveal your heart is not like His. Like hijacking an airplane, so people hijack God’s plan and twist it into their own. It should be more like the military. An order is given from the Commander-in-chief, and we as His soldiers obey Him!
How can you check if you are obeying God? Ask yourself:
Is God the most important person in your life?
Do you love others? Like other people?
Do you do what God tells you to do through the Bible?

These are important questions to spend a minute and think about. So please, pause, and stop everything to answer them.

I also decided to write down why people disobey God, and not just "those guys," but why "WE" disobey God. Here's a list I came up with:
1. God is not seen, and His presence not always felt, and He gives grace instead of having a lightning bolt to zap people with.
2. It’s hard to obey God. It makes you feel uncomfortable
3. Obeying God separates you from people who want nothing to do with God.
4. In the end, if a person will not obey God, it is because your heart is not like His, there is no motivation, there is no fear of God. You have forgotten that your God is a consuming Fire. You have forgotten that your God is going to be all that is left of life as you know it, and you will need to cling to Him because every plant, animal, and person will depend directly on Him! You have forgotten that He made you, and He bought you!
If I have just described you, you need to confess that attitude, wake up, and know what God wants and then do it! That’s it! No more, add nothing to it. Just that.

There are just 2 choices before us when we read about Saul versus David. You are already walking down one of two paths. Either you are deciding when you will obey God, and when you won’t, and keeping God in a corner, or
Choice #2, you are Knowing God more, and then obeying Him.

Now the opposite, let’s meet David, described as the least of all Jesse’s sons, relegated to the grunt work, and “ruddy,” or reddish and rugged. It is the same word used to describe Esau when he was born, with his red hair all over his body. The Hebrew literally says David has “beautiful eyes.” Not from a powerful family, but a family of shepherds. Not a head taller, but young enough to be a boy, probably teenage years or young adult (though this is debated. He will marry not long into the future, and we will find out later on, when he challenges Goliath, that he fought a lion and bear and beat them).

God said in 1 Samuel 13:14, “. . . the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the lord’s command.” Still following David's story, he was anointed by God, through Samuel, just like Saul(1 Sam 16:7).

Saul and David had the same prophet, same anointing, same promise of a kingdom that would last forever, but different attitudes of obedience, because of different hearts!
Don’t miss that! It’s the most important part of this story!

David courageously fought Goliath; he did not attack Saul though many thought he should have. Let me continue just a little longer to show how David was a man of honor and integrity.
1. David asked God if he should fight certain battles and obeyed God
2. 1 Samuel 23:2 against the Philistines
3. 1 Samuel 30 outnumbered to rescue his family
4. 2 Samuel 5:19, 23, and God told him to wait until they heard the sound of marching in the top of the trees, then to act promptly.
When you obey God you reveal that you have a heart like His.

Wrapping up, here are some principles to walk away with:

1. Sometimes you don’t see the reason why you should obey God but you should still obey Him.
a. Disobeying God costs you.
b. Sometimes you don’t see the reason why you should obey God.
c. Sometimes you have a better plan than God does, but you don't.
If you are living that story, please trust God, that His plan is a better one.
2. Obedience is more important to God than sacrifice
3. When you disobey God, you reveal your heart is not like His.
4. When you obey God, you reveal that your heart IS like His. You value the things that God values!
If you're asking, "What should I do?"
Ask yourself:
i. Are there areas of your life where you are not obeying God?
ii. Are you daily obeying Him?
Check on this too:
i. Is God the most important person in your life?
ii. Do you love others?
iii. Do you do what God tells you to do through the Bible?

Did God bless David for his obedience? Big time! 2 Sam 7:8–17, the Davidic Covenant, the promise that one of David’s heirs would be the Messiah of Israel!
We have seen through Saul and David's comparisons, that if you obey God, it shows you have a heart like God's, and you will be blessed by God.
Why not obey God today?

God is Calling Your Name (Knowing God: Samuel)

Emily and I took our family to Menard’s recently and had one of those parental nightmares. After I scoured the shelves for the right size screws and bolts to fix some new furniture in preparation for our new baby, I looked down and Tommy was gone. I quickly checked the next aisle, and the next, and eventually Trinity and I made a long 30 min lap around half of the huge store, calling his name in the garden center, the wood, insulation, everywhere! I called my wife on my cell phone and realized he had found her. I was exhausted after that. Every possible evil intent a kidnapper could have flooded through my brain and I batted them away, telling God I was trusting Him. Tommy didn’t answer me because he was too far away to hear me.
Another scary event happened to some friends of ours. They lost their daughter for 2hrs. The parents had similar reactions, and called her name, and the authorities were involved, until finally she came out from hiding. When they called, she didn’t recognize their voices because she had fallen asleep. She wasn't listening.
I'm not trying to terrify you, but one more story. My daughter was riding her bike last week and took off for the busy road as fast as she could. I called her, yelling for her to stop, but she didn’t listen. I called her again and she didn’t listen, a third time, and I heard my voice echo off the buildings near her, and knew she could hear me, but she did not obey.
Are all of these stories to tell you about terrifying children’s tales? Am I trying to frighten you? These stories all have a piece of what not to do when God calls your name. God called a young boy named Samuel, and Samuel was not too far away to hear Him, he was not asleep when his name was called (he recognized it), and when he knew God was calling him, he obeyed.
God will call you if you belong to Him, and tell you what to do. The question is: will you be ready?

Today you can leave here taking with you three helpful steps for how to respond when God is calling your name.
We look at 1 Samuel 3:1–3 and the story of a young man whose barren mother Hannah dedicated him to serve the Lord when he was a toddler. Samuel was a student of Eli, the priest at Shiloh, where the ark of the covenant was kept in the tabernacle. One of the commands of the Law was that the priests were to continually keep the lamp candles burning in the tabernacle all night long, and Samuel was near the ark and the lamp, most likely keeping it going. (READ IT, 1 Samuel 3:1-3)

First, in verses 1–3 Samuel was close to God. How do you prepare to respond when God calls your name? The answer is to sit close to God. In order to hear God’s voice, you need to be close to Him. Just like Samuel was near the ark, and Eli was farther away (a description of his spiritual state), you need to position yourself close to God.
In those days it meant being near the visible presence of the Tabernacle and the ark. Today it means spending time devoted to God in private worship and public worship. You need to participate on Sundays, but also at your home, when you work, with your family, with your friends. You need to always be near to God.
Notice it was rare to hear God’s voice in those days. Sometimes people get impatient when they wait and wait and wait and don’t hear anything. Samuel was persistent to do his duty for worship and stay as close to God as anyone could physically be!
At the carnival a couple weeks ago, it was busy and people were shouting and trying to get you to try their rides and buy their goods, and unless you were close to them, you couldn’t hear them.
My son Tommy couldn’t hear me calling him (for his own good), because he was too far away!
(A) Sit close to God. This week, tomorrow, give God 15 minutes of reading your Bible and 15 minutes of prayer. You will be on the road to a beginner’s level of daily devotions and putting yourself closer to Him. This is a step towards understanding Him and obeying Him.

The second step for responding when God calls, is to look what Samuel did when he heard a voice. He asked the man of God if he was calling his name. He looked in the right place for clarification that God was calling him. Even though Eli was not perfect, he got this one right. He knew how to hear God, even if he didn’t obey God.
So, if you're keeping track, write down #2, Make sure it is God speaking to you. In order to know what God wants, you need to verify God’s voice.
There are all kinds of voices out there, like New Age voices, liberal political voices, conservative political voices, socialist voices, capitalist voices, cutting edge voices, traditional voices, talk show voices, pleasing and enticing voices, scary and violent voices, and you need to know how God speaks to you. This only comes through practice of listening to Him. It involves discipline. Most of us won’t hear audible voices. Most of us will hear God through reading His word and prayer and doing that every day. Most of us will get affirmation from another person who is also following Jesus.
Like my friend whose daughter could not respond because she was asleep, so some of you are sleep in your faith! You don’t hear God because you don’t care about the Bible! You don’t value spending time with the one who died for your sin on the cross! You don’t hear because you don’t bother to verify Him. The first book that comes out saying, “God wants every Christian to be a millionaire” makes you foam at the mouth. The radio speaker says, “the world will end in 2012” and you say, “Must be God” without verifying!
Ask anyone who has served in the military and they will tell you about the training and discipline in learning the important lesson of distinguishing the right voice from the false ones. They must learn to hear only their drill instructor or the distraction could cost someone their life.
Are you that focused and waiting to hear from God? If you don't know what He sounds like, that's your first item of business. Isolate His voice from the rest.
How can we be sure it is God speaking?
This is my threefold test I use when making decisions and think I'm hearing God speaking to me: a) does it agree with the Bible? If it does not, then it isn't God. If it does, then continue to question "B." B) does the Spirit confirm it in prayer? When you pray, if you don't feel the Spirit confirming your decision, move to question "c." C) does your church family confirm it? If everyone else you know who is following Jesus thinks you're crazy, then maybe you are! But if the answer to all three questions was "Yes, yes, yes," then most likely God is calling you to do something.
And let me add one more, very important part of finding God's will. Unless you have salvation through Jesus Christ, you will never hear God’s voice. The Holy Spirit in your heart is how God communicates today, and through that same Spirit opening your eyes as you read the Bible that God Himself put here for your benefit. Unless you have faith in Jesus alone that He paid for your sin through dying on the cross and rising again, and unless you believe that, unless you follow Him, you might as well give up on ever knowing God’s will for your life.
Or you can come to Him now, confess every sin, believe in His death and resurrection (I love the resurrection), and commit to follow Him and begin to know His will. Pray that today and tell Him, and the Bible says you are saved from hell and going to heaven, and going in first class. The Bible says the angels throw a party for you if you trust in Jesus Christ today! (Luke 15:7, 10)

Again, if the answer to those three above questions was "Yes, yes, yes," then you'd better do what you think God is telling you to do. That leads to the final step, which is what happens when Eli directs Samuel. Eli tells him the next time he hears a voice calling, "Samuel, Samuel!" to reply, "Speak Lord, for Your servant is listening."
So #3, Say yes when you’re sure it is God speaking. Knowing God means saying yes to whatever God will say in the future.
That takes guts! My daughter did not do that, and suffered a serious consequence. So too, you who call yourself a Christian and ignore the conviction of the Holy Spirit of God day after day, week after week, weekend after weekend, you are also going to suffer a serious consequence.
Look at the text. God says his name twice, like God did on the mountain where Abraham sacrificed Isaac (really himself) to God, and like God said to Moses at the burning bush. God said to Samuel, the most prominent male prophet since Moses, “Samuel, Samuel!”
Did Samuel wait to hear what God wanted before he said yes? Did he? No. He said yes first. Samuel gave God a blank check, and said, “I’m Yours! Here I am!” Samuel obeyed. Will you? Will you say yes when you’re sure it is God speaking?

Saying yes to God will cost you. Samuel was not always popular, he was sometimes lonely, he had fame, but he didn’t have many friends. He had an angry King Saul to contend with, and had to do some brutal, hard work. If you’re not afraid of that, go ahead and tell God “Speak to me Lord, for Your servant is listening.”
So pray to God to speak to you, as you make time to be close to Him. Make sure it's Him speaking when you think you hear something. Finally, say, "Yes."

Monday, August 16, 2010

Father's Day 2010: Building a Godly House

A man walked out of his truck, into the hardware store, and asked “Can I get some 4 X 2’s?” the lady at the counter said, “Excuse me? Don’t you mean 2 X 4’s?” The man shook his head, “No, I mean 4 X 2’s.” She shook her head, “I think you mean 2 X 4’s” The confused man held up his finger, and went back to his truck, talked with the guys in the truck for a few minutes, and then came back to the store. He said, “Yeah, I mean 2 X 4’s.” the lady asked, “How long do you need ‘em?” The man replied, “We’re gonna need ‘em for a loooooong time.”

I wouldn’t want to go near that house they were building, would you? God has guidelines for building a spiritual house in your home. Fathers, believe it or not, have a huge role to play in building a Godly house.
Fathers need direction, help on how to love their wives handle their kids. You want them to grow up right, be godly, think of you as Superman. This Bible tells you how to do that

The Bible gives us a foundational verse in Joshua 24:15, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
The Bible also gives us Framing verses, in Deuteronomy 6:4, which are repeated in the Old and New Testaments in different ways. Let’s read Deuteronomy 6:4–9 (READ IT)

Today you’ll finish reading this with parts for building a Godly house. Just as a physical house has the frame, the interior, and the exterior (pardon my overly simplistic reference, it makes good preaching) so spiritually you want that for your house.
The first section of your house found in Deuteronomy 6 is this: Your Identity should be to love God and obey God with everything you are. Fathers are supposed to love God with every part of their lives (READ 6:4-6). Heart and soul communicate in Hebrew the mental and emotional, the conscious and the unconscious, the entire non-physical part of you. That means you should be loving God with your thoughts, your feelings, your plans, your ideas, your jokes, what you listen to, and what words you use. It should be your identity.
In the Riverside service baptism, those of us who went into the mighty Pec came out drenched. After changing into new clothes, those of us who passed out water bottles in the parade did so during a downpoor! Drenched! Many of us experienced this! Just as if you came out of a river or a clean bath, so you should be drenched with God and His commandments.
Is that true of you? Or do you love something more than God?
Your identity should reflect your title of “Christian.” Tom Landry said when he was coach of the Dallas Cowboys, that the first quality they looked for in every athlete they drafted was character. If character wasn’t there, then it didn’t matter how talented or big the player was, their bad character would eventually ruin everything else.
Christian fathers, is your character godly? When you’re alone, are you God’s man? Is God a part of your Sunday ritual, or is God always the one making your decisions?
Build a Godly house. Your Identity should be to love God and obey God with everything you are.

If you have never surrendered yourself to God—this is first. Prime Directive. Numero Uno. Put down the housebuilding tools and step away from the foundation. You need to start over, because without God your house will definitely fall. The Bible says “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” You need to make sure you have believed in Jesus’ giving his life for your sin, and you own that sin, and you own that death and resurrection, and God will live in you and give you the ability to love and obey Him. If you’re trying to obey God or love God without knowing Jesus Christ, you are chasing your tail! If you are trying to build a Godly house without following Jesus Christ, your house will fall down. So rebuild the foundation starting with following Jesus' teachings.

Now to the interior of your Godly house. Your impression on your children should be for them to follow your example and love and obey God. You need to Immerse them in God’s ways. (READ 6:7-9). Fathers are supposed to immerse their children in God’s commandments. It means in every aspect of your life, fathers, you are supposed to speak to and demonstrate obedience and submission to God. That means telling your kids why you do what you do. Why do you bring your kids to church Sundays? Why don’t you watch dirty movies on TV (besides your wife getting mad at you)? Why do you pray before you eat? Why do you read your Bible? Why do you cry when we’re singing about what Jesus Christ did on the cross for your sin? Tell your kids.
I'm not just saying this, but trying to do this myself and it's hard sometimes. But we keep trying. When I was trying to tell my daughter about her need to follow Jesus and find salvation in Him, I brought up the truth about hell. After she understood what hell was, and who ends up there, she was silent for a long time. Then she said, “I don’t want to go to hello.” After I tried clarifying, "No, it's called 'hell,'" she paused again, then said, "I don't want to go to hell today." I'm not perfect, but like you men who are trying, so I'm trying too to explain God's fingerprints in creation as we are walking and talking about animals and plants, stars, moon, and how God made it all.
Notice “Hear o Israel!” this is not just for fathers, but this is something parents do together.
Wives, let the father lead, and don’t quit when he starts. Why should the father lead? A) if you lead, the man won’t participate; B) your kids need to see their father’s faith to help increase their chances of having a stronger faith. (Pause while I receive the stones from the angry ones, thinking I'm neanderthal--to those I urge you to research a father's presence for adolescents and its influence in adult children. You'll agree with me that the role of a father is the single most important factor in a child becoming an emotionally healthy person).
The best way you can teach your kids God’s love is by loving them.

How do kids spell L.O.V.E.? T.I.M.E.
And train your children without anger! Resist that temptation! Go outside and have a stress break (like smoke break)—but leave if you’re about to blow!
The Bible says to leave your father and mother and cleave to your wife, and sometimes you have to leave your children or else you feel like cleaving them alright! Ephesians 6:1-4 (READ IT) Without anger. Colossians 3:21 also says, “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.”
Love your children.
A Spanish father and son had a terrible, argumentative relationship. The son finally ran away. The father searched and searched for him, but couldn’t find him. Finally he put an ad in the paper, saying, “Dear Paco, meet me in front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you, your Father.” On Saturday at noon, Paco showed up. So did 800 other men named Paco, all looking for forgiveness and love from their fathers.
Do you get what God wants for you as a father? To love Him and demonstrate that to your children.

We've got the foundation and frame, the interior, and now the exterior. Yes! That means landscaping (my forte). Your impression on the world should be for them to follow your example and love and obey God too. Fathers are supposed to publicly show their love for God and obedience to Him. READ 6:8-9) What does that mean? All of those external markings and symbols mean one thing; that is a public reminder to yourself and a public testimony that God owns you, and you belong to Him.
Like signing your name to the title to a vehicle, or some people tattoo their lover’s name on their arm—it shows ownership and faithfulness!
This means fathers should not set the example that your love and obedience to God are things to be ashamed of.
Like the flower must open up in order to spread pollen and reproduce itself, so you must man up in order to see your children one day follow God!
Men, will you build a Godly house? Or will you refuse God's power and try it on your own?

in Jesus,

True Freedom, Romans 8

After being kicked out of the worship service, this faithful pastor remained in the same city and reached a new group of people. They had terrible problems with sin, but the pastor struggled daily, teaching them and discipling them. These problems made him think of a church that he heard good things about, but had never visited. He longed to visit the church where a group of Christians from different races gathered together and needed guidance that he could give, but he had made a commitment to go on a mission trip. So until he could finish the missions trip and visit this other church, he wrote them a letter to help guide their theology. He put it into the hands of a deaconess, sent her off, and while Phoebe carried the letter to Rome, the pastor—the Apostle Paul—would never make it to that Roman Church. He finished taking money to Jerusalem for the famine, but was arrested, and though he did go to Rome, it was to a prison. How ironic that he spent 3 chapters of the letter to the church in Rome on sin’s slavery of us, our attempts to wrestle free of it, and the freedom that comes finally through Jesus Christ.

Today I want to tell you what Apostle Paul wrote to Rome from Corinth about how you can find freedom. You’ll see in verses 1–4 how True Freedom comes through Jesus Christ, and staying free comes through Jesus Christ.
1)Find True Freedom through Jesus Christ (1–2)
(READ IT) True Freedom is freedom from sin and its punishment comes from Jesus Christ
There is freedom from condemnation of sin and it comes through Jesus Christ
But someone is asking, “Freedom from what?” GOOD QUESTION
The “therefore” in verse 1 means look before chapter 8 in order to understand chapter 8. Chapters 6–7 established that we are hopelessly bound by sin all our lives.
What does all this mean? The truth about our history is that we all have a common ancestor—not Cromagnum man, but Adam and Eve. They sinned, and fell from grace, and we are stuck in sin and unable to find freedom from doing bad and feeling bad. But when you believe in Jesus Christ’s death on your cross, and Him getting up from your grave, the punishment of sin is gone forever! No more paying for your sins! No more condemnation!
You can break free of prison, you can break free of a bad job, you can get freedom from an abusive relationship, but all of those things are temporary freedom in this temporary life.
The only freedom you can experience that is forever is freedom in Jesus Christ from sin by believing in His death for you, and His resurrection so you will rise again. Then, and only then, will you be in the land of the free!
Isaiah 61:1, “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.”
Jesus said in Luke 4, after reading this from a scroll in a Nazareth synagogue worship setting, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing,” (Luke 4:21). Jesus came to bring freedom! You can be free. The birdcage has been opened and He holds out his hand and welcomes you to come out!
We don’t understand how good we have it in America, freedom to believe, speak, and act as we desire. It costs a lot of lives! As of February 23, 2010, 4,379 U. S. troops had been killed in Iraq since the 2003 Operation began.
Freedom from our destination of sin was free for us, but it cost God the life of His Son Jesus Christ!
When I was a student at Moody Bible Institute, our education was tuition free. It cost, but not nearly as much as it should have, thanks to generous donors. Once, a professor heard us talking about how great this was, and corrected us. He said we shouldn't say our education is tuition free because it isn't. It was free for us, but our freedom cost someone else. Instead, we should refer to it as a tuition paid education. With your salvation, it was not free. It was only free for you.
The opportunity for you to Find Freedom from sin fractured the Trinity! The error in human judgment cost God the Son His life because He loves you. Jesus came to set people free from sin. Why? God has a better life for humanity than to leave us in our sin.
That means when you see an oil spill, a terrible economy, political and spiritual leaders failing morally, friends and families breaking apart because of sin, that there is hope for a better life in Jesus Christ!
If you’re waiting for political leaders to change the world for the better, you’ll wait a long time.
If you’re waiting for everything to be like the good old days, you’ll be waiting a long time.
If you’re waiting for a little more money, that husband or wife to change, that car to die so you can buy another, that house to get fixed—if anything in this world is your hope for happiness you’ll be waiting a long time!
But if you’re counting on Jesus of Nazareth, and His freedom, and counting on releasing your life to His hands, you can find peace and happiness today!
Like tired soldier whose heavy pack is suddenly lifted, so Jesus Christ will lift the load of sin today! In time the guilt will fade, and you will experience freedom.
Find Freedom in Jesus Christ

Not only can you find freedom through Jesus Christ, but . . .
2) Staying Free comes through Jesus Christ (v. 3–4)
That which freed us and continues to free us from sin and its results is the new law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, not the law of sin and death (v. 2–3)
This word for “set you free” is eleutherosen, that means “to cause someone or something to be free from domination.” That word is used also in John 8:32, “then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free,” v. 36, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
It means Jesus Christ not only sets us free once, but is the One who sets us free daily from the domination of our own sin. Vv. 3–4 (READ IT)
Remember “therefore” in v. 1? It’s there because of chapters 6–7. 7:16 tells us, “And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.” When you sin, you feel guilty, and you desire to be better. How do you know when you’re acting “better”? God’s Law.
V. 7:17, “As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.”
V. 21–25a (READ IT) “Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Although the Law of God is perfect (Psalm 119), reviving the soul, we made it weak by staining it with our sinful hands (8:3), and no matter how many good works you do, they can’t affect your salvation. All of humanity's best isn't enough, and humanity made God's law weak due to infecting it with sin.
Recently I heard of a terrorist plot discovered and disarmed in NY. Russian spies recently were caught and rounded up in Texas. These people were planning on hijacking the nation! When you take your salvation back into your own hands, you are hijacking the new life God is trying to build in you!
This is practical, because everyone sins. Daily, weekly, we slip and sin or deliberately do what we should not. Then we feel guilty (unless it’s such a habit that you’re callous), and then you desire to “fix it” by fasting, giving more money, punishing yourself somehow, doing something good for someone else.
But you didn’t save yourself, and you can’t erase sin by doing good! But Jesus Christ can fix our sin not only the day we’re saved, but the day afterwards, the month after that, 10 years later, and forever!
That’s what this means in Romans 8:4, “so that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not walk according to the sinful nature, but according to the Spirit.”
So how do we live in true freedom? Verse 4 says to walk in the Spirit.
Gal 5:16, “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” WALK IN THE SPIRIT, AND HAVE FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST. Again, it was not possible any other way except by God, and we owe God an enormous debt because God did it!
A little boy once made a wooden boat, working and slaving away until he thought it was the image he had in his mind. He put it into the water, and a wind carried it unexpectedly away from him, and kept carrying it away until he lost sight of it. The boat didn't turn up anywhere. Months went by of him looking for it. Finally, near Christmas time, he spied it in a toy store window. It had his specific marks of craftsmanship and planing. He raced into the store and told the owner, "That's my boat! Where did you find it?" The owner replied, "I'm sorry, but that's my boat. If you want it, you'll have to pay for it." The price was high, but the boy paid it without thinking. As he left the store, with a smile that couldn't be erased, the boy carressed the boat and said, "You’re twice mine. Mine because I made you, and now, mine because I bought you.”
That is exactly what God did to each person who found freedom in Jesus Christ. When you came to Him and threw your future into His lap, His word says in Luke 15:7 and 10 that the angels in heaven throw a party over every lost sinner who repents! God achieved what the best standard of achievement could not—freedom from sin and its condemnation
Maintaining holiness is not within our power; it is available through the power of the Holy Spirit in you. But you can’t fix it yourself.
We try to fix our own lives, and that’s why it doesn’t work. The spiral of sin keeps going downward, because as we sin and try to fix our salvation ourselves, we can’t do it. So we try harder. Then we can’t do that, so we try harder.
No matter how hard you try, you will never plant a neat row of corn on a paved highway in the middle of Darlington! In order to grow corn on Highway 23, you need to completely change the nature of the ground! Tear it up! Out with the old asphalt, and in with the new, fertile soil!
God did it! He completely changed your heart by His grace so that you heard and understood His offer of salvation. That’s why you need to depend on the Holy Spirit in you when you sin, and confess it to God, and walk by the Spirit.
The reason some of you are hurting is because you are caught in sin and like an animal in a trap you got into it but can’t get out. The more you are in there, the worse it gets, and now you’ve lost hope. You say, “I can’t fix it. I don’t know how I’m going to make it. I, I, I, I, I!”
Christian, God didn’t save you to abandon you. He’s waiting for you to call to Him “Help!”
Like a child learning to walk, who needs to be picked up because he falls, so you need to be picked up. God wants to, and reaches out His hands every time we fall.
Verse 4, “that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in . . .” who? “in us!” You! Me! Every true Christian since this Bible was written!

What will you do? What should you do? Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Call on Him today, and tell God “I want the freedom that comes through Jesus Christ.” If you are a believer stuck in Romans 7, cry out to Him and depend on Him. Reclaim that freedom in Him.

Please contact us with any prayer requests, questions on this, or needs.
in Jesus,
Nate Whiteside