Friday, December 31, 2010

The end of a thing is better than its beginning, (Ecclesiastes 7:8)
As I reflected on the end of the year and what to say to you in this new year eve sermon of 2010, I thought of Solomon’s words in Ecclesiastes 7:8 “The end of a thing is better than its beginning;”
Maybe you traveled over the Christmas holidays. If so, you know that the end of a trip is infinitely better than the beginning. It always feels so good to come back home and know that all the hours in the car are behind me. Imagine a ship that leaves for a far port. When it returns with all its cargo, the captain knows just what storms they weathered in the trip. He remembers nearly running aground or being swamped. He recalls the three nights they spent without ever seeing the stars and three days without the sun. For him, the end of the voyage is clearly better than the beginning. Or perhaps, we should think of a soldier, going off to war. Is not the end of a thing better than the beginning for that soldier? How he longs to complete his tour and be safely home!
This point is obviously true in so many instances in life but it is not absolutely true. It must be taken with a grain of salt. There are exceptions to the rule which we will look at later. I would like however, to examine some points from this simple text in Ecclesiastes that I believe will help us here at the end of the year.

First, this verse can soothe your regrets. In another 20 minutes or so the year 2010 will become a part of history. Perhaps you are mindful of opportunities that you have missed or mistakes that you have made. Regrets sting. Many people question whether or not the end is really better than the beginning was. This verse can help take the sting out of your regrets of the past. So many people say, “My, how time flies! I wish I had this year over! I would love to fix this or that.” Yet if you will seriously think about this statement, you probably don’t mean it. Ecclesiastes 7:10 says, “Do not say, “Why were the former days better than these?” For you do not inquire wisely concerning this.” It is not wise to wish to go back in time. Be like that ship’s captain for a moment. Would you really like to relive the storms of 2010? Maybe you have undergone some physical storms, would you really like to hear the doctor give you the bad news again? Or perhaps your struggles were spiritual. Think of it. The arrows that Satan has slung at your faith this year are gone! They can never be used against you again! To be sure, he will sling more, but you have outlasted these. Would you really like to go back and struggle with those temptations again? 2010 is gone and you are older and wiser for having lived through it. James says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” God has used the events of 2010, even our failures, to help us grow. If you think about it, the end of 2010 is better than it’s beginning and we truly wouldn’t like to go back and live it all over again. We are freed from our past.

Second, this verse can calm your fears of the future. Some people look at the beginning and ask, will the end really be any better? Maybe you know the storms of 2010 and you are afraid of what the storms of 2011 will bring. Will I be able to bear up under it? Remember that no matter how bad the beginning is, the end is always better. Many Christians have more trials early in their Christian walk rather than late. And all of us are growing in our Christian walk. Lamentations 3:27 says “It is good for a man to bear The yoke in his youth.” If you wake up in the morning and the sun is behind the clouds, you don’t assume that the sun will never shine again. It’s like a girl who saw an eclipse of the sun. She asked her daddy, “Why did the sun go out?” That’s understandable for a child, but an adult knows that the sun will shine again. If you are in a dark period of your life, don’t despair, the sun will shine again. Take this verse as a prophecy to give you hope and dispel your fears. The end of the matter will be better than the beginning. God is still in charge. He promised Israel through the prophet Jeremiah “For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” God has a plan for you, even in this dark time. Think about the story of Joseph. He is sold into slavery by his own brothers, falsely accused and thrown in prison. It was his darkest moment. Yet he could never have risen to his high position of power in Egypt if he had not gone to prison. We must stoop to conquer and like gold we must be refined in the fire before we can truly shine. If you are in a dark moment and dreading the future, take heart from this verse for the end of a thing is better than its beginning.
Third I want to encourage our faith. We’ve looked at our past and our future, but this verse can also encourage us as we face the pains of the present. The spirit of our time says that we should get it now and do it now. It cries out for instant satisfaction. But God says that we should rather wait for His time in the matter. You are all familiar with the verse from Isaiah, “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” It is in waiting that we learn to rely on God and trust Him. The worldly man lives in the present, the Christian lives in the future. We know the end of this life and we know that whatever happens, if we will remain faithful to God, then the end will be better than the beginning. Jesus promised in Revelation 2:10 “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” If you are struggling to hang on to your faith this morning, take heart! The end will be better and it is worth waiting for. Paul said in Romans 8:18 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Think of Jesus. Throughout his life he was rejected and abused and finally killed, yet now he is glorified in Heaven. The same thing waits for us. Paul reasons with the Romans and says, “Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.” Endure tough times – hang on to your faith, because we will be glorified in the end. Think of a lump of coal deep within the earth. Only great and tremendous pressure can change that coal into a diamond. And then, once it has undergone that great and tremendous pressure it is mined and a jeweler begins to shape it. In order to shape it, the jeweler cuts away a great deal of the diamond. No doubt this process would be painful to the diamond, but only after the pressure and the cutting is the diamond a beautiful gem stone. If you are under pressure or if your life is being pruned right now, be assured that the end is better than the beginning. It is worth it!

The last thing I would like for us to consider from this verse is that we must take action. If the end is to be better than the beginning, there must be a beginning. Perhaps there is someone here who has never begun a walk with God, you cannot end what you never begin! Perhaps there are Christians who have put off getting their heart right with God or coming back to the church. You cannot end what you do not begin! As we face the beginning of a new year, why not make a new beginning in your life?

We mentioned that this truth is not always true. Not everything ends better than it begins. Take for example, someone who goes to a wild party and gets horribly drunk. The next morning the person can barely remember their name, much less what happened at the party. For that person, the end of the matter is not better than the beginning. Or consider the successful businessman who makes great piles of money. Everything begins so well. But then he decides to serve his money and becomes a miser. Look at the end of his life. He is wealthy but scared to death that he will die a pauper. What about you? Will the end of your life be better than the beginning? If you are a sinner, then it won’t be. If this time you have not been saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, you are headed for an end that is worse than your beginning. Ask yourself, what will I tell the Lord when I stand before Him on judgement day? Will you tell Him you were a good person? If you do, He will open the book of life and see your sins recorded there and tell you that you were not as good as you thought. Or will you tell Him that your sins are forgiven because you are covered by the blood of Jesus?

If you can say that, then the end of your life will be better than the beginning. Before 2010 leaves us forever, I pray that God will touch your heart and cause you to obey Him that we may say the end of 2010 was better than it’s beginning. The past is history, the future’s a mystery, but God has given us this moment, that’s why it’s called the present.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


“Lest We Forget”
Joshua 4:1-9, 19-24
INTRODUCTION: Rememberance Day isn’t just a holiday … a day set aside for picnics, family fun … a day off from work. This day, it is a day set aside to honor any individual who has an impact on our life.

In our text this morning, we see how God instructed Joshua to set up a MEMORIAL of stones, as a VISUAL REMINDER to all who passed that way. It was a VISUAL SERMON …Jesus used visual aids when He talked about the sparrow, the olive branch, the vineyard, the fig tree.

Joshua 4:1-9

• The Priests stepped foot in the Jordan River.
• God departed the waters … they marched through on dry land.
• After everyone had crossed over, Joshua sent 12 men to the middle of the dry river, to bring 12 large       stones to where they were … 1 stone for each of the 12 tribes.
• They were to build a MEMORIAL to God.
• When the 12 men had brought their stones to the bank, the Priests came over, and God let the water loose.

We tend to forget. All of us are susceptible to bouts of memory loss.
Our lives & our world is filled with “memorials”, to help us remember.
• Plaques, to help us remember accomplishments.
• Wedding band … tombstones …
• The Lord’s Supper … Baptism …

Israel had a PROBLEM remembering. Moses WARNED them about forgetting - Deut. 6:12 – “Then beware lest thou forget the Lord, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.”

This heap of stones would be a visible reminder. Every time they passed that way, it would remind them of what God did at Gilgal. It was a common practice to erect a monument of stones to God after a great event took place. We, too, have memorials in our life. They’re not built of stone, but of MEMORIES.

• MEMORIES OF PLACES – Sometimes we go back to place we were born … or places in where we grew up. We relive childhood memories.
• MEMORIES OF PEOPLE – We remember those whom God used in our life. God placed them there at the very time when we needed them.
• MEMORIES OF EXPERIENCES – We can remember how God met our needs in some very difficult times in our life … These lessons can’t be TAUGHT … they have to be EXPERIENCED.
• MEMENTOS OF THE PAST – We collect souvenirs, T-Shirts, coffee mugs, refrigerator magnets … to remind us of what a great time we had on vacation.

These walks down “Memory Lane” serve a purpose … to remind us of something special that happened in our life .. a special blessing from the Lord.

We tend to forget? WHY? There are several things that cause us to forget.
1.- When We Get In A Hurry – We many times  forget things when When we go out. We have to come back. Abraham was in a hurry to have children. He forgot God’s promise, and ran ahead of God … and conceived with Hagar. That’s what we do when we get in a hurry. We forget God … run ahead of Him … get out of His will.

2.- When We Feel Helpless – Then, we wonder where God is. God must have forgotten us … SO … we forget about Him. These stones were there to remind them that the power of God was available BECAUSE they were helpless.

3.- When We Are Hurt – When somebody hurts us, we want to lash out … and hurt them … or somebody else. We FORGET that God said, “’Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ saith the Lord.”

These stones were there to REMIND them of what God did for them at the Jordan River. How can you prevent “Spiritual Amnesia”? What are some “stones” that you can erect to help you remember what God has done in your life?

1.- Write It Down – God likes to write things down. He says that He has WRITTEN down:
• All the names of the redeemed in the Lamb’s Book Of Life.
• The works of the lost, and at the Great White Throne Judgment, the books will be opened, and they will be judged out of those books.
• A “book of remembrance”, where He has written down those who faithfully worship Him (Malachi 3:16).
• A book where He records our tears (Psalm 56:8).
• God wrote the 10 Commandments on 2 stone tablets.
• Jesus wrote in the ground, and the accusers of the woman taken in adultery left her alone.

Writing things down is important to God … it ought to be important to us. That’s how we got our Bible … it’s the “Word of God” … written down for us to read. I wish I had kept a journal of the blessings of God in my life. I tend to forget. I should have written them down.

2.- Tell It To Others – We need to publicly share how God has blessed us. That’s what we do on Wednesday Night. It helps us to remember them … re-live them … rejoice in them. It encourages others, as they see how God has worked in YOUR life.

3.- Use It As A Guide – God uses our past to guide us into our future. God wants us to remember the past … our past failures, as well as our past victories. We can learn from our failures … and gain confidence from our victories. When we see how God has brought us through the past, we will have the assurance that He will bring us through the present.

We tend to forget. That’s why Memorial Day is important. That’s why we need to place some “stones of remembrance” in our lives … to remember what a great God we have!


1.- To Shake Their Memory

2.- TO SHARE THEIR FAITH – 4:6-7, 19-23
Children like to ask questions. One of their favorite questions is “Why?”. Don’t get mad when they ask “Why?” … it’s Biblical! “Why are these stones piled up over here? How did they get this far up on shore?” This gives the parents an opportunity to share with them the faithfulness and power of God. The memorial was a teaching tool, to share the mighty works of God.

Parents have a responsibility to share their faith with their family. Someone once said: “Christianity is just 1 generation away from extinction.” Judges 2:10 – “All that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel.”

There is a tendency for each generation to be Spiritually weaker than the preceding generation. If we don’t set up some stones … i.e., make a conscious effort to share what God has done in our lives … the next generation will forget what God has done in our generation. The longer we experience “Degenerating Generations”, the weaker the Church becomes.

Like these stones, our Christian lives should reflect God’s work and power. 1 Peter 2:5 – “you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

We are “living stones”. When they looked at the stones, the question was asked, “What do these mean?” When people look at your life (a “living stone”), they need to ask, “What does this change in your life mean?”

Has there been a change in your life since you were saved? If there hasn’t … you aren’t saved. Do you remember the day you were saved? That’s the greatest memorial stone you have. Reflecting on that day should ignite anew your passion and zeal for your Savior.


1.- To Shake Their Memory
2.- To Share Their Faith

“fear” – ‘a reverential awe and respect’ … NOT: ‘to be afraid of’. These stones told of a mighty & powerful God Who was to be worshipped.

Why does God allow us to go through some of the trials that we go through? So we (and others) can witness the mighty power of God … and worship Him.

Why does God PREVENT certain bad things from happening to us? Same reason. So we can witness the mighty power of God … and worship Him. The problem is … we don’t SEE what bad things God PREVENTS from happening to us. If it wasn’t for the intervention of God, our lives would be a lot worse then they are now. We need to stop and remember what God DOESN’T ALLOW into our lives.

Everything that happens to you in your life … is an opportunity for you to “look at the stones” … and see the power and majesty of God … and worship Him.

1.- To Shake Their Memory
2.- To Share Their Faith
3.- To Shape Their Worship

Before the Priests came out from the middle of the dry Jordan River-bed, Joshua went back in to set up 12 stones in the middle of the River. When the Priests came on shore, the river flowed again, and covered the stones that Joshua had set up in the middle of the Jordan Rover.

“Gilgal” = ‘the reproach has been rolled away’. 40 years of failure, defeat, and wandering were all behind them … buried like the stones in the Jordan River. These 12 stones represented a shattering of the past … time for a new beginning.

There was another stone that represented a new beginning. It was the stone that the soldiers rolled over the tomb where the body of Jesus lay. When the women came on that first Easter morning, they discovered that the stone had been rolled away. WHY? BECAUSE .. it was the start of a new beginning … a shattering of the past.

Maybe you’ve built a monument of failure, shame and regrets. You need to put them in the Jordan River this morning. You need to let the healing waters of God’s love and grace cover them.

The stones set up that day weren’t just for remembering. There was another set of stones, in the middle of the Jordan River, that were to remind them to forget their failures of the past. Philip. 3:13-14 – “forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, [14] I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

We have a tendency to forget. That’s why we need holidays like Memorial Day … bring home souvenirs from vacations … write things down … observe the Lord’s Supper … “Lest We Forget”. All around us are “stones” … set up as memorials in our memories … to remind us of how great and mighty God is. We need to look for them … recognize them.

God will use people, places, and things as memorial stones to remind us of His faithfulness and His blessings in our lives. God can use YOU, as a “living stone” … to be a blessing in someone else’s life.

Don’t forget to thank God for His many blessings … our freedom … our faith … our future.


Saturday, August 28, 2010



Hebrews 12:18-29

We live in a world where everything changes – don’t we? Just ponder in your minds recent world events!

I’m reminded of this story: Mrs goes to the police station along with Samantha her neighbour to report her husband as missing. The policeman says, ‘Now Mrs, give me a full description of your husband.’ ‘Well’, replies Mrs, ‘he’s 35 years old, has beautiful wavy hair, a deep olive complexion, crystal clear blue eyes, an athletic build, he’s softly spoken and is ever so romantic’. ‘Hang on a minute’, says Samantha, ‘Your husband’s 48 years old, fat, bald, a big mouth and doesn’t have a romantic bone in his body!’ ‘Ok OK but who wants him back!’, came the reply.
Mrs was looking for a change – poor ole hubby didn’t know it but he was on shaky ground!

And we live in shaky times – don’t we!

We live in an unstable world and guess what it is a world that is coming to an end. 2nd Peter 3:10 says, ‘But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.’

Now that’s a bit of a worry isn’t it! We think it’s bad now but there’s coming a day when the very elements of everything as we know it will be destroyed.

But do you know what, it’s not all bad news – look at Heb 12:26&27, ‘At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." The words "once more" indicate the removing of what can be shaken--that is, created things--so that what cannot be shaken may remain.’

The things that can be shaken will be removed to reveal the things that cannot be shaken! And the things that cannot be shaken are the non-created things.

It’s a very comforting thought that in a world of change and decay, where it seems the only thing that is sure, is that nothing is sure – there are some things that cannot be shaken – there are some things that will remain.

Today we are going to consider some of those things, let’s look at four of them:-

Psalm 45:6 says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever…’ and Lamentations 5:19 says, ‘You, O LORD, reign forever; your throne endures from generation to generation.’ We can praise God that no matter what else happens – His throne remain secure!

But what does the Bible mean when it talks about God’s throne?

A. THE THRONE REPRESENTS GOD’S KINGSHIP. It means His rule. His rule will last forever and ever. Or as that verse from Lamentations puts it, ‘You, O LORD, reign forever.’

B. THE THRONE ALSO REPRESENTS GOD HIMSELF. The throne will never be shaken because God will never be shaken. Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the one and only true God will not be moved. Hebrews 1:10-12 says this, "In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. 11 They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. 12 You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end." God is eternal and unchangeable – nothing can shake or change Him.

C. IN GOD’S KINGLY RULE THE THRONE ALSO REPRESENTS BOTH GRACE AND JUDGEMENT. As His children - As those who have placed our trust in Jesus Christ, we may freely come to the throne of grace and into the presence of God. But if we are not His children – if we have rejected or neglected the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ, we will one day stand before the Judgement throne of God.

The throne cannot be shaken! – are we loyal subjects to the King who sits on the throne? Do we willingly bow and confess Jesus Christ as Lord of lords and King of kings?


Mark 13:31 quotes Jesus as saying, ‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.’ And Peter tells us in 1 Peter 1:25 that ‘… the word of the Lord stands forever.’

God’s Word, like Himself is not created. It will remain forever. It is unchangeable. We may try to change and manipulate it – but in the end we will discover that our efforts were in vain. It cannot be shaken!

The Bible is living and powerful and eternal.

Each time we read the Bible we may be sure of three unshakable things:

A. ITS POWER CANNOT BE SHAKEN. Hebrews 4:12 says this about Scripture – ‘For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.’ The word of God has power to convict, to convert, to cleanse, to comfort and to counsel – and its power will never alter.

B. ITS PROMISES CANNOT BE SHAKEN. It has been estimated that there are over 30,000 promises in God’s word – ranging from promises that God will never leave or forsake us, to promises of holy and righteous judgement. And He will remain faithful to them all – for the God of truth and faithfulness has made these promises.

C. ITS PROPHECIES CANNOT BE SHAKEN. Many of the Bibles prophecies have already been literally fulfilled and the prophecies that await fulfilment will also one day be literally fulfilled.

Do we long to read or listen to the word of God? Do we let it convict us and cleanse us and counsel us? Have we allowed the Word who became flesh, Jesus Christ, to take control of our lives? – if so, we can thank God that in a ‘shaky’ world His Word remains secure.

The words of our Lord as recorded in Matthew 16:18 assure us of this, ‘… I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.’

The visible church, the church as an organization may be shaken – and we have seen this in many ways.

But listen to what we are told at the end of Eph 1 about the true nature of the church, ‘And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.’

That just blows my mind!!

The mystical church, the church which is the body and bride of Christ. That church which is made up of those who have truly given their lives to Jesus, cannot and will not be shaken. The true church is secure, permanent and abiding. It is not a created thing! If we belong to that church - what a blessing it is to know that we are members of the body of Christ – we belong with countless others to that which is founded and built on none other than the risen eternal Jesus Christ.

The question is, are we members of the true church?

The apostle Paul says, PHP 2:12 ‘… work out your salvation with fear and trembling.’ For we can be trapped into thinking that because we attend ‘church’, or because we are Members of a ‘church’, or because we try to be religious and good – we are secure. But this may be false security!

For no matter how religious or righteous we appear, God knows our heart and what we have done with Jesus. And by our heart He will judge us – not by any outward righteousness, or ‘church’ attendance, or even displays of spiritual power. – Listen to the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:22-23, ‘Many will say to me on that day, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, `I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’’

But if we belong to the true church we may rejoice in the fact that the church will never be shaken.


There are many wonderful promises in the word of God regarding this. He has pledged to keep His children secure until they are safely home with Him in glory. Do you realise that you a created being are so permeated by the Divine when you become one with Jesus that His life pulsate within you.

1 John 2:17 says, ‘The world and its desires pass away, but the man (the person) who does the will of God lives forever.’

In John 10:28 Jesus says, ‘I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.’

And Paul says in Romans 8:38-39, 38 ‘For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’

As Christians we have eternal life and we cannot be shaken – for Christ is our strength and He cannot be shaken. He is our life. When all that can be shaken is removed, we will remain. And we shall dwell in our eternal inheritance in that city whose architect and builder is God.

1 John 5:11&12 gives us the answer to that question, ‘… God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.’

We have eternal life when we have Jesus in our life – and when does Jesus come into our life? Let’s look to Romans 10:9 for the answer – ‘… if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.’ And Jesus says in Revelation 3:20, ‘Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.’

As we think about the instability of the world, let’s be encouraged to put our trust in the God who cannot be shaken. And let’s rejoice that there are at least four things that cannot be moved –

1. God’s throne,
2. God’s word,
3. God’s church,
4. God’s child.