Saturday, July 30, 2016

20160626 The Thread - Jacob - A Wrestler

Everyone of us come from a family that has brokenness. When the LORD asks us to follow Him the journey often starts with very small steps of faith. He calls us to move in order get us unstuck from our comfortable lives into His greater future. And along the way we often end up more broken, more in need of His grace than ever before. Outline: Nobody’s family is perfect: Since we are all human beings permanently marred by sin, even the best families raise imperfect humans. Sometimes faith starts with small steps: We often don’t get to see too far into the future. The LORD gives us just a glimpse beyond our nose, and then He asks us to trust Him with the rest. The LORD accepts us where we are in order to move us to where He wants us to be: Abraham is called to do something very few people on the planet would be willing to do. And yet, because of his history with the LORD’s faithfulness, he steps out and trusts, even when it doesn’t seem to make sense. The the LORD touches us it often leaves us more broken than before the touch: Encounters with the Living God will change us. The best changes are those that remind us repeatedly of our own brokenness and of His greatness. Reflection: What is the step the LORD has been asking you to take that you have hesitated to take? What is preventing you from being obedient? 
http://hospchap.sermon.net/main/main/20723875

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Thread - Ruth - Committed Servant

Ruth stands as an example of someone who wasn’t afraid to serve those who were in positions of authority in her life. She knew what it meant to commit to a cause and follow through on that commitment.
Outline: Commitment has no limits: Nothing gets in the way of commitment in a relationship. Ruth’s determination to stay with Naomi has no limits. Commitment takes investment: Naomi is overcome with grief, and yet Ruth stays at her side. Ruth supports Naomi as she is overcome with grief. She provides the income for both of them. Commitment involves risk: Ruth asks Boaz to risk his life and reputation to support Naomi and Ruth. She trusts him to care for them. Commitment brings joy: Both Ruth and Boaz are faithful to their commitments. Ruth gives birth to a son and Naomi adopts him as her own. This son named Obed carries on the family line and becomes the grandfather of King David. Reflection: What are the levels of your commitments? Commitment to the LORD? To family? To the church? To your spiritual, emotional and physical health?

http://hospchap.sermon.net/main/main/20719041

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Thread - Moses - Drawn Out & Reluctant

Moses was an reluctant leader. It took years for the LORD to draw out his leadership abilities. But when he allowed the LORD to work, the LORD did impossible things through him. And the LORD was lifted up in the eyes of the whole world.
Outline: Leadership is often about timing: So many times the difference between success and failure as a leader is the timing of our actions. Good leaders are sensitive to the direction of the Spirit’s moving. When we follow the LORD’s direction His power will be there: God often uses our weakness to show His strength. When this happens people see His power. He gets the credit for the success. Even though Moses claims an inability to speak, he speaks. We need each other: Moses needed Aaron and Hur to hold up his hands as he got weak. He stepped up to the leadership role the LORD has promised and he was willing to accept the help of others. Sometimes those closest to us betray our confidence: We just don’t see the attack coming. The hurt feelings happen because you trusted them and they hurt you anyway. Reflection: How are you allowing the pain of your past to prevent you from obeying the LORD today? Who do you need to talk to in order to seek reconciliation? What is stopping you from doing that today?

http://hospchap.sermon.net/main/main/20714174

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Thread - Joseph - Faithful Underdog

God often uses the worst of circumstances as a means of bringing glory to Himself.
Outline: Sometimes everyone in your family will misunderstand what the LORD is doing in your life: God often speaks to us as individuals and then that message is confirmed by the Word, the body and the Holy Spirit. Our families sometimes don’t understand, even when they want what is best for us. Sometimes the LORD puts us in a position without giving us the full picture of what He is doing: We have limited knowledge. God has complete knowledge. So we are often operating in the dark. We don’t understand what the LORD is doing. When we are faithful the LORD brings His blessing in His time: Joseph was faithful, and yet much of his life it seemed as though no one acknowledged it. But the LORD brought blessing both to him and to those he served. Blessing can also make us an object of envy and attack: Those opposed to us often don’t understand the blessing of the LORD. They feel jealous. But attack doesn’t mean we are outside of God’s will.

http://hospchap.sermon.net/main/main/20709638

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Thread - Jacob - A Wrestler

Everyone of us come from a family that has brokenness. When the LORD asks us to follow Him the journey often starts with very small steps of faith. He calls us to move in order get us unstuck from our comfortable lives into His greater future. And along the way we often end up more broken, more in need of His grace than ever before.
Outline: Nobody’s family is perfect: Since we are all human beings permanently marred by sin, even the best families raise imperfect humans. Sometimes faith starts with small steps: We often don’t get to see too far into the future. The LORD gives us just a glimpse beyond our nose, and then He asks us to trust Him with the rest. The LORD accepts us where we are in order to move us to where He wants us to be: Abraham is called to do something very few people on the planet would be willing to do. And yet, because of his history with the LORD’s faithfulness, he steps out and trusts, even when it doesn’t seem to make sense. The the LORD touches us it often leaves us more broken than before the touch: Encounters with the Living God will change us. The best changes are those that remind us repeatedly of our own brokenness and of His greatness. Reflection: What is the step the LORD has been asking you to take that you have hesitated to take? What is preventing you from being obedient?

http://hospchap.sermon.net/main/main/20705097

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Thread - Abraham - A Man Called to Trust

God keeps His promises. He has communicated to people down through history. Some have had a special place in His plan. He made promises to them and He kept them, even when the people failed in trusting Him. Abraham is just such a person.
Outline: God makes God-sized promises to His people: When God speaks to people He often promises so much that we have a hard time believing those promises. The LORD is always faithful, no matter the degree of our unfaithfulness: Living a life of faith doesn’t mean we are perfect in our trust. We are imperfect trusters. We stumble and fall. We falter and sputter as we learn to trust. But when we do trust, the LORD shows Himself mighty. Sometimes God calls us to do seemingly impossible things: Abraham is called to do something very few people on the planet would be willing to do. And yet, because of his history with the LORD’s faithfulness, he steps out and trusts, even when it doesn’t seem to make sense. Trusting God can be the most difficult thing to do: When the LORD asks us to trust Him, we need to trust Him, no matter how hard it seems.

http://hospchap.sermon.net/main/main/20700261

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Thread - Jesus is THE Answer

Despite human sinfulness, people trusted in the LORD, and the LORD remained faithful to those who trusted Him. Our faith is an objective faith. We put our faith in Jesus: There are many things we could trust in life. Jesus is the only One worthy of complete trust. The LORD is a communicating God: We can know for certain the object of our faith, Jesus, because God has communicated with us. He has spoken our language. And we don’t need any new revelation. Jesus is the final and complete revelation of God to humanity. Angels are not worthy of being trusted with eternal things: Angels are created beings, and as such don’t have a permanent place in our salvation history. They are below Jesus in every way. Jesus is superior to angels and therefore the proper object of our faith: The message Jesus brought is an eternal, enduring message. Because it is eternal, the need to obey it is much greater than the messages brought by angels.

http://hospchap.sermon.net/main/main/20694846

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Honoring Contentment

Often life is ruled by desires of what we think we want or should have but do not or can not have. Wrong desires accepted lead to life-taking attitudes and actions. Once we start seeking satisfaction somewhere other than in the LORD, our thirst will never be satisfied. Contentment has nothing to do with the size of your bank account. We can trust the LORD to take care of our needs. If we aren’t content with what we have, we are in danger of judgment.

http://hospchap.sermon.net/main/main/20689969

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Fog on the Brain

I have just realized that since landing in Okinawa, I have had fog on the brain. That is why none of the postings I have done have showed up in my feed!
Well, they will return in the next few days.
Thanks for clicking the links and watching the sermons.
Stan

Honoring Wealth

God promises to care for his creatures. He made them physical beings and in the midst of their work promises to provide what they need. Stealing shows a lack of trust in God, and keeps people from trusting and being able to have trusting, healthy relationships with others.

http://hospchap.sermon.net/main/main/20682306

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Honoring Sexuality

Here is a link to my sermon from this past week. I shared the role of sexuality in the Life God Gives series here at Keystone Church of the Nazarene here in Okinawa Japan.

Just in case the link above doesn't work, here it is ready to copy and paste into your browser.

http://ftp.keystonenazarene.org/audio/2016-5-15.mp3

And here are some others if you are so inclined.

https://hospchap.sermon.net/main/main/20677191

Monday, May 16, 2016

Living without Subtitles

Let’s face it, we all get a little lost at times and need signs, directions, or subtitles.

So, you can imagine that living in Okinawa, Japan can be very disorienting to a gal raised in western culture.  The Japanese have three alphabets. You read that correctly, three! 

So, what does a person do when you can’t read Japanese and the signs have no subtitles? Well, you can sit and cry because you’re utterly and completely lost.  Or you can look for someone who speaks your language.  Or you can attempt to venture out, watching for landmarks to give you directional awareness. 

Staying alert in a foreign country is a must! I watch where I’m going and leave ‘bread crumbs’ to find my way home.

I wonder if Jesus had this in mind when he gave his disciples warnings like “it will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes”.  How about, “you know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; how is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?”

There are signs all around us.  In order to interpret the present times, we need Jesus, plain and simple.  He interprets the signs for us.  He gives us directional awareness.  He instructs us to be alert and watchful as we travel from our unknowns to the knowns, from this earth to our eternal home. 

If you’re feeling lost today, adrift in your new residence, remember that Jesus was already there waiting for you.  He wants to be your guide.  Jesus cares about your feelings of “lost-ness” and says, “I am the way, the truth and the life”.  He is the way and He’ll show you the way. 

Any day now, He may be coming back to take us home. Whether it be the fulfillment of prophecy or the final moments of our time on earth, He says “be ready”.  Keep watching the signs of this present time and be about pleasing our Savior, Jesus.

No subtitles needed when Jesus shows us the way home. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Walking In A Fog

As we walk around and drive around we are bombarded with communication. There are signs everywhere. Every shop has signs covered in words. The streets have words written on them. The traffic signs have words. There are banners and placards everywhere.

But for me, it looks like squiggly lines. I am sure for the average Okinawan it all makes perfect sense, but for me, I am lost. And yet I know that the squiggly lines have meaning, but the meaning is hidden to me. They are in plain sight, but I don't know how to understand them.

The Scriptures tell us that the things of God are hidden and unable to be understood by someone who isn't a Jesus-follower. We read in 1 Corinthians 2:14
"The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit."
It is as though the Spirit acts as a translator for the believer. The Spirit opens the heart and mind of the believer enabling them to accept the things the Spirit wants to send. They are able to see the wisdom in what seems to others foolishness.

To the non-Jesus-follower, many things that happen in life are a mystery. Even when the LORD shows up in tangible ways, there is confusion and an inability to accept a different reality. Their thinking is locked into seeing the world one way, and one way only.

For those of us who have the Spirit, life is full of new and exciting possibilities. We can see His presence in so many places. We see Him working. He has opened our eyes and hearts. It has nothing to do with us other than yielding to His influence.

As I try to decipher the characters of the three Japanese alphabets (you read that correctly, three alphabets) I need a translator desperately. By the way, there are over 2,100 differently characters taken from Chinese used by the Japanese language. They learn all 2,100 as part of their primary school education. And to top that off, they assign different meanings and different pronunciation than the Chinese equivalent. So even if I was fluent in Chinese, it wouldn't help me much in Japan.

So even though I don't know what the thousands of signs are saying, I can be confident of the LORD's direction in our being here. We sense His fingerprints all over our interactions. We are right where the LORD wants us to be.

Please pray that we would be like the many banners along the streets, willing to move at the slightest movement of the wind of the Spirit.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Standing At the Sink

As I was standing at the sink filling ice cube trays with water, I realized I was in Okinawa. I am in Okinawa.

No words can describe the overwhelming sense of God's presence right now. Tears are literally welling up in my eyes. He would grace me with the privilege of serving Him and His people here in Okinawa.

And I get to fill ice cube trays in Okinawa.

God's presence seems to show up in unusual places and times. You see, that is the way God speaks, in extra ordinary ways and in the every day moments. He speaks through ice cube trays, the still small voice, the thundering storm, the rose petal, the prophets words, the death-defying Son of God.

I believe that the Creator of the Universe is still involved in His creation. He didn't step back and become uninvolved. On the contrary, He became more involved.

And I believe He is involved in making ice cubes in Okinawa.

This might sound crazy to some. But to me they are the most beautiful words, spoken to the heart of a very humbled servant.

Monday, May 9, 2016

How Long Is That Trip Going To Take!

We can take distance for granted. You hop on the highway and at 70mph it only takes an hour to get to where we need to go. A 400 mile trip takes 6 hours, right? Or if you are out West, it only take 5 hours at 85mph. And that is if you observe the speed limits. And we all stick strictly to the speed limits, wink, wink.

So if you have looked at a map of Okinawa you have discovered that the main island is only 66 miles long. The whole chain of hundreds of islands which make up Okinawa Prefecture (their equivalent of a state) is over 600 miles long. We are on the main island. Sixty six miles long. Not that far, right?

Well, that was before we arrived. Sixty six miles. It shouldn't take us more than 1 1/2 hours to get from bottom to top. We should be able to see everything easily.

And then we arrive. The main road North and South where we are is three lanes each direction. And this is the populated section. When we get away from the population the road narrows to two lanes, and then to one.

And the traffic lights. Did I mention there are 1.4 million people on this island with what seems like 1.6 million cars! And I think maybe a million traffic lights.

Being from Florida we are familiar with Snowbirds and the traffic they bring. We are all happy when they head back up north. We can breathe as we drive. The lines are gone.

Jesus was walking with two disciples after His resurrection. They were still struggling with trying to understand the events of the previous week. Jesus opens the Scripture to them in answer to a question. He explains from the Old Testament how the events of Jesus' life fit with Scripture. But I don't know if the journey that day seemed long or short.

This I do know, after Jesus revealed Himself to them and then disappeared, something about their journey became evident. They said that their hearts had been warmed as Jesus had talked with them on the way. (Luke 24:32) We have no indication that they noticed the warming at the time. They only noticed it when the significance became evident. Jesus had changed everything.

Many of us have experience this shift in time. We have been talking with someone as we traveled and then we remark, "Where did the time go?" You arrive at the destination without really being aware that time has passed.

We have also experienced the "are we there yet" of kids, who seem to make every minute traveling seem twice as long.

I don't know whether it will be a short or long journey here on the Island, but I do know that traveling it with my wife, and with the LORD's presence will make the journeys seem short.