Wednesday, October 29, 2014

"Resent, Repent, Relent" - a message from Jonah 3

As we continue in our series from Jonah, God has just given Jonah a second chance.  (By the way, aren't you glad our God is so gracious and patient as to give second, third, fourth chances?!)  So Jonah accepts God's offer and makes his way to Ninevah. What happens then is marvelous.

In Jonah 3, we see Repentance revealed three ways.  It is revealed in Jonah's recommitment, Ninevah's regret and reversal of their ways, and in God's "relenting"...all three are rooted in the Biblical teaching on Repentance.

Below is an outline for this message. I hope Holy Spirit speaks to you through it. More importantly, I encourage you to respond as Holy Spirit leads.

God bless, Kirk McCormick

“Resent, Repent, Relent”
Jonah 3

** In Jonah 3, we see how Repentance is revealed Three Ways.

Way 1 – (Repentance Expressed when)
Jonah Recommits.

Point: Repentance is often a Change of priorities.

Jonah 3:3 – “Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh.”

Point: Repentance, when genuine, frees us to clean the slate so we can reconfigure our priorities according to God’s plan.

Way 2 – (Repentance Expressed when)
Nineveh Regrets and Reverses.

** Jonah recommits to God’s plan…he goes to Nineveh and preaches…

…the king hears the message (v. 6)

6 When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne,

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Word about the Election

Hello friends,

Let’s talk about the Election for a bit!…

…not the process by which we chose a new president or governmental official. Most of us are likely tired of that and all of the edifying commercials that go along with it.  No, I’m talking about THE Election…the one that matters most – where God chooses those who will forever be with him in eternity. The Election which cannot be earned, but is a gift from our Compassionate and Loving Lord.

There was a school-aged boy who was not very athletic. In fact, he was outright clumsy and awkward. The jocks called him such endearing terms as, “Dork”, “Nerd” or “NARP” (Non-athletic, retarded person). When teams were chosen during recess he was always the last to be chosen, and then reluctantly with, “I guess we’re stuck with him.” His contemporaries made fun of him because even the girls were chosen ahead of him…that is, until one day when the captain of the school football team, who was also the homecoming king, chose this boy first!  The contemporaries were shocked. Those who had ridiculed the boy were confronted with the reality that the greatest athlete in the school chose the clumsy and awkward one first. Regardless of the boy’s lack of athletic prowess, he was given a new esteem and status by the captain, though the choice made no earthly sense. Why was he chosen first by the best athlete and most popular boy of the school? Because they were brothers…and the picker loved his brother.

When God was choosing Israel to be his people, he didn’t choose them because they were the biggest nation or people who lived in the richest land and had the most powerful army. God chose out of his love for Israel.

“It was not because you were more numerous than any other people that the LORD set his heart on you and chose you – for you were the fewest of all peoples. It was because the LORD loved you.”
Deuteronomy 7:7-8 (NRSV)

Election…God’s sovereign right to chose whomever he chooses.  It has nothing to do with our ability to perform. Nor does it pertain to popularity. Nor is God impressed so much with our possessions that he wants to be close to us.  God loves us, so he chooses us before we are even born, even if others think we are losers; even if it makes no earthly sense.

A common question, when it comes to Election, is, “Why does God not allow anyone or everyone to enter his kingdom?” The short answer is, “We do not know.”  Yet, I do not believe, as some “double-predestination” advocates do, that God creates some with the purpose of sending them to Hell.  After all, 2 Peter 3:9b says, “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” No…the Bible does not enlighten us to all of the truths about predestination and Election. Perhaps someday we’ll know.

For now, though, what comfort there is in His Election for those who would say, “Yes” to God’s blessing of salvation. Paul reminds us in his letter to the believers in Ephesus (emphasis added) –

“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and
without fault in his eyes.” (New Living Translation)

Election…how comforting to know that I belong to God simply because he selected me. Along with millions of others, yet out of millions of others God chose me!  And for what purpose did God choose me and you?  Jesus gives us insight in John 15:16 (emphasis added) –

“You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit,
fruit that won’t spoil.”  (The Message Translation)

In short, God choses us to be his people on earth as a preview of what we’ll be as his people in heaven. And too often we miss the blessings of being his people when we do not ask God for healings, wisdom, or any other “miracle” he would offer. While on earth, we “bear fruit”…we live in a way to have an impact on eternity.  We do this by living a “Kingdom Lifestyle” now.

The Kingdom of this world is become the Kingdom of our God and of his Christ.
And He shall reign forever and forever King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.

So go the inspiring words of George Frideric Handel, in his familiar and epic offering, The Hallelujah Chorus. This tune, though, is far more than a Christmas favorite. It reminds us that the kingdom of God is here on earth because God is sovereign over all of his creation. It’s true, “He shall reign King of Kings and Lord of Lords” … yet, He already is!  Our privilege is to live it with him, asking Jesus to be the Lord of our daily lives. This is the privilege of the Elect.

“We love because he first loved us.”
1 John 4:19

“Election”…it’s not a bad word, and it doesn’t need to raise the hair on your neck. It’s God’s word that defines who we are as those who belong to God, never to be taken from him.  It gives us the assurance that “nothing can ever separate us from God’s love” (Romans 8:39.) 

So let's pray for the process of electing new government officials, yes.  But let’s also be the Elect, living the kingdom now! And let’s invite others to enjoy God with us, especially as Thanksgiving and Christmas approach. Discover anew his love for you and the kingdom power of his presence because you are in him.

God bless you, Kirk McCormick

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

"The Storm before the Calm" - (Jonah 1:4-16

I'm excited about the new sermon series at Royal Palm.  Dr. Joe and I are preaching systematically from the book of Jonah.

Jonah...the only autobiographical book of the Bible wherein the author admits to his sin (disobedience, in Jonah's case), redemption, and outcome.  Such a relevant book!

Before listening to this message, ask yourself, "Am I an optimist, pessimist or a realist?"  When it comes to the "storms" of life, the optimist says, "God will keep me from the storm."  But everyone goes through trials, either self-imposed or not.  The pessimist says, "I'm in the Calm before the Storm," just waiting for the next trial to come.  But the realist says, "When the storm arises, God will lead me to the calm."

I hope this message will give you a Realist's perspective.  Even when the "storm" is self-imposed by our sin or poor choice, God can lead us into the Calm.  Listen for the Lord's voice and Holy Spirit will speak.

God bless, Kirk McCormick

“The Storm before the Calm”
Jonah 1:4-16

** After boarding a ship going to Tarshish (the opposite direction), we read -

4Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up.

Point: God reminds Jonah through this storm, “I am in charge.”

5a All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship.

Point: This story clearly proves… In a storm, false gods offer no relief.

5b But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell

Thursday, October 2, 2014

"Who are YOU?" - Psalm 139:13-17

Do you know who you really are or are you letting the world define according to its superficial agenda and value system?

One of my greatest hopes as a father has been to instill in my children the sense that it is God who defines who they really are...not their achievements, failures, where they live or who they know.  So I was blessed to share some thoughts through this message in three different settings last week:  at a university chapel service, at Royal Palm's traditional service (to mostly "mature" believers), and to those who come to The Well (RPC's contemporary service with students-grandparents participating.)  Each time people commented on how helpful God's Word was.

I hope this message will help you see yourself as God does.  God bless, Kirk McCormick