ALAP-As Long As Possible

I want to explain why I speak the way I do, not southern hickerbilly but sermon-wise. There are different kinds of sermons but the two basic styles of sermons are topical and expository. I do use topical. Topical is where you select a topic and run with it. You can use any scripture anywhere whatsoever and that’s why we’re going flip, flip, flip, flip, flip all the time I’m up here. The idea is to pick a topic that is germane to the congregation, something they are interested in and will help them live their life according to Christ.

Expository preaching is scholarly. You select the verse or verses and then you go over that section line by line, word by word. You are to analyze, get technical and go into the detail; minutia of all the things that are involved there. Truthfully most people don’t like it because it gets bogged down too deep. I like it because I’m trying to build up a repertoire of things I can share topically, and the reason I chose the topical style is because Jesus spoke topically.

When Jesus spoke to general crowds He spoke topically to them on subjects concerning them and would build them up. When He spoke with the disciples He went into more explanation. He told the parables to the people. When he spoke to just the disciples He said now I am going to explain to you in detail or in depth. Because you are the disciples you are supposed to know more than they are, so I will teach you now.

When you attend Bible College you get into expository and you have to study books from beginning to end. They literally go over every word, but I’m not complaining, that’s what you’re there for. On Sunday morning I try to teach more topical stuff. Then on Sunday and Wednesday nights we get into the little interesting details. Sunday morning is stuff that we can use in our day-to-day life, and Sunday and Wednesday nights is more general stuff to build up and be useful to us later. It will come into play later into all this idea.

Today the topic will be “facing life in general”. A lot of people come to life and seem to just dread it. Every day they get up they think gee I wish it was night so I could go back to bed and sleep through this, but when they go to bed at night they lay there wishing for morning because they really don’t sleep that well at night. They toss and turn and there is no peace in their life. They don’t have a strong relationship with God at those points because they are thinking God is so good, so wonderful and so perfect and I am so bad. This is what that Psalm is talking about, we go to the highest heights, we can go to the lowest depths, and then when it says I can go into the darkest darkness it’s not that the guy was going into a cave but the idea also brings in depression. You are really in the bottom of this and he is saying even when I am in the very depths of darkness, whether it’s a cave or emotional depression, when I am really, really down God is still there. We get in these situations and we think I can’t go to God because gee, I’ve been such a rat lately or a rascal or whatever you want to say. He will reject me and I just don’t want to have to face more rejection on top of that. Don’t believe it. Don’t believe it!

You’re being lied to by your conscience, by your feelings. You are being lied to by the devil, and you are being lied to by ministers that tell you that kind of stuff, oh, you’re such a rat and God is going to reject you. You should crawl up here you little slime and cry out before God for hours on end and maybe, just maybe He will show you some mercy. Jesus himself says, “Come unto me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” This is Matthew 28. Notice the words there, come unto me all. All. If you are weary, come. If you are heavy laden, come, and the best part of this is He doesn’t say what we have to be weary from. He doesn’t even say what the heavy burden has to be that we are carrying. He leaves it open. For any reason whether it is physical, emotional, sickness, whatever is burdening you down, whatever weariness whether it is physical work or whether it’s just mental work or you get on the mental treadmill. Do you guys do that? You just get to thinking and you just worry and it’s constant, constant like a dog with a bone. There is no meat on it but you keep gnawing thinking you’ll get something and you don’t want any other dog to get it either so you’re trying to protect this.

Whatever the reason you are weary, whatever reason is causing you stress, Jesus still says even if it is sin, come unto Me all. Anyone. This is an open invitation. Come unto me all of you. Anybody. He is there. He will not reject you, and He promises that He will lead you, and He will guide you, and you can trust Him, and He will take you by the right hand, His right hand will take hold of you and He will bring you along and get you out of the darkness and out of the situation. I’m not saying that it is a quick trip. It’s not like jumping on the good ship lollypop or anything like that. He is going to bring you through this situation and along the way He will deliver you. That’s the whole idea of the word of escape. It is the entire process of bringing you out of the situation. Here is a word of comfort. It might be a hard time, seemingly, and you might be going through “fiery troubles” but there is a difference between being in the fiery troubles without Christ and being in fiery troubles with Christ. If you’re in fiery trouble without Christ you’re just going to burn up, but if you are with Christ in that fiery situation remember this; everyone recall the three men in the fiery furnace. You think I’m going to die, I’m going to die, but when Christ is with you, remember the bush that Moses was in front of burnt but it was never consumed.

Folks, if we’re in trouble there might be this sensation of burning all around us, but we are actually not being consumed. The things in our lives that are really not worth it could be being burned away and we could be caused to have to look at the things in our life and He is going that’s really not worth it, you might choose to turn the switch. He will work us through all those kinds of things and we will come out the better for it, but we will not be destroyed. That is one of the promises that He gives us. Now, I want us to go to Hebrews 4:14-16 and it is something that we should all be aware of. Once again I am using the New American Standard Bible. “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession, that’s that we trust Him, “for we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.”

Jesus Himself said I came, but I didn’t come to be a judge for you. He came to be our high priest. He came to intercede for us and on our behalf, and He is not someone who does not understand. Yes, before they did have human high priests you think well, they would understand it, but those priests did not always have the same foibles and problems that we have, or that I have, or that you have, and they just couldn’t understand it. I know people that you just pick a topic and they will say well, that just can’t be. Well, why not? Well, it never happened to me. Just because they’re not tempted does not mean that you’re not tempted, and it is real to you because you know you went through it and they’re sitting there thinking it doesn’t bother me so how could it be bothering you? You’re just making this up because you’re wanting sympathy. It’s not so. It says Jesus Christ was tempted in all things just like we were. Those 40 days that He was in the wilderness, we’re only told about 3 of His temptations that the devil brought but He was out there and when you read it in context it says that he was tempted for 40 days. 40 days that guy had Satan out there grinding on Him trying to get Him to stumble and fall. 40 days of outright temptation by the supreme tempter himself coming up with everything he could to get Jesus to fall.

That’s not the only temptations or testings that Christ went through. He went through absolutely everything that we do. He started off as a babe. He had to grow up. He went through the toddler stage. He went through the being bullied by the local bully patrol wherever He was growing up in Nazareth. He was a pre-teen. He went through the terrible 2s and the terrible 3s, and I managed to stretch it into the 4s, 5s and 6s. He went through all that. He went through puberty and becoming a teen. He was a young adult. He became an adult. He had to experience everything every human being had. Anything that tempts you, follows you, tests you, stresses you out, He was encountered with that. Somehow, someway He had a direct confrontation with those same feelings, those same temptations. It would have been just as easy for Him to have stuck His hand in the till and pull out a few extra coins while He was along the way, or went down to the bakery shop and snatched a couple of bagels while no one was looking. He could do all those kinds of things just like a lot of other people have done, are doing, and will do tomorrow. He was tempted. It was like go ahead, take the bagel. Hey look at Jesus what we stole. We got bagels and lots of bagels. We have bagels with cream cheese. Hey, just go down there and steal them. He’ll never know. We’ll keep him busy.

He was confronted just like we are in every situation. That’s why He will not reject and He sympathizes. He can say yes, I know how you feel because in the same way I confronted that and I chose not to do it. Just because we’re confronted with something does not make us sinners. It’s the choice. When Adam and Eve were confronted with the apple they did not sin until they said I’m going to do it. Remember that cartoon. If I do it I get a whipping. I’m going to do it, and the little cartoon guy says go ahead and do it. Our problem is a lot of times we say well, if I do it I’ll get in trouble. Jesus says it’s not only the act of doing it, it’s not being confronted with it, but it’s if you’re doing it in your mind. Yeah, I could rob that bank. I know how to rob a bank. I could do this and plan the bank robbery out and make it all up in your mind. Even if you don’t execute it you really want to do it and you are performing it in your mind. You’re saying oh yeah, I could do that. Jesus is saying you’re guilty of theft because you planned each and every step of that all along the way. Sheriff, I have never planned a bank robbery ever. You watch the movies and this kind of stuff and there are kids who sit there and try to figure this kind of stuff out.

Anyway, that’s confession of sin. Yeah, I planned a bank robbery. It wasn’t very good because I got to the bank and they had built a new bank and changed all the doors and everything. Darn. But the idea is He is there and He will sympathize. He will not turn you away. When we’re in these situations and we’re confronted with them some people get so uptight that they actually become afraid of what they’re going to confront and they know it is coming.

Deuteronomy. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, it’s the last book of the top five back in the back, if you would like to flip over there. The only reason I say them is because I get them out of order. In fact I’m showing off. I went to Bible College to learn these and it’s sad because those are the only five I still have memorized, other than Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Deuteronomy 7:17-18. Now, the setup for this is the children, part of them did come out of Egypt and they did see the pillar of fire and the cloud, and they saw the sea split open. They remembered the darkness and the plagues. A lot of them saw all those things but there were several other kids who were born during that 40 years, their parents have died and they are now getting ready to go into the land of Canaan. Chapter 7:17, “If you should say in your heart, ‘These nations are greater than I; how can I dispossess them?’ you shall not be afraid of them; you shall well remember,” not just remember, you shall well remember, “what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt: the great trials which your eyes saw and the signs and the wonders and the mighty hand and the outstretched arm by which the Lord your God brought you out. So shall the Lord your God do to all the peoples of whom you are afraid.” Now, he’s admitting the fact that when they get there they are liable to be creeped out by it. I was raised up and I was one of those kids that was nervous about things. When you can’t see and you don’t have glasses and you wake up in the night you start seeing all sorts of stuff so you start getting creeped out, especially if you have family like I have and I’m talking aunts, uncles and cousins who would do everything to just scare the wits out of you all the time.

You’re sound asleep. You go to their house and you’re sound asleep and they tell you stories that were really, really scary, and then my uncle would go outside when you were just about asleep and scratch on the window screens and stand there haaa, haaa. That kind of stuff happened, so you’re creeped out. Finally I got brave. There was something on the wall and I could not tell what it was and I reached up and I touched it. You know I was so afraid of everything of the night, but when I finally said I’m not going to be afraid and touched it I overcame those fears. That was the beginning of it and he was saying to these people when you get to the place where you’re going to cross that river Jordan and you see those nations yeah, you’re going to be creeped out by them because you’ve heard stories how big they are and all this other stuff, but you will do well to remember what you have already seen. You will do well when you sit down and you think about this and actually the words come across as you are not to be afraid. Even though it’s coming against you and you’re getting creeped out by it, you are to look at it and say I will not let this perturb me. I will not let this overcome me. I will remember what God has done.

This is like a commandment. You are not to let this fear overcome you, and there is only one reason given that you are not to let it overcome you. It’s because the Lord your God is with you. Psalm 23, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.” Because He is with you, you do not fear. His rod and His staff, they give you comfort. Because He is with you, you will not fear and you let Him deal with the rod and staff. Most of us jump all the way over “the Lord is with us” and that’s why we aren’t supposed to fear. We go yeah, yeah, yeah, rod and staff. Yeah, I don’t need to fear. We don’t fear because the Lord is with us. He happens to have a rod and staff. One is to catch us and bring us back and the other one is to beat up the people who are trying to get to us.

Example: We have Sheriff Hires, I will not fear. He has a gun, but I will not fear whether he has a gun or not because he knows what is supposed to happen and if somebody is robbing me I am going to hide behind him and hope you have a Kevlar vest on buddy. You’re my first line of defense. We’re not supposed to be afraid because of the person of Jesus Christ. I have friends who are always within three steps of a weapon. I’m not kidding. Always. I didn’t believe it. I called them on it. Yeah, right, and they showed me three steps this way here are knives, three steps that way there are guns, over there are clubs, over here… and they just had weapons hidden all over their house and then they come to me and they say you need a gun. I said I don’t like guns. You need a gun. I can’t take them off the safety without shooting myself. I don’t need to be around guns or weapons. Well, what are you going to do whenever those hoards from the city come tromping down here? I said that’s why I have you as a friend. I have you for a friend. Personally, that’s the only reason I have you for a friend. You have weapons too. At the time I was working in Clay City at the store. You have weapons, I have food, we’ll make a deal, when the hoards get here. The more you protect me the higher you can raise your store credit. I’ll give you a whole side of beef right there just for that, just for protecting me.

That is the way it is with Jesus Christ. We’re not to be focusing on the rod and the staff so much, but we’re not to fear because first He told us not to, and His promise is that He will be with us and because we are connected to Him we should know that His promises are absolutely truth, and we can have peace and we are basing this on Geneses 15. About everything that relates to our religion starts in the book of Genesis. What we’re going to read today is chapter 15. It’s actually very important to the whole New Testament idea. Genesis 15:1. “After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; your reward shall be very great.’”
Another way to say it is I am your reward. Do not fear. He tells the children of Israel as they are getting ready to go into the land of Canaan do not fear. He tells other people do not fear. Do not fear because I am your God. This is where this starts. Do not fear, Abram, because I am your shield. It’s just a shield, but the idea is it’s a movable shield. It’s not Abram’s shield. Abram doesn’t have to use the shield and move it himself because if they’re coming behind him and he doesn’t know it God is saying I am your Shield, I’ll take care of you no matter what direction the attack is coming from. Whether it’s the front, I’ll move the shield to the back if it’s the back. Top, bottom, side, it doesn’t matter. I will be there shielding you from evil.
Now, I hate to say this, He doesn’t shield us from our own stupidity, our own foibles. We have free will so we can make our own mistakes, but when true evil is coming against us even though we’re walking into it He is protecting us saying it’s their fault and they’re coming against you. You are going to be in a place of protection. Keep trusting in Me and don’t have fear. I have a cousin who when she gets scared stops still, puts her hand over her mouth, and clamps her nose shut, why I don’t know, and she will stand there terrified and she absolutely passes out. She can’t breath. Clunk, and you’re thinking don’t stop, keep moving. There’s a song that says if you’re going through hell don’t stop, keep moving and maybe you’ll get out before the devil realizes you’re there. It’s a western song. The truth is He is around us. Even though we’re going through these miserable times He is guarding, protecting and it starts with Abraham. Isaac his son comes along. I want to read you another verse. I think it is verse 6. “Then he,” Abraham, “believed in the Lord; and He,” God, “reckoned it to Abraham as righteousness.” Because Abraham believed what God told him, God said you’re righteous, I will accept that.
This idea comes all the way down and then if we go over to Isaac, Geneses chapter 26, this is that promised child that came along. His name is Laughter. Chapter 26 and we’re going to start at 19. Genesis 26:19. Isaac’s guys had dug a well, and the people around him would bully them and take the well from them, but when “Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and found there a well of flowing water, the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with the herdsmen of Isaac saying, “The water is ours!” So he named the well Esek,] because they contended with him.” That word Esek means contention. Then they dug another well, and they quarreled over it too, so he named it Sitnah. He moved away from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it,” he moved far enough away from the boys, “so he named it Rehoboth,” which just means a broad place, “for he said, “At last the Lord has made room for us, and we will be fruitful in the land.” Then he went up from there to Beersheba” and the Lord appears to him just like He appeared to his father and the Lord says this, “I am the God of your father Abraham; Do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you, and multiply your descendants, For the sake of My servant Abraham.” Then he built an altar, and then if we go on down into verse 28 the guys that are causing him trouble come down and in verse 27 Isaac says to the people who are coming against him, “Why have you come to me, since you hate me and have sent me away from you?”
He had already dealt with them and they had ran him out and finally they say to him, “We see plainly that the Lord has been with you; so we said, ‘Let there now be an oath between us, even between you and us, and let us make a covenant with you,” and so they promised to play nice with each other, but God knew they had that new well and Isaac is thinking everything is going to be alright now and God is like buddy, there is more trouble heading your way. Don’t be afraid. I was with your dad, I’m with you, don’t be afraid and even when you see them coming don’t start packing up your tents, don’t be afraid. I told your dad I would be a shield for him, I’m going to do the same for you and so he stood his ground, the guys come up and they said we can see God is with you. Galatians chapter 3. I know, it’s all the way back over at the other end of the book. All good things started there in Genesis, right? Galatians chapter 3, and this is how it comes down to us now. Verse 29. “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, and heirs according to the promise.” And what’s that promise? Not just that the seed would come, but the promise that caused Abraham to be declared righteous was whenever he said he trusted God and God said Abraham, don’t be afraid, I’m going to take care of you. I am going to be with you.
That first verse that we read there while He was talking to Abraham about it and he said I believe God and God said that’s righteousness to you. He renewed it to Isaac. You trust I am your God because I am the God of your father Abraham. It comes all the way down to us. Remember Abraham was told just as the dirt, as the sands of the earth so shall your children be. Look at the stars in heaven, as the stars in the heavens are so shall your children. The sand people are referred to as the physical descendents of Abraham. The stars are the spiritual descendants of Abraham. That’s us folks. By the way, the name of the Jewish people when they came out of Egypt was the dusty ones. The dusty ones. He’s saying just like the dust, just like the sand out there, that’s how your physical descendants are going to be, and like the shining bright stars, you’re going to have descendants like that too, and that promise comes down to us because the same God, when we accept Christ as our savior, that same God that made that promise of protection to Abraham is making that same promise to us. He’s bringing it down generation to generation to generation and when we became that generation that believed, the promise came to us.
Do not fear, I am with you, and I am going to lead you through all of your troubles even if it’s not nations like the children going into Canaan had, even though it’s not nations coming against you, you fill in all the blanks there with all your problems and he is saying those are all external and I am there to shield you from that and I will walk you through this situation. I am there with you. I will never leave you nor forsake you. Like I said, He doesn’t stop us from doing stupid stuff, but He does forgive us for our stupidity and even there He will take His right hand, grab us and lead us along. We are the children of Abraham because we have the same kind of faith. Here is an important thing. When Abraham believed, when Abraham believed God, it wasn’t just for himself because God kept saying this is going to be your land and your children’s children’s land now and forever and ever.
The reason those Jews are returning back to the middle east over there is because of this. Abraham believed and God counted to him for righteousness and that promise stuck and those kids now thousands of years later are pouring back into that land again. When he started believing it started touching across the years to his dusty ones, to his children who are the dusty ones. It started touching their lives. Folks, when you trust in God and you hold his promises that He tells you as truth, even though it seems like you’re going through the fiery furnace. Abraham never got even a piece of ground other than a little piece he bought in order to bury his wife, he still said God promised this to me and I’m holding to it. You find it in the scripture when God gives you a promise no matter what it looks like you keep standing on it until the day you die and say that’s what the scripture says because your faith is going to be touching the future generations of your kids, your grandkids, your great great grandkids, on down the line. Oh how can this be? So the jailer asks what must we do to be saved and He said believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ and thy household shall be saved.
We have influence over our household in generations to come. The curse of the father does bad and I will judge those people for the second, third and even the fourth generations out, that curse was lifted but the blessing of you believe and I will bless your children, and because I blessed those children I will bless their children and this blessing will keep going on as long as there are people in the previous generation believing and trusting. I will continue to bless that family and you guys all know families that have been blessed generation after generation after generation. It’s because there’s somebody in every generation trusting God and they are praying for the next generation that’s coming up. Parents and grandparents pray for those kids. Even pray for the great grandkids that you don’t have and even the great great grandkids that you don’t have. Be praying for those future generations because as you trust God those lives are going to be touched off into the future. The decision we make today shapes the future of tomorrow even decades later. Even if it is decades later, and don’t give up believing and trusting.
Shall we pray? Father, in the name of Jesus I ask you to encourage us to keep holding on just like Abraham did even though he never owned any of that ground like You promised him, but he was believing for his kids to end up with that and Father, we’re seeing that they are moving back to going into that land. Father, help us to believe for our future generations that they too will be blessed because you have given us promises that are even better than the promises that You made in the Old Testament. All glory and praise to you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

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