Sunday, October 23, 2016

Delayed Not Denied - Main and North Campus

Sermon Text: Nehemiah 2: 20 I answered them by saying, “the God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding…

Sermon Title: Delayed Not Denied!

Point 1: Its WE NOT ME! vs. 17 Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace,”
Matthew 18: 18 had it right when two or three gather in his name whatever we bind on earth is bound in heaven and whatever we loose on earth is loosed in heaven. Genesis 11: 6 says it even better if as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do sill be impossible. ALL YOU AND I HAVE TO DO IS STICK TOGETHER AND REALIZE IT WE NOT ME!

Point 2: It’s HIM not THEM vs. 18, 20 I also told them about the gracious hand of God on me… (20) I answered them by saying, “The God of heaven will give us success

Life Application:
1.  Put God first
2.  Join us in our week of prayer
3.  Ask God what you should give

4.  Attend the prayer breaking ground breaking next Sunday Oct 30th 1:30 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Who Am I Under Pressure? By Howard Murray

15 OCT 2015
Who Am I Under Pressure?
By Howard Murray

Salutation and acknowledgements: Many thanks and much respect to Bishop Dudley, MOV Leadership especially Bro. Rodney Skinner for giving me the opportunity to speak today.  Thanks to all you good brothers for forsaking those last precious minutes of sleep, especially now that it’s starting to get a little colder in the morning.  Times like this make you want to clutch those covers just a little while longer, don’t they?  I find myself in the curious position this morning of standing firmly in the middle of following the powerful words given by our own Deacon Michael Holland last month.  Deac reminded us that We Don’t Look Like What We’ve Been Through – and of course a delicious breakfast prepared by the fellas in the kitchen.  That being said, pray my strength that God’s will be done.  That I be Bold, that I be Brief and that the word spoken be a Blessing to us both collectively and individually.
Title: Who Am I Under Pressure?
Scriptural basis: Mat. 8:23-27 (NIV)
23Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
26He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
27The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this?Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

Intro. If there’s one thing I know about us men, it’s that we are competitive by nature.  We constantly assess one another and size each other up almost subconsciously.  It may be by height, strength, wealth, military rank, most attractive spouse, smartest or most athletic kids.  Raise your hand if you’ve ever met a new person and thought to yourself, “I can take him.”  I’m better than or at least as good as . . .  It seems that we as men are always trying to see where we fit in the pecking order.  It’s in our nature.  It’s how we are wired.  
Saying that lets us know that we watch each other.  We take cues from one another on how to be.  How to stand. How to speak. How to dress. How to work. How to husband.  How to father.  How to be a man.  You may have watched your father, uncle, a school teacher or for those of us at New Life, we have an excellent example in our man of God, Bishop Dudley.  A key thing we observe in one another is how we should respond to difficult situations.  How am I supposed to deal with life’s pressures? We know for sure that we are going to face some.  
Is it ok if I take a brief aside? Many of you know that I’m a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. While going through the process it was customary for brothers to challenge your knowledge of different things about the organization.  It could be history, poems, famous members, key events etc.  One day a big brother asked me, “Howard, do you know the Greek alphabet?”  I was like yes sir, Big Brother, sir!  He said, I bet you do, but do you know it under pressure?  He then reached in his jacket pocket and took out a pair of black leather gloves.  It’s funny how that moment changed my perspective.  Something that I had memorized and most certainly could recite verbatim suddenly didn’t seem so easy.
It’s fair to say, that in nearly any given situation, we men know what to do.  We are great logicians.  We know how to solve problems.  We know how to plan and strategize.  That is one of our key strengths.  Execution is something else altogether, especially execution in the face of calamity, difficulty, pressure.  The great philosopher, Iron Mike Tyson once said, “Everybody’s got a plan, until they get hit!”  What do I mean by that?  You know that you need to pay your tithes, but the car needs repairing.  You know that you need to exercise more and eat less in order to lose weight, but the game is on and Pizza Hut is running a special.  You know you should hold your peace in that argument with your spouse or significant other, but you are always the one apologizing.  You’re tired of her mouth.  This time you are going to win the argument.  You are going to say that thing that stings her to her core so that she backs up off of you!  Am I talking to anybody?
We as men, we like to lead and we don’t mind being led by a strong leader.  Life’s pressures can knock us off our square and reduce our effectiveness.  Bad response to pressure can cause those that we lead to get off track just as a favorable response can strengthen our squad, solidify our confidence, secure loved ones from harm and set the stage for a more favorable future!
Which brings me to our text – We find Jesus and the disciples in a ship on their way to the other side of the lake.  Jesus had had a long day.  He healed a man with leprosy.  He encountered a centurion soldier who asked him to speak a word that his servant may be healed.  He stopped by his homie, Peter’s house and healed his mother-in-law from a fever.  As always when word gets out that Jesus is in the neighborhoodcrowds form.  Droves of people come and Jesus heals them from various diseases, drives out demons and even takes time to interview some potential disciples.  Interview, you ask?  It’s right there in the text.
A religious teacher said he wanted to follow him, but wasn’t completely sold on the benefits package.  Jesus told him about thecorporate travel and lodging plan – Foxes have dens, birds have nest, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”  Unfortunately the young man left before he heard the rest of the benefits.  See Jesus was leading a startup and therefore didn’t have the hookup with Visa or American Express nor did he have the discounts at the various hotels and so forth, but he was connected to a strong and prosperous parent company owned and operated by his daddy.  If he had waited a minuet, Jesus would have told him that, “In my father’s house are many mansions.”  He would have learned that he would have access to some very exclusive spots because Jesus can open doors that no man can shut.  Another guy said he wanted to sign up, but wasn’t too thrilled with the bereavement leave policy.  He said he would follow Jesus, but he had to bury his father first.  Jesus said; Let the dead bury the dead.  See Jesus is in the business of now.  Had he not left the interview so early, he would have learned about the fire insurance policy offered through salvation.  Anybody got that fire insurance?  He also would have learned about a heavenly retirement package that is absolutely, positively too good to pass up.  Be careful not to leave an interview too early.  Psalms 103 instructs us to forget not all His benefits.  Getting back to the story. . .  Shortly afterwards, Jesus tells the disciples to get on this boat and to go to the other side.  He then heads down into the belly of the ship to lie down.  
Jesus is awakened by the disciples because a violent storm is out there and they fear the boat may sink!  How will Jesus respond?  Remember, Jesus is Tired.  The storm is Real.  The disciples are Afraid and they are looking to him for Answers.  Have you ever been in the eye of the storm?  Ever had a situation where everyone was looking to you to provide the answer?
I’m told people respond to pressure in one of three ways.  You are either:
1. An egg.
2. A potato. Or a
3. A coffee bean.
AN EGG.  What happens to eggs under pressure?  Place an egg in boiling water and what happens?  It gets hard.  It loses flexibility.
Biblical Example: Jacob. Genesis Ch. 35:16-19.
You know Jacob’s story. He was Isaac’s son, Abraham’s grandson.  He was a man of promise.  He had just left Bethel. While there, God promised him that he would bless him - that a nation would be birthed from his loins.  He was promised the land that God had promised to his father and his father before him.  He’s on his way back to Ephrath (a place that would later be known as Bethlehem) with his family.  In this caravan is Rachel, his wife who is not only pregnant, but in labor.  Do you guys remember Rachel?  She was very beautiful.  She’s the one Jacob worked 14 years for.  She’s the one he loved so much that he put up with her lying, backstabbing daddy, Laban.  For Rachel, Jacob spent years tending his father-in-law’s sheep.  He got the short end of the stick on a land deal and various other hardships and misdealings.  He even got tricked into marrying her older sister with the lazy eye.  Well in this passage of the bible, things are looking up; Jacob just heard some great newsdirectly from God.  He is determined to get out and claim his inheritance.  Jacob is so determined that he can’t wait in Bethel for a day or two while Rachel delivers his child.  Rachel, who if you know the story had trouble conceiving to begin with, dies while delivering the child.  Jacob is so driven, that he doesn’t even stop to give Rachel, the love of his life a proper funeral. He doesn’t even bring her body home to bury her on the family plot.  Nope. Genesis 35:19 says that Jacob buried her on the side of the road and kepton rolling to Ephrath.  Men are you so driven by purpose, by passion, by promise that you are destroying everything around you including the ones you love the most?  Don’t be an egg under pressure!
A POTATO.   What happens to a potato under pressure?  What happens to a potato in boiling water?  It gets soft.  It gets mushy.  If left in the boiling water too long, it will liquefy.  You won’t even be able to tell that it was a potato.
Biblical Example: Saul. 1 Sam Ch. 15.
Do you guys remember Saul?  He was a tall, handsome fella.  He was chosen to be Israel’s first king.  This guy was anointed and appointed.  He was popular with the people, anointed by the great prophet Samuel and accepted by God to rule over His chosen people.  Saul even had God’s blessing and assurance of victory in battle.  How many people would like to go in a fight knowing they’re going to win?  Saul’s downfall was that despite all that he had going for him, he cared more about what people said than what God said.  God commanded Saul to lead his armies to destroy the Amalekites.  God instructed Saul to wipe out every man, woman and child.  God said, don’t even spare the livestock!  God said kill every sheep, donkey and camel.  It’s in the text, I’m telling you.  Saul goes into battle and wins as promised.  Instead of following God’s instructions, he listens to his boys.  They’re like why would we destroy these nice things: clothes, jewels, sheep, and cows.  What about the “good” people like the king?  Saul thought would I like it if the shoe was on the other foot and the victors just killed me?  Along comes Samuel the prophet to inquire as to why Saul hadn’t followed God’s command.  Samuel says why didn’t you do what God told you to do?  Saul said, I did.  Samuel is so cold, he says in verse 14, why do I hear all these sheep bleating and cows mooing then?  Saul says, well, I killed most of them, I saved the good stuff, check this out, to offer to God on the altar.  Really, Saul?
14But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?”
Needless to say, God rejects Saul.  He promises the kingdom to young shepherd boy by the name of David.  The rest of Saul’s lifefollowing this event is very uninspiring.  He becomes given to jealous fits of rage.  Still listening more to people than God, he can’t bear to see other people be blessed.  He becomes the pure definition of a player hater.  There was a song, you may have heard it.  Saul has killed his thousands and David, his ten thousands.  He hated that song!  Anybody out here ever had a song written about them?  I mean even if you don’t get top billing, you get a good honorable mention doing some fly stuff and it’s a hit record.  Anyway, Saul loses everything: battles, territory, the respect of his followers, his legacy and ultimately his life.  He and his son, Jonathan, die on a battlefield losing to the enemy.  Men are you so caught up with keeping the peace that you are wishy washy?   A former pastor of mine once told me, Jesus said blessed are the peace MAKERS, not the peace KEEPERS.  Can people trust your Yeas to be Yeas and your Nays to be Nays?  Are you so afraid oftelling your wife or children No that no one is steering the ship that you call your family and you are all headed off the cliff?
Are you a leader or a supervisor that refuses to make the hard call because you’d rather be liked as opposed to being respected?  Man of God, don’t be a potato under pressure!
A COFFEE BEAN.  Now we’ve gotten to the good part!  Are there any coffee drinkers out there?  Me either.  I don’t drink coffee, but I know what it is.  I know that when you place a coffee bean in boiling water, the bean doesn’t dissolve.  It doesn’t change shape.  It doesn’t get soft or hard.  If you pull a coffee bean out of hot water, do you know what you’ll get?  A coffee bean.  Instead of being changed, deformed, contorted and distorted by the pressure, it changes the boiling water.   That hot water turns into coffee.  The thing that put pressure on the bean instead of destroying it, takes on the characteristics of the bean itself and becomes something fit for consumption.  It gives the pressure a pleasant aroma.  It gives color to a hot and pressing situation.
Our biblical example is Jesus.  Remember back in chapter 8, we left Jesus being awakened from his sleep by a boatful of people scared of a storm and desperately looking to him to make it better.  Instead of being caught up in the storm, Jesus spoke to the storm and said, Peace, Be still.  At his command, the wind and the seas obeyed.  The people on that ship, the men said among themselves, “What manner of man is this that even the wind and the seas obey him?”  Men, God sent me to tell you that someone is looking to you.  They are sizing you up.  They’re waiting on you to make your move.  They are waiting on you to make a tough situation better.  They are looking to you to speak life to a dead situation.  They are desperately hoping that you will do something to change the atmosphere.  The only way we can do that is with Jesus.  He is the only one who can make the storm obey.  He is the only one who will go into the fire with you like he did for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and to take the heat out of hot.  Jesus is the only one who if you would just keep your eyes on him and listen to his voice will allow you to walk on water like Peter did.
God has called us to be Prophet, Priest, Protector, Provider and Progenitor.  God has given us a challenge worthy of a coffee bean.  He needs us to change the atmosphere.  If we go in as eggs or potatoes, we won’t be successful.  Before we can accept the challenge have to know who we are.  More importantly, we have to know who we are under pressure.  When the heat is on, will you get hard hearted and lose compassion for those around you?  Will you, strong man bear the infirmities of the weak or just leave a trail of corpses in your wake?  Will you get all mushy when the pressure comes trying to be that people-pleasing person that everybody likes, but no one respects?  The one that everybody knows, but nobody can count on?  God forbid.  We will be coffee beans.  We will stand up to the pressure through the power of God, in the unity of our faith, under the leadership of our Bishop!
When God first gave me the idea for this message, I wanted to use biblical villains as examples.  Pharaoh was my egg and Pilate was my potato.  This made perfect sense to me.  Pharaoh getting hard hearted during the plagues.  Pilate giving in to the whims of the Jewish religious leaders and ultimately giving the order to crucify Jesus - those were my original images of the egg and the potato. But God said I want my men, men that know my voice, men that have relationship with me, men under my anointing to see themselves in these examples.  I want them to see that without me they can do nothing, and that with me nothing shall be impossible.