"Wait For The Lord"

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place
Pulpit Series Volume 17 Issue 2 01/14/2007

There are a number of God’s children who are at a point of doubting the wisdom of God's timing or the goodness of his guidance.

The Impatience Battle can be a little skirmish over a long check out line. Or a major combat over a handicap, illness or circumstance that knocks out your dreams.

Dealing with impatience is not some superficial denial of the frustration. It is a peaceful willingness either to wait for God where you are, or to persevere at the pace he allows on the road of obedience, to wait in His place, or to go at His pace

Impatience tempts you in two directions.
First it tempts you to give up. Just forget it. I won't keep this job, take the challenge, rear this child, stay in this marriage, or live this life. Impatience tempts you into Giving up.
Secondly, impatience tempts you to make rash counter moves against the obstacles in your way. It tempts you to be impetuous, hasty, impulsive or reckless. Rather then turn your car around and go home, you rush into some ill-advised detour in an attempt to beat the system.

You must understand impatience is a battle against your faith.
It is vital that you win this battle:
Luke 21:19 By your endurance (patience) you’ll gain your lives
Romans 2:7 To those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, God will give eternal life.
Hebrews 6:12 Do not be sluggish but be imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
For the Christian, patience in doing the will of God is not an optional virtue, because faith is not an optional virtue.
Patience in well-doing is the fruit of faith.
Impatience is the fruit of unbelief. Because this is really a battle against unbelief. In your fight against impatience your chief weapon is the Word of God.
His Word equips you in this battle, by showing clearly showing you the relationship between the promises of God and the patience of the believer. Psalm 130:5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits and in His Word do I hope.

Waiting for the Lord is an Old Testament way of describing the opposite of impatience.
Waiting for the Lord is the opposite of running ahead of the Lord and it's the opposite of bailing out on the Lord. Friends, it is staying at your appointed place while he says stay, or it's going at his appointed pace while he says go.

So how does the Psalmist keep his patience as he waits for the Lord to show him the next move? Verse 5 says, I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and IN HIS WORD I HOPE.
The strength that sustains you in patience is hope, and the source of hope is the Word of God. In his word do I hope! Hope is just faith in the future tense.
Hebrews says, Faith is the assurance of things hoped for. So what we see in Psalm 130:5 is a clear illustration that the way to battle impatience is to build-up your hope (or faith) in God, and the way to build-up your hope in God is to listen to his Word, especially his promises.

If you are ever tempted not to wait peacefully for God to show you your next move - if you are tempted to give up on him or go ahead without him - understand that this is a moment for great spiritual warfare. Ephesians 6:17 says to take the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God and wield some wonderful promise against the enemy of impatience.

During Isaiah's day Israel was threatened by many enemies. During those times God sent the prophet with his word to tell Israel how he wanted them to respond to the threat. But one time Israel became impatient with God's timing. The danger was too close, the odds for success too small. Isaiah 30:1-2 describes what Israel did in her impatience. Woe to the rebellious children, says the Lord, who carry out a plan, but not mine; and who make a league, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin; who set out to go down to Egypt, without asking for my counsel, to take refuge in the protection of Pharaoh, and to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt!

Israel became impatient. God had not delivered them from their enemy in the time or in the way that they had hoped for. They sent to Egypt for help. They made a plan and treaty, but they weren't God's. The key words are in v2: They set out to go down to Egypt, WITHOUT ASKING FOR MY COUNSEL.

This is where many of us sin almost daily: charging ahead in our own plans without stopping to consult the Lord.
So the Lord gives a warning in v3: Therefore shall the protection of Pharaoh (the king of Egypt!) turn to your shame, and the shelter in the shadow of Egypt to your humiliation.
In other words, your impatience is going to backfire on you. Egypt will not deliver you, it’ll be your shame. Your impatience will turn out to be your humiliation.
Let this be a warning for us: When our way is blocked and the Lord says wait, we better trust him and wait, because if we run ahead without consulting him, our plans will probably not be his plans and they’ll bring shame on us.

What should Israel have done? The answer is given in v15 and 18. In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength. Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you; therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.

In quietness and trust shall be your strength. In other words, if you rest in God, if you look to him, if you trust him, He will give you all the strength you need to handle the stresses where you are. Then Blessed are all those who wait for him. This is the way you battle the unbelief of impatience.

You should consider the promise in
Isaiah 49:23 Those who wait for me shall not be put to shame.
Isaiah 64:4 No eye has seen a God besides you, who works for those who wait for him.
Isaiah 40:31 Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

So you battle the unbelief of impatience by using the promises of God to persuade your heart that God's timing and God's guidance and God's sovereignty are going to take this frustrated, boxed in, unproductive situation you are in and make something eternally valuable out of it.
There will come a blessing, a strength, a vindication, a mounting up with wings like eagles. His Word will conquer unbelief, and belief will conquer impatience.

I urge you to take hold of God’s infinite wisdom, love and power and use them to conquer the unbelief of impatience. In the words of Hebrews 6:12, Be imitators of me and of all those who through faith and patience inherit the promises..... For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Romans 8:24-25

Waiting, appears to be a spiritual discipline.
James tells us to let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete,
lacking nothing.

I heard a story about a man who was once hospitalized for a serious illness. His physician visited him one day and was running around checking medications, examining the charts, consulting with the nurses, checking vital signs. After observing this behavior for some time, Mr. Holmes finally became exasperated and bellowed out: For God's sake man, don't just do something. Stand there!

Well, for some 53 years I have been learning in my own way not just to do something. I am, I hope closer today to learning that sometimes it is important just to stand there.
Psalms 27:14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

I Samuel 12:16 Now therefore stand and see this great thing, which the LORD will do before your eyes.

Ephesians 6:13 take unto you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day and having done all, stand.
Wait on the LORD, wait, I say, on the LORD.

"As For Me And Mine"

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place
Pulpit Series Volume 17 Issue 1 01/07/2007

Joshua 24:15 “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Joshua, has just given an incredible speech recounting what great things God had done for the Israelites. He concludes that since God had been so gracious to them, they could do no less, than out of gratitude, dedicate both themselves and their families to His service. Now therefore, fear the Lord, and serve Him in sincerity and truth.

The prophet Samuel said something along the same line in I Samuel 12:24 Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth, with all your heart; for consider the great things He has done for you.
Joshua stands before all of Israel and says, “choose you therefore, who you will serve... but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” He was not asking his family’s opinion on the matter - he was making a bold declaration of his intent.

I fear, that out of the many households that call themselves Christians, there so very few that serve God as they ought. If the blessed angels came and observed our spiritual economy at home, would they say as Abraham to Abimilech, Surely, the fear of God is not in this place? Genesis 20:11

There is a general neglect of family-religion. We have falsely come to believe religion is to be confined to our assemblies for public worship. Yet, the Apostle Paul spoke about the church which was in his house.

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. I believe it is the duty of every family leader to take care, that not only they, but also that those in their charge, "serve the Lord".
I further believe that family leaders are under obligation to act in 3 capacities as:
1. a prophet…..to instruct 2. a priest…..to pray for or with 3. a king…..to govern and provide for our families.

What you may not know about Job is that he continually interceded on behalf his family.
When the days of his children's feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and offered burnt-offerings, according to the number of them all; for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts: thus did Job continually.

I am obligated to see that my household serve God.
I dare not be found negligent in this matter. More over, God forbid, I place stumbling-blocks in my children's way.

I need to teach my children to….. READ THE WORD OF GOD.
I need to teach my children about….. FAMILY-PRAYER.
If two or three are agreed touching any thing they shall ask, it shall be given them.
Listen to the commendation God gives of Abraham: I know that he will command his children and his household after him, to keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment.
Thus, says God
“You shall teach these words diligently to your children.
New Testament parents are commanded to “bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord”.
TOO BUSY? Abraham, was a man of great business; but yet he found time to command his household to serve the Lord. David, as king, had a great deal of business on his hands; yet he professes that he would walk in his house with a perfect heart.
Let me give you two motivations to serve the Lord:
· First as a response due to GRATITUDE.
Remember, the time will come, perhaps sooner than we think, when we will appear before the judgment-seat of Christ. It is there that we will all have to give a solemn and strict account of how we have lived out our lives. How will you handle it to see your children who ought to be your joy and crown of rejoicing in the day of our Lord, coming out as witnesses against you; cursing the very day they came into your household. God forbid, that any such evil should befall you.

I pray that you will somehow be convinced by what has been said this morning to review your role as family leader, especially in the area of FAMILY-RELIGION.

May you cry out the words immediately following our text, God forbid that we should forsake the Lord. and again in verse 21, No, we will with our households serve the Lord!

Let me encourage all family leaders, in the name of our Lord Jesus, to reflect often on the worth of the souls of your families, and the precious blood of Jesus Christ, which has been paid for them. I beg you to remember, that by nature we are lost and estranged from God; and that we must be born again. I urge you to seriously and frequently reflect on God’s Word.
Whatever you do… Do not neglect your family's spiritual welfare!

Do your utmost to save others, especially those of your own household.
Do what you can to cause your family to serve the Lord.
May you shine brightly in your respective households.
Extra food for thought read the following scriptures and find the differances between Abraham and Lot.

Abraham’s example: Genesis 12:7-8, 13:12, 18, 22:9 “He built an altar to the LORD and called on the LORD who appeared to him.”

Lot’s example: Genesis 13:12 “Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom.”

The results:
Genesis 26:25 “Isaac built an altar and called on the LORD… continued serving the Lord, the same is the father of the Israelites to this day.”
Genesis 19:26 “Lot’s wife looked back and she became a pillar of salt.”

Genesis 19:31-36 “Both the daughters of Lot became pregnant by their father....the firstborn bare a son, the same is the father of the Moabites to this day….younger also bare a son the same is the father of the children of Ammon to this day.”

Because of the conflicts between them and the Israelites they were denied entry into "the congregation of the Lord" until ten generations had passed.

“The Secret Of The Lord”

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place
Pulpit Series Volume 16 Issue 47 12/31/2006

The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant
Psalm 25:14
The natural world is full of secrets. It seems the best things are hidden away, certainly they aren’t laying around on the surface. Precious metals are hidden in the earth. Rocks need to be blasted in order to secure the hidden ore. Diamonds come from great depths; pearls are taken out of the deep sea.

The labor of James Watt gave us the steam engine; The toil of George Stephenson, a railroad; the research of Edison and Bell, the telephone; none of them dead beats or idlers.

These men denied themselves of money, comfort and pleasures. They shut themselves up searching out these things that you are so glad to use in everyday life.

Once, when Thomas Edison was working on developing a better battery, an assistant came up to him and suggested that Mr. Edison must be ready to quit after having performed some 50,000 tests without success. "You must be pretty downhearted with the lack of progress", the assistant said. Edison replied, "Downhearted? We've made a lot of progress. At least we know 50,000 things that won't work!" In the end he developed a nickel-iron alkaline battery that became an industry standard and is still used today-more than 90 years later!

It took more than 2,000 tests to find the right filament for the light bulb. We all use the light bulb; imagine if Edison had given up because it was too hard?

I want to say to you that just as men willing to deny themselves get the secrets of nature, so, they that deny themselves and search, find the secrets of the Spirit. Don’t settle for surface.

God has some things that men don’t find by simply occupying a chair in a church service.
His secrets and mysteries are only revealed to those who fear God and willingly pay the price.

Many people think Christians are all alike in heaven; but the Bible doesn’t teach that. All men are not the same here, and they won’t be the same there; some folk, if they ever get there will get in by the skin of their teeth, bareheaded, having no crown.

As certainly as Jesus had a few disciples who stood close to Him and went with Him everywhere, to whom He revealed His secrets and told the things of His life, God has a select few to whom He tells His secrets.

There are a lot of church attendees who know nothing about the things I am talking about, I am not saying that God shuts them out, but rather that they shut themselves out.

God has secrets in the spiritual realm that He is revealing to the people who are living near Him! I want to call your attention to some of these secrets. One of them is the new birth. The new birth is a secret none know except those who have it. It is a secret that is revealed by the Holy Ghost in the heart. Saved or church attendee?The secret of faith. Daniel knew that secret. Daniel and God had talked the matter over. God said, "Daniel, if you will be true to me, and sleep with the lions, I will send an angel and stop their mouths." And Daniel said, "I’ll do it"; and God let Daniel go into the lions' den, and He stopped their mouths.

He wouldn’t let you go into the lions' den; you’d not be honored with a trip like that, because you’d not be quiet and trust God. You’d be screaming to get out, and the lions would eat you up.
But God knew Daniel, and God knew Daniel would trust him, for he had "the secret of the Lord."
Daniel went into the lions' den and slept like a baby, it was the ungodly king who walked the house all through that night. When you get this secret you believe for anything and get it.

When you get this experience, you are assured that God has your loved ones in hand. He shall and will attend to them.

Without this secret the probability is that you will tell them this, that but never get them saved. But when you get struck with His lightning yourself, God will send conviction that’ll move your relatives. Wouldn’t you like to see your family saved?

This is the way to do it, make your own life right.

If that church going mother would learn to live as sweet a life at home, in her kitchen, as when she has company, her husband would soon be converted. Some church folk are so hard to get along with, that no one wants their religion.

Lord, help us to get saved through and through, so that we will have something that people want!

Psalms 51:2-13 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me…. Purge me with hyssop and I’ll be clean: wash me and I’ll be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; Hide your face from my sins and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence and take not your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation; and uphold me with your free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors your ways; and sinners shall be converted to you.

There is a secret of power which the Church ought to know. Someone says, I wish I had power. Power for what? Power to be good at this or that. Power to be a somebody? This is of no account. What we need is Power to live godly lives!
II Peter 1:3 According as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness...

Where is the secret of power? It is in the Holy Ghost; and if more people would receive the Holy Ghost they’d have power for the successful accomplishment of everything they do.
There is a secret of joy about which the rank and file know nothing. When you get this blessing you can follow James' injunction, "When you face various trials count it all joy."

You can rejoice on Monday as well as on Sunday.
You can rejoice when everything is against you, when you are out of a job; you can rejoice when you are out of money; you can rejoice when your friends go back on you; you can rejoice when the devil is near; you can whistle, sing, shout, laugh and praise God when there is nothing in sight to rejoice about!

I am talking to you about something that is intensely practical. It is something that will make a you praise God when things don’t go your way.

I tell you what… when something goes wrong in your home, and leave the house slamming the door, and leave your wife standing there feeling hurt -- you, a member of the church - you’re in need of something more than what you got!

This secret will make us live just as God wants us to live, wherever we are, no matter what you are going through.

What is the difference what I preach to you, anyhow, if I am not right at home?

What does it matter what I may say, if my sons and daughter don’t have confidence in me? I’d rather have the confidence of my children than all the honors that the world may give me.

O for something that makes us behave ourselves in our own homes! Beloved, when you get this blessing you can laugh when there is nothing to laugh about.

When Israel walked with God they always had good water, and when they murmured they always lost it?

What is needed is a man who can shout when there is no water in sight, who can praise God when everything looks like midnight darkness. Anyone can praise God after the devil has been defeated; but it takes a man full of salvation who can dance when he is being attacked.

God has such people. I am not done with this subject, but I am going to stop. There doesn't seem to be any end to sermons anyway. If you are going to get the secret you’ll have to come and walk with the folks who possess it. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him.

The Lord will give you the secret of regeneration, of power, of joy, and a whole lot of things I have not mentioned -- he’ll flood your life with the second blessing. Praise the Lord!

Psalms 84:11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly.

"Christmas Memories"

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place
Pulpit Series Volume 16 Issue 46 12/24/2006

When Pope Julius I authorized December 25 to be celebrated as the birthday of Jesus in A.D. 353, who would have ever thought that it would become what it is today.St. Boniface, the missionary who brought Christianity to Germany, added another nonbiblical custom to the celebration of Christmas -- the Christmas tree. As the story goes, Boniface was so eager to rid Germany of idolatry that on the eve of one winter solstice he cut down a sacred oak tree in the town of Geismar. This bold act infuriated the locals, who threatened to kill Boniface on the spot. In an attempt to pacify them and to save his own skin, he pointed to a small fir tree and said, "This little tree, a young child of the forest, shall be your holy tree this night. It is the wood of peace, for your houses are built of the fir. It is a sign of endless life, for its leaves are ever green. See how it points upward to heaven." St. Boniface was a fast talker.

When Professor Charles Follen, lit candles on the first Christmas tree in America in 1832, who would have ever thought that the decorations would become as elaborate as they are today. Unfortunately, not everyone sees the joy in Christmas.

Many years ago the Puritans thought they were ruining Christmas with all the pagan rituals. They especially objected to the fact that the holiday usually came on a week day, therefore distracting people, they thought, from the Lord's Day of Sunday.

But they did more than annually complain about it as we do.

They took action and got rid of Christmas altogether. In Puritan settlements across 17th century America a law was passed outlawing any and all celebration of Christmas.

The market place was ordered to stay open for business as though it were no special occasion and all violators were prosecuted. It was against the law to make plum pudding on December 25th. The Christmas celebration was not referred to as Yuletide but as fooltide.We may not be too comfortable with the commercialization of Christmas, but do we want to go that far? Do we really want to be rid of Christmas all together?

So what if North Americans spend over $40 billion annually on presents. Can you think of a better way of spending all that money than on gifts of love? Most of them are just that.

So what if all the lights and tinsel does create a fairy tale setting that soon disappears as does the so called “Christmas spirit”. At least, if only for a brief time, it lets us know what life could be like if we only try.

Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be for all generations. For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a savior who is Christ the Lord.

I have many pleasant memories surrounding Christmas. As a young child in Holland I looked anxiously in my wooden shoes that I set out… a gift or a lump of coal.

The gifts we received were usually very simple and handmade. No wrapping paper or bows. Thankfully no batteries required. Gifts were not so expensive that you were still paying for them six months after the fact.

I mostly remember getting a Chocolate letter “E”, or some small amount of marzipan shaped like a piece of fruit.

I remember when people would say things like Merry Christmas to each other as they passed on the street. Everybody said, “merry Christmas” to each other. Hey merry Christmas to you Ed - and a Merry Christmas to you Billy Bob.

We all did it, even if folks disagreed with the religion behind it. It had to do with what we thought was valuable and good for everyone not just church folk.

But what do people say now in our politically correct climate? “Happy Holidays!, Season’s Best!”

We say Happy Holidays because we don’t want to say the word “Christmas”.

We are afraid of offending those who don’t believe in Christmas so we do what Herod of old couldn’t accomplish by killing all the children in Bethlehem and in all the coasts from two years and under.. we keep silent about the real result of this season, peace and goodwill to the world.

We thought putting the Christ back in Christmas meant that Christians would stop being so materialistic and focus on what the birth of Jesus meant for their lives. We never it would mean putting the word Christ back in junk mail circulars and forcing unsuspecting sales clerks to wish us a “Merry Christmas.”

We say happy holidays cause we don’t want to leave anybody out? Really? How come there are a ton of holidays throughout the year that nobody flips out about… no body ever says happy holidays in February do they?

They say what it is, Happy Valentines …OHH YOU BELIEVE IN LOVE?

But nobody wants to say Christmas... everything and anything else even Xmas, but not Christmas, why?

Because it has Christ in it and after 2000 years He’s still intimidating people.

You see when a religious person says, they know the way, people don’t want to hear it. They Don’t!

As a Christian I’m going to say merry Christmas cause it is.
You don’t believe in it fine, but I have a flash for you!

Christianity happens to be the religious heritage of my country whether you like it or not.

Listen - if you’re not a Christian or you don’t like Christmas. God Bless ya, but let me tell ya something if you think you are gonna stop me from saying it because it offends you hey I got a news flash for you. It’s my country too.

I went to Lordco to get Judi her Christmas present. When the guy at the counter said Happy Holidays I said thanks man I am pretty happy, but there’s only one holiday that makes me feel that way and its called Christmas!... what more can I say?

It’s about the birth of Christ and you can’t take that away.

The birth of Jesus is sacred to those who have been impacted by the meaning of his life.

You can call it something else, but that’s not what it will be its called Christmas with a capital C.

Just what are you celebrating this year?

A holiday? Or the birth of Christ the Savior?

One of the classic stories that is repeated each December is Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.
The timeless character of Ebenezer Scrooge demonstrates selfishness, self-centeredness, and un-forgiveness. This originator of the "bah-humbug" was the perfect embodiment of sin. Whether we read this famous story in a leather bound first edition or we watch one of the numerous Hollywood versions, it is the timelessness of the tale that reminds us of our own need for repentance; it shows us the love and joy that follow true repentance.

Ultimately, Scrooge's repentance leads to rejoicing and a whole new awareness and understanding of himself and the world around him.

The Good News of Dickens' story is that Scrooge is guided to repent for his past and present cold and heartless behavior. After years in a selfish and miserly existence, a life absent of faith or friendship or love, his repentance brings forgiveness and he is able to love and once again rejoice in life.

Genuine repentance leads us to rejoicing. All too often we are so totally self-centered and self-absorbed that we shut God out of our lives altogether. Are you in the Christmas spirit?

"Pleasing God 101"

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place
Pulpit Series Volume 16 Issue 45 12/10/2006

Psalms 36:8 They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of your house; and you shall make them drink of the river of your pleasures.

Did you ever stop to think that God has likes and dislikes? (Green and blue) If I can prove to you this morning that certain things are pleasing in His sight, would you be willing to learn to do those things that are pleasing to Him?

There is more in the Word about God’s pleasures than you may think. A good question would certainly be: What pleases the Lord?

For some years our family has been treated as missionaries ... different Women’s ministry groups would take on our family for a year at a time and send us little gifts at birthdays and Christmas. They’d send out a questionnaire to see what we liked and disliked.

This was wonderful and saved a lot of disappointment. Picture a young child - a boy opening a box at Christmas and discovering he received a dress. It is his colour but??????

I love to read “How to books” but only if they are about something I’m interested in. Don’t buy me a “How to line Dance” book. I like Dodge trucks so why would you want to give me a Chevy T Shirt? I’m probably not explaining this right but - I think you know what I mean.

It is not always the thought that counts. I believe we could be a lot more sensitive to the likes and dislikes of others. And especially when it comes to God - His Word is clear!

So lets get back to our question: What pleases the Lord?

He has pleasure in the beauties of creation. Revelation 4:11 .....you have created all things, and for your pleasure they are and were created.

God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Ezekiel 33:11 As I live, says the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked;

We can conclude God takes pleasure in repentance. “but that the wicked turn from his way and live.”

God takes no pleasure in wickedness. Psalms 5:4 For you are not a God that has pleasure in wickedness:

We conclude God has pleasure in uprightness. I Chronicles 29:17 I know my God that you test the heart, and have pleasure in uprightness.

See what Proverbs 11:20 says. ... such as are upright in their way are his delight.”

The Lord takes no pleasure in those who break their vows. Ecclesiastes 5:4 When you vow to God, defer not to pay it; for he has no pleasure in fools: pay that which you have vowed.

God takes pleasure in His people. Psalms 149:4 For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people: Who are His people?
Those who trust Him and are satisfied by Him alone.

God delights in those who fear (respect) Him. Psalms 147:11 The LORD takes pleasure in those that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.

He takes pleasure in those who trust in His mercy and put their hope in Him. In other words God’s delights in hopefulness.

We ought to cultivate the spirit of hopefulness.
Some people are naturally hopeful, others need to be encouraged. We were without God and without hope. You cannot cultivate what you do not possess.

The way to get hope is to
grab hold of faith!
What you possess you can cultivate.

God delights in those that live in obedience to His Word. Malachi 1:10 Who is there even among you that would shut the doors..or light a fire on my altar... I have no pleasure in you And see what God ‘s Word says regarding obedience:
I Samuel 15:22.Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, to listen than the fat of rams.

If there be any doubt read Colossians 3:20 Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing to the Lord.

God delights in our prayers. Proverbs 15:8 The sacrifice of the wicked [is] an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright [is] his delight.
Not just acceptable - but His delight!

What a contrast the great sacrifices of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord. Because the motives are wrong. But the feeblest cry of His own are His delight!

God delights in integrity. Proverbs 11:1 A false balance is an abomination to the LORD but a just weight is his delight.

Do not overlook this point!

God notices the honest and just in this corrupt world. Micah 6:8 He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what the LORD requires of you, to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

This just weight is not only regarding secular matters... it shows that we should render full measure of devotion and service to the Lord.

Are you giving just weight to Him?

The Lord delights in our prosperity. Psalms 35:27 Magnified the Lord who has pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.

What kind of prosperity? Prosperity in earthly things, and in heavenly things.

God’s ideal is found in III John 1:2 prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.

Don’t be confused when the ungodly prosper, the ungodly never get the twofold prosperity. Proverbs 28:13 He who covers his sins shall not prosper

Prosperity is knowing and possessing the presence of God.

Genesis 39:2 the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man.

God’s people prosper when they give proper place to the Word! Joshua 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may obey it, for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success.

Psalms 1:3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he does shall prosper.

God delights in truthfulness. Proverbs 12:22 Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight.

No sin so common as lying today. It comes natural to us. Many parents have wondered who taught their children to lie.... but it comes with us right from the womb. Psalms 58:3 .... they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.

Even God’s children need to be exhorted... Colossians 3:9 Lie not one to another, seeing that you have put off the old man with his deeds;

Satan is distinguished by his title of liar. John 8:44 You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

It is the exact opposite to God’s nature. Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that he should lie; or has he spoken, and shall he not make it good? And Titus 1:2 In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;

God is pleased by those in the Spirit. Romans 8:8 they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

God is pleased by Faith. Hebrews 11:6 without faith it is impossible to please him:

God takes delight in those who endure and don’t turn back! Hebrews 10:38 the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.

So today we learned that God delights in:
Repentance, Uprightness, His people, Those who fear (respect) Him,

He delights in Hopefulness, Them that live in obedience to His Word, Our prayers, Integrity, Truthfulness, Those in the Spirit, Faith, Those who endure and don’t turn back!

I John 3:22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.

“Cities Of Refuge”

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place
Pulpit Series Volume 16 Issue 44 12/03/2006

Joshua 20:1-9 “The LORD spoke to Joshua, saying, Speak to the children of Israel, saying, Appoint out for you cities of refuge, whereof I spoke to you through Moses: That the slayer that kills any person unawares and unwittingly may flee there: and they shall be your refuge from the avenger of blood. And when he that flees to one of those cities shall stand at the entrance of the city, and shall declare his case in the ears of the elders of that city, they shall take him into the city to them, and give him a place, that he may dwell among them. And if the avenger of blood pursue after him, then they shall not turn the slayer into his hand; because he smote his neighbour unwittingly, and didn’t hated him. And he shall dwell in that city, until he stand before the congregation for judgment, and until the death of the high priest that shall be in those days: then shall the slayer return, and come to his own city, and to his own house, to the city from where he fled. And they appointed Kedesh in Galilee and Shechem in mount Ephraim and Hebron, in the mountain of Judah. And on the other side Jordan by Jericho eastward, they assigned Bezer in the wilderness and Ramoth in Gilead, and Golan in Bashan out of the tribe of Manasseh. These were the cities appointed for all the children of Israel and for the stranger that travels among them, that whosoever kills any person at unawares might flee there and not die by the hand of the avenger of blood, until he stood before the congregation.”

I’d like you to consider that these cities of refuge form the perfect type of the One who is our refuge.... Jesus!

Hebrews 6:18-19 “We have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast.”

Keep in mind that this was ordered of the Lord and that makes the very nature of this appointment “divine”.

These cities were to be sanctified or set apart for their sakes.

Jesus was set apart according to God’s will for our sakes.

Being in God’s appointed shelter brings great confidence.
Secondly, we see according to Chapter 20 that the nature of these cities was to be “merciful”.

Present mercy / righteous protection was offered by each city. Sinners surely need that. Consider also, that these are found in our precious Jesus. Mercy to pardon, grace to help and the power of justice to protect and keep.

But friends, Jesus is more than a mere shelter...Jesus is the justifier of all who believe. He in reality becomes our Safe place - our refuge!

Look at the significance of the names of the cities of refuge.

1) KEDESH (holy place) A refuge for the unclean. The holiness of Jesus and the sinfulness of man are shown here. The holiness of Jesus becomes the hope of the unclean.


According to Leviticus 10:10, we are to “show the difference between holy and unholy and between unclean and clean.”

We read this in Ezekiel 44:23 “They shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.”

WHY? Because as I said a moment ago, ONLY THAT WHICH IS CLEAN CAN CLEANSE!

Keep in mind, that as much as we can
teach and lead, it is only the finished work of Christ thay provides a true holy hiding place. Only He can cleanse us from our unrighteousness.
Jesus is the cleansing fountain!
Zechariah 13:1 “In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.”

We dare not neglect so great a salvation and we dare not trust in a substitute!
Jeremiah 2:13 “My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and made themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water”
Jeremiah 17:13 “O LORD, all that forsake you shall be ashamed... for they have forsaken the LORD the fountain of living waters.” Jesus is a cleansing fountain!

2) SHECHEM (shoulder) A refuge for the weary. The lost sheep found safety and rest on the shoulders of the shepherd.

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Luke 15:5 “And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.”

Jesus is a strong Saviour. The government is upon His shoulders. There is no rest in ruling ourselves. When we trust Jesus, we lean not only on His mercy, but on His almightyness. What a safe and secure place the weary child finds on the shoulders of its loving father.

Christ Himself has carried our burdens upon His shoulders.

3) HEBRON (fellowship) A refuge for the homeless. Man is spiritually a homeless wanderer. As the homeless prodigal finds a refuge in the father’s house, so we find in Christ.

Jesus is the Hebron for the soul. There is no fellowship with the Father outside of Christ.
I John 1:3 “Truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus.”
Proverbs 18:10 “The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous run into it and are safe.”

Jesus is a shelter to the soul, a refuge of love and communion.

4) BEZER (stronghold) A refuge for the helpless. Man is not only a sinner, he is also helplessly sinful, without strength.

For sure, the name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run into it and they are safe. No matter how helpless you are, there is in Jesus eternal safety!

All other hiding places will fail, but the name of the Lord will never ever fail!

Matthew 7:25-27 “The rain descended and the floods came and the winds blew and beat on that house and it fell: and great was the fall of it, and it fell not: it was founded upon a rock.”

That Rock is Jesus - the same yesterday, today and forever.

5) RAMOTH (exalted) A refuge for the hopeless. Our base nature is not only that of helplessness but without hope.

Ephesians 2:12 “That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.”

Those who hope in the world have no hope! We must hope out of this world. Jesus is our hope. He is exalted at the Father’s right hand, with a name that is above all names. He is high and lifted up! If you feel hopeless in this world, look up over the crowd. Look to Jesus for He is a refuge. John 12:32 “if I be lifted up from the earth I will draw all men unto me.”

Flee to Him. No mountain could save from the great flood. Those saved were lifted up in the ark. Jesus is our ark of hope!

6) GOLAN (separated) A refuge for the tempted. Many of our brothers and sisters are tempted often in this world because they flirt much with the world.

II Corinthians 6:17-18 “Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate, says the Lord and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and be a Father to you.”

Even though people hear Him say, “Come out from among them and be separate, and I will receive you”, they still don’t run to Him.

The tempter often overtakes these poor unseparated souls. Our Lord Jesus separated Himself for our sakes, so that He could keep and establish the tempted.

Golan is the last city mentioned. Separation from the world unto God is about the last refuge that is sought after. Jesus must be our ALL AND ALL, if we are to be perfectly sheltered from the curse, the world, the flesh and the devil.

Being held in the strong arms of the Lord’s almighty power, resting in His infinite love, we can truly say with restful hearts, “God is our Refuge and our Strength”.

We have learned about six cities this morning. Each one a type of refuge:
· A refuge for the unclean
· A refuge for the weary
· A refuge for the homeless
· A refuge for the helpless
· A refuge for the hopeless
· A refuge for the tempted

I pray that the Holy Spirit will teach you to see Christ as your total refuge!

“It Sucks To Be Me”

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place
Pulpit Series Volume 16 Issue 43 11/26/2006

I was, I thought ready with this week’s message. However, as the week progressed - life became more complicated, I became more perplexed - and my message seemed irrelevant.

I felt more like preaching on Job then on salvation! However, the toughest part about preaching on Job is not the sermon writing, although that's challenging enough.

The toughest part is that there aren’t any good hymns or choruses that go with a sermon on Job. There’s a shortage of songs that go with the despairing, discouraging, “woe ways me”, “I’m ticked off” laments that these texts seem to require.

Even an old classic like “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” would get a “Yea Right!” response from Job. And as for "You are the Air I Breath . . ." I could just see Job telling the happy little praise band to stuff that up their amplifier.

Let’s face it folks when you are in the middle of it… it is hard to find songs that have the "my life sucks, but dang it I'll praise God anyway" feel to them. Perhaps, “Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen”, “Do, Lord” or “It’s Me O Lord”, would work.
There are in reality only two times to praise the Lord, when you feel like it and when you don't."
Habakkuk 3:17-18 Although the fig tree doesn’t blossom, nor there be fruit on the vines; if the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields yield no meat; even if the flock is cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

The prophet Habakkuk wouldn’t have said what he did, except that he had known God as He really is--a being in every way worthy of confidence and unfailing trust.

He says, even though all temporal mercies are withheld and fail, he will yet rejoice in God. Though calamity of the severest kind should fall upon him and all around him, yet he will confide in God fully, and with the utmost assurance.

Psalms 34:1 I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth

Any one can praise God after the devil has been defeated. Any one can rejoice in God on the other side of the Red Sea.

Let’s face it it is not too often that we know what God is doing in our lives. I’m not even sure if we need to know… we just need to trust Him….

Have you ever driven in a thick fog bank at night? Speed up and you could rear-end someone ahead of you. Slow down and someone behind you could run into you. With lights high, it reflects off the fog and you can't see. With lights dim, it is difficult to see very far ahead. In fact just the other day the fog was so thick that I passed Ralph’s place before I realized I had completely missed our road.

At times it seems to be that way in our lives. Disappointment, fear, anger, disease, betrayal, heartache - all cloud our vision.

We don’t know what we are accomplishing in life! But God would say, Don't stop, Don't quit, Don't even slow down!

God is seeing you through it - even when we can’t see.

Habakkuk 1:2-3 O LORD, how long shall I cry, and you won’t hear! How long will it be before you save me! Why do you allow me to see these grievous things? All around me are those that rise up strife and contention.

In Habakkuk’s emotion-filled questions before God, he needed God's embrace. Habakkuk's faith was strong even when he didn’t understand what God's plan was. The book of Habakkuk is a record of the prophet's troublesome questions and the answers he found.

We don’t always see God at work in our lives. Evil people seem to do so well, and good people suffer!

Habakkuk had two concerns in relation to this: Those who had the power were wicked. They sinned against the poor, taking what little the poor had. Living in violence and bloodshed. Wicked nations were swallowing up more righteous nations.

You are not alone in asking, “What is going on?” Jeremiah 12:1 Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease? Psalm 73:3 I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked

Habakkuk's complaint had to do with unanswered prayer. Habakkuk 1:13. God, how can you being holy, look at those that deal treacherously, and not say something? How can you just standby and watch the wicked devour the righteous?

Is it wrong to ask God about things such as this? Is it wrong to get upset when the heavens seem so silent?

Have you ever wondered…
Why did it have to happen?
How could God allow this?
Why doesn't he do something?

What do you do when you come to the end of your road? (blast a new one?)
What do you do in times of despair?
What do you do when you don't understand why God seems to be moving so slowly?

It has been said, that prayer is the Christian's breath.

Give your uncertainty to God!
In Faith believe God's answer is on its way. In Faith see that God is at Work!

It may sometimes appear that God is doing nothing, but he always acts in due time. (Daniel’s prayer 21 days)

"A man on his knees is higher than a man on a mountain."

The Scriptures encourage us to pray.
I Thessalonians 5:17 Pray continually. James 5:16 The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

God is at work, Give Your Uncertainty to Him, and Praise Him!

Live by Faith. Habakkuk 2:4 but the just shall live by his faith.

Faith is tested when we have reason to doubt and when we bear heavy burdens.

Job 13:15 Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face.

II Timothy 1:12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.

It may not be so important that we know WHY but that we know WHOM!

Paul says I know in WHOM I believe. When you know in whom you believe you can handle the problems of life.

God never does explain why he delayed so long in answering Habakkuk’s complaint. God does however, show Habakkuk great grace in that He doesn’t rebuke the prophet for his complaint. God doesn’t even argue the accuracy of the facts as Habakkuk had laid them out.

But, in the final chapter of his prophetic writing is a Psalm with musical notations such as are found in the book of Psalms. The prophet closes his writings with one of the greatest declarations of faith to ever be found in biblical literature.

Although the fig tree doesn’t blossom, nor there be fruit on the vines; if the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields yield no meat; even if the flock is cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

Too many people's faith is, "Lord, take care of me and I will take care of you." “Lord I’ll bless you if you bless me!”

In contrast, this prophet who raised some very searching questions in his early writings, declares that come the worst if it will, he will hold steadfastly to the Lord.
When faith is swept off its feet, it finds that it has wings.

I John 5:4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.

Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible, achieves the impossible.

Finally he writes The LORD God is my strength, and He will make my feet like deer’s feet, and He will make me to walk on mine high places. Habakkuk 3:19