Making God Smile

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place, Osoyoos
Pulpit Series Volume 18, Issue 35, November 16, 2008

Mark 4 Listen. What do you make of this? A farmer planted seed. As he scattered the seed, some of it fell on the road and birds ate it. Some fell in the gravel; it sprouted quickly but didn't put down roots, so when the sun came up it withered just as quickly. Some fell in the weeds; as it came up, it was strangled among the weeds and nothing came of it. Some fell on good earth and came up with a flourish, producing a harvest exceeding his wildest dreams. Are you listening to this? Really listening? When they were off by themselves, those who were close to him, along with the Twelve, asked about the stories. He told them, You've been given insight into God's kingdom—you know how it works. But to those who can't see it yet, everything comes in stories, creating readiness, nudging them toward receptive insight. These are people— Whose eyes are open but don't see a thing, Whose ears are open but don't understand a word, Who avoid making an about-face and getting forgiven."
He continued, Do you see how this story works? All my stories work this way. The farmer plants the Word. Some people are like the seed that falls on the hardened soil of the road. No sooner do they hear the Word than Satan snatches away what has been planted in them. And some are like the seed that lands in the gravel. When they first hear the Word, they respond with great enthusiasm. But there is such shallow soil of character that when the emotions wear off and some difficulty arrives, there is nothing to show for it. The seed cast in the weeds represents the ones who hear the kingdom news but are overwhelmed with worries about all the things they have to do and all the things they want to get. The stress strangles what they heard, and nothing comes of it. But the seed planted in the good earth represents those who hear the Word, embrace it, and produce a harvest beyond their wildest dreams.
Mark 4:15 Satan comes immediately, and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts.

Mark 4:16 … immediately receive it with gladness
Mark 4:17 … endure but for a time: when affliction or persecution arises for the word's sake, immediately they are offended.

Four types of thorns are described (Mark 4:18)
¨ The care of this world; What’ll I eat, or drink? What’ll I wear? How can I keep what I got? How do I get more? .
¨ The deceitfulness of riches: not riches themselves, but the deceitfulness of riches. Your line of conduct ought never to be ruled by gain or loss.
¨ The pleasures of this life. This is the age of excessive amusement; Many have had all holy thoughts and resolutions murdered by a continual pursuit for pleasure.
¨ The lusts of other things: All things except the things that glorify God are “other things”. Seed is choked.

The result: The seed was unfruitful. The seed grew, but brought no fruit to perfection. A person may look like, walk like and talk like a Christian... but the proof is in the fruit!

Far too many are growing weak in this late hour. Thorns are choking out the very life of the Christian’s spirit!

Consider: Thorns are natural to the soil. Sin is very much at home in the human heart.
Thorns are already established in the soil. The roots of sin run through our nature.

Watch and pray lest temptation choke that which is good in you! Mark 14:38
Many professing Christians are like the thorny ground?
I believe it is because the process of dealing with sin has been so watered down. Thorns need to be pulled out by the roots and burned on the spot. It is easy to say you’re a sinner without feeling what it means!

I in instantaneous conversion and I love to see it take place - but I’d rather see the thorough work of grace, awakening a deep sense of sin. You can’t get rid of dandelions by delicately nipping off the buds!

In the stony ground we see a group of people who:
· received the Word. They recognised God's truth!
· received it immediately. They jumped right in!
· received it with gladness. happiness vs conversion

These people in not counting the cost, didn’t figure in temptations and persecutions to come. They made rapid progress... but in due time came the trial.

No one gets to heaven without being tried! Not one fragment of God’s gold hasn’t first passed through the fire! The Lord Jesus said this testing came because of the Word!

These people believed, yet were immediately offended ... just as fast as they fell in love with the gospel they fell out! Their radical defect lay in an unbroken heart!

This ground was not soil with rocks in it was bedrock, a hard layer of rock with a thin layer of soil over it. The seed sprang up immediately.

These folk were so fast at accepting the seed they were:
· healed before they recognised they were wounded!
· clothed before they saw the shame of their nakedness!
· filled before they were empty!
· made alive before they were dead!

They were unbroken in heart and that is a fatal defect!

Psalms 34:18 The LORD is near those that have a broken heart and saves such as be of a contrite spirit.

They lacked depth! Everything was superficial - surface! This seed did sprout - but it had no root! No prayer, no bible study, no fear of God. No intimacy with Jesus.

Dear friends, guard your spiritual life.. Think about this - if your boat is near ready to go down in calm waters, what’ll become of you when a storm arises.

We need the Holy Spirit to cultivate our hearts.
I am called to be your Spiritual Husbandmen, my chief work is to sow the Word. Multiplying what God has revealed, not human speculation, not human news, not scientific discoveries however good they may be - not theories about the Word - just the unadulterated Word of God. That is my chief job… sowing the Word.

Each and every one of you is able to sow the Word. Each life touches another—and you multiply power for good or for evil.

Sow the true seed and you may count on a sure and large harvest. The seed’s fruitfulness is according to the condition of the hearts receiving it. Jesus said, “He that has ears, let him hear”. Divine truth needs attention.

A good hearer of the Word:
· Stirs him/herself up to listen.
· Their hearing is an opportunity and they take care to make the most of it.
· What he/she hears is kept by reflecting on it (meditating), and assimilating for their own edification and growth in grace.
· They “do” what they hear. To hear without obeying is to harden the heart.
· Some of course will make more of their opportunities!

Zechariah 13:8-9 it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire and will refine them as silver is refined and try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.

John 15:8 Herein is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit; so shall you be my disciples.

Lest We Forget

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place, Osoyoos
Pulpit Series Volume 18, Issue 34, November 9, 2008

Remembrance Day! Every November 11th, Canadians across the country pause in a silent moment of remembrance.
WW I - it was 1914 and Canada’s population was just over 3 million, most of which were women and children. Of the men and women who VOLUNTEERED 60,000 were killed and 120,000 were wounded. This we should remember.
The Canadians' first major battle was later seen as one of the most crucial battles in history. It was April 22, 1915, and the Germans used poison gas for the first time in war. As 145 tons of chlorine gas drifted over the trenches, the Canadian troops held and stopped the German advance. The casualties were enormous. In 48 hours, 1 of every 3 Canadians died.
In April 1917, the Canadians helped turn the tide of battle when they won a major victory at Vimy Ridge. This too had its cost: more than 10,000 casualties in six days. The war continued for more than a year but finally on November 11, 1918, the Armistice was signed and the Canadians took part in the triumphant entry into Belgium. This too we should remember.
WW2: It was 1939 and again Canadians flocked to enlist. They included veterans of earlier wars, boys still in high school and thousands of unemployed.
For almost six years, Canadians fought valiantly on battlefronts around the world. More than one million men and women enlisted in the army, the navy and the air force. When the war was over, more than 45,000 had given their lives.
The Gospel of Saint John says, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
If this is true than we as Canadians had best remember the price our friends paid for our freedom. And we as Christians had best remember the price our Friend Jesus paid for us.
As the artillerymen swung three abreast down Main Street, traffic stopped and people watched from the sidewalks. Some stood in silence. A few wept. Some cheered a bit or called out to soldiers they knew - they waved at the officer who had for years devoted his spare time to the militia battery, to the gentle giant from the lumber mill, to the young orchardist from the Okanagan, to the blonde haired teenager leaving the prettiest girl in town.
When war came, Canadians volunteered readily to serve their country as champions of liberty. They came from farms, from small towns and large cities across the country, riding high on the initial wave of indignation, excitement, and patriotism. For the men and women who rallied to support their nation's cause, the threats of war seemed far away and unreal.
In the fall of 1914 as the 1st contingent of Canadians left the shelter of the St. Lawrence for the open Atlantic, some of the realities came into focus....Those who came forward had not stopped to count the cost, for the excitement was thrilling, the lottery alluring, and the cause glorious; but now that the confusion was passed and the fulfillment of their vows alone remained to be faced, things took on a more somber aspect ..... and yes this too we should remember!
How could they know that four long years of death and destruction were ahead?
With every battle over this century, extremes of temperature, mud, mutilation, mind-numbing fatigue, fear and death were daily realities for over 1,500,000 Canadian men and women.
For all of these conflicts fought in far-off lands, there is much to remember. Foremost are the people, the men and women who served wherever they were needed. They faced difficult situations bravely and brought honor to themselves, to their loved ones and to their country They were ordinary Canadians who made extraordinary sacrifices.
We should not keep silent in our reflections, the price of our freedom and liberty is too awesome, the cost too great!
Yes we stop to remember today - the horror of war - But I believe it only proper that in our daily living we remember their great sacrifice!
Turn with me to Deuteronomy 8:1-5 Keep and live out the entire commandment that I'm commanding you today so that you'll live and prosper and enter and own the land that God promised to your ancestors.
Remember every road that God led you on for those forty years in the wilderness, pushing you to your limits, testing you so that he would know what you were made of, whether you would keep his commandments or not.
He put you through hard times. He made you go hungry. Then he fed you with manna, something neither you nor your parents knew anything about, so you would learn that men and women don't live by bread only; we live by every word that comes from God's mouth.
Your clothes didn't wear out and your feet didn't blister those forty years. You learned deep in your heart that God disciplines you in the same ways a father disciplines his child.
Deuteronomy 8:6-9 So it's paramount that you keep the commandments of God, your God, walk down the roads he shows you and reverently respect him. God is about to bring you into a good land, a land with brooks and rivers, springs and lakes, streams out of the hills and through the valleys. It's a land of wheat and barley, of vines and figs and pomegranates, of olives, oil, and honey. It's land where you'll never go hungry—always food on the table and a roof over your head. It's a land where you'll get iron out of rocks and mine copper from the hills.
Deuteronomy 8:10-16 After a meal, satisfied, bless God, your God, for the good land he has given you.
Make sure you don't forget God, your God, by not keeping his commandments, his rules and regulations that I command you today. Make sure that when you eat and are satisfied, build pleasant houses and settle in, see your herds and flocks flourish and more and more money come in, watch your standard of living going up and up—make sure you don't become so full of yourself and your things that you forget your God.
· The God who delivered you from Egyptian slavery;
· The God who led you through that huge and fearsome wilderness, those desolate, arid badlands crawling with fiery snakes and scorpions;
· The God who gave you water gushing from hard rock;
· The God who gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never heard of, in order to give you a taste of the hard life, to test you so that you would be prepared to live well in the days ahead of you.
Deuteronomy 8:17-18 If you start thinking to yourselves, "I did all this. And all by myself. I'm rich. It's all mine!"— well, think again. Remember that God, your God, gave you the strength to produce all this wealth so as to confirm the covenant that he promised to your ancestors—as it is today.
Deuteronomy 8:19-20 If you forget, forget God, your God, and start taking up with other gods, serving and worshiping them, I'm on record right now as giving you firm warning: that will be the end of you; I mean it—destruction. You'll go to your doom—the same as the nations God is destroying before you; doom because you wouldn't obey the Voice of God, your God.
We should not keep silent in our reflections, the price of our freedom and liberty is too awesome, the cost too great!
May God be glorified in our living!

Pharaoh, Pharaoh

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place, Osoyoos
Pulpit Series Volume 18, Issue 33, November 2, 2008

Song written by Tony Sbrana, 1971 Pharaoh, Pharaoh oooh baby, let my people go.

Exodus 8-10 “Pharaoh Pharaoh Obey Me, let my people go”

Pharaoh didn’t want to let them go, but he did offer some compromises. This is what the devil offers us, compromisers! The devil doesn’t need you to quit he’ll settle for compromise.

Now I don’t mind riding the fence line but I sure don’t like riding the fence. For one thing I don’t like crowds!

Political Party called the “Mugwumps” (Mugs on one side wumps on the other.) Although compromise may be expected in politics and the secret to success in marriage … it is the death of Christian convictions.

Compromise is the crack in the armor we are supposed to be wearing, and when our armor is compromised that is the very spot Satan will strike his death blow!

We are still being offered the same four compromises Pharaoh offered Mosses.

First Compromise: Exodus 8:25 Worship God, but do it in the land. (stay in Egypt) Today the devil doesn’t mind us going to church on Sunday as long as we stay in the world all week long. To serve God but stay in sin is a compromise.

But God says, Come on out of Egypt! If you’re gonna do it, do it right. Not halfway. “I’ll serve God but I can’t tithe.” Come on all the way out of Egypt!

There’s two extremes to avoid when talking about separation from the world [like ditches on either side of the highway]:

Legalism says—Keep this set of rules and you won’t be worldly anymore. You’ll be more spiritual than most everyone else.

But worldliness starts in the heart, and the fix isn’t outward conforming but inward transforming!

The problem with lists of rules is everyone’s list is different, and we begin to major on little minors, and focusing on our preferences. God does give us some lists in His Word, and we should focus on those.. just make sure it’s a heart decision to please God and not something you’re doing for man.

Liberalism says—I’m free in Christ. I can go where I want, look like I want, watch what I want, listen to what I want, hang out with whoever I want.

But it matters how we look, where we go, who we are with, what we do, say, take in, or put out. This crowd loves to quote the OT verse that says ‘God looks at the heart’. But they forget the first part of the verse which states that ‘man looks on the outward appearance!’ If we’re going to affect the world the world is going to have to see a difference in us.

The truth is both the inside and outside need to be affected by God. So make some inner decisions and allow those to affect you outwardly.

What about things the Bible doesn’t mention directly.

It has been daid, “’s hell’s box office! Cinemax? It’s sin to the max! So don’t be looking at a TV, be looking up, for the Lord will soon return and it’s gonna be Showtime!”

Here’s 5 questions to ask about questionable areas:
[these guidelines only work for those with a heart to do right, not for the worldly Christian looking for an excuse]

1. What would Jesus do? I Peter 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:

Would Jesus do this activity? Would He watch this? Would He talk this way?

2. Is God your top priority? Does He take the back seat to anything else? What are you more committed to? Am I in conflict between God and the world?

3. Will this help or hinder my Christian walk? We should not only consider what’s wrong w/ something, but what is right with it? Is it of any lasting value in eternity? Would my time and efforts be better spent on something more profitable?

4. What is the atmosphere around this? The context is important. It’s not just about what are you doing, but what are others doing in this place. It is guilt by association.

Ephesians 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. Romans 13:12 ...let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.

5. How will this affect others? No man is an island. We have a responsibility to consider how we affect others around us. Paul said there’s some things I could do that are ok, but if they offend my brother, I won’t do them for his sake.

Serve God, but stay in Egypt...

Second Compromise — 8:28 Worship God, but don’t go very far away. Don’t go overboard w/ this Jesus stuff.
Be a borderline Christian / a compartment Christian – have a life – have a work life, a home life, a recreation life, and a church life.

Don’t compartmentalize God. Don’t lock Him into one room. Allow Him to roam freely and permeate every area of your life. Not just another spoke in the wheel, but the hub out of which all the other areas are firmly rooted and revolve around!

What little word do we get from the word fanatic?

‘Fan’! It’s ok to be a sports fan, but if you are a Jesus fan that’s bad?

"I'll go where you want me to go, Dear Lord,
Real service is what I desire;
I'll say what you want me to say, Dear Lord,
But don't ask me to sing in the choir.
I'll say what you want me to say, Dear Lord,
I'd like to see things come to pass;
But don't ask me to teach girls and boys, Dear Lord;
I'd rather just stay in my class.
I'll do what you want me to do, Dear Lord.
I yearn for your kingdom to thrive.
I'll give you my nickels and dimes, Dear Lord,
But please don't ask me to tithe.
I'll go where you want me to go, Dear Lord,
I'll say what you want me to say;
I'm busy just now with myself, Dear Lord.
I'll help you some other day."

Third Compromise — 10:7-11 Worship God, but don’t take your family. Just the men were allowed to go. Today the devil says, let your kids make up their own mind. Don’t turn your spouse off to God,
just keep quiet about it all. It’s time for men to get back to being the spiritual leaders in the home!

This attitude surfaces today as adults lead their own lives, and leave the kids in front of the automated baby sitter [TV or game system] and leave their education up to the school and leave their salvation up to their Sunday School teacher. We need to claim our kids for Christ and take action to see they know the Lord. “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!”

Fourth Compromise — 10:24-26 Worship God, but leave your flocks and herds. Pharaoh says, in case this religion thing doesn’t work out for you, you need a fall back plan. Don’t burn your bridges!
If doing God’s will and going to church doesn’t work out for you, you can always go back to the way you used to be! Don’t sell out for God. Keep one foot in the door of the world.

“Don’t let religion affect your pocketbook”. Flocks and herds in those days were money. The cry of the day in Christianity is that churches are all about money, when they should be about people and their hearts. But Jesus said where your treasure is, there your heart is also.

“Don’t talk about money preacher, talk about something spiritual!” There’s nothing more spiritual that we can talk about it’s the supreme test of our values, our obedience, and our heart.

“Pharaoh, pharaoh, I wish you’d just leave my people alone!” But he won’t. Satan is more at work in these last days than ever, and he wants us to compromise. He knows he has lost your soul to heaven, but he doesn’t want you taking others with you. He doesn’t mind you going to church, as long as you live a 50-50 lifestyle.

That’s a miserable place to be...riding the fence. You’ve got enough Jesus in you that you can no longer enjoy the world, but still enough world in you so you can’t fully enjoy Jesus!

Get all the way out of Egypt not still in eyeshot of the old life, but going forward, gaining higher ground, no looking back...on to the Promised Land!

A Better Resurrection

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place, Osoyoos
Pulpit Series Volume 18, Issue 32, October 26, 2008

Hebrews 11:32-34 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gideon; - through faith received a miraculous victory, and of Barak; - a captain in Deborah's army who through faith brought a great deliverance at the hand of God, and of Samson; God delivered all the Philistines into his hands, and of Jephthae; a judge who through faith showed great boldness; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, showed forth righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.

The Word of God is full of accounts of deliverance. Many of you have received deliverance of some form. Drug Addiction, Alcoholism, Violent Tempers…
Jesus breaks every chain!

In general we were all: lost in sin and now we are found! Dead and now we live!
Blind but now we see! These wonderful things happen as people put their trust and faith in the Lord Jesus!

However, there is a kind of faith that is not seen much today. A powerful effective faith that refuses anything, but God's deliverance! Folks there are two types of faith.
There is a receiving faith and there is a refusing faith!

Hebrews 11:35-39 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yes and more, chains and imprisonment: WHY did they refuse deliverance?

They were stoned, they were sawed in half, were tempted, were slain with the sword: (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: They relied on the promised Messiah, but never lived to see Him come in the flesh and fulfill His work of redemption.

There comes an hour when the strongest proof of your
faith is in the rejection of the
easiest way out!

It seems that the early believers were always given a choice - all they had to do was to denounce their belief and they would be spared all the suffering.

A Roman centurion would write the name of Christ on the wall and all the believer would have to do was spit on it - and they would be given their total freedom - granted deliverance.

In another example all the believer would have to do is reach into a box, pick up some grain from within it and throw it down at the feet of "another god". Instantly all the cruel mockery and torment would cease - - just by throwing down the grain!

But, they refused to bow, they would not compromise!

They chose faithfulness to God rather than the freedom offered at the hands of man. We need this type of faith.

I Corinthians 10:13 no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it.

Do you know it?

Many Christians settle for a quick fix. Beware! There is no true deliverance outside of Christ!

I want to show you something, turn to Matthew 4:8-10 Again, the devil took Jesus up on to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world And sad to him, All these things will I give thee, if you will fall down and worship me. Then Jesus replied Get out of here, Satan: for it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.

Just as Christ was taken to the mountain by the enemy - so the enemy takes us. The devil will bring you up on a mountain some-where. He’ll offer you all that your eyes can behold - all you'd have to do is just compromise a little!

Just bow down and all these kingdoms will I give you!

Consider these verses when the enemy comes to you.

Psalms 142:3-5 When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, You knew my path. On the path that I walked they laid a snare for me. I looked on my right but there was no one around to help me, my refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul. I cried out to You, O LORD: saying, You are my refuge and my portion in the land of the living.

Our confidence can’t be in any other form of deliverance or in any other deliverer! Psalms 20:7 Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD.

When your job ends, when Mr/Miss dreamboat becomes a nightmare - when depression attacks, when the car breaks down, when there is no bread in the cupboard, whatever the case - do not seek deliverance in your own wisdom!

Trust the Lord - He will deliver you!

Don't compromise to make ends meet; refuse to look the other way! The night may be dark but there will come joy!

Psalms 5:11-12 Let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them.. For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.

Psalms 34:7-9 The angel of the LORD camps round about them that fear him, and delivers them. O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusts in him... there is no want to them that fear him.

Jesus was tempted with deliverance -

Matthew 27:34 They gave him vinegar mingled with gall and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.

Had He not prayed in the garden for the Father to take this cup from Him? Could this not be the way of deliverance?

This was a drug, a pain killer. He’d still be crucified - it would still accomplish the same result - wouldn't it?

Take heed! The Word of God warns us that; there will come a time when people will not endure sound doctrine; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. I Timothy 4:3

Folks don't give up!
Folks don’t give in! Look up!

Carry on in Faith Brothers and Sisters Carry On!

The LORD, preserves the souls of his saints; he delivers them out of the hand of the wicked. Psalms 97:9-11

Hebrews 11:35 ... and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:... Of whom the world was not worthy

Luke 22:31 Jesus said, Simon, Simon, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not:
Christ doesn’t always deliver us out, but He always delivers us through!

Jude 1:24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy