Monthly Archives: April 2015

“Shrewd”

Pastor Dave Brooks preached an excellent sermon at Waukee Community Church in Waukee, Iowa on Sunday, April 26, 2015.  Check out excellent truth from Acts 23 for application to and transformation of your life this week (below):
“Shrewd”
By Pastor Dave Brooks
Waukee Community Church
Sunday, April 26, 2015
Text:  Acts 23
Summary Notes of and Editorializing by Bob Stouffer
In Luke 16:1-13, Jesus told a parable which teaches us to be shrewd with the Lord’s resources in this world.  What does that look like for a Christian?
“As you scatter into this world, be shrewd in how you life for the Kingdom of God.”
Shrewd means “having/showing sharp powers of judgment.”  Jesus sent the disciples out as sheep among wolves to be “shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves.”
SHREWD LIVING MEANS BEING CONSISTENT.  (Acts 23:1-3)
Paul led a consistent life as a Christian.  It’s not about “perfection.”  Paul was not perfect.  Jesus was consistently perfect for us.  And the Holy Spirit, which indwells us, can help us to be consistently obedient to God.  We need to be consistent to the teaching of Jesus.  We need to avoid hypocrisy.  We need to avoid inconsistency.  When we scatter in the world, we must be consistently obedient to Jesus’ commands.
SHREWD LIVING MEANS BEING HUMBLE.  (Acts 23:4-5)
In humility, Paul apologized for “cursing” the high priest.  We must admit when we are wrong.  When he “curse” President Barack Obama publicly, we lose influence in the lives of those who admire him and appreciate what he’s done for them.  Few people humbly apologize in a our world today.
SHREWD LIVING MEANS BEING INTELLIGENT.  (Acts 23:6-10)
We should live intelligently as Christians.  Paul didn’t deny Jesus, but he divided his enemies.  The Sanhedrin was comprised of Pharisees and Sadducees, who were at odds theologically.  Paul was a Pharisee.  He knew the beliefs of the Sadducees.  With a couple sentences, Paul turned them against each other.  Paul’s enemies — originally united against him — then turned on each other, and he did not deny Christ.  We need to be intelligent about the Word of God and about the culture in which we live.  We must not assimilate to the world.  We must not be moral relativists.
SHREWD LIVING MEANS BEING CONFIDENT.  (Acts 23:11-22)
Jesus actually appeared to Paul, telling him to “take courage” and to “testify also in Rome.”  It would take four years from this point to the time Paul would testify in Rome.  Paul waited patiently for God, and he trusted in God’s faithfulness.  We must trust in the Lord with all of our hearts; we must lean not on our own understanding; in all our ways, we must acknowledge God; and He will make our paths straight.  (Proverbs 3:5-6)  God will use all things for good according to his purposes — and always to His honor and glory.
SHREWD LIVING MEANS BEING BLAMELESS.  (Acts 23:23-35)
Amazingly, 470 troops whisked Paul away from the murder plot against him.  The Roman commander lied to Felix.  The Jewish leaders were conniving.  The fasting murderers were obviously not blameless.  But Paul was absolutely blameless.  We should be blameless, too.  Holiness matters.  We need to live, love, and give like Jesus.  We need to pursue blamelessness.

Celebrate Christian Education Week!

Christian Schools International (CSI) has designated April 20-26 as Christian Education Week.  Please celebrate with the Christian schools which are making a difference in their spheres of influence!  I encourage you to read the following text, which was beautifully crafted by CSI:

Let all of creation praise the Creator! If creation had a voice, there would be shouts from every direction. Look and see what God has done! The psalm writer says it all simply: “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters” (Psalm 24:1-2).

God reveals himself to his people through everything that he has made. God could have chosen a number of different ways to open his story in Genesis. The way he chose was to introduce himself to us as Creator. On the canvas of a formless, empty, dark, and deep earth (Genesis 1:2), God created order and beauty in the heavens above and on the earth below (Genesis 1:1).

Through the rest of Genesis 1 God painted more details on the canvas of creation. With each completed day, creation images became more detailed and complete. Each day ended with the Creator stepping back and looking at his canvas of Creation and declaring, “It is good!”

God’s painted canvas surrounds us. From quiet lakes to mighty oceans, from dry deserts to majestic rain forests, from deep valleys to snow-capped mountains, from tiny atoms to massive planets, creation is revealed. Believers see everything that he has made and celebrate the work of the master’s hand.

Every day in the Christian school, the Creator is glorified. Every day creation is recognized as no accident of the universe, but as the work of his hands. As children mix colors and paint on their own canvases, they reflect the creativity put into them by their Creator. In the science lab, microscopes reveal organisms unseen by human eyes while telescopes open our eyes to distant galaxies. The earth sciences enable students to see the mysteries of creation far below the surface of a dynamic planet.

The Christian school classroom brings students into the chaos of a broken world. Students study lessons of history and seek to understand injustice and inhumanity in order to become the agents of shalom in God’s advancing kingdom. In the Christian school classrooms students face the issues of environmental caretaking, because the Creator has entrusted them to be stewards of his world.

“What would Jesus do?” is so much more than a slogan. In the Christian school it is a daily call to teachers and to students to struggle with complicated issues as faithful followers. God crowned his creation by creating humans. He capped creation by choosing to create them in his own image. Each newly created one is knit together beautifully in a mother’s womb. And in the Christian school each child walking through the door is welcomed as a child of God. There is no better reason to celebrate Christian education than with the understanding that in the Christian school each child will know that he or she is a child of God.

Thank God for the privilege to tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord.

Thank God for the gift of Christian schools.

Thank God for a creation that praises the Creator.

“Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:1).

“I Love the Church of Jesus Christ!”

Many of the folks from Central Iowa and South Central Iowa in this reading audience will recognize the name of Kevin Roose (pronounced roh suh), an Elder who invited me to open up God’s Word at Westview Church in Waukee on Sunday, April 12, 2015, also the day of my daughter Hannah’s 20th birthday! If you would like to read the outline of my message, “I Love the Church of Jesus Christ! And You Should Love the Church of Jesus Christ, Too!” please read on.

“I Love the Church of Jesus Christ!”

“And You Should Love the Church of Jesus Christ, Too!

By Dr. Bob Stouffer

Westview Church

Waukee, Iowa

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Opening

I did not go to seminary.

I do not have a Master’s of Divinity degree.

I often joke that I need a Ph.D. in psychology more than my doctorate in education to understand the complex behavior of people.

I am a self-taught theologian.

Even if I am not a trained pastor like Pastor Josh, I did have a good night’s stay in a Holiday Inn Express, so I am ready to go this morning!

Seriously, opening up the Word of God is a daunting responsibility.

I take that privilege seriously.

In fact, while I am a trained English teacher, school administrator, and educational leadership professor, I was just this week re-licensed for another 5 years as a minister through the Evangelical Free Church of America.

I am going to say some things today which your pastors and leaders may be reticent to say, since they have to live with you every week.

I am typically an expositional preacher. I take a passage of Scripture, and I drive through the Word, making applications for you to live your life differently. As you know, we are to be, according to Romans 12:2 “transformed through the renewing of our minds.”

But, today, I am going topical and would like to make several observations about the church of Jesus Christ. I will provide Scriptural support, of course.

I have a profound love for Jesus. . . .Jesus loved me while I was still his enemy. (Romans 5:10)

I have a profound love of God’s Word. . . .All Scripture is God-breathed. . . .” Paul wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

And I have a profound love for Christ’s church. . . .

I want YOU to love Christ, His Word, and His church as well.

Perhaps not a single one of my observations will be revolutionary for you. But I hope I will be confirming positive truths for which this church stands.

Main Points of the Message

First of all, the church is not a building. . . .

The church is also not programs. . . .

The PEOPLE are the church. According to 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, the church is the “body of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-27)

In fact, I consider myself to be an auxiliary member of YOUR body of Christ. I attend Waukee Community Church at Prairieview School, less than 2 miles to the west, and, perhaps in a follow-up sermon when I preach here again in July, I will talk about how area Bible-believing churches should be banding together more to gain more influence for the Kingdom.

How do each of you, as 1 member of the body of Christ, function as a part of that body?

The Holy Spirit indwells and empowers each of you who names Christ as Lord and Savior of your life. Appropriate the power of the Holy Spirit! (John 15:26)

In 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, Paul essentially tells us to know AND USE our spiritual gifts. . . .

Know your spiritual gifts, and get in the game. Bud Wilkinson, hall of fame football coach from The University of Oklahoma once said – and I embellish: “On any given Saturday in the fall, 22 fit players on the field are in desperate need of a rest, and tens of thousands of out-of-shape fans in the stands are in desperate need of exercise.” Christianity is not a spectator sport. We need to be on the field!

To extend that sports metaphor, you can also expect spiritual battle. . . .It’s not a matter of if, but when. Put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6).

Why the spiritual battle?

Sin.

Expect to fall short. You sin. Sin is at your nature. You will fall short. ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

Someone once asked famed Catholic commentator G.K. Chesterton what was wrong with the world. He wisely answered, “I am.”

But don’t dumb-down God’s expectations. The Father said, “Be holy, as I am holy.” (Leviticus 11:44) The Son said, “Be perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

When you fail, don’t feel sorry for yourself or get discouraged. We often walk away from a sermon, and we already feel guilty for how short of the mark we fall. But, in the strength of the Holy Spirit, keep on keeping on! Persevere!   (Ephesians 6:18)

I am saddened by people in the church who behave more poorly than those who do not know Christ as Lord and Savior. . . . [i.e., the opening of What’s So Amazing About Grace? by Philip Yancey.]

Just as Jesus dealt with the Pharisees, there are bullies in our midst. Stand up against the bullies. When church discipline is necessary, LOVINGLY engage the process of church discipline. Satan loves nothing better than an implosion from within, rather than an explosion from without, and sin within the body must be a priority for leadership and preaching.

Pastor Josh must be encouraged to confront the sin among the body of Christ. He should comfort the afflicted, and he should also be given permission to “afflict the comfortable.” Of course, he should not preach Pharisaically by hammering people with only “truth and judgment” messages. Nor should he be imbalanced to the other side of that pendulum by preaching cheap grace or the prosperity gospel.

Other results of sin are division, and unresolved conflict in the body of Christ. I strongly encourage everyone at Westview Church to resolve your conflicts directly, not through improper channels or guerilla warfare. (Matthew 18)

Be not just “peace-keepers,” but “peace-makers.” Jesus said as much in the Beatitudes during His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:9)

Also, please give your heart to the church.   Attend consistently. Do not forsake the assembly. (Hebrews 10:25)

Cut the nominal Christianity. I was a nominal Christian. . . .

Do not think of “church” as a Sunday morning-only proposition.

Think of your life as a Christian to be an every-moment-of-every-day proposition.

Be a producer, not a consumer. . . .a giver, not a taker. . . .

BE more like Jesus. What Jesus thought, you should think. What Jesus said, you should say in so many words. What Jesus did, you should do.  (2 Corinthinans 10:5) John the Apostle’s words are recorded in John 3:30: Jesus increase; we must decrease. Paul wrote in Romans 8:29 that we are to “be conformed to the likeness of the Son.”

Work not for your own glory – or with a works mentality. Do EVERYTHING unto the Lord. (Colossians 3:23)

Abide in Christ. (John 15:5) Submit to the Lordship of Jesus every moment of every day.

Be transformed. Your life does not end at the point of your conversion. God expects us to present ourselves daily as living sacrifices, wholly pleasing to God (Romans 12:1).

Celebrate daily that you have been saved (justified). But – right now — you are being saved (sanctified). And – one day — you will be saved (glorified)!

Are you being transformed daily? Ask the following questions of yourselves at least weekly:

  1. Have I decreased, and Jesus increased, during this past week?
  2. What do I know about God and His Word I didn’t know last week?
  3. Would someone want to pray like I’ve prayed this week?
  4. Would my family say they are my priority based on this week’s activities?
  5. With whom did I attempt to share the gospel this week?
  6. Who will walk more with Christ next week because he/she learned from me this week?
  7. Did I hide anything this past week (and, more pointedly, am I hiding anything now)?
  8. If I were to step out of my leadership role today, would the work continue well without me?
  9. What would my immediate reports say about my leadership this week?
  10. What are my plans for leading better next week?

(Thom Rainer, February 25, 2014)

Another passion of mine is biblical worldview development. Each of you must develop a biblical worldview in your own life. Be transformed through the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2). You can’t give away what you do not possess. Disciple others around you to develop a biblical worldview.

You are IN the world but not OF the world. (John 15:19) Be set apart from the empty philosophies of the world. (Colossians 2:8) Set your eyes and minds on things above. (Colossians 3:1)

Give generously, sacrificially, and joyfully. God owns it all anyway. (“The Parable of the Talents,” Matthew 25:14-30)

  • Time
  • Talents
  • Treasures
  • Testimony
  • Truth
  • Temple

Another point: Respect the leadership structures. Could we reverse the tide of anti-authoritarianism which began in the 1960s?! Honor your leaders. Good leaders are worthy of “double honor.” (Romans 13:17, 1 Timothy 5:17)

Honor the wives of leaders.

Do not expect perfection from your leaders, their wives, or their children.

Obey the “one another” statements. Live-out Romans 12:9-21!

Jesus loves the church. The church is His chosen institution for transformation. The gates of hell will not stand against the church. (Matthew 16:18)

YOU must attempt to love the church as much as Jesus loves the church. (Ephesians 5:25) Such is why I entitled this message, “I Love the Church of Jesus Christ! And You Should Love the Church of Jesus Christ, Too!”

Honor The Great Commandment. . . . (Deuteronomy 6:5)

Honor The Great Commission. . . . (Matthew 28:18-20) Your church should be growing as a result of conversions, not sheep shifting.

Disciple. And be discipled. . . .

Be courageous in standing against a culture which is marginalizing and belittling Christianity. Expect persecution. Blessed are those who are persecuted (Matthew 5:44)

Live (model) the Gospel AND SPEAK the Gospel. (Acts 14:7) The Gospel has the power to save!

AMEN?

AMEN!

Closing Prayer

“Lord, I turned on the fire hose today. . . .”

Resources

The Holy Bible. English Standard Version. 2001.

Rainer, Thom. “10 Questions for Leaders to Ask Each Week,” ThomRainer.com,

February 25, 2014.

I was privileged and honored to serve as a member of the Pella Christian High School Christian Schools International Accreditation Site Team on April 6-8, 2015.  During that visit, Bob VandePol, a 1973 graduate of Pella Christian High School, presented an excellent chapel message, “Life Lessons Learned from Crises.”  If you would like to read my transcript of his message, please read on.

“Life Lessons Learned from Crises”

By Bob VandePol, Pella Christian High School Class of 1973

Summary of Dr. Bob Stouffer, Principal, Oskaloosa Christian School

I have had a wonderful career, in that I am doing exactly what God created me to do.

My challenge to you is that you will be able to, when you’re old and gray, say that you did exactly what God called you to do.

My first point. God calls.

Second, God equips those He calls.

Third, go! Answer the call!

I’ve been in crisis response for my career. Crisis responders have strange photo albums. Here is the ceremony after the Virginia Tech shooting; 33 people died. This is the trans-ocean oil spill in the Gulf; we were very involved there as well. We also were involved in the Miracle on the Hudson. Cool stuff. I pinch myself.

There was a clear calling. There is no greater honor – there is no greater responsibility – than to be there for someone on the worst day of their lives. We remember who came alongside us on the worst day of our lives – those who should have been there, but weren’t – those who botched it – and those who got it right.

If you hear God’s call to serve people on the worst day of their lives, you are a hero.

Listen to what God is calling you to do.

Between my sophomore and junior years, Eddie Joe Bowers II was one of my best friends, a student at Pella Public, one of the few Black students in town. He went forward together to give our lives to Jesus; that act super-glued our friendship. We encouraged each other by building each other up – lifting weights, playing basketball, drinking root beer. Eddie celebrated life.

In Mr. Blankespoor’s 10th grade class, we had to write a “prayer paper,” and I wrote pretty much about what I’m doing now.

Eddie drowned in Lake Red Rock. That fast. That was a tough one. I had spent a lot of years with Eddie. I still wanted to give my life to Jesus, get better, and celebrate life.   After the funeral, Mr. Bowers counseled me when I thought I was going to counsel him. He said, “Boy, make the most out of your life. You guys had goals. Go get them.” I got to play basketball.   I was the Pella Christian’s first All-Stater.

God equips those He calls.

I got to consult with the U.S. Senate. I went to many, many meetings where I knew I was not the smartest guy in the room. There are a lot of smart people in tall buildings. But the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. I wasn’t the smartest guy in the room, but I could count on being the wisest guy in the room. I had an unfair advantage. I had a differentiator. I had the fear of the Lord.

“The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.” (Isaiah 50:4)

On 9/11, I was wearing a suit. It was pouring down rain. I ran 6 miles down Broadway to consult at a business in New York City. I got there on time. These folks were right next to Ground Zero. I walked into the board room. It was monstrous. I looked out the window. I saw the Statue of Liberty. Brilliant. Gorgeous. I pivoted 90 degrees and saw what hell looked like – 7 blocks long of debris, dust, and the stench of death. These were smart people. I was praying for something extra from God. I needed to connect with these people. They had million dollar stares. There were people from Eastern Europe and Africa. Normally, I couldn’t spell or remember their names. But on that day, I was given gifts from the Lord. I asked for their names and what they went through. The gift I received a gift of remembering 40 of 40 names. We had such a connection. They didn’t feel alone or unconnected.

At a NASCAR race, I went to chapel with Jeff Gordon. There were 1,200 NYC cops and firefighters involved in the pre-race ceremony. A chaplain ran up to me. There was a man weeping on the ground. He was supposed to sing the National Anthem in 10 minutes. I got his attention. It was Daniel Rodriquez. I was introduced as the man who led the response to 9/11. He thought I had helped his group get through the tragedy. I hadn’t done so in the way that he thought, but the Lord knew he needed that connection. He saw Jesus in me. That was what he needed. It gives me a lot of confidence that the Lord equips those he calls.

Who bounces back from tragedies? Some survive. Some get better and thrive. Some never get over it.

People who bounce back are those who (1) believe in a cause that is bigger than self, who (2) enjoy positive social support, and who (3) had healthy coping skills and activities prior to the incident.   Christians should be able to nail these three.

Go. You can get there from here. Ask God for wisdom about your call. “Where do you want me to go?” Get off your hind-end and go. Recognize this map? It’s a map of Pella, but this photograph shows me speaking in Lima. You can get from Iowa to Peru. We can do it. God has given us what we need. He gave us faith. Here is a double rainbow over Joplin, Missouri. We grieve, but we grieve with hope.

My prayer for you – Pella Christian High School – is that you listen for God’s call, that he will equip you for that calling, and that you will go.

Let me pray for you. . . .

“Greater Is He!”

I delivered a version of the same message on Moses and 1 John 4:4 to Parkview Bible Chapel on Sunday, March 29, 2015 for their morning gathering; to the Elementary students, staff, and parents at Des Moines Christian on Monday, March 30, 2015 for their Spiritual Emphasis Retreat; and to the men of CrossTrainers on Wednesday, April 1, 2015. If you would like to read the outline of my message, please read on.

 “Greater Is He!

By Dr. Bob Stouffer
Eddyville Community Bible Church
Sunday, March 29, 2015

“Deliverance!”

By Dr. Bob Stouffer
Spiritual Emphasis Week
Des Moines Christian School
Monday, March 30, 2015
“Greater Is He!

By Dr. Bob Stouffer

CrossTrainers

Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Texts:

“Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

Exodus 3:1-4:17
Opening:

God is good!

God is great!

God is good and great ALL OF THE TIME!

Greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4)

Today, we are going to look into the Word of God and consider the life of a great man of God.
Moses.

Born a Hebrew.

Condemned to death as a male child in Egypt.
“Released” to God by his mother when he was 3 months old.
“Drawn out” (Moses) by Pharaoh’s daughter.

In a delicious irony, Moses landed back with, and was nursed and raised by his own mother!

He eventually became a young man of privilege in Pharaoh’s court. . . . Life must have been good.

Then, at 40, he witnessed an Egyptian’s mistreatment of a Hebrew. . . . And he committed murder.
The next day, he observed Hebrews battling. Based on a comment from one, he knew he was in danger of being revealed as a murderer; in fact, Pharaoh sought to kill him, so Moses fled.

Then he lived 40 years in obscurity as a shepherd. . . .

Until, at 80, he encountered God at the burning bush.
Eventually, he had a front row seat to God’s judgment against Pharaoh and Egypt, including a holocaust against the first-born Egyptians and livestock.

He led the Israelites when God delivered them from death at the Passover and at the Red Sea.

He and his fellow Hebrews were benefactors of God’s provision with manna, quail, and water.
He saw God and His glory – FACE-TO-FACE!
He was given other tremendous privileges.

God’s law was given through Moses. (John 1:17, “Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”)

Moses loved the Jewish people, pleading their case even when they were so sinful.

Moses!

A great man!

A great leader!

And he was known as THE most meek man of God.

Moses was also certainly an imperfect man and follower of God — denied entrance to the Promised Land because of a simple act of disobedience against the Lord.
However, “Greater is He – God – who was with Moses than he – Satan – who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)
Today, I begin speaking about Moses.

I’ll pick up with David on Tuesday.

Then Ruth on Wednesday.

And, finally, Esther on Thursday.

Greater is the Lord, who was with Moses, David, Ruth, and Esther than Satan or the events or people in their lives who opposed them.

Outline of Today’s Analysis:

Today, let’s drill down on one passage which illustrates, in Moses’ life, that greater was He who was with Moses” than the hard-hearted Pharaoh who opposed him.

Passage:  Exodus 3:1-4:17
. . . .

 

So what?!

Now what?! What are the APPLICATIONS?

What does Moses have to do with you and me today?

BE MEEK!

Ask yourself: “Compared to Moses, how meek are you?”

Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5)

Meekness is “strength under control.”

Why does the world not value meekness today?

BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS!

Also, as with Joshua after him, the story of Moses’ life cries out to all of us to be strong and courageous when faced with great tasks given to us by the Lord!

God does not call the equipped; He equips the called.

Quit throwing the “big buts” at God!

BE OBEDIENT!

Except for the incident which prevented Moses from entering the Promised Land, Moses was quite obedient to God.

Why is it that we have such difficulty submitting to the Lord?

After all of the heartaches and rebellion of the Israelites, Moses is denied entrance in the Promised Land?!

How can that be fair?

TRUST IN THE LORD!

God is faithful – the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob!

Place your faith in Him, no matter the circumstances of your life.

Abide in Christ!

Rely on the Holy Spirit. Submit to Him, and follow His lead.

Allow God to speak and act THROUGH YOU.

FINISH YOUR LIFE WELL!

Finally, how badly do you want to finish your life well?

Even though Moses did not enter the Promised Land, he is still held up as a bastion of faith in Hebrews 13.

Paul wrote to Timothy: “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness. . . .” (2 Timothy 4:6-8a)

I want to be able to say those same words at the end of my life!

I want to hear Jesus say to me, “Well done, you good and faithful servant! Well done!”

Closing:

When you declare Jesus as Savior of your life —

When you choose to follow Him as Lord —

The Holy Spirit is IN YOU.

Greater is God — who is IN YOU —

Than he who is in the world — Satan.
Greater is God than Satan!
Greater is God than any disease!

Greater is God than any family or work relationship problem!
Greater is God than divorce!

Greater is God than unemployment!

Greater is God than ANY difficult circumstances in your life!
My marriage was horrible.  Cheryl and I should have been divorced. . . .

My relationship with my older daughter was strained at the best. . . .

I was destined for be eternally separated from God. . . .

BUT WHEN I WAS 36, God – the hound of heaven pursued and grabbed hold of me, and I BELIEVED!

And I have been following him for those 20+ years since!

God rescued me!

God rescued my marriage!

God rescued my relationship with Molly!

God helped Cheryl and me navigate the extremely difficult parenting of our younger daughter, Hannah!

God rescued Hannah!

Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world!

Closing Prayer:

Let’s pray. . . .
Resources:

The Holy Bible.  English Standard Version.  2001.

“Peanut Butter and Jelly!”

Greater was a Moabite widow – Ruth – with God – than any obstacle which was in the world. If you are interested in reading the outline of my Des Moines Christian Elementary School Spiritual Emphasis Week message of Wednesday, April 1st, “Peanut Butter and Jelly!” please read on.

“Peanut Butter and Jelly!”

By Dr. Bob Stouffer
Spiritual Emphasis Week
Des Moines Christian School
Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Texts:

“Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

Ruth
Opening:

Peanut butter  (Start lathering peanut butter on a piece of bread.)

You can hardly think about peanut butter without also thinking about?

Jelly!

(Lather jelly on the peanut butter.)

Peanut butter and jelly go together, don’t they?!

Do you have a best friend?

I hope you do.  If you don’t, be a best friend to another person!

Best friends go together.

Peanut butter and jelly go together.

I value loyalty. . . .

I hope you value loyalty.

Who doesn’t love the loyalty of a friend?

Or a pet, a parent, a brother, or a sister?!

Loyalty is when people stick together no matter what — like peanut butter and jelly – like best friends.
Outline of Text:
Today, I want to talk about one of the most loyal people in the Bible – someone who was greater with God than any obstacle which was in the world.

Ruth

A Moabite

Widowed

Destitute without male or family support

Given permission by her mother-in-law Naomi to leave her mother-in-law

But Ruth was loyal.

Loving

“Wither thou goest, I goest,” Ruth said. “Where you lodge, I will lodge.”

“Your God will be my God,” Ruth said.

Ruth returned to Bethlehem and became an industrious field worker.

She was a woman of loyalty admired by Boaz.

Demure, meek, but assertive when God called her to act!

Obedient to Naomi’s instructions

“Redeemed” by Boaz. He helped save Ruth! God saved Ruth! God saves!

The mother of Obed

The grandmother of Jesse

The great-grandmother of David

The family line OF JESUS!
This would have been a much different narrative if Ruth had not been who she was, Boaz was how he was, and God wasn’t who He is!
“Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”

Greater is God, who was with Ruth, than any obstacle in the world!

What does this have to do with you? What are the APPLICATIONS?

BE LOYAL.

BE MEN AND WOMEN OF CHARACTER. “Keep your conduct. . .honorable, so that. . .[others] may see your good deeds and glorify God. . . .” (1 Peter 2:12, English Standard Version)

WORK HARD – BUT NOT FOR YOUR OWN GLORY – AND NOT WITH A WORKS MENTALITY.

WORK UNTO THE LORD! FOR GOD’S GLORY! Jesus said to His Father, in John 17:4, “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.” In John 14:12, Jesus told His disciples, “I tell you the truth. Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these.”

Peanut butter sticks to jelly.

Ruth stuck to Naomi and, eventually, to Boaz.

Ruth and Boaz’s genes stuck to Obed. . .and then to Jesse. . .and then to David

. . .and, then, eventually to Jesus Christ!

Greater is Jesus, who is in you than he who is in the world!

“Right Between the Eyes!”

Greater was little shepherd boy David – with God – than he – Goliath – who was in the world. If you are interested in reading the outline of my Des Moines Christian Elementary School Spiritual Emphasis Week message of Wednesday, April 1st, “Right Between the Eyes!” please read on.

“Right Between the Eyes!”

By Dr. Bob Stouffer
Spiritual Emphasis Week
Des Moines Christian School
Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Texts:

“Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)
1 Samuel 16:1-13 and 1 Samuel 17:1-54
Opening:

I played baseball.  (Start playing catch with a sixth grader in front of the audience.)

The coaches tried me as a pitcher, but I had the wrong throwing motion for a pitcher.

I was a catcher.

It takes great accuracy to be a catcher or pitcher, doesn’t it?
Outline of Text:
Today, I want to tell you about someone in the Bible who threw a strike in the bottom of the ninth inning with the World Series on the line.

David.
David was that person.

Let’s back up, though.

Do you remember when Samuel came to anoint the next King of Israel?

Who was the first King of Israel?

Saul. Saul was the first King of Israel.
After the period of the Judges in Israel, the people had called for a King. God was grieved. He did not want to be “replaced” by a human king. But He gave the people what they wanted. God rejected Saul as King. He didn’t do well at all as King.

The Prophet Samuel knew that God wanted a man who was going to be true to Him as King. A man after God’s own heart.

ON THE OUTSIDE, Saul looked tall, dark, and handsome.  He “looked” like a King, but he had struggled with obedience to God. If there were to be an earthly king, God wanted a king who acted like a king ON THE INSIDE.

So Samuel came to Jesse, the shepherd.

You remember the name Jesse from yesterday.

We talked about Ruth yesterday.

Whom did Ruth marry?

Boaz.

Ruth and Boaz had a son. What was his name?

Obed.

What was Obed’s son’s name?

Jesse.

Jesse had a bunch of sons.

Samuel came to Jesse, because he believed the next King of Israel would be one of his sons.

Samuel had all of Jesse’s sons line up.

Samuel looked at all of Jesse’s boys.

Something didn’t seem right.

Were all of Jesse’s sons standing in front of Samuel?

No!

Who was missing?

David, of course!

David appeared, and Samuel anointed him as the next King of Israel! David did not become king right away. Saul was still king. But, through a circuitous route, including Saul murderously chasing after David, David eventually became king.

Samuel looked not at the outside of a man, but at his inside.

David

David is the guy who threw a strike in the bottom of the 9th inning!

At whom did he throw that strike?

GOLIATH!

Let’s remember that narrative. . .

1 Samuel 17:1-54. . . .

The odds were against David, weren’t they?

HOWEVER,

“Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”

What are the APPLICATIONS to your life? What does the narrative of David and Goliath have to do with you?

BE A MAN OR WOMAN AFTER GOD’S OWN HEART. LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL OF YOUR MIND, WITH ALL OF YOUR HEART, WITH ALL OF YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL OF YOUR STRENGTH.

DO NOT LET ANYONE TALK SHAMEFULLY OF GOD.

DO NOT BE ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL, WHICH HAS THE POWER TO SAVE!

NEVER LET ANYONE LOOK DOWN ON YOU FOR YOUR YOUTH (1 Timothy 4:12).

NO FEAR! NO ANXIETY! NO WORRIES!

Never think that God cannot help you win the World Series in the bottom of the ninth inning, with your back against the wall.

Trust yourself for the possible.

Trust God for the impossible.

Greater is God, who is in you, than he who is in the world.

Let’s pray. . . .