Friday, June 29, 2012


(2 Cor 12:7) And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.
There’s nothing like getting a thorn in your flesh.  The smallest thorn can cause the worst discomfort imaginable.  A beautiful hike can end in the greatest annoyance.  You are brought to a standstill until you extract every single thorn from your flesh and socks.  But one thing it caused you to do is to stand still and smell the wildflowers and to drink in of that pleasant aroma and fresh air.   Paul had a thorn in the flesh.  No, it wasn’t some kind of thistle he was referring to.  It was something painful in his life that he had to live with that kept him humble and reliant on the Lord.  
The question that has perplexed many for ages is what was Paul’s thorn in the flesh?  It never really says but as you look into the epistle to the Galatians Paul speaks of his eye problems.  (Gal 4:13-15) You know that because of physical infirmity I preached the gospel to you at the first. {14} And my trial which was in my flesh you did not despise or reject…For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes and given them to me.  (Gal 6:11) See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand!   These verses lead us to believe Paul was troubled with some kind of an Asian eye disease he picked up on his first missionary journey and that perhaps he never fully recovered from.  Add to this his frequent sufferings and persecutions and he truly was weak in his bodily appearance as his detractors described him (2 Cor 10:10).
I’m glad it never really says what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was because it could be something different for each of us.  It could be a difficult person in our lives (Num 33:55; Pro 27:17), a physical infirmity (Mal 4:2), finances (Gen 22:14; Phil 4:19); adverse circumstances (James 1:2-4); or anything else that keeps us turning to the Lord and frees us from self reliance (Psa 34:19).  
Is it okay to ask the Lord to take that thorn out of our flesh?  Why sure it is.  Paul prayed three times to be free from his thorn but the Lord’s answer was no.  But Paul accepted God’s choice for him and he never complained.  He adjusted to his adversity and then learned that the grace of God was sufficient for him and where he was weak he was strong through Christ.  He was the apostle that took three missionary journeys, planted many churches, and wrote almost half of the New Testament books.  And all with a thorn in the flesh!  Nothing stopped this man.  What a great example for those who are struggling with something that is constantly buffeting them. 
May the thorn in your flesh cause you to slow down and turn to the One who wore that crown of thorns for your sins.  Then watch what the Lord will do seven days a weak!  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Surgery can be a scary thing. No one wants to go under the knife if they don’t have to. You put it off as long as you can and then you have to face it. You make preparations and get things set up the best you can and then it’s time for the day. But as much as you prepare and get things in order you still take your beating heart into that surgery room as they wheel you in. Here are some thoughts from God’s Word so your soul will be at peace for that important operation.
BEFORE SURGERY: Fear may be the worst emotion you face as you think about surgery. Your mind can go wild in thinking about all the worst case scenarios. The doctors have to tell you the risks and when you do your own research there are stories out there that can make you horribly anxious. But here is a promise from God’s Word: (2 Tim 1:7) For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Isn’t that a great promise? God doesn’t want you to be caught up in a spirit of fear. He wants to give you His power when you feel powerless…His love which will settle your run-away emotions, and a sound and disciplined mind-set so your thoughts will be under control.
Think also how the Lord is with you, both now and always. (Isa 41:10) Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ (Isa 43:2) When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.
DURING SURGERY: During surgery you will be in la-la-land but in reality you will be in God’s hands. It will be the surgical team that will be doing a skillful job on you but remember every gift comes from the Lord. These doctors and nurses studied hard in medical school and have put in lots of hours of training and have built a good reputation that people can trust. But remember that all good things come from the Lord (Jms 1:17). God will guide the surgeon’s hands. The Lord’s presence will be in that room and angels will be guarding you (Psa 91:11).
AFTER SURGERY: When you wake up from surgery you will become gradually aware of your surroundings and the post operation team will assure you of your success. It will be time to thank the Lord for pulling you through. (Exo 15:26)…For I am the LORD who heals you.” You will be sore but that’s good. It means the healing is beginning. You will stay as long as you need to and then you will be sent home with instructions for rest and a recovery plan. You will need patience as you make your way back but think of the time you will have to pray and read your Bible and to get close to the Lord. It will also be a good time to evaluate life and the direction you are heading. You will emerge into everyday life with a stronger focus than ever and ready to execute God’s plan for your life. You will be grateful for every little thing because you will be glad you made it through surgery safely unto a better quality of life to serve God and others.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


There are so many differences between Catholics and Protestants that some on one side wonder if the other side is going to heaven. What do these two branches of Christianity have in common and where do they differ?
First we must make mention that there are some important doctrinal similarities that both Catholics and Protestants share in common such as the Trinity, the deity of Christ, and the death and bodily resurrection of Christ. Both groups also strongly uphold marriage and family as well as the rights of the unborn. As far as practice is concerned, Protestants must admit that Catholics possess the exemplary characteristics of a strong faith, deep devotion, lifelong loyalty, and propensity for good works. However there are some doctrines and practices of the Catholic faith that diverge from the Bible and need to be pointed out with a scriptural response:
- THE POPE is the head of the church on earth. (Col 1:18) And He (Jesus) is the head of the body, the church…that in all things He may have the preeminence.
- MARY may act as a mediator between God and man. (1 Tim 2:5) For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.
- PRAYER TO SAINTS to intercede for them: (Heb 7:25)…He (Jesus) always lives to make intercession for them.
- PRIESTS have the power and authority to forgive sins. (Mat 9:6) But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”
- PENANCE: Penalties for sin can be removed or reduced by penance, which involves doing good works prescribed by the priest after a confession. (Eph 2:8-9) For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works…
- PURGATORY is a place of cleansing and preparation for heaven and where the punishment due to venial (forgivable) sins may be expiated (atoned for). (2 Cor 5:8) We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.
- PRIESTLY CELIBACY: Catholic priests may not marry. (Mat 8:14) Now when Jesus had come into Peter’s house, He saw his wife’s mother lying sick with a fever.
- REPETITIOUS PRAYERS are common for Catholics. (Mat 6:7) And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
- STATUES as aides in worship. (Exo 20:4) You shall not make for yourself a carved image…
- SALVATION through baptism and sacraments. (Rom 3:24) being justified freely by His grace…
In asking the question ARE CATHOLICS GOING TO HEAVEN we come back to the basics of our core beliefs from the Bible. And that’s always a good thing to do! Let’s let Jesus answer the question: (John 14:6) Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. So it’s not through a church or through a creed. It’s through the cross! Now the real question becomes…are you going to heaven?

Monday, June 11, 2012


Pastor Louie sermon notes for June 10, 2012


(2 Samuel 1:1-11)

INTRODUCTION – All of us have been touched by the tragic loss of someone we have known.  Perhaps it was a family member, a friend, a co-worker, a fellow student, or a neighbor.  At other times we are surprised to read about a celebrity who has taken their life.  And for many of us there have been times where there has been a personal contemplation of taking our own lives.  Life gets tough.  We get angry and then depressed.  We see no way out of our suffering.  Then we start entertaining thoughts of what it would be like be free from the mental and emotional anguish that just won’t go away.  What does the Bible say about suicide?  What can the Christian hold onto when the dark shadows loom?  Let’s study the scriptures starting with Saul and then bring it on home to where we live today. 


·         This account of Saul’s death is different from the account in 1 Samuel 31:1-5.  Why?  It could be the Amalekite was lying and he had come upon Saul dead and thought David would reward the person who had killed his rival. The Amalekite would then be termed a battlefield scavenger pretending to be the one who had killed Saul.  Because he had Saul's crown with him, something the Philistines wouldn't have left behind, we would infer that he found Saul dead on the battlefield before the Philistines arrived. 

·         Others have seen Saul’s death in three parts.  First he is mortally wounded by the Amalekites.  Then he falls on his sword but this doesn’t do the job.  He then asks the Amalekite to finish the job.  We cannot be certain about all the facts, only that he died tragically. 

·         That’s the thing about when someone takes his or her own life.  You wonder what was in their minds that led them to their self-destructive action.  

o   (1 Cor 4:5) Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.


  • Here are a few hard facts about suicide:
    • Over 36,000 people in the United States die by suicide every year.
    • In 2009 (latest available data), there were 36,909 reported suicide deaths.
    • Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for adults between the ages of 18 and 65 years in the United States.
    • Currently, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.
    • A person dies by suicide about every 15 minutes in the United States.
    • Every day, approximately 101 Americans take their own life.
    • There are four male suicides for every female suicide, but three times as many females as males attempt suicide.
    • There are an estimated 8-25 attempted suicides for every suicide death

·         Suicide is not a new idea. The Bible records seven suicides:

o   Abimelech (Judg 9:52-54)

o   Samson (Judg 16:25-30)

o   Saul (1 Sam 31:4)

o   Saul's armor-bearer (1 Sam 31:5)

o   Ahithophel (2 Sam 17:23)

o   Zimri (1 Kings 16:15-20) 

o   Judas (Mat 27:3-5)

·         Is a person damned if they take their life?  An unbeliever will go to hell not for committing suicide but for not accepting Jesus as their Savior.  (John 3:36) He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”  For the believer God’s Word is true that nothing will ever separate us from the Lord: (Rom 8:38-39) For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  But there will be repercussions for the believer’s suicide because of the sorrow he leaves behind and the accountability that lies ahead at the judgment seat of Christ (Rom 14:10; 1 Cor 3:11-17; Mark 3:28-29). 



·         So what should a person think about if they are contemplating suicide?  Why shouldn’t they take their life to escape their pain?

o   The scriptures forbid it.  The Bible views suicide as equal to murder, which is what it is—self-murder. (Exo 20:13) You shall not murder.  God is the only one who is to decide when and how a person should die.  (Job 1:21) And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

o   God has a purpose for your life that is not to be cut short by self-inflicted death: (Jer 29:11) For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

o   God has promised to see you through hard times and bring you into the abundant life He has promised you: (James 5:11) Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.

o   When there is God there is always hope!  Read the story of the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:25-34.  He didn’t take his life.  He gave his life away to the Lord and received back the gift of life! 

CONCLUSION – Don’t give up…give it up…to the Lord!  Jesus died that you might live!  (Rom 15:13) Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Friday, June 1, 2012


(Judges 18:7)…They were far from the Sidonians, and they had no ties with anyone.
In the book of Judges we find the tribe of Dan seeking to migrate from their territory in the south to the extreme north. As they were speculating the land they came across a city named Laish that had no ties with anyone. They chose to be independent and not link up with anyone else nearby. This was unusual because cities would usually form coalitions with other cities and people groups for security sake. But the inhabitants of Laish broke from the custom of the day.
As the story goes, the Danites took advantage of their isolation by striking the people with the edge of the sword and burning the city with fire. The scripture repeats itself seemingly to underline something we all need to take heed to: (Judges 18:28) There was no deliverer, because it was far from Sidon, and they had no ties with anyone…
A lot of Christians are like the inhabitants of Laish. They are independent in nature and refuse to link up with other believers. They love the Lord but they stand aloof from the community of the King. Perhaps that is just their nature. They like being alone with their own thoughts. People may be intimidating to them and far too competitive. For some, they’ve had bad experiences with church or other believers so they cut their ties and just want to be autonomous in their social life and associations. They’ll read their Bibles sometimes and keep the faith. They’ll even listen to Christian radio or watch Christian programs on the TV or internet. But they refuse to benefit from a satellite hookup and so wander alone in space.
God’s people are sheep. Sheep sense the need to congregate with other sheep. It’s only natural. The Lord didn’t make us lone wolfs. He wants us to be together under Him as the Good Shepherd. The Bible says that at the moment of salvation we were baptized into the body of Christ and became an distinct member thereof (1 Cor 12:13). The word for baptized means fully immersed. Are you fully immersed into the body of Christ? Does it reflect in being an active member of a local body of believers in your community?
Satan would love to pick off an independent lamb out there and have him or her for dinner. Review the benefits of fellowship with others in the household of God: (Eccl 4:9-12) Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up…12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.
Come on and join the fellowship! There is strength in numbers!! We need you and you need us! We’ll be looking for you at church this Sunday where the sheep love to meet and eat! (Pro 18:1) A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; he rages against all wise judgment.