The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.

I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

John 10:10 ESV

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Gospel, Abortion and the Church - Responding to America's Abortion Crisis - Psalm 106:34-42, Jeremiah 19:1-9

(I gave this message on Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, January 29, 2012 at Pines Baptist Church, Pembroke Pines Florida. You may view the PowerPoint slides of this message on Microsoft OneDrive

As I begin this message I want you to know that I know it is likely that someone here this morning has been touched by an abortion. Perhaps you have had one. Perhaps someone here as a father, husband or boyfriend, even a grandfather or uncle, has pressured or encouraged a daughter, wife or girlfriend, grand-daughter or niece into having an abortion. Or you paid for one. Perhaps you have lost a son or daughter, grandchild, niece or nephew to abortion.

I want you to know, that I understand, that speaking on this subject might cause you pain or discomfort. In light of that, I will bring this message with two important words in mind. They are both essential parts of the gospel. The first word is "truth." As a minister of the gospel I want to be faithful to address every issue that we face from the truth of God's Word. Equally important, however, is the word "grace."

You see God's grace always accompanies God's truth. The two always go together. They are inseparable. That is why these two words, are particularly appropriate in dealing with this subject because abortion is first and foremost a gospel issue. Pastor Randy Alcorn has said it best, "Grace without truth deceives people. Truth without grace crushes people."

Reading from Psalm 106:34-38  ESV,

34 They did not destroy the peoples, as the LORD commanded them, 35 but they mixed with the nations and learned to do as they did. 36 They served their idols, which became a snare to them. 37 They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons; 38 they poured out innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was polluted with blood.

Psalm 106:39-42  (ESV)
39 Thus they became unclean by their acts, and played the whore in their deeds. 40 Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against his people, and he abhorred his heritage; 41 he gave them into the hand of the nations, so that those who hated them ruled over them. 42 Their enemies oppressed them, and they were brought into subjection under their power. 

Psalm 106 is a historical Psalm, an account of Israel's relationship with God. Several themes emerge as the Psalmist rehearses some of Israel's history. Their disobedience and apostasy is apparent. The psalmists recites incidents of their repeated turning away from their covenant relationship with God.

The Psalmist remembers God's judgment for their sin and rebellion. But equally prominent in this Psalm is the theme of the grace of God, His faithfulness to Israel when they repented and called out to Him for help. This cycle is repeated over and over in the Psalm as the Psalmist writes of Israel's on and off relationship with God. Sin – judgment - repentance - followed by God's forgiveness. It's the story of God's unrelenting faithfulness and grace to His people. In that sense it's a Gospel Psalm!

Which of us here this morning as we live out our Christian faith have not failed to obey God at one time or another most of us – far more often than we would like to admit? Which of us have not experienced the discipline of the Lord when we have turned away from Him in unbelief and disobedience?

Or perhaps you are here this morning and you remain separated from God by your sin. That is, you have never come to him in repentance and been born again. You have never experienced His forgiveness. You have never been justified by faith in his death on the cross and resurrection from the grave. You have not surrendered your life to Christ. In either case all of us should identify with this Psalm!

This text focuses on what has to be one of the greatest sins of Israel -- the sacrifice of their children to the pagan god Molech. As verses 34 through 36 tell us, Israel failed to keep one of the commands given to them before they entered the promised land. Instead of removing the enemy from the land God had given them to possess, as they were instructed to do, they chose to co-exist with some of the pagan peoples with devastating results.

According to verse thirty-six, inevitably they followed after the gods of the pagan peoples with whom they chose to live. You see disobedience at one point led to compromise at another. And compromise led to disaster, even death, as we shall see momentarily. That 's a timeless spiritual truth. Just as true today as it was thousands of years ago. John 10:10 (ESV) "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."

Jesus promises us an abundant life, fulfillment and satisfaction that comes only from knowing and walking with Him. On the other hand, Jesus said the enemy Satan, came to steal, kill and destroy. He offers nothing of lasting value. Nothing that meets the deepest needs of the human heart.

Some of you here this morning, are in a battle. You are teetering on the brink of heartache and sorrow because you are living in compromise. Or perhaps you are resisting God and living for yourself apart from Christ. I'm here to tell you the consequences of disobedience and compromise never measure up to the satisfaction we think we will find in them.

Back to Psalm 106. When they were still in the wilderness after the miraculous deliverance from four hundred years of slavery in Egypt, Moses issued this command. Leviticus 18:21 ESV, "You shall not give any of your children to offer them to Molech, and so profane the name of your God: I am the LORD."

Two years ago I shared with you that child sacrifice to the demon god Molech became part of the life of Israel. King Solomon built the first idols outside of Jerusalem in the Valley of Ben-Hinnom for the benefit of his pagan wives. King Ahaz and Manasseh of Judah led their nation in child sacrifice by offering their own children to the demon gods. (2 Chron. 28:3 & 33:11-12)

Ezekiel writes, 16:20-21 (NIV)

“‘And you took your sons and daughters whom you bore to me and sacrificed them as food to the idols. Was your prostitution not enough? You slaughtered my children and sacrificed them to the idols."

Molech was an Ammonite fertility god, as you can see on the slide, an image with a human body and the head of a bull. In the belly of the idol burned a fire. The children were placed live on the
outstretched arms of the idol and would slide into the burning inferno to be burned alive. Those who worshipped this god were willing to sacrifice something of great value to them , their child, in order to gain something at a given point in time that was of more value to them. That it is what sacrifice means.

Our first reaction when we read of this practice is probably righteous indignation. As members of our sophisticated 21st century society we probably ask condescendingly, "How could they do that to their children?"

As we noted two years ago, there is distinct parallel between child sacrifice to the ancient demon god Molech and the practice of abortion today. Note the similarities: First of all, in verse thirty-seven, abortion is the "sacrifice" of the unborn. In ancient times parents would offer their child to Molech the fertility god as a sacrifice in order to gain something, for example a good harvest, financial gain or perhaps victory in battle.

I don't want to minimize the circumstances many women find themselves in when faced with an unplanned pregnancy. Fifty percent of all women who have an abortion feel they have no alternative. The majority receive no counseling and are not told of the alternatives. This is often a complex issue for those finding themselves pregnant in such circumstances. This alone, should move the Church to a practical and compassionate response. That is why Pines Baptist supports ministries like Hope Women's Centers where practical and compassionate help is offered to those facing an unplanned or even unwanted pregnancy. Hope also provide a wonderful ministry of healing and restoration to those who have had an abortion.

As we attempt, however to understand what abortion is really all about, we must note that children are usually aborted because of the inconvenience it would be to bring them into the world. For example, today children are aborted because they interfere with one's education or career. In a recent copy of the Miami Herald I read an article by columnist Dana Milbank. He quoted the owner of an abortion clinic as saying she had an abortion herself because, "I had committed myself to my work" and she did not want to be "diverted" from it by giving birth to her child.

Others have abortions to, cover their shame or for financial reasons. Unfortunately, for many it is a means of birth control, for others reasons related to their personal convenience or lifestyle preferences. Pastor John Piper has said,

"Abortion in America is not done consciously with any desire to get blessing from a d deity. But it is done to gain something 'better' than the baby—The life of a child is being sacrificed for something. What that 'something' is defines the barbarity of our culture."

Note the second parallel, again in verse thirty-seven. When we abort our children we abort our family, our sons and daughters.  In other words the unborn are human beings, our children.

I received an email last week from a high school student who was writing a research paper for an English class on the topic of abortion. Her thesis was that abortion should be illegal. She had decided to support her thesis with two points; abortion is murder and the complications and side effects of abortion. I suggested to her that she might begin with the reason abortion is murder. You see, many in our society have been unwilling to come to terms with the evidence that the unborn are human beings and the implications that follow from that truth. Abortion takes the life of an innocent human being. That is the first truth in building a case for life.

The Biblical evidence is very clear. Man was created by God, in his image and likeness Genesis 1:27 (ESV) "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created them."(Genesis 2:7 ESV) "…then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature."

According to the Biblical account, man is not the product of a random meaningless evolutionary process. Man is not the result of a cosmic accident; God intentionally created man with capacities reflective of God himself, in other words, in His image and likeness.

As a human being made in His image you reflect God. You are not God, but were created to be like God. True, the image and likeness of God has been compromised by sin but that is where the gospel comes into play.

Paul speaks of the effect of the gospel in renewing the likeness marred by sin. He uses the metaphor of changing your clothes. After you have been born again by the Holy Spirit, or regenerated – given a new heart, Ephesians 4:22-24 (ESV), "…put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness."

In the parallel passage in Colossians, He says the same thing in 3:9-10. Again, having put off the old self we are to "put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator."The fact that God created man in his image and likeness speaks of God's intention and purpose in creating a unique creature having the capacity to live in a personal relationship with his Creator.

Our founding fathers understood the significance of the Genesis account. In the Declaration of Independence they wrote, "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

With the discovery of DNA, the scientific evidence proves that life in the womb is a human being from the moment of conception. Randy Alcorn has written, "Conception is the moment when the egg is fertilized by the sperm, bringing into existence the zygote, which is a genetically distinct individual."In other words each unborn child is a distinct living person, with its own unique DNA, from the moment of its conception. Professor Micheline Matthews-Roth, M.D. at Harvard University Medical School agrees,"…It is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception." Therefore Scott Klusendorf is correct when he says that, "…elective abortion unjustly takes the life of a defenseless human being. Killing him or her to benefit others is a serious moral wrong." This is where the pro-choice argument falls apart. 

The U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 legalized abortion. According to National Right to Life, "In 1973, the Supreme Court handed down its Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions legalizing abortion in all 50 states during all nine months of pregnancy, for any reason, medical, social, or otherwise."

The U.S. Supreme Court wrongly ruled that a preborn baby is not a person, and therefore lies outside the protection of the U. S. Constitution. Justice Harry Blackmun who wrote the prevailing argument in Roe v. Wade acknowledged that his case would fail if the personhood of the unborn could be established.

"If this suggestion of personhood [of the unborn] is established, the [abortion rights] case, of course, collapses, for the fetus' right to life is then guaranteed specifically by the [14th] Amendment."

Therefore, the advocates of legalized abortion focus the abortion debate on a woman's "right to choose" or "reproductive rights" granted by the Court. They know they have lost the argument that life in the womb is merely a "tissue mass" or a "product of conception."

You see, from both a legal and moral perspective, the central issue in the abortion debate is not "women's rights" but the "human rights, the "civil rights" of the unborn.  You cannot extend to a woman the right to kill her unborn child, as the Court has done, without at the same time denying her child the right to live.

The question we should ask, In light of the irrefutable evidence that life begins at conception, is why has the Supreme Court not reversed its ruling that denied the personhood of the unborn? Why do politicians continue to support state sanctioned killing of unborn children? Perhaps Pastor John Piper has exposed the reason. He writes,

"…when people benefit from wrongdoing - or wrong-thinking, they will turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to the mounting evidence for what is right and what is true. The mind selectively sees what will justify the desires of the heart. In the end that is what must be changed."

Church, this is why abortion is a gospel issue. We must communicate the truth about abortion in the context of the Gospel that alone can change the heart to receive the truth.

Thirdly, abortion sheds innocent blood, verse 38. Abortion is the premeditated and violent killing of an unborn human being while still in or partially in the womb of its mother. Priests for Life have a saying, "America will not reject abortion until America sees abortion." If you have not seen what an abortion does to an unborn human being,- I urge you to do so.

Fourthly, verse 37. "They sacrificed…to demons." The blood of the unborn constitute a blood sacrifice to demons. Down through the millennia Satan worship has always involved the shedding of blood. Roman Catholic theologian, Rev. Thomas Euteneuer who specializes in the area of the occult, writes,

"The spiritual dimension of [abortion] is its systematizing of ritual blood sacrifice to the god of child murder, Moloch.…this demon appears in many forms and cultures through history (Phoenician, Carthaginian, Canaanite, Celt, Indian, Aztec and others) but is always the same blood thirsty beast that demands the killing of children as his form of worship. The modern abortion industry offers ritual blood sacrifice to the ancient abortion demon. It is in every way a demonic religion."

The unborn children killed by abortion are the casualties of a war between heaven and hell. The battle lines were drawn early in human history. After the fall of Adam and Eve into sin, we read in Genesis 3:15 (ESV), I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

Pastor Randy Alcorn has written,

"As the devil loved the sacrifice of children in the ancient heathen cultures, so he loves the sacrifice of children in our modern culture. Whether children are sacrificed to a heathen god called Molech or to the god of our own convenience, he does not care." He continues, "…there are demonic forces behind child killing. Abortion is Satan's attempt to kill God in effigy by destroying the little ones created in God's image. We are not dealing here with 'one more social issue,' but a unique and focused evil in which Satan has deep vested interests…"

I hope you see another reason why abortion is first and foremost a gospel issue. Ephesians 6:12 (NIV) "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers over this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."

Finally, notice God's response to the shedding of innocent blood. Look again at Psalm 106:40-42. "Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against his people, and he abhorred his heritage; he gave them into the hand of the nations, so that those who hated them ruled over them. Their enemies oppressed them, and they were brought into subjection under their power.

The National Right to Life Committee has reported that there have been 54,559,615 abortions since the U. S. Supreme Court sanctioned abortion 39 years ago. That's an average of 3,832 unborn babies killed every day, for last 39 years. The verses we just read from Psalm 106 speak of the judgment that God brought to bear upon His people for the shedding of innocent blood. God called the prophet Jeremiah to go to the Valley of Ben-Hinnom where the child sacrifice took place and deliver His message of judgment. The message is sobering and it is graphic.

Jeremiah 19:4-9 (ESV) "Because the people have forsaken me and have profaned this place by making offerings in it to other gods whom neither they nor their fathers nor the kings of Judah have known; and because they have filled this place with the blood of innocents, and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command or decree, nor did it come into my mind—therefore, behold, days are coming, declares the LORD, when this place shall no more be called Topheth, or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter. And in this place I will make void the plans of Judah and Jerusalem, and will cause their people to fall by the sword before their enemies, and by the hand of those who seek their life. I will give their dead bodies for food to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the earth. And I will make this city a horror, a thing to be hissed at. Everyone who passes by it will be horrified and will hiss because of all its wounds.  And I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and their daughters, and everyone shall eat the flesh of his neighbor in the siege and in the distress, with which their enemies and those who seek their life afflict them.’"

You can read about the 18 month siege of Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC in 2 Kings chapters 24 and 25. Food was so scarce that God's people sought survival by practicing cannibalism just as Jeremiah had prophesied.

The question America and the church must consider, can a Holy God remain just and ignore the ritual bloodshed taking place  in America every day? That is the question the church should be asking. Do we really think that God can respond to this holocaust in any way different than He did in Jeremiah's day?

Are we so naïve as to think America will escape similar divine judgment? The notion that there is a consequence for the shedding of innocent blood is found throughout the Scriptures Old and New Testament. (See Genesis 9:5,6 and Revelation 6:10) Listen to God's response to the first murder,
of Able by his brother Cain. Genesis 4:10  (ESV) "The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground."

May I suggest - that the blood of 55 million unborn is crying out to Him from the ground or our nation. Before Israel even took possession of the promised land God warned them against child sacrifice. But He also warned those who turned a blind eye to the killing. He said, Leviticus 20:5  (NLT), “I myself will turn against them and their families and will cut them off from the community.”

Our silence and disregard of the killing of the unborn is not going unnoticed any more than the killing itself.  Rev. Flip Benham, of Operation Save America has said, "… [abortion] is THE major issue. It is why God is draining America's wealth, it is why 19 guys with box cutters can bring this nation to its knees, it is why there are many judgments on this land. We are sacrificing His children."

In Ezekiel 5:14-15  (ESV) the prophet warns Israel of the impending judgment Jeremiah spoke of. But notice his warning extended beyond Israel to other nations, I believe, even to 21st century America.

"Moreover, I will make you [Jerusalem] a desolation and an object of reproach among the nations all around you and in the sight of all who pass by. You shall be a reproach and a taunt, a warning and a horror, to the nations all around you, when I execute judgments on you in anger and fury, and with furious rebukes—I am the LORD; I have spoken—."

With those words, I believe we have been warned. George Mason, one of the Founding Fathers of our nation, stated, “As nations cannot be rewarded or punished in the next world, they must be in this. By an inevitable chain of causes and effects, Providence punished national sins, by national calamities.”

Rev. Rusty Lee Thomas of Elijah Ministries and Operation Save America, has written, “To those who have ears to hear, it is time to bear the reproach and follow Jesus outside the mainstream camp of American Christianity (Hebrews 13:3). We must unashamedly connect the dots to God’s truth, warnings, and judgments with the corresponding reality facing our nation. These natural disasters, pestilence, plagues, wars and civil strife are not the results of coincidence or a string of bad luck. America has sowed to the wind and we are reaping the whirlwind.”

The Church should be willing to shoulder the responsibility of ending abortion. We need to repent of abortion in the Church. Repent of our silence. Repent of our ambivalence in the face of the holocaust taking place around us. “For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household.” Peter said. (1 Peter:4:17 NLT)

We must obey the Great Commission. Abortion has always been first and foremost a gospel issue. The Gospel is the only power that can change the heart of an abortion minded mother to make a life affirming decision. It is the only power that can change the heart of those who participate and are invested in the abortion industry and those in government protecting their practice. And it provides the only hope of forgiveness, healing and restoration for the post-abortive.

King Manasseh of Judah sacrificed his own son to Molech as he led his nation in the killing. (2 Kings 21:6)  He was known for the depth of his wickedness. 2 Kings 24:4 says that he, "filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the Lord would not pardon." 2 Chronicles reports that he, "…led the people of Judah and Jerusalem to do even more evil than the pagan nations that the Lord had destroyed when the people of Israel entered the land.  (2 Chron. 33:9)  King Manasseh paid a high price for his sin. The Assyrians put a ring through his nose, bound him in chains as they led him away to Babylon. But later, he had a change of heart In deep distress, he sought the Lord. In His mercy, the Lord heard his prayer and returned him to Jerusalem and his kingdom. (2 Chronicles 33:6-13)

God in His mercy will treat us with the same forgiveness. For those of you whose lives have been touched by an abortion in any way, God will respond to you the same way He responded to King Manasseh if you turn to Him for forgiveness. The blood of Jesus Christ is sufficient to cover the sin of abortion. The penalty for your sin has been paid. It has been paid in full by Jesus' death on the cross. There is nothing you can add to what He has done for you. And this morning, Jesus Christ extends his forgiveness to you. Come to him and receive it. He will take your guilt and your shame. He will bring forgiveness, healing and restoration to your life. And be sure you understand this. I know your pastor's heart. This church is here for you. You are in a safe place to deal with what you have done.

In conclusion, the words of Pastor Flip Benhan "...the time is now, for the Church to rise up and wait not for political parties, or the president, or Congress, or the Supreme Court to take care of the issue. It is our responsibility.  The gates of hell will not prevail against the Church of Jesus Christ. Abortion will come to an end, when the Church of Jesus Christ makes up her mind it will end - and not one second s sooner."

© James P. McGarvey All Rights Reserved

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Sanctity of Human Life Ministry Record

Sanctity of Human Life messages given at the following:
Church Ministry
Over the past eleven years I have ministered in several denominational and independent churches in Florida once in Michigan. I can provide you references upon request. Below is a list of over 50 churches where I have given messages on the sanctity of human life on Sunday mornings, evenings, Wednesday nights and other church groups and pro-life training venues (see below - HWC and BRTL).

Black’s Memorial Church of God in Christ, Pompano Beach FL (COGIC area church youth event)
Calvary Chapel Coral Springs FL
Calvary Chapel Deerfield Beach FL
Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale (Faith Forum)
Calvary Chapel Pompano Beach FL
Calvary Fellowship Free Will Baptist Church Hollywood, FL
Cathedral Church of God (COG Cleveland TN), Deerfield Beach FL
Christ the Rock Community Church, Cooper City FL (HWC Volunteer Training)
Church By The Glades, Coral Springs FL (Women on Mission)
Community Baptist Church, Stuart FL
Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Fort Lauderdale, FL (see Pro-Life events page below)
Daytona Beach Alliance Church, Daytona Beach FL
Evangelical Church of the Christian & Missionary Alliance, Hialeah FL
Faith Bible Church, Deltona FL
Family Worship Center, Miramar FL
First Baptist Church Oakland Park FL
First Baptist Church Pompano Beach FL (Men's group and BRTL Seminar)
First Baptist Church of Stuart FL
First Baptist Weston, FL (Women's Group & HWC volunteer training) 
First Christian Church Wilton Manors,
First Presbyterian Church (PCA), Coral Springs, FL (Men's Fellowship League)
Fellowship Alliance Church, Palmetto FL
Fort Lauderdale New Testament Church of God (COG Cleveland TN)
Friendship Baptist Church, Hixson TN
Grace Baptist Church, Pompano Beach FL
Harvest Preparation Ministries, Tamarac FL
Hollywood Hills Alliance Church, Hollywood FL
Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church, Pompano Beach FL 
Jesus Is Lord Worship Center, North Miami FL
Jesus Supernatural Life Center,Pompano Beach FL 
Lauderdale Community Church Lauderhill FL
Lighthouse Chapel (C&MA), Port Saint Lucie FL
Lighthouse Covenant Church, Tamarac FL
Moorepark Community Church, Three Rivers MI
Mount Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, Pompano Beach FL
New Hope Community Church (C&MA), North Port FL
New Hope Fellowship (Nazarene), Palm City FL
New Life Church of the C&MA (Brazilian), Hollywood FL
New Life Lutheran Church (LCMS), Pembroke Pines, FL
New Life Romanian Baptist Church, Hollywood, FL
New River Wesleyan Church, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Parkway Christian Church, Davie, FL
Piedmont Park Alliance Church, Tallahassee, FL
Pines Baptist Church, Pembroke Pines, FL
Plantation Baptist Church Plantation, FL (Adult SS class)
Restoration Outreach Church & Ministries Davie, FL
Riverside Church, North Lauderdale FL
Sheridan Hills Baptist Church, Hollywood FL (HWC Volunteer Training)
Solera Community Church Sunrise (HWC Volunteer Training)
St. James Missionary Baptist Church, Pompano Beach FL (Deacons meeting)
The Harbour Church, Pompano Beach FL 
Tropical Farms Baptist Church, Stuart FL
True Gospel Ministries Tamarac, FL
Victory in Grace Church of the C&MA Fort Lauderdale, FL
Victory Life Church, Plantation FL
Westgate Baptist Church (now Grace Bible Church),Plantation FL
Westwood Church (C&MA), Orlando FL
Worldwide Christian Center, Pompano Beach FL

Pregnancy Resource Center Fund Raising Banquets
LifeChoice Pregnancy Center, Winter Haven FL, April 2014 - Keynote Speaker
Three Rivers Pregnancy Helpline Center, Three Rivers MI, April 2015 - Keynote Speaker

Pregnancy Resource Center Trainings
Hope Women's Centers Volunteer Trainings - September 2007; February, March, May, September, November 2008; February, April, June, 2009.
Florida Baptist Children's Home Sanctity of Human Life Regional Training, Miami, June 2014.

Pro-Life events
Hope Women's Centers Volunteer Appreciation, April 2008
South Florida Care Net Coalition Regional Meeting, First Baptist Church, Fort Lauderdale FL, 
     May 2008
Hope Women's Centers' Abortion Recovery Workshop, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Jan. 2009
Pro-Life 101 - Broward County Right to Life (BRTL) Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, May 2010
Pro-Life 101 (BRTL) Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Ft. Lauderdale, October 2010
Rally for Life, (BRTL) Federal Court House, Fort Lauderdale, January 21, 2011.
Understanding God's Heart for the Unborn Seminar, (BRTL), First Baptist Pompano Beach, May 4,5, 2011
Understanding God's Heart for the Unborn Seminar, (BRTL) Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale, June
Understanding God's Heart for the Unborn Seminar, (BRTL) Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, 
     September 2011
Cast the Vision Rally, 40 Days for Life Fort Lauderdale, September 2012. Why PRAY to End Abortion Kick Off Rally, 40 Days for Life Fort Lauderdale, September 2012, Strategic Prayer
Midway Rally, 40 Days for Life Fort Lauderdale, October 2012, Why FAST to End Abortion?
Florida Right to Life 2013 Pro-Life Leaders Forum, Orlando, October 2013. 
15th Annual Pregnancy Care Center Conference (Sound the Call) Florida Baptist Children's Homes, Lake Yale, FL October 2014.
Tampa Pro-Life Alliance, Calvary Chapel St. Petersburg, FL, October 2014 
Roe v. Wade: 42 Years of Injustice Seminar (BRTL), Broward City Main Library Auditorium, Jan 2015
Flourish Conference 2016, Catholic Witnesses, Fort Lauderdale, April 2016

Pastor Events 
Pastor's Luncheon - sponsored by Hope Women's Centers of Broward County, hosted by Coral
       Springs Calvary Chapel, Coral Springs, FL, November 2008.
Regional Leaders Network, C&MA Pastors, June 2009 at First Alliance Church, Hialeah FL
Leadership Summit - with Rev. Arnold Culbreath, Protecting Black Life, hosted by Restoration
       Outreach Church & Ministries, Davie FL, May 2010
Pastor's Breakfast - sponsored by Care Net Pregnancy Services of the Treasure Coast, Stuart FL
       January 2013

University - College - High School
Westminster Academy, Fort Lauderdale, FL, High School Chapel, September 2008.
Trinity International University, Davie FL - guest lecturer Human Sexuality, Doctrine & Evidence,
       Human Sexuality (Counseling) and Marriage/Family classes, September - November 2008
Noles4Life of Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL, January 2014
Trinity Baptist College, Jacksonville, FL, Chapel - January 2014
Trinity College, Trinity Florida, Chapel - February 2014
Nova Southeastern University, Students for Life, Davie FL - March 2015
South Florida Bible College & Theological Seminary, Deerfield Beach FL,Chapel, November 2016

Other Events
Women's Bible Study, First Baptist Church Weston FL, January 2007
 Women on Mission, Church by the Glades (SBC), Coral Springs, March 2007
South Florida Keswick Conference Leadership Breakfast - Fountainside Christian Fellowship,
      Miramar, FL, May 2008
Board of Director's Advance, Hope Women's Centers of Broward County FL, August 2008
Memorial Service (Shanice Osborne), Worldwide Christian Center, Pompano Beach FL October
Alliance Men's Retreat, Lake Swan Camp, Melrose FL, November 2008
Keenagers (Sr. Citizens) Group, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Fort Lauderdale FL, January
Faith Forum at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale FL, January 2009
Men's Group, First Baptist Church Pompano Beach FL, June 2009
Alliance Men's Retreat, Lake Swan Camp, Melrose, FL, November 2009
Faith Forum at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, FL, January 2011
Bass Underwriter Luncheons, Plantation FL, March 11, 12, 13, 2011
Men's Fellowship League, First Presbyterian Church Coral Springs FL, May 2013
Flourish 2016 Conference (Catholic Witness), Fort Lauderdale FL, April 2016

Jim McGarvey - Biography and Ministry Credentials

Born in Daytona Beach Florida where his father served as pastor of Daytona Beach Christian and Missionary Alliance Church (C&MA)
Lived in Japan eleven years (1952-1964) – where his parents served as missionaries with the C&MA
Education: Nyack College (NY), BA (History); Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Bannockburn, IL), M.Div.
Eighteen years of pastoral ministry – Chicago, Kissimmee, Tallahassee, Gainesville and Lauderhill Florida
Most recent pastorate: West Broward Alliance Church, Lauderhill, FL 1993-2003.
Worked in the business sector in Gainesville Florida – 1980 -1992.
Served as Director of Development of Care Net affiliate, Hope Women's Centers, Broward County, March 2006 - November 2008.
Has lived in Sunrise Florida since April 1993, is married with three children and two grandchildren.

Minister with The Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) ordained and licensed by The Alliance Southeast as an Official Worker under the oversight of District Superintendent Rev. Charles R. Hughes, Jr. of the Orlando office.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Power to Endure and Mature - Understanding & Responding to Trials James 1:1-8,12

(I last gave this message at Community Alliance Church in Port Saint John Florida on July 30, 2017. You can view a YouTube video of the same message given at First Baptist Church Oakland Park Florida on May 18, 2014 HERE.)

In athletic competition there is one thing all athletes need no matter what their sport, football, basketball, baseball, water polo and so forth. They need endurance, physical strength and stamina to compete successfully in competition. In other words, they need to “be in shape”! Therefore most sports have a period of preparation before competition begins. The Florida Marlins go to Spring Training early in the year to prepare for their season. The Miami Dolphins have their Training Camp each summer as they prepare for the start of the season in the Fall.

May I suggest to you that there is a parallel between the physical the spiritual world. What is true in the physical world is also true in the spiritual world. We need the power to endure and mature spiritually.

If I were to ask you to list for me what is needed to build spiritual endurance and maturity, you would probably put the following on the list: prayer, Bible reading, Scripture memorization, the teaching and preaching of the Word, small groups for fellowship and accountability, evangelism, outreach, mercy ministries, and so forth. There is, however, an indispensable item that most of us would leave off the list. James deals with it in the opening verses of his letter.

James 1:1-8, 12 (NIV) ""James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings. Consider it pure joy, my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does....Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him."
I suspect that some of you are facing circumstances this morning that you would consider to be a trial. Something you would not ordinarily choose to go through, but are facing none the less. The good news, is that God has provided us with truth, here in James chapter one, that will show us both the purpose of the trial, and how to respond to the trial, so the trial can be used by God, for our good and His glory.
Note with me, first of all that trials are God's means of spiritual conditioning. James says it is through trials that we develop perseverance or endurance, steadfastness (NASB) or patience (NKJV). Trials are God's means of conditioning us, getting us into spiritual shape; His means of increasing our spiritual strength and stamina.
 What is a trial? William Barclay says the word translated “trial" is a “...trial or testing directed towards an end.” in other words there is a purpose behind the trial. That is the meaning of the word. For several years when I lived in Gainesville right outside my living room window, each year Cardinals would build a nest and begin a family. When those eggs hatched the baby birds begin to mature and grow feathers. They learned to move and flap their wings not merely for exercise but in preparation for the day when they would jump out of that nest and learn to fly rather than drop to the ground below.
There are four things James tells us about trials in this passage. First of all, there are various kinds of trials, verse two. In other words trials come in many forms. Let me note at least two broad categories of trials. First, there are trials that we suffer because we are human and live in a fallen, sinful world. Trials like sickness, accidents, dangers and crime. The list is endless.
About two weeks ago Bill Perry, a pastor friend of mine from Fort Lauderdale, was involved in a serious auto accident while returning from two weeks of camp where he was a speaker. His car hydroplaned on the highway and crashed into a tree, totaling the car, breaking bones and severely injuring Bill's head. He remained in a coma until he passed away last Sunday morning at seven in the morning. Every day Christians suffer trials, to numerous itemize here this morning. Many, simply because we live in an imperfect, fallen world.

Secondly, there are trials we suffer because we are Christians - unpopularity, ridicule, hostility, hatred, misunderstanding, and persecution. Today violence, even death are the daily experience of Christians in various parts of the world. Jesus said we should expect trials because we follow him. John 15: 20 “No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.”

James tells us four things about trials. There are various kinds of trials. Secondly, trials test our faith verse three. A number of years ago there was a major earthquake in Kobe Japan a city where I went to school while living in Japan. The experts were surprised at the failure of buildings and roads that had been designed to withstand earthquakes greater than 7.2 on the Richter scale. I watched an interview of engineers on their way to Kobe to study what had taken place. They said that you cannot test the structural integrity of a building in a laboratory. You have to go to the sight of the earthquake and examine the effect of the earthquake on the structures.   
James says that trials put our faith to the test. The word translated “test” is the word “dokimon.” It is the same word used for coins made of a genuine precious metal. For example “sterling silver” is a term we used for pure silver.

Peter uses the same word in 1 Peter 1:6-7 “ for a little while you may have suffered grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may BE PROVED GENUINE and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (emphasis mine)

So there are many kinds of trials. Trials test our faith. Then as we said earlier there is a purpose built into the trial. The trial is designed to produce something. Notice thirdly, verse three, the testing produces endurance, or perseverance (NIV), patience (NKJV) or steadfastness (RSV). The New English Bible translates it “breeds fortitude.”

The word does not speak of just passively accepting something. The word speaks of an active enduring with a purpose. Someone has said, “Hupomone is the quality which makes a man able, not simply to suffer things, but to vanquish them.” William Barclay writes, “not simply the ability to bear things; it is the ability to turn them into greatness.”

Pastor Warren Weirsbe writes, “In the Bible patience [endurance] is not passive acceptance of circumstances. It is a courageous perseverance in the face of suffering and difficulty.” Friends, that is what our trials are intended to produce. That is the silver lining, so to speak, in the cloud.

Pastor Greg Hinnant, "The power to endure is strictly a matter of spiritual conditioning, of what level of difficulties we become capable of handling. Every test we go through successfully conditions, or prepares us to go through the next one. The more we take, the more we can take. Every strain we accept and bear in full submission to God enlarges us and creates within us the ability to bear even greater adversities with equal ease. In this way our tests are constantly taking us from one level of strength to a greater one.”

When we face trails pressure is applied to our faith. If we respond the right way we develop endurance, the power or ability to endure, the ability to persevere.

So first of all, there are many kinds of trials, secondly trials test our faith, thirdly the testing of our faith produces endurance.  Fourthly, endurance leads to maturity, verse four. In other words, trials are not meant to take us down a dead end road. Here is what lies at the end of the trial – maturity. The endurance results in maturity. James describes it three ways. That you may one, be mature or perfect (KJV), secondly, complete and thirdly not lacking anything. Williams translates "mature" as “fully developed.”

I remember years ago after a deep freeze hit north central Florida, the citrus industry lost acres of fruit trees. After they cleared away the damaged trees, they replanted the groves with row after row of new young orange and grapefruit trees.  They did not plant those new trees so the countryside would be more attractive to the tourists. They planted the trees with the intention of producing new citrus crops as the trees reached maturity, as the trees became fully developed. 

That is what James is describing here. The endurance that comes through trials will produce maturity and the fruit of maturity. Verses three and four in the New Living Testament captures the imagery: "For when you faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.”

Perhaps you have heard or read of George Mueller, that great British man of God known as a man of faith who founded an orphanage for hundreds of orphans while never once asking for money from anyone. Instead he went to the Lord alone for his needs. He writes, "The only way to learn strong faith is to endure great trials. I have learned my faith by standing firm amid severe testing."

If you are a Christian this morning and are undergoing a trial, know that God's intention is to build His character into your life through the trial. Endurance results in Godly character. Friends, the trial God allows to come into your life is getting you ready for something. In Hebrews 5:8-9 it says of Jesus Christ "...he learned obedience from what he suffered, and once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”

Pastor Rick Warren, “Since God intends to make you like Jesus, he will take you through the same experiences Jesus went through. That includes loneliness, temptation, stress, criticism, rejection, and many other problems.” (Purpose Driven Life, p. 197) This morning, do you sense that God is at work making you like Jesus?

Well, the obvious question at this point is, How? How do we respond to trials so that God can turn our trial into a blessing? We have come to the "how to” section of the text. How we respond to trials will determine whether or not we receive the blessing embedded in the trial. Notice secondly this morning, three ways to respond to trials.

First of all, we are to see the trials from God's perspective, verse two. James says "consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds." Our first response to those words might be, "Now wait a minute! That sounds counter-intuitive! Rejoice in our trials?" But remember, we have just noted three reasons trials are a blessing. They test our faith. The testing produces endurance (perseverance) and the endurance leads to maturity. So, James says, in light of God's purpose in your trials consider it joy! In other words, rejoice that God is working in your life with a purpose in mind. You see, trials are evidence that God is doing something in your life.  So the response consistent with faith would be,  "consider it joy." In other words, trials are an opportunity to live out the Gospel.

If you are a Christian, Christ is living in you. Trials present, perhaps, the greatest opportunity for you to yield more of your life to Christ. 

Listen to the Apostle Paul's testimony, 2 Corinthians 4:7-11, "But we have this treasure [Christ] in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us."

Now listen to the trials that he experienced as he continues. Perhaps you will identify with his circumstances. "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body."

Is there clearer testimony in Scripture that God uses trials to produce the life of His Son Jesus Christ  in our lives? James says that is reason for joy. Would you agree?

Secondly, seek the Lord in obedient faith. When we face a trial, we always come to a fork in the road. Are we going to seek the Lord? Or in the pressure, uncertainty, perhaps even pain and confusion of the circumstances, are we going to wander from the Lord? That is always the temptation we face. At this point, perhaps, we face the greatest challenge in our response to trials.

In his second letter to the Corinthian church, Paul spoke of being tormented by a thorn in his flesh, a "messenger of Satan," he called it, a "thorn" that the Lord would not take away. Instead, this was the message he received from the Lord, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9) Paul learned to live in the grace and power of God in a trial that evidently never went away. That friends, is the essence of the Gospel; the sufficiency of God's grace in the midst of our trials.

Again Pastor Rick Warren, “God uses problems to draw you closer to himself. Your most profound and intimate experiences of worship will likely be in your darkest days –  when your heart is broken, when you feel abandoned, when you're out of options, when pain is great – and you turn to God alone." He continues, "It is during suffering that we learn to pray our most authentic, heartfelt, honest-to-God prayers. When we're in pain, we don't have the energy for superficial prayers.”

That is one of the reasons God allows trials in our lives. It's to push us to Him. It's to push us into his arms. There is nothing wrong with turning to God because you are desperate!

Joseph was kidnapped by his brothers. They wanted to kill him. Can you imagine that? His own brothers wanted to take his life? But they didn't, instead selling him into slavery. Then as a slave he was unjustly accused of adultery, (Genesis 38:8,9) and was put in prison. Put in prison because he did the right thing! He served his prison master faithfully. If you read between the lines of his story in Genesis chapters 39 and 40, there is no evidence, not even a hint of rebellion, disobedience or hardness of heart toward the Lord during his trials that lasted for years.

There is, however, another way to respond to a trial in contrast to obedient faith. In verses six through eight, James describes the man who lacks faith. According to verse seven, he lacks faith because he is double-minded and unstable. A double-minded person is one who compromises the will of God. A double-minded person wants things His way. He'll settle for God's way – if it is convenient. That is why he cannot believe God for anything. He is sitting on the fence – and he knows it. He is not obeying the Lord – and he knows it. He is double-minded and his faith is therefore compromised. He cannot trust God in that condition. So James says he is unstable. He's blown and tossed like a wave at the mercy of the wind. Might that describe your response this morning as you face your trial?

The third response to a trial is to ask for wisdom, verses five and six. First we see the trial from God's perspective and rejoice. Secondly, we seek the Lord in obedient faith. The third response is very practical.  We ask for wisdom.

When we are in the midst of a trial we often need wisdom to make sense out of what we are going through. We need wisdom to understand "What is going on here?” So James says if anyone lacks wisdom, ask God who gives generously to all.

Pastor Warren Wiersbe tells the story of his secretary. She was going through great trials. She had a stroke. Her husband had gone blind. She had taken him to the hospital where he was not expected to live. Pastor Wiersbe saw her in church and said he was praying for her. He was startled by what she said next, "What are you asking God to do?" she asked. “I'm asking God to help you and strengthen you.” he replied. She then said, “I appreciate that, but pray about one more thing. Pray that I'll have the wisdom not to waste all of this!” That is the idea here. Wisdom to know what is going on, and wisdom to know how to respond.

Rick Warren, "Problems force us to look to God and depend on him instead of ourselves. You'll never know that God is all you need until God is all you've got.” Now that is almost frightening, isn't it? You'll never know God is all you need until you're at a place where God is all you have? Friends that is where God want each of us to live. That is a good place to be. May I suggest to you, if you are a believer, sooner or later God will bring you to that place where you have no choice but to turn to Him.

The Apostle Paul's testimony illustrates this truth. When you read through the letters of the Apostle Paul it is hard to overlook his repeated reference to suffering. Almost every page speaks of some kind of trial that he faced. Writing the Corinthians he said, verse eight, "We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardship we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life." (2 Corinthians 1:8-9) He "despaired even of life"! That's a picture of desperation, if there ever was one. Perhaps you identify with his feelings. I have. He continues, verse nine, "Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” Perhaps the greatest missionary and pastor of all time, acknowledged the value of his suffering. It led him to rely totally on God!

And sometimes we don't see the purpose right away. Back to Joseph. Years later Joseph had an opportunity to reveal himself to his brothers. They were dumbfounded. They were scared to death because of how they had treated him. And now he stood before them as the second most powerful man in Egypt. But listen to what Joseph said to them, Genesis 45:5, “But don't be upset, and don't be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives.” God had given Joseph the wisdom to recognize that all of the things we spoke of earlier, the kidnapping, murder plot, slavery, the unjust accusation that sent him to prison had all been part of God's plan to preserve his entire family years later, to preserve the nation of Israel. Are you looking for the purpose of God in your trials? You might not see it right away. Joseph waited many years for the answer.

David was sent by his father to his brothers who were with the troops facing the Philistines. The giant Goliath was daily intimidating the armies of Israel, taunting the army and blaspheming God. Do you remember what David said when he asked permission of King Saul to fight Goliath?  “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” (1 Samuel 17:37)

Do you see what David is saying here? His argument was based on his victories over previous trials. Had he not had the victory over the lesser enemies, the lion and the bear, he might not have been prepared to face Goliath, the greater enemy. The lesser trials of the past had prepared him for the greater trial in the present. The trial you face today, could very well be preparing you for an even great victory tomorrow!

There is a promise for us in verse twelve. “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the victor's crown, the life God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12)

On December 1, 2008 I lost my job as the result of a major downsizing of the ministry where I worked. That same month, I went to the dentist and was told I needed a crown on tooth number eighteen. Then I was told I needed a root canal before they could do the crown. I went to the optometrist for my annual vision test. He sent me to an ophthalmologist who diagnosed early stage glaucoma in my right eye. I had my annual physical that month. When my Doctor saw the PSA result, he sent me to an urologist, and after a biopsy I was told on December 30 that I had prostate cancer. Later I was told it was a high-risk prostate cancer. December 2008 was a month I will never forget. But I'm here to tell you that these trials have pushed me to God in a way that nothing else would have. And I rejoice in that.

A few weeks after losing my job one of my colleagues in ministry sent me a devotional written by Dr. A.B. Simpson, founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance entitled "Days of Heaven on Earth.” Dr. Simpson writes,

“How did God bring about the miracle of the Red Sea? By shutting His people in on every side so that there was no way out but the divine way. The Egyptians were behind them, the sea was in front of them, the mountains were on both sides of them. There was no escape but from above. Someone has said that the devil can wall us in, but he cannot roof us over. We can always get out at the top. Our difficulties are but God's challenges, and many times He makes them so hard that we must get above them or go under. In the Providence of God, such an hour furnishes us with the highest possibilities for faith. We are pushed by the very emergency into God's best. Beloved, this is God's hour. If you will rise to meet it you will get such a hold upon Him that you will never be in extremities again;
or if you are, you will learn to call them not extremities, but opportunities. Like Jacob, you will go forth from that night at Peniel, no longer Jacob, but victorious Israel. Let us bring to Him our need and prove Him true.”

A few months later, in sharing this with another pastor, I wrote: “I am learning to live out this truth in these days of testing and challenges.”

I don't know what trials you are facing this morning, if any. But if you are not responding to the trial as James has instructed us, this morning you have an opportunity to change course. If you are fighting with God over your trial, you have an opportunity to yield to Him. If you have turned away from God, turned your back on God in your trial, this morning you have an opportunity to return to Him.

If you not a believer, having never been born again, the first step in facing your trial is to repent of you sin, by faith call out to God for forgiveness and salvation and begin to walk with Him in your trial.

Corrie Ten Boom was imprisoned in a Nazi death camp where her sister died. She wrote, "If you look to the world you'll be distressed. If you look within, you'll be depressed. But if you look at Christ, you'll be at rest."

Jesus' invitation, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, And I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for you souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 10:28-30  (NIV)