The Atmosphere of Praise

Scripture: Genesis 2:7, Genesis 1:9-12, Revelation 21:4
Date: 05/22/2010 
Lesson: 8
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Good morning and Happy Sabbath, a very special welcome to you that are joining us here in our sanctuary this morning. We do have a few visitors and lots of our regular members. And then also a very special welcome to you that are joining us this morning to study with us from across the country and around the world.

And whether you're joining us live on the internet this morning, through radio, television, however you're joining us, we're so glad you're here. So enjoy your study with us. And before we start studying, we're gonna sing as we usually do out of our hymnal this morning, so pull out your hymnals at home and stand up and we're gonna sing hymn number 185, "Jesus is all the world to me." And this comes as a request from kevin in australia, daisy in the bahamas, alex, amporn and catherine in California, brenda in the dominican republic, nomsa, juanita and lidia in england, brenda in florida, rebecca in india, york, marvaline, and renford in jamaica, marianne in Kansas, sylvia and charlet in namibia, nicole in New York, Matthew in new zealand, norman in the Philippines, justin, angel and norman in the Philippines, dina and liza in saudi arabia, alan, selenie and bonnie in thailand, azzulla in the United States virgin islands, peggy in West Virginia, ray in saint lucia. And then also this morning we have children that are watching with their families. And jamie is six years old.

And nassive and David are ten year olds. Jamie is in North Carolina, and the boys are in New York. And they also requested this song, so welcome to Sabbath school this morning. Hymn 185, we'll sing the 1st, the 2nd and the 4th verse. [Music] What a blessing this morning to sing about our beautiful friend, Jesus.

What a privilege. If you have a special hymn, a favorite hymn you would like to sing with us on a coming Sabbath, I invite you to go to our website at And there you click on the "contact us" link and you can pick out any hymnal--hymn in our hymnal, new or old, and we would love to sing that with you on a coming Sabbath. Our next hymn is a favorite all over the world. Hymn number 108, "amazing grace.

" This comes as a request from oleg in argentina, stuart, margaret and riarna in australia, kenyon and felicia also from australia, jasmine, veronica and angel in the bahamas, valencia in belize, karina and Davidson in brazil, mike, pam, accalia and jerome in California, bob in Canada, fabian in england, sharon in Georgia, therese in italy, carl, rose and lester in jamaica, gilla and kelsa in japan, wayne in Minnesota, Matthew in Montana, mike from new zealand, castalia in nicaragua, pattsy in Oklahoma, lorna and victor in the Philippines, glen in Alabama, aralyn in California-- and aralyn is 10 years old-- willington in the Solomon islands, tito and alma in South Dakota, arnold in switzerland, grace in tennessee, susan in Wyoming, and emin in yugoslavia. Hymn number 108, "amazing grace." We'll sing the 1st, nd, 4th and last verse. [Music] Let's pray. Our Father in Heaven, we thank you so much for the promise that you are coming again and that you will take us to heaven and we can live with you forever and ever in bliss and happiness and spending time with you, thanking you and praising you and worshipping you. We thank you for the Sabbath day that we can come here on earth to worship before our king and our creator.

And so, Lord, as we open our hearts to you now, here in this sanctuary and across the world, Lord, just quicken our hearts that we can fall more in love with you and we can share Your Word with those around us. Please be with pastor mike this morning as he brings us Your Words of encouragement and life. Just bless us, Lord. Go with us. Help us to remain faithful so that when you come, we are looking up.

We pray these things in your precious name, Jesus. Amen. Our study this morning will be brought to us by pastor mike thompson, who's the health and outreach pastor here at Sacramento central. Thank you very much, jolyne. And the choir, you did a good job.

Didn't they do a good job? Happy Sabbath to you. Before we begin, we have a special offer. It's offer number 705. And it's a book called, "from stress to joy," by gillian bethel. We know gill.

She's from england, would you believe? Haven't seen her for a long time. But you can get this book from Amazing Facts. And you can call the Amazing Facts number, which is -866-study-more, or 1-866-788-3966. If you live in the continental United States, they'll send this to you free. Okay, we're looking at "health and healing," a very fitting topic in a day and age where there's so much ill health and a lot of people in need of healing.

But before I go any further as we consider this theme, we're very fortunate because just up the hill from here there's a little place called weimar. And I don't say "little" in a derogatory sense, because weimar exceeds all expectations in respect to the effects that it has upon the local community and way out beyond even internationally. Anyway, enough from me. It gives me pleasure at this moment to welcome dr. Randy siebold who's from weimar and dr.

-- Call you dr. Randy, right? Got a very important announcement you'd like to make. Please go ahead. I don't know if anyone has ever been to a camp meeting before. Anyone ever been to a camp meeting and been blessed by one of those? Well, we have what is called the Amazing Facts and weimar convocation.

And it's going to be a gathering of the saints coming together to rejuvenate your spiritual life. And I just want to make sure that you are aware of that. The dates on that is June 8 through 12. It'll be starting on a Tuesday. It will end on a Saturday night.

And I want to let you know about a few of the speakers. I don't want to take too much of your time pastor mike. The speakers, you probably have heard of some of these, steve wohlberg, ed reed, dr. David derose, who has been visiting here, neil nedley, he's been here before, Samuel pipim is the latest to join the speaker list, and a young man I've heard of him before, his name is Doug Batchelor. He's planning on coming as well.

So we hope to see all of you there. And thank you for allowing me to share this just a little bit. Yeah, sure. I think it'll be blessing to you. Thanks.

Thank you very much dr. Siebold. We appreciate that. Yeah, dr. Doug Batchelor.

He does actually have an honorary doctorate. Okay, we want to--he's in argentina by the way right now. But he'll be back shortly. We're on lesson number 8 this week, it's called, "the atmosphere of praise." And there's a memory text from Genesis 2:7, which should be very familiar to all of us, about the creation of the first man, and the first lady followed soon after. And it says, "the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

" The Bible makes it very plain that humanity did not evolve over millions of years. I'm glad to hear a few amens. God made the first man and the first woman on the sixth day of creation week, formed adam from the elements of the dust of the earth, breathed into him the breath of life, and here he was, this living being. And the creation of adam in the image of God was kind of the crowning act of all that had taken place previously during creation week. God had--God had brought the vegetation into existence and the marine life and the animals on the ground.

And then comes this final moment when God, if you like, stoops down and as far as we know with the other--with everything else, he had spoken it into existence. But now God gets down on the ground himself and with his hands he takes the dust. And the angels must have looked on in expectation and wonderment as God, from the dust, creates this beautiful being, at least this beautiful form. But beautiful as it is, it's dead. It's inanimate.

And then he bends over this form of adam. And he gives a breath. God breathes into him. Now adam, you understand, even when he was still an inanimate object was an awful lot bigger than what we are today. And I can just imagine as God breathes into him suddenly, boom! That big heart just kicks in, ba-doom, ba-doom, ba-doom, meant to beat forever.

And then zing. That brain just comes to life. And all those neurons are just snapping and flying and sparking and the eyes open and he takes--to look down at that huge rib cage. I don't have much of a rib cage, but adam made up for me. This huge chest suddenly goes phew as he takes that second breath.

The first was God's; the second was his own. And he comes to life. And God puts out his hand, and he raises this, this beautiful, sinless, majestic creature made in his own image. I don't know what adam was thinking. It must have been a delirium of joyous bewilderment or something like that that suddenly here he is.

He's alive. He must have been full of questions. My little grandson is. But adam already had the intellect for God to give intelligent answers. My little grandson isn't there yet.

But here he is. He's mature, this beautiful being. And so there he was. And from him within a few hours there's this beautiful bride that God gave him. And adam had everything that he could wish for.

And so with that in mind, we recall these words from job 38:7. Why doesn't somebody read that. Do we have our roving microphones? Job 38:7, there was some rejoicing that went on as--across the universe as unfallen beings, angels and The Sons of God witnessed this wonderful thing. Do we have somebody who wants to read this morning? Job 38:7. Thank you very much, carla.

"When the morning stars sang together, and all The Sons of God shouted for joy?" Thank you very much. That's just what I wanted you to read, carla. I appreciate that. So here we are now. Everything is just bathed in this atmosphere of praise.

Must have been a whole week full of praise, especially on the seventh day when adam and eve just kept that first Sabbath, just the praise that was ascending across the universe on creation week. And so here we have this beautiful, beautiful scene her. Now I want to say this. I'm not gonna dwell on this, but I am gonna say it this morning. Seventh-day Adventists, we believe, or should believe that God is telling us the truth when he states in Genesis that he made the world and everything in it within six literal days, not figurative days, not allegorical days, but six, seven literal 24-hour days.

And you cannot, and what's more you should not, claim to be a Seventh-day Adventist if you're gonna take the plainly written and stated Word of God and say, "God really didn't mean what he says. He meant long periods of time." The Bible doesn't say that. Jesus never taught that. The apostles never taught that. And if you set yourself up against the plain statements of God's Word when he says in six days the Lord made heaven and earth and the sea, you go further than that; you set yourself up against God when he speaks forth the Ten Commandments, because in the fourth commandment, it repeats the fact that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth and the sea and all that in their midst and rested on the seventh day.

So if you want to allegorize away Genesis, that's bad enough. But if you're gonna be consistent with your argument, then you have to allegorize away the fourth commandment. I wouldn't dare do that. But you know, some people do. And I fear--i fear to walk in their shoes, because the Word of God tells us very plainly that, "God is not mocked; whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

" Could say a lot more on that this morning. And some of you know exactly what I'm talking about. Now our theme this morning is the atmosphere of praise. And it's interesting to note how this genuine biblical praise and worship goes hand and hand within the context of God's creatorship. I want to read from psalm 33.

And our time is going fast this morning, so if you don't mind, I'm gonna read this myself rather quickly then come back. Psalm 33:1-9, it says, "rejoice in the Lord, o ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright." Praise. Then in verse 2 it says, "praise the Lord with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings." Verse 3, "sing unto him--" that's praise, right? "Sing unto him." Then we go further down verse 5, "he loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord." Verse 6, "by the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth." Seven, "he gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses." Verse 8, "let all the earth fear the Lord: and let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him." Does standing in awe of God, is that a part of praise? Absolutely. Then finally verse 9, it says, "for he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast." So then verse 2, you've got "praise;" verse 3, "sing;" verse 9, "stand in awe of him." This whole passage is praise, praise, praise to God. Praise to God because he's worthy.

Praise to God because--and let's just look at verse 5, "because he loveth righteousness--" God is worthy of being praised because he's a righteous God-- "and judgment." And it says, "the earth is full of his goodness." In the margin of the King James it says, "mercy." So God is worthy of praise for these things. These are all reasons why we should praise him. But notice the powerful element of God's creatorship that we find in this passage. Again in verses 6, 7, and 9, which I read quite hurriedly, "by the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses.

" Verse 9, "he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast." It's only right that we should praise God for his creatorship. But in concluding this passage, I want you to notice verse 4, "for the word of the Lord is right; and all his works are done," in what? "In truth." So when God tells me that he created the earth in six days, he's telling the truth, because all his works are done in truth. And so far be it from me to have the audacity to say that when God did it in six days and rested on the seventh, he's not telling me the truth. God never lies to his children. Be thankful for that.

So if you're a simple enough in faith as a Seventh-day Adventist to believe that Genesis is a true book and you can read it at face value, friends, you're standing on solid ground. You're standing on solid ground. Alright, I want to move on this morning because there was obviously ascend--a tremendous praise that ascended to God at creation week. But here's the thing. You know as well as I do that it's always satan's purpose to take that which God has created and destroy it, to mar it, to just ruin everything.

And it just vexed him no end to see God create this beautiful planet and these beautiful beings that were made in his image. And he was determined, and unfortunately he met with success, in leading adam into sin. And the atmosphere of praise and joy and purity and righteousness in which adam dwelt, the devil was able to change that atmosphere to sadness and grief. I read in a book once called, "Patriarchs and Prophets," the writer there said that when adam saw the first leaves turn brown and die and fall to the earth, all that is a consequence of his sin. It grieved him more than we even now grieve over the loss of our loved ones.

Can you imagine that? The remorse and sorrow that he must have felt must have been just--just awful. And the sadness was that God not only did more than just--sorry, satan did more than just change the environment in which adam lived from a pure environment to one where there was strife and death. But the devil was able to change the inner atmosphere of adam's being, of his inner being. He was created righteous and pure and holy. And when God breathed life into adam, he also invested him with the--with the same righteousness of his own character.

And this--this was now gone. So the morning that adam went through and the grief as his nature became changed, as the inner atmosphere which was once intrinsically righteous now becomes intrinsically corrupt. It must have been awful. When he was brought from the creator's hand, it was his first and second nature to just obey. It was his delight.

Now suddenly there's something inside him that's resistant. He knows that's right and he knows he needs to do it; and he knows this is wrong and he knows he shouldn't do it, but he finds himself kind of pulled in this direction. And he has to put his foot down and resist in a power that he does not possess himself. But praise God, friends, this is where grace comes in. And God dispensed grace to adam, we know that, but are we still left with the consequences of this inner atmosphere that satan had changed within him.

But you know, beloved, we're all the same. We're all the offspring of adam. And we all have this kind of inner atmosphere which we wish was all sunny and pure and pristine clean, but we struggle with sin. But you know what? The Bible tells us where sin abounds, God's grace does much more abound. And God in the midst of this world, he can take us and he can plant us like water lilies.

I probably shouldn't laugh, but I practiced when I was a ministerial student, I practiced baptizing people on another ministerial student in a slimy, filthy pond in Virginia. It was just a filthy pond, but that's where the teacher took us. So we were there baptizing one another, and we come out all covered with all kinds of stuff. But in that pond, friends, there were beautiful water lilies growing. And the wonderful thing is that in this world full of corruption and death and filth and, if you like, slime, think of the worst things you can think of, God can make us bloom like the most beautiful water lilies.

That's what God's grace can do for you and for me. I'm kind of an unlikely water lily, I know. We're using figurative language. But it's amazing. It's amazing what God can do.

And even in our greatest trials, even though because of this atmosphere inside that kind of changes and it gets stormy and dark because we're fallen creatures, even in this atmosphere, God still can let the sunshine, shine inside and chase the clouds away. And I'll be saying a little bit more about that in a few minutes. I'll come back to that. Now, this week's lesson brings us some very good scientific facts on air. The air we breathe, you know, the atmosphere, what we got? About 21% oxygen and there's carbon dioxide and nitrogen and some trace gases and those kinds of things.

And it's good to know these things. It's good to know how to breathe. We need to breathe properly. There's a section there on Tuesday. On Monday: "the necessity of air," Tuesday: "the air over our heads.

" And it's talking about the atmosphere. And also Wednesday: "bad air, good air." We need to go to the places where the air is cleaner. So we need to use our common sense. And if you want good fresh air, to oxygenate your blood and to just pack the hemoglobin in your blood cells full of good, rich oxygen, don't go where people smoke. Don't smoke yourself.

Get where the air is clean. Go up to weimar, right, dr. Seibold? Go up to weimar. You can go up there. They'll let you walk around the grounds absolutely free.

And it's good, invigorating fresh air. But I'm saying this because the sections in here that speak about fresh air, they speak for themselves. They're well-written so I don't intend this morning to reinvent the wheel, other than perhaps look for some spiritual applications that we can-- that we can use this morning. So this is an application that I believe God gave me. When we speak of atmosphere, he wants us to live in an atmosphere of praise.

But as I mentioned, because we're fallen creatures, we have this inner atmosphere. And it's not always a pleasant, there's bad weather sometimes. But as you know, as we look in the atmosphere that surrounds us, the atmosphere has the ability, depending on other factors, to formulate clouds. Clouds form. You've seen the clouds.

And clouds, excuse the pun, but clouds have an upside and a downside. The upside of clouds is, or the downside, whichever way you want to look at it, they rain. They bring rain to us, and we need the rain. We still have drought, pending drought in California. We still need more rain.

But we don't want it to rain all the time, of course. Clouds also don't just bring the rain; they block the sun. And that's okay at times. But I was raised in a country where the sun was blocked most of the time, and I don't miss that one bit. I'm glad to live in California.

I remember one time when my dear dad was still alive, I called him. He was over in england, and I said the usual question being a brit, I asked how the weather was. I said, "dad, how's the weather?" He said, "oh son, it's cold and it's rainy and it's windy and it's--" all this kind of stuff. And I said, "well dad," I said, "I don't want to gloat and I don't want to sound like a traitor that left the shores of england, but," I said, "I'm looking out the window and at blue skies and palm trees." And he said, "good for you, son." No, I don't miss the weather one bit, but the point I want to make is this. There are parts of this world, even in this country, we do well in California--i keep telling sam, where is sam? Sam, are you there somewhere? Sam's from england as well, born miles from where I come from.

So she knows what cloudy days are like. And I've told her more than once, here in California come about may we can look out for five, maybe even six months of solid sunshine with not a cloud. And maybe one rainy day. She hasn't seen that yet, but stay long enough and you will hopefully. But there are places, even in this country where, where the clouds just come in and they stay there for days on end, just dull and overcast.

And it's a documented fact, there's more incidences of depression, and sad to say even suicide, in these places where the clouds just hang there and blot out the sun. And it's so sad to think that some people, they-- they give up on themselves. They give up on life. They actually commit suicide for want of seeing just a little ray of sunshine. And it's sad also to think that there are--that there are Christians, there are Christians in this world, even in this country, even when the sun shines, that have lost sight of Jesus.

And the devil brings these clouds. He creates this atmosphere inside their heart and in their mind. And they sink into despair, all for want of seeing one little glimpse of Jesus. It's the devil's purpose to take from every human heart every ray of hope, every little ray of joy, every little ray of courage. They want us to take from us every little glimpse of Jesus and just change the atmosphere inside to make it dark and glum and sorrowful.

And it's sad to say this, but he's pretty good at what he does. He's been doing it for a long time. And I can tell you people that I've spoken to that live in sunny California, but their inner atmosphere, the devil's got his hand in there and it's awful dark where they live. I want to tell you a story in a minute about a gentleman. And I'll read something from this document that I received.

But before I do, you see, God wants us to learn to praise him. But when you feel that God doesn't love you anymore, that God doesn't like you anymore, it's hard to praise a God that you feel doesn't love you, right? And there's so many people, they want to praise God, but they don't have the heart because they don't think that God likes them anymore. And it's all a lie of the devil. I received a letter the other day from the church. It's from adventist information ministry, acronym is a.

i.m. It's up at andrews university. They do a great job. They're a call center. Somebody watches the television, you know, "it is written," or Amazing Facts.

And I'll listen to different adventist media programs. And the number comes on and they call this number, it shoots their message up to the call center at andrews. And those students there, very dedicated, they talk to the people. They get information and they find out what their needs are. And then what they do, they send a letter to the nearest adventist church closest to where that person lives.

And we get these from time to time. And we got one the other day, and I want to share some of this with you. There's a gentleman. I'll just give you his first name. His name is James.

And he had seen Pastor Doug on television. He loves Amazing Facts. But bear in mind, he really doesn't know where Pastor Doug is, somewhere around, but he doesn't know where Pastor Doug's church is. And he knows Amazing Facts is out there somewhere, but he likes watching Amazing Facts. So he called the call center at andrews the other day.

And the person was talking with him here. And oh, I give credit where it's due. The person who spoke to him was Mark tatum. So Mark, if your professors are watching at andrews, I want to tell them that you do a good job at what you do, listening to this man here. Mark said this with this phone call.

He said--he documents everything. He says, "I spoke to James for about 15 minutes. Here's what I learned. James is a widower. His wife committed suicide last year due to grief and pressure.

James had a devastating stroke in 2007, which left him with vision problems, dizziness, immobility and face paralysis. He said that it was over grief and pressure of taking care of him that his wife committed suicide. He was really devastated by this." Now can't you imagine? "He lives at a home for disabled senior citizens and says he can be called or visited at any time. He says he prays to God so much, but often feels that God doesn't hear his prayers." Why? Because that inner atmosphere is all overcast with clouds that the devil put there. "He is trying with all his might to hold onto his faith.

He says he has briefly contemplated suicide a couple of times but hasn't. He said that the phone conversation was such a blessing. And I could tell he was crying at the end of the call." Well, we got this letter. And four days ago this week, I went down the road to see James. Actually he's just downtown.

We know where he lives, but he had no idea that we were just so much close on his doorstep. So I got to his apartment up on the third floor. And I went inside. I called him first, said to James, "I'd like to visit with you." "Oh, oh yeah, oh please, please do that." And I told him I was coming from Sacramento central Seventh-day Adventist Church. I was a pastor here.

But it's very obvious he missed that... So he still really didn't know where central church was or where Pastor Doug's church was. So bear this in mind now as I start talking to him. So I get to his apartment, and he calls me inside. And he's sitting on the bed there, the dear man.

And I was struck straight away by the fact that he had a stroke what 3 years ago, and he's still in his 40s, in his late 40s, which is unusual for somebody that age of course. And he was just--he was just beside himself that somebody would take the time to come and see him. And he's kind of praising me at one side of the room or the other. And I'm thinking, "James, you know, you don't have to do that. I get paid for what I do, you know.

He was right here on the doorstep. But yet it was such a joy to see this man just so happy that somebody would take the time to come and see him. And so we sat down. And as we did this dear man just opened his heart and outpoured all this grief and outpoured all this sorrow and all this sadness and all this hurt. And I'm sitting there looking at him.

He actually sat me down in front of him on a low stool, and I'm kind of looking up at him and I'm just listening to this dear man. And I kid you not, I was fighting back the tears. Finally I got up, sat beside him on the bed. And he pointed to a picture on the wall of this very pretty blond, blue-eyed lady who had been his sweetheart for years. And now she was no more.

And he looked at her and he was--he was brokenhearted. He said, "pastor mike," he said, "I loved her so much, but," he says, "I feel I caused her death. And I pray to God, but I feel that he doesn't hear me. I think maybe he's angry at me. And I really think I've lived my last happy day.

" And I looked up at this poor grief-stricken man and my heart was just so moved. And I listened to him and I thought--listen, let me just tell you something, friends. I'm very careful about what shall I say, emotional things. We gotta be very careful. People can move an audience, have 'em laughing and crying and just lead 'em down the garden path.

The devil is very good at that. You have to be careful of emotions. They have a place in our religion, but we need to put truth and the word first, and let the emotions follow. Okay. So you understand where I'm coming from.

But within that context, I'm sitting there and I felt the presence of Jesus come into that room. And I just could--just so vividly could imagine how Jesus was looking at this dear man who was under this dark cloud that the devil--because the devil hates the children of God. How was Jesus looking at him? And I kind of sensed the compassion and the love in Jesus' face just looking at this dear man who thought God didn't love him anymore. And so he poured out his heart. And when he was done, I said, "James, let me tell you something.

" And then just a soft, gentle voice, I put my hand on his shoulder. And I told him that Jesus still loves him. And I said, "you didn't kill your wife." I said, "the devil loves to make our lives and our hearts just full of darkness." And I could sense God was giving me the words to speak. And then I said, "James, I want to read you something. I want to read you something that Jesus read about himself when he came to this world.

It's a prophecy from Isaiah about what he would do, the kind of things that he would do when he came down here." And I read from Luke 4:16-21. And I want to read that this morning. It says, "and he came to nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written--" and I said, "James, get this.

This is what Jesus came to do. "the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised." I said, "James, this is why Jesus came into this world, to heal your broken heart. And that's what he wants to do." Now he was listening at this point. He was kind of still and he was listening. And I was watching his dear face all fallen on one side and one eye is almost closed.

But I was looking at that dear man's face. Now bear in mind, he doesn't know that I'm from central church. He's missed that. And he doesn't know that Pastor Doug's church is right down the road on his own doorstep. And I'm from central church.

And then he starts-- we're talking, you see. And he has a big screen television. He watches religious programming all the time. And right there as we're talking, he goes, "look." And I looked. And who was on television but Pastor Doug.

And he said, "there he is. There's Pastor Doug. I love--i love listening to Pastor Doug." And he said, "you know, I prayed that Pastor Doug would come and see me. I've prayed that God would send somebody from Pastor Doug's church to come and see me, and pray with me." Now bear in mind he's praying these prayers but he thinks God doesn't like him anymore. And he thinks that God's not gonna answer his prayers anymore.

So how do you think I feel? You know, I just felt this oh Lord! And I looked at him, and I said, "James," I said, "Pastor Doug--" and he said, "yeah, Pastor Doug." I said, "I'm from Pastor Doug's church. I'm a pastor there." I said, "there's four of us." I says, "he's the chief." I says, "there's pastor white, there's pastor steve and there's me, pastor mike. I've worked with him for close to 12 years. His church is just down the road." And if you could have seen that man's face. He was just struck dumb by bewilderment, like boom! And then the truth began to dawn.

And then he just became overjoyed, and he said, "you're from Pastor Doug's church?" I cannot do the voice like he did. I won't even try. He says, "you're from Pastor Doug's church?" I says, "yes James, I'm from Pastor Doug's church." And as he realized that God had heard his prayer, and God had answered his prayer, he realized that God didn't not like him anymore, if that makes good english. God didn't not hate him anymore. God loved him.

And he'd answered his prayers. And you know what? I'm sitting there; I've visited a lot of people in a lot of places. I mean, you all have. But as long as I live, this experience is gonna live in my heart. And I said, "James, I'm gonna bring pastor--I'm gonna take you in a few days to meet Pastor Doug.

I'm gonna introduce you to him. And I'm gonna have him pray with you." And he said, "oh, thank you, Jesus!" Oh, what an experience it was, friends. Anyway, I told him, you know, I says, "you know what James? I'm gonna come and see you every week. I'm gonna come and see you once a week, and we're gonna get you to our church. Okay?" And I kid you not, was he still missing his wife? Oh yeah.

Was he still heartbroken because of his wife? Oh yeah, she passed away, he loved her very much. But in the midst of that darkness, Jesus had brought the sunshine of his love. And as I was leaving, I had prayer with him, and as I was leaving, I left this man just enveloped in an atmosphere of praise. And as I left and I closed his door, I heard him--i heard him go, I'll see if I can do this, I heard him go, "yahoo!" Now, I'm not one for eavesdropping, okay. But that got my attention for about 2 minutes I stood outside his door listening to this man.

And I could hear him saying, "dear God, thank you, Lord, you heard my prayer! You heard my prayer!" Then he talked to himself. He said, "God heard my prayer. God heard me. Jesus loves me. Oh dear God, thank you so much for hearing my prayer! Oh, Pastor Doug's gonna come and see me! Praise God!" Well, I left him in his rejoicing.

And as I walked across the road to my car and got inside, about :00 o'clock that afternoon, I was feeling tired. We've had some late nights, you know. But my energy was-- I was in an atmosphere of praise and an atmosphere of energy again. Anyway, finally I got home that night. And it was late again.

And I walked in the house. My dear wife, helen, who almost lives the wife of a widow sometimes, if it wasn't for living the wife of a widow, I couldn't do what I do. It was late, I got home, and I told her about James. And her face lit up. And as I walked away to hang up my jacket, I says, "you know, helen, I don't want to do anything else with my life than what I'm doing now.

" I really don't. There's no greater thing, to be part of an instrument in God's hands to see the clouds just sweep out of somebody's heart and life and to see them change by his love. You know, we can all have those experiences. You know, some of our afcoe students, there's emily and carla sitting here and theresa and some of you others, and sam and belinda and David and steve. I'm remembering your names, you see, I've worked on it.

And amy and others, forgive me if I missed some of you out. These young people have been out knocking on doors. There are others Jameses out there by the way, and they've found some of them. And there's not Jameses but there's female versions of Jameses. They're all out there, friends.

And the devil has got inside the atmosphere. And he's stolen the atmosphere of joy and praise and he brought the dark clouds of despondency. And God is waiting for you to go find those people. Pray that he brings them to you, and you can tell them of Jesus' love and see the clouds just-- gone. Isn't God wonderful? God is the most wonderful being in this whole world.

And when he comes into our lives, the realization of his love, he turns that dark sky to blue. He puts the sun back in our sky, the flowers bloom and we can hear the birds sing. And you know, when somebody is depressed and down, the sweetest music sounds like mockery. And I know, because I've been in a place like that more than once in my life. But when Jesus comes in and the clouds go and he turns the sky to blue and he puts the sun back in your sky, that sweet music is no longer mockery.

It's just the sweet music that echoes the melody of your soul. And the sweet melody that just envelops you and swallows you up in an atmosphere of praise is just a faint taste of the atmosphere of the hyperbaric atmosphere of praise in which we will just marinate when we get to the Kingdom of glory. But we can marinate in that hyperbaric atmosphere of praise even in this life. When Jesus comes into our hearts, he changes everything. In psalm 28:6-7, it says, "blessed be the Lord, because he hath heard the voice of my supplications.

the Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusteth in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him." Praise him. We got 5 minutes left. Returning to that passage in Isaiah 61 that Jesus quoted there in the synagogue that day in nazareth, I want to read it again with a few verses more, because the passage in Isaiah is just a little longer than what Jesus quoted. It's Isaiah 61. And somebody like to read this? Andrew, right there.

Andrew, Isaiah 61:1, 2, and 3 please. "the Spirit of the Lord is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the Spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified." Thank you very much, andrew, especially verse 3 there. And this is what happened with James. And this is what Jesus can do for any one of us. "To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the Spirit of heaviness.

" Praise God, he can do that. But that last bit, "that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified." You see, Jesus when he comes in, he changes that inner atmosphere. He takes the sadness and he replaces it with joy. But he changes that atmosphere from sin and from impurity and from selfishness, and he makes that atmosphere pure again with his righteousness. And it's the purpose of the Gospel, as we praise Jesus, as we go to his cross and experience his love that we don't just walk away forgiven.

It's the purpose of the Gospel that that love that gets within us changes us, it transforms us. And it makes us, as it says here, "trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified." So he can take a crooked tree, with all the leaves brown and withered and all the branches broken off and make it a beautiful recreation. And make that a tree of righteousness in a forest where there's degradation and decay and filth and rottenness and hopelessness. Beloved, that's what the Gospel can do to every one of us. And that can happen to any one of us and every one of us now if we will go to the cross.

Because through speaking of atmosphere this morning and the breezes, and it's the devil who brings those chilled breezes that whisper in our ear, "God doesn't love you anymore." But when we go to the cross on that high ground where the winds of heaven blow strong, up on the high ground where the cross is, where the winds of God's grace blows strong. When you go up there and you open your heart in your helplessness and the winds of God's grace come flowing through into your soul, he changes you. And he makes you into a tree of righteousness. And he fills you with his power. And he fills you with his grace.

And this is the need of God's church, that we go to that high ground where the atmosphere is pure and clean. And we open our hearts to receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit, the fullness of the early rain. And those who go to the high ground, and they die at the foot of the cross and surrender themselves to Jesus, that the winds of heaven can blow within them, those are the ones who finally will be ready for that greater mighty rushing wind that will come soon, when the Holy Spirit in latter rain power will descend upon his faithful people. I want my heart, I want the windows of my soul open wide on that day when the Spirit comes down. Do you? Raise your hand if you want to receive the fullness of the breezes of heaven.

Alright, we go first and we do everything, we yield to everything that God's promised under the early rain, that he might prepare us for the latter rain and bring us to fruition, perfection of character. Then when Jesus comes, indeed, we will praise him such as never before. And we will enter that glorious realm where all the angels, as we enter those pearly gates, they will raise their voices and in glory to God. And we'll join in with the heavenly choir and all the dismal dirges and funeral dirges that we remember and we've sang in this life and we've been a living, dismal, funeral dirge, it will all be gone. Born away on the winds of time to be forgotten as we praise Jesus before his eternal throne.

May God bless us all. And may we through his abounding grace be there, every one of us. God bless you.

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