Sunday, June 02, 2013


I preached the Baccalaureate Service at North Harford High School today. My Nephew Jamie graduates there this Wednesday. The sermon was really well received. Several asked for copies of the sermon. So here is my text, typos and all! I'm heading out for a Camping trip in the morning (Monday) be back next week to continue the comics posts.

Pastor Dave

North Harford High School                                                                                   Psalm 37 
Baccalaureate Service                                                                         
“Your Next Quarter”
June 2, 2013

The average life expectancy in America is around 78 years. Divide that into quarters – every 19 years is a quarter of your life.
     Your graduation from High School is a great place to mark off your first quarter. Most of you will turn 19 within a few months to a year
     That’s if you live to 78…Some of you in this room will be dead before you reach 30
        Some of you will live to 100 or more. Most of us will live 70 or 80 years.

So every one of the graduates here today are about to enter their second quarter. The next quarter of your life is about to begin.
       This first quarter of your life has all been about preparation.
      You have been in school for all but the first 3 or 4 years of your life.
       Some of you will go on to continue your education, preparing for specific careers. All will be entering adulthood.
   Either willingly or unwillingly… Determined to succeed or determined to drift.
        I want to get the bad news out of the way first: You will not stay young for long.
   In what will seem a few months, you will wake up one morning and 19 more years will have passed. You will be 38 or 39 years old, on the cusp of 40, and the last half of your life will be before you.
       What you do in the next 19 years will be crucial to how you finish your life. It will set the stage for the last half.
        And don’t let Hollywood and popular culture deceive you- the last half, the time when you are NOT young, energetic and wrinkle-free can be just as exciting, fulfilling and more meaningful than what you have experienced or will experience in the next 19 years.
In a culture where convenience, consumption and conceit are virtues and not hindrances to  being a good person, MEANING has taken a backseat to pleasure.
       We are obsessed in 21st Century America with the accumulation of wealth and power with the ultimate goal of never having to work again.
        In light of that pursuit, the desire to grow as a person, to learn, to find MEANING in our lives has ben pushed aside in the  mad rush to find “Happiness”.
        I don’t want you to find happiness… its always dependent on your circumstances- and you are going to have more bad days than good days. Accept that and get over it.
   No, I want you to find JOY. JOY comes from within, is not dependent on what happens to us, JOY is lasting, and JOY had MEANING.

In Psalm 37 David the King of Israel gives some great advice for anyone at anytime in their life
           But its advice that is especially relevant to those who still have 3/4s of their lives ahead of them.

        80% of you will graduate Wednesday, and never set foot in a church willingly again.
      You will put any thoughts of God on the back burner- or worse, you will forget about Him completely.
        And your life will be filled with pain, heartache, divorce, bankruptcy, disease.. any myriad of problems, just like everyone else… but you will have no true place of comfort, no real and lasting answers to your problems.
   Your friends? They will try to help, but they are just as dumb as you are! And you will find that more people than you realize do not give advice to help you, but to advance themselves.
   As Pastor Johnny Hunt says, “We are all just one decision away from plumb stupid!”
   YOU NEED HELP. We all do. And Only by Trusting in the Savior will you not only find answers, but MEANING.
“Trust in the Lord, and do good”
        In the reality TV era, the prevailing idea about morality seems to be “its right as long as I don’t get caught.”- unless I can make money off my bad behavior, get a reality show of my own and them ham it up for the cameras- then everyone will congratulate me on my bad behavior!
Romans 3:23…For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Proverbs 14:12…There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
        But God says “Do good”- What is good?
        If I asked you if you were a good person, would you answer yes?
   Have you ever lied? Stolen something? Lusted? Disobeyed your parents? Hated someone?
   Those are just 5 of the Ten Commandments.- and we have all at some time broken every one of them. Even murder- Jesus said
Matthew 5:21, 22a…Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment:
       Is it wrong to be honest? To be faithful to your spouse? To respect your parents? To love and not hate? To treat everyone the way you would like to be treated?
David says here, if you will Trust in the Lord, you will have a home, and you’ll have provision.
        With the economy as it is, just getting by has become a struggle for many of us.
   The promise here is that if we will trust the Lord, act like children of God instead of Hell raisers, He will take care of us.
SEE: Verses 23-27…
   And if you are here as an unbeliever, someone who scoffs at the Bible and says, “its full of contradictions, its written by men, it has nothing to offer me”
   Let me ask you this: Have you ever read it?

      The whole point of faith in Christ is not just “fire insurance” – its not all about escaping judgment. Yes, we need the Blood of Christ to cleanse us from our sins, we need forgiveness, we are all guilty of breaking God’s Commandments, no one is a truly good person.
       But Jesus said He did not come JUST to save, JUST to give us Eternity. He also came for the here and now…
John 10:9, 10…I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
        God is not all about keeping you from having fun!
        The reason you think that is cause CHURCH MEMBERS haven’t learned this yet!
       He wants you to DELIGHT in Him, find in His Word, in Fellowship with His saints in the local church, in prayer, He wants you to find JOY.
1 Peter 1:8…Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
Ps 30:4, 5…Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
        If you do not seek Him in this next quarter of your life, I guarantee you will spend the REST of your life trying to get “Stuff” to make you happy.
   You will fall into the trap of thinking, “this new car, that bigger house, this sports equipment, these shoes, THAT TV, A swimming pool, a Caribbean vacation… THEN I’ll be happy!”
   But you won’t. Stuff doesn’t last. Cars rust, homes drop in value, shoes go out of style, TV’s need repairs, Vacations end. Focus on stuff above people, focus on yourself above family, friends and God, and the results are going to be certain…
Galatians 5:19-21… Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity,promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions,  envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I tell you about these things in advance—as I told you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
   What lasts? The Joy of the Lord. The stuff He gives you lasts!
Galatians 5:22, 23… But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.
READ: Vs. 7-11…
Matthew 6:33…But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

        Commitment is a rare thing today. Friends will leave you and hate you forever because they misread sarcasm for reality on your Facebook.
   Families disintegrate because its every man for himself. “If you’re not making me happy, I’m outta here!”
   Job security is a thing of the past. Customer loyalty only means I can charge you more than a new customer because statistically you are less likely to switch insurance, cable, phone companies after a year or two!
        But Commitment still works. It has rewards.
        I want to give you some fatherly, pastoral advice… Quit thinking of Love just in terms of feelings. Love is a commitment. You commit to spend the rest of your life pursuing the well being of another. Its not about getting pleasure or having someone else meet your needs. Its about giving pleasure and meeting the needs of another. LOVE IS COMMITMENT.
        Stay committed to the people in your life, you will be a better person, people will love you, flock to you. People will want to help you!
       Commit to the Lord. Read His word, talk to Him in prayer, hang out with other believers in a local church, He promises you that your commitment to Him will bring about a security, protection, contentment, and provision nothing else will bring.
READ: Verses 23-27
       Commitment to the Lord brings a peace you can never explain. It brings a security in finances, family, and friendships.
In this next quarter of your life, from now until you are about 36, 37 years old, you will set the stage for your legacy. How you will be remembered.
       “Live your life in such a way that the preacher doesn’t have to lie at your funeral!”
        I want to encourage you to be different. Life a life of integrity
o   Integrity is being the same person when your alone that you are when people are around you. No secret lives. No skeletons in the closet. Because you have decided to follow the teachings of Jesus and live your life to help others, to serve the Lord, to make a difference in this world.
2 Corinthians 7:1…Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
       BECAUSE… the Second half of your life is just 19 years away…
        And you are not the greatest thing in the world. There are billions of other people you can learn from.
      And there is a God in Heaven Who wants to be involved in your life. He wants to bless you. He wants to help you with the tough decisions. He loves you so much He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on a Cross to pay for your sins and mine.
       Commit your life to Him. Trust Him. Delight in Him.
John 14:1-6…Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
John 5:24…Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
John 11:25, 26…Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
Don’t leave High School this week and make the mistake of denying yourself the greatest help, the greatest power you can have in this life. The Ability to have God Himself  help you and bless you throughout the remaining 3 quarters of your life.             

Read Verses. 34-40…