Palm Sunday

April 14, 2014

Palm Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week.  On Palm Sunday we celebrate the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.  Next Sunday will be Easter Sunday, when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.  In between these two Sundays of celebration are Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.  These two days are tremendously important.  On Maundy Thursday, among other things, are the washing of the feet of the disciples by Jesus, the first celebration of the Lord’s Supper, the prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, and Judas’ betrayal of Christ.  On Good Friday we have the crucifixion.  The primary reason that Jesus came to earth.  He was after all, “the lamb of God, who came to take away the sins of the world”.   If Jesus had not died for us, we would still be left in our sins.  There is no other way for us to be forgiven than through the sacrifice of Jesus.

I.  Rejoice:  Luke 19:28-40

 When He had said this, He went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 And it came to pass, when He drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mountain called Olivet, that He sent two of His disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village opposite you, where as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Loose it and bring it here. 31 And if anyone asks you, ‘Why are you loosing it?’ thus you shall say to him, ‘Because the Lord has need of it.’”

32 So those who were sent went their way and found it just as He had said to them. 33 But as they were loosing the colt, the owners of it said to them, “Why are you loosing the colt?”

34 And they said, “The Lord has need of him.” 35 Then they brought him to Jesus. And they threw their own clothes on the colt, and they set Jesus on him. 36 And as He went, many spread their clothes on the road.

37 Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, 38 saying:

‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!’
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

39 And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.”

40 But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”

The disciples rejoiced over the mighty works they had seen.  After all, they had seen a multitude fed from a few loaves and fish, they had seen the lame walk, the deaf hear, and the blind see.  They had even seen the dead brought back to life.  There was much about which to rejoice.

Do we rejoice about what Christ has done for us?  We may not have had quite the same spectacular stories as the early disciples, but do we not have stories of the faithfulness of God?

II.  Weeping:  Luke 19:41-44

Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

Luke immediately follows the story of the triumphal entry into Jerusalem with this recital of Jesus weeping for the coming destruction of Jerusalem.  Jerusalem was to be destroyed because “they did not know the time of your visitation”.  They had not accepted, truly, that Jesus was the Messiah.  This prophecy came true when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman army in 70AD.

The close proximity to the story of the triumphal entry reminds us of the mixture of emotions that Jesus must have felt.  Sure, He enjoyed the celebration of Palm Sunday, but He fully understood the events of the coming week.  He also knew that not all would receive the gift of salvation that would be offered.  There is a curious mixture of joy and sadness.

We too, should have a burden for the lost.  We should pray that God would touch their hearts, that they would respond to the gospel and be restored like prodigal children coming home to the Father.  Yes, we can celebrate, but we should also, at times, weep for the lost, and pray that God would work through us to reach them with the gospel.

On a related note, this mixture of emotions goes both ways.  During times of testing or trials, when life is painful and difficult; we can rejoice in the knowledge that, in Christ, we are victorious.  That in the end we win.  That Christ is with us always, even in the days of darkness.

III.  Cleansing:  Luke 19:4-46

Then He went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in it, 46 saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house is  a house of prayer’, but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’”

The triumphal entry, weeping over the city, and now the cleansing of the temple.  The account in Luke is filled with powerful emotions.  In this section Jesus is distraught over the way that they house of God was being treated.  Some have used this portion of scripture to condemn bake sales in the foyer, or any kind of fundraising sale in the church building.  I think that they have missed the point.  The various fundraisers that go on in a church are not for personal gain.  They are for worth while causes. However there are some issues that we should face regarding our attitude towards the house of God.  Are we attending merely for the sake of appearance?   Perhaps, we are concerned about status?  Maybe we are simply trying to network to further our business.  Certainly, it is possible to have the wrong attitude towards church attendance.  We should be gathering together to pray, to worship, to learn, and to both encourage, and be encouraged by our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Palm Sunday is a wonderful day of celebration, but as we celebrate, let us remember to pray for the lost, and to maintain a right attitude in our own hearts towards the house of God.

These are the sermon notes from 4/13/14.  Any advertisements that may follow this blog are placed there by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any payment from them.

Justice and Forgiveness

April 10, 2014

Last night in our Bible study at church, we were discussing the Lord’s Prayer and the emphasis on forgiveness.

And forgive us our sins,
For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.  (Luke 11:4)

We were in agreement that it is necessary for us to forgive those who have wronged us.

Then someone asked about justice.  Just the day before, a family had observed the one year anniversary of a tragic event.  A baby had been shaken by his father, causing severe damage.  The child went through months of seizures, and has lasting damage that, unless miraculously healed by God, will likely be permanent.  While the baby fought for his life, and while the mother and family dealt with the multiple treatments, seizures, and ongoing effects, the father moved out, and was free to go about his business while the justice system went through the various steps leading eventually to conviction and confinement.  The family was, and is, concerned about justice.  A wrong had been done, a penalty should be paid.

How do we reconcile forgiveness and justice?  This blog does not claim to present the final solution to that problem, but rather, a starting point for thought, and perhaps discussion.

I would suggest that forgiveness is an act of an individual, while justice is a function of society.  Forgiveness is an attitude that allows us to let go of the anger, resentment and hatred that poisons our hearts.  Justice is a necessary component of society that punishes wrongdoers, thus preventing us from taking matters into our own hands.

It would be wrong to think that God only supports forgiveness.  The Mosaic Law set forth laws, and punishments for those that broke the law.  These penalties were considered to be just.  It would be wrong to think that the God of the New Testament, with the emphasis on forgiveness; and the God of the Old Testament, with an emphasis on judgement, are incompatible, or different Gods.  God is both just and forgiving.

There are consequences to wrongdoing.  These consequences can be both temporal and eternal.  God is both merciful and just.  We can be forgiven the eternal consequences of our sins, and still face the temporal consequences of our actions.

For the believer who has been wronged, it is important for us to forgive the wrongdoers and leave the consequences for their actions in the hand of God.

Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. (Romans 12:19)

Clearly there is a tension between justice and forgiveness.  As individuals we must forgive those who have wronged us.  As a society we must pursue justice for those who have been wronged.  The Holy Spirit can help us have the ability to forgive in our hearts,  and the wisdom to pursue justice in our land.

Any ads that accompany this article are placed there by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

 

A Bruised Reed

April 7, 2014

Life can be difficult.  God can help.

I.  A Bruised Reed:  Isaiah 42:3

A bruised reed He will not break,
And smoking flax He will not quench;
He will bring forth justice for truth.

I remember reading this verse as a teenager when it is quoted and applied to Jesus in the New Testament, and wondering why that was worth mentioning.  Why do we care about reeds or smoking flax?  Eventually I realized that they were symbols for our spiritual life.  I have a plant in my office that is slowly dieing.  There are times when I am ready to toss it in the dumpster and be done with it.  God never gives up on us.  We may be bruised by the things of this life, but God is able to restore life.  He does not toss us in the dumpster because we have been damaged.  One time, while on guard duty on a rainy night, my fellow sentry became frustrated with the fire and kicked the coals, scattering them everywhere.  I yelled at him, not because I was worried about a mess, or him starting a fire ( did I mention it was raining?)  but because I am very good with fires and I could have more easily restored the fire if he hadn’t scattered the coals.  God is way better with people, than I am with fires.  If our faith is down to just a glowing ember, He is able to restore the flames of faith and commitment.

II.  Through the Trials:  Isaiah 43:1-3

But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I gave Egypt for your ransom,
Ethiopia and Seba in your place.

My parents owned a grocery store in a town that was prone to flooding.  The floods would affect the town but my parents’ store was never affected.  It was well up on a hill.  Sometimes our lives as Christians can be like that.  There is trouble around us, but it doesn’t seem to touch us.  Other times however, we may be called to go through the fire.  My parents’ store never flooded, but it did experience a fire.  The store was on the first floor, and there was an apartment on the second and third floors.  One night a fire started in the apartment.  The second and third floors were badly damaged.  Somehow, the first floor did not sustain much damage.  As I remember, the store was only closed one day.  Some product was lost to water damage, but not nearly as much as one would have thought.  Even though there was a fire, and the apartment was lost, my parents’ business came through just fine.  I believe that God is able to bring us through the tests and trials of this life if we maintain our trust in Him.

III.  Renewed Strength:  Isaiah 40:28-31

Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the Lord,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
31 But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,

This year I am planning on competing in my fourth 24 hour run.  That does not mean that I will run for 24 hours, it means that I have 24 hours to complete as many laps around a track as possible by a combination of running and walking.  I enjoy this event, because you don’t have to be fast, and it is a great test of physical and mental endurance.  It is also a great metaphor for the Christian life.  Our commitment to Christ is not a fifty yard dash, over in a few seconds.  It is a lifelong commitment, that will have its share of ups and downs, running, walking, and even some breaks for a rest.  God is the one who enables us to finish the race that He has set before us.  We do not live for Christ on our own strength, but in the strength that God gives us.

Thank you God for not giving up on us, for bringing us through the tests and trials, and for providing strength for the journey.

These are the sermon notes from 4/6/14.  Any advertisement that might appear is placed there by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

Learn to Do Good

April 3, 2014

God is not pleased with the appearance of righteousness, an outward religious facade that has no effect on our lives.  God calls us to follow Him with our whole heart, and all of our lives.

Isaiah 1:16-20

“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes.
Cease to do evil,
17 Learn to do good;
Seek justice,
Rebuke the oppressor;
Defend the fatherless,
Plead for the widow.

18 “Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient,
You shall eat the good of the land;
20 But if you refuse and rebel,
You shall be devoured by the sword”;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

I.  Call to Repentance:  (verses 16-17)

I very much appreciate the simplicity of the call “Cease to do evil, learn to do good.”.  We must first learn to identify what is good and what is evil.  God uses His Word and His Spirit to lead us to that truth.  Once we are able to identify good and evil, we must make the choice to cease doing evil, and do what it good.  This is not always easy, and it is a lifelong process.

We are to seek justice.  Sometimes, some in the evangelical church have had a critical attitude towards social justice.  The concern comes from what they perceive to be an abandonment of the “true” gospel by the churches that focus on the “social” gospel.  It does not have to be one or the other.  We can preach for the salvation of the  souls of humanity, while also working to make our physical life here on earth more just.

We are to rebuke the oppressor and defend the weak.  This requires wisdom, courage and strength.  God is able to help us with all of those attributes, if we will allow Him to work through us.

II.  Forgiveness:  (verse 18)

We recognize that we all have sinned.  We have fallen short of what God would have us to be.  We need His forgiveness.  The good news is that God is willing to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  We do not have to earn forgiveness, it is offered to us freely through Jesus Christ.

III.  Consequences (verses 19-20)

Our actions have consequences.  If we are rebellious and choose to remain in our sinful ways, then we can expect destruction.  Bad things will continue to happen to us.  It is one of the ways that God uses to try to correct us.  If we are willing to repent, and learn to be obedient, we can expect God to bless us.

This does not mean that the life of the sinner will be only destruction, and the life of the obedient will be only blessings.  Our lives are a mixed bag of blessings and tests.  It does mean that believer should be able to have a sense of the blessing of God on their life, while the unbeliever should have a sense of coming judgement.

God continues to call out to us.  Repent!  Believe the gospel!  Cease to do evil!  Learn to do good!

These are the sermon notes from 3/30/14.  Any advertisement that may appear is placed there by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any financial support from them.

Overcomers

March 31, 2014

I.  Scripture Originated With God:  II Peter 1:19-21

 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

The word translated as interpretation in verse 20, can also be translated as origin, which makes more sense to me.  The scriptures are not merely the words of men, but God speaking to us through their words.  We can listen to the advice of men and choose to reject it if we do not agree with it, but we should not reject the Word of God spoken to us in the scriptures.

II. Saying One Thing/Doing Another:  I John 1:6-7

If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

What we do should match up with what we say.  If we say that we are Christians, then we should be seeking to live Christ-like lives.

III.  Do Not Love the World:  I John 2:15-17

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

What is most important to you?  It should be God.  God does not want to simply be a part of our lives, He wants to be our life’s priority.  God first.  Everything else second.

IV.  Help Those in Need:  I John 3:16-18

By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?

18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.

We should be willing to help those who are in need. I suppose that you could call it love in action.  James says that “Faith without works is dead”  Let us have a living faith and love that is expressed by our compassion for others.

V.  Greater is He That is in You:  I John 4;4

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

When we encounter the various challenges and difficulties of this life, it is comforting to remind ourselves that our strength does not come from ourselves, but from the One who is within us.  Through God, we have the strength to do what He has called us to do.

VI.  Summary:  I John 5:1-5

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

The first step is to believe in Jesus.  Next, we grow in our love for God, and for others.  Third, we learn to live lives of obedience to the commandments of God.  This is made possible because of our relationship with Christ.  So that we are in fact, over-comers.

These are the sermon notes from 3/16/14.  Any advertisements that may appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

Protecting a Minority

March 13, 2014

Gay rights have come a long way.  Within my lifetime, they have gone from being an illegal activity and a psychological disorder, to a widely accepted alternative lifestyle.  In an increasing number of states, they have obtained the right to legally marry.

The primary opposition to gay marriage stems from religious people that continue to accept certain biblical values.  Of course, not everyone shares the same  values.  How should we react when there is a conflict of values?  When a gay couple is planning their wedding, and they contact a church, a florist, a caterer, a photographer and so forth: do those businesses have a right to refuse their services?  Are we not willing to allow people to live out their own values in this area?  Are we going to force the will of the majority upon the minority?  Or will we allow people to continue to live by their personal convictions in this matter?

There is an increasing number of people who will gladly accept the business generated by gay weddings.  People who feel strongly that gay marriages are wrong should be allowed to refuse service.  They should be able to live by their moral convictions.  They should however, be required to suggest a business that is open, to providing that service.

Any advertisements that accompany this blog are placed there by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

Everything is Beautiful

March 10, 2014

God can use us in our place of employment.  Our lives have meaning and purpose.  There is also beauty to be seen all around us, if our eyes were truly open.

Ecclesiastes 3:9-13

What profit has the worker from that in which he labors? 10 I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.

12 I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, 13 and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God.

I.  God Given Tasks

All work, that is not immoral by nature, can be used by God.  We have skill that God has given us, and that we can develop.  We should use those skills for His glory.  We are meant to be salt and light in the world.  We can be salt by being good employees, doing a good job with a good attitude.  We can be light by allowing the light of Christ that has shone into our hearts to shine through our lives in our places of work.  God can use us.   Our lives have both meaning and purpose.

II.  Everything is Beautiful

May God open our eyes to the beauty that is all around us.  May God enable us to see the good in what we do.

III.  Eternity in Their Hearts

We can enjoy the material realm, but we know that there is more to life than what we see.  Our highest value and purpose are found in our role in the spiritual realm.  As Christians, we are a part of the body of Christ.  That gives us value.  It is our relationship with Christ that makes us salt and light in the world.  God has placed us in various places to be His representatives to those who live in spiritual darkness.  God has called us from darkness to light, now we are to call out to others.

IV.  Enjoy the Journey

God did not create the world and then say ” Ha!  I have set a trap for mankind!!”  He created the world and said that it was “good”.  God’s people should be able to see the good, the beauty that is around them.  We should be able to “stop and smell the roses” along the journey of this life.  Yes, we have struggles in the flesh.  We have various tests and trials, but overall, we should be able to live a life that is filled with the goodness of the Lord.  The joy of the Lord should fill our lives.  We will encounter struggles in the flesh, but we can be victorious in the spirit.  We can enjoy the journey.

These are the sermon notes from 3/9/14.  Any advertisements that accompany this blog are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

Humble Yourselves

March 6, 2014

We can resist evil by submitting to God.  He cares for us and will work both in us and through us.

I Peter 5:5-11

Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for

“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.”

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

I.  Humble Submission

There are two parts to submission listed here.  The first is submission to elders.  This represents the idea of being submissive to those in authority.  This concept is taught to us from the beginning as we are taught to honor our parents, our first authorities in our  lives.  Our attitude towards our parents will influence our attitude towards ours teachers.  Our attitude towards our teachers will influence our attitude towards our employers.  Our attitude towards our employers will influence our attitude towards legal and governmental authority.  Our attitude towards legal and governmental authority will influence our attitude towards God.  They all tie together.  It is important for us to have a good attitude towards those in authority.

The second part of this command to submission is to be submissive to one another.  By this we should recognize that we do not always have to have things go our own way.  We should be considerate of others and be willing to let them have their way, at least some of the time.  By the way, this is good marital advice as well as its application to the church.

II.  He Cares For You

We can give all our cares to Him.  Over the years, I have prayed for many different kinds of prayer requests.  Some of the request that have come from children over the years have seemed pretty insignificant on the surface.  I say on the surface because if it is important to us, then we can bring it to God.  God cares for us.  Our children should learn at an early age to bring their concerns to God.  He cares for us, and we can bring anything to God that is on our hearts.

We should also be willing to accept what God has for us.  Sometimes we get what we wanted, and sometimes we do not.  We should trust God with our hopes, our dreams and our lives.  He does indeed care for us.

III.  Resist Evil

As a motorcyclist, I have learned to watch out for things that could cause an accident.  I try to be constantly alert for potential danger because I recognize the dangerous nature of riding a motorcycle.  As Christians we should be alert for the tricks that the enemy uses to cause us to sin.  If we do fall into sin, we ask God to forgive us and seek to learn what caused us to stumble.  Watch out for the things that lead us into sin, and avoid them like the danger that they are to us.

Many of us have attempted dieting at one time or another.  It can be difficult to resist the urge to break our diet plan.  In order to succeed we must resist the urge to cheat on our diet.  In a similar way, we must resist the temptation to give in to sin.  This ability comes about by a combination of our will, and the strengthening power of the Holy Spirit.  God will give us strength, but we must also exercise our will.

IV.  Purpose in Suffering

God uses the times of suffering in our life to perfect or complete us.  Our faith is strengthened as God brings us safely through the tests and trials of our faith.  God can also use our perseverance in times of difficulty as a witness to others of His strengthening presence in our lives.  In the times of tests, or trials, may His light shine forth.

Conclusion:  Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.   (v6)

These are the sermon notes from 3/2/14.  Any advertisements are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

Friendship

February 27, 2014

Sometimes people are lonely.  It is important to have friends and family to share the challenges and adventures of this life.

I.  Be Friendly:  Proverbs 18:24

A man who has friends must himself be friendly,
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

In order to have friends, we must be friendly ourselves. I have spoken with many people over the years who have been lonely.  I encourage them to reach out to others.  We are able to form friendships by recognizing things that we have in common.  As Christians, the first thing that we share is a love for Christ, and a focus on the Word.  That alone, can be the basis for friendship.  However, it is also good to find other shared interests as well.

When we do have friends it is necessary to cultivate those relationships.  They require time and attention.  Getting together for coffee, meals, and all kinds of activities are all part of developing our friendships.

In our relationships, we should share the experiences of life with our friends.  We should weep with those who weep.  We should rejoice with those who rejoice.  A happy experience, when shared, becomes even happier.  A sad experience becomes more bearable when it is shared.  Do not downplay the feelings of your friends.  Do not tell them that the thing that they are experiencing, whether by weeping or rejoicing, is no big deal.  Simply share in the experience with them.

II.  Choose Friends Carefully: Proverbs 12:26

The righteous should choose his friends carefully,
For the way of the wicked leads them astray.

We can have many friends.  Our friendships can be on various levels.  Not everyone can be our best friend.  We should be careful to cultivate relationships in such a way that our closest friends are people who will have a godly influence.

We can be friends with unbelievers.  Actually, one of the most effective forms of evangelism is friendship evangelism.  We share the gospel with our friends.  It is important that in our friendships with unbelievers that we do not compromise our beliefs.

The idea of friendships with unbelievers does not extend to dating.  I strongly disapprove of “missionary dating” which is dating someone who is unsaved in order to share the gospel with them.  Far too often, it is the believer who is dragged down in this kind of situation.  Dating is the first step in looking for a spouse, and we should be looking for a spouse who shares our faith.

III.  Speaks Like a Sword:  Proverbs 12:18

There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword,
But the tongue of the wise promotes health.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”  This is a saying that our parents taught us as children to deal with the hurtful words of others.  Sadly, it isn’t true.  Words can hurt.  They can hurt a lot.  We should be careful in our relationships to speak words that promote health, that encourage and strengthen, rather than words that cut, and tear down.

IV.  Stop Striving:  Proverbs 20:3

It is honorable for a man to stop striving,
Since any fool can start a quarrel.

God can give us the wisdom to end an argument.  There are times when we must simply agree to disagree, but we do not have to be disagreeable.  We do not need to get angry when people do not agree with us.  Anyone can start a fight, it takes wisdom to know how to avoid them, or to work through them.

V.  Life is Better With Friends:  Proverbs 15:16-17

Better is a little with the fear of the Lord,
Than great treasure with trouble.
17 Better is a dinner of herbs where love is,
Than a fatted calf with hatred.

Life is better when we have the love of family and friends.  If we had tremendous wealth, but did not have love in our lives, that would be tragic indeed.  The person who has love, has what is truly important.

These are the sermon notes from 2/23/14.  Any advertisement that accompanies this blog is placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

Faith, Love & Obedience

February 24, 2014

Are we willing to follow Christ as Lord?  Or are we only interested in a savior and someone to protect and bless us?

I.  Faith: Philemon 4-5

 I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers, hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints,

We recognize that faith is the starting point in our relationship with God.

Ephesians 2: 8

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,

John 3:16

 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Hebrews 11:6

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Faith is the beginning, but it is not the only aspect of our relationship with God.

II.  Love

Matthew 22:36-40

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

God loves us and we are expected in return to love God and one another.

John 13:34-35

 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Our love for God and for one another should affect every area of our life.

III.  Obedience: Philemon 21

Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say.

Obedience is not a word that we hear emphasized very often these days.  Certainly, we in the western culture like our independence.

A.  Submission:  Hebrews 13:17

Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

In the early church, submission to authorities was emphasized.  Even today in the monastic orders, obedience is a part of the vows.  The question becomes obedience to whom?

B.  Fables: II Timothy 4:3-4

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

Today there are many teachers.  There is wide variety over the things that are taught, so to whom should we be obedient.

    C.  Jesus:  Matthew 7:21-23

 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

I am concerned that there are many people who think that they are in a right relationship with God because of some superficial lip-service.  That they are trusting in their baptism, or their church membership, or the fact that they once went down to an altar, or that they believe that God exists.  We are indeed saved by grace, through faith.  We are called to love, but we are also called to be obedient to the Lord of Lords.  Faith produces love which produces works of righteousness.

D.  Promise:  Matthew 7:24-27

 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

We should continue to emphasize faith and love, but we should not neglect the aspect of obedience to Jesus, our savior and lord.

These are the sermon notes from 2/16/14.  Any advertisements that are attached are placed there by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.


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